In the Beginning God Created! - Part 4

Tom Pennington • Genesis 1

  • 2005-04-24 PM
  • Systematic Theology
  • Sermons

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We come back tonight to Genesis 1. We take a look again at the greatness of God in His created world. You know, we were all amazed last week I think with the magnitude of the universe. When you start to contemplate the breadth of the creation of God as you look up in the heavens and realize that we are literally on a tiny speck of dust in terms of the size of the universe hurling through space, you get some small glimpse of the great power of God. But I want you to see that wherever you look in God's creation, you are in effect seeing self-contained universes, even in every single atom.

I did some reading this week about the atom. Of course, the atom is one of the basic units of matter. An atom is a million times smaller than the thickness of the human hair, a million times smaller. The smallest speck that can be seen under an ordinary microscope contains more than a billion atoms.

As tiny as atoms are, they in turn consist of even more minute particles, three basic particles: protons, neutrons and electrons. The protons and neutrons are crowded into the nucleus of every atom, an incredibly tiny region at the center of the atom. Just to sort of put it in perspective, you've already seen a glimpse as I have of the smallness of every atom, but if we could take the atom and blow it up to a scale that we can understand, let's say for a moment that a hydrogen atom were about 4 miles in diameter. At that size, the nucleus of the atom would be the size of a tennis ball. Think about that for a moment. Every single atom, if you could enlarge it to a 4 mile diameter, would have a nucleus only about the size of a tennis ball.

The rest of the atom is mostly empty space. The electrons constantly orbit the nucleus in random patterns completing, (and listen to this, this is hard for me to imagine and I want to know how counted this, but completing) billions of trips around the nucleus every millionth of a second. Let me say that again because those numbers are hard to grasp. Those electrons are circling the galaxy if you will of every atom billions of times every millionth of a second. But every single atom that makes up matter is composed of mostly space. What makes it seem solid is the speed at which those electrons are circling. If you could picture for a moment trying to thrust a pencil through a twirling fan - there's space between the blades, but because it's travelling so quickly, you couldn't get the pencil through there. It's the same way with matter - mostly space. But because the electrons are circling in that random pattern around the nucleus at such tremendous speeds, it gives every indication of being and feeling solid.

It's amazing to see God's creative power. In every tiny speck of creation, there is its own universe, the universe of the atom. And it's even possible as our technology improves that we will discover, just as we've discovered now there are smaller components to the protons, we may discover eventually that there are smaller yet units, smaller universes within these minute universes. This is the power of the creative work of God.

As we've been discovering in the process of one normal week's time, God spoke into existence the entire created universe with all of these smaller universes that go to make it up. Amazing to see, let me just briefly review with you. We've been looking at the days of creation. It was on Sunday of that first week, day one, that God created time, space, matter, and light. We found that in the first five verses. On Monday, God created the earth's atmosphere. On Tuesday, the earth thrust up out of the ocean, (the primordial ocean that covered it) and vegetation broke out all over the earth as well at the word of God. On Wednesday, and this is where we ended last week, the luminaries were formed: the sun, the moon and the stars.

Tonight, we come to Thursday. Now as I mentioned last time, there are some very interesting parallels between the first three days and the last three days of creation. On day one, God created the light; on day two, the atmosphere and sea; on day three, (that is the self-contained sea breaking up the waters above from the waters below.) And on day three, dry land.

On day four, He took that light, which had just been this sort of ethereal essence of light, and He gathered it into luminaries corresponding to day one. Corresponding to day two, God gave fish and birds to the atmosphere and the sea. And on day three, to the dry land He brought land creatures, then on day six and man. And so you can see that days one through three, He formed the earth on which everything would exist. And days four through six He filled it, He inhabited it, each of these spheres that He created on the first three days.

So that brings us then to day five. As we look at each of these days, it was on Thursday that God created fish and birds. Let's look at it together, turn to verse 20. It's now Thursday of the creation week. Remember on Sunday, He spoke time, matter, space and light into existence. But on that first day, He described the universe He'd created as unformed and unfilled. And as morning breaks on this day, on Thursday, the earth and the entire universe have been formed, but they need to be filled. He begins by filling as I showed you what He formed on day two, the sea and the atmosphere. He fills the sea with fish and the atmosphere with birds.

