HOW BIG IS OUR GOD? GENESIS – In the Beginning, God….
Compiled by Marion Griffin
One of my favorite ways to start the day is by reading a Psalm from the Bible. These songs of the Bible remind me of who God is, His greatness, and His special care for us.
Psalm 19 tells us:
The heavens declare the glory of God,
the skies proclaim the work of His hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the end of the world.
Everyone on the earth can see the works of God in the heavens and in all creation. Ever since man first looked into the night sky, he knew that he was a part of something much bigger than himself. The vastness of the heavens cannot be comprehended. The heavens speak of things eternal. And in looking at the heavens, we may imagine that perhaps we are really looking into the face of God.
So where are we in this place called the universe?
Our moon is our nearest neighbor. If the earth was the size of an orange, then the moon would be the size of a marble. One million earths would fit into the sun. Yet, our sun is tiny compared to other stars that scientists have discovered far away. We really don’t know how big the heavens are that God created.
God wrote, “I love you” in the sky and on the earth. He wrote His message everywhere for all to see! The apostle Paul in the New Testament book of Romans 1:19-20 writes that men are without excuse for failing to acknowledge and worship God. The truth about God is revealed in creation. It is plain for all to see.
For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen by what God has made.
He wants to show us what He is like and to help us know him. We see His majesty in the mountains. We see his beauty in the flowers. We see His power in the lightning before a storm. We see His love in the smiles of others. I have seen Him this week in the beauty of your country and people.
Where do you see God’s majesty and greatness in His creation? Tell the person sitting next to you. Thank Him for that right now!
Genesis 1:1-2:3 – God Speaks Everything into Being.
Now let us explore the greatness of God and His love as revealed in the first three chapters of the Bible.
Genesis 1:1-2 tells us:
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless, and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
Although everything else had a beginning, God has always been.
Psalm 90:2 tells us:
Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.
So in the beginning there was nothing except God. Nothing to hear. Nothing to feel. Nothing to see. Only emptiness and darkness. I would like for you to close your eyes and put your hands over your eyes. Imagine total darkness, total nothingness. One time I was in a cave that had man-made lights. Then the guide turned off the lights. I couldn’t see the hand in front of my face or the path that would keep me from falling in a deep hole. It was total darkness.
Have you ever been in a dark place? Maybe it was a dark place emotionally or spiritually where you felt God had abandoned you. Maybe you have forgotten that God loves you. Well, God has good news for you.
Day One – God Speaks Everything into Being
In Genesis 1:3, God speaks:
Let there be light, and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day”, and the darkness he called “night”. And there was evening, and there was morning — the first day.
In Psalm 27 we read:
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
Whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
Of whom shall I be afraid?
God spoke everything into being.
Hebrews 11:3 in the NT says:
By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is now seen was not made out of what was visible.
Everything was GOOD
Everything that God brought into being was good. This is repeated throughout the chapter as God continues to fashion the universe.
Light is Necessary
Light is necessary for making God’s creative works visible and for making life possible. For example, the plants will need it to grow and produce fruit. We always associate God with light. The pillar of fire was God’s presence leading the Israelites through the desert after they left slavery in Egypt. Jesus is called the “the light of the world” who leads us to the Father and who offers us new life.
God gives order to time by creating day and night. He is sovereign over time.
2 Peter 3:8 –
With the Lord, a day is like a thousand years,
and a thousand years are like a day.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise.
He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish,
but everyone to come to repentance.
The Second Day
On the second day, God continued to bring order to His creation. He separated the waters to form an expanse called the sky (or the heavens).
The Third Day
On the third day, God brought order on the earth by collecting the waters on the earth to form the seas and the dry land. Then he caused the land to produce seed-bearing plants and trees with seed-bearing fruit. And he saw that it was good.
So after three days, God changed the formless earth into one with order. Now our big God begins to fill the emptiness of the heavens and the earth. (This was demonstrated with an inflatable globe.)
The Fourth Day
On the fourth day, God spoke into existence specific lights to fill the sky: the sun for daytime light and the moon and star for nighttime light. These lights would separate day from night, mark the seasons, and give light to the earth. And it was good. (Then I had to laugh as I caught myself explaining the seasons and the temperature variations we have in Texas from hot summers to cold winters. In Kenya, they live near the equator, so EVERY day is 12 hours long. The sunrise and the sunset are at the same time all year long!)
