The Most Important Verse
August 9, 2020
Dr. Andy Woods
Let’s open our Bibles to Genesis 1:1. If you’re having a hard time finding that, come see me afterwards. I think it’s pretty easy to find; just go to the far left and you should find Genesis 1:1.
The title of our message this morning is “The Most Important Verse.” If you told me what you believed about Genesis 1:1, I could probably tell you almost everything there is to know about you. And if I were to tell you what I believed about Genesis 1:1, you would know a lot about me as well—where I’m coming from, what my worldview is. And that’s why I’ve entitled this message, “The Most Important Verse.” We’ll try to make it to verse 2 also. So, we’re moving at lightning speed here.
We have started a study on the Book of Genesis. Thank you to Gabe for filling in last week. Prior to Pastor Gabe teaching, we did an introduction to the Book of Genesis that went parts one and two. And now we’re actually ready to look at the Book of Genesis.
The Book of Genesis, as you recall, has two parts to it: the beginning of the human race, part one, Genesis 1-11; and then the beginning of the Hebrew race, part two, Genesis 12-50. And we’re just inching our way into the book, looking at part one—how it all began—the beginning of the human race.
Here we have, underneath the first section, four subparts.
- Creation, chapters 1-2
- The Fall—what went wrong—chapters 3-5
- The Flood, chapters 6-9
- National dispersion, chapters 10-11
All of which, if you don’t understand, you can’t make sense of our world and you certainly cannot make any real sense of the mission and the ministry of Jesus Christ. Why do we need a Savior? Early Genesis helps us.
Now, as we move into Creation, we have Genesis 1 and 2, Creation. Genesis 1 is the whole Creation account in six days, with God resting on the Sabbath. Not because God was tired, by the way; He set it up as a pattern for the Israeli workweek. So, Genesis 1 is all of those six days, the Lord resting on the seventh day.
Genesis 2 is not rehashing all of that information, but it is focusing on Day Six. So, Genesis 1 is six days; Genesis 2, the sixth day. And I bring this to your attention because a lot of people say, “Genesis 1 contradicts Genesis 2.” No, it doesn’t. Understand that you’re getting the whole picture here in Genesis 1, but Genesis 2 is just focusing on the height of God’s Creation, the pinnacle of Creation, man himself, those who bear God’s image (that’s us).
We’re going to learn there that we’re very valuable to God. Because unlike any other creature God has made, we bear His very image. And this is why, when humanity went astray, God was willing to send His only Son to this world to fix it through His sacrificial death. That’s a preview of things to come.
We move into Genesis 1. Here’s the outline that we’re going to use as we work our way through these verses. We have the original Creation, verse 1. We have the original Creation in its unfilled and unformed state, verse 2. Then you have the six days of Creation. And then it ends with God resting on the seventh day.
God keeps saying, every single day, it was “good.” Then you get to the very end, and God says it was “very good.” This is very important because when you share your faith with people, what they’ll say back to you is, “You claim God is a God of love? I just had a friend that died of cancer.” Or they’ll say, “My grandson just got hit in the crosswalk.” They’ll recount any number of problems.
“You tell me God is a God of love? How do you explain my life and my circumstances and the bad things that have happened to me?” And we actually have an answer for that! In fact, we’re the only people that have an answer. The things that are happening in our world were never the design of God. God never created a world with cancer and infant mortality and violence and rape and all of these horrible things. God’s design was very good; it was man listening to the serpent, rebelling against God, that this was lost. So, don’t blame it on God!
God didn’t set up the world that way. Blame it on man’s rebellion against God; the creature made a decision to rebel against God. In fact, God loves us so much that He actually entered into history to die on a cross and rise from the dead to fix it—to how it was originally intended. And there’s a time coming in history where all of the evil is going to be taken out of the world—just like there was a time in history before evil entered the world.
So, what we’re living in today is an abnormality. In fact, I would say this: we are the only worldview that teaches that. Every other worldview out there basically tries to make it sound like everything happening today is normal. That’s why there is so much denial of reality in people. “Just alter your mind somewhere else; deny reality.” We’re here to say that evil is a reality—but it’s finite. It is time-bound.
There was a time in history when evil didn’t exist, and there will be a time in history where evil will not exist. In fact, if you want to see what’s normal, study Genesis 1 and 2. And then study Revelation 21 and 22. That’s normal! Everything happening in between is an abnormality. And this becomes important when you share your faith with people because they don’t understand this.
But what we’re learning here is what was normal, what God originally set up the world to be. And, as you might imagine, as we go through Genesis 1 there are some major issues here. There are eight of them. So, we’re probably going to spend a lot of time in Genesis 1 in the next few weeks because it’s foundational for the rest of the Bible.
As we go through different things in Genesis 1, I will resurface this list. And at appropriate times I’ll say, “Here’s another major issue.” Because if there’s anything in the Bible we need to understand, it would be Genesis 1. Amen?
We start here with the original Creation of God. Notice what is said here in Genesis 1:1, a verse you know very well. “In the beginning God created the heavens [plural] and the earth.” “Heavens” is SHAMAYIM in Hebrew. The “im” ending is like adding the word “S” on a noun in English; it’s plurality. “And the earth,” ERETS. The ERETS and the SHAMAYIM.
