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Genesis 1:1-25

Where did everything come from?

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We study through books of the Bible here at the Village Chapel, and it’s my great joy and pleasure to be walking us through some of the first chapters in the Book of Genesis. We’ve gone all the way back to the beginning, and as a matter of fact, we’re calling the study “In the beginning.”  I’ll remind you of that because of the nature of this book—it’s so amazing. It stirs up a lot of questions. Really good and big and important questions. I’ll put them up on the screen:

  • Why is there something rather than nothing?
  • Did the universe have a beginning?
  • Does God exist?
  • Does human life have any real meaning?
  • What has gone wrong with the world?
  • How can we know the difference between right and wrong?
  • Is there any hope for redemption when it comes to humanity?

These questions and their answers become very, very important. I think they’re more relevant today than ever, if you’ve just been watching the news and what’s been going on in the world around us. So, I’m so excited to be leading us through this book.

Genesis 1:1-25 will be our text. I’ll remind you that “Genesis” itself means “beginning,” and so the Book of Genesis begins with not only the beginning but actually “the beginner,” and I love that. We might ask the question, and we should. It’s good to ask these questions: Is Genesis true? Is it a reliable record of what happened? Does it correspond with reality as we know it? What can be believed about this book we call Genesis? I’m going to be talking about that a lot over the next couple of weeks, and I hope you’ll be joining me on Friday night when I talk with Professor John Lennox about this on our Friday night chats here at 6:30 PM central time through the It’s going to be awesome.

What is the nature of this creation account that we find in Genesis? How does Genesis present itself? What can we deduce from the book and from what it actually says? Well, up there on the screen, you’ll see Genesis is not so much an explanation of how God created everything. Genesis is a declaration that God created everything. And so, it’s not so much about process and the unfolding of that process. It’s more just a declaration that if you’re curious about whether or not this is all just a random co-location of atoms and chemicals and random chance universe, or if this was all planned somehow, if this was all designed and planned somehow, who did that? Who’s the planner? Who’s the designer? So, it’s really, really important.

John Lennox, who I will be interviewing as I said, said this:

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. These majestic words introduce the most translated, most printed, and most read book in history. I heard them read to the watching world on live television by the crew of Apollo 8 as they orbited the moon.” (And that goes all the way back to 1968 folks.) “The context was a triumphant achievement of science and technology that caught the imagination of the millions of people who watched it. To celebrate that success, the astronauts chose to read a text that needed no added explanation or qualification, even though it was written millennia ago.”

–John Lennox, Seven Days That Divide the World

That’s from John’s book, Seven Days That Divide the World. That’ll be the subject matter that he and I’ll be talking about on our Friday night chat.

So, we’ve made some amazing advances in the world of astronomy and our knowledge and understanding of the universe and its origins and its development and its layout, if you will, since 1968. I mean, it’s been amazing how many advances we’ve made.

It’s interesting also to watch how different people respond to that incoming information, that knowledge, as things are discovered—that I would say have been revealed as they’re discovered. People react to that very differently, don’t they? Well, here’s a couple of slides I want to post up here just to give you an idea of where we are in the universe.

Here’s earth, and next to it you’ll see Venus and then, Mars, Mercury and Pluto, which was discovered in 1930. It has since been relegated to, reduced to, or designated (if you want to say it that way) a dwarf planet. And there are a couple reasons for that. They’ve redefined what they mean by planet. What’s interesting about Pluto is that it’s actually smaller than Earth’s moon. The reason it got re-designated is because it hasn’t cleared its own region in space enough to where it fits what astronomers currently are calling a planet, a full-size planet. So, now it’s called a dwarf planet. I don’t know about you, but I’m pulling for Pluto, and I’d like to keep nine planets in our system. But here’s a picture to just give us some perspective.

Here’s Jupiter and Saturn which we recently saw in our own sky in a very rare conjunction up in the night sky not too long ago. And Jupiter and Saturn, you can see how huge they are compared to Earth and even to Neptune, and you really get a sense that Uranus, Neptune, Jupiter, and Saturn are just so much bigger than Earth. You look at that picture and you just go, “Wow. We’re not all that big a deal, are we?” Well, if you’ve gotten there already, hold on, here’s another one.

