The statistics are daunting. More and more young people raised in Christian homes abandon the faith when they leave for college. Growing up, they quoted Bible verses, worshiped every Sunday, and knew all the right things to say. So what went wrong? It’s because they’ve been living on a borrowed faith instead of making it their own. They had religion, but they never had a relationship with Christ. What about you? Is your faith your faith, or is it a borrowed faith?
Don’t Forget Who’s in Charge!
In our country, citizens can vote leaders in or out of office, but in days of old when kings ruled, they had absolute authority over their entire domain. Everyone who lived within the king’s domain were his subjects. The Bible begins in Genesis 1 with an amazing display of God’s power and authority, letting us know that He is King over everything. From the smallest ant to the biggest galaxy, all creation obeys His voice. But do we? Do our thoughts, our words and our actions give evidence that God is the ruler of our lives, and that we are living in subjection and obedience to Him?
Well, grab your Bibles and let’s turn once again to Genesis 1 as we begin this message today, a continuation of where we started. Actually, this is our fourth week in the series but it is really just our second week in Genesis. We started there last Sunday, Genesis 1. and we got through five words, I think – “in the beginning God created.” We are going to continue in Genesis 1.
I had a teacher, that while I remember a lot of teachers, this one kind of stands out, for one reason or another. This teacher I had heard about the year before I went into her class. So on day one I was sort of tense and expecting the worst. This teacher was well known for starting every year with a new class on day one, by making it abundantly clear who was in charge in that classroom. She did not want there to be any misunderstanding about that at all. So on day one she stood tall, and she spoke with a big voice. She had this metal ruler, that at one point, she slapped down flat on her desk, and it made this pop sound, and everybody jumped in their seat. She gave a little lecture, just for a couple minutes. She said, “I want you to know, this is my classroom, I am in charge, what I say goes. If you follow that, you’ll have the best year of your life.”
I thought, well, those two just don’t seem to go together. But the amazing thing was, she turned out to be a phenomenal teacher. She was kind, she was patient, she did not mind at all you coming to her with problems and things that you didn’t understand, but she made it very clear that she was in charge. Well, in a sense, Genesis 1 is the first day of school. God is making it clear in this very first chapter of His word. He’s making it unmistakably clear that He is all powerful and that He is large, and in charge. He is in charge of everything, make no mistake about it, you cannot get through this first chapter of Genesis without seeing very clearly who is in charge. This sets the standard for the rest of the Bible, and it ought to continue to set the tone, set the pattern for every day of our lives. How we relate to God, how we see Him and understand Him, and how we live our lives for Him. The other thing, as we said a moment ago that the more you read through Scripture, not only do you see more and more of the power and authority of God, but you see the goodness and kindness of God.
I want to do something now that I don’t often do. But I just feel like we need to take a few minutes and read the entire chapter of Genesis 1 from beginning to end. The reason for that is, we’re not going to look at this chapter today in the normal way. I think if we don’t take the time to read the whole thing, together at once, we’re going to miss out on the big picture of what this is saying. Then after we do that, we’re going to kind of dig beneath the surface, and take a look at some things that we may not have seen before.
Genesis 1:1, In the beginning, God created heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty. Darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day”, and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning-the first day.
And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water.” So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. God called the expanse “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning- the second day.
And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. God called the dry ground “land” or “Earth”, and the gathered waters He called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.
And 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. The land produced vegetation, plants bearing seed according to their kinds, and trees bearing fruit with seed in it, according to their kind. God saw that it was good. There was evening and there was morning, the third day.
And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from night. And let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years. And let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on earth.” And it was so. God made two great lights, the greater light to govern the day and the lesser and light to govern the night. He also made the stars. By the way, that’s one of my favorite statements in the Bible. Just oh, by the way, He also made the billions and billions of stars!
Verse 17, God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night and to separate light from darkness. God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning- the fourth day.
And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” 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. God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning- the fifth day.
And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds, livestock, creatures that move along the ground and wild animals each according to its kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
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, over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, and the image of God, He created him, male and female, He created them.
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.”
Then God said, “I give you every seed bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it, they will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth, and all the birds of the air, and all the creatures that move on the ground- everything that has the breath of life in it, I give every green plant for food. And it was so.