This is something that happened in the past called, in Latin, ex nihilo. It’s just a Latin term to describe what God did. What does that fancy term, “ex nihilo,” mean? It means, “Something out of nothing.” There was not some prior goo that God had to work with—there was nothing! And then God spoke and the heavens and the earth itself leapt into existence—something out of nothing. There was no creation before Creation. God spoke, and things as we know them leapt into existence. This is what we call ex nihilo.
This is why there is so much emphasis in the Bible on the Word of God. When God speaks, things happen! And this is why we, at Sugar Land Bible Church, are committed to teaching God’s Word. We’re not here to give personal opinions of this or that. This is not the editorial section or the opinion column of the newspaper. We’re here to study the Word of God because within the Word of God there is power!
In fact, Isaiah 55:11 says that when God’s Word goes forth it does not return void. And if pastors and preachers will be faithful to the Word of God, they will start to see transformation—not only in their own lives, but in the lives of other people because this is the nature of God’s Word. God’s Word changes us.
I remember when I first started teaching Bible studies way back when. I decided to teach the Book of Romans. And I have no idea what the Book of Romans did for the people I was teaching; I only knew what it was doing for me. I was studying it each week so I could present it, and it was changing me from the inside. That is the nature of God’s Word! God spoke, and the heavens and the earth leapt into existence.
Psalm 33:9, of this ex nihilo—something out of nothing—Word of God says, “For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood firm.” And when God spoke and the heavens and the earth leapt into existence, that is what we call a merism in Hebrew. A merism is just giving the outer edges of something. But the assumption is that when you give the outer edges of something, it would include everything in between—kind of like a sandwich. A piece of bread, piece of bread, meat in the middle; the two pieces of bread would include the meat.
It’s like when the Bible says, “The Lord watches over me when I rise up; the Lord watches over me when I lie down.” Does that mean that God just watches over me when the alarm clock goes off and when I go to bed at 10:30 at night? Everything in between, God is not watching? No, it’s a figure of speech. It’s a merism, meaning that if God watches over me when I rise up and God watches over me when I lie down, it would include everything in between as well. God is always watching me, and He’s always watching over you.
So, when it says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” it’s not just the skies and it’s not just the ground—it’s everything. Everything that we know as matter, or material, came into existence through the spoken Word of God. So, “heavens and earth” is a merism for everything. Jeremiah 23:24, of God, says, “ ‘Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?’ ” God is omnipresent; He fills everything! So, “heavens and earth” is a merism for the totality of things that came into existence through the spoken Word of God; everything that is came into existence at that point.
You’ll notice it says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” As I mentioned before, the word for “heavens” is SHAMAYIM, meaning “plurality.” “You mean there’s more than one heaven?” And there is. Paul the apostle, you’ll recall, in 2 Corinthians 12:12, was caught up to the third heaven.
I don’t know if I fully understand what all of this means, but I know this: the Greeks divided the cosmos into three parts. The first heaven would basically be from the ground to the clouds. The second heaven would be from the clouds to the stars. The third heaven is beyond the stars.
Think how big this solar system—this galaxy—is that we’re in. It’s something beyond the stars. It’s where God Himself is. And Paul himself was caught up—not to heaven one—not to heaven two—but to the third heaven, and he was in the very presence of God. And you say to yourself, “Wow! I would love for that to happen to me,” Be careful about that. Because Paul had to come back to the earth, and he knew things that other people didn’t know because of that experience. He heard things that other people don’t hear because of that experience. And Paul would be a bit lifted up with pride, wouldn’t he, having those revelations? He calls them “the surpassing revelations.”
So, God says to Paul, “There was given to me (it’s a gift, in other words) a thorn in the flesh (I don’t know what the thorn in the flesh was, but it hurt) to keep me from becoming arrogant and prideful on account of these surpassing revelations.” In fact, the thorn in the flesh was so severe to Paul he begged God— not once, not twice, but three times—to take it away. And God said, “No, My grace is sufficient for you, because this thorn in the flesh is necessary to keep your pride in check so that I can continue to use you (because God resists the proud) because of your surpassing revelations.”
See, the more someone understands the things of God, the more someone is used of God, the more God has to bring into that person’s life accompanying problems so that person can continue to be humble, and usable, and pliable, and dependent on God. So, it’s a dangerous thing, in a certain sense, to ask for the blessings of God which Paul had.
So, everything that is—the heavens itself—came into existence through the spoken Word of God. Why, then, do we call this verse “the most important verse”? We call it that because if you believe what it says here in Genesis 1:1, there are certain things that you cannot be. There are certain worldviews that you cannot accept. There are certain worldviews that you cannot adopt. Here’s a list:
- You cannot be an atheist.
One of the things that’s been sort of shocking in my lifetime is the growth of the movement of atheism called the “New Atheists.” They publish runaway best-selling books. Atheism—something I’ve never seen in my lifetime—is in ascendancy. Atheism? “A,” a negation; “theism,” God. An atheist simply says, “There is no God.”
