In the beginning, God Reading ISAIAH 40:12-31
The Nicene Creed begins: I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible
All Christians believe that God created the heavens and the earth and indeed the whole universe. All Christians believe God is our Creator. Over the last hundred years or so Christians have debated just how God created everything, and we will think about that question in a couple of week’s time. But for today we are starting our series in Genesis at the very beginning.
“In the beginning, God ….”
In so many places the Bible tells us that God is Creator.
In the seven days of Creation in Genesis 1
3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.
6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.” 7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so.
9 And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so.
Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so.
14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. …. He also made the stars.
20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.
Genesis 22 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.
Genesis 5 tells us again that God created human beings in His own image and Genesis 6 repeats that God created humanity. Genesis 14 uses the title, “God most high, creator of heaven and earth.”
In Exodus 20 God gives the Ten Commandments to Moses and the Israelites and the reason behind the fourth commandment is very significant.
8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, …. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
So the distinctive Jewish pattern of keeping the seventh day holy for God is intended as a weekly reminder that God is Creator of all things. That is repeated in Exodus 31.
Deuteronomy 1 refers to God as Creator
Psalm 89 praises God with these words. 11The heavens are yours, and yours also the earth; you founded the world and all that is in it.
Psalm 104 says, He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved.
Psalm 148 is a whole Psalm calling the whole of Creation to praise its Creator. Angels and heavenly hosts, sun, moon and bright shining stars.
5 Let them praise the name of the LORD, for he commanded and they were created.
6 He set them in place for ever and ever; he gave a decree that will never pass away.
We read God’s own words in Isaiah 40.
12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand, or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens? Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket, or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance? …..
22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth, and its people are like grasshoppers. He stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in. …..
25“To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal?” says the Holy One. 26Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing. ….
28Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
Isaiah 42:5 This is what God the LORD says— he who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it:
In Isaiah 45:12 God again declares Himself to be Creator of the whole universe. “It is I who made the earth and created mankind upon it. My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts.
Ecclesiastes, Amos, Habbakuk and Malachi talk about God as Creator and every verse of the Old Testament and of the New Testament assume it. The apostle Paul talks about God as creator in Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians and 1 Timothy. Preaching in Athens in Acts 17 Paul said,
24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands.
The Letters of James, 1 Peter and Hebrews speak of God as Creator. The Book of Revelation gives us a number of pictures of worship in heaven including these words in Chapter 4.
8 “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” …
11“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
Jesus calls God Creator in Mark 10:6 and Mark 13:19. And Jesus Himself is named as Creator – Colossians 1:15, John 1:1-2
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made,
Colossians 1:15 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
We will be thinking more about what Hebrews tells us about Jesus in our service this evening but here is how that letter begins.
Hebrews 1:1 In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.
There are so many places where the Bible tells us that God is Creator of heaven and earth. But just one verse tells us two more things which are very important in our understanding of Creation. That verse is
HEBREWS 113 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
Let me deal with the second half of the verse first.
As Christians we understand creation to be creation from nothing, what philosophers with their love of Latin call creation “ex nihilo”. If God had merely shaped what now exists from “stuff” which had already existed that would be termed creation “ex materia” But God’s work in creation was not merely to shape everything that now is. Hebrews 11:3 tells us “By faith we understand … that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” God did not just shape things from what already existsed. When Christians say God is Creator, we mean that God made absolutely everything that exists. God did not just create all the matter and all the energy in the universe. God created the universe. Before that act of creation, there was nothing. There wasn’t empty space – there wasn’t any space at all. God created space. God’s act of creation did not occur at a particular time – before Creation there wasn’t any time at all. God created time. Creation from absolutely nothing. This point is clear from other verses as well.
Revelation 4 for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.”
John 1: 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made,
Colossians 1:15 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.
Absolutely everything owes its existence to God: matter, energy, even space and time. After bringing everything into existence, Christians also believe that God then formed and shaped everything to be the way we see it. But we believe that what God started off with was nothing at all, creation ex nihilo, creation from nothing.
But the first half of Hebrews 11:3 also tells us something very important.
