Some More Important Observations from Genesis 1

Title: Some More Important Observations from Genesis 1

Text: Genesis 1:27, 28, 31

Time: May 18th, 2010

Genesis is such a treasure trove of important and essential nuggets of truth that one could almost forever spend time discussing vital doctrines we find here that will come up over and over again throughout the whole Bible. In an earlier message I covered three important observations from Genesis 1 – the plural name of God, elohim, that reveals the Trinity, the word for “create,” bara,” that supports the doctrine of creation ex nihilo or “out of nothing,” and the Spirit, or ruah, mentioned in connection with creation that reveals the divinity and personality of the Holy Spirit. All of these important doctrines will prove essential in later Christian orthodox teaching; but here they appear early in the Genesis account. Today, I’d like to look at another three important and essential teachings from Genesis 1 – God creating mankind male and female, God giving mankind authority and responsibility for the whole earth, and God originally creating all things good. There is great confusion today over simple and basic issues. We hear in the news great debates and divisions over sexual identity among teenagers and young people today. There is an alarming trend among high school and college students of questioning and even changing one’s own sexual identity – boys questioning there masculinity, girls questioning their femininity. We see a growing number of young women turning to lesbian relationships, while both men and women are moving into lifestyles of bi-sexuality – switching back and forth between sexual relationships with both men and women. There is a lot of confusion in society over gender issues today, there can be no doubt. To make things worse, society’s leaders in government, businesses and private organizations, even in churches, send mixed signals to citizens about sexual identity. Some state governments sanction same-sex unions and marriages, making it legitimate in a number of states. The nation as a whole seems to moving towards the total normalization of homosexuality. School children are taught that marriage and family can be defined as whatever people want them to be because they were formed by mankind, they can be reformed by mankind. Leading Hollywood celebrities form all types of alternative sexual lifestyles and their odd practices are front-page headlines all over the world. No wonder there is great confusion today over sexuality and identity. But all of this is because people are not reading their Bibles – or not believing their Bibles – about such issues. The Bible is clear, especially in Genesis 1, that God created mankind male and female, only two categories of sexuality. This is just one example of essential truth we’ll cover today as we review three more important teachings from Genesis 1. Hopefully, by message end, we’ll have a greater knowledge of foundational biblical teachings and be more motivated to commit to these truths in life. So let’s turn to the three important truths.

First, God made mankind male and female, man and woman. Genesis 1:27, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Here is the foundational basis for all correct teaching concerning sexuality or sexual identity. There are only two categories of sexuality – either male or female. There is nothing here, not even a hint, that there is any legitimate expression of sex outside of these two categories. There is no mention of homosexuality or same-sex  sexuality. There could have been though. If God had wanted to express the legitimacy of same-sex relationships he could have included some hint of it here at the beginning; but he doesn’t. The fact is, by mentioning two sexes, male and female, and then by later showing that these two become one flesh – Genesis 2:24, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh,” God establishes his will concerning human sexuality. Homosexuality is not God’s will for men and women. Same-sex relationships are outside of the will of God. Everything in the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, teaches against same-sex relationships. Every mention of homosexuality is negative in the Bible. Nothing of what is expressed in God’s Word is positive concerning same-sex relationships. What we see here in Genesis 1 is consistently applied through the rest of the Bible to the very end. We therefore see here a foundational truth, one that all of society can and should build upon – God created mankind from the beginning as male or female – any form of marriage and family should be based on this original pattern. I remember televangelist Jerry Falwell used to say, “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.” That used to get secular news reporters rolling their eyes, but it’s perfect true! Even the Lord Jesus himself repeated the Genesis 1 teaching in the New Testament, “’Haven’t you read,’ he replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh? So they are no long are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate,’” Matthew 19:4-6. But despite the clear teachings of the foundational truths of Genesis and the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament, people today seem as confused as ever. Even churches are confused. Main-line liberal churches actively support the homosexual lifestyle and same-sex marriage. Many so-called evangelical churches are waffling on the issue or keeping silent, while only a few are standing strong for the biblical foundational truths. We need to stand strong and hold the line on God’s original created order. If we as Bible-believing Christians don’t stand for the truth, nobody else in society will – and the truth will be lost in the modern world. Genesis 1 gives us a foundation to build on, for marriage, for family and for society. We don’t have to wonder who we are or what we are – we are either men or women. There are only two ways God made people, and we are either one or the other. The sooner our society returns to this essential, foundational truth, the better. We must help society see this truth through our witness in big and small ways.