Look at the picture of our sun. Look how big that is compared to Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune there. And that arrow points to… Yeah, there we are. This is you on the map—that little, tiny speck, that tiny little pixelated barely-showing-up-at-all Earth. So, more than that even, I’ll give you some more perspective.

Kim and I like to sit down on the patio at night and look up in the sky and just see if we can identify with some software what you can. There’s phone apps and things like that you can download where you can hold it up there and aim it at one of the stars that you see. And sometimes, you can identify the name of the star. Well, Arcturus is a star that we’ve been able to identify from our patio multiple times, and it’s been estimated to be about 215 trillion miles from the earth. Do you understand? That’s pretty far away. You got to pack your lunch if you’re going to go there.

But look how big it is in this photo here compared to our own sun. And by the way, Earth on this doesn’t even show up!  Also, visible at times to the naked eye in the night sky is Antares, considered a red super giant star, and it sits 3,230 trillion miles from the earth. And yet, we can still see this star.  Look at the image of it. You can see how big it is and how between it and the one next to it (that looks like it spells “Betelgeuse”). But you look at those two and how big they are compared to our tiny little sun. And then you start to realize, “Oh, my goodness, the Earth is really just a little dust ball size planet, isn’t it?” So, it starts to blow your mind.

I went online; you can do this, too. And parents, I think you should do this especially with the kids because they’ll enjoy it. I’m a kid at heart when it comes to astronomy and stuff, but here’s a picture from the NASA website. The portrait features the giant Nebula NGC 2014 and its neighbor NGC 2020. Together they form part of a vast star forming region in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way. So, it’s really amazing, but it’s 163,000 light years away.

Photo number two is from the Hubble Space Telescope when it visited one of its most iconic and popular images, the Eagle Nebula’s Pillars of Creation. And this image shows the pillars as seen, invisible light, capturing the multicolored glow of gas clouds, wispy tendrils of dark cosmic dust. You can see all of that there, and the rust-colored elephants’ trunks of the nebula’s famous pillars. Isn’t that really just mind-blowing? So, again, big time encourage you to visit NASA, and you just do a search for the Hubble and the top 100 images of the Hubble or whatever, and it’ll just blow your mind. It’s really cool.

Listen, this to me aligns beautifully with what some of the ancient songwriters would say about the heavens. Psalm 19 is probably the most familiar of those. And it says,

“The heavens declare the glory of God.”

Psalm 19:1

And so, I ask you, when you look at those images, what do you see? And I realize some people would look at that and go, “That’s just a bunch of rocks and gas up in the sky.” I guess, you could come to that conclusion if you wanted to. Me, I look at that and I see the beauty of it, the order of it, the design of it all, and it just starts to blow my mind how amazing God is. Let’s talk about it some more.

Professor David Block is professor of astronomy at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. He says, “Today, we know that if we were to count all the stars in the Milky Way at the rate of one every second,” just one star per second in the Milky Way, just our galaxy, “The process would take 2,500 years.”  All right. So, how many stars do you think there are in the Milky Way galaxy? Wow. Well, let’s see. There are 31,556,926 seconds in one year multiply that, times 2,500 and that’s how many stars you got in the Milky Way galaxy. I can’t do that math. I suppose somebody’s got a calculator or a computer big enough to do that thing.

Genesis is here reminding us when it says “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” of how majestic our God is—how powerful, how creative He is. Because as it tells us that God created the heavens and the earth, look at the immensity and complexity of just the heavens and the smallness of our own planet Earth and the smallest of each and every one of us as individuals. Each of us, one of what? Seven or eight billion people on the planet? Think of that in the scheme of all of creation. And it’s again, mind-blowing, eye-popping, heart thumping.

I think you can also stir some questions, and some questions that I think we need to be asking all the time, like those ones that I posted up on the screen earlier. I think that may even be part of what God is doing by making a universe so big and beautiful, and by also giving us the capacity for these kinds of questions to fill us, to overwhelm us with wonder and astonishment so that we ask these kinds of deep questions. Because ultimately, I believe all of the “how did everything get here,” all of “what caused it all to happen,” all that stuff leads us to who, and God is who it leads us to.

