The King is in Control - "Sunnyhill" Herne Bay Evangelical Free Church

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The King is in Control - Genesis chapter 1.

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The King is in Control


Introduction

Ten years ago news reports were full of the credit crunch and the near collapse of the world's banking system. Woolies had gone and a number of other shops were in real danger of closure too. The Middle East was experiencing tension and conflicts remained unresolved in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ten years down the line the economic effects of that banking crisis continue to be felt. We’re told wages have only just about returned to the level they were at then. And of course more famous shops have disappeared or been taken over. Credit continues to be a major issue as has been recently highlighted for us by the collapse of th e pay day loan company Wonga.

On the international scene the Arab Spring has come and largely gone but the problems in the ME are still with us.

We could be tempted to say that not much has changed…

But there again no-one was talking about Brexit 10 years ago (though the media does seem to be trying to make up for lost time!) And who would have thought 10 years ago that a Conservative government would pass legislation authorizing same-sex marriage?

The one constant we live with is that of problems. On the one hand there are those old, persistent and intractable problems that resist attempts to resolve them and on the other there are new problems and new pressures that challenge our widely accepted system of moral values.

We are not the first generation to be confronted with complex problems. Many of our predecessors were helped by a book and that book is still available to us. The Bible which gave them a framework for understanding the world they lived in and a moral compass to navigate by is able to do the same for us if only we will take it seriously.

Many of the so-called leaders and shakers in our society today have given up on the Bible. They dismiss it, ridicule it or simply ignore it but they have nothing solid with which to replace its truths. The reason why they have pushed the Bible to one side is not because it is unclear or because they have found something better it is because they do not like the truth it teaches, they do not want to submit to a God who makes moral demands upon them and holds them to account for their actions and behaviour.

The very first chapter of the Bible, Genesis ch.1, begins to lay the solid foundations of the biblical world view that God would have us wholeheartedly embrace. This worldview will help us make sense of the world we live in and to understand why the world is in the mess it is.


Genesis and its original readers

Moses was the author as is testified in the NT as well as the OT. There are some indications that the book, as we now have it, may have edited slightly by a later editor but the body of the work comes from Moses. This was certainly the view of our Lord Jesus and what was good enough for him is surely good enough for us!

Why is it important to know who the author was? someone might want to ask. Well it immediately helps us to see for whom the book was written. Moses had in mind the people of God that he had led out of slavery in Egypt. Now Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land and died with the people still outside the land that God had promised to their ancestors.

You can imagine the scenario easily enough. The people are nearing the end of their journey but to go in and take possession of the land will involve a long hard military struggle. And now to top it all their human leader Moses can't lead them any more. Small wonder that they urge the new man Joshua time and again to be "strong and courageous". The people of God needed the comfort of knowing that their God was not limited as to his power and authority.
They were facing difficult days ahead. Could they go forward? The answer of Genesis ch.1 was a resounding "Yes". Their God was no localized little deity who was taking them to untried regions. No, he was the Sovereign Creator who was in complete control of the destiny of the entire world. Knowing that their God was such a God was a tremendous strength for them.

And the same should be true of us who are Christians this morning. The economic situation may appear grim, new terrorist threats may break upon us in the coming weeks, any number of problems may shortly arise but the world-view presented to us in the Bible includes the comforting truth that Almighty God is in control. Indeed Gen.1 may be summarized like this:

The Sovereign God, who is King of the Universe, created the earth as his good Kingdom with his powerful word.

If the King is indeed in control of everything then what comfort and reassurance that truth ought to bring to us. But only if we know who this King is; only if we are living our lives in a proper relationship with him.

So let’s turn to our text and consider some of its key themes.


God
Perhaps the thing that is most striking as we read the chapter is the fact that God is everywhere in it. The word is used 35 times in just 31 verses. No attempt is made to prove the existence of God. The chapter opens with a simple, clear, straightforward declaration:

v.1 "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."


In Hebrew there are just seven words – the number of perfection and completeness. The verb "create" only ever appears in Scripture with God as the subject – something totally new is brought about without materials being mentioned at all. The word is used five times in this chapter.

As we read through the verses we should be struck not simply by the repetition of the word God but also by the fact that this God is constantly active.

He speaks – He sees – He creates – He makes – He calls – He blesses.


The God of the Bible is no mere idea or philosophical concept. He is alive and well and full of power. He is active and worthy of trust because everything he does, he does well; everything he creates he creates in a way that perfectly satisfies his own criteria – he is pleased with it all.

Throughout the chapter God is portrayed as being real, active, powerful, totally in control, determined and meaningful in all he does. He is personal and not some sort of impersonal life force.

  • God is presented to us as Sovereign – he has operated to establish his kingdom on earth. This kingdom is well-ordered and filled with an abundance of living things over which he rules, totally in control of every step of the developing creation.


  • There is simply no place for atheism in the Christian world-view. And that means no place for a life of "practical atheism" Monday to Saturday until we put on our religious hat when Sunday comes around again. God rules over the world he has made – we need not, indeed we dare not, therefore live as though he was not present actively working in the circumstances that cause us fear.

 

  • God is presented to us as distinct from his creation. The universe and the earth that he has made are not some emanation of his nature.


  • God is not in some way part of the whole process of things. We are freed from the errors and meaninglessness of pantheism – of Mother Earth and Gaia type ideas.


Because he is not part of the process but outside and distinct from it he is able to help us as he is not bound by it! He is able to give us laws and commandments which are wholesome and good and durable. We have a solid basis for morality and meaning.