Verse 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 what most people take away from Genesis 1, is really nothing more than a vague recollection of the different things that were created on the different days. Not that that’s unimportant, it’s certainly not. But the way Genesis 1 always seems to be taught is that we spend the whole time focusing on this day and what happened the next day and what happened. That’s all important. But what I want to do today is I want to go beneath the words on the page and I want us to explore what God’s word may just be communicating to us in this first chapter of Genesis, because this chapter teaches us so much more than the simple fact that God created things. It shows us some of the fundamental foundational principles of the authority of God, and the power of God. It teaches us about His place in the universe and our place in the universe. It shows us some of the boundaries that God has established and some of the roles that He has established, that were intended to serve as a guide for everything on the earth.
God has been so good. We see it in this chapter and we’ll see it even more as we go through Genesis and the rest of the Bible. God taking the time to bless mankind with these wonderful, perfectly created things. We will see that it even mattered to Him that food tasted good for us. He didn’t have to do that. God here in this first chapter begins pouring out His blessings on mankind. Just as with every good thing that God blesses mankind with, it isn’t long before man overrides God’s boundaries, and tramples His standards and defaces His perfect design. Consequently, mankind ends up living in confusion, brokenness, sorrow, and even hopelessness. I’s when we come back here to Genesis 1, to the very beginning, that we’re able to catch a glimpse of those original standards and boundaries and that original perfect design that God first put in place. We get a sobering reminder, at least I do, of just how far we’ve strayed from God’s original intention. So I want to look at some of these things today. I’ve only picked out three from my notes over the years. I jotted down a whole bunch of things that rise to the surface from Genesis 1. I chose three that I think are, I can’t say most important, but I think they are extremely important.
One of the principles that is firmly established here in Genesis 1 is that number one, God is King over everything. He’s king over everything. Now we have to admit here in America that we don’t know and understand a whole lot about kingdoms, and kings, and domains and dominion and sovereignty and lordship. I bet none of you have used any of those words in common conversation this week, unless you grew up in a place like England, you know, UK, the United Kingdom, or some other country that is a kingdom, this kind of language just is not in your vocabulary at all. We have a very difficult time appreciating the laws and the principles that are in place governing a kingdom. It is very different from the society in which we live today. So we’ve got to stretch ourselves a little bit to get out of our Greenville, South Carolina USA mentality and try and put ourselves into the mindset of what a kingdom is.
What does it mean that God is king over everything? Well, in a kingdom, it’s the king who rules over everything. Whatever the king says, goes. He has absolute authority. Everyone who lives within his domain is considered a subject of the king. That very word itself gives a hint to what it means to be a subject,. You subject yourself to the rule, an authority of the king. Subjects don’t get a vote, they don’t get a say in what happens in the kingdom. They don’t get to vote the king out of office. In fact, as you see in the Bible, there are times when a good king comes to rule and he rules until he dies. The Bible says that the people thrive and they flourish, and they are blessed. But sometimes there’s a bad king who comes into power. When he gets on the throne, he’s also there until he dies, or he’s overthrown or something, and the people live in tremendous oppression. But the king in a kingdom is the one who has the first and final say on everything that happens within his domain.
Something that I think we so often forget about God, if we’ve ever actually thought about it in the first place, is that He is King. He rules over everything, and everyone in His domain. By the way, His domain is the whole universe. There’s an old radio preacher on years ago that I heard, I don’t remember who it was, but he had this scratchy, odd sounding voice. I was in the car one day, and I was listening to part of this, between stops. He said something I’ve never forgotten. He was talking about God being in charge of everything and that we are subject to Him, we really don’t have a say. Our job is to obey Him. He said this, He said, “This is God’s universe. And He does things His way.” And then he paused and he said, “you may have a better way. But you don’t have a universe.” I thought, Wow, how do you like that? That kind of puts it in perspective. See, we can so often say to God, “I got a better way to do this.” God says, “Sorry, this is my domain. You’re a subject in my domain, I know what is best, because I created you.”
We see, first of all, His kingship over everything in one simple thing that is so easy to miss, in the fact that from the very beginning, everything in the universe immediately obeys God’s voice. I don’t know if you picked it up, as we were reading through it. One of the reasons I wanted to read all the way through was to see if maybe you would pick up some of the phrases that were repeated over and over again, some of the things that were in there.