Notice verse 20, "Then God said, 'Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures." Verse 21, "God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarmed after their kind." Notice again that God's work of creation is executed by a divine "theot"; that is, He speaks, and it happens.

This marks a first, by the way, in creation. Notice the expression in verse 20 "living creatures". Literally the word living creatures, or the phrase living creatures, those two words, can be translated "living souls". In verse 7 of chapter 2, this same expression is used of man. "Man became a living being", or a living (the Hebrew word is "nephesh"), soul. The word "nephesh" comes from a word which means "to breathe", literally, that which breathes.

This word is a complex word, it's not a simple word to define because it's frequently in the Old Testament used, and it refers to several different things. It can refer to the human soul, that immaterial part of man, the true self that lives in the tent of the body. It can describe the entire living being whose life resides in his blood. In other words, it can refer to all of us, our entire being. It can be a personal reference to self, you can refer to yourself as the psalmist often does, "I say to my soul". "I say to myself" would be a translation we could use, and that's how we would say it. The "nephesh" is also referred to as the seat of the appetites - that is, the desires, the cravings, the longings of the heart.

And finally, it's used to refer to the seat of the emotions and the passions. So in what sense can animals be said to have a nephesh, a soul? What man and animal share in common with this word is that they both breathe. They are both living beings whose life resides in their blood. Man and animal share conscious life. Plants and trees have biological life, that is the ability to grow and reproduce, but they do not have conscious life. And God now speaks into creation conscious life.

Notice He begins with marine life, verse 20. "God said, 'Let the waters teem with swarms of living creatures.'" Literally, let the waters swarm with swarming things. Hebrew loves to have that repetition. Basically, this expression is a specific reference to the sort of constant, swift movement of billions of creatures cutting crisscrossing paths through the ocean. In a moment on the fifth day, on Thursday of creation week, God spoke into existence the undersea universe, and it is every bit as impressive as what we see when we look up at the stars. Everything from the smallest one-celled organism to the plankton that feeds most of the marine life to the largest creatures in the sea, He spoke, and the seas literally teemed with all of the marine life that we know and many that we don't know today that have since become extinct.

Notice in verse 21, he refers to the great sea monsters, is how the New American Standard translates it. This is a reference to all the large sea creatures, including those that remain today such as the whale. But it also, I think, has reference to now extinct dinosaurs that inhabited the sea, that were really very dragon-like. In fact, you can see them described in various places in the Old Testament. Turn to Job 41, and you see a reference to one of these creatures.

You know, it always fascinates me to see how people try to interpret the Bible. When you come to Job 41, you know God is giving Job a lecture here. He's taking him behind the woodshed, saying who are you to question Me and My purposes? And so He gives Him this string of things to demonstrate His greatness, a string of creatures and actions that He takes in creation, intended to demonstrate His greatness. And He says here in verse 1 of chapter 41 of Job, "Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook? Or press down his tongue with a cord?" And He goes on to describe this horrific creature that inhabits the sea.

And in the margin of your Bible, it probably has what's in the margin of my Bible, and that is this may be a crocodile. Give me a break. Crocodiles are fairly impressive. You don't want to run into one, I mean you don't want to be at the business end of a crocodile, but that isn't what God is doing here. This is a mammoth creature that cannot be controlled. And this undoubtedly refers to one of those creatures, I think, that's now extinct, part of the original dinosaur kingdom that was created along with the rest of the marine life on Thursday of the creation week.

There are a number of other references by the way, I won't look at them with you, but Psalm 74:13 and 14, Psalm 104:26, Isaiah 27:1 – all of these have reference to these mammoth sea creatures that seem to be greater than even our whales, which would be the greatest we have today.

Now when you go back to Genesis 1 (in the entire passage of Genesis 1), only this specific category is identified. Why would that be? Why would He include this comment about great sea monsters? Well, I think it's very interesting to note that in the ancient world, even at the time Moses wrote, many of the pagan religions worshiped and venerated these great frightening creatures of the sea. And they venerated them as gods, especially in ancient Egypt and in ancient Mesopotamia.

