In the Beginning God

Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Genesis 1:1-2 | August 30 - Sunday Morning,

Sunday Morning,
August 30
In the Beginning God | Genesis 1:1-2
Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Worthy are You to take the scroll and to open its seals for You were slain and by Your blood You ransom people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them a kingdom and priest to our God and they shall reign on earth. To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever. Give us ears, O Lord, to hear from You, give us eyes to see Your beauty and Your glory. Give us hearts to feel what we ought to feel and give us wills to leave this place and obey. We ask in Jesus’ name and for His sake. Amen.

Bereshit bara Elohim et hashamayim ve’et ha’aretz. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

These ten words, in English ten words, in Hebrew seven words, are more than an introduction to a chapter or an introduction to the first book of the Bible or even an introduction to the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible. These seven Hebrew words introduce the entire history of the universe and they lay the first brick in the foundation. Actually, they lay a few bricks in the foundation, for an entire way of seeing, understanding, and inhabiting the world we live in. It is not an exaggeration to say that these two verses we are looking at this morning, or even just the first seven words in the Hebrew Bible, are absolutely essential if you are to understand what the world is, who you are in the world, and who God is in relationship to us and His creation.

This sentence, Genesis 1:1, is so crucially important, not only for what it says but for what it does not say. Notice there is nothing in the first sentence of the Bible about a struggle among various gods and goddesses like we might read about in ancient near Eastern literature where Marduk or Tiamat or some assortment of deities are struggling and out of that conflict or the carcass of a defeated foe, the world emerges.

There is nothing about God standing in need of something or someone, as if He should have created because He was somehow in lack. You might say that God enters into the story in verse 1, but that would be incorrect. We should really say the story enters into the life of God in verse 1.

Kind of like you, when Chuck Norris jumps into the water, Chuck Norris doesn’t get wet, the water gets Chuck Norris. Just think about it.

There is nothing in verse 1 about some pre-existent matter that existed alongside of God from which He then shaped and formed the earth. No, God does not enter the story, he pre-dates the story because the story decreed in eternity, the one we read about in the Bible, the one you and I inhabit, is a story that has as its author and its object and its center, our eternal, immutable, perfect, loving God.

In the beginning, there was God.

And actually, that’s not quite right. Even before there was a beginning, there was God. Genesis is about the beginning of everything except God. He never started. He always has been, always is, always will be. That’s what it means to be from everlasting to everlasting. That is the very definition of eternity.

We may inherit eternal life, that is life that will go on forever, but we do not in our very nature, we are not marked by eternity, without beginning and end. All of us have had a beginning. Everything that you inhabit in this universe had a beginning.

God has no beginning. There never was when God was not. There is nothing else and no one else who compares with Him.

And so God does not create because He gets lonely or bored or scared. He doesn’t need anything from anyone. He is the great I am that I am. God made everything, and we will see in the weeks ahead he made day and night, land and water, fruits, even vegetables, sun and moon, swimming things, flying things, creeping things, everything from hummingbirds to human beings. In creation, the power and the beauty and the goodness of our invisible God was made visible.

So Genesis is a book of beginnings. Genesis, the title, comes to us by way of the Latin vulgate, but that’s really just a transliteration of the Greek word genesis, which means origin, or beginning. It translates the first Hebrew word of the Bible bereshit.

There’s actually probably a play on words in the very first sentence there, bereshit bara, bara being the Hebrew word for create, and if you were to look at those in Hebrew, just transliterate them into roughly English equivalent, both words start b-r-a, b-r-a, you can hear, bereshit bara. Genesis, beginning.

Did you know that genesis is also the beginning of the New Testament? In Greek, in Matthew 1:1, we read “biblos geneseos Iesou Christou huiou Dauid huiou Abraam.” A book of the genesis of Jesus Christ, son of David, son of Abraham. Matthew is deliberately tying together the beginning of this new covenant literature with the old covenant literature, and they both begin with genesis.

