God’s Good Design for Creation
January 15, 2024

God’s Good Design for Creation

Preacher:
Series:

God's Good Role in History

Tonight we’ll be back at the beginning of the Bible, in Genesis 1, and we’ll continue to see the essential role God plays in the history of the world. So if you have your Bibles, that's good. Go ahead and turn with me to Genesis 1.

I’m going to be reading Genesis 1:2 through Genesis 2:3, but over the next couple weeks we’ll circle back and give some more attention to the end of Chapter 1 and the beginning of Chapter 2. So if you notice that we don’t deal with everything in our text today, don’t worry – I hope to get to it soon. But before I read our text, let’s ask for God’s help.

[SCRIPTURE READING AND PRAYER]

God vs. Science

The Bible tells us here that God created the world, and how he did it. We’ll spend some time unpacking the text in a minute, but first I want to take a moment to clear up a few things that may be distracting about a text like this.

There are people out there (you probably know some) who will say they don’t believe in God because they believe in science. And this isn’t surprising, because many universities and textbooks and scientific documentaries – they make it sound like science has definitively proven how the universe came into existence, as though the data can’t be interpreted any other way.

The problem is that the data can be interpreted other ways. But for the past few centuries – ever since the Western world was affected by a philosophical movement called the Enlightenment – most people in the scientific community have chosen to interpret their data without any consideration of God. And this explains how we got to where we are today. Most science today is conducted in an echo chamber where all the data is interpreted with the assumption that God doesn’t exist – (or at the very least) that God isn’t involved.

But this is an assumption. It is not a conclusion that science forces us to accept. Choosing to explain scientific data without reference to God or the Bible has always been a matter of interpretive choice rather than a matter of fact.

So the question we’re faced with in Genesis 1 is simple. Will we follow a human interpretation of the scientific data? Or will we follow God’s interpretation?

When the nation of Israel first received the book of Genesis, they were faced with a similar question. The nations around them had observed the world and had developed their own socially-acceptable interpretations of the data. And the people of Israel were faced with a choice. Would they trust in the wisdom of man, or would they trust in the wisdom of God?

As we work through the chapter here, I hope to show you that the God of the Bible absolutely deserves our respect and our trust. This passage describes how God created the world. And I’d like to point out three features of God’s activity that are highlighted in this passage. First, the orderliness of God’s Work. Second, the Goodness of God’s World, and Third, the Effectiveness of God’s Word.

The Order of God’s Work

So first, the orderliness of God’s Work. (I’ll spend most of my time here, and my second two points will be shorter).

Genesis 1:1 tells us that in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. God rolled out his scroll – he laid the foundation for the universe. Verse 1 emphasizes God’s power and ability to bring things into existence from nothing. But verse 2 tells us that the universe God brought into existence was “without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.”

And by including these words, God signals here that this isn’t how He wants things to stay. He isn’t just a God who delights in existence, but also a God who desires form and fruitfulness. So, at the end of verse 2, we’re told that “the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters,” which suggests his care for the world and his readiness to act for its welfare.

And sure enough, starting in verse 3, we see that God sets the world into order, and he does so in an orderly way. He takes what is without form and void, and he gives it form on the first three days of creation, and he fills the void on days four through six.

So notice how God brings form to his creation on Days 1 through 3. On Day 1 he gives form to time by creating light and distinguishing between night and day. On Day 2, he gives form to the heavens. And on Day 3, he gives form to the earth, making a separation between dry land and seas, as well as forming habitats and vegetation on the earth.

And in the next set of three days – on days four through six – God fills what was void. God fills the upper heavens with sun, moon, and stars to help organize time. God fills the lower heavens with flying animals, he fills the sea with swimming animals, and he fills the earth with various land animals, and ultimately with people.

God also shows us his orderliness by holding to a similar pattern of events on each day of creation. First, God speaks – “Let there be light; let there be an expanse; let the waters under the heavens be gathered together” – so on and forth. Second, we’re told about the result of God’s speaking – the world comes together just as he commanded it to. Third, we don’t see this on days one and two, but on all the other days God makes a statement about the goodness of his creation. And fourth, each day closes with the words “there was evening, and there was morning” and then we’re told which day it is – first, second, third, etc.