HEBREWS 113 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
This point is vital. It is by faith that we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command. Not by science. Not by philosophy. But by faith. Neither science nor philosophy will ever be able to prove conclusively whether God exists or not. Science and philosophy can only ever tell us about this universe of space and time. The God of the Bible is greater than the whole universe, beyond space and outside time. We know God is Creator in the same way that we know anything else about God, through faith.
When we tell our friends who are not Christians that we know God created the world because “the Bible says so” that is not going to be a convincing argument for them even though we know it to be true. When we already have faith in God it is easy to see that God must exist and that God is Creator of everything that exists. But when a person doesn’t have faith in God already then it isn’t usually going to be possible to give them any kind of proof which will convince them that God exists or that God created the universe. What we believe about God as Creator follows on from other things we believe about God. If we want to show somebody that God exists, we should talk about Jesus and who Jesus is and what Jesus did and above all about the historical fact that Jesus was crucified but on the third day Jesus rose from the dead. We should talk about our own experience of God acting in our own lives and in the lives of people we know. That’s where our little book of our testimonies, “The Difference Jesus makes” is so valuable. Then when people have faith in Jesus they come to trust the Bible. And at that point we can explain how we know that God is Creator and how we know that we can trust what the Bible teaches. When somebody already believes in God then we can show them how God creating the universe is not contradicted by science or philosophy.
In fact both science and philosophy give us good reasons to believe that God exists and that God created everything. But those reasons will not usually be convincing proofs that God is the Creator if somebody doesn’t already believe. .
3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command,
Having said that, I was originally a science student and then a science teacher before I studied theology and became a minister. So let me give you three reasons from philosophy and science which help me to be sure that God is Creator of the universe.
Back in the 13th century the Italian Roman Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas wrote about five ways we can be sure that God is Creator.
Aquinas’s first way talks about the “First Mover.” We observe that some things are in motion. But anything which is moving started in motion by being moved by something else, and there cannot be an infinite series of things moving things. So at some point in the past there must have been a First Mover, something which moved other things but wasn’t itself moved by something else first. That First Mover is God.
Aquinas’s second way is similar and talks about the “First Cause.” Anything which has a cause was caused by something else and this series of causes cannot be infinite. So there must have been a First Cause, something which caused other things but was not itself caused by anything else. That First Cause is God.
Taking those two ideas together, the First Mover and the First Cause give me a good argument for saying that God is creator. I don’t necessarily have a problem with the universe beginning with a big bang which brought time and space, energy and matter into existence. But what caused the Big Bang? What set all that into motion? For me the obvious answer is God.
My second argument comes from the fifth of Aquinas’s five ways which talks about intelligent design. Look at the world around us: the beauty of a sunset, the majesty of the night sky and the intricacy of flowers. Look at the amazing ways which the human eye or the brain work. Look at the amazingly complex interplay of proteins DNA and RNA in the mechanism of inheritance. Having studied bits of biology I look at these things and interpret them as examples of design in Creation and evidence for the existence of the Creator, God. The French biologist Louis Pasteur said, “Posterity will some day laugh at the foolishness of our modern materialistic philosophy. The more I study nature the more I am amazed at the Creator.” Then again, I look at human beings and I see creatures with a conscience with the ability to distinguish right from wrong. I see people with an intuitive longing to worship and to pray and in that I also see evidence of a Creator who made human beings in His own image with the unique capacity to have a relationship with God. The argument from intelligent design.
Then there is a third argument which having studied bits of physics I find convincing. We find ourselves in an expanding universe in which the fundamental constants were exactly right for stars and planets to form. We find ourselves on a planet which is exactly the right size and composition and distance from the sun for the conditions to be right for human life to develop. If any one of these factors had been ever so slightly different, we wouldn’t be here. Some scientists talk about probabilities or infinite numbers of parallel universes but I am convinced that we live in what some Christian physicists call a “finely-tuned universe”. The probability of everything being so exactly right for us to exist is evidence for me that God exists and God created us all.
The argument from First Mover and First Cause. The argument from intelligent design. The argument from a “finely-tuned universe.” There are other things I would also say to people trained in science or philosophy. I don’t claim that these arguments will convince anybody who does not already believe in God. But for those of us who already know Jesus, they are persuasive reasons for believing that the Bible is true and that God is indeed our Creator.
“In the beginning, God ….” Bow down and worship, for this is your God!