And John 1, even more famously and more noticeably in the English, is obviously tying together “in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Such high Christology does John have that where everyone familiar with the Bible would expect “in the beginning God,” John says “in the beginning, the Word” because the Word was with God and the Word was God. A new beginning with Jesus.

But here at the very first word of the Bible, we are introduced to the beginning of everything.

Let me read to you verses 1 and 2: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 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.”

Here’s what I want to do in this sermon. It’s a little bit different because it’s the beginning of a new series, it’s the beginning of a new book, it’s the beginning of the Pentateuch, it is the beginning of the Bible. So, I want to give you this sermon in three main headings. First, we are going to look at the structure of Genesis, how we understand the structure and you’re going to see that has some bearing on how we interpret Genesis, and then the second big heading we are going to look at some themes that you ought to be alert for as we move through this book, and then finally, third big heading, we are going to come back to verses 1 and 2 and see what they reveal to us about God.

So you’re going to want to have your Bible open. If you like to take notes, you’ll want to have a piece of paper so you can jot down some notes.

Let’s talk about the structure. How is Genesis laid out? It may be that if you’ve grown up in the church and you know that there’s a bunch of very familiar stories in there, or you’ve seen it in a picture book or a picture Bible, or perhaps you’ve had some sort of Bible study, maybe they just all kind of run together, there’s a lot of different stories. But there’s a structure here.

The most obvious and intentional structure in the book of Genesis is marked out by ten toledoth sections. Toledoth is the Hebrew word translated as generation. T-o-l-e-d-o-t-h. Toledoth. There are ten of these, very deliberately marking out the generations. So I won’t show them all of you, but show, you know what I mean.

But look at chapter 2, verse 4. These are the generations. There’s the first, the Hebrew word toledoth, of the heavens and the earth. So chapter 1:1 through 2:3 serves as a kind of prologue and then we are introduced to the first generation, which is going to be creation itself.

The second comes in chapter 5, verse 1. This is the book of the generations of Adam.

Chapter 6, verse 9, these are the generations of Noah.

So you don’t have to turn to all the other ones, but the next one is chapter 10, verse 1, the generation of the sons of Noah.

Chapter 11, verse 10, the generation of Shem.

Chapter 11, verse 27, the generation of Terah.

Chapter 25, verse 12, the generation of Ishmael.

Chapter 25, verse 19, the generation of Isaac.

Chapter 36, verse 1, and then it’s repeated a few verses later in verse 9, the generation of Esau.

And then finally Genesis 37, verse 2, the generation of Jacob.

So ten generations.

Now the book of Genesis covers more than ten generations, but these ten are marked out in deliberate toledoth sections. Five of these are followed by a narrative, the first one with creation, the third with the flood, sixth with Terah, which is largely about Abraham, the eighth with Isaac and the tenth Jacob. So five of these ten are followed by a narrative.

Five are followed by genealogies. Two are vertical, ten generation genealogies, obviously stylized. Stylized does not mean not true, it just means deliberately pulled out so that there’s ten. And then the other three are horizontal, segmented genealogies. That means they go through the various children and their descendants.

So five of the ten toledoths followed by narrative, five followed by some type of genealogy.

These generations, or toledoths, are not mini biographies. Rather, the stories are chosen for a specific purpose. And it’s given a specific location in the book. The author, Moses, is trying to make a theological point with these ten generations. He is seeking to fly over the mass of humanity in these early generations on the planet and then zoom in theologically, in particular along God’s redemptive line.

So you can think of the book of Genesis as a rope with ten knots. And as you’re pulling through and these are the generations of the heavens and the earth and these are the generations of Adam, and each one is marking off some bit of the story, the line. Now some of the line goes to Esau and Ishmael, not the chosen line, but most of it is the chosen line for God’s plan of redemption. Each of those generations introduces a new section. With about half of the sections, the narrative is not even really about the patriarch that’s mentioned in the heading, but it’s rather about his offspring.

