Thursday, October 26, 2017

AND GOD CREATED...


AND GOD CREATED…

(See Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 4)

Introduction

If there ever was a bold and disarming statement it’s the opening verse of the Bible: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” Genesis 1:1. All speculation and conjecture about where it all came from ends with that verse.

All you quantum physicists: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” All you armchair philosophers: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” All you rocket scientists, all you pub pundits, all you nature lovers, all you botanists, all you environmentalists, all you everyone: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”


Why is it so hard for men to give glory to God for creating the heavens and the earth? Why is there so much song and dance about admitting that God alone is Creator? Why doesn’t everyone just fall on their face and worship Him who made the heavens and the earth and all therein? Well, there’s a word for it – it’s called “unbelief.” I know it seems like a redundant thing to say, but were it not for unbelief everyone would believe that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

What is unbelief? Unbelief is a blind man telling you that there is no such thing as seeing. It’s a deaf man telling you there’s no such thing as hearing. It’s a dead man telling you there’s no such thing as life. That’s what unbelief is! Unbelief is the proverbial ostrich head stuck in the sand. Unbelief is the sand in your eyes that blinds you. It’s the sand in your ears that’s making you deaf.

So what should you do then? It’s simple, isn’t it? Simply pull your head out of the sand and read God’s Word – believing it. Oh, you don’t want to pull your head out of the sand? Well that’s different! But for those who have pulled their heads out of the sand, or rather have had their heads pulled out of the sand by the grace of God in Jesus Christ, then Genesis 1:1 is the place to start.

If you were to join the first and last verses of the Bible together it would read: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth … The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” The grace of God that opens up eyes and ears that are blind and deaf to God is revealed in, and found only in, our Lord Jesus Christ. The Scriptures testify that Jesus Christ is the Creator who became also a man.

In the following we’ll be looking at two main things: God creating the heavens and earth and all therein, and, God creating man.

God Created the Heavens and the Earth and All Therein

God says through His prophet Moses in Exodus 20:11, “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”

If you were to read the opening chapter of the Bible, Genesis chapter one, you’d see details of what the LORD did on each of those six days of creation. But first off take note that the LORD is God. The word “LORD” in Exodus 20:11 is actually “Jehovah.” Therefore God and Jehovah are the exact same Being. God is triune, which is to say that God is the Trinity in unity. He is the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19). Each Person in the Trinity was involved in creation.

First Corinthians 8:6 informs us that God the Father is Creator, for Paul says there: “There is one God, the Father, of whom are all things…” And John in John 1:2&3 informs us that God the Son is Creator, for John there says: “He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” And Moses in Genesis 1:2 informs that God the Holy Spirit is Creator, for Moses there says: “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” God the Holy Spirit is also mentioned by Job in Job 33:4: “The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life.”

So we see then that the opening words of the Bible, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” mean that the Triune God is Creator. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit always was, always is, and always will be. Creation had its beginning with this God, the living, true and eternal God. The God who dwells in eternity spoke and things that were not became things that are. Can you imagine something of the power of God? – The power of His Word? God just spoke and the whole universe came into being out of nothing! There was nothing, no chaos, no formlessness and no void until after God began creating creation. There was nothing except the Triune God before the beginning.

The writer to the Hebrews says, “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” Hebrews 11:3. Ancient Greeks thought that Atlas upheld the world on his shoulder. Hindus think the world is upheld on an elephant’s back. But we know that it is the power of the spoken Word of the Triune God that, not only brought creation out of nothing, but also continues to uphold it.

A schoolteacher might command a pupil to stand in the corner until he gives the pupil leave. Well, Almighty God has told creation to stand. And it’s the power of His Word that keeps the heavens and the earth standing! And the only way the heavens and the earth would disappear is if God were to dismiss them by a Word! Psalm 33:9, “For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.”

