Sunday, September 18, 2011

"In the Beginning" Genesis 1:1

From here to Amarillo there is not much to see.  From Amarillo to southern Colorado there is even less.  As I drove through there a while back I told the Lord that I didn't want to be a smart-alec but I wasn't impressed.  All I saw was scrub brush about waist high as far as I could see.  God told me to just wait.

As I got into central Colorado things started to change and as I got closer to the Rocky Mountains things began to change drastically.  I was going up a mountain headed to Estes Park.  Huge mountain cliffs on both sides.  Flowers, trees, birds, beautiful sky, even a sweet, clean smell.  As I topped the mountain all at once I see Estes Park below and the flowers were just incredible.  There were 3 buffalo running full speed across a prairie way off to my right.  An eagle flew across the sky right in front of a beautiful rainbow!  No kidding!  I told God I was impressed.

When I recovered, the thought crossed my mind that I wondered how God could be so busy with all this and still have any time for me?  Then on the flip side of that, how could He be so busy in my life and still have time for everything going on in nature?  I guess that's part of what makes Him God. 

Nothing proves to me that God exists any more than nature.  When I hear about someone who is an Atheist, I think they must just be blind!  How else can you explain the Rocky Mountains, the Grand Canyon or Chico?  I met a man in Yellowstone Park who was not sure if there was a God.  I picked up a little flower next to the bench we were sitting on and told him that if I had made this one flower I would be rich and famous and yet there were so many around us we walked across them.  If it has been created, there has to be a creator.

Nothing proves to me there is a God more than nature and yet nothing  provokes more questions in the Bible than the creation.  It is just too hard for us to imagine that God spoke matter into existence.  We can't understand it or prove it and yet here we are in the middle of it and it continues to baffle and bewilder scientists who try so hard to prove or disprove theories on how it happened.

Romans 1:20 says, For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.

As you have probably realized by now we are going to start a study of the Book of Genesis.  Personally, I am excited about it.  Now, you may be thinking this is going to be fun, that we are going to talk about all those fun stories we learned about in school like Adam and Eve, the Tower of Babel and Noah's Ark.  But as I have been studying it I have come to realize that it is not fun.  In fact, anything in Genesis should only be discussed very seriously, with furrowed brow and only by very smart people with letters after their name.

But since we don't have any of those guys we are going to dive in anyway and hopefully we will all learn something beneficial and have a good time with it as well.  The phrase "dive in" is appropriate since I told you Wednesday that Genesis has been compared to a pool shallow enough for a child to wade and yet deep enough for an elephant to drown. 

It's also appropriate to study Genesis at this time because as I have said lately, I believe our church is going through a new beginning, not just because I'm new here but also because there has been a new and improved wind blowing through our church, a sense of excitement and freshness from God that I see motivating y'all to have even more of a passion for Jesus and a passion for other people.

Believe it or not we will get to the passage in just a second but I first have to warn you of something.  What do you think the devil thinks when he sees a church like ours with a new sense of excitement and freshness about serving God?  Do you think he says, "Oh those guys in Runaway Bay are just too much for me.  I'm just going to give up!"

No, he's going to ratchet up the problems, distractions and temptations.  He's going to be very convincing that you are not being treated right by your spouse, your church, your friends and your boss and that you deserve to live a little.  He's going to attack your marriage and your family.  He's going to put doubts in your head about Genesis and when that doesn't work he is going to distract you with worthless controversy and questions.  So don't fall for it.

If you haven't already, please turn to the very front of your Bible and let's read just a few words.  Read 1:1.  "In the beginning God..."

Stop righ there.  That's enough for now.  In fact that's enough to fill volumes and volumes of literature.  Thousands of books have been written about just those four words.  And if you have a problem with those 4 words then you will have a problem through to the end of Revelation.  Genesis is nothing if not controversial.  It is generally accepted that Moses is the author of Genesis but even that will start an argument in some circles.

The first 11 chapters are especially controversial.  We are going to purposefully avoid some of the controversy that is not necessary but we are purposefully going to dive into some of the controversy that is necessary. 

Some of you may know that my favorite question is, "Why?".  It's caused problems for me before and it makes Genesis a problem sometimes.  I want to know why things happened or didn't happen and the Bible doesn't always tell us.  I have to keep reminding myself that I'm not reading a novel.  Genesis especially doesn't always tell us why or how or when.  But it does tell us what we need to know, what is important or necessary.

We don't have always know why or how.  We just have to know who.  And that's why I stopped right there to stress the importance of who.  Another thing we need to remember is that Genesis is an ancient book answering ancient questions.  A lot of the directions we try to take it (esp. ch. 1-11) represent attempts to mold the passage to questions we want answered.

Some people think Genesis is just a book of history.  It is definitely a book with history and history is very important but it is also much more.  I hear what you are saying.  You say you have real problems in today's world.  How can an ancient book help me?  Ron says he has some important decisions to make and needs wisdom.  Genesis will be relevent.

Jerry says he is having some relationship problems and doesn't know how to handle them.  Genesis will be relevent.

Mary wants to know how she can be bold in her witness.  Genesis will be relevent.

Belinda just wants to know more about Jesus.  Surely Genesis can't help her!  Stick around.

In this brief introduction to the book I want us to realize one thing:  this passage is not talking about when.  It is talking about who.  This was originall written in Hebrew and English translations try to smooth it out.  There is no definite article in Hebrew which means chronological order.  The emphasis is not on "In the beginning".  It's on "God".

A good way to think about it is that God has always been and there came a point where creation originated under the authorship of Him.  The focus is on God, as it should be.  This is the same God who Moses asked in Exodus 3, "Who shall I say sent me?" and God answered Moses "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you."

He's the same God who lead the Israelites out of slavery when there was no human way to get out.

He's the same God who revealed Himself to Elijah in a still small voice when Elijah needed some encouragement. 

The same God who told Joseph, "I AM with you whether you are in the pit or the palace."

The same God who gave to Job and then took it all away but in the end said, "I AM angry with your friends, Job, who have spoken of me incorrectly."

The same God who came to earth as a man and said you will know that I AM [the one I claim to be] and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.

Jesus also said "I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I AM!"

"I AM the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."

This is the same God who also wants to have a relationship with you.  The same God who created the heavens and the earth created you to have a relationship with Him.  You hear me talk a lot about relationship around here.  That's what God wants.

Why?  I honestly have no idea.  Why does the great I AM want to have a relationship with us?  I don't know but like the rest of the book of Genesis, I take it on faith.

In closing, I want to read something that I read earlier this week that sums up how our statement of faith should read in regards to creation:

I believe that out of His infinite wisdom and deep, natural love, God created every element of this universe at a time when there was God and God alone and He did this by speaking it all into existence.  I believe nothing more is necessary for our faith and any science that contradicts this is man's feeble attempt to explain something he has no capacity to understand.

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