IN THE BEGINNING……………….
Good morning brothers and sisters,
How are you all this morning? Jeannette and I are slowly getting to know more of you. However one problem we have at our age is remembering names so please don’t be offended if we forget your name.
And don’t forget the Thursday evening Bible study at the manse from 8-9pm. We’ll look at the same passage as the sermon in a more practical and personal way. Also the Ladies Bible study on Friday mornings.
Today I want to preach a different style of sermon. Instead of the usual expository sermon, this will be a story telling sermon. But let’s first come to God in prayer:
Dear heavenly Father, Thank You for preserving the Bible over many thousands of years. Thank You that we have the freedom to read the Bible freely. May Your HS open our hearts now so we may hear, understand, and obey Your word. May our focus be on You, the Almighty God and not on me, the storyteller.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Several months ago Jeannette and I went on holidays with some Aussie friends. One day the husband asked me; “Jim, if you were God and could start all over again, what sort of world would you create?” Wow! I had never thought about it. What sort of world would you create? It’s actually a great question so let me ask you: If you were God and could start all over again, what sort of world would you create? Please discuss this for a few moments with those sitting near you then we’ll do a survey and see what everybody thinks.
A world without mosquitoes …….
Kids: a world without homework, yeah! More seriously,
A world without pain and suffering ……..
A world without injustice ……..
In other words we want a perfect world, is that right? Right! You know what? That’s precisely the world God did create; a perfect world – no pain & suffering, no injustice, just perfection. Let me tell you how He did it, it’s written in Genesis 1.
Genesis 1 is not a scientific book, it is a true story most likely written by Moses around 1400 BC with the aim of correcting the wrong beliefs of people of that time.
You see at that time, in what we now call the Middle East, there were several legends of how the world was created. They usually involved two or more gods fighting for supremacy and the winning god creates the world from the dead bodies of the defeated gods.
So Moses wrote Genesis as a rebuttal, a correction to those creation stories. Moses told the people how the world was really created, the true story.
When you think of stories, they usually start with 4 words: “Once upon a time ……” Genesis ch 1 also starts with 4 words, but different words: “In the beginning…..God….”
Moses said: In the beginning – before anything else, right from the start, nothing existed before that…… God – He was already there, nothing precedes God, He was there right from the beginning and there was only Him, no other god. He didn’t have to fight another god for supremacy, He has always been the one and only Almighty God.
In Genesis the word God appeared 32 times; He is the focus of creation.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”
“The earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep”
It was chaos, no form, empty and dark.
“And God said ….” Not and God did, but said. Just by speaking, just by words, just by giving a command. Unlike the gods other people believed in, this God is so powerful He only has to speak and it happens.
“let there be light, and there was light……” whatever God said happened. Whatever God plans and commands will inevitably happen.
“God saw that the light was good” whatever God created is good.
So the story of creation continues in Genesis 1 but sometimes we can’t remember the order of creation. Here is a simple way to remember the 6 days - just remember 2 words: separate and populate. There were 3 days of separation and 3 days of population.
Draw 1st picture
“and He separated the light from the darkness”
“God called the light ‘day’ and the darkness He called ‘night’
“And there was evening, and there was morning – the 1st day”
Draw 2nd picture
On the 2nd day God said: let there be a vault to separate waters below and waters above. And he called the vault Sky.
“And there was evening, and there was morning – the 2nd day”
Draw 3rd picture
On the 3rd day God separated the water from the dry ground.
He called the dry ground ‘land’, and the water ‘seas’. God saw that it was good.
He then produced vegetation, plants and trees. God saw that it was good.
“And there was evening, and there was morning – the 3rd day”
Draw 4th picture
On the 4th day God populated the sky with lights, to mark times and days and years. There were 2 great lights, the greater one to govern the day, and the smaller one to govern the night.
He also made the stars. Now you probably didn’t take much notice of that sentence did you? He also made the stars. But when Moses wrote those words around 1400BC they were controversial! Because the Babylonians, Egyptians and Sabaeans – all worshipped the stars. They believed the stars were gods, but the Bible just casually mentioned that the almighty God created even the stars, as if it wasn’t a big deal.
God saw that it was good.
“And there was evening, and there was morning…… - the 4th day. people say it together
Draw 5th picture
On the 5th day God populated the sea and the sky. The sea: living creatures, the sky: winged birds. God saw it was good. He blessed them: be fruitful and increase.
“And there was evening, and there was morning – the 5th day.
Draw 6th picture
On the 6th day God populated the land with living creatures according to their kinds; wild animals, livestock and creatures that move along the ground. God saw it was good.
