Then the Lord answered Job out of the storm. He said: "Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone - while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?”
The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served created things rather than the Creator - who is forever praised. Amen.
Then Job replied to the Lord: ‘I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’
My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.’
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
Along with John 3:16, Genesis 1:1 is almost certainly one of the most well known verses of Scripture.
Most Christians have no problem remembering the exact words of the first verse in the Bible, and as a result of this, we tend to lose the significance of these words, as they are a profound opening statement in God’s Word.
What is the beginning?
Imagine for a moment that you were able to talk to previous generations, and you were to ask them when the beginning was. No matter how far back in time you went, you’d always find someone who can go back even further.
Your own story and ancestry would be traced all the way back to Adam, but it wouldn’t even end there, as Adam would then ask God the same question.
We don’t fully understand the concept of God being above and beyond time, but the conclusion we would reach would be something like this: Whenever the beginning of all things was, God already had been.
And the first 4 words of the Bible make basically the same statement: “In the beginning, God.” The very first words of Scripture point us immediately to God – not the creation, not the universe, but to God. It all starts with Him, and this opening statement makes the assumption that if we were able to pinpoint a date and time of the beginning of all things, God was already there, and had been there eternally.
Time, as we know it, cannot be applied to God.
The “pre-existence” of God is a cornerstone of what we believe.
Critics of the Christian faith sometimes ask believers to prove that God exists, and we mistakenly turn to verses in the Bible to try and make our point.
The Bible though, does not prove the existence of God. It assumes that He already had been and always will be.
By its opening four words, it makes the simple but profound statement that God does exist, and if you have trouble believing the first four words in the Bible, then you will struggle to make sense not only of the rest of the Bible, but of life itself.
The Bible does not start with the words, “In the beginning was the Creation.”
It immediately points us to God as the Creator of all things, rather than the creation, and this sets the theme for the rest of Scripture. The Bible makes no argument for the existence of God – it states His existence as fact, and our choice is to either believe or reject that fact.
In the Bible His existence is never debated; it is always assumed.
The secondary focus of Genesis 1:1 is the creation – what God has created, and that is the subject we will be exploring today. “I believe in the God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth.” But as we work through the subject of creation, you’ll find that we are constantly brought back to the creator, rather than the creation. Creation points us to God. So in order to make sense of creation, we need to keep God in the centre.
The concept of God creating the Universe and all the intricate bits and pieces in it, is a struggle for many people, partly because the Bible tells us so little of the process of creation. But Genesis 1 and 2 are not historical records – they are theological records. The opening chapters of the Bible give us a spiritual interpretation of history, rather than a factual one, but the opening words of the Bible are crucial to the Christian belief: “In the beginning God.” Everything else flows from that fundamental and profound statement.
Of course, there are alternate ideas and interpretations as to how everything started, because Genesis 1:1 leaves no room for arguing against the existence of God, and the most popular alternative is what has become known as the “big bang theory.”
It is usually people who resist the concept of God who subscribe to this, because without God, there is nowhere else to go. Just think about that for a moment. What are we left with, and what other possible explanation can there be for all we see around us?
So it is in desperation that non-Christians hold onto this idea of a cosmic explosion which miraculously brought everything into being.
Why ‘in desperation’? Quite simply because Genesis 1 puts God there first, but if you take God out, then the only ‘logical’ cause is an illogical big bang.
Why illogical? Because assuming for a moment that there was this massive explosion, the matter which caused this bang had to have come from somewhere. Explosions don’t just happen. You’ll remember the principle of cause and effect from last week.
If the effect was indeed a big bang, then what was the cause? It can’t have been nothing, because there must have been the materials necessary to cause the bang in the first place. This is a rather large hole in the big bang theory.
Del Tackett, the presenter of the Truth Project explains the beginning of the universe without a Creator God like this: Picture in your mind the essence of nothing, then in an instant – everything.
Louis Giglio, a Christian teacher with a passion for astronomy, puts the big bang theory into a whole new perspective by saying this: “Some people say the universe was started by a big bang. I’m okay with that too. I think that when God spoke and created the Heavens and the Earth, there was a fairly large bang.”