The Fifth Day
On the fifth day, God made the fish to fill the seas and the birds to fill the skies. He blessed them to increase in number. And it was good.
The Sixth Day
On the sixth day, God had a very busy day! First He spoke into existence all the living creatures to fill the land. This included the livestock such as cattle, the wild animals that I hope to see at Samburu Wildlife Park later this week, and the creeping creatures that move along the ground such as snakes and lizards (which I don’t like!). And God saw that is was good.
But God was not finished! He saved the most special part of His creation for last.
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image,
in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea
and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,
and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them,
“Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.
Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky
and over every living creature that moves on the ground.
Then God provided vegetation as food for man and the animals.
The Trinity In Creation
First of all, note that it says: Let US make man in our image. The word for God that is used here is “Elohim” which is plural. So the Trinity God that we understand as God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit were all active in creation. We have already seen the Spirit hovering over the waters in verse 1. In the NT, we learn that Jesus is also present in creating:
In Colossians 1:15-16 –
“Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
For by Him all things were created, things in heaven and things on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities;
all things were created by him and for him.
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
Humans were created in the image or likeness of God. This sets us apart from all the other creatures. Molded in the image of our Maker, we have unique abilities. These include the ability to love and be loved, to respond to our master, and to think orderly about ruling our environment. God matched a beautiful creation with a creature who could appreciate creation and who could have fellowship with Him. So at the end of the 6th day, God has completed His creation. He saw all that He had made, and it was very good.
The Seventh Day
On the 7th Day, God rested from all His work of creating. He blessed this day called the Sabbath and made it holy (or set apart for Him).
So from nothing, God spoke everything into being and it was good. He gives order and purpose to His creation.
Genesis 2:4-25 God created Man and Woman
The second chapter of Genesis gives us more details about God’s creation of man. We see that God created man and woman AND provided a perfect environment for them to live in.
First we learn that God formed man from dust and breathed life into Him.
Then God placed Adam in a prepared garden called Eden that was full of plants and trees. These provided food and were beautiful to look at. We notice in this perfect world that men and animals did not eat meat, only plants. God commanded Adam:
“You are free to eat from any tree in the Garden including the Tree of Life,
BUT you must not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil,
or you will surely die.”
Next, He gave mankind work to do:
First, man is told to rule over all the other earthly creatures such as the fish, birds, and land animals. Man has authority over them. He must care for them and use them to in the service of God and man. EX: My dad was a farmer. We also had some animals such as chickens, pigs, cows and sheep. My dad had to be sure the animals had food, water and shelter when needed. But the sheep took special care because they would eat too much and die if they were in the pasture too long!!
Second, man is told to be fruitful and multiply. This means to fill the earth with children. Through marriage, people are called to join God in the ongoing process of creation.
Third, man is told to work in the Garden and take care of it. The world will deteriorate without proper care. EX: I grew up on a farm. We grew cotton, corn and grain. One of my jobs was to keep the weeds out of the cotton field so that the cotton could grow properly.
Finally, God makes a suitable helper and companion for Adam. When God created Adam, He quickly realized Adam was lonely. Adam named all the animals but none of them were suitable to be his companion or helpmate. So God makes woman from Adam’s rib. God’s plan was for man to be united to his wife and be one flesh. Adam and Eve had no shame in their nakedness.
So God gives man and woman life, the perfect place to live, good food, purposeful work, dominion over the earth, and each other. God also gives us life and purpose and people to share life with.
PSALM 8 declares our special place in God’s creation:
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise
because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
What is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
You have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You made him ruler over the works of your hands;
you put everything under his feet:
all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air,
and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Genesis 3 – The Fall
So our story continues in Genesis 3 as we explore the greatness of our God. Unfortunately, everything changes. What happens?
Adam and Eve deliberately disobey God. The serpent tempts Eve to eat the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which God has forbidden.
Who is the serpent? He is Satan in disguise. Even Jesus tell us in John 8:44 that Satan is a liar and the father of lies. Satan’s goal is to alienate man from God.
