Two men walking to Emmaus, and Jesus meets up with them after he had been resurrected, but the two men didn’t recognize Him. Jesus asked what they were talking about and the two men were amazed that He didn’t know what had happened. So they told Jesus about this “Jesus” who was a prophet that they had hoped was the one to redeem Israel, but he was crucified, and now His body is not in the tomb, but some women said they saw and angel who told them He was alive:
25 And [Jesus] said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:25-27)
This is why we are going through the story of God, so we can interpret the Scriptures that concern Jesus, which concern us, and our transformation and mission.
In the Christian worldview, God created all things and His creation is seen as a gift from God. Under no obligation or necessity, and out of His great pleasure, He created us inside this vast universe, living on earth, breathing air, enjoying sights, sounds, tastes, smells, feelings, relationships and many other things that we enjoy on this earth. God graciously gifted all these wonderful things for us to steward and enjoy!
Christians have always believed in creation by an omnipotent, sovereign God. It’s only been since a couple hundred years ago that the origin of creation has been debated in what we call the “age of reason” or the “Enlightenment”.
But there needs to be a disclaimer about the creation account before we begin to unpack it. It’s far too easy to read the first chapters of Genesis with the questions of our time: “Were the days of creation 24 hours long?” “How long ago did this happen?” “Is this history or myth?” “How does this square with modern views of science and evolution?” Of course, these are important questions and we can probably learn some things from Genesis 1-11 that are relevant to them.
But we don’t learn very much from a text if we ask it questions that it was not written to answer. Genesis is answering questions like: “What are human beings? What are we here for? What is our relationship to the nature and the world? Who is God and what is He like? Genesis 1 is not about the “How” of creation but rather about the “Why”.
Jesus in Gen. 1
So if we were to begin with Moses, he wrote the first five books of the OT. So open your Bibles to Genesis 1:1-2 and let’s look for the Jesus.
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.
There He is. Did you catch that? He’s there in the first verse, but we learn this later in God’s story as we read passages like this:
In Colossians, Paul speaks of Jesus being “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 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.” (Col. 1:15-16).
Then the apostle John brings further clarity to this reality as he teaches about Jesus Christ being the “Word” (or words of God) at the “beginning” as he starts off his gospel: “1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1-3)
So it’s clear that we see the Trinity at work in creation: God, through Jesus, by the movement of the Spirit, creation of the world begins; the Spirit and the Word.
At the beginning of our universe as we know it, God existed and acted. He receives no introduction or explanation. He simply is present, acting in the most profound manner imaginable. He is the creator. He is the center of life, and truth can only be known through Him, since He is the Creator of all things. Alright, back to verse 1.
Exposition of Gen. 1: Creation Account
Gen 1:1: “created the heavens and earth”: the word “created” is the Hebrew word “bara” and is only used of God, never of human activity. Humans may “make” (asa) “form” (yatsar) or “build” (bana), but only God creates (bara; ex nihilo; out of nothing).
Gen. 1:2: “and the earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving” This verse shows the utter need at the outset of creation for God to move and the power by which He will move and create (by the Spirit).
Gen. 1:3: “And God said (God speaks! This is the word of God), ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” We learn here that God speaks, and whatever He says happens exactly the way He says for it to happen. Also, in vv. 2-3, we see God using two instruments to create with:
The “Spirit of God” (the movement) and the “Word of God” (the authority). In the creation of the world, and in the re-creation of believers in salvation, the Spirit and the Word work together to bring life where there is death. God never brings life and growth without the Word and Spirit.
Also, notice that in verse 2 there is darkness, and in verse 3 there is God speaking light into darkness. This is God’s MO (mode of operation). In 2 Cor. 4:6 we read: For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” (referring to Gen. 1:3) has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
So right out of the gates, as God is revealing Himself to mankind, He is revealing His plan to redeem mankind through the Son being the light that reaches into the dark hearts of mankind to take their old hearts, and give them a new heart, a new birth. This is God’s gospel being revealed to us from the beginning.