Second, God gave mankind responsibility and authority over the whole earth. Genesis 1:28, “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’” So here at the very beginning God gives men and women – mankind – the very important responsibility and the corresponding authority to take care of the planet earth. Another name for this assignment is stewardship. God gave mankind stewardship over the earth. Now, interestingly enough, this teaching is something that even the world has understood in part. Today we are all well aware how we are responsible for the preservation and development of the earth. We hear slogans on Starbuck coffee cups, “Save the planet!” and the whole “green” movement is an expression of this. In fact, activists have taken the whole idea of stewardship to extremes in many cases, for example, pushing to preserve thousands of acres of land from development because one tiny spotted owl was found there! Or the activities of PETA, the radical animal rights group. The “Save the Wales” foundation seems to be more concerned about the rights of this aquatic mammal than for the unborn baby in the womb. Stewardship of the earth seems to be something people today are keenly aware of, so much so that for pastor and Christian teachers to spend much time on this subject is an example of “preaching to the choir” in today’s world. But what today’s world has messed up is a balance on what in truly means to be stewards of God’s creation. Taking control over the earth must be balanced with all the other commands and instructions God gives. The modern trend in government is towards greater control, towards Socialism, towards central planning, such as big government and United Nations sized organizations in order to manage the earth. But that isn’t necessarily what God is commanding in Genesis 1. God isn’t calling mankind to micro-manage his creation. That approach can lead to tyranny. For example, in China today there exists a one-child policy where married couples are allowed only one child. Is this an example of good stewardship? No, but it is an example of a tyrannical dictatorship government. God says in Genesis 1, “Be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it.” The government has no right under heaven to dictate how many children a married couple may raise. On the other hand, governments do have the right – in the name of the people – to regulate certain types of toxic wastes and emissions. But it seems that even the non-Christian world understands that mankind is responsible for maintaining the earth. We Christians can contribute to the discussion by reminding the world that we manage things under the authority of a High Power, God, not in our own name.

Third, in the beginning God created all things good. Genesis 1:31, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning – the sixth day.” Now why is this point so important? Why is it critical that we all understand that the original creation was made good? Because this is the only foundation that can guarantee hope and confidence that tomorrow can be better today. But this will take a little explaining. The dominant worldview today is a form of secularism that teaches mankind is merely the product of evolution. According to the secular worldview the Big Bang occurred 15 billion years ago and began the formation of the universe. Over time, purely as a result of blind chance, our solar system and our planet formed. Then, over time and purely by blind chance, life emerged as a single-celled organism in some primordial ooze. From there through the process of natural selection life emerged gradually more complex from bacteria to fish, fish to amphibians, then to reptiles, then to mammals and finally to man. According to the secular worldview there never was a time when everything was “good,” but instead man evolved through a bloody struggle for survival and continues that same struggle today, only in more modern expressions, such as nuclear weaponry. Now here’s why the biblical account is so important, without it there is no guarantee – or there is no Entity big enough to guarantee – that what is right, good and true will eventually triumph. But the biblical account demonstrates that there once was a “golden age” at least for a while in which everything and everyone was in harmony, with God, with each other and with nature. The Garden of Eden is not merely a dream, a myth or an ideal to work towards, it’s a real place that mankind once had but tragically lost due to sin. Under the secular worldview that is fast becoming the prevailing worldview today, there is no “garden paradise” and there is no “fall into sin” and therefore there is no concrete hope of returning to a state of perfection, because under the secular view there never was a state of perfection. Only through mankind perfecting itself, so believes the secular view, can the world create for itself its own secular, man-centered, man-made ideal state. This was the goal of Marx’s communism; and it’s also the goal of socialism as well. But it ignores the reality of human selfishness and sin; it tries to create the ideal state without reference to God, and that is doomed to fail from the beginning. So Christians have a lot to contribute to the political and economic discussion. We know that only God can usher in the perfect state. We know that sinful man cannot ever create a garden paradise for himself apart from God. We know that one day God will restore the perfect state once again – we have this concrete hope based on its reality in the past and also on the promises in God’s Word for the future.

But we Christians can bring sobering wisdom to the political and economic discussions in today’s modern world because we take seriously the fact that all man-made utopian paradises will fail, because they are not built around God and because fallen and sinful humanity is incapable of building such a state without tearing itself apart in the process. As Christians we knew that Russian communism would fail. I remember back in the 80s before the fall of the Soviet Union and communism in Easter Europe, I was talking to a fellow Wheaton College student about governments. I was debating this student who had an overly optimistic view of Russian communism, and I was trying to show him that it had to fail based on the biblical worldview. It didn’t take seriously the fallen nature of mankind, it didn’t take seriously the limitations of human ability apart from God, and it was based on an Enlightenment optimism that was a produce of human pride, not on the biblical view of man. Now this was before communism’s fall in Russia and Eastern Europe. I was just saying communism wasn’t true because it wasn’t true to the nature of man and didn’t take into account the reality of God. Well, two or three years later the walls of communism came tumbling down. I wanted to go back to that guy and say, “I told you so!” but I didn’t. But as Christians we need to remind the world that the only way we can even approach the ideal or good society is to take into consideration the truths of God in the Bible. On the other hand, the surest way to failure and destruction is to ignore or neglect the truth of the Bible in building a society. For example, we can tell the current administration that its violation of basic and essential moral and ethical standards with its promoting of abortion and gay rights will bring destruction on society. Fallen and sinful humanity in rebellion against God needs encouraged in the good and discouraged in the bad. Any society that encourages sin and discourages righteousness will fail in the long run. We can also remind the present political leadership that all utopian, secular political schemes have failed and will forever fail because building a society without God is just as destructive as building an individual life without God. There may be short-term benefits of some sort, but long-term, because there is a God, because he has revealed himself with truth in the Bible, because faith and obedience to God and God’s Word is the only wise course, failing to recognize God in society or worse, purposefully rebelling against God, will only bring destruction. The Bible teaches us all this, are we wise enough to listen and learn from it?

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