Summary: A focus on creation
God’s Greatest Dream
Today is the first Sunday of a new year, 2005 - and it is only the second day of the year. We have a new, fresh year ahead of us, and what we make of it will determine the character and qualities we possess at the end of the year. Many people fill their days at the turn of the year with resolutions - they resolve, they determine that things are going to change in their lives in the following year. They want the new year to be better; they want to turn over a new leaf, to make a new start. But at the end of the year, they come back to realize that what they had such great hopes and aspirations of accomplishing never came to fruition. Instead, they are left frustrated, discouraged, and depressed. Often they failed, not because of lacking good intentions, but they needed help with the follow-through. They needed someone to come alongside them and encourage them.
This year, you could make a lot of good intentions: to spend wisely, eat right, exercise more - but spiritually what goals will you make? This year as a congregation we are going to commit to learning more about the Old Testament. For some of you it is familiar reading, but for most of us, besides the Book of Genesis and the Book of Psalms and Proverbs, we are not greatly familiar with these 39 books.
Why study the Old Testament? After all, these are books that put many of us to sleep as we try to read them. What value is there in studying them? After all, it seems the New Testament is much more relevant.
*First, the Old Testament is inspired, given to us by God himself. It was not given just for the Jews, but is his revelation of Himself for all generations.
*Second, we know there is great practical value in reading through these books. 2 Timothy 3 tells us that “all Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right.”
*Third, this was the Bible that Jesus read and studied and loved; this was the Bible of the 12 disciples, of the Apostle Paul. So much of what forms the New Testament relies directly on the teaching of the Old Testament.
So, this year we are going to read through the Old Testament together. We will call it the Old Testament Challenge, because it will be a challenge for each of us to read and study and listen to what God has to say to us through his word. We are going to hit highlights of the Old Testament as we go through, for we could spend the rest of our lives studying the OT in detail. But I would like to ask EACH one of you personally to join us for this adventure. I fully believe that each of us will be changed for the good as we study together.
In helping you to read along, there are a few copies of a reading guide on the table in the lobby that are available for $10 if you would like one. If they are all taken, there is a list there where you can sign up to order more. For next week, I would like to ask you to come having read the first 9 chapters of Genesis. And we’ll talk about those chapters next week.
But today, we start with Genesis chapters 1-2. The chapters that tell how it all started.
Philosophers for centuries, for millennia have been asking the key questions about man’s existence. Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? They have searched and studied and argued for years about the answers to these questions. But it is very interesting that here in the Bible, in the first two chapters of Genesis, we find some of the most basic questions addressed to give us understanding and direction. Let’s look at them together.
1. Where did the UNIVERSE come from?
Let’s go back to when Moses wrote the book of Genesis, while Israel was wandering around in the wilderness after leaving Egypt in about 1200 B.C. I’d like you to imagine you are a person living in the Near East at that time. You have heard a number of guesses about how the world came to be, and in them you’ve been told that the universe is full of many gods, none of whom particularly care about you, gods who are petty and jealous and mean-spirited and always fighting. As far as you know the world is simply the result of chaos and accident, dust accidentally kicked up when the gods were fighting, with no particular meaning anywhere. Because the universe is controlled by these unpredictable creatures, you live in fear and are ruled by superstition. The ancient Mesopotamians had chaos and nothingness get together and give birth to gods who created the universe by accident. And today what gets taught in schools is that the universe started out as nothing and then there was something. It “just happened” and it is naïve for us to imagine there was purpose or plan behind it. Evolution is just a fancy new name for what has been taught and believed since the beginning of time. Satan has always presented his lies, and the names for them just change through the years.