And starting in verse 3 on through the end of the chapter, we begin to see repetitious patterns appear that teach us about God’s gospel. Let’s look at them:
1. “God” with the word “made” or “created”. “God” appears 35 times in the first 34 verses. He dominates and overshadows everything. Nothing happens unless God makes it happen. Nothing is made or created except by Him. And notice there is no argument or fight with other gods during creation…that’s because there aren’t any!
2. “and God said”: This phrase is found 10 times in this chapter and indicates the divine command which called things into existence at will.
3. “and it was so”: This is used 6 times in this chapter to affirm that the creative command of God was perfectly accomplished and is powerful. We do not see God saying, “I’m going to do this” and then go do it. Almost always, he says: “Let there be…” and immediately “it was so”. Our words only express the intention to act, but God’s word is an action itself.
4. “it was good” or “very good”: This is found 7 times in the passage and it demonstrates the benevolence and wisdom of God in creation. It also serves as a type of benediction (a closing utterance). In verse 31, we have a kind of ‘master benediction’, where God sees “all that he had made… was very good”.
5. “separate” or “separating”: This word is used or assumed 6 times in the passage. The initial act of creation (v.1) is ex nihilo (Latin for “out of nothing”), but after that God’s creative work consists of elaborating, distinguishing, separating, and “drawing out” the creation into greater complexity.
6. “and there was evening and there was morning: This phrase occurs 6 times and shows us that there were days that were allotted to creation and by which God worked within. It’s clear to see that the division of the creative work of God into six days is a repetition in and of itself.
The Imago Dei: Created in God’s Image
Gen. 1:26: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness”: Up until now, the phrase used for God creating things has repeatedly been “let there be”, whereas this verse shifts unexpectedly to “let us make”.
This suggests a few things to the reader: 1) that something big is about to go down on the 6th day; 2) that God says “us” and “our image after our likeness” which begins to teach us of the Trinity; and 3) an ancient Near Eastern Hebrew would take this to refer to a divine counsel that is taking place in the heavenly realms, which leads us to believe that the “man” being made is being given dominion over the earth while the heavenly beings are being stripped of their dominion in this realm.
“in our image”: The Hebrew word here for image is “selem” and indicates physical resemblance or concrete similarity. It comes from a root word which means “to cut or carve”, much like a statue is made that depicts a great king, etc. In the ANE, the word “selem” would be used to refer to “rulership”.
“[and] according to our likeness”: Likeness is “demuth” in Hebrew, and indicates abstract similarity. It comes from a root meaning “to be like.” In the ANE, the word “demulth” would have implied “sonship”
Ruler and Son/Daughter. This is fully realized in the person of Jesus. This is who you were created to be from the beginning, but you will never fully know it until you know Jesus. Humans rule in ways God didn’t intend. We must look to how Jesus ruled (i.e. power through weakness; sacrificial love; covenant keep Son/Father)
What does the Imago Dei not mean for us?
– It does not mean we are gods, halflings, angels, or animals (incarnation as a different creature)
– It does not mean that we are just a body (materialism/atheism).
– It does not mean we are just a mind (we think therefore we are).
– It does not mean that we are just a product of our environment (born rich therefore you are valuable / abused therefore you are useless / born in a corrupt society, therefore you are corrupt). Ultimately you are not a victim of your own society.
– It does not mean we are just souls (the body and mind are not apart of our true humanness – body and soul).
– It does not mean that we are just creatures with emotions who feel, hurt etc…
Gen. 1:26b: 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. Let “them” together rule over this earth, as co-regents, exercising authority over the created things and elements that God gave them.
Gen. 1:27: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.” Human intimacy and sexual complementation is implied in the Hebrew words used here for “male” and “female”.
Their sexual acts teach us that man is a planter and a woman is a receiver. We hold a complimentarian position when it comes to man/woman relationships. We are different, have different roles, and created to accomplish different things (pregnancy, nursing, relationships, etc…)
The man needed the woman to complement him as much as the woman needed the man. In this relationship there is a corporate aspect to the image of God. Your image is not fully realized in and of yourself… you need the other sex. We were created for this integrated relationship on all levels of existence.