The patterns and repetitions here are so striking here, some people have claimed that Genesis 1 is a form of poetry – poetry that gives us true ideas about God’s greatness, but that doesn’t tell us the actual history of how the earth was made. The problem with this idea is that the grammar and style of Genesis 1 doesn’t follow the pattern of ancient Hebrew poetry. Instead, this follows the same basic grammatical patterns as the rest of the book of Genesis. And the rest of the book of Genesis is clearly written as a historical record – it contains genealogies, it makes reference to historical empires, it records historical events that would have been intimately connected to the existence of Israel as a nation. Genesis is given to us as history, and our default position should be to understand the six days of creation in the same way.

So when the text uses the word days here in Genesis 1, with a morning and an evening, embedded in a historical record, it is appropriate to believe that God made the world in six literal, 24-hour days. Every other time in the Bible, when days are described with ordinal numbers – the first day, the fourth day – descriptions like that – it’s only ever referring to literal 24 hour days. And when we hold to the consistency and measurableness of the six days of creation, I believe that it helps to further emphasize the glorious commitment God has to organization and order.

And as I wrap up this point, this is exactly where I want to land. Genesis 1 is written so that we would give all glory to God for the creation of the universe. So let’s make sure it has that effect. Every atom in the universe holds together because of God’s creative genius. The way DNA is organized, the logic and complexity of human language, the fundamental principles of mathematics – all these things reveal a God of infinite wisdom, who is worthy to receive our worship.

The Good of God’s World

But this passage shows us something else about how God created the world – that God created the world good. This is my second point – the goodness of God’s world.

Over and over again, after each creative act of God, the text says, “God saw that it was good.” And there are a few reasons why this is important. For one thing, it shows us that God is a conscious, personal being. We can see this because God makes value judgments – he has awareness to observe and evaluate his creation. So God isn’t an impersonal, mindless force that vibrates throughout the cosmos. God is a relational, conscious, analytical being.

For another thing, Genesis 1 reveals that God is the standard-giver and judge over his creation. When the text tells us “God saw that it was good,” we see that God has a standard for measuring goodness, and that the authority to give this verdict falls in God’s domain.

And from this verdict – God saw that it was good – we’re also told something about the goodness of God. I recognize that there are things in the world today that are ugly, dysfunctional, painful, and evil. And as we keep working through Genesis we’ll account for these things. Yet there’s a real goodness we continue to see in the layout of God’s world – and that goodness didn’t just show up by chance. It’s not as though the forces of fate threw buckets of paint on a canvas and – surprise, surprise – somehow it turned out looking good.

We should instead recognize that God designed his world to be good. Sunsets are beautiful, and the reason photosynthesis functions, and the reason food is generally pleasurable because God has produced these things out of the fountain of His own goodness. So if you ever enjoy the goodness of music, the goodness of a healthy body, the goodness of clothing, the goodness of friends and family or whatever else – we should remember, as I mentioned last week, that these created things aren’t ultimate. Instead, the greatness of these things should quickly direct our attention to Him who is the source and supply of every good gift.

The Effects of God’s Word

There’s one more thing I want to point out here about how God created the world. Genesis 1 shows us that that God created the world by speaking. Psalm 33:6 confirms this: “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.” And in this we see the effectiveness of God’s Word. This is my third and final point – the effectiveness of God’s Word.

On each day of creation, God speaks, and His word accomplishes something good. Everything he says has an effect. Everything he commands comes to pass. When God speaks, His word is effective in doing what God sends it out to do. In Isaiah 55(:10-11), God himself emphasizes this truth: “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

So we should have a high view of God’s Word. We should be eager to read God’s word, to pray God’s Word, to sing God’s word, to speak God’s Word to others – because God has displayed its power, and he has demonstrated that His word won’t return empty. Just as God worked by His Word and Spirit to create the heavens and the earth, so today God is working by His Word and Spirit to do his work of new creation in the lives of sinners like you and me. So let’s pray that God will continue to show us the power and effectiveness of His Word – that he’ll establish faith where there was once nothing, and that he’ll bring fruitfulness to lives that were once empty.