Of course, the atheist parades themself as being very intellectually superior. What does the Bible say? Psalm 14:1, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ ” It’s a foolish endeavor to try to explain away the existence of God. And the atheists have their work cut out for them if they want to get rid of God! Think of the design of this world and universe. The fact that no two fingerprints are the same. The fact that no two snowflakes examined under a microscope are the same. No two personalities are the same of the 7 billion people on planet Earth.
Think of the fact that, as we speak, we’re on this earth and we’re orbiting around the sun at just the right distance. Not too close to the sun to burn up. Not too far away from the sun so that we freeze to death. Some of you in this air conditioning… I see Veronica up here, and it seems like she’s freezing to death. But we’re orbiting at just the right distance to sustain life, and you’re going to tell me, “No God exists”? That’s insanity! That is foolishness!
And if you believe Genesis 1:1, you can’t be an atheist because it says, “God created.” You also can’t be a pantheist. A pantheist is someone who worships nature rather than God. They confuse Creation with the Creator—common error. And yet, if you believe Genesis 1:1, you can’t be a pantheist because what this reveals is that there was no matter until God spoke. Nature is not God.
Surfing the waves in California? I never was able to do that. I did some boogie boarding. You feel like it’s “godlike” as you’re going through that tube—it’s an amazing experience. And this was 30 years ago, so I don’t think I could even come close to that now. But having said all that, I can see why people get so exhilarated with Creation that you start to confuse it with God Himself. And yet, this verse says God is transcendent over Creation. There was a time in history where Creation didn’t exist, yet God spoke it into existence.
If you are a believer in Genesis 1:1, you cannot be a polytheist. Polytheists are those who worship many gods. This verse says, “God.” In fact, the Bible is very clear that there is only one God! In Isaiah 46:9 God says, “For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me.” He is the unique God; see Deut. 6:4; Isaiah 43:11, 44:6; 45:5.
If you believe Genesis 1:1, you cannot be a materialist. What is a materialist? Well, you see them at the shopping mall all the time. A materialist is basically someone who thinks that they can fill the God-shaped vacuum inside of them through more stuff—more purchases, more opportunities to buy another house. “Maybe I’ll be happy—not in this house—if I get this other house. And then I go into debt trying to get this other house. Now I’m doubly miserable because I’ve got to pay for two houses…” That’s basically what a materialist is.
Matter can never solve the God-shaped vacuum in each of us because we’re designed for relationship with God. If you believe Genesis 1:1, you cannot be a materialist because here it says that matter began.
If you believe in Genesis 1:1, you cannot be a dualist. A lot of people get their theology from the movie, Rocky. Remember that? Now, this would be Rocky 1. Now they’ve got “Rocky 35,000,” where their great grandkids are duking it out. My father took me to the original movie Rocky, and there goes Rocky into the ring with the reigning heavyweight champ, Apollo Creed. The two are really duking it out, and you don’t know who’s going to win! In fact, at the edge of your seat, you’re actually saying the words because you’re pulling for Rocky! You’re saying it, “Rocky! Rocky!” As a little kid I didn’t know who was going to win. I think Rocky lost in the first one. But didn’t he win in the second movie? I’d have to go back into my memory banks to figure all that out.
But a lot of people think that’s what it’s like with God and Satan. God is God and Satan is Satan, and they’re fighting. They’re duking it out, and we really don’t know who’s going to win—that’s dualism. Dualism is the idea that God has a rival in the universe. The reality of the situation is: this is no contest because God Himself is the Creator and Satan himself is the what? Created being.
In fact, in Ezekiel 28:13 of Satan it says, “On the day that you were created…” Verse 15, “From the day you were created…” And the moment that was disclosed about Satan you know Who is going to win—this isn’t even a contest. God is the Creator; Satan is the created being. The only reason Satan is even around is he himself is serving God’s purposes. And the moment those purposes are served is the moment Satan will be done away with in the Lake of Fire. You don’t have to fear this or worry about this—this is no contest—and I believe it because of Genesis 1:1.
God is the Creator! Satan is nothing more than the created being. I remember watching a basketball game. I was pulling for my team. I was on the edge of my seat. My team did pretty well, by the way, in that particular game. I went home, and there was the same game on tape delay! And I was a lot calmer watching it on tape delay because I already knew who was going to win. That is what your Bible is revealing: there is no contest here; there’s not even a struggle. You know Who’s going to win: God is going to win! You don’t have to sit on the edge of your seat wondering, “Is God going to pull this off?” And you know that because of Genesis 1:1. God is the Creator; Satan is nothing more than the created being.
If you believe Genesis 1:1, you cannot be a humanist. What’s a humanist? Humanism is what is taught in America’s public school system—and has been for decades now. Humanism is basically the belief that man is the center of all things.
Humanists have at their own doctrinal statement. You can find their doctrinal statements in: Humanist Manifesto I, written in 1933, Humanist Manifesto II, written in 1973, and then Humanist Manifesto 2000, written in the year 2000. They’re fairly short reads; it’s like reading a doctrinal statement in a church. They just come out and tell you, “This is what we believe,” Humanism is the idea that, “Man is the center of all things and God, if He exists at all, is irrelevant.”