  • The God who is presented to us is One God. The whole of creation has been accomplished by just this One God. Everything that is has come from him. The entire universe is the result of a carefully ordered plan and purpose that has been accomplished to his complete satisfaction.


Thus we are spared the vagaries of polytheism. Also we can rest assured that we are not the accidental result of some clash between warring deities.


  • And God is presented to us Creator of the entire universe.


So we are not the result of some chance happenings as proposed by naturalistic evolution or any other form of naturalism or animism.


No, the Bible declares that God is intimately involved in his creation – he has made the world a beautiful place for man to live in. He has made man in his own image so that man can function as his representative on earth.


And God said…

Again and again through ch.1 we read that God spoke as he accomplished his work of creation. He acts just like a sovereign sat upon his throne – he issues his orders and his commands – and as soon as he speaks the result is accomplished.

Moses presents the account to us a carefully ordered progression from an initial state where human life (or any other life for that matter) is impossible to a state where everything is perfectly ordered and where human life can not only exist but flourish.

We should note the harmony too – the Spirit of God is present and active as is the Word of God. This remains the essential pattern for the church too – the Word and the Spirit working together!

Notice the contrast between v.2 + v.31

v.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."


This describes the initial materials that God created – we should not interpret the description to mean that evil existed but rather that the conditions did not yet exist in which life could flourish. In other words there was absolutely no possibility of any natural evolution occurring there! God had to work and that is just we find him doing in the subsequent verses.

Progressively the original "chaos" is transformed into the completed "cosmos"

v.31 "And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good."


We should bear this in mind when our own circumstances seem unpromising to say the least. The same Lord who brought about order out of an initial chaos as he created everything there is, is the Lord who continues to rule over the world he has made. He is well able to bring order into the chaos of human lives.

As God works to secure the finished world of his design he proceeds by a sequence of separation and distinction.

v.3, 4 "And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light… And God separated the light from the darkness."  


The unpromising beginning of utter darkness is the first item to be addressed. God speaks and light floods his newly created world.

And so the process goes on:

A breathable atmosphere is brought into being as the waters are separated by the expanse. Then dry land is separated from the seas. And all this occurs as a direct consequence of God’s creative word. God is in control –he works steadily to produce the world he wants, a world that is totally suitable for human life. The first half of the creation week ends with vegetation growing freely.

The next three days parallel and develop the first three.

Light had been made on Day 1 now on Day 4 it is the turn of the stars, sun and moon to be made. Each has its own role to fulfil.

Have you noticed that in vv.14-16 the sun and the moon are not even mentioned by name they are merely referred to as "lights"? Many of Israel's neighbours worshipped these astronomical phenomena. Egypt for example worshipped the Sun god. Do you see how Moses pricks the bubble of pompous sun and moon worshippers? Firstly, the names of their "gods" are not mentioned and secondly when they are finally referred to the creation week is already half over!!

Israel had no need to fear those who worshipped such entities as "gods" – these "gods" were only a part of the Creation that their God had made!

How foolish today then is the use of astrologers and their fanciful predictions based upon stellar movements. In times of crisis we are certainly not to turn to such things when there is a God in Heaven who rules over all things – we turn to him with confidence and trust!

Day 5 sees the creation of birds for the atmosphere and sea creatures for the waters.

And then we arrive at Day 6 – it is a special day.

Land animals are spoken into existence and then blessed – God using his powerful word. But tThen Moses suddenly slows everything down. Something special is about to happen and he doesn't want us to miss it!

God stops his activity and consults with himself before going further – we've not encountered anything like that before – what can it all mean?

v.26 "Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness."


And so in this careful and deliberate manner mankind is made. Uniquely man is made in the image of God – this was not true of any other element in the Creation!

v.27 "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them."


And with the creation of man everything has been completed. The earth has been so fashioned so that man, the crown of God's creation might have a good place in which to live. And finally as God surveys his handiwork he settles back as it were and declares that everything is "very good". Nothing is out of place, nothing is missing, everything is perfect. God has been in total control!


God Identified

The creative word that produced such splendidly beautiful results is identified for us in the NT by John at the beginning of his gospel when he deliberately echoes the opening verses of Gen.1.

Jn.1:1-3 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made."


Jesus Christ was the agent of God's creative activity, the creative Word.

Paul, writing to the Colossians, put it like this:

Col.1:15-16; 19-20. "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created… For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross."


The amazing thing to notice here is the commitment this living Word retains towards the world he has made. This Word became flesh – not to Lord it over mankind but to suffer and die to redeem lost sinners. The word made flesh would suffer death on Calvary's tree!

As John continues his gospel he does so in just the way Moses continued in Genesis by referring to light!

Jn.1:4-5 "In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."


Paul picked up on Moses words when writing to the Corinthians. On the spiritual front we are all unpromising material – but God is not hampered by that!  

2Cor. 4:6 "For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ."


For the OT people of God it was a tremendously encouraging thing to know that God ruled in a sovereign manner over the world and that because of that they could face uncertain days with a calm confidence.

For us it is all the more stunning to stop and meditate that not only can we trust the Creator God who rules over the world he has made but that he has so commended his love towards us that he sent his own Son, the Living Word of God, into the world to die for us!

As again Paul put it this time writing to the Romans:

Rom.8:31-32 "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?"


Surely it is reasonable for us to trust such a God!


Conclusion.

Plenty more could be said on this particular chapter but we have focused on some elementary truths.

God is. God is in control. And God can be trusted because of his great love!

May God's truth transform firstly our thinking as we receive his truth and then transform our lives as it is surely impossible to receive and understand such truths without them having a profound effect upon our lives.


 
 
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