December 1, 2019
Pastor Alan Smith
We are going to be in Genesis chapter 1 today. If you don’t know where that is, it is one of the first pages of your Bible. So, it’s easy to find. We are beginning our series related to the Jesse Tree. Last night, in our Jesse Tree devotion, we looked at Isaiah chapter 11 and talked a little bit about this promise of one who was going to come from the line of Jesse. That is the Jesse Tree, who is Jesus Christ.
Today, we are going to do Day 2 of the Jesse Tree. We are going to look at the creation story in Genesis chapter 1, and specifically, what it means to live that out. On a personal note, Genesis 1 is one of my favorite chapters. I did my undergrad work is in biology, so I love the sciences, and I studied Genesis a lot with a science background.
But I also like to do art, design and drawing. So, I’m also creative, and I love the fact that the first verb in all of the Bible describing God is He created. “In the beginning, God created…” So, this is a wonderful chapter.
One of my favorite pieces of art is Starry Night by Van Gogh. It was painted in 1889, and it is the iconic painting of the modern paint movement. It is currently on display at an art museum in New York. So, if you are ever there, you’ll want to see it. I love it; it’s interesting.
Van Gogh did a series of these paintings with big stars, flowing movement, and blue, but this one is the iconic Van Gogh painting that we think of a lot of times. Not long after he chopped his ear off, he did this one. But, I love this painting. It feels like it’s moving, the way he’s done it. I love the bright blue colors with the bright yellow stars, how they draw your eye to the sky. You have this wonderful spire of a cypress tree that helps move your eye up the painting, paralleled with this small little village in the middle with a church steeple just barely sticking up into the sky. I love it; it’s one of my favorite paintings.
Now, you can get a sample of the painting as a poster. It has hardly any value at all, and it is literally put in a frame sometimes as a space filler to show what a picture in the frame might look like. If you get close enough and look at it, you can still see a little bit of the impression of the painting. I mean, you can see the strokes, the colors are bright and vibrant, and it reminds you of the painting that is hung in New York. It’s a good representation of the real thing, but it’s just a representation.
As a matter of fact, sometimes you don’t even see the moon; it’s cut off. It’s just the centerpiece; you miss some of the elements. So, it’s not complete relative to the original, but it’s a good enough representation that we can get an idea of what the original one looks like. It’s a good representation; it reminds us of the original.
Today, as we study in Genesis, we are going to have an opportunity to think of God, the original, and then the impressions that exist in our world today through the creation. We’re going to read the first two verses of Genesis, and then we’re going to stop for a moment and talk about some of the creation story. Then we are going to go to the end of the chapter to look at the pinnacle of creation, the creation of man and woman.
Genesis 1:1-2 (ESV)
1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
1. God is the Creator
In the beginning, God created. The first thing I want us to realize and think about today is that God is the Creator. He is the originator of everything. God creates. God is the one who existed before creation. Before the space-time continuum came into existence, God existed. And He existed in perfect fellowship with Himself. The Father, the Son, and the Spirit in perfect harmony and love, a perfect relationship. He had no need of anything and yet, He decided to create.
Here’s a little parenthetical: Everyone is creative, because we bear God’s image, which we’ll look at the minute. You are creative; don’t let anyone tell you that you’re not.
A. Creates from nothing
God created everything. He created it from nothing. Hebrews chapter 11 tells us:
By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
Now, in our theological concepts, we refer to that as ex nihilo; God created out of nothing. He created something not using pre-existing material. God didn’t go to the shed and say, “I need a little bit of this. I need some of that. Let’s mix this together, and let’s make this thing.” He spoke it from invisible to visible, from non-existing to existing. He created out of nothing.
Now, I like to tinker. I like to take things apart. I like to put things back together. Sometimes I break things when I take them apart, but that’s okay. It’s part of the process of seeing how things work. I figure the worst that could happen is, it’s broken worse, so I’ll just tinker with it more. I like tinkering with things.
But what I have discovered is, I always have to have some parts. For example, our dryer a couple weeks ago was making this crazy sound. I mean, it sounded like a really terrible squeal. And, I wanted to take it apart to figure out what was wrong with it, but I was compelled not to.