The Jewish commentator Cassuto writes,

"It is as though the Torah said in effect, 'Far be it from anyone to suppose that the sea monsters were mythological beings opposed to God or in revolt against Him.' They were natural as the rest of the creatures and were formed in their proper time and in their proper place by the word of the Creator in order that they might fulfill His will like the other created beings."

I think that's exactly right. I think Moses, with the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was making a point. You worship these things as gods. God spoke them into existence with the rest of the marine life on a single, in a single moment on a single day.

In fact, it's interesting, turn for a moment to Psalm 148. Psalm 148 of course is this great Psalm calling all of creation to praise the Lord. And in verse 7, we see, "Praise the Lord from the earth, sea monsters and all the deeps." In other words, everything down at the most, at the deepest, lowest level of the sea, let them praise the Lord. Let their creation and the handiwork of their Maker be on display.

You know, there's so many different ways that you and I ought to be amazed at the creative work of God. We think of fish, and frankly we kind of ho-hum. Let me encourage you to do something. Sometime this week with your children or with yourself, pull an encyclopedia off the shelf. Look up fish, and then find one fish that you want to know a little more about, and then look up that fish, and just discover just the slightest bit of the handiwork of God. That's what God intends for His creative work to do - is impress us.

Let me give you one that impressed me when I did that. It's the archerfish. It's an interesting fish. It lives in fresh and brackish water, mostly in Southeast Asia. Now the archerfish is unique because its upper palate is grooved so that when it presses its tongue up against the roof of the mouth, it creates a sort of tube. When it forces its gills shut and pushes its mouth against the roof, or its tongue rather against the roof of its mouth and forms that tube, it can force water out in a sort of jet stream. It has the ability to basically spit balls of water, and it does this at insects resting just above the surface of the water on leaves and branches in order to knock them off the branch and into the water. And they can generate with this stream of water or these sort of staccato balls of water enough pressure or enough force to do that, to knock them into the water so it can eat them.

These archerfish are accurate at up to five feet. They have binocular-type vision which lets them accurately determine or judge the distance. Some of you men who play golf wish you had that kind of vision; determine the distance to the pin. They have an instinctive ability to compensate for the refraction caused by the water's surface. So they can analyze with these eyes that they have and the refraction of the water's surface and determine exactly what position to aim the water coming out of their mouth to hit that insect up to five feet out of the water.

This is just one fish in one part of the world. And God in a moment spoke this, and many others like it that are absolutely fascinating, into existence. By the way, the archerfish has a natural camouflage that makes it invisible from the surface of the water. So the bugs have no idea what's coming. Really amazing, just one of the fish, the marine life that God in a moment spoke into existence.

Notice the, back in Genesis 1, notice the end of verse 20. We get to the birds, He says, "And let birds fly above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens," literally on the face of the heavens. Verse 21, "and every winged bird after its kind (God created); and God saw that it was good." Here we see this same pattern with those creatures that are designed to occupy the sky, the birds. Notice again that God created conscious living creatures with the same capacity as plant life, to reproduce after their kind. Again, it's absolutely amazing, the variety of bird life. You see that honestly in your own yard if you pay any attention, to say nothing of the world at large.

Here are a few interesting birds that I came across as I thought about this and looked them up. There is the bar-headed goose which can fly at an altitude of greater than 25,000 feet above sea level.

There's the peregrine falcon which is the fastest bird. It can swoop down on its prey at a speed greater than two hundred miles an hour. Imagine an animal made up of feathers and bones and flesh flying at two hundred miles an hour. And yet God designed it to do that.

There are the Arctic terns. The Arctic terns are the birds that migrate the farthest in the world. They migrate every year between the Arctic and the Antarctic. Eleven thousand miles they migrate, knowing exactly where they're going, always arriving at the proper time and in the proper place, programmed by God, created by God to have the capacity to do that.

And by the way, migrating birds, and I won't go into this because this isn't in my notes, and I don't want to tell you more than I know, but basically migrating birds as I understand are guided by the stars. And if you put birds in a planetarium and the stars are correctly fashioned, they can find their way. But if you mess them up by changing the stars in the planetarium, they're all confused, and they can't find their way. So somehow God programmed birds with the ability to navigate by the stars - just incredible.

