God finished what he started. And he had already said his work was very good. It brings to mind what the people said of Jesus after he had healed a deaf man, commanding his ears to “be opened.” The people were astonished beyond measure, and said, He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.” God’s work of creation and Jesus’ work of re-creation are perfect. God does not try to do anything. He just does it. It was true at creation. He spoke and the universe came into being. It was true at re-creation. Jesus spoke and the blind saw and the deaf heard and the dead came to life: “Lazarus, come out.” It was true for you and me on the day of our re-creation, when our ears were unstopped and our eyes could finally see and Jesus called us by name and we crossed over from death to life. He does all things well. It is true right now for you and me because God is not finished with us. He still works. He rested on the 7th day of creation, and we will get to that in a minute, but this is the 8th day and as Jesus said to those who were persecuting him because he healed on the Sabbath: “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” What is the promise we stand on that gives us great hope even when we feel like our life just doesn’t measure up and that we certainly do NOT do all things well? Oh, so many, but this one comes to mind: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” God always finishes what he starts. That’s the first thought.
The second is that when God rested, it was not because he was tired and needed a break. The word there simply means “to cease.” God stopped the work of creation on the seventh day, but he did not stop working! Thank God for that. Allen Ross writes, “Sabbat, to rest...is not a word that refers to remedying exhaustion after a tiring week of work. Rather, it describes the enjoyment of accomplishment, the celebration of completion.” God stopped working and rejoiced over his perfect creation.
Allen Ross adds this: The New Testament uses the concept of Sabbath rest in a spiritual sense. Believers have ceased from their labors and have entered into that divine rest.” That’s what Hebrews 4 talks about. Read the whole chapter! Here are two verses: “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.” How about you? Have you rested from your works? Not your spiritual disciplines, where you put yourself in a position to enjoy God more, but your fretful attempts to try and make yourself good enough to be loved by God? Give those a rest!
The last day of creation before God rests is the most important day of creation because it is the day God created mankind. But first, God creates animals and all manner of creeping things. God filled the seas and the sky with fishes and birds of all kinds, and now he fills the earth with “All creatures great and small, The Lord God made them all,” as the song goes. He made the elephant and the mosquito. I used to think that would be one of my questions for God when I have a chance one day in heaven. I get buzzards and skunks and snakes and frogs. But mosquitoes? Is there anything good about those murderous pests who can carry malaria? I found my answer this week. The male mosquitoes eat nectar and help pollinate flowers. And bats and birds and reptiles eat mosquitoes. Oh, well.
Now the creation narrative slows down. The earth is filled with beasts and creepy-crawlies, the sky is filled with birds, and the seas are filled with fish. Who will have dominion over them? Which also means, who will name them all?
For the first time the phrase is not, “And God said,” but it is “Then, God said.” And for the first time the Godhead, the Elohim, discusses what happens next in Creation. God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, and God the Son were all present and active in creation. You can read John 1 and Colossians 1 to find confirmation of Jesus the Son being the agent of creation.
Then we find the first poetry in the Bible! Three lines, three repetitions of bara, “created.” “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Mankind is the apex of God’s creation. Psalm 8 tells us that God created man a little bit lower than the angels, not a little bit higher than the animals. Nothing in all the universe even comes close to the mystery and the marvel that a human baby is the very crown of creation. Every person created by God did not exist before he or she was created. Then God spoke them into being through the miracle of conception and gestation and birth, and at the moment of conception they became a living soul, made in the image of God, and will live forever. The stars will all burn out one day, but people live forever. That is just ONE reason we believe in the sanctity of life. Here’s another:
Imago dei. We were created in God’s image. There is so much in that phrase that this column cannot fully unpack. We know in part the meaning is that we were created by God to be like him in our moral, spiritual, and intellectual essence. Tony Evans writes, “An image is a mirror or a reflection. This also means that everybody, regardless of their race or ethnicity, has intrinsic value and worth. Dignity is innate. All humans are born with esteem because they are created in the image of God.” What happened after the fall? Did sin mean that men and women no longer have intrinsic value or worth? No! But the entrance of sin into the world marred that image, and one scholar wrote that man is now “a grisly shadow of himself.” Derek Kidner writes, “As long as we are human we are, by definition, in the image of God. But spiritual likeness…can be present only where God and man are in fellowship; hence, the fall destroyed it and our redemption recreates and perfects it.” That is why we need a Redeemer, and there is one, only one, Christ himself!
Day 6 of creation is completed with this: “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” That includes you.
God is the subject of the first sentence of the Bible. The first three words of the first book of the Bible are a profound affirmation of monotheism over polytheism. The children of Israel have been delivered from the land of pantheism and polytheism, Ra the sun god, Heqet the frog-goddess, and many other Egyptian gods. Moses writes Bereshith bara Elohim. First, bereshith, in the beginning, God. God was there. Always. For eternity. Before time and space were created by him, God is. Second, bara, in the beginning, God created. Elohim is the plural name for the Godhead, and bara is a singular verb. The Godhead, all three persons of the one true God, created. This was the beginning of time, not the beginning of God or of eternity. And it is clear from these first two verses that God created ex nihilo, out of nothing. There was no matter until God created it. The writer of Hebrews testifies, “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.” (Hebrews 11:3) God created everything out of nothing, which is a refutation of materialism and naturalism which holds up matter as the only real thing there is. Carl Sagan died in 1996 but his famous quote and his book and TV show “Cosmos” was well-known for his contention that, “The cosmos is all there is, or has been, or will be.” Wait a minute. If that were true, that would make the Cosmos…God! And it would make the triune God a liar who said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Rev. 1:8)
The first sentence of the Bible kicks aside polytheism and philosophical naturalism. And it sweeps away Darwinian evolution. Malcolm Muggeridge wrote more than 40 years ago, “I myself am convinced that the theory of evolution, especially to the extent to which it has been applied, will be one of the greatest jokes in the history books of the future. Posterity will marvel that so very flimsy and dubious a hypothesis could be accepted with the incredible credulity that it has.”
God created the world out of nothing, which Proverbs 8 sings about. In the beginning, God created. What did he create?
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. That’s another way of saying God created the cosmos. God created everything that was created, or as John put it in his Gospel prologue, “without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:3) How much did God make? Well, that is still unknown, isn’t it? How large is the universe? Just the galaxy we live in, the Milky Way, is estimated to be 100,000 light years across, or approximately six hundred trillion miles. Don’t book a flight on American. And how many galaxies are there in the universe that God created out of nothing, and with a simple word? Probably more than one hundred thousand million. And Edwin Hubble with his famous telescope tells us that the most distant galaxy is 8 billion light years away and racing away from us at 200 million miles per hour. The universe, like God who created it from nothing, is beyond our imagination or our calculation. And our God created not only the galaxies but every speck of dust, every atom, molecule that is.
That is why God said to Isaiah, “To whom then will you compare me, that I should be like him? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these? He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of his might and because he is strong in power, not one is missing.” The God of all creation tells his crown of all creation, mankind, “You can’t even decide if Pluto is a planet, but I know every star by name.” I believe God would also say, “Don’t waste your money on the ‘Name a star after you!’ scam.”
God is the creator of everything that is. Including you and me. And to think that he created us for relationship with him makes the universe, and especially God’s grace even more amazing!
It has been my custom most years to preach a sermon from my journal at the beginning of a new year. I look back at things I wrote in my journal that the Lord taught me during the previous year and today I share four lessons that meant something to me, and perhaps they will bless you as well.