So, I called a guy out, and he came and looked at it. He said, “Oh yes, it’s this little widget thing right here.” And so he fixed it, and it sounds great now. But he had to have a part. He couldn’t just go, “Oh, you need a thing,” and have it right there. We are limited. God created from nothing. He just said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. “Let there be ____,” and it was so.
Here’s why that is important for us today and why I hope that this is a little bit of encouragement: There are many times we will find ourselves in situations in life where we are going, “I’ve got to figure out how to fix this. How am I going to fix it? I know if I get this person on the phone or I go find this book or I talk to this person or I work this hard or I do this thing or I have this combination of stuff, I think I can make it work. I think I can fix it. If I could just get this over here, I could fix it.” We depend on all of these things.
What God wants to remind us of today is, “I don’t need any of that stuff. I can just fix it out of nothing.” He doesn’t need these little things. He speaks it, and it comes to be. He says it, and it happens. Remember, we have His Word, His spoken Word recorded for us so that when we have problems or issues to deal with, things to think about, emotions to process, or friend relationships to deal with, we have His Word at our disposal to go through and read and discover the Words of God to help us through whatever. He created out of nothing.
B. Creates through Jesus
He created through Jesus. Colossians 1:15-17 says:
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
How did God create? God created through Jesus. Jesus is the central figure in all of the Scriptures, and we see Him in the beginning. Jesus is the one through whom the creation takes place.
C. Creates by the Spirit
Creation takes place by the Spirit. We see in Genesis 1:2 that the Spirit of God is hovering over the surface of the waters. In this one statement (“In the beginning, God…”), we have a glimpse early in the Scriptures into the triune nature of God. We see the Father, the Son, and we see the Holy Spirit. We see God active in this universe and in the cosmos. God the Father, the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are active in creation.
D. Created by His word
But we also see an interesting method of His creation because He created by His Word. Scan down Genesis chapter 1, and look at verse 3. “And God said… and it was so.” Look at verse six. “And God said, ‘Let there be an expanse,’ and it was so.” Look down at verse nine. “And God said…” Verse 14: “And God said…”
This is a recurring theme. “And God said…” His Word. He spoke, and these things came into existence. They were not; He spoke, and they were. They didn’t exist; He spoke, and now they do exist. The power of His Word. We see the psalmist helping us understand this a little bit in Psalms chapter 33, verses 8-9.
8 Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! 9 For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.
We have a God who creates things new, who through His presence can fix, change, and can bring visible out of the invisible. And He has given us His Word to live by and to be governed by, to be understood by, and to know the path of how to live the life that He’s given us. It’s through the power of His Word.
Here’s a little freebie: If we’re not in the Word, it’s hard to live by the Word. If we’re not in the Word, it’s hard to know what the Word is supposed to tell us to do. We come into those moments, in those crises, in those instances of life, and we are like, “What I do next?” If I haven’t been in the Word, it’s hard to rely on the Word. This Word became flesh (John chapter 1) and dwelt among us. The central character is Jesus, even played out in creation and played out in the Word.
2. Mankind is the created
Not only is God the Creator; mankind is the created. You and I are created beings. We came into existence by the act of God. Skip down to chapter 1, verse 26, and we’ll read all the way to the end of the chapter.
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
If you took some time, studied, and read through Genesis 1, what you would see is, there is an interesting pattern. Patterns are important when we study Scripture because when you break a pattern, that should be a clue. That should be a flag of, “Hey, this is important.” And as you study Genesis 1, you’ll see every day, God said, “Let there be…,” and it was so. “There was evening and morning the first day, and it was good.” Day 2: “And God said…,” and it was so, and God said, “This is good.” Day 3: “And God said… it was so… ‘This is good.’”
A. In His image and likeness
And you get all the way down to Day 6, and we have an interesting thing take place. On Day 6, not only do we get animals (“and God said, let there be animals”), but we have this moment where God looks at the Godhead, looks within Himself, and he says, “Let us make man, and let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”
Jump to chapter 2, which provides a little more detail of this day. Chapter 2, verse 7 says, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living creature.” Here’s what’s interesting about that reality: For everything else that was created, God said, “Let the earth bring forth animals… Let the waters bring forth creatures,” and it did; it happened.