If you happen to think it’s all just rocks and gas up there and you think this is all just a happy accident, you think this planet Earth that we live on as precariously perched as it is on its axis, you would have to say then that life is meaningless, this just the motion of the universe. And yet, we all know that we’re longing for our lives to have meaning. We’re longing to know where we came from. One of our deepest longings is to know where we belong. And you see that even in our own culture in this day and time. What does it mean to be a human person? And again, we’ll be talking about that on Friday night. So, I’m really looking forward to it.

So, let’s take a little look at our text here. It’s pretty powerful. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” and then it starts to unfold with a little more specificity as we go along. So, look in your Bible, Genesis 1 or swipe there on your device if you can. And it says, “The Earth was formless and void. Darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said…” And by the way, that’ll show up 10 times in this chapter, so maybe you want to mark those.

“Then God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night, and there was evening, and there was morning, one day. Then God said, ‘Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.’ And God made the expanse and separated the waters which were below the expanse from the waters which were above the expanse, and it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven, and there was evening, and there was morning, a second day. Then God said, ‘Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place, and let the dry land appear,’ and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering of the waters He called Seas, and God saw that it was good.” I love this.

“Then God said, ‘Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, fruit trees bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them on the earth, and it was so.’ (Yeah.) And the earth brought forth vegetation plants yielding seed after their kind and trees bearing fruit with seed in them after their kind, and God saw that it was good and there was evening and there was morning, a third day.

“Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years and let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, and it was so.’ And God made the two great lights, the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He made the stars also, and God placed them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth and to govern the day and the night and to separate the light from the darkness.” And God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.

“Then God said, ‘Let the waters team with swarms of living creatures. Let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens, and God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves with which the waters swarmed after their kind and every winged bird after its kind.’ And God saw that it was good.” Yeah.

And then, “God blessed them,” in verse 22, “saying, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas and let birds multiply on the earth.’” And there was evening and there was morning, a fifth day.

Verse 24: “Then God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind, cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind.’ And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind. And God saw that it was good.”

That’s right. We’re going to stop there for today but what an amazing passage this is. How much fun to read. I mean, really, when you think about it, it really is. Genesis teaches us several things, but the one thing that it just begins with, one thing that stands out from the get-go, is that this chapter, while it really seems like it’s about creation, it’s really about God in probably a bigger way, isn’t it? Yeah. Let me throw what we learn about God up on the screen for you.

First of all, Genesis teaches us that God is distinct from His creation. It’s interesting to me that Genesis nowhere really seeks to prove the existence of God. It just assumes the existence of God or declares the existence of God. And in that very first verse that God already existed before the beginning of the space-time continuum and before the creation event happened, God already existed. So, God is eternal. God does exist. God is eternal—God was, God is, and God will always be. That’s what eternal means. God already was in the beginning, God is now in the present. God forever will be on into the future.

So, there are two really this point here. There are two major categories for every reality that exists. This is the claim of the Bible. God on one side (draw a huge line) and then, all of creation on the other side—and we happen to be, by the way, on the other side. We are on the other side of that line. We’re part of creation. God is the only thing on that side, the creator side. And so, what a great distinction between the creator and the creation. Now, you start to get an idea of who you are, and how you fit into the grand scheme of reality. And this is just fascinating, and something to really ponder—the physical universe, the millions of galaxies and stars and planets, planet Earth itself with all of its oceans and its mountains like the Rocky Mountains, every living thing, from porcupines to people, every single bit of it created by the creator, God, who’s on that other side of the line.