We see over and over again, in Genesis 1, that simply by the power of God’s spoken word, everything from the tiniest ant to the biggest galaxy all snap to attention the moment God simply speaks. He created all those things by the power of His spoken word. He doesn’t have to call in designers and consultants and architects. He doesn’t need advice. He doesn’t need input. He doesn’t need people scurrying around helping Him create things, He simply speaks and at the sound of His voice, everything obeys and comes to attention. You can see it there. I’ll show you a few and then you can look at the rest maybe on your own time. In verse 3 look at all the times God said “let”. God said, “Let there be light”, and what was the result? And there was light.
In verse 6 God said, “Let there be an expanse”. Verse 7, towards the end. And it was so.
Verse 9, then God said, Let the water do this, verse 9, let the ground do this. And it was so.
Verse 11, then God said, “Let the land produce.” And it was so. If you go through chapter 1, if I’ve counted it correctly, there are 14 times when God uses this word, “let”. He says to let a certain thing happen, and it immediately came to be. What we see here, in the opening chapter of the Bible, is this sequence of God issuing declarations, one after the other, and then we see every one of His commands come to pass. Do you understand where I’m going with this? This has a lot more to do with us than we may think. It’s a far bigger principle than simply God creating animals and plants and those things. Everyone word that God speaks is true. Every word that God speaks will come to pass. Every one of His promises to you is true.
We sang just a moment ago, He has never failed. His Word has never failed us. Everything He has said is true and it will come to pass. We see a moving scene in the book of Joshua. Joshua was on his deathbed, getting ready to die, and he was giving sort of his last speech to all his people. Joshua 23:14 said this, “Now I’m about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul, that not one of all the good promises, the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed, not one.”
That’s because God is the Creator and the King over everything. The words of His promises cannot fail. We see that happening here in Genesis chapter 1. God is exercising kingship, lordship over His creation, and there is no thing and no one who can change, who can delay, who can stop the power of His Word. All of creation came into existence by the power of His Word. Now, I want to pause here for just a second before we move on to the next point. What kind of impact should that truth have on your life? Right now? The fact that God’s word never fails, everything He has said is true. How should that impact your life today? Maybe you’re in a situation right now that looks insurmountable. Where you’re just so exhausted by it, that you can’t even find the mental energy or physical strength to try to go on with it. Maybe there’s someone here today, who got dressed and you came and you have kind of a smile on but inside you’re dead, you’re miserable. This Christian stuff just doesn’t seem to be working for you. You’re secretly about to just throw in the towel, you’re just trying to figure out how to manage all the logistics of that. Maybe that’s where you are.
May I bring you back to what has been true from the very beginning. What has been true every moment of every day since then. That is this powerful truth. Not only is God the King over everything, but He has power over everything, including the things in your life that you are facing. He has power, and dominion over all of that. All the situations of your life, all the good, all the bad. All the struggles, the heartbreaks, all of those things. God has power over all of that, by His spoken word. He has the power to move mountains, He has the power to change your life to get you where He needs you to be.
Now listen, those are Christianease kind of things to say, but my question is, do we really believe that? I think if we really believed what I just said, it would have life altering changes in our daily lives, in our family, in our relationship, in our work, in our money, and in our plans. If we truly believe that. Well, I’ll leave that in your hands for now to think about and to explore a little further. Not only do we see that God is King over everything, but number two, we see that God has ownership over everything. There’s something else that we see God doing here, in Genesis 1, it’s very, very easy to miss. We see God naming things. Look at verse 5; God called the light Day. And the darkness he called Night. Verse 8, God called the expanse sky, verse 10, God called the dry ground Earth, and the gathered waters he called Seas. When we see somebody naming something, it’s a sign of headship, it’s a sign of authority, it’s a sign of dominion over that thing. You didn’t name my children, I didn’t name your children. Because we just understand that that would be going beyond the boundaries that are expected and set in place. If I had named your kids, I would have named them things like Belteshazzar. Theres no telling what you would have named my kids. See, Sandy and I had dominion over that realm, that small little realm within God’s massive kingdom. He entrusted us with dominion over our children. So we had the privilege of naming them. This is what we see God doing from the very beginning. God is the one who decides what these things are called. Then the amazing thing happens in the next chapter is that we see God allowing Adam to name things. God names things and then He passes on some of this privilege to His creation. He says, Adam, now you come, and you name the animals. That is an extraordinary thought. I mean, if you sit down for just a minute and think of that chore, naming all the animals, I mean, after about 100, I’d be done. I’d just start calling them one, two, and three.