Of course, humanists rely very heavily on naturalism—which we’ll talk about in the second—evolution. But they explain the existence of the heavens and the earth through accidental processes that went on for billions of years, “From the goo to you by way of the zoo,” kind of idea. Humanists basically think God doesn’t exist; if He does exist, He’s irrelevant. And man is really the center of all things.”
By the way, humanists have 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status. The Humanist Society has 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status; yet they get to teach their religion in the schools, and we can’t teach ours! Why the unfairness? Because we’re living in the devil’s world—we shouldn’t expect things to be fair. Humanism is basically the belief that American schoolkids are inculcated with from the very beginning—the doctrine of humanism.
Now, how can you be a humanist if you believe Genesis 1:1? Because Genesis 1:1 says in the beginning God created! Well, didn’t man help a little bit? Man doesn’t even exist yet! In fact, man is not even going to show up until Day Six. You mean, God didn’t even use little old us as a consultant? No. He just spoke, and the heavens and the earth leapt into existence. So, I can’t be humanist if I believe Genesis 1:1.
I also can’t be a naturalist. Naturalists are basically evolutionary. They believe everything came about through random chance events over billions of years. It’s like looking at a 747 jet airliner and saying, “Isn’t it interesting how a whirlwind came through a junkyard and assembled this plane without the help of a designer?” That’s basically what naturalism is.
How can you be a naturalist if you believe Genesis 1:1? Because it says very clearly—as clearly as it can be said, “God created—God spoke, and the heavens and the earth leapt into existence.”
Look at that. We’ve finished verse 1, and I’m already 50 minutes into this. Let’s see if we can do verse 2. Genesis 1:2, “The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” Now, what is being described here is original Creation in its unfilled and unformed state. It’s like looking at a piece of clay on a potter’s wheel. There’s nothing wrong with the clay. It just has to be shaped; it has to be molded a particular way. And that molding process is going to take place over the six days.
So, to describe Creation not in some kind of wrecked state—as many people say—but just in a state of being formless and void, what we have here are the use of three circumstantial participles to describe that. Number one, it was formless and void; those are the Hebrew words TOHU and BOHU. (Say that five times fast!) Number two is the expression “darkness.” And number three is the expression of the Holy Spirit. I’ll explain Who the Spirit is in just a minute.
It says, “…and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.” Then God, beginning on Day One, starting in verse 3, begins to fill and form; He begins to give shape to this giant lump of clay.
So let’s go through each of these. “The earth was formless and void…” Those are the Hebrew words TOHU and BOHU. I like what Bernard Ramm says, “In the case of tohu and bohu…it is equally admissible to consider these words as referring to the unformed nature of the earth before God impressed upon it His creative will. A marble block and a crumbled statue are both formless. The former is in a state which awaits a form and from that formlessness emerges the image. When God made the earth He made it like a marble block out of which He would bring the beauty of the world.”
A famous Hebrew lexicon is BDB, which stands for Brown, Driver, and Briggs. They describe “tohu” as: “formlessness, emptiness; no purpose.” “Bohu,” the same way: “emptiness.” So, I don’t want to give you the impression that something was wrong with what God did here. It’s just like a canvas that a painter is going to paint on. There’s nothing wrong with the canvas; it just has to be shaped, and molded, and populated. And that’s what God is beginning to do in these six days of Creation.
Notice also that it says, “…darkness was over the surface of the deep…” Now, people get really weird on this and say, “That means that it was evil.” No, it was not evil. It says darkness was on the face of the deep because God had not yet said, verse 3, “Let there be light.” The light comes into existence, verse three. So everything is dark, just waiting for the light switch to turn on.
Then it says here, “…the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters…” Now, Who is this Spirit of God moving over the surface of the waters? It’s the Holy Spirit. It’s the eternally existent Third Member of the Trinity.
Now, some Bible translations say the Spirit was “brooding.” I don’t think that’s a very good translation. They try to tie it in with Ephesians 4:30 which says, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit…” They try to make it sound as if the Spirit is upset. The Spirit is not upset at anything.
The Spirit of God is moving over the surface of the deep out of anticipation. The Spirit of God is moving, waiting to see—and also being involved in the process—what this tremendous artist, God, is going to do with this canvas. It’s an attitude of expectation. It’s like seeing a block of un-molded clay in the hands of a talented potter, and you just can’t wait to see what he or she is going to create! And that’s why the Spirit is moving. The Spirit is anticipating. The Spirit is excited about what is to happen.
Now, you’ll notice that the Holy Spirit is mentioned in the Old Testament. Most people think the Holy Spirit doesn’t really get mentioned in the Bible until you get to the New Testament. Most people think the Holy Spirit started His ministry in the Book of Acts. The fact of the matter is, the Holy Spirit certainly started to do perhaps one of His greatest works in the Book of Acts, but the Holy Spirit is involved all the way through the Old Testament!
In fact, the great scholar, Charles Lee Fienberg, was asked a question at a Bible conference. He has since written many books, and he is now with the Lord. I had a chance to talk to his son. I asked his son, “I’ve heard this story about your father. Is this true?” And he said, “Yeah, this is exactly like something dad would normally do.”