Then God said: ”Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness to rule over the fish, birds, livestock and all creatures that move along the ground. God created mankind in His own image, male and female.
God blessed them: be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. In Genesis 2 we read that their names were Adam and Eve. Their job was to look after this newly created world and they had a perfect relationship with God
God saw all He had made and it was very good.
“And there was evening, and there was morning…the 6th day.
So the heavens and earth were completed in all their vast array.
By the 7th day God had finished His work and He rested from all His work of creation.
“And God blessed the 7th day and made it holy”
And there was evening and ….. the 7th day – Wrong! The Bible does not say “And there was evening and there was morning, the 7th day”
Did you know that the 7th day has not ended, that it still continues? Rest here means more than stopping work.
In Australia the idea of rest is like a TV commercial: some tough, big Aussie workers come inside from working in the the hot blazing sun full of sweat. They sit down, put their feet up and open a cold can of beer. Aaahhh, that is rest! But not here…..
In the Bible the concept of rest is enjoying the perfect creation, peace, harmony, completeness, all under God as boss.
This idea of rest carries on to the 10 Commandments (Ex 20) about the Sabbath. Rest is what we are supposed to do on the Sabbath; not just stopping our day jobs but to be at peace with God, enjoying His presence and His perfect creation. Resting on a Sabbath means spending the day with Him in perfect harmony.
This idea of rest carries over to the NT: In Matt 11:28 Jesus said: come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. When we are burdened and stressed out, Jesus calls us to come to Him and have this perfect peace, security and comfort.
This idea of rest carries over to Heb 4; where the writer urged the readers to enter God’s rest that He promised. He warned his readers not to miss out on this rest.
Finally we see this rest in Rev 14:13 - at the end of time, heaven will be a place of rest for believers: perfect harmony and fellowship with God.
That is what God planned right from the beginning of creation; a perfect world at rest with Him.
God’s plan is for all of us to enter this rest with Him, to enjoy a perfect world and be in fellowship with God as boss. God is a relational God, He wants a close fellowship with each one of us.
Do you and I have this rest? Or is there an emptiness in your life because you have never asked Jesus for forgiveness and become God’s child?
It’s true that God does not promise us a bed of roses when we become His children but whatever circumstances we are in, we can have rest knowing that God is with us and He is in control.
However imperfect this world is, we can have God’s rest and peace if He is in control of our lives.
Jesus said: Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Brothers and sisters, if any of you doesn’t have this perfect rest, today is the day to come to Jesus and ask Him for it because He already died for you on the cross. Yes, you can enter this rest today and be in total peace with the almighty creator God. Please talk to an elder, a deacon, a friend or myself and we will pray with you.
But I imagine that the majority of us in this room have entered this rest with God because at some point in our lives we have accepted Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross as payment for our sins.
But how are we travelling since then? Are we maintaining this rest with God? How much time do we spend reading His word and praying with Him each day? A few minutes a day? Or maybe not even every day. Let me encourgae us all to have a quiet time dedicated to God each and evry day. Christianity is a relationship with the Almighty God. We just have to rest in Him by spending time with Him each day.
If you don’t already do it, set aside 15 minutes each day to be with Him. Give Him the first place in our lives, give Him priority and start spending each day with Him. Let us hunger for this rest, this perfect harmony and peace with Him.
Let me close with a What If story which is not in the Bible but please don’t call me a heretic! Just relax, close your eyes, and imagine the story ……
It was a balmy evening in Paradise, mid to high 20 degrees C, an occasional breeze brings the scent of frangipanis. And in the distance; a glorious sunset.
A&E sitting side by side watching the sunset. Holding hands, laughing, talking a lot – clearly a young couple in love.
E: And how was your day at work, Adam?
A: Wonderful day, spent a lot of time with God. We walked all over the garden and God told me about the different trees and animals and how to look after them. The animals are very friendly. You can see how God loves the animals and they were very much at ease with Him. I really enjoy my work of looking after this magnificent garden – it’s so peaceful, beautiful, relaxing. And you, how was your day, Eve?
E: Yes, good. I also spent a lot of time with God. We talked about the amazing flowers, He explained about the plants and fruits and how to cook them and which ones to eat raw.
Adam, this is really what they call – paradise. So perfect and peaceful.
I absolutely love it here.
A: Yes Eve, we have a wonderful God. How blessed we are and what a privilege to be in His presence in this perfect paradise…………….
Now open your eyes. Is that what you see around you? Is that the world you see on TV? When you read the newspaper, is that the world that God intended? NO! Why? What happened to the rest God intended for us? What happened to paradise that God created?
Come back next Sunday and I’ll tell you!