But then God gets to this moment in the creation story on the sixth day, and God says, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness,” and what we see is that we no longer see God saying, “Let this be… and it was so.” We see in chapter 2, God gets down in the dirt, and He forms man with His hands. And after He’s got him formed, he breathes into him, and he becomes a living soul. That is very different from God saying, “Let it be,” and it is.
We have a God who is personally involved in the creation of mankind. Skip on over later to the end of chapter 2 where Eve is created (on Day 6). We see that God says, “Adam, I need you to go to sleep.” He takes a rib, and God forms from this rib, Eve. God is actively involved in these image-bearers’ lives. There is a distinct difference, and when we get to the end of Day 6, He doesn’t say, “And it was good.” He says, “It was very good.”
You and I bear the image of God. In His image and in His likeness, God created us. God created man in His own image. You and I are image-bearers of God Almighty. We bear His image, His stamp, His imprint. His characteristics abide within us. People are not to make images of God, because God has already made an image of Himself. You and I are that image.
Male and female bear His image. We all bear His image, and as a result of that, there is an innate value and dignity to every human being, regardless of age, in the womb/out of the womb, regardless of pigment… Regardless of who they are, there is an innate value to human beings because every human is imprinted with the image of God. How do we treat other image-bearers? How do we respond to other image-bearers? How do we engage with other image-bearers?
B. Partner with God as steward
The second thing here is understanding that God created us to partner with Him as stewards of what He has created. Again, as you study Genesis 1, what you’ll see is that God will say things like, “Let there be land,” and it formed. Then God called the ground land, and He called the water, seas. He created it, and then He named it.
He created Adam, and then he named Adam. But then God, on Day 6, tells Adam, “Adam, I want you to be in partnership with me. I’ve created you to be in relationship with me. I have created you to have dominion, and what I want you to do is, all of these animals that I’m going to bring to you, I want you to name them.” Even in the beginning, God provided Adam and Eve with the authority to function on this earth the way He was functioning on this earth.
He has called us to partner with Him in this world. Where is God at work in your life? Partner with Him there. Where is God at work in our community? Partner with Him there. Where is God at work in our church? Partner with Him there. He has called us to be good stewards, to have dominion, to have authority, and to do so in partnership with Him. We are partners, and we are stewards of the world God has given us. And He invites us to partner with Him. We bear His image, and He has invited us to be partners as stewards of what He has created.
C. Imitating God’s character
But it also means that we are to imitate God’s character. Part of what it means to bear the image of God is that there are certain attributes, or characteristics, of God that you and I possess. Being in the image of God does not necessarily mean that God looks like me, with two ears, two eyes, a nose, and a mouth. That’s not necessarily what He’s talking about. What He’s talking about is, we have part, or some, of the character of God.
From Scripture, we believe that God is love; humans can love. We care for others; God cares for others. God redeems; we have the ability to redeem. God is omniscient… Well, we can know stuff, but we’re not quite like that. There are certain attributes of God that are only God’s. They are what make him God. He is omnipresent. You are only here; you can’t be everywhere.
There are certain characteristics of God that you and I possess, and what God is calling us to do is to live the kind of life that He lived on the earth as Christ. As a matter of fact, Matthew records a story for us. If you were to look at Matthew chapter 5, verse 48, Jesus tells us to do this:
You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Now, that word is interesting because it doesn’t mean you ought to try to be good sometimes; that’s not what it means. It doesn’t mean that you should try when people are nice to you, to be nice to them. It doesn’t mean that as long as you are having a good day and things are going your way.
He says (verse 48), “Therefore, you must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Now, at first sight, that sounds unrealistic. Let me encourage you with this reality: If we are believers, that means that we have the indwelling Holy Spirit living within us, and as the indwelling Holy Spirit lives within us, we have the ability to exhibit, to demonstrate, to live the fruit of the Spirit. And the fruits of the Spirit are things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, temperance, and self-control.