So, for example, the whole point of “these are the generation of Terah,” the Bible has very little to say about Terah. But it’s really about who came after Terah, namely his son Abraham. Or Jacob’s section at the end, the last of the ten, is not so much about Jacob as it is about his children, and in particular about Joseph and also in there about Judah.

So this is the most deliberate and obvious, if you read any of the commentaries, way in which Genesis is structured, is with these ten toledoth sections, and we’ll highlight them as we move through over the weeks, months, years, just however long it takes.

Here’s a second way to look at the structure of Genesis, and that is to look at the different geographies, the different lands in which the action is focused. So chapters 1 through 11, where are we in chapters 1 through 11? Where? It’s, if you remember something from your history, you might think it’s the fertile crescent or it’s Mesopotamia. We know from some of the boundary markers in the garden of Eden that we’re basically in that land in the Middle East that will later be the Chaldeans, remember Abraham’s going to be called out of Ur of the Chaldees, or Babylonia, that’s chapter 1 through 11.

Chapter 12 through 36, the action largely takes place in Palestine, Canaan, what would later be the Promised Land, Israel, and then chapters 37 through 50, Joseph is sold into slavery. Where does he end up? In Egypt. And so the action is mainly in Egypt with the family traveling down from the Canaan to Egypt.

So moving in these three different major locales, what does this tell us about the book, and even about the storyline of the Bible?

Well, one, it makes the history not just a parochial history about Israel, but world history. Yes, this was written, the Genesis was the first of the Pentateuch, which was written for God’s people coming together as a nation, so, yes, this is written to tell Israel where they came from. But it’s not just telling this family or this people, it’s telling the history of everything. That God is not a localized deity, He is the God of all things who made all things and He will bless all nations through Abraham.

The other thing that you just hear it in Babylonia, Israel, Egypt. Those are the three locations, major locations, in the book of Genesis. These are the three main locations for the rest of the Bible, and certainly for the rest of the Old Testament. Israel, Egypt, later captivity in Babylon. The interplay of these three countries or regions, Israel, Babylon, Egypt, from the storyline for the whole Bible, especially for the Old Testament. They provide the theological underpinnings for bondage, redemption, disobedience, exile, punishment, forgiveness, restoration, salvation. So it’s key that we are introduced to Babylonia, Israel, Egypt.

One other way that we can look at the structure of Genesis, and that is to look at family. One-fifth of the book, chapters 1 through 11, is about cosmic family, it’s about humanity in general. And then four-fifths of the book, chapters 12 through 50, is about the chosen family. Eleven chapters to move through at least 20 generations, maybe more if they’re not meaning to name every generation, but 11 chapters to move through at least 20 generations, and then 39 chapters to move through three generations.

Have you ever thought about, if you were just sort of telling God what you would like in the first book of the Bible, especially where we are in the world that we inhabit and all of the questions of science, you might say I’d like a little bit more information in chapters 1 through 3. But there’s one chapter on the fall, and a third of Genesis is about Joseph. There are more verses given to the story about Dinah and the Shechemites than to the creation of Adam and Eve. The story of Judah and Tamar is as long as the creation account. Why? Why has God ordered it this way?

Well, one reason is because this is the story about where God’s people began. It’s not just the first book in the Bible, it is the first book of a five-part series that was meant to go together. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy.

Genesis and Exodus flow seamlessly together. Exodus begins right where Genesis left off, and there arose a Pharaoh in Egypt who did not remember Joseph.

So, it’s of course, we’re zooming in on where did we come from? Israel, and we also inhabit that history. Where did we as God’s people come from?

The other reason for this focus on this one family is even more meta than that. The biblical plot line, as you’ve probably heard before, has four basic parts. Creation, fall, redemption, recreation, or restoration, or sometimes called consummation.