Then there's the emperor penguin. The emperor penguin has been recorded underwater at depths of almost nine hundred feet below the surface of the water, something that would be absolutely devastating on the human anatomy.

And again, these are just a few of the incredible variety that are in our world, all for the glory and pleasure of God. That's the thing that fascinates me about some of these things. You know, for hundreds, literally thousands of years, nobody but God saw many of these things. Nobody but God and the angels understood the magnitude and the creative power of God. He did it for His own glory and for His own pleasure.

Notice verse 22, "God blessed them, saying [and here we're talking specifically about the fish], 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas.'" God blessed fish with a remarkable ability to multiply. It really is amazing. One female cod can lay nine million eggs during a single breeding season. A female herring lays about fifty thousand eggs in a season. And mothers, you thought you were tired chasing after three kids.

God blesses the fish, but He also blesses the birds. Notice not, not to fill the sky in the same way that the fish filled the sea because it would obliterate our view of the skies, but nevertheless He blesses them and He says, "Let the birds multiply on the earth." Just see the wisdom of God in every verse.

Well, that brings us to day six, the land creatures. On day six God creates land animals and man. So now we're on Friday, day six of the creation week. And on day six, God finishes filling the earth, this time the dry land. Notice verse 24,

Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind"; and it was so. God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after his kind; and God saw that it was good.

So, God speaks again, and He speaks living creatures designed for the dry land into existence.

Just imagine for a moment that all the creatures just in your yard or your neighborhood didn't exist. Try to imagine your yard, your neighborhood swept of all land animal life. And then imagine that in a moment, all of those in your yard, in your neighbor's yard, in your city, in your county, in the state of Texas, in the North American continent, and in every other continent on earth - in a moment of time, they all come into existence. That's exactly what the Scripture tells us happened.

Now Moses uses an interesting expression here. He says, "Let the earth bring forth". That means that the land animals were made of the same chemical makeup as the earth itself. You see this over in 2:19, "Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field." These animals have the same makeup, the same chemical makeup as the earth itself.

Now this includes every kind of land-based creature, from those like worms, roaches, termites and ants that live in the ground to the massive mammals that walk on the earth and everything in between. Notice that Moses here divides the land creatures into three groups. This isn't meant to be a sort of technical taxonomy. Instead, he breaks it into three logical groups. First of all, there's the cattle. The cattle are those living creatures designed to be domesticated or tamed; for example, cows and goats and horses and camels and so forth. And you know it really is amazing that God provided for the good of mankind these domesticatable animals.

I read a lot this week about the cow. Now I know you are unimpressed with cows, but I hope to impress you with the handiwork of God. I'm not even going to share a fraction of what I read, but let me just give you a little insight. The cow was especially designed to serve humanity. Almost every part of the cow can be used either for food or the hide for leather and for clothing and shoes and so forth. They are fully domesticated. They're easily bred. They're cheap to maintain because they can eat a wide variety of wild plant life as well as be fed grain. They can thrive in many different environments all over the world, from the cold north of Canada all the way down to Florida and everything in between - incredibly adaptable animals.

The average cow produces more than five thousand quarts of milk a year. That's enough for more than sixty people to have all the dairy resources they need for a full year. The cow also produces, and this'll make you wince a little, up to ten tons of manure a year. Now you say okay, how is that helpful? Well that manure goes back into the ground and enriches the soil, makes it fertile again for plants and the things that grow and even for the grain and things that we eat. You probably have manure in your flower beds or something like it to encourage growth. What an amazing animal, the cow is one of God's gracious gifts to mankind. He created it on day six.

The other category, or another category that Moses gives us, is creeping things. Creeping things are those creatures that crawl on or walk near the ground. This includes insects that permeate the ground, it includes small reptiles, many small mammals like squirrels, and probably is a reference to most amphibians according to Henry Morris.