Read vv. 28-31: Be fruitful, multiply, subdue, rule over all that God created, and God said that all the he had made was VERY GOOD!
Read vv. 2:1-3: God rests, which teaches us that we are to rest. Sabbath is good, but it was not to be held religiously, rather it is to be held to help preserve shalom; the way things were supposed to be…Gen. 1 (universal peace and flourishing)
In Gen. 2, we see more of a micro or detailed view of what God created, and some clear Garden of Eden rules get implemented for the shalom of Adam and Eve. Within this SHALOM, God gives man a tree of life that they can eat from freely that will preserve their created order and allow their life to never end.
But God also created another tree called the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and this tree was off limits, and if they eat the fruit of that tree, they will surely die.
Genesis 2 on Marriage
Read Gen. 2:18-25: Here we see the way in which God created Eve and the marriage institution, and we can learn a lot about marriage, which we will just briefly touch on because of time:
1. All this was created before the entrance of sin, so sex is a very good thing between a man and a woman whom God has made one (in a covenantal relationship); it’s not sinful.
2. God made a woman to be a helper for the man (not, daddy’s little helper, and not someone to help you get an orgasm) but rather in the same fashion as Psalm 54:4: Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.
3. God made one woman for Adam, He didn’t create 30 women and run them by Him like He did the animals and have him pick the one he liked the most. God intends for a man and a woman to have one partner in their life; not multiple. This is why porn is destructive. A man can have thousands of partners who have his heart and now his wife is sharing her husband with many women. No wonder marriages suck!
4. God intended that man’s standard of beauty be the woman that he marries. Before you get married, you need to pray about who it is that God wants you to marry and it better not be only based on how she looks, because if it is, she will change after children and age and you will want to find someone else who looks like the woman you married earlier.
So the man’s standard of physical beauty was meant to be his wife and change as his wife changes. If your wife is short, you like short. If your wife is large, that means you like large for now. You may say, “what if she used to be skinny?” “then you don’t like skinny anymore!” Got it!! Be content with what you have. This goes both ways.
5. God created a man and a woman to be married together. Two different genders with two separate parts. God has always intended for marriage to be between a man and a woman. God did not create another man for Adam and then a woman and give Adam the choice. If that was the way God intended things to be, then it was no fair for Adam. But that’s not how it was intended to be. Any kind of sexual relations outside of a covenantal marriage between a man and a woman is destructive and wicked.
6. A man was meant to leave his mother and his father and become one with his wife and hold fast to her. That means he moves out of his parents home and stops being a mama’s boy. He grows up. He acts like a man and leads, loves and protects her; and the woman expects him to. The two become one and share life together unlike any other relationship in their lives. Are you sharing life with your wife, or are you hiding things in your life with her? Are you holding fast to her, or your own selfish sexual desires?
All of the above was to convince you that God is good, He is the creator of heaven and earth, the maker of mankind who placed His image on us, gave us the role to be co-regents with Him, to reign over the earth and everything in it, gave us all that we need (food, friendship, a place to live, good sex within His boundaries of marriage, the ability to reproduce, and Himself). This is the way things were supposed to be. This is a great picture of the Hebrew word “SHALOM” (universal peace and flourishing, God’s way).
The Fall of Man
And you guessed it, the unthinkable happened… something very terrible goes wrong in this great story. Man, whom God created to represent Himself to the world, chooses to disregard God’s rules, and tries to be like Him.
A serpent in the garden approaches Eve and begins to plot against her so that she would be like him, and not God. We call this serpent, Satan for lack of better words.
What was Satan’s strategy to Eve?
1. To question God’s word (“has God said” 3:1)” One twist of God’s word here was Satanic and so poisonous that it has affected every man that has ever lived. Rather than rebuking Satan, Eve entertained his lies. and was deceived by him (most crafty beast in the field). Eve chose Satan over God, and pride over humility. Do this sound familiar in your life?