The Triune God created the heavens and the earth to reveal the glory of His eternal power, wisdom, and goodness. We look at the sun, the moon, and the stars and we see something of the power, wisdom, and goodness of God. We see His power when we consider the forces needed to create and uphold the heavenly spheres. We see His wisdom in the way the sun, the moon, and the stars follow their seasonal courses. And we see His goodness in that He brings the sunshine and the rain on the crops that feed us in their seasons.

At the beginning God spoke creation into being and over the space of six days He filled and formed it the way He wanted it. Genesis 1:2a says, “The earth was without form, and void…” Therefore over the next six days God was forming the unformed and filling the empty void.

How long was each day? To be sure, we would be wise to note that the first six days are special days. They are God days. Therefore, I would say that each day was a day long and leave it at that! It says in the 4th Commandment: “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day” Exodus 20:11.

If the sun, the moon, and the stars manifest the glory of God’s eternal power, wisdom, and goodness, then they must certainly reveal that God is the God of order not confusion. As the God of order laboured for six days and rested on the seventh, so are His creatures to labour six days and rest every seventh. The 4th Commandment says that even the cattle under your dominion are to rest one day every seven. Genesis 1:31 and 2:1 say, “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished.”

God therefore, has set a pattern in creation, a very good pattern. Like God, we are to labour six days, and rest every seventh. And why shouldn’t we, seeing as He created and made us in His own image and likeness?

God Created Man in His Image

We find the following words in Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’”

This is the sixth day of formation week. Up till now, God has been commanding things into existence on each day. Genesis 1:3, “Let there be light…” Genesis 1:6, “Let there be a firmament in midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.’” Genesis 1:9, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.’” Genesis 1:11, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb that yields seed, the fruit tree that yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed is in itself, on the earth.’” Genesis 1:14, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years, and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth.’”

On each of the six days of formation God just speaks the Word, i.e., gives the command as He forms and fills the void of the earth with living things. But when you get to the sixth day where God creates man He’s not just speaking the word or commanding creation, no, in Genesis 1:26 God is commanding Himself: “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.’”

Something very special is going on here. It’s as if there is a very pregnant pause. It’s as if the Triune God has said, “Let Us make man” – pause – “Indeed, let’s.” Why the apparent pause? Well, we believe that the God who has covenanted with Himself in eternity past is here covenanting with Himself in time. In other words, God decreed in eternity to create man in His own image. And just before He creates man He reiterates that decree. Therefore this is God solemnly swearing to make man in His image and likeness. It is God (re)covenanting with Himself to make man.

To be sure, Almighty God knows what man is going to get himself into. It’s as Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 7:29, “Truly, this only I have found: That God made man upright, but they have sought out many schemes.” Even ‘the best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft agley!’ As it says in the Book of Job, “Yet man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward” Job 5:7. But that’s not the way man was when God created him.

When God created man He endued him with knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, which is to say, that man had accurate knowledge of God, of creation, and of himself, which is another way of saying that God didn’t create man as an ostrich-head in the sand. No, man knew that, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” And not only that, man knew how to rule in God’s creation. He ruled righteously because God had created him with his own righteousness. Therefore Adam and Eve’s works in the service of God would be righteous works. Their worship of God on the seventh day would be righteous worship. They would work and worship in with accurate knowledge and righteousness.

And also, they would work and worship in true holiness. True holiness has to do with being sanctified, as in set apart. Man was set apart from the other creatures. Man was the crown of God’s creation. Man, male and female, was the image and likeness of God in God’s creation. Man was to act as God therefore on a creaturely level. Man was to represent the Trinity in creation. Man was not like the brute beasts, for God created man as a reasoning and immortal soul with God’s Law written on their hearts.

Genesis 2:7 says, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” In the Hebrew it’s literally “man became a living soul.” Look at that verse closely. Notice that it says “and man BECAME a living soul.” It doesn’t say that the body of dust RECEIVED a living soul. It doesn’t say that God breathed a living soul into man. No, it says that man became a living being, i.e., a living soul.

That’s what man is! He is a living soul. He doesn’t walk around with a living soul in him. He IS a living soul. That’s important to know. This means that the whole man was made in the image and likeness of God and not just the spirit or invisible aspect of man.