You've never thought of creeping things as having any great value in your world. In fact, most of us find these things or many of them to be nuisances. But let me just let you think about that a moment. Let's take ants for example. There are twenty thousand species of ants in the world is what the encyclopedia tells us. The amazing thing about these animals is first of all, their brains are larger per their size than many other creatures. And they are incredibly strong. Some ants can lift up to fifty times their weight. Proportionately, ants account for more of the world's living tissue mass than any other creature. Ants probably account for more than ten percent of the world's living tissue by total volume. It's estimated that all the world's ants, if you could put them on one side of a scale and you could put all living humans on the other side of the scale, the ants would win.

But what purpose do all of these ants serve? Well they serve an incredibly useful purpose, actually a number of them. They maintain the earth's soil, they aerate and fertilize the soil. They pollenate many different plants. They serve a lot of other sort of house cleaning, ecological services. And some scientists predict that if somehow the ant population were to be decimated all over the world, it would throw our world into a tailspin. All of the ecological systems would become in a state of collapse. Amazing, with a single breath of the mouth of God, He spoke it all into existence.

The third category are beasts of the fields, beasts of the field rather. These are four-legged land animals not designed to be domesticated. These are your wild animals, large mammals like lions, elephants, and large, (this probably includes large) extinct reptiles that we know as dinosaurs - in a moment.

The other day, my family and I went down to Glen Ros,e and we saw there those, many of you have been there, you've seen the dinosaur tracks in the streambed there. It's really amazing to see the size, the sheer size of these animals that walked the earth. And in fact, they have a couple of fiberglass replicas there that you can stand and sort of get an idea of the scale. It would be a very frightening thing frankly to live in a world peopled by those animals. Incredibly huge, and God spoke them into existence in a moment along with all of the large mammals that we still know today.

The creation of all the land-based animals must have taken a very short time indeed because the rest of the events of day six take some time. It's the creation of man and woman. The summary of the rest of Friday is recorded in verses 26 back in 1:26 - 31, but the events are recorded in detail beginning in 2: down through verse 25. This isn't another creation account. Some have unwisely referred to Genesis 2 as another creation account. It's simply a detailed account of what we have a summary of in chapter 1, and that is the creation of man. All of the events that you read there in chapter 2 occurred at the end of the sixth day or as a part of the sixth day, including the naming of some of the animals as well as the creation of woman and man.

But let's look tonight just at the summary there in 1. Notice verse 26,

Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Now notice, first of all, that God talks to or consults with Himself. This is the first time we have any record of this in the Bible and certainly in the creation. Verse 26, "Then God said." In the past when we've encountered that phrase, the next thing has been "let the seas teem with marine life" or "let there be light", and here instead He talks as it were to Himself. "God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image according to Our likeness.'" Of course, we later learn that this is a hint of the true nature of God, one God eternally existing in three persons. Here just a brief exposure, a brief passing glance of the character of God.

The New Testament tells us that when we see this discussion (as it were going on in verse 26) that God had already made this decision and every other decision pertaining to man in eternity past. God had already determined in eternity past that He would create man and woman. He had already determined in eternity past that His Son would die to save men and women. We find it recorded in the New Testament that in fact, your name and mine if you're a believer was written before time in the Book of Life. All of these things were already determined.

But here, the eternal plan is announced and executed. Notice that man's body is made out of the ground like the animals, and man becomes a living soul as is said of the animals, but in the case of man, it's different. In the case of man, God actually forms Adam's body from the elements of the earth. You see in verse 7 of chapter 2 the word "form". That word (that Hebrew word) is often used of a potter shaping the clay. That's the picture of God's work in making man. God, who has been speaking everything into existence, here takes a special interest in man, and He forms his body as a potter would shaping a piece of clay on the wheel.

And also with man, God doesn't merely speak conscious life into existence, He personally breathes into the lungs of Adam. Verse 7 of chapter 2, "God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." Now I'm not going to address tonight what it means to be made in the image of God because starting next week, we're going to be looking at the nature of man and we're going to come back to this text pretty quickly and see what it means to be made in the image of God. But I do want you to notice, and this is crucial, that Scripture here dramatically distinguishes man from the rest of creation. God takes a very special interest in man. He creates him differently. It's because man and woman alone are made in the image and likeness of God.