Critics will put Christians on the spot with the question, “How can God create something out of nothing?”
The easiest reply to that question is this: “Well, what is the alternative? Would you prefer to believe that God created something out of nothing, or that nothing created something out of nothing?”
These are really the only two alternatives, and this makes the pre-existent God the only sensible option.
But how did God do it? If, before the Creation, there was nothing, how did He create the Universe?
Hebrews 11:3 tells us, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” At God’s command.
Eight times in Genesis 1 we read the words, “And God said.”
By merely speaking the words, God brought creation into existence. God has within Himself the power to create. “Let there be,” and there was.
So when we say, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth,” it is important for us to understand just what it is we’re saying.
We are declaring that we agree that God is who He says He is, that He is above all things, and that by merely speaking, He has the power to create – to bring things into existence.
So how do we apply this belief to the modern world?
Clearly the world does not fully agree with the opening statement of the Apostles’ Creed.
There is now an apparent conflict between the Bible and science, and in a sense we are put on the spot and told to choose one or the other.
Those who are opposed to the Christian God will often use science to try and disprove His existence, or to find fault with the Bible.
What they fail to understand though, is that science by definition is the desire to know.
Remember that God created all things, and included in this list is the desire to know – science.
Science is one of the tools which God has given us through which He reveals Himself to us.
So rather than science being the opposite of the Christian faith, it is in fact a partner in our quest to know more and understand more about the God who created us.
The problem with the modern world is that rather than using science to move us closer to God, it has been hijacked and been twisted into a pseudo-science.
Rather than using science to serve God, the pursuit now is to find out how we can deny God and His very existence, and instead serve the purposes of man.
There are no more absolutes in the modern world.
While technology has grown at mind boggling speeds over the past few decades, the slide into moral depravity seems to be heading in the opposite direction at the same pace.
Relativism has become a modern pseudo-science, and has degenerated to the point where it has become almost a religion on its own.
Anything goes, and if-it-feels-good-it-must-be-right has been promoted and offered as an alternative to the Christian faith.
Another popular alternative to the Christian understanding of creation has its roots in Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. Evolutionists conveniently forget that it has only ever been a theory, and that no-one has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that evolution is a fact.
The usual defence used by evolutionists is that evolution takes so long that we can’t go back far enough to prove it as fact.
But this has not prevented it from being accepted as fact. It is taught in schools, and is presented as a genuine alternative to creation as recorded in the Bible. This despite the fact that genetic codes and DNA (unknown in Darwin’s day) emphatically disprove the possibility of one species evolving into another. Simply put, a monkey has a monkey genetic code, and a human being has a human being genetic code, and it is a scientific impossibility for one to mutate to the extent that the species will change.
One might also ask that if we come from apes, why are there still apes today?
Evolutionism has to all intents and purposes become a religion on its own, because modern man is determined to reject God. Evolution is not simply another option in our attempts to understand where we come from. The theory of evolution is extremely dangerous because it has removed God from the picture. There are dark forces behind the lie of evolution, and we must guard against the mistake of thinking it is just a harmless alternate theory, and not much else.
The problem that evolutionists have left themselves with in their determined quest to deny God, is the absurd theory that we all evolved from some single-cell creature. That’s all they have.
If there is no God, then there cannot have been a creator, and consequently there is only one alternative: the deception of the theory of evolution.
We must have come from somewhere, so evolutionists point to single cell organisms as the source of all life forms. Of course, they cannot answer this rather simple question: “Where then, did single cell organisms come from?”
Another question which evolutionists cannot answer is this: If our single celled ancestors dragged themselves out of a swamp, and over a few billion years eventually mutated and evolved into a creature which can stand, walk and run, how did we survive as nothing more than a fish-like being learning to breathe air with our newly-formed lungs, while lying completely defenceless on a beach somewhere for a few million years? Why weren’t we eaten by predators who were a billion or so years ahead of us?