Paul says of Christ in Colossians 1:16, “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible…” What are the invisible things God has made? Well, angels for one would be invisible. Angels are spirits. To be sure we do see evidence of angels manifesting themselves in visible form in Scripture. But the point is that they remain invisible until they make themselves visible.

And what about the spirit that is in a man? That spirit returns to God upon his death, as it says in Ecclesiastes 12:7b. Therefore there is an invisible aspect to you and me. The invisible aspect of a man is usually referred to as his soul. Therefore, if man is a living soul, if that’s what man is, then our body is in a sense, the physical manifestation of our soul. Whereas, angels are spirit-beings created without material bodies, man is a spirit being created with a material body. Man is a soul spirit with a body.

The Bible says that God is Spirit, John 4:24. And if you want to know what God would look like then look at man, for man is the image and likeness of God on the creaturely level, which is to say that if God were a creature He would look like man. But God, of course, is not a creature because He alone is Creator.

Look again at Genesis 1:26 where God says, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’” Can you see then that man is exactly what God would look like were He to manifest Himself as a creature? But the trouble is that man no longer perfectly images God. Man is fallen, therefore the image and likeness of God is distorted somewhat, a great deal even. Therefore, if you want to see what God looks like on the creaturely level, you’d need to look at Adam and Eve before they sinned against God.

As already noted, before the Fall Adam and Eve had knowledge, righteousness, true holiness, Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10. They had reasoning and immortal souls, Eccl. 12:7; Matt. 10:28. And they had the Law of God written on their hearts, with the power to fulfil it, Rom. 2:14&15.

However, God had created man with liberty of will, which is to say that unlike the will of God, the will of man before the fall was subject to change. God is not at liberty to change His will because of His character and because of His eternal decrees. But when God created man He created them with the freedom to change their wills.

The proof of this is in God’s command to Adam not to eat of the forbidden fruit. Should Adam eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, then he has broken the covenant God had made with him and would suffer the threatened consequences. But Adam, as you know, declared his mind when he demonstrated to God that he had had a change of will by eating the forbidden fruit.

Adam and Eve were happy in the Garden having communion with God and having dominion over the animals right up until Adam bit into the forbidden fruit. That’s when man, the image and likeness of the Triune God became marred and scarred – distorted. That’s when man first buried his ostrich head in the sand. That’s when man became blind and deaf to God.

However, there’s another place to look to see the true image and likeness of God manifested on the creaturely level. The Bible tells us that the man Jesus Christ is the “express image” of God, Hebrews 1:3.

The first verse of the Bible tells about God and His creation. And the last verse of the Bible tells us about God and His grace. Again, if you were to put both those verses together you’d get, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth … The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.” The Lord Jesus Christ is proof that God has entered into His creation. Not only is the Lord Jesus Christ proof that God the Son has entered into His creation, but that He has brought the grace of God into creation with Him. This means that the One who made the heavens and the earth and all therein has brought grace for those who marred and scarred his creation, even you and me.

Conclusion

The disfigured Christ on the cross is (among other things) God showing man what he has become, the marred and scarred image and likeness of the Triune God. Christ on the cross was naked and had holes in His hands and feet and wounds on His brow. His bones were popped out of joint and His strength had dried up like a potsherd. God created everything very good, but this is what we have become! Like Christ on the cross we are naked and exposed! Like Christ on the cross we have blood on our hands! – our own blood. Our soul is like a dried up prune – a dried up walnut.

But God didn’t leave the Lord Jesus Christ to crumble back to the dust from whence He was hewn. No, Christ is risen! He is risen as the beginning of the new humanity.

By the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ our eyes are opened and we can look unto Him who saves us forever. By the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ our ears are opened and we hear Him call us into life everlasting.

God created the heavens and the earth and all therein. And God created man in His image and likeness. As Jesus said to Thomas as He showed Him the holes in His hands and side, “Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”

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