And the overwhelming majority of the Bible is about that third part. Shouldn’t that tell us something? About God, about sin, about salvation? Think about it. The creation of the universe, kind of a big deal, two chapters. The Fall. Well, chapter 3, and we can even maybe stretch out through chapter 11, because the reminder 4 through 11 is really about how the Fall, how sin then spreads across the whole earth and even the flood and that sort of new creation. Doesn’t mean that people are any better. So we’ll even give the Fall 3 through 11. We’ll give it nine chapters.

How many chapters in the Bible tell us explicitly about recreation? Well, really two chapters. Revelation 21 and 22. And they pull from some imagery in the Old Testament.

But you basically have the other 1176 chapters in the Bible are about the third act of the play. Redemption.

Creation, Fall, recreation, and almost all of the Bible is about redemption. How do we get people who are created in God’s image, who rebelled against Him, to enjoy the new heavens and the new earth. That’s the storyline of the Bible, and so that’s the storyline of Genesis. Of course the focus is going to be on God’s plan to redeem fallen humanity through this chosen family.

So let’s talk then about some themes.

So that’s the structure, the 10 toledoth sections, the three different geographic locations, and then focusing in on this family.

Let’s talk about some themes. Seed is a theme to look for in Genesis. Genesis 3:15 trace through Cain and Abel and the rest of the book. You have two rival kingdoms at work in the world. Genesis 3 through Revelation 20 is a description of the battle between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. Genesis 3:15 gives us that first announcement of the Gospel, that there will come One from the woman who will crush the head of the serpent. And so the promise of the seed, will you have a child, so many of the women are unable initially to have children and they’re wondering will the promise come through, will Abraham and Sarah have a child, and ultimately it’s looking for the seed, the child, to come who will crush the head of the serpent.

Look for the theme of land. We’ve already talked about land, but they start in an ideal land. We’ll see that in chapter two, the description is of paradise. And the rest of the book is all of the twists and turns finding their way into the Promised Land. In chapters 1 through 11 we read of a people with land being expelled from it. Adam and Eve are going to be expelled from the land. The people in the days of Noah, the land is going to have to be wiped clean because of their sin. It’s prefiguring later when Israel will be shipped to Babylon because of their sin. It is laying the foundation that the story of Genesis and the story of the Bible is that God has given this perfect gift to us and we squander it and we get kicked out.

And then how do we come back? Well, God is going to prepare a land. And in fact, sometimes in Genesis where you have the translation “earth,” ha’aretz, it’s the exact same word that’s translated as land. He created the earth, He formed the land, and for an agrarian people in particular, they would have had such a close affinity with the land. Everything was about this land, to produce what they need, to live in this land with milk and honey. So land is a theme.

Alienation is another theme. Adam and Eve kicked out of Eden. Cain is made a wandered. Noah is confined to a boat. A big boat, but there’s a lot, a lot of things on the boat. Abraham is removed from his homeland. Jacob is alienated from his brother Edom and from his uncle Laban. Joseph is an alien in Egypt. And the book ends with the chosen family as strangers and aliens in Egypt. Alienation.

The over-arching theme brings together two interlocking ideas, God’s promise is fulfilled through God’s providence. God’s promise is fulfilled through God’s providence. Over a dozen times God promises in this book, I will bless you, the nations will be blessed through you, I will give you land, I will give you offspring. The entire book is God’s gracious initiative to reveal His glory and to bless His people.

Nineteen times in Genesis we find the promise of descendants, 10 times the promise of relationship, 13 times the promise of land, and another 17 times alluding to one of these promises.

Abraham, the first time God talks to him after telling him to leave Ur of the Chaldees, He only speaks of what He will do for him. I will bless you, I will make your name great, I will bless the nations through you. And then the last time that God speaks to Abraham, in chapter 22, He does the same. He promises to bless him.

The first word to Jacob in chapter 28 is a promise. The last word to Jacob in chapter 46 is a promise. Four times Jacob is going to encounter a theophany, that is a God appearing. And Jacob, for all of the ways that he can be a conniving trickster, God in these theophanies never even speaks to Jacob of his unethical behavior. Each time He comes to Jacob with promises.