And as such, we all belong to the creator, God. And that’s awesome. That’s really good to know. I know that so many of us struggle with the idea of belonging. Who are we? What does it mean to be a human person? That’s why for years and years all of the bookstores were filled, overflowing in the department called the self-help department, and the fact that they kept writing new books and selling so many of them and all that thing, just proves at least one thing that they aren’t working, that people continue to need that help. They’re still lost, and they still can’t find out who they are, and they weren’t satisfied with the answer that was given to them. Man, when I read Genesis, when I read the Bible, I don’t know about you, but I start to find my place in this world. And I start to see how there is a God, and He’s created everything, and He created it good originally.  And we’ll get to that question, what has gone wrong with the world? We’ll get to that. But for now, we’re at this stage where the process has begun and the stages of the creation event have begun, and we’ll talk about what it means. What does the word Day mean? Day one, day two, day three, all that. We’ll talk about that with Professor Lennox on Friday, so I hope you join me for that.

But one of the first things we see here is that God is distinct from His creation. You and I, we’re a part of that creation. And I’m going to suggest to you that there’s great freedom in knowing that we don’t even belong to ourselves, we belong to God. That’s going to result in an amazing freedom for you as you study the Book of Genesis with us. And it just liberates us in so many ways, and I think you’ll enjoy this. We belong to our creator God, and in Genesis we discover that He’s all powerful, that He’s eternal, that He’s distinct from His creation.

Eugene Peterson says that this way:

“We would very soon become contemptuous of a God whom we could figure out like a puzzle or learn to use like a tool. No, if God is worth our attention at all, He must be a God we can look up to. A God we must look up to.”

–Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

And that’s exactly what we’ve got here in the Book of Genesis. And in the very first chapter, in these first unfolding verses of Genesis, this is so amazing. So, God is distinct from His creation. Secondly, God speaks. We see that here over and over. At least 10 times, like I said, He speaks in this chapter alone. 10 different times it says, “And God said,” and that doesn’t even count the times it says, “And God called this thing that or this thing,” whatever. This is just “And God said,” and you can find that 10 times here in the first 25 verses that we’ve read.

Second, God speaks. The God of the Bible can communicate. This is good news. Not just a battery the universe runs on. Not just an impersonal force, but actually a God with personality that communicates. God speaks. We should listen to God more often. Don’t you think? Yeah. One of the reasons I love my one-year Bible… I hope you’re in a one-year Bible reading program. If you aren’t, man, they’re free. You can download them online. There’s one on our app. And so, get the phone app and the Bible itself is on there and the plan for reading. It even has an audio feature, so you can just listen to it, have it read to you, but it’s a great thing. Just jump in right now, whatever the date is that you’re watching this, and I think you’ll enjoy it.

So, God speaks. He makes declarations. He makes promises. We read this in the Bible. He asks questions too which I find fascinating, and we can talk about that when we get to some of them. He’s calling to us when He speaks. He’s often calling us to himself. His speaking His words of hope and words of comfort which I know many of us need. And I know so many people right now who are just going through some kind of loss, a great deal of confusion and anxiety out there right now. And isn’t it wonderful that this God of the Bible speaks words of hope and words of truth and words of comfort? And that’s why we study through books of the Bible here at the Village Chapel, and I hope you’ll continue to stay with us on it.

When God speaks, things happen. That’s really important, too. To notice that, we see that in chapter one here. Isn’t that awesome? So, the fact that God speaks at least brings up this question, are we listening? I hope you are listening. Let’s be listening more often together, okay? So, God is distinct from his creation. God speaks.

And then, thirdly, God creates. He created everything in space. God even created this space that everything is in. And so, where did these elements come from? The Big Bang, if there was such a thing, where did those elements come from and into what space? Where did that space come from into which the Big Bang banged out into? All of that is so important, and so, the idea with the claims of the Bible is that God created ex nihilo—that is, “out of nothing.” God is the only uncaused cause. He’s the only eternal entity that existed, but He’s the one that has created everything in this physical universe that we can observe, that we can see.

The fascinating thing is that He also, when he created humanity, (we’ll talk about this next week) He created us in His image. One of the things He did was He made us little creators. He gave us a creative ability as well. The difference between us and God in that regard though is that God created ex nihilo, that means “out of nothing.” We are borrowing stuff from Him when we create. If you write a song and you happen to be in the key of A, or no matter what key you’re in, A440 was created by God. That’s right. So, the world has order because God gave it an order, and certain number of vibrations will equal out to a hmm, and I don’t know if that’s an A or not. I don’t have perfect pitch but whatever pitch A440 is, God created that as well.

