Sunday, September 25, 2011

"In the Beginning, Pt. II" Genesis 1,2 and 3

This is not an astronomy class.  I'm not a scientist or a science teacher.  If you are still in school do not quote me to your teacher or tell them I said the planets look like or do anything.  This is just an illustration.

This swimming pool will represent the sun.  Mercury is 36 million miles away from the sun.  Venus is 67 million.  Earth is 93.  Mars is 142.  Jupiter is 484.  Saturn is 891.  Uranus is 1.79 billion miles from the sun and Neptune is 2.8 billion.

If my model of Mercury is one foot away from my model of the sun then that would put Saturn outside the church and Neptune approximately in Portugal.

Isaiah 40:12 says, "Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?"

I don't know about you but that makes me feel pretty small.  In fact, as I have continued to study the Book of Genesis, it makes me feel very insignificant at times.  And yet, if you put it all in context, it should make us all feel very significant.  Hopefully you will see what I mean as I continue.

Hopefully, you have your Bibles with you this morning.  You will need them.  I'm going to cover a lot of ground.  We talked about just the first 4 words last week.  Do you remember where the emphasis was placed in those words?  In the beginning, GOD.  In just those first 4 words, there is so much controversy, so many questions, so many books have been written.

In fact, there are huge libraries worth of books written on the first chapter.  Is it true or is it a myth?  Where does evolution fit in?  Where there dinosaurs with Adam and Eve?  How did God create light before He created the sun?  When did Satan fall?  Did God create sin?  If God created all plants to be good for food does that mean it's ok to smoke pot?

Some of these are better questions than others.  Some of them have good answers and on others you shouldn't waste your time.  I'm sorry we are not going to be able to cover every question you come up with.  Let me give you the reason why (or at least one of the reasons why) Genesis doesn't answer all of our questions. 

There are three basic world-views.  Hebrew, Greek and Roman.  If you drove your brand new 2012 Corvette up to a Greek, he would marvel at the aesthetics.  It's a beautiful color.  The leather seats are gorgeous.  Corinthian?  The lines are so swoopy and pleasing to the eye.  The Greeks were philosophers and poets and romantics.  The good looks would be all that interested them.

If you pulled up to a Roman he would say, "Pop the hood.  What size tires?  How does it work?"  The Romans were builders and architects.  They would be interested in each part and what it did to make the car move.

The Hebrew would say, "What's it do?  Get me from point A to point B?  Ok, can you take me to the store?"  They would just get in.  They didn't have to know how it worked nor what it looked like.  All the questions didn't have to be answered.  They just accepted it.  We need to be more like the Hebrews when it comes to reading through Genesis.  Just get in!

Let's all get in at chapter 1 verse 26-31 and then we will read 2:7-9 and then 15-25.

There are 3 things I want us to see in our passages today:  1)  How much God loves us.  2)  How much Satan hates us.  and 3)  How we should respond to both.

First let's look at how much God loves us.  I will, of course, start with a joke.

One day, Eve was walking in the garden with the Lord. She said, "Lord, the garden is wonderful, and the animals and birds provide such joy, but I am still lonely sometimes."

"No problem!" the Lord replied. "I will make you a man for a companion. He will desire to please you and to be with you. But I have to warn you, he won't be perfect. He'll have a difficult time understanding your feelings, will tend to think only of himself, and will stay out late with his bowling buddies."

"That's OK. I think I can handle this 'man'," Eve replied.

"Great, I'll get right to it!" God said, and started grabbing some mud and shaping it. Suddenly, the Lord stopped and said to Eve, "Oh, there's one other thing about this man I'm making for you."

"What's that?" asked Eve. "You'll have to tell him he was here first."

In verse 27 it says that God created man...We learned last Wednesday night in our Bible study that the word used here for created is only used for God.  Man can fashion, form or make and even clone but all the elements and materials are already present.

Even when we create something in our mind, it is just putting together experiences, knowledge and personality that was already present.  We don't create anything but God creates out of nothing.

We've seen that God created but who is this God?  The Hebrew word used here is not Yahweh but Elohim.  Elohim is a plural word.  It is written in the plural to give it greater presence or majesty.  A lot of Hebrew words are written in plural for that reason.  A cup of water is "water" but an ocean is "waters".

So, in verse 26 where it says, "Let us make man in our own image" it is written in the plural.  Some people think that is talking about the Trinity;  Father, Son, Spirit but the Hebrew people had no concept of the Trinity at this time.  This is not to say that the Trinity wasn't there it's just not to whom is being referred specifically.

Same thing in our earlier passage that said God marked off the Heavens with His hand.  Heavens is plural because they had no word for universe so to them heaven + earth = "heavens". 