2. To discredit God’s word (“you surely will not die” 3:4) (implications) Satan discredited God’s word by planting a seed of doubt in Eve’s heart as to whether or not she will actually die if she eats of the fruit. This is why believe every word of the Bible and seek to understand what every passage says.
3. To slander God’s character (“God knows that the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God knowing good and evil” 3:5). (implications) Satan now has Eve in his grip and totally turned the whole page in Eve’s head and has her believing that God is holding out on her for selfish reason and that God is in some way trying to protect His deity, but actually God was protecting man’s well-being.
The Silence of Adam
Men! Where was Adam during all of this? Why was he silent? (bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh, he was made to love her, protect her, care for her, provide for her and honor her….and he stood by watching, letting Satan work his wife over // he was checked out: football, porn, working on the car, working out…wake up dudes and get in the game!)
When sin entered the world, the effect on our relationship as male and female was devastating. God comes to Adam after he had eaten the forbidden fruit and asks what has happened. Adam says in Gen. 3:12: “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”
In other words “It’s her fault (or yours for giving her to me!), so if somebody must die for eating the fruit, it better be her!” It is right here that you have the beginning of all domestic violence, all wife abuse, all rape, all sexual slurs, all the ways of belittling woman whom God created in his own image, etc.
Gen. 3:13: Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” “Don’t kill me, kill the serpent! Give the serpent what I deserve. It’s all his fault!”
It is here that you have the beginning of blaming and not taking responsibility for your own sin. It is here that we have the origins of identifying everything but “sin” (worship of anything but God) as the problem (wars, Democrats/Republicans, the wealthy, men, women, etc…)
God then goes on to curse the serpent and the ground that Adam and Eve live on, and brings great complication to all of life (pregnancy, marriage, strife, etc…)
So what is sin?
Sin is rebelling against God. He is the Creator of all things, therefore, He sets the standard of everything. So ultimately, sin is preferring anything above God.
Cornelius Plantinga Jr. calls sin a perversion against God’s gracious plan. Shalom was created in the Garden of Eden, and sin “vandalized” shalom.
As humans, we prostituted the greatest gift we could receive from God by distorting/ruining “shalom”. Thus, the heart of all the evil we see because sin stems from idolatry. Idolatry is anything we prefer above God.
D.A. Carson says that sin is “the de-godding of God. It is the creature swinging his puny fist in the face of his Maker and saying in effect, “If you do not see things my way, I’ll make my own gods! I’ll be my own god!” (Christ and Culture Revisited, 46) Wow, sin has created one big ball of UGLINESS!
Question: How in the world does this ugliness point to Jesus? Answer: It points to Jesus because it begs for the healing that only Jesus can bring to the relationship between men and women, between man and his relationship to the earth, between himself, and most important of all, between he and God. It is very clear that at this point, we need radical help!
And just what are the first glimpses of Christ-like help do we see in this passage?
1. Gen. 3:14: I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. This is called by some scholars the “proto-euangelion” or the first proclamation of the good news foreshadowing Jesus’ advent (coming). The serpent WILL be crushed by Jesus taking what Adam, Eve and the serpent deserves, by dying on the cross to pay, once and for all, the penalty that mankind deserve for their rebellion.
2. Gen. 3:21: And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. The shame of their sin was not going to escape them unless they were covered. God in His grace kills an animal (sin produces death; this was the first death recorded in Scripture) and uses it’s skin to make garments for Adam and Eve to have their shame covered. One day, Jesus will come and cloth them for good, never to have their shame be able to be exposed…garments of Jesus’ righteousness.
At the end of chapter 3, God sends Adam and Eve out of the garden away from the tree of life, lest they eat of the fruit of that tree, which would cause them to remain in their broken and sinful state that they were in. So kicking them out of the garden was grace as well, and was God’s way of saying, I’m not going to let you remain this way!