So it’s right and good that we learn the stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. So long as we realize the book is not meant to be a collection of personal vignettes. Yes, we should draw from them as examples. The New Testament tell us to do that. But much more importantly, it is a story of God’s promises being fulfilled through God’s providence.

And actually, if you try to make the patriarchs and that family an example for you, you will find many more occasions where they are not the example than occasions where they are. Abraham and Isaac lie about their wives. Sarah laughs at God’s promise. Lot’s wife turns to a pillar of salt. Jacob is a manipulator and Rachel helps him. Laban is a cheat. Joseph is boastful. His brothers are jealous and sell him into slavery. Simeon and Levi slaughter the Shechemites. Rueben sleeps with his father’s concubine. Judah sleeps with his daughter-in-law. And this is the good side of the family.

So we ought not to turn Genesis into a book of heroes and heroines showing us with great courage what it is to live for God.

No, the story is about God’s promise, God’s initiative, God’s follow through, God’s providential care and blessing. That’s the theme that we’ll encounter. God’s promises fulfilled through God’s providence.

So we’ve looked at the structure, we’ve looked at some themes to try to orient you to the book.

Now in our few minutes remaining, go back to verses 1 and 2. I want you to notice two things we see about God in these opening verses of the Bible. First, most obviously, we see that our God is a Creator God. We cannot overstate the importance the Bible gives to the revelation of God as creator. If God is not the creator of all things, then you do not have the God as He is presented to us in the Bible.

I mentioned the verb “bara.” It is only ever used, at least in this form, of God in the Bible. He is ultimately the only one who creates. He is not a territorial deity, He is the maker of heaven and earth and the Bible repeats over and over that we might not forget it.

Nehemiah 9:6: You are the Lord. You alone. You have made heaven, the heavens of heavens, with all their host. The earth and all that is on it. The seas and all that is in them. And you preserve all of them and the host of heaven worships You.

We could multiply the expressions of praise in the Psalms, or the many times in the New Testament.

For example, Acts 14:15: Men, why are you doing these things, Paul says. We also are men of like nature with you and we bring you good news that you should turn from these vain things to a living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.

Over and over again, the chief distinction between the living God and the false, so-called gods, the idols of this world, is that God made everything. These idols cannot even speak, they can’t walk, they can’t think. They’re made from stone, they’re made from wood, they’re made from objects that the real God made.

So verse 1 gives us the big picture: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Heavens and earth is a way of saying all things visible and invisible, or from sea to shining sea, heavens and earth, everything God created.

And then verse 2 tells us that the work of creation was not done in an instant, but as we’ll see in the next two weeks, God’s work of creation spans six days.

Verse 2 has one of the best phrases in all of the Old Testament in Hebrew: The earth was without form and void. And every seminary student has this one phrase stick with them, tohu wa-bohu. It was tohu was-bohu. It was without form and void.

Now what does that mean? God made the heavens and the earth, but the earth, now remember it is ha’aretz, it could be translated “the land,” the earth was without form and void. And then we’re going to see darkness and the Spirit of God hovering over the face of the water. Sometimes this is described as a kind of primordial ooze or watery abyss or kind of gaseous chaos in the universe, or maybe God just kind of made a big lump of Play-Doh and now He’s got to make it into something in six days.

I don’t think that’s what tohu wa-bohu means. Rather it’s to suggest that the land was, at first, desolate and uninhabitable. Why do I think that? Well, there’s one other time in the New Testament where the words are used together like this, and it comes from Jeremiah 4:23. You can turn there or just listen. This section is of God’s punishment over Judah for her sins, and it’s describing the desolation that will come upon Judah.

Jeremiah 4:23: I looked on the earth and behold it was without form and void, and to the heavens and they had no light. I looked on the mountains and behold they were quaking and the hills moved to and fro. I looked and behold there was no man and all the birds of the air had fled. I looked and behold the fruitful land was a desert and all its cities were laid in ruins before the anger, before his fierce anger.

