GCL A.6 Father’s Kingdom: His World, His Image

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In Which God Creates His World, and Our Place In It

The overriding theme of our journey has been exploring what it means to be “baptized into the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” Having dealt (however superficially) with the ontological aspects of that “name”, we now focus on the narrative aspects.

In particular, we will focus on the arc of “creation corruption and redemption” found throughout scripture (and literature), as manifested through the persons of the Trinity. Starting with the Father, and Creation…

Memory Verse: “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” — Genesis 1:27 (NKJV)

Assigned Reading

  1. Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings
    • 7. Creation
    • 8. God’s Providence
    • 11. The Creation of Man
    • 12. Man as Male and Female
  2. Essential Truths of the Christian Faith
    • 3. Immediate and Mediate General Revelation
    • 19. Creation
    • 20. Providence
    • 21. Miracles
    • 22. The Will of God
    • 44. Knowledge of Self and Knowledge of God
    • 45. Human Beings Created in the Image of God

Adoration

Read Psalm 100. What does it mean to be the people of God?

Bible

Genesis 1

This passage — and the Bible — begin with one of the most famous (and most profound) sayings of all time:

{1:1} In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

Right away, the writer asserts several essential truths:

  • The universe (space and time) had a beginning
  • There is a God
  • God existed before the universe
  • God is “omnificient”, the creator of everything — both what we experience directly (“earth”) and what we only observe from afar (“heaven”)

The first thing we learn is that the pre-existent God created the earth. But the second thing we notice is that God initially created it at least partially unfinished:

{2a} The earth was without form, and void; and darkness [was] on the face of the deep.

Creation is explicitly a process. And, intriguingly, there is also a strong Trinitarian presence, in the Spirit:

{2a} And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

And the Word:

{3} Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.

Which we Christians see a reference to Christ, the Word of God and the Light of the World. Only three verses into the Bible, and already we see all three members of the Trinity working together!

{4} And God saw the light, that [it was] good; and God divided the light from the darkness.

That sentiment (“It was good”) is repeated throughout this chapter. The word “good” has many different meanings and possible interpretations, but one useful way to think about it is as “fit for a given purpose.” The light God named and called into existence is “good” because it fulfilled the purpose(s) He had for it.

One of which was simply timekeeping:

{5} God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.

It is intriguing to note God doesn’t explicitly create darkness, but merely recognizes it as the absence of light.

[Discuss: Why do you think God names the things He creates?]

The proper interpretation of the word “day” (and indeed the entire creation story) is a matter of great controversy, especially among American evangelicals; but we will not dwell on that here. For our purpose, the key point is that God is taking an orderly, methodical approach to creation.

Which brings us to the second day:

{6} Then God said, “Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.”

{7} Thus God made the firmament, and divided the waters which [were] under the firmament from the waters which [were] above the firmament; and it was so.

{8} And God called the firmament Heaven. So the evening and the morning were the second day.

Firmament is another controversial term, but the focus here appears to be on “heaven”, in the astronomical rather than theological sense of the word. Notice that in these early stages of creation, God doesn’t merely add things ex nihilo, He also separates things He had previously created — as He does in day 3:

{9} Then God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry [land] appear”; and it was so.

{10} And God called the dry [land] Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas. And God saw that [it was] good.

Though He goes beyond inorganic separation to organic cultivation:

{11} Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb [that] yields seed, [and] the fruit tree [that] yields fruit according to its kind, whose seed [is] in itself, on the earth”; and it was so.

{12} And the earth brought forth grass, the herb [that] yields seed according to its kind, and the tree [that] yields fruit, whose seed [is] in itself according to its kind. And God saw that [it was] good.

{13} So the evening and the morning were the third day.

Already we’re learning a few things about what God considers good.

  1. He likes to split out and name things that were previously a single unformed mass.
  2. He enjoys creating self-replicating organisms that reproduce after their own kind.

Both of which are echoes (or rather, previews) of the Great Commission in our second lesson.

[Discuss: In what ways do we share in God’s creative nature?]

After that brief foray into biology, we return to physics — in this case, astronomy:

{14} Then God said, “Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years;

{15} and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth”; and it was so.

Again, there is an emphasis on timekeeping — we moderns tend to forget how essential the sun, moon, and stars were for helping our ancestors keep order!

In addition to order, there is also the concept of rulership and dominion:

{16} Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. [He made] the stars also.

{17} God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth,

In a very real sense,  God delegate to the sun and moon what He did in verse 4:

{18} and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that [it was] good.

{19} So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

After the fourth day, it is back to biology — this time, animals. Starting with air and water:

{20} Then God said, “Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.”

{21} So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that [it was] good.

Like the plants, they were created to reproduce after their kind. But this time, they are explicitly told to do so:

{22} And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.”

There is a fascinating trend here, where creation moves from a passive substance to an active co-participant in God’s work:

[Discuss: What does God’s process in creation imply about His purpose for our lives? Our church?]

{23} So the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

Now, finally we get to the 6th day, which is focused on land animals:

{24} Then God said, “Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, [each] according to its kind”; and it was so.

{25} And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that [it was] good.

Including us:

{26} Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

We get another hint of Trinity — and the uniqueness of this act — in the phrase “Let Us”. Clearly, man is very different than the other animals. He is:

  • made in the image and likeness of the Triune God
  • granted dominion over the other animals

Yet, for whatever reason, God created humanity on the same day as cattle and “creeping things”. Perhaps it is to remind us that despite our exalted status, we are still in the same league as cows and rats (at least compared to God Himself).

{27} So God created man in His [own] image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

[Discuss: Which aspects of humanity do you think reflect the image of God?]

It is worth remembering that God — though we use the masculine pronoun — does not have gender per se. Rather, God is a “Him” because of how He relates to us. In Himself, though, He is the ultimate origin of everything we consider male and female, both of which are merely partial reflections of His transcendent nature.

And in fact, only as the two come together as one can they act in His image to fill (and rule over) the earth:

{28} Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Though that dominion was apparently constrained to a vegetarian diet, at least for now (cf. Genesis 9:3).

{29} And God said, “See, I have given you every herb [that] yields seed which [is] on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.

{30} Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which [there is] life, [I have given] every green herb for food”; and it was so.

While many of us wouldn’t trust humans (even unfallen ones!) with running the world, God appears exceedingly happy with the systems He has set in place:

{31} Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed [it was] very good.

[Discuss: Why might God considered His creation very good?]

{31} So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Alas, this blissful state won’t last. But that’s a story for another day…

Decision

  • Repentance: Where are you failing to manifest the image of God in your life?
  • Action: How can you help express God’s dominion over creation?
  • Worship: Write a poem, song, or essay expressing gratitude to God as Father and Creator

For Next Week

For next week, read Genesis 3. Why should we obey God’s commands?

Memory Verse: “The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.” — Psalm 19:9 (NKJV)

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