In the beginning...
The Scripture reading I chose for this post, which is a sermon I preached, came from Revelation 14:6-7. This is a popular passage among Seventh-day Adventists because we believe we ought to be proclaiming the Three Angels’ Message.
Why do you ask?
Because in the book of Revelation we see that after the Three Angels’ Message is proclaimed Jesus comes again. (Revelation 14)
We believe we are living in the last days of this earth. I say this not to insight fear, not for sensationalism, but rather because I believe it with all my heart. All you have to do is take a look around and you will notice that the words spoken by Jesus in Matthew 24-25 are being fulfilled all around us.
However, on this post I will not be talking about prophecy. I would like to address prophecy in the future, but not yet. Rather I mention Revelation 14:6-7 to highlight the fact that the First Angel’s message points his hearers back to creation in order to identify Who they should worship.
The everlasting Gospel is presented in the context of judgment and worship. Judgment and worship are two key themes throughout the whole Bible. As we read the Bible we see a lot of emphasis on worship. Who you worship and how you worship seem to be quite important. The importance of worship is highlighted in the context of judgment!
Before we can talk about worship, and before we can talk about judgment. I would like to talk to you about creation. Because unless we can grasp and understand creation, I am afraid we will never be able to figure out worship and judgment.
I believe that as Christians we need to do our best to understand what God has left for us to study, and He made sure we have the Bible available to us and the Bible begins with Genesis, and Genesis begins with creation. Therefore! I believe creation is a good place to start.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
(Unless otherwise stated, I will be quoting from the English Standard Version on this post.)
In the very beginning we have God.
Interestingly we have God introduced by the generic term God, and not by a personal name. The Bible could have said, “In the beginning was Bob and Bob is God and Bob created everything…”
Rather than beginning with a proper name, God allows the reader to discover who He is by His actions. Which is risky! God is very vulnerable in the sense that He does not reveal Himself directly, all at once. He chooses to reveal Himself to us through His actions.
When reading the Bible it is important to be aware of what the text is saying and what it is not saying.
Many people like to turn to Genesis 1 and 2 to debate creation vs evolution. This debate has its place, however, interestingly, the Genesis 1-2 does not seem very interested in this debate. What I mean by this is that God could have carefully described the physics and biology of creation. He could have inspired Moses with all the answers that modern science demands. But Genesis 1 is not very concerned with the details of how creation took place, rather it is primarily describing the God who is the Creator.
Let’s read on and you will see what I mean.
The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
Where did the water come from?
The text doesn’t say. We can sit here and argue and wonder about it, or we can focus on what the text is telling us.
The biblical text is telling us that God was present and the earth was in an unorganized state. This is important, I won’t get too deep into this now, but the earth returns to this state as a result of God’s judgment (Isaiah 34:11; Jeremiah 4:23) before God recreates a perfect earth (Revelation 21:1-4).
You can focus on where the water came from, or you can learn from what the text is telling us. We have a desolate earth, no order, no life, no light.
We have the presence of God and the Holy Spirit.
We are ready to move on to verses 3-5.
First Day - Genesis 1:3-5
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
Now we have God acting. God speaks and it happens.
Where did the light come from? How fast was it traveling? How much energy did it take? Was it a single burst? How much heat did it generate?
The text doesn’t say. The text says God spoke and it happened. Then God evaluates, names and organizes.
Now we have also an establishment of time, evening and morning of the first day. Not “a day” not even “one day” but the “first day.” I am being picky here because some want to interpret this as an age, a long period of time, maybe 1,000 years. But as we read on we will see that this interpretation would have to be forced into he text and it would bring more problems that it supposedly solves.
When God names things, such as day and night, it demonstrates His sovereignty over His creation. There is no question of who is in charge here.
Second Day - Genesis 1:6-8
6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse[a] in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 And God made[b] the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. 8 And God called the expanse Heaven.[c] And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
There are also many questions regarding the waters above. Are the waters above the clouds/water vapor? Was there a layer of water that used to encircle the earth before the flood? The short answer is we don’t know. And to be honest I am okay with not knowing. The details of how these things came about are not the main focus of the Author. God spoke, and it happened. We have God organizing and we have one more day go by. Let's focus on where the text is taking us, on what the details the text is providing us.
Third Day - Genesis 1:9-13
9 And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth,[d] and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
11 And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants[e] yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
Here we have God speaking, organizing, naming, and evaluating. Here we have God not only separating the land but causing it to produce vegetation and God proclaims that these things are good and with their creation the third day was finished.
The earth that was without form and void, that was chaotic and empty is now neatly organized. So far, things are good! Now God goes back to what was created on the first day and begins to fill it.
Here is what I mean,
Fourth Day - Genesis 1:14-19
14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons,[f] and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
God now creates what?
For what purpose?
To divide the day from the night and to be for signs and seasons and days and years.
Notice the word "sun" or "moon" are not used. Many ancient religions worshiped the sun the moon and the stars. God made it very clear in the creation account that these were only lights, they served a purpose, but they were created and were not gods.
Fifth Day - Genesis 1:20-23
20 And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds[g] fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” 21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.
On the fifth day of creation God turns to what He had created on the second day and fills it.