That’s a description of God’s punishment, that He is going to so wreak havoc upon Judah that He will bring the land almost as it were, certainly it’s some hyperbole, but back to a state before God shaped and fashioned it. Now He doesn’t mean there in Jeremiah that He’s going to, you know, obliterate it into a bazillion atoms like, you know, the Death Star blowing up the planet or something, or make it go back to some watery ooze, but rather that it will be no longer a fruitful land. It will be like a desert.

So in Genesis when we read that the earth was without form and void, I think we are understand that it means it’s not yet ready, it’s not inhabitable, it’s not yet what God will make of it to fashion it and form it ultimately for the crown of His creation, human beings. Darkness was over the face of the deep. Deep sounds scary, but remember oftentimes in the New Testament deep calls out to deep, or Psalm 148:7, the deep praises God. However we’re to understand this as canyons on the earth or great cavernous regions of the oceans. There’s darkness over the face of the deep because God has not yet said “let there be light.”

The Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And I think the ESV is right to capitalize this, ruach in the Hebrew, referring to the divine Spirit hovering over the face of the waters is a similar passage in Deuteronomy 32:11 descending an eagle brooding over its young, so it’s the sort of imagery of the Spirit there hovering over, brooding over the nest, as it were, of God’s creation.

And as I’ll point out several times in the weeks ahead, we see already strong hints in these opening verses that the God who created heavens and the earth is plural, and we see in the very first three verses, though it’s not, you know, explained as it would later in the New Testament, but we see the three persons of the Trinity. God created the heavens and the earth, the Spirit hovering over the face of the water, and what about verse 3? The Word. God creates by means of the Spirit and the Word. He spoke and it came into being.

What we have here is not an abyss of gas and vapor or a cauldron of evil forces, but rather a land that is as yet unproductive and uninhabitable. A desolate planet in need of curating and cultivating. What we see most importantly is that Genesis gives us the answer to one of the most enduring questions: Why something rather than nothing? Why something rather than nothing?

Big bang theory says in the beginning there was nothing and then it blew up. Well, it might actually be compatible. In the beginning there was nothing and God made it blow up. He called it into existence. God is the creator of heavens and the earth.

Ultimately, there are only two responses why something. Why something? Either the universe is the result of some free personal agent, or the universe somehow creates itself. And the Bible tells us absolutely the universe did not create itself, but is the design of a free personal agent, namely God, and more than that, in distinction to the mythologies and the world views of the day, the Bible tells us that it is the agency of one god.

Remember, Genesis was not written in the 1870s to counteract Darwin’s new ideas. What Genesis is counteracting is not, well, religious or not religious, theistic or not theistic. No, everyone was religious. Everyone believed in some sort of God. So that’s not the polemic, religion versus not religion. But the polemic is Israel’s view of God versus the pagan view of gods and goddesses.

And so we see from the very first words of the Bible, setting them on a different trajectory from their neighbors, in the beginning, just one God and He created the heavens and the earth.

So notice He is a Creator God.

And then finally notice He is a self-existent God. You could say even before we are introduced to God as a creator, we are introduced to God in His aseity, a-s-e-i-t-y. A Latin theological term that means God is of Himself, He is independent, He depends on no one and on nothing. He is eternal. He is before all things and on Him all things depend. In the beginning, God.

He’s distinct from creation. There was a time when physical matter was not, but there never was a time when God was not.

Genesis here is implying what other parts of the Bible will make explicit, that God created ex nihilo, out of nothing.

Romans 4:17: As it is written, I’ve made you the father of many nations, in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

Even more clearly, Hebrews 11:3: 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.

So don’t miss how important this is. We have a God who is the creator of all things. And we have a God who depends on no one, is dependent upon nothing, is Himself eternal.

