The OT Gospel: Genesis 1

The OT Gospel: Genesis 1

Passage: Genesis 1
Service Type:
Introduction: What is the OT Gospel Series?
  • Apprenticeship. 2 months me, 1 month Nelson.
  • For this first stretch, I wanted to do a new series on the OT because 1) that's been the focus of my studies and 2) the OT shows how God engages with society, people, foreign relationships, justice and all that.
  • I also realize that the OT is sometimes a bit hard to understand as it deals with people who live far away and long long time ago. They saw the world differently, had a different culture, values, and ways to express themselves - so sometimes we read the OT and go, "Huh? Yep, file this passage under 'Does not apply in 2021.'"
    • But it does apply to today. In fact, the OT was Jesus and the apostles' Bible and their source of revelation about who God is, what God demands of us, and the good news of God.
  • At the same time, the OT isn't always DIRECT about what is right and wrong. It uses a lot of stories and leaves it up to us to figure it out.
    • We often see biblical figures like Joseph, David, or Moses with rose colored glasses and assume that everything they do is right. But are they really perfect saints?
    • The OT requires us to judge, think critically about, and reflect on these figures, see ourselves in them, learn from their mistakes, learn from God's responses
  • So, we're going to dig into the OT over the next 10 weeks and find the good news that is buried inside. And we're going to start with the most famous passage of all... Genesis 1.
 Background on Genesis 1
  • Genesis 1 is just one of those texts that we all know and are probably very very familiar with, but don’t really know what to do with. Yes, God created the world. Yes, it happened in seven days. Yes, creation is good.
    • It tells us about God’s power, but does it tell us anything about who God is? Does it tell us how to live in 2021?
    • My answer is Yes, but we need to do a little digging and imagining.
  • It's like Hebrew poetry, it's figurative
    • The writers didn't have scientific minds, so we can't expect this chapter to explain things scientifically like we often prefer today.
    • They were just explaining things according to how they saw the world
      • For example, they believed that there was a dome in the sky (1:6) and in the "great sea monsters" (1:20)
  • We know it's figurative because it doesn't make sense logically
    • It goes by days, but the sun/moon to track days don't appear until day 4.
  • It is organized by day and with the repeated phrases "and there was evening and there was morning, the ___ day" and "and God saw that it was good."
  • The best analogy of what is going on is this passage is about the difference between a HOUSE and a HOME.
    • HGTV… you see shells of homes, run down, mold everywhere... it's not livable
    • And then the hosts joyfully sledge hammer the walls and by the end of the episode, it's a brand new home!
Formless and Void
  • Let’s focus on 1:2 and what the world was like in the beginning
  • If we can imagine what the world was like, then we can imagine why what God does is so significant.
  • In Hebrew, it says the earth or land was formless and void (tohu and bohu, it rhymes!) and water covered the face of the deep
    • What does it mean for something to be formless and void?
    • How do you draw formless and void?
      • Picture 1: Scribble of Earth
      • Picture 2: Interstellar Blackhole
        • It’s actually quite a pretty picture.
        • It is a star that is so dense that it sucks in the light around it - hence black hole.
        • A black hole is one of the strangest things in the universe where the laws of physics and reality gets all wonky.
        • If you get sucked into one, you actually become two yous: one will get stretched out and eventually burned to a crisp; the other will sail peacefully through.
        • Both realities are true.
      • Picture 3: Flood
        • Back then, the people thought that the waters were a source of chaos and death. It is a wild place where the sea monsters lived.
        • If you've ever swam over a part of the ocean where you can't see the bottom, you kind of know this feeling. You look down and you are in awe of the deep. You don't know what's down there. You don't know if anything's coming at you.
        • If you've ever seen those Deadliest Catch videos, you know that the ocean can be quite wrathful and unpredictable. Waves crashing, throwing people overboard, shaking the boat.
        • So you can see why the sea is a fearsome thing.
        • Fast forward to Revelation 21:1 the new heaven and new earth has no sea.
  • The picture we have, is a place that is completely unlivable. It is scary, uncontrollable, and unknown. It is chaosand darkness.
Our Formless and Void
  • Maybe those pictures seem a bit unrelatable. Maybe you can connect better with these other forms of formless and void.
  • Picture 1: Desert Wasteland - The land is dry, nothing can grow. If you're a farmer, you know that a drought is death.
  • Picture 2: Ocean pollution - Our plastic trash is killing the oceans. Between Hawaii and California lies The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It's a field of floating garbage that is 3x the size of France that has 1.8 trillion pieces of plastic in it, just swirling about.
  • Picture 3: Destroyed City - This is a picture of a town after an earthquake. Rubble, destruction, death.
  • Picture 4: War - War destroys cities, separates, and kills people. Human vs. human darkness.
  • Picture 5: Internal & Relational Pain - depression, heartbreak, traumas, wounds, fears, anxieties, bullying, family dysfunction, divorce, and death.
  • These too are formless, void, chaos, and darkness.
  • So, when Genesis 1 talks about how the world was formless and void, it is a mirror to the reality of a broken world.
    • These are the things that keep us from living life in its abundance.
    • Jesus said that he came to bring abundant life, but so much junk stands in the way.
 So, what did God do?
  • So, what does God do?
    • Picture1: God turns the formless void into something  earth
    • Picture 2: God calms the raging chaos and makes life livable  land, fruit, mountains
  • And this is the good news of Genesis 1: God desires to and is able to bring life out of chaos and darkness. Specifically, bring truth, beauty, and goodness out of the chaos.