God is giving Adam, and by extension, He’s giving mankind their own little dominion over which to exercise authority, responsibility, and stewardship. There’s a lot more to say about that another day. Here in Genesis 1, we see God exercising His kingship over all creation, not only by speaking it into existence, but by calling it what it is: by naming things. In verse 14 we see Him defining the seasons. He was the one with the authority to do that. So He speaks things into existence. He names and defines things. How does that play out in our life?
We have in my lifetime, maybe it’s become more of a visible, prevalent issue than before, this whole identity crisis thing. People are wandering around all over the place with an identity crisis. I don’t know who I am. Can somebody tell me who I am? The reason for that, and this sounds like a very narrow minded statement, is because people have thrown out the Bible. They’ve set God aside. Without God, you and I will never know our identity. God created us and He named us, He called us what we are, and it’s Him who gives us our identity. From that flows the meaning of life, who we are, where we came from, why we’re here, and where we’re going. Maybe you’re in that category. I know, we all go through patches of life where things are less clear then at other times. I’m not talking about that. But maybe you’ve been living year after year after year, with no identity, no understanding of who you really are, that you are the work of Almighty God. He created you and His fingerprints are on you.
You want to get a sense of identity? Start there! What greater sense of identity could you and I ever find in this world? I think we men struggle with this a lot. You can test this this week, I bet you nine out of 10 times this will happen. Go up to another guy and start a conversation and say, “So tell me a little about yourself?” Nine times out of 10, he will start by telling you what he does. Because that’s where men find our identity. Right? I’m a plumber. I’m an engineer. I’m a an accountant. I’m a programmer. I’m a pastor. So we find our identity in that. But here’s the danger there; The danger is that you can live 30, 40, 50 years rising in that identity, and gaining more and more identity there as a “whatever”. But at some point that’s going to end. Then what happens to your identity? Ladies often struggle with this from another angle, their identity is wrapped up in their family, in their children. You ask a woman, and she’ll begin to tell you about her children about her family, not what she does. This is how God has made us. Yet the danger in identifying yourself in that way is one day, your kid is going to leave. Then where is your identity based? If it’s been completely wrapped up there, you’re going to be left empty. That is why you and I must as believers understand where our identity comes from!
God exercises His kingship by ruling over everything. He exercises His kingship by speaking things into existence, and by naming things. A third one I’ll give you is that God is the one who defines what is good. This is so huge. This is so so big in our culture today. God is the one who defines what is good. Did you pick up the patterns as we were reading? In verse 4, God saw that the light was good. Verse 10, it was good. Verse 12, it was good. Verse 18, 21, 25, it goes on through and verse 31, God saw all that He had made, and it was very good. It’s important for us to understand this not only has power and meaning and implications here in Genesis 1, but it has far reaching implications. The fact that God is the one who first defined what was good. We’ll see a little later, starting in the next chapter that God also begins to define what is evil, and what men should stay away from. This is not some standard of goodness, that is outside of God, that God looks at and says, Oh, that’s the standard of goodness. So I will measure everything by that. No, He Himself is the standard of what is good. So He is the one who, by His own measure, by His own determination, decides what is good. But once again, all throughout time, all throughout the Old Testament we will see this as we go through; There’s this repeated pattern. Mankind chooses to take the blessings God has given him and then discard the giver and keep the gift. Nope, God, we’re doing good. Thanks. We’ll call you if we need you. We got your number. You can leave us alone now. We’ll do our own thing. We’ll decide now what is good. We’re going to replace what you said was good with our own definition of what is good.
There’s a verse in Judges 17. It’s repeated again in Chapter 25. It says, There was a time when Israel had no king, and then it makes this thunderous statement; And every man did what was right in his own eyes. Sounds a little bit like 2019, doesn’t it? It’s no different today. Our culture is beating this drum, day after day, week after week, month after month. There’s no such thing as absolute truth. Everything is relative. what’s right for you, is right for you. What’s right for me is right for me. Who in the world are you to tell me what’s right for me? Well, that sounds like a wonderful argument. Just live and let live. Hey, man, you’re okay. I’m okay. It sounds wonderful. Until you just walk that logic out a few steps further and you quickly begin to see it has no legs to stand on. Because what if I say to them, who are you to tell me that I have to stop at red lights? Who are you to tell me that I can’t break into your house in the middle of the night and steal your stuff and kill your family? What right do you have to tell me that that wrong? They go well, it’s the law. I mean, where does the law come from? What is that based on? Well, government officials got together and they put down the law, where did they get it from. If you just keep simply, courteously stepping them back one thing at a time, they will reach a point where they realize unless it is based on the absolute unchanging truth of God’s moral law, there can be no right or wrong, because everyone will define it as they see fit.
