2012-09-23 Christ’s Purpose in Creation | Genesis 1:1-2:3
We are in a series in which we are seeking to see Jesus in Genesis. Last week we began by examining the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry because after his resurrection he claimed to be the fulfillment of all of the OT Scriptures. We are seeking to, like his disciples, to both recognize Jesus and to understand the Scriptures about him and thereby to come to faith in him and to build up our faith in him.
We turn today to the creation story found in Genesis. Today’s passage speaks of our beginnings. It’s important for each of you to understand where you came from, therefore who you are, and what you are to do in this world, therefore, what is your purpose. Who you are, what you are to do. Where you came from, what is your purpose. I was a Superman comic fan for years as a child. It was important for Superman to learn that he had come from the planet Krypton and his purpose was to defend his new home, earth, against evil. Jesus’ work was effective during his earthly ministry because he knew where he came, he knew what his purpose was, and he knew to where he would return.
I suggest that X’s work at creation is a prototype of his later earthly ministry of reconciliation and his final work of the restoration of the cosmos. And further, I suggest that we can find our own origins and purpose by examining the work of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the creation. Bruce Waltke has said, “our world view is like an umpire at a ballgame. He seems unimportant and we are hardly aware of his presence, but ultimately, he decides the game. Our world view affects our identity, our relationship to others, our values and our behavior.”
There are four basic movements in the creation story of 1:1-2:3 – lighting, forming, filling and resting. I’d like to illustrate these four movements first from a human point of view.
Lighting – opening the garage door, turning on the lights
Forming – taking the raw materials and shaping them into a structure
Filling – filling the structure with content, put the structure to use – plants, creatures, the prized possession – man
Resting – after the work is completed, ceasing from work, standing back and enjoying the fruit of your labors
These are the four movements of the work of God’s creation – Lighting, forming, filling and resting. But before we are told details of the project, we have the title page and the list of materials.
The first two verses give us a summary of what God did, and the situation in which he began. The remaining verses give us the details of how he accomplished the creation.
Verse one is the summary of all that he did – “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” It is like the title page of the project plans. In our case they might have said, “Build a decorative shelf.”
Verse two is the situation God had to work with, basically nothing. “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.” There are many theories about this verse. However, since we believe that God is eternal and creation is not, we say that he created the cosmos out of nothing – ex nihilo – by his Word, speaking it into existence.
From a human standpoint, this verse is like a list of materials – what you will need to build the decorative shelf – boards, nails, hinges, saws, stain, shellac, etc. But God needed no materials because a sovereign God is able to speak things into being by his mere word. He had only darkness, formlessness, and emptiness to work with, nothing. However, this description gives us the outline to what is to follow. Darkness will become light, formlessness will give way to form, and emptiness will become fullness because of God’s word.
- Lighting the Darkness
In this creation account, first, darkness becomes light. God said, “let there be light,” and there was light. God went out into the garage, as it were, and turned on the lights.
- Forming the Formless – Bringing Order to Chaos
Second, in creation, formlessness gives way to form. God creates the environment. By separating and gathering, God brought disorder into order. He shaped chaos into the cosmos. The word translated formless in the Hebrew is tohu. It’s actually a noun, not an adjective and a better translation would be “desert” – a place that is inhospitable and uninhabitable. God made what was inhabitable, habitable. He made what was inhospitable, hospitable. He shaped a formless desert into an orderly paradise. By separating and gathering, he brought disorder into order.
And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. And God called the expanse Heaven.
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. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas.
And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness.
- Filling the Void (Emptiness)
Third, emptiness gives way to fullness. Now God creates the creatures to fill the environment. The void is filled with content and purpose. By creating, making and filling, God adds content and purpose to the form. The word translated formless in the Hebrew is bohu. It’s actually a noun also, not an adjective, and a better translation would be wasteland – an empty place, a place with no purpose. In creation God filled what was empty and gave everything a purpose.
And God said, “Let the waters swarm… let birds fly … So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves… God filled the seas and skies with creatures, then God gave them a purpose, to multiply and fill. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And God filled the land with creatures as well, And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds– livestock and creeping things and beasts…
And finally God created man. Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
And God gave to man a dual purpose. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over… everything in it. Man, like the other creatures was to multiply and fill the earth. But he had a higher purpose as well. He was to subdue it and have dominion over it. That is, mankind was charged with bringing the creation into order and maintaining that order as vice-regents and stewards of God.
- Rest for the Weary
But that is not where the story ends. Now the story reaches its climax.
Fourth, we are told that at the completion of his work, God rested. Resting is the proper conclusion to creation. Chaos has given way to the cosmos. Now work gives way to rest.
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. 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.
Resting is a time set apart from work. It includes celebrating the completion of the work, evaluating and enjoying the work that has been completed.
So where was Christ in creation? He was the Word who was with God and was God in the beginning by which everything was created.
As John wrote, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:1-3)
As Paul wrote to the Colossians, He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Col 1:15-16?)
How does Christ continue to participate in the new creation? He has done so through his earthly ministry at the inauguration of his kingdom and continues to do so in the continuation of his kingdom. By his death, resurrection and ascension, he is enlightening, forming and filling the church and causing them to find rest in himself.
Colossians continues, And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Col. 1:???)
And how will Christ bring his work to final completion? He will do so at the consummation of his kingdom in the new heaven and earth. He himself will be its light, he will bring heaven and earth into a restored form, he will fill it with himself and all those who love him, and he will bring it to a place of rest.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth,
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man.
He will dwell with them, and they will be his people,
and God himself will be with them as their God.
And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it,
for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb.
But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false,
but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
–from Rev 21
Believers in Christ
How do we find light, order and fullness and purpose in Christ? We do so by placing our faith in him as the one who gives us natural life, spiritual life, and eternal life. In the story of creation we learn that God created everything good, humanity with dignity in the image of God, and our purpose is to fill the earth and bring it into order as vice-regents and stewards of God.
Lighting – receiving Christ’s light in regeneration, bringing light to others
Forming – being conformed to the image of Christ, helping to shape others
Filling – being filled with the Spirit of Christ, pouring our lives into the lives of others
Resting – finding our rest in Christ, looking forward to final Sabbath rest, helping others find rest in Christ
Creation – something brand new, the breath of physical life and spiritual life
Regeneration – something renewed, the remaking, reordering of the spiritual world
Final Restoration – something fully renewed, re-making of the physical world