Summary: What is the origin story of the universe and of humanity? When do we, really, show up in the story?
The Song of Beginnings - Genesis Chapter 1 - 1st in a 4-part Series on the Gospel According to Genesis
Happy New Year to you. I hope it’s been good so far. New Years, like all beginnings of a type, can have an impact on how our year goes and on shaping where we end up at the end of the following year.
We can’t control the external things that are beyond our control, of course, but we can make some decisions going forward about how we are going to do our best to live in the next 12 months.
How we begin the year matters. Our start matters. Our origins matter. They do not necessarily directly determine the outcome of our lives, but they sugges5t the ‘crib’ we were nurtured in.
Today we begin our first series of the year, a 4-parter that will explore the biggest of beginnings, the creation of the world.
Today we will look at “The Song of Beginnings”, chapter 1 of Genesis. Next week we’ll look at “The History of Beginnings” from chapter 2 of Genesis.
The third week we’ll look at “Paradise Lost”, the Biblical record of the Fall of humankind from relationship with God.
On January 25, Bill Ryan will be here and will be looking at the relationship of Cain and Able, in a final message entitled: “Murder Most Foul”.
I hope you’ll be here for the series, and please do invite your friends to come and join us!
I’m thankful to Pastor Timothy Keller for his insights, which have inspired some of today’s message.
Now, you may have noticed that today’s message on Genesis chapter 1 is called “The Song of Beginnings”, and next week’s message is “The History of Beginnings”, and you might wonder what I mean by that.
Well, a really important thing to be aware of when we are reading God’s Word is that the Bible is written using many different forms of writing.
There is history, like in the Gospels, like in the Book of Acts, like the wanderings of the Israelites in the desert and, really, throughout much of the book of Genesis.
In fact a whole lot of the Bible is history. And it reads like history.
But then you also have books like Proverbs, which is decidedly not written like history, but instead is a series of sayings. There is no historical information per se in the book.
Also, much of the Bible contains God’s promises. But Proverbs isn’t a book of God’s promises. It’s a book of principals, the way of wisdom. It’s the wisdom of Solomon, the son of David.
And then you have the Song of Songs, which is written in a poetic, song-like style.
What happens if you read history the same way you read the lyrics to a song?
Well, you get confused, and you might get a bit annoyed, because, for instance, one of the things about songs and poetry is that there’s a fair bit of repetition. We just sang the worship song: “He is Yahweh”. [Put up sheet music].
There you see a lot of repetition: “Who is...?”. And then the chorus repeats: “He is Yahweh” over and over again, and then the chorus itself is sung repeatedly.
You would never find an encyclopedia written like this, you would never write an essay in this style, because it would not work. Song lyrics, poetry is one thing. History is another.
So when you’re reading the Bible, you need to be aware of what you’re reading, so that you understand it as it’s meant to be understood.
Genesis chapter 1 is a song. Some people look in detail at chapter 1 and then chapter 2 of Genesis and say: Hey, these are 2 different accounts of creation, and they contradict each other.
You can only say that when you don’t understand that Genesis chapter 1 is a song, and that chapter 2 is history.
This happens in many places in Scripture, in the book of Judges chapter 4 and 5 for example.
Chapter 4 is a history of how God enabled delivered Sisera to be defeated by Israel through Deborah. Chapter 5 of the same book is a song, the song of Deborah, about the same event.
As a song it uses repetition and some poetic language to express the high emotions they were feeling after a major battle victory.
Now please note that a song or a poem about an event in the Bible is no less true than a historical writing. All of Scripture is God-breathed and fully authoritative.
Exodus chapter 14 is the historical record of the exodus of God’s people from being under the yoke of slavery in Egypt, including the parting of the Red Sea, the crossing of the Red Sea on dry land by the Israelites, and then the drowning of the Egyptians.