Summary: God addresses the most basic questions we can ask. "Where are we from?" and "Why are we here?"
The famous musical, The Sound of Music, includes this song which Maria teaches the Von Trapp children. "Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. When you read you begin with A-B-C, when you sing you begin with do-re-me." When we read the Bible, however, most people start three-fourths of the way through the book, in John or one of the other three gospels. I certainly understand why people begin reading in the New Testament, but there are some big disadvantages of skipping the first part of the book. My Bible, and yours, begins with Genesis, a book whose title in Greek means "beginning." During the next seven weeks, our plan is to explore the first eleven chapters of this book. We are going to start at the very beginning and see some important, foundational truths, as God reveals who He is, who we are, and what the rest of the Bible is about.
Now, some folks, including a few who call themselves Christians, think it is a waste of time to study the first chapters of Genesis. After all, they say, these early chapters contain myths and legends and are really just religious fairy tales. They say there are some spiritual lessons to be learned, but claim there is no historical information in this part of the Bible. I disagree. I believe Genesis 1-11 contains historically accurate accounts. The truthfulness of what is written here is important for two reasons. #1–Jesus taught that the events recorded in these chapters really happened. He treated them as real history. If these are mere myths and legends, then the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ is put into question. #2–The truth of these chapters is important because it is here that God addresses the most basic questions we can ask. "Where are we from?" and "Why are we here?" As human beings, we have a natural curiosity about the ancient past, about our roots. A few years ago, PBS did a series with Carl Sagan entitled "Cosmos." It was extremely popular because people are interested in the origin of the human race and how this planet and the entire universe came to be. Friends, if we cannot believe what the Bible says about these topics, why should we believe its teaching on other subjects? If what these first chapters teach is not true, it seems strange to base our whole lives on the rest of the book.
But I am confident that the first 11 chapters of Genesis are true and that they are God’s words for us. So today we start with a very good place to start, the very beginning. As we look at Genesis 1, let’s pray God would show us the significance of these words for our lives today.
The very beginning, Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters." This is a very simple, but powerful statement. At the beginning of time, God brings the universe, everything in the physical realm, into being. The remainder of the chapter uses a six-day framework to describe God’s creative activity in more detail, culminating with the creation of human beings. This chapter has been the subject of much discussion throughout the history of the church, and I think there is value in outlining the major interpretations of this chapter that have been proposed. Now, keep in mind, each of these views is held by Christians who believe the Bible is God’s inerrant word and that what we read in Genesis 1 is true. Let’s look at four different Christian understandings of Genesis 1.