On the fifth day God fills the sky and sea with life creating the birds and the fish. And God looks at all He has created and He sees that it is good.
Sixth Day - Genesis 1:24-31
24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, “Let us make man[h] in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
On the sixth day of creation, God fills what He had created on the third day, the dry land and vegetation.
God now creates land animals and human beings.
I wish we had more time to spend noticing some of the details mentioned on these verses but we must move on for now. I hope on your own you re-read this account more carefully, because these events are key to understanding what will take place in chapter 3 and the rest of scriptures.
There is so much to be learned from Genesis 1-2 that I will likely come back to it in a future post. But what I want you to take away from today’s quick overview is that there is a benefit to looking at what the text says, as opposed to searching for what you wish the text said.
The fact that God created is very important when it comes to worship. Genesis 1 and 2 may not give us a detailed explanation of how God created through His Word, but it does make it clear that God intentionally created good things. God did not create and say,
“Meh, it will evolve”
The Bible is clear that what God created was good from the moment He was done creating it. By the end of the sixth day of creation God says everything is very good!
This is important because we see that God as creator is key in worship. Worship takes place because of creation. God worshiped as creator.
6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made,
and by the breath of his mouth all their host.
7 He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap;
he puts the deeps in storehouses.
8 Let all the earth fear the Lord;
let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!
9 For he spoke, and it came to be;
he commanded, and it stood firm.
Let them praise the name of the Lord!
For he commanded and they were created.
Creation is also key when discussing faith.
Hebrews 11, the famous chapter on faith Paul defines faith and the very first thing he proceeds to describe is creation by the Word of God.
Hebrews 11:1-3 1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation. 3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.
When we turn back to Revelation 14:6-7 we read the proclamation made by the an angel, the first of three angels. As I mentioned earlier after the message of these three angels is proclaimed the very next thing we have in Revelation is the second coming of Jesus.
These three angels of Revelation 14:6-13 have a message to preach in the last days just before the second coming of Jesus. And the very first angel proclaims the everlasting gospel to the whole world. He summarizes his message in two main points, the first one being fear God and give glory to Him in the context of judgment, and the second part is a call to worship “Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.”
Without a creator God who then do we worship?
If you get rid of Genesis 1-2 how do we identify God in the last days?
What good is the messages these angels are proclaiming to the whole world if we are unable to identify the creator God?
The God of the Bible, the only true God is our creator God. Even before He became our redeemer, He was/is our creator.
Angels worship God in heaven though He never had to redeem them. Jesus did not have to die for them, yet they worship Him. They worship God because He is their Creator.
“You are the Lord, you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and you preserve all of them; and the host of heaven worships you.
Another interesting fact about the first angel’s message is the careful wording for the end go Revelation 14:7 “worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.”
John’s audience would have been familiar with the Old Testament and this working would have brought a verse to their mind.
There is a verse in the Old Testament that says
“For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them…”
God as the creator of the heavens, the earth, and the sea. Heavens, earth, sea, mentioned in this order only appear in these two verses in the entire Bible. The general notion of God as the creator is found throughout the Bible, but this careful wording in this specific order only appear in Revelation 14:7 and Exodus 20:11
There is one thing I almost forgot.
The creation week did not end on the sixth day.
Remember, the creation account is key to worship and identifying who we should worship.
1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.
On the seventh day we have the announcement that the work of creation is finished. On the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.
Some count it a coincidence that much later, hanging on a cross, on a Friday, Jesus said "it is finished," then rested during the Sabbath, before rising again on Sunday.
We often miss some of these details when we assume we know the story and read through quickly. Genesis 2:3 Tells us that God did not just rest on the seventh day. The Bible tells us that God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it.
This is the only day that God blessed and sanctified.
The seventh-day reminds us that God is our creator, and our redeemer, and that He is coming again to re-establish His original relationship with us in a perfect world where everything is very good.
The creation account teaches us about God. It teaches us that God was very intentional about creation. He was very organized, and everything He created was good.
The creation account also teaches us that God is interested in life and relationships. God placed Adam and Eve, who were created in His image, in a perfect world, and in the very first day of existence He gives them the day off, to enjoy a relationship with each other, with creation, and ultimately with God Himself.
Sure, Adam and Eve had responsibilities to care and manage all of creation, but God highlighted that their worth did not come from their doing, but from their being.
He created them and He loved them, even before they ever had the opportunity to do anything to deserve that love. God’s love was never dependent on their good behavior, He loved them simply because they existed, and they existed because He created them.
So if you missed everything I wrote so far, I want you to remember this.
God created you.
God loves you.
Every Sabbath (seventh day) we celebrate that love, and every week, we stop doing, and enjoy being, celebrating a God who loves us for who we are, a God who saves us by grace.
Keeping the Sabbath is not a burden, it is a celebration of our life and existence, it is a day to enjoy and celebrate all that God has given us, it is an opportunity to celebrate life and existence, and to get a small taste of what it will be when Jesus comes again and re-creates the earth just like it was meant to be, very good. And on the earth there will be no more death, nor sorrow nor crying, there shall be no more pain (Revelation 21:4).
And the creation account reminds us that God did it once and He can surely do it again.