Lessons for Life From the Old Testament No.1: In the Beginning God Created
God's great creation - Mkuze Sunset
In the beginning God created Genesis 1:1-2:3
The first question we need to ask and answer is why study the Old Testament since we have a New and better covenant in the New Testament. (Hebrews 9:15) It would be difficult to improve the Apostle Paul’s reason as stated in Romans 15:4 “For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.”(N.I.V.)
It is always good to start in the beginning and so that is exactly where we will go. The first three chapters of the Bible really lay the foundation for what is to come. Unfortunately this section is usually only studied in Bible School Classes for the youngsters, and that is a pity. The basic principles stated here are referred to often by the New Testament writers and even by Jesus; and so we can still benefit from them. It will also help us to understand the rest of the Bible better.
The creation of our world in Genesis 1:1-2:2 is one of the really beautiful works of literature even if its deep spiritual meaning is removed. You only need to compare it to other ancient accounts that record this event to realize that as we start reading the Old Testament we have something special and even unique.
Two thoughts stand out as we read this account. The first is that “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:17) Now we all know that God is spirit and so thinking about what God looks like in physical terms can be discounted immediately. As we go through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation all the descriptions of God, and there are many, are representations that tell us something about God and especially about his character.
Jesus however makes this amazing statement when he says; “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.” (John14:9) It would then appear that because God and Jesus are one and if we see Jesus we also see God. So if we want to rediscover our created quality we can do so in the recreation and rebirth that Jesus was referring to when he spoke to Nicodemus in John 3:3;."Unless a person is born again they cannot see the Kingdom of God".
God’s spiritual character is however revealed over and over again in the Old and New Testaments. These revealed facts about God is that he is spirit, love, merciful, and just; just to mention a few. There characteristics of God must be balanced with the other side of God and that is that he requires obedience and respect, and always has our good interests at heart. Here the Father God comes into the picture. Because he created us with the potential to display in this world everything that he is, he continues to work with us and never gives up.
The second thought that comes to mind is that what God created was very good. (1:31) Sometimes as we look at this world we fail to see much good in it. Every now and then however we see a light shining out of the darkness that re-affirms our view of the goodness of the creation. As we were “put in charge” of caring for the world and living in the image of our creator it depends on us as God’s representative in the world to in a sense continue to create a world that is very good. Yes, we often fail, and that is the story that follows in the rest of these early chapters. At the same time we have the potential to be different and make a difference.
The caring side of God comes through again in what happened on the seventh day. God blessed this day and declared it holy. (Genesis 2:2/3) This speaks of the concern of a loving God who cares for his creation and also recognizes our need to be expressing the spiritual yearning in our hearts. If we were simply animals we would not have a universal need to worship God. Created however in the image of God, who is spirit, it is that inherent spiritual self that calls out to our Creator in prayer and seeks his guidance.
The third fact that leaps out at us in the creation is that it is not good for man to be alone, so God creates a helper to fulfil that need. Every Adam needs an Eve and so God creates a perfect combination, a man and a woman leaving their parents and becoming one flesh in the marriage relationship (Matthew 19:5)
And finally Genesis clearly teaches that God created a world of beauty but also one that is governed by law. There are natural laws such as gravity and motion and spiritual laws such as love and forgiveness. Break laws of nature or those of the spiritual world at your own peril. Hate and violence brings punishment. Love and forgiveness bring its inherent rewards.
Our journey through the Old Testament has just begun, but as we look at the very roots of our existence we can see that we are not left to find our own way on this difficult and challenging journey of life. The Word of God is really our “user manual” as we travel through life. Spending some time even in this first chapter and a few verses in the next, already gives us some direction and helps us to understand not only where we came from, but also who we are and why we are here. God bless you, and remember you are created in the image of God!