He was asked a question at a Bible conference, “Is the Holy Spirit found in the Old Testament Hebrew Bible?” Charles Lee Fienberg, from memory, started by quoting Genesis 1:2, and then he moved to the Book of Exodus, where the Spirit of God came upon the tabernacle workers and they constructed the tabernacle. From there he went from place to place with no notes—from memory—giving his audience every single reference to the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament.
It was not like a typical sermon today where the longer the guy preaches the more bored people get and start to look at their watches. It was the fact that the longer he talked, the more spellbound his audience became because most people had no idea of the prominence of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament. And yet, this went on for several hours. And yet, there is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is everywhere in the Old Testament!
In fact, we wouldn’t even have an Old Testament—would we—had the Holy Spirit not carried along the writers of the Old Testament. And there’s your first reference to the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament, the eternally existent Third Member of the Godhead.
We read, for example, in 1 Samuel 16:13-14, “Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers; and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon…” Look at that very carefully, “…upon David from that day forward.” Verse 14, “Now the Spirit of the Lord…” Did what with Saul? “…departed from Saul…”
“…and an evil spirit from the Lord terrorized him.” Look at that: the Holy Spirit is on one king—Saul—taken off that king and put on another king—David. This is why David, in Psalm 51:11, prayed these words: “…do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.”
Then you move into the New Testament. How different it is in the New Testament with the words of Christ in the Upper Room when they’re all panicked that He’s leaving His disciples who had known him for three years. He actually says to them, “It is to your advantage that I’m leaving because when I leave, the Paraclete (which is the Greek word for ‘helper’) will come alongside to assist.” And the Lord begins to speak about the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament time period—the very time here that we’re living in today.
Jesus said, in the Upper Room, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever…” Now, those of you who know my wife know how much she helps me. In fact, I don’t know if I could even function half the time without her. I mean, I simply could not be doing the things I’m doing today without my helpmate! And that same word, “helper,” is used to describe the Holy Spirit. “You think your wife is a blessing to you? You ain’t seen nothing yet! Wait until the Holy Spirit comes.”
“I’m going to die on a cross,” Jesus says. “I’m going to ascend to the Father’s right hand. You all are worried that I’m leaving, but once I leave it’s actually a benefit to you because the Holy Spirit will be poured out in a maximum way.” And He will be with you for how long? Forever.
“Wait a minute, now! I thought the Spirit departed from Saul?” He did; that was a thousand years, though, before the Cross. We’re now living 2000 years after the Cross. We’re in a completely different time period where the Holy Spirit is doing something He’s never done before! He is not “upon David.” But He is what? “In!” Do you see that? In us! For how long? Forever.
We have privileges with the Holy Spirit that those in the prior age could have only dreamed of. And it’s so interesting that when Jesus begins to describe this transition He says, “that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive…” That’s why your unsaved friends and family members just don’t get you. They just don’t get you! “What’s the matter with you? Why are you talking about the Bible all the time? Why are you going to church all the time? Why are you watching Christian pastors all the time? What’s all that weird worship music? Why do you listen to that?”
Well, it’s very simple: they don’t understand you because they don’t have the Holy Spirit inside of them. If they did—and they could if they trusted Christ as Savior—they would get it also. They would understand you perfectly. This is why Paul says that the man that’s natural cannot sit in judgment on the spiritual man—he doesn’t know anything about the things of the Spirit!
But as Jesus is describing this transition, He says, “that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” So even though the transition in a massive sense was coming, Jesus is very clear that “you still knew the Holy Spirit.” Even though His ministry is about the change, they still knew about the Holy Spirit.
They were not ignorant about the Holy Spirit. And the reason they were not ignorant about the Holy Spirit is because they had Genesis 1:2, where the Holy Spirit is showing up. And He’s moving on the waters out of excitement as to what God is about to do.
We have here three circumstantial participles describing—not a wrecked creation, not a ruined creation, not a massacred creation, but simply a lump of clay that hadn’t been molded correctly yet. It’s uninformed and unfilled. Darkness exists because light has not been spoken into the picture yet—that will happen in verse 3. And the Spirit of God is moving, anticipating what God is going to do with this lump of clay.
What’s God going to do with this “marble” block? What’s God going to do with this empty canvas? We start to get an explanation of it, beginning with the first day of Creation. Because what God starts to do in the days of creation, beginning in verse 3, is that He starts to shape and populate. He shapes in Days One, Two, and Three, and He populates in Days Four, Five, and Six.
If you want an easy way to remember the Creation days, just connect Day One and Day Four; Day Two and Day Five; Day Three and Day Six. Because what God is doing? Day One—shaping; Day Four—populating. Day Two—shaping; Day Five—populating. Day Three—shaping; Day Six—populating.
How does that work? Look at the parallels here. Day One, light comes into existence. You see that in verse 3; that is shaping. What is God doing on Day Four? He’s populating the light. Now that light exists, He’s creating luminaries—the sun, the moon, and the stars—to continually emit the light.
What is He doing there on Day Two? He’s creating water and sky—shaping. What is He doing on Day Five? He is populating: He’s creating the sea animals to go in the water and the birds to fly in the heavens.