I saw a TV interview one time with a guy who’s very, very heavy handed on this subject, and he was interviewing a believer, and, of course, was just pummeling him intentionally trying to make him look like a fool. This man was talking about homosexuality. That was the topic. The believer was just courteously sitting there saying, “Look, I’m not telling you my views. I’m just telling you I believe what the Bible says that that’s wrong. That’s all I’m saying to you.” This guy leaned over the desk, and pointed his finger in this guy’s face. This wasn’t an act, you could see he was enraged by this. He said, “Who do you think you are? To tell somebody who they can and cannot love?” Sounds like a great argument, doesn’t it? This man, politely said, “Well, let me ask you this, if your wife came home tonight, and said that she had fallen madly in love with a 12 year old boy, and wanted to move in with him and marry him. Would that be okay with you?” There was a look of just sheer confusion and he had never thought about it. He’d never walked his argument out that far. He had no answer. The guy said, “Are you telling me then that you would tell your wife that that’s wrong for her to do?”
There has to be one clear standard of what is right, and what is wrong. In order to say that something is right, or something is wrong, there has to be something to compare it to. There has to be a clear standard. For us, as believers, that clear standard is God Himself. Folks, when you do away with God, when you do away with His word, everything collapses, and nothing matters. Nothing matters. We can roam the streets, and we can do as we please. If God didn’t create everything and if everything in the universe is just a product of randomly colliding particles, then there can’t be any design or purpose to it. So there can’t be any right or wrong. We’ll explore more about that next week, when we talk about this amazing statement that we read today. That man was created in the image of God. Boy, that’s deep.. If you’ve never heard that, you need to make sure you hear that and understand that next Sunday. We were created in the image of God. Folks that ought to have profound implications on the way we live our life, it ought to have profound implications on all of human life, and dignity and morals and laws and everything else.
Well, I want to close this morning by just quickly saying that, at the very beginning, I deliberately did not focus on this verse until now. But at the very beginning of Genesis 1:2, we see that before God brought all things into order, there was emptiness, and there was darkness. There was nothing worth seeing. There’s no real value until God spoke, and said, “Let there be light.” There was nothing good until God brought order and beauty out of the emptiness and declared that it was good. This describes our condition, every one of us. Before God shined His light, we were living in darkness. He brought us out of darkness into His marvelous light the Bible tells us. By His grace, He took what was dark and empty. All that was devoid of any meaning and purpose, lives that had nothing good about them. His spirit transformed us into a new creation. 2 Corinthians 4:6 says, For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made His light shine in our hearts, to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ. These are two themes that are established here in Genesis 1 that will run throughout the entire Bible. The kingdom of God, and this issue of light and darkness. We’ll see that more and more as we go through. Look, the Bible says that you and I are in one or the other. We’re in darkness, or we’re in light.
Where are you this morning? Have you ever recognize the fact that like all of us, you were born into sin? You were born into darkness, spiritually speaking? Have you ever come to the place where you’ve surrendered your self, your will, your life to God and said, “God, please bring your light into my darkness, bring your order into my chaos, bring your beauty into my mess, and create something worthwhile.” He’ll do that!
Ephesians 5:8 tells us You were once darkness, but now you are a light in the Lord. Then He says, live as children of light. If you’ve never received the gift of salvation, my prayer for you today is this closing verse Ephesians 1:18; I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you may know the hope of His calling, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints.
Hey, if you’ve been saved, today ought to be a day of Thanksgiving and rejoicing in what God has done for us! The King of the universe, stooped so low, to give us life and love. If you’ve never been saved, I hope you’ll talk to me or someone about that this morning, and settle this matter; life’s most important question of eternity. God has made the way possible for you. He’s waiting for you to come to Him. You can do that today.