Summary: Sermon based the themes on the first 9 chapters of Genesis
In The Beginning
Genesis 5:1-2, 6:1-2, 5-8
The Book of Genesis covers the largest amount of time of any book in the Bible, stretching from the beginning of the world to about 1500 BC. According to geologists, the earth is at least 4 billion years old and some anthropologists believe that humans have been around at last 2 million years. The authors of Genesis did not know much about this long history, nor did they care. Instead, they sought to tell the story of creation and in particular, human origin and a few events and traditions of their ancestors that would help them understand how they came to be a people and God’s special calling on their life together.
The Book of Genesis begins with two stories of creation, the first of which was written sometime around 730 by the Priests of the Temple and thus reflect their theological and higher thinking regarding the nature of God and His actions. They came to understand God through the intentionality of His actions and the fact that God has been active from the beginning of time. Genesis 1 is written in beautiful Hebrew prose poetry and functions like an “Entrance Hymn” to the great drama of salvation about to unfold. It covers the first six days of creation and the 7th day as a day of Sabbath rest. The second creation story was written two centuries earlier around 930 BC during Solomon’s reign. It focuses on the 6th day and clarifies the pinnacle of creation: humanity. Thus, the original editors of Genesis had no problems with two creation stories. Part of our difficulty today is the questions we bring to the Bible. As products of the age of Enlightenment with its focus on rational thought and order, we ask scientific questions: how, when, and what. How did the world begin? When did it come into being, and by what exact process and which order? But these were not the questions of the ancient world or the authors of Bible. Instead, they were concerned with ‘who’ and why.’ Who created the world and everything in it? Why am I here? Why is there evil and can anything be done about it?
It is in these two stories that we are introduced to the God of creation and of the Universe. In a world surrounded with pagan gods, the authors of Genesis wanted to state very clearly that there is only one God who was and has always been since the beginning of time. This God is the God of life, a God filled with goodness and blessing and a God of order, not chaos, drawing a sharp contrast from the pagan gods. This is a God over everything and all that God created was good. God is so powerful that His very word brings things into existence. And the pinnacle of His creation is humanity whom he gave a place of honor, created in His own image and gave the responsibility to care for the world. We have also been given the divine gifts of procreating, of sharing in His Sabbath rest and of a personal relationship with him.
At the end of each day, God pronounced the day’s work as good. But at the end of the sixth day, God saw everything that He had created and pronounced it “very good” meaning it was perfect and without flaw. Therefore, the world in which Adam and Eve lived was perfect: the perfect temperature, the perfect environment, the perfect humidity, and the perfect provision, with everything needed to sustain Adam and Eve and provide for their needs. And each afternoon, God came down and visited them “in the garden at the time of the evening breeze” and they enjoyed wonderful walks and times of fellowship together. They walked with God in perfection, uninhibited, freely communicating with Him, free of fear and sin, with no sickness, no evil and no distractions. Adam and Eve loved God, and knew that God loved them. One can imagine laughter, and the inquisitive questions as they discovered new tastes, new sights and new things. Adam knew from whom he came, and so did Eve. God had blessed them, and gave them dominion over everything he created and commissioned them to care of it. They enjoyed stability, provision and tranquility. Surely, this is what is meant by the word ‘paradise.’ But it also reveals to us the nature of the relationship God desires to have with us.