So what does this mean? Well, think about the Israelites receiving this divine, inspired story from Moses. Part of what it should reinforce to the Israelites, who are not known for being the most obedient people, was oh my, the God we serve has every right to command of us obedience. The God we serve is, is even bigger than the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, even bigger than the God who delivered us through the Red Sea and set us free from Pharaoh. This is the God who existed and has always existed when there was nothing to exist but God. We have a God who is unlike us, one to whom we owe everything, one to whom we must give an account.

And yet amazingly, as we’ll see in the very opening chapters of Genesis, this God interacts with us.

It’s the transcendence, it’s the utter transcendence of God, His other-ness, His beyond us-ness, it’s the transcendence of God that makes His eminence, His nearness, His closeness, so astounding.

If He’s just transcendent and He never wants anything to do with us and okay, He’s fearful, He’s a great and powerful Oz, okay. Or if He’s all eminent and He’s really, He hurts with us and He’s just like us but He really loves us and He has some superpowers, well, you can watch a Marvel movie like that. God is utterly transcendent and is going to show Himself to be utterly concerned with our well-being, even when we rebel against Him.

So Genesis 1:1 already establishes three essential elements in understanding life and everything in it. God, man, the world. Almost everything about how you understand the planet and your place in it comes down to those three things. Now it’s not everything, we don’t have sin, we don’t have Jesus, but, but God, man, world. These are the foundational bricks. You know, if you’re going to build a house of how you think about things, how you understand the world, how you, to whom you owe your allegiance and your obedience, who has the final say in your life? ESPN? Twitter? Even your parents? Expectations from work or country? Who has the final say in your life?

Genesis 1:1 tells us what we need to know about man, God, and the world. It tells us that the world was made by God. It is not God, it exists outside of God but is utterly dependent upon God. It tells us that man, men and women, we’ll see more about them later, but we see from the very beginning, because we’re not here, so we must not be God. We are not eternal.

And most of all, it tells us in Genesis 1:1 about God. He’s not man, He’s not the world, He’s without beginning.

You ever, back when people used to go out and do things and you’d go watch a movie, my family, maybe it was being Dutch and always trying to save money, the only time we would go to a movie as kids was the much-coveted 10:00 a.m. Saturday movie slot, and that was, we were always rushing out of the house and waking us up, we wanted to go see a movie, and my dad would take us and we’d rush out of the house and we’d, we’d miss the previews and maybe we’d miss the first few minutes. You ever go to a movie that you really miss something important in the first few minutes? You think you know what’s going on, you think you understand what’s happening, and then later someone tells you, oh, you didn’t see?

My wife and I went, whenever this came out, 2004 or 5 and we went and saw Finding Nemo. I don’t want a spoiler, but if you haven’t seen it, I mean, it’s your own fault now, but you know, Nemo’s mom, like gets eaten or something. We didn’t even see that. We missed the first part, and I thought, oh, wow, that makes a lot of sense. That’s really sad. Um, I see the whole father/son and I always wondered where did the child come from. I don’t know.

But if you ever go into a movie and you miss the first few minutes, and you’re sort of lost or you have a different view, that’s like trying to live your life or understand the universe without Genesis. Even without the first verse of Genesis. There is a God. He is utterly transcendent. He exists in and of Himself and He made all things. And He made the world and everything in it and it exists utterly dependent upon God but it is not itself God.

And so if we are to be Christians, really Christians, not just people who go to church, real Christians in this world, in these trying times, we need to be reminded again and again of the God that we serve.

Revelation 4:11: Worthy are You, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for You created all things and by Your will they existed and were created.

Let’s pray. Father in heaven, help us as we embark on this exciting, God-glorifying, we hope, spirit-enriching journey through the book of Genesis. Help us to learn things we didn’t know before, whether we’re coming to this book for the fiftieth time or for the very first time. Show us again who You are. Give us eyes to see again the wonder and the beauty and the goodness of Your creation, to see the horror of our sin and rebellion, and the hope we have of Your promise and Your providence. We look to You, our Creator God, in Jesus we pray. Amen.