You know, a tragic by-product of the modern evolutionary theory is to obliterate that distinction. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, PETA, argue that killing an animal for food is the moral equivalent of murder. Eating meat, they say, is tantamount to cannibalism. PETA even condemns the use of pets. In a 1988 statement, they say this: "Pets are like slaves, even if well-kept slaves." But I think most shocking of all are the words of PETA's founder, Ingrid Newkirk. Listen to what she wrote. "There is no rational basis for saying that a human being has special rights. A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy."

She's saying there's absolutely no distinction, there's no difference. To kill any one of those is the moral equivalent of murder. To eat any one of those is the moral equivalent of cannibalism. There is no difference. And that's where you ultimately come with evolutionary theory.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Newkirk compared the butchering of chickens to the Holocaust. "Six million Jews died in concentration camps, but six billion broiler chickens will die this year in slaughterhouses." You know, if that wasn't so tragic, it would be hilarious. "Professing themselves to be wise, they became (what?) fools." Scripture tells us here clearly in Genesis 1 that man is created superior to the animals because he alone is made in the image of God. Man, listen folks, man is the main character in the drama of redemption, and the rest of creation is merely the supporting cast.

Notice, in fact, as you look at the rest of Genesis 1 that man is assigned to serve as the lord of the rest of creation. Verse 28, "God blessed them (that is, man and woman); God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth." God (notice) pronounces a blessing on them, and then He proceeds to give them their assignments.

Notice the four commands that God gives Adam and us. First of all: populate. Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Some of you are doing a very good job of this. By the way, this command is repeated after the flood in Genesis 9:1. After the flood, it's repeated and it's never rescinded. This is still part of God's prescription for mankind and life. Morris, in his commentary makes the point that many people are concerned about the so-called population explosion. The God who created this earth said that is more than capable of sustaining a large population, He says be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth.

I always, Sheila and I are often commenting when we take the lonely drive from here to Mobile, Alabama, and you go for hour after hour after hour, and you see nothing but pine trees. It's like what happened to this population explosion we've been reading about? Scientists estimate that the San Joaquin Valley in California, some of you have had the opportunity to drive through it, they estimate that that valley alone could produce enough food to feed every man, woman and child alive today. God says populate the earth. You see how the Scripture confronts the culture in which we live, the mindset of the age in which we live?

The second thing He tells Adam and Eve is: subdue the earth. This is a military term, it means to conquer and then rule, that is, have dominion, have authority over it. The idea behind these terms is a mandate to carefully study the earth and all its systems, to harness those systems and to utilize them for the benefit of both men and animals. God is here authorizing the use of and advance of technology and science as man's basic goals pertaining to the creation. This embraces all of productive human activities from harnessing water with dams to harnessing the atom for electrical power and everything in between. Morris writes, "This command therefore established man as God's steward over the created world and all things therein."

You and I get just a little taste of this, even though we live in our little suburban lives. Last Saturday, as my Craftsman lawn mower and I were cutting my grass and as I broke out my little edger and my weed eater, I'd been thinking about and studying on this passage. And I realized in my own little way, in my own small way, I too was subduing and ruling the earth. By the way, this is one of the explanations why from the beginning of time, man has gotten great joy from tilling and planting the ground. It's part of God's directive to mankind.

Notice God gives one final directive. He stipulates how He's provided for his most constant, man's most constant and basic need, and that is food. Notice verses 29 and 30,

Then God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; and it shall be [for] food for you; and to every beast of the field and to every bird of the sky and to every thing that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food"; and it was so.

Some of you guys just let out a big groan. You didn't see any reference to hamburger anywhere in those two verses. It's clear that in the original creation neither humans nor animals ate meat. The Jewish commentator Cassuto writes,

"You were permitted to make use of the living creatures and their service. You were allowed to exercise power over them so that they may promote your subsistence, but you may not treat the life force within them contemptuously and slay them."

But a change occurs after the flood. Look at Genesis 9:3. God says to Noah, notice verse 2, let's start there,

"The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given. Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant. Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood."

After the flood, God said you can eat meat with one proviso, and that is the blood was not to be consumed. Why is that? Because it was showing respect for the life force that God had created as a part of that animal.

By the way, Genesis 9:3 was reaffirmed by Christ. You remember in Mark 7? Mark comments that when Christ said that it wasn't that which goes into the man that defiles the man, that he was making all foods [what?] clean. All food was acceptable.