    • No matter what is going on in our lives or in the world, we can rest in our Creator God.
How did God do it?
  • The first thing God does is create light. What does light do? It creates distinction. It separates light from darkness. It is really important for us to have light.
  • EXAMPLE: A few years ago, Nelson, me, Joelle, and a few others went hiking to watch the lava.
    • It was like a few hours into the forest, and another hour on the lava fields, but we didn't get there until like 3pm. So by the time we got to the other side it was starting to get dark. There was a point where I remember looking back at the forest and thinking, "Oh my gosh. Everything looks the same and it's getting dark." And when it finally did get dark, I was really nervous about finding my way through the forest again. We were really unprepared. I was wearing basketball shoes and we only had our little cell phone flashlights.
    • Luckily there was a group of Canadians with extra flashlights and they guided us out.
      • Without light, everything looks the same
      • Without light, we wouldn't be able to find our way out
      • Without light, we're stuck
  • Light lets us see things, name things, and define them. We can say this is good, this is healthy, this is dangerous, this is toxic.
    • There is a power in being able to name and define things.
    • By being able to name and define something, we have some sort of control.
      • For example: I know nothing about cars. My sun visor broke about 10 years ago and we didn't fix it until last week. Why not? Because in my mind it was a complicated matter: we needed authentic parts, we need to open up the top of my car. I didn't know how to do it and didn't want to pay the dealership to do it.
        • And then I saw a YouTube video that showed me that all I needed to do was pop a little thing open, unscrew the old one, and screw in the new one.
        • That video shed LIGHT onto my problem, its complexity and chaos is gone.
      • Another example: Growing up, my dad died, but I could not NAME how this has affected me. I feel like with each class in seminary, I get another puzzle piece. By being able to name how my dad's death affected me, I know how to grow.
    • By seeing things for what they are, we are able to order our world and lives around so that we can begin to live.
  • Second: God reorders & provides
    • We see this when God starts to gather the waters together and placing the sun and moon in the sky to keep time
    • God also speaks and brings forth plants for food. It’s like a self-perpetuating, continually life-giving system that God set in place.
    • Without these things, no person can survive.
    • Creation is salvation.
    • So, when we look out the windows and see Pu'uwa'awa'a (cupcake hill), the fields, forests, beaches, and all... Genesis 1 tells us that God made this FOR us.
    • Provision: And God continues to do this for us today in many ways. Many of us probably have a story or two about how God has provided for us – whether it is for outreach fees, cars, or plane tickets. Maybe it is through a friend showing up at the right time.
    • Reordering: Many of us have probably said “My life is a mess.”
      • This could be a financial mess, a spiritual mess, a relational mess, or you’ve simply got too much going on.
      • And then along comes someone who helps you untangle all of that and you can live again.
      • I remember a time when Joelle and I first got married and we were fighting about something, I don’t remember what. We went to dinner with Heinz, the former pastor of this church, and he just gave a simple analogy about bread making that made all the difference. It untangled our mess.
  • Third: God makes a people in God's image
    • We’re going to be talking more about this next week when we get into Genesis 2.
    • But we are image bearers of God. This means that we continue God’s work.
    • On a basic level, meaning creation, this means that we are to help God’s planet and system for producing life keep going.
      • It’s so fruitful. We see this in Hawaii a lot and our church. If we don’t take care of lawn or the bushes, they very quickly become overgrown. We’re always about a week away from becoming a jungle.
      • Yet, as we saw with all those pollution pictures, our actions as humans are harming God’s system for bringing life.
      • That’s why we’ve got to be better at simple things like minimizing our purchases (it takes gas to get our stuff from Amazon!), recycling, and reusing things.
    • But on a deeper level…
  • Fourth: We are called to create: give light, order, and provision for the world
    • Another way to continue God’s creation by giving light, order, and provision to others in need. In other words: CREATE.
    • We can think about people that don’t have access to clean water.
    • We can think about people whose inner life is broken and disordered.
    • We can think about roads that need to be built, cities that need to be repaired, or laws that need to change.
    • We can think about those who have health issues or those who are in abusive relationships.
    • We can think about those who do not know they are children of God.
    • God calls us to enter into the suffering of the world and each other and create something in their lives so that they can live and live the abundant life that Jesus wants to give.
Conclusion - Sabbath
  • And this story ends with God resting on the seventh day. And that why we try to observe a Sabbath and have a day where we don’t work.
  • We typically usually think that God rests because “everything is finished.”
    • We typically rest because we think God wants us to maintain a healthy rhythm of work and enjoying the fruit of that work.
  • But after all we’ve talked about, it’s more like “everything is perfect, everything is right.”
    • So, the Sabbath points us forward to a day when we all the world’s problems are resolved…When God and God’s people are done creating and can simply rest and enjoy the fruits of this world.
    • So, our “not working one day” is actually a prophetic act that one day all the chaos, darkness, and formlessness is done away with.
    • It gives us a glimpse, a taste of that day and stirs our longing for God to move around us, in us, and through us.
  • So, today as we rest. Let us remember what God has done, is doing, and wants to do in this world.

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