So now I hope that give you a little different perspective on the first sentence.  In the beginning...When?  Who cares?  Elohim (plural to give Him majesty) created (out of nothing) the universe.

But then came what is called the crown of creation.  God made man in His own image and man could receive no greater honor.  God could have shown no greater love.  The human race is God's masterpiece - the object of His supreme love!

It wasn't enough that He gave us work to keep us fulfilled or the ability to communicate and to rule over all other creatures.  Unlike all other creatures we can show mercy and forgiveness.  We can want the best for others.  We can sympathize, we can show charity.  Like God, we can be holy.  Like God, we can have authority.  But while there is still an infinite difference between God and man, we, like Him, will live eternally.

Asking "why?" in the Book of Genesis can get you into trouble but we talked Wednesday about why, starting in 2:15, did God put a tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden?  Bill answered correctly when he said God put it there to give man a choice.  God didn't want to have a relationship with a bunch of robots.  He loved you so much he gave you the choice to obey or not.

So, we have seen how much God loves us.  Now I want to tell you about what came next for Adam and Eve and to warn all of us about what to expect next.

Read 3:1-13.

Now if any of you have any questions about what we have gone over so far, I urge you not to ask me but to ask your nearest 4 or 5 year old.  I say that because I learned quite a bit from them a few years ago when I was at another church and helping out in that class on a Wednesday night as they were going over Adam and Eve.

According to that class, God made Adam out of dust but then realized that Adam couldn't have babies.  So God took a rib from Adam and gave it to Eve.  Then he took another rib and gave it to somebody else.  Then they had a lot of babies, one of whom was Abraham Lincoln.

Honestly, it's not a whole lot different than what some adults think.  Is that really any more ridiculous than evolution?  Is that any funnier than the belief that we came from monkeys?  Or that the universe was created by a Big Bang?  Do you know where ideas like that come from?  When somebody finds it hard to believe what the Bible says or it's too inconveniencing to their lifestyle they try to explain it away the best they can.

I've told you before that everybody wants to know the truth.  They may not be able to believe it or live it but deep-down everybody wants to know.  That hunger for truth is another gift God gave to man.  God wants you to seek out and find the truth.

1 Corinthians 1:21 says, "..the world in its wisdom did not know [God.]"

The world explains things to their best understanding but Acts 17:26-28 says, "From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us."

But what is Satan's ultimate goal for us?  To devour us.  And when he can't just kill us he often settles for confusing us or distracting us.  Look at what he does to Adam and Eve.  He doesn't waste any time.  They are hardly settled in when the serpent comes to Eve and says "Did God really say you musn't eat from the tree?"  He just plants some doubt in her mind.

What does she say?  Verse 2.  God didn't say they couldn't touch it.  Now she's confused.  Now the serpent has made God look mean and makes you question the truth.  When you start questioning the truth of God's word it starts to affect how you live your life and instead of being blessed for your obedience you start to suffer the consequences of disobedience.  And Satan puts a mark in the "Win" column.

When we start to question whether God's truth includes all of the 10 Commandments, Satan wins.  When we start to live our lives according to what is more comfortable than what is truth, Satan wins.  When we question if God's truth includes tithing, church attendance every week, telling others about Jesus, (when was the last time we said His name outside these walls???).  When we don't think holiness applies to us if nobody is looking then Satan wins.

So, what's going to be your response?  We have seen how much God loves us and how much Satan hates us.  Now it's time for a response and I'm sure most of you are ready for me to say that you can respond in one of two ways.  You can be obedient to God or you can follow Satan.  And those are two ways but I propose to you a third way.

There is at least one other way to respond.  It is to respond by saying that you are going to start trying real hard to be better.  You are going to turn over a new leaf.  You are going to start trying to cuss less and go to church more.  You are going to start tithing a little bit and stop beating your wife so much.  You are going to work hard to be better at this and that.

You know what that is?  That is Satan's last little twist to make you miss the mark.  When he can't kill you or confuse you he will allow you to work real hard at something you can never do.  We learned in our study of the fruit of the Spirit that when we need more of that fruit that we don't ask God for more love, joy, peace, or patience.  We ask God for more of Himself in our lives.  It's the same thing we have to do here.

It's time for all of us to respond to God as He wants us to respond and that is by saying, "God, I can't do it.  I don't want to go to church, I can't afford to tithe and I don't even like the guy at the end of the row much less love him.  So, God, I need you to do it through me.  I want to be so close to you, God, that I lean completely on you with all my heart and not on my own understanding.  I will acknowledge you in all my ways knowing you will make my paths straight."

God loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you.  How will you respond today?

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