What is He doing on Day Three? He is shaping with land and vegetation. What is He doing on Day Six? He’s creating entities to exist on the land—like land animals, Day Six. And who else, Day Six? Humanity—the pinnacle of God’s Creation—the very image bearers of God. When they rebelled against God, God sent His only Son to restore what was lost because of the inherent value of man, because they are image bearers of God.
I mean, are we still image bearers of God even though we’re living in a fallen state? Yes, we are. The image has been effaced, but it has not been erased. And what we’re witnessing, largely, in our culture is the death of humanity. We don’t treat people respectfully anymore because we see them as just a naked ape because of the dominance of evolution.
We don’t attach value to people because only the Bible would tell us that all human beings are valuable because they are made in God’s image. You mean even the homeless guy with alcohol all over his breath? You mean even that guy is made in the image of God? Yes, he is. Look at the ministry of Christ. Christ is always going to the down and outers. In fact, He’s criticized for that! “Why are You hanging around with that crowd? The prostitutes and the tax gatherers? Why bother with them? Don’t You understand You’re the Messiah?” It relates to Genesis 1! They need the gospel too! As we all do—because we’re made in God’s image.
You see, what has been lost in the United States—and the world for that matter—is the idea of the sanctity of life. We’ve moved into an understanding of the quality of life, “Life is only valuable if it’s healthy. Life is only valuable if it has a particular economic scale attached to it. If it has utility, it’s valuable.” But if it doesn’t have that, then it’s just what the socialists call it, “You’re just a useless eater.” What is that? That’s the “quality of life” idea. That’s not what the Bible says.
Did you know? Right now, in certain countries of the world, with euthanasia the whole discussion is, “Well, you know, Grandma and Grandpa have lived a nice, long life. But they’re kind of a financial burden. So, Grandma, if we put a few extra pills in your orange juice and you took what they call an ‘early exit,’ that wouldn’t be bad, would it? I mean, you don’t want to be a burden to your children. And you’ve lived a full life.”
In fact, I have a quote; I may put it up here at some point. One of the governors of Colorado basically made the statement in the 80s, when he was 48 years old, that the elderly “have a duty to die and get out of the way for the rest of the population.” Now, I did the math on that. He made that statement, at age 48, in 1984. That would put him in his 80s now; I wonder if he feels the same way.
And there’s a mindset that says, “If life doesn’t have a particular quality, then it’s not worth anything!” That is not what your Bible says! What your Bible says is—the sanctity of life—every human being has value for the simple reason that they are image bearers of God. Even in their fallen state they have that value.
“Well, gee, Pastor, can you talk about something a little bit more relevant?” Okay, try this on for size. How about gossip? We don’t gossip as Christians, do we? That’s the other church down the street that does that—not us! Read what the Book of James says about gossip—how we can verbally destroy each other.
The Book of James says, “Why do you do that? Why do you verbally assault a fellow image-bearer of God,” James 3:9. This subject of the sanctity of life? It shapes everything—the way you think—right down to whether I’m going to involve myself in a conversation that is tearing down other people.
The Bible is pretty clear that life and death is found in the power of the tongue. And God gave us communication to build and to edify. What does Satan want to do? He wants us to use it to accuse and to destroy. In fact, when we run around gossiping, slandering, tearing people down for no valid reason—out of jealousy or whatever the issue is—do you know whose work we’re really doing? We’re doing the work of Satan. We’re not doing the work of God. That’s not God! God talks, and things get built! And as image bearers of God, that’s how we are to use our tongues. I have no idea how I got off into all of that; but it was edifying, hopefully.
There is a view called the gap theory. I don’t want to spend too much time on the gap theory, for the simple reason that I’ve covered this in angelology, the doctrine of the angels. We have several lessons on the gap theory. If you’re interested, you can go down deep into that.
The gap theory is basically the idea that the original Creation was brought into existence on the first day of Creation. Essentially, classic gap theory argues that there was actually even a pre-Adamic race at that point. There was even another Garden of Eden; they call that the “mineral garden.” Whereas the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2 is something that God built on the original garden. That’s the gap theory.
Essentially, what they say is, “Satan fell in between verse 1 and verse 2, because there are billions of years between those verses.” And that was popular for many Christians because you could take the fossil record, which looks old, and you could cram it between those verses. Therefore, those who came up with this thought that they were allowing the Bible to keep up with science. There many, many people today—even popular names that you know—that teach the gap theory—people that I like—but I don’t agree with them here.
So, what they think is that verse 2 is a description of a wrecked world and that God, beginning in verse 3, is just fixing what got busted. And that’s what He’s doing in the Creation week: He’s fixing what got broken.
The best I can explain, the gap theory is like buying a house. You go away on vacation, someone breaks into the house, vandalizes the house, puts graffiti all over the house, and then you come back to a wrecked house. So what do you have to do? You have to renovate and fix and paint over what got broken. And that process of renovation is what gap theorists believe God is doing in the six days of Creation.
So, Genesis 1 is a world before there was a world—with a pre-Adamic race in it, many times they argue. And then verse 2 is a description of the world that got wrecked because Satan fell somewhere in between the end of verse 1 and the beginning of verse 2. And then God starts to fix what got broken in verse 3 all the way through the Creation week.