Peter learned this same lesson in Acts 10 when he saw this huge sheet that came down from heaven and in it were all kinds of animals of various kinds. And God says rise Peter, kill and eat. And Peter says I can't eat that which is unclean, and God says don't ever call that which is, which God has given unclean. And he goes on to understand that God not only was declaring animals as fair game for man's food, but He was also saying that the Gentiles, whom they considered unclean, were now going to be receiving the good news of Jesus Christ.

Paul does the same thing. In fact, turn there for a moment because we live in bizarre times when all kinds of crazy things can be read in Christian media and heard on Christian radio. Notice 1 Timothy 4:1, that

… the Spirit [expressly or] explicitly says that in latter times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons [verse 2], by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron.

You know what's interesting? When we think of people being seared in their consciences, what kind of a lifestyle do we normally see connected with that? Absolute profligacy, completely giving themselves over to sensuality, but notice what seared in the conscience looks like here. Verse 3,

men who forbid marriage [boy, been a lot about that in the news recently] and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth [watch this, verse 4]. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.

God set it apart in the Scripture as acceptable, and if you pray, and give thanks for it, then it's acceptable to God for you to enjoy it. So go, and have a burger men after the service. It's okay.

By the way, in the millennial period, this command will be enforced again. In Isaiah 11:6 and 9 and Isaiah 65:25, you see that there will be no carnivorous beasts at this time. Notice verse 26 back in Genesis again, Genesis 1, that man was created to rule over the rest of creation. As a steward of all the physical creation, man is to wisely use creation for his own benefit, for his own enjoyment and for the good of his fellow man. That's what God intended.

Now practically folks, this means two things. It means we should avoid both extremes. We should avoid the extreme of being a tree-hugger (or as some like to refer to them, environmentalist wackos), on one end. We should avoid on the other end purposefully abusing the planet and being irresponsible. Man has been given the responsibility to be a steward of the creation.

And secondly, it means that though we are allowed to eat meat and to enjoy it, we must respect animal life. That command that we are still to respect the life of an animal, that is, we're not to eat its blood; that principle is still in effect. You can see it in Acts 15. There's to be a respect for animals. In fact, Proverbs 12:10 puts it this way: "A righteous man has regard for the life of his animal, but even the compassion of the wicked is cruel."

Notice verse 31, here's the summary of these six wonderful days, Sunday through Friday. "God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day." It's interesting. On the previous days, God surveyed the work of that day and determined that it was good, but here it's comprehensive. When He looked at all the six days, He said it's good, but not just good; here He says it's very good.

That brings us to day seven. We now arrive at Saturday. Notice 2:1.

Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. … [And] God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

Notice verse 2, "God blessed the seventh day and He sanctified it," that is, He set it apart from the other six days. Why? Well three verbs explain the reasons. Notice verse 1, finished. Here's why He set the seventh day apart. Four times in three verses, God says He finished all His creation work. We see this even in science. The forces at work today in our world are encapsulated in the two laws of thermodynamics. All that's going on today is conservation and disintegration, not fresh creative power as evolution would have you believe. God finished.

Verse 2, "He rested." Now what does that mean? Isaiah 40 obviously tells us as we heard the choir sing this morning God never gets tired. So why did He rest? Literally the Hebrew word means "to abstain from productive work". Why? Because He was finished! Exodus describes God as being refreshed, that is, refreshed with the satisfaction of completing creation.

Macarthur in his book Battle for the Beginning writes, "The imagery is like that of a master artisan who having completed a masterpiece, pauses to admire and reflect on his finished work." God stopped creating. And by the way, there's no mention here that Adam rested as sabbatarians attempt to argue. Here it's just God resting. We have no evidence that Adam rested. The first command to respect the seventh day in that way comes with the law in Exodus 20.

Notice in verse 3, He blessed it. It's a blessed day. Why did God create in a week? Why did God do it in six days and then rest on the seventh when God could have done it in a moment of time? It was to establish a basic rhythm for all of human life. You ever wonder why there are weeks? I wonder why there are weeks. I mean why is it that, I mean they, it doesn't work, it doesn't fit into 365 days, so why weeks?

