Summary: First in a series intended to take our church through the Old Testament in a year.
Let’s suppose that you get home from work and find that your Amazon order had been delivered that day. You open it up and there is the latest novel from your favorite author. You can hardly wait to get started reading it, but you eat dinner, spend some time with the family, tuck the kids into bed and then finally plop down in your favorite recliner and open up the book.
But instead of starting on page 1 like you usually do, you decide to skip the first 2/3 of the book and begin reading on page 231. And your first thought is that this book isn’t nearly as good as all the other books this author has written. The plot seems to be disjointed and none of the characters seem to be developed like they usually are. But the problem isn’t really with the author or the plot or the characters is it? The problem is the way you’ve chosen to read the book.
But isn’t that the same way that many of us approach the Bible? We just want to jump in and begin with the biographies of Jesus at the beginning of the New Testament and skip all the books of the Bible that were written prior to the life of Jesus. We even call that part of the Bible the Old Testament, which implies that whatever is contained there really isn’t relevant to our lives today. I mean what would you rather read something ancient and old or something fresh and new?
But my goal for the rest of this year is to help us develop a whole new love for the Old Testament. Yes, in places it is full of the unpronounceable names of people and places that don’t seem all that relevant to us in the United States in the year 2017. Yes, it is full of things like blood sacrifices that are so foreign to today’s culture. Yes, it contains commands by God to go and kill and wipe out entire cultures that offend our sensibilities. Yes, it’s long – roughly twice as long as the New Testament.
But it also reveals God and His entire character and His plan to restore the relationships of all men who have rejected and rebelled against Him. And just like the first 2/3 of your favorite novel, it develops the plot and characters that are essential to the book as a whole.
I am both excited and apprehensive about this journey that we embark on today. I’m excited about the opportunity to help all of us gain a greater appreciation for and understanding of the Old Testament. But I’m also a bit apprehensive because the approach we’re going to use is quite a bit different that I’ve used in the past so it’s going to take me a bit out of my comfort zone. And it might do the same for some of you.
What I’m going to attempt to do for the remainder of the year is to weave together the stories of some of the major players in the Old Testament narrative in a way that will help us get a better feel for who God is and how He operates as well as gain a better understanding of the history of a people that God has called to Himself.
So go ahead and take your Bibles out and turn to the very beginning – Genesis chapter 1. The word “Genesis” actually means “beginnings” so that is where we’ll start this morning.
Our story begins with these words:
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
The rest of chapter 1 and 2 go on to describe that creation. Chapter 1 is an overview of that entire process and then chapter 2 focuses mainly on one aspect of that creation – the creation of Adam and Eve.
For each of the first six days of creation, God merely speaks the creation into existence beginning with “Let there be light.” But then if you skip down to verse 26, you’ll notice that there is a distinct change when it comes to the creation of man. Instead of merely speaking man into existence, God says “let us make man in our image, after our likeness”. And in chapter 2 we see how God did that. We see there that God loved man enough to personally take the dust and form Adam with His own hands and then He personally breathed His own breath into Adam to give him life.
We also see man’s value to God in the fact that after all the rest of the creation, God looked at it and said that it was “good”. But at the end of the sixth day, when He created man He proclaimed it to be “very good”. And God gave man dominion over all the creation and He blessed him and commanded him to subdue the creation and to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.