How does the serpent tempt Eve? First, he causes Eve to doubt God’s Word. “You will not die” if you eat the forbidden fruit. Second, he causes Eve to doubt God’s goodness. “God doesn’t want the best for you”. “You can be like God if you want to … God doesn’t want you to be wise!”
Next, he causes Eve to desire to be like God. She wanted to be her own boss instead of trusting in God’s authority and plan. Finally, Eve believes Satan’s lies instead of trusting in God and His Word.
Let’s pause and think about those times when we are tempted to believe Satan’s lies and to doubt God’s promises. Life’s hard situations cause us to feel overwhelmed, hopeless or forgotten. We doubt that God really wants His best for us.
Knowing God’s Word can give us strength and hope.
This was true for me when our baby daughter Bethany died. As I mentioned before, the Scriptures gave me an understanding of His unconditional love and His peace. Also, my husband and I experienced God’s comfort through a loving church community that surrounded us. They brought food, cleaned our house, sent cards, prayed, and listened to our story of grief as often as we needed to tell it. We need each other. Part of God’s plan is for us to be in community.
The Role of Free Will
Now-back to our story in Genesis. Eve eats the forbidden fruit and then entices Adam to do the same. God gives us free will. We either choose for God or against God. We choose our way or His way.
In 2 Corinthians 11:3 Paul warns:
But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
After Adam and Eve deliberately disobey God, they feel guilty. They notice they are naked. They attempt to cover their shame with fig leaves. They don’t know that only God can cover our shame. They hide from God who comes for His evening walk with them. Note that God always pursues an intimate relationship with His children.
God’s Confrontation and Judgment
God confronts Adam and Eve for their disobedience. As a holy God, He cannot ignore their sin. He declares judgment on the serpent, Eve, and Adam. Fellowship with God as it was intended is broken.
Judgment on the serpent: God tells the serpent that from then on snakes would crawl in the dust. People would be afraid of the serpent and hate it. Satan would continue to lie and alienate people from God. God declared war upon Satan.
Harmony between people and animals is broken.
Judgment on Eve: God tells Eve that she will have great pain in childbirth. Also, instead of being at peace with her husband, she will struggle in her relationship with him and will desire to rule over him. Thus, harmony between humans is broken.
Judgment on Adam: God tells Adam that the ground is cursed with weeds and thorns. Adam must now work hard. Growing food will be toilsome. Thus, harmony between people and nature is broken.
Genesis 3:15 God’s Promise of Redemption and Reconciliation
In spite of the brokenness of God’s perfect plan because of man’s disobedience, God promises redemption and reconciliation.
Satan Will Be Defeated
In His judgment against the serpent, God promises that one day Satan will be defeated.
We see this in Genesis 3:15:
“I will put hatred between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers.
He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
The offspring of woman refers to Jesus Christ. This is the first prophecy of Jesus Christ that gives us hope. “Satan will strike Jesus’ heel” refers to Jesus’ crucifixion when nails are put into his feet. “He will crush your head” means that Jesus will be victorious over Satan. Christ’s victory was accomplished through his death and resurrection. And Satan will be destroyed forever when Jesus Christ comes again.
Christ Will Come
I John 3:8 tells us that the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.
Hebrews 2:14 tell us Jesus shared in our humanity so that by his death he might destroy the one who holds the power of death, that is the devil. Thus, Jesus frees those who all their lives are held in slavery by their fear of death.
God promises redemption and reconciliation by His mercy shown to Adam and Eve. He covers their nakedness by making clothes out of animal skins. They had tried fig leaves. But the shedding of blood from a living sacrifice was necessary to cover their sin and shame. God is the only one who can cover our shame so that we have restored fellowship with Him. God must provide the way for us to be reconciled to Him.
As promised throughout the Old Testament, God sent Jesus to be the perfect and complete sacrifice for our sin and shame. He took the punishment of death we deserve. As we trust in His death and resurrection, we are promised abundant life now and eternal life forever. Nothing can separate us from His love.
The big God who created the heavens and the earth is also the personal God who loves you and me.
Isaiah 40:25-26, 28-31 sums it up this way:
“To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One.
Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
And calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
Not one of them is missing.
Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
The Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
And his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary,
And young men stumble and fall:
But those who hope in the LORD
Will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
They will run and not grow weary,
They will walk and not be faint.