Let me just give you a few reasons why I don’t think the gap theory is right. For one thing, there is a Hebrew construction here. I won’t bore you with all the grammar, but track that Hebrew construction used in verse 2. What the gap theory people want you to believe is “the earth became.” Why do they want it to read “the earth became”? Because Satan fell and wrecked it.
The problem is, when you track that same Hebrew construction all the way through, it never is used to say something “became.” It is used in Jonah 3:3, “Now Nineveh was.” The gap theory people want you to believe it says, “the earth became,” and that’s not what that construction ever means—ever—anywhere else in the Bible—whether it’s Jonah 3:3, Judges 8:11, or anywhere else.
Number two. They want you to believe TOHU and BOHU means “ruined”; it went through some kind of violent problem of judgment as a result of Satan’s fall. And I’ve already shown you some evidence that TOHU and BOHU can mean that elsewhere, but that’s not what it means here. It just means “empty.” Unformed, unfilled, blank canvas, marble, clay—it just hasn’t been shaped yet.
Number three. They like to go to Jeremiah 4:23 where TOHU and BOHU does mean “judgment.” In fact, if you’re a reader of the old Scofield Bible, that’s what the Scofield Bible says. I love the Scofield Bible, but you have to understand that the Scofield Bible was written in 1900 right after Charles Darwin came out with his On the Origin of Species. And the Christian church at that time was trying to accommodate early Genesis to Darwin; it was an explanation for the fossils, which to them looked old.
So they say, “Well, those fossils came into existence between the end of verse 1 and the beginning of verse 2.” And, essentially, the problem is TOHU and BOHU has many different meanings. Yes, it can mean violence or judgment somewhere else. But that’s not what it means in Genesis 1:2; it simply means “unformed and unfilled.”
Look at how the context is different between Genesis 1 and Jeremiah 4. One is the original Creation; one is future judgment. One is this time period where God is calling everything good; Jeremiah 4 is a time period where things are not good. Genesis 1 concerns the entire earth; Jeremiah 4 concerns the land of Israel. Genesis 1 is looking backward; Jeremiah 4 is a prophecy looking forward. Genesis 1—we don’t have humans yet; Jeremiah 4—we have surviving humans.
See, words can mean many different things depending on their context. Take the word “apple,” for example. Think of all of the meanings that could be generated from the word “apple.” Is it New York, the Big Apple? Is it a computer? Is it a piece of fruit? Is it the apple of my eye? And if I’m reading a text and I see the word “apple,” how would I know what meaning to supply? Any answers?
What are the three rules of real estate? Location, location, location. What are the three rules of Bible study? Context, context, context. Jeremiah 4 is a totally different context.
The gap theory makes a big deal about the word “replenish.” Genesis 1:28 says, “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth…” “Oh, why are they replenishing it? Because it got wrecked with Satan’s fall.” But the problem is, that Hebrew word doesn’t mean “refill”; it just means “to fill.” In fact, that Hebrew word is used in Genesis 1:22. It just means “to fill”; it doesn’t mean “to refill.”
“Now, wait a minute, Pastor. You’re stepping on my toes because I’ve got the King James Bible, and the King James Bible says ‘replenish.’ ” Well, you have to look at the Elizabethan English in which the King James Bible was translated. When they added an “re” prefix, it didn’t mean “again”; it meant “intensification.” Like when I say, “I’m going to do some re-search.” Does that mean I’m searching again—a second time? No, it means I’m searching intently. So the word “refill” shouldn’t throw you on this.
Beyond that, look at certain passages like Genesis 2:3-4 and Exodus 20:8-11. Exodus 20:11 says that God made the world in six days! It does not say, “God renovated the world in six days.” It does not say, “God fixed what got broken in six days.”
By the way, as you go through the Creation days, what does it keep saying over and over again? It keeps saying, “it was good.” That’s the Hebrew word TOV. So, when you go to Israel… Notice, I said not “if” you go to Israel, but “when” you go to Israel because you’re going to be reigning there for a thousand years in the Millennial Kingdom. So, you might as well go over a little early and get the lay of the land.
You can just wow everybody when you get off the plane and say, “Boker tov.” TOV is “good” and BOKER is “morning,” “Good morning.” Now, you may know nothing else about the Hebrew language, but you will sway the masses in Israel simply by saying this.
It’s the word TOV that just keeps saying “good.” Day 1? It was good. Day 2? It was good. Day 3? It was good. Right down to Day 6! And then God finally says that it’s not just “good.” It’s what? It’s “very good!” Now, does that sound like a world that needed to be fixed because it got broken? That is not a renovation project.
By the way, this slide is the gap theorist’s interpretation of the Garden of Eden. It’s a garden put on top of a fossil record that Satan wrecked. And God says “it’s very good”?
Beyond that, the Bible is very clear that all sin and chaos came into existence through whose sin? Who brought the calamities that we see in our world into our world through original sin? What was that man’s name? Adam.
God said, “You eat from the tree of knowledge—you’ll die.” First Corinthians 15:22, death came by a man, Adam. Through one man death and sin spread to all men. In fact, the world itself is groaning because of Adam’s sin. Did you wake up this morning groaning? “Ohhhh….the alarm clock!” And if you have to go to work tomorrow (Monday), you’ll be groaning tomorrow. And the reason you’re groaning and the reason you’re tired is because Adam’s sin brought groaning to the whole creation. Therefore, how could you explain the fall of Satan wrecking everything when Adam didn’t even exist yet? See that? Adam is not even on the scene yet! He is not even on the scene until Day 6.