The very idea that so many people have been duped into a theory as preposterous as evolution is quite frankly, laughable. But it is also a great tragedy.
Robert Jastrow was an American astronomer who died in 2008, and he was quoted as saying “The theologians have always accepted the word of the Bible: ‘In the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth.’ For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”
But that doesn’t change the fact that the world has bought into this lie, and we need to be able to cope with these challenges as Christians.
Remember that what you believe matters. The Bible clearly teaches that there are absolute standards. There is right and wrong, and there is good and evil.
It is all very well to believe these things, but we need to be aware that as Christians we are going to face a lot of opposition for being so “old fashioned” in our thinking.
The zoologist Desmond Morris has done extensive research on the similarities that human beings have with the animal kingdom. He even goes so far as to call us a “naked ape”, which in the strictest sense of the word is correct. There is no disputing the fact that physically and biologically we are remarkably similar to many other animals – the apes in particular. However, Morris departs from Christian thinking when he calls us a naked ape, and nothing more.
As Christians we believe that we were created uniquely in the image of God.
Genesis 2:7 tells us that God breathed the breath of life into human beings, and this is what sets us apart from, and above, the rest of the animal kingdom. Being created in the Divine image is a key concept in explaining our very existence.
In chapter 1 verse 27 we see that we were created for a reason – to rule over the rest of God’s creation. He has made us custodians of His creation, and this is a divine calling for each of us.
Of course, human greed and sin has done more harm than good to our planet, but God’s original plan for us was that we would work with Him.
There is an important point we need to see here. Just as the rest of the animal kingdom was placed under our authority, so we were created under God’s authority.
Genesis 2:15-17 says “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”
We were created to be dependent and obedient, and not independent and disobedient.
But in order for us to have the opportunity of being dependent and obedient, God quite naturally also had to offer us the option of independence and disobedience.
Had He not done this, we would be no more than obedient robots, living on instinct alone.
A lioness will protect her cubs not out of love, but out of an instinct to ensure the survival of the species, and nothing more. But we were created uniquely different.
As we know, we decided to choose independence over dependence and disobedience over obedience, and we have been paying the penalty for that choice ever since.
God though, in His love for us, shows Himself to be a covenant-keeping God who promises to restore the damaged relationship we once had with Him, and this is the central story of the Bible.
God calls Bible believing Christians to be God-centered in our thinking and behaviour, while the modern world teaches the exact opposite.
But this is not just a modern philosophy.
As long ago as the 5th century BC, the Greek philosopher Protagoras said, “Man is the measure of all things.”
A theological term for this is deification – the lowering of God, and the raising of man to a position of deity. In short, man is God, and this is the challenge we face as Christians in the modern world.
God though, does speak out against the deity of man, and we need to be rooted in our belief through what His Word teaches us.
Job 38:2-7 – “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone - while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?”
These are valid questions which God asks us, and if we look back at what we’ve heard this morning, the one verse in the Bible which best encapsulates and explains all of these alternate theories to the God of the Bible is Genesis 3:5. “God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God.” This was the conversation which satan had with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
The world has decided it doesn’t need God.
In 1961, the French theologian Gabriel Vahanian, published a book entitled ‘The Death of God.’ In it he argued that modern secular culture had lost all sense of the sacred, lacking any sacramental meaning, no transcendental purpose or sense of providence. His conclusion is that for the modern mind ‘God is dead’, and what we are left with is a transformed post-Christian and post-modern culture which has created a new deity: Mankind.
The world hates God, so much so that it has brainwashed itself into believing that He doesn’t exist. But this has left the unbelieving world with a mountain of problems. There are now many fundamental questions which it cannot answer, because it has insisted on taking God out of the picture, and that is why we are left with nonsensical and absurd alternatives to the simple, but profound opening statement of the Apostles’ Creed: “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of Heaven and Earth.”
The only logical and sensible answer for us is to come to the same conclusion as Job. Despite all his questions, despite all the weird and wonderful advice of the people around him, Job turned to the only person who is able to make sense of this thing we call life.
“Then Job replied to the Lord: ‘I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’
My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”