Well, I got curious so I looked it up in the encyclopedia. Let's see what the minds of the age say is the origin of the concept of the week. Here's what the World Book Encyclopedia says:

"We do not know exactly how this division of time began, but the ancient Hebrews were among the first to use it. The book of Genesis in the Bible says that the world was created in six days, and the seventh day or Sabbath was a day of rest and worship."

In other words, we don't have a clue and we're not really willing to say it happened the way Genesis recorded, but that seems to be the clearest we can get to the beginning.

Macarthur puts it this way and I love this:

There is no rational reason, no cosmic reason, no philosophical reason, no mathematical reason and no scientific reason for seven-day weeks. There is frankly no other explanation for why the 365 days of our solar years are divided into sevens. The year itself doesn't even divide neatly that way, so why are our calendars ordered by weeks? There's only one reason. God Himself established that order in the pattern of His creation. Every week of our lives we go through a cycle that is intended by God to remind us that He created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. And man absolutely refuses to acknowledge it. He lives his life by the rhythm of the creative work of God.

What does this mean for us? Well let me just give you a couple of thoughts, and we'll be done. It means that we should seize upon Saturday, the seventh day, as an opportunity to celebrate and delight in God's creation. Saturday should be for us in a sense the celebration of the finished work of creation. And Sunday should be a celebration of the finished work of redemption.

Let me encourage you practically to do something this week for your own study or for your family. Each day this week starting today, read something about what God accomplished on that day. Break out your encyclopedia, break out your books that have some explanation of something that God created on each day. For example, on Friday, read something about the human body and its complexity or about some land-based animal, and allow the incredible creative ability of God to dazzle you. That's what God intended.

Listen folks, there's something much bigger than us at work here in the universe. God has put Himself on display, but we keep our eyes shut just like our unbelieving neighbors. You ever stop to contemplate something that God made just for the sole purpose of giving Him glory? That's what He desired, that's what He designed.

Even the angels of heaven do this. Turn to Isaiah, Isaiah 6. I'd never seen this really till this week. And I just sort of stumbled across it by God's providence. Isaiah 6, you're familiar of course with this great vision. We find in John 12 that the One that Isaiah sees here is none other than Jesus Christ Himself in a pre-incarnate form. We read in verse 1,

In the year of king Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. [These majestic angelic creatures, the] seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two He flew. [And watch what they say in the presence of God constantly.] One called out to another and they praised God with these words: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts…."

What does it mean that God is holy? Well as we studied together, it means two basic things. It means that God is absolutely morally pure. There is not one blight of a stain of sin or anything like it in the character of God, but it means something else as well. When we speak of God's holiness, we're speaking of the fact that God isn't like anyone else. Nothing resembles God. To whom will you liken me, God says. That's God's holiness. They're praising God for the fact that absolutely nothing can be compared to Him.

And notice what they use to illustrate it. Notice the last part of verse 3. "The whole earth is full of His glory." As I showed you a couple of weeks ago, even in heaven in the presence of God, they are constantly praising Him or His creative power. And here the very seraphim, these majestic burning ones, giving praise to God for the fact that He is not like anyone else in the universe. Give Him glory for His creation.

Let me just ask you very bluntly. I had to ask myself this. Do you give Him glory for His creation, or have you allowed the culture that we live in to so obliterate the glory of God that you never even think about it? Let me urge you this week to join the seraphim in saying as you look around you, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. The whole earth is full of His glory."

Let's pray together.

Father, forgive us. We are so earthbound. We are so myopic in our vision. All we see is our little lives and our little worlds and our little to do lists and our calendars, and we fail to lift up our eyes and see Your glory everywhere, from the smallest atom to the far flung reaches of the universe. God, forgive us, forgive us for attacking Your glory by not giving You glory as you intend for us to.

Lord, help us as Your people to celebrate not only the redemption that we enjoy in Christ, but Your amazing creation. Lord, we worship You, we bless You for Your greatness, for Your power, for the way You put Your glory on display in everything around us. May our lives bring You glory in the same way.

We pray in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ through whom You created all these things. Amen.

Systematic Theology