By the way, the gap theory people have two floods. You say to them, “Do you believe in a global Flood?” They’ll say, “Yes—which one are you speaking of?” Because they think Satan’s fall between verse 1 and verse 2 caused flood one. And then there’s Noah’s Flood later. The Bible knows of no “two” floods. Every time the flood is ever mentioned—whether it’s in Matthew 24, 1 Peter 3, 2 Peter 2, 2 Peter 3—it’s never connected with some “flood before the flood.” There’s one Flood: the Noahic Flood. And it was so severe, as we’ll talk about, that God promised, via the rainbow, that He would never do it again.
Some of you are groaning right now with all of this information. The gap theory doesn’t even breathe in church history as a popular theory until post-Darwin. So what you have to understand is Darwin came out with his On the Origin of Species in 1859. He said, “Everything is old.” Darwinists have a holy trinity. We have a holy Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) which we accept by faith. Darwinists have a holy trinity— time, randomness, and matter.
If you don’t have time, you don’t have Darwinism. Darwinists said, “There are vast ages of time.” The Christian church said, “We don’t know what we’re going to do with this. I know what we’ll do! We’ll sing the song, ‘Backward Christian Soldier.’ ” So the Christian church started to back up and started to rewrite the Bible to keep up with Darwin. That’s where the gap theory comes from.
Thank God for Henry Morris and John Whitcomb who came out with their book The Genesis Flood (1961). They said, “This is ridiculous. We are not going to keep re-writing the Bible to keep up with pagan scientists. What we’re going to do is go in and challenge so-called ‘science.’ ” First Timothy 6:20 talks about “science falsely called,” science masquerading as a philosophy.
So, they went out and they challenged carbon-14 dating. They challenged the “missing link.” They said the missing link is still what? Still missing. And they reversed the strategy. One was a credentialed scientist (Morris), the other a credentialed Hebrew scholar (Whitcomb), and they reversed the strategy.
So we don’t have any need to go back to the gap theory! The gap theory is an old, outdated strategy that’s no longer needed. We don’t have to do “Backward Christian Soldier” anymore; we have the young-earth creation movement that can show you how the findings of science, rightfully interpreted, harmonize with the Bible.
Then, the last problem with the gap theory is that the gap theory basically wants you to believe that man came on the scene very late. So most of earth’s history has already transpired by the time you get to Genesis 1:2. And Adam doesn’t even come onto the scene until long later in the Creation week—which they take as a renovation week. And may I just say to you, “That is not what your Bible teaches.”
Your Bible does not teach that the cosmos existed for billions of years before Adam climbed out of the primordial soup. That is not what the Bible teaches! Jesus Himself said that Adam existed from the beginning. He says that in Matthew 19:4; He says the same thing in Mark 10:6. If you believe this idea that somehow there’s some vast age of time and Adam shows up very late in the game, that’s not what the Bible teaches!
The Bible teaches that man existed from the beginning. Now, he had to wait six days before he came out of the earth, but six days is not a very long time. As early as you make the Creation, that’s the same early date you have to assign to the existence of Adam—or you’re just not being biblically faithful. And there’s a lot of people out there that just have no problem taking white out and erasing this part of the Bible—and erasing that part of the Bible. I’m here to tell you, folks, I’m not going to do that! Because you’re tampering with the very foundation upon which Christianity is built.
The more heated up I get, the more I want to preach, and the more the clock is telling me to stop. So, let’s pray.
“Father, we’re grateful for Genesis chapter 1. I pray that You will make us very good stewards of this very important part of Your Word. Help us not to be compromisers in the last days.
We know, Father, that You are the great Creator. And one of the things that You create is You put new life into our souls. We call that the new birth. In fact, we become new creatures in Christ Jesus. And the only way that can happen is if we hear the gospel and we trust in it.
And as You know, Father, the gospel that You’ve given us is that Jesus did everything in our place. He paid the full penalty for our sins. He rose from the dead. He ascended back to the right hand of the Father, and He simply says to “trust in the work that I have done for you. Don’t trust in yourself. Don’t trust in your own religion. Trust in what I have done for you.”
And that’s something, Father, that’s so simple that we can express that right now in our hearts even as I’m speaking. We just trust what You’ve done. Anybody who has never done that within the sound of my voice, I just pray right now that the Holy Spirit will place them under conviction so that they might see their need to trust in the Savior. And as they do that, Lord, we have that tremendous promise that we become new creatures in Christ Jesus. We become as much of a new creation in Christ as we’re studying here in Genesis 1—something out of nothing—the new birth.
So, for anybody who has never done that, I just pray now that the Spirit would convict them; that they would do that now and seal their eternity as a child of God. I also pray, Lord, that if anybody has questions about this, that they would seek someone out in this service. I’ll be available here at the front.
We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory for this great work of making us new creatures in Christ. We’ll be careful to give You all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name.” And God’s people said, “Amen.”