And so, we’re using borrowed stuff. If we write a song or build a building and we use metal that was brought out of the ground, or we use wood that was taken from trees or whatever it is, we’re borrowing, we’re using borrowed stuff to create. We’re rearranging some of God’s stuff, and what a great thrill and what great fun that is as well. But here we see that God is so distinct from His creation because He created out of nothing.

Fourth, not only is God distinct from His creation, not only does God speak and create, God regulates as well. He’s established systems with regularities. And we read this in this chapter right here. Each of these groups of things that He creates, He creates some of them with some of the vegetables or some of the fruit rather with seeds so they can reproduce after their kind. The animals, the same way, so they can reproduce after their own kind. So, God’s got this system. He’s separating the light from the dark. He’s separating the water from the land. He’s doing these things and He’s doing it orderly, and He’s doing it because He wants to regulate His creation in such a way that it brings glory to His name and to who He is. And that we get to experience all of that together is really quite fascinating. So, we praise God for things like light and water, gravity and for ground itself.

We praise God for all the seasons, all the animals, all the plant life, and even for the millions of species of insects that help maintain the balance of our ecosystems because God regulates and has established order and systems throughout His creation and see. We are given yet one more tool by which we can behold and experience the glory of God.

D.A. Carson says it this way:

“The controlled universe reflected in the Bible has God as both its creator and sustainer/ruler. He creates in an ordered way and sustains and rules it in an ordered way so that science is possible… but he is not bound by what he has created, so he is at perfect liberty to do things another way with the result that miracles are possible.

–D.A. Carson, The Gagging of God

Isn’t that good news? And so, God has created an ordered universe. He’s made it in such a way so that some things can be repeated, like we can boil water at a certain temperature, at a certain altitude, and we can count on that happening. So, science becomes possible because of the way that God has created His universe.

Malcolm Muggeridge was a 20th century English journalist and satirist who used to work for the British government at one point for a couple years. He was actually not only a soldier but a spy for the British government in North Africa and over in Paris as well. Well, he converted to Christianity a little bit later in his life, and he’s one of the people that was responsible for calling popular attention to Mother Teresa. Some of you will remember Mother Teresa. He read a book called Something Beautiful that just was such an amazing story and one that you might enjoy reading. But here’s what Muggeridge said once:

“Every happening, great or small, is a parable whereby God speaks to us. The art of life is to get the message.”

–Malcolm Muggeridge

All right. So, after reading and rereading a lot of Genesis 1, do you get the message? Do you understand? I hope your mind is blown. Mine was and continues to be. The more I look at this, I just marvel at what God has done. And please understand, God’s the one who took the initiative to do all of this. He’s the subject of almost every single verb in chapter one of Genesis. That’s mind-boggling, isn’t it? But He does things like speak and create and call and name things and shape things. And this is a God who’s got an agenda. And this is a God who knows what beauty looks like and what true north is. And this is a God who wants to… He’s not hiding. This is a guy who wants to just put on full display His glory. You see? And that’s because He doesn’t want you to miss Him.

Don’t miss the message of Genesis 1. It’s about God first, and then, it’s also about His creation of which you are a part and which I am a part as well. But when we look at Him, when we look at the character and the nature of this God who has created everything out of nothing, when we look at the way He has come on the run with rescue for us even though (as we’ll read in Chapter 3) we turned into a rebel planet, He still comes. He’s still searching for a people He can call his own. And so, He comes in the personal work of Jesus which we just celebrated not too long ago. The incarnation where God became one of us on a mission to substitute Himself for us on a cross to die in our place, to take our place in death, pay the prize for our sins in full—past, present, and future. That’s how much He loves us. That’s how much He wants to make sure you get the message and that I get the message. Not only is He true, but He’s faithful and true.

And I hope that as we continue through Genesis, you’ll read ahead and we’ll talk next week a lot about what it means to be a human person, what it means that God created us in His image and created you in His image, and just how much hope and how much meaning and purpose that can provide for your life as you look to God, who is the One who is faithful and the One who is true.

(Edited for Reading)

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