If we have the Spirit dwelling within us and if we are exhibiting the fruit of the Spirit, if we are reflecting God’s character, then the command to be perfect as He is perfect, is not unattainable. Now, don’t get me wrong. Some of us are going to mess up. I’m going to mess up (I mess up a lot). I’m just saying that we will fail. That’s part of the human nature that we struggle with. Paul says that we wrestle; there’s this war within us.
We fight back and forth. “The things I want to do, I don’t do, and what I don’t want to do, I do.” There’s this struggle, right? But we have this reality that God has called us to live perfect as He is perfect. Why? Because this Spirit dwells within us, because we are image-bearers.
There is an interesting story that Matthew, Mark and Luke all recall. Three of the Gospel writers, all of the synoptics, record this story. All throughout Jesus’ ministry, the Pharisees were constantly trying to trick Him. They were always trying to put Him in this dilemma. They would ask him a question, and if He went with “A”, then He was in violation of the Jewish Law. The Pharisees were like, “See, we got you.” Then if he went with “B”, He was in violation of Roman law, and they were like, “See, we got you.” They were always trying to put Him in these moments where there was no good answer.
In one of these moments, they were asking about taxes. It was customary for that time that you would go to the Temple and pay your taxes. Or if there was a census, you would have to pay taxes. What they required was that you payed taxes with a specific coin called a denarius.
The front of the coin had an image of Caesar, and on the back of the coin, you had another image and an inscription on it. The inscription on the back of that coin was: “Caesar Augustus Tiberius, son of the divine”. In other words, Roman culture understood Caesar to be the son of god; he was a descendant of the gods. And so, on one side of this coin was Caesar. On the back side of the coin with this inscription that said, “Caesar is the son of god.”
And so, the Pharisees asked Jesus, “What should we do? Should we use this coin or not?” Now, if he answers the question, “Well yeah, you should use the coin,” they would say, “Ah ha! The Bible says we should not have any graven images.” That’s a problem. If He said no, they would say, “Ah ha! Rome says we’re supposed to pay the taxes.” What do you do? They are trying to trick Him.
So Jesus simply says, “Hey, give me a coin.” They give Him a coin, and He asks the question, “Whose image is on the coin, and what does the inscription say?” And they said, “Well, that’s Caesar, and it says Caesar, son of the divine.” Jesus says, “Okay, give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but give to God what is God’s.”
Here’s why that’s an important statement: There’s an image on that coin, and there’s an inscription on that coin that identifies who owns the coin. Jesus says, “Give the owner of the coin his coin. And by the way, you have an image, and you have an inscription on you. Give to God what is His.”
Jesus gives us this wonderful picture, this wonderful reality that we bear God’s image. God has stamped us. We are His image, and it has been inscribed on our hearts that we belong to Him. He is the Son of God, not Caesar. Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and what is inscribed upon us and with the image that we bear, Jesus says, “Give to God what is His.”
So, here’s the takeaway. Here’s what I want you to leave with today. I want you to have this thought and this sentence in your mind because this is the crux of the story. Your life is a reflection of the Creator’s character.
Your life is a reflection of the Creator’s character
What are you reflecting? Remember the print of Starry Night? Although it’s nice, it is not going to go in an art studio somewhere. However, it points me to something that is bigger, better, and greater. You and I bear the image of God Almighty, and His Word is inscribed on our hearts if we are followers of Christ.
If you are not a Believer, then I give you good news. You can leave today a follower of Jesus. You can leave today as one who is reflecting the character of God in your everyday life, as we go out as everyday missionaries to our lives, to our families, to our work, and our communities.
- I recognize my need to give my life to Jesus today and I surrender my life to my Creator.
- I have been living life my way and today I commit to making God first in my life.
- I will be an imitator of my Creator’s character in my home, work, and community.
- Read John 1:1-3, How does this compare to Genesis 1? And what does it tell us about Jesus’s role in creation?
- Compare days 1 – 5 of creation to day 6. What key difference do you notice and what is significant about day 6?
- Read Genesis 1:26-31. Based on this text, what are some characteristics of humanity? How do they relate to and compare to God’s characteristics?
- If all humans are created in God’s Image, what are the implications to modern social issues?