Genesis 1:1 - 2:3
✠ In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit ✠
I’m sure you noticed how long today’s Old Testament reading was. So much of it repeats! And yet in this account, and precisely in the repeating, the Lord is teaching and telling us something very important. Particularly in today’s decaying culture, we dare not zip through the creation narrative as if it’s unimportant or because we’ve heard it all before. For it is increasingly relevant to some very fundamental issues that our society is grappling with today.
One of the things that gets repeated is the phrase, “It was good.” “And God saw that it was good.” “And indeed, it was very good.” What’s being described there? This material world that God made, and particularly our physical, earthly bodies that He fashioned and formed. That’s no minor thing for us to recognize and confess. For that is precisely what the world is rejecting and distorting and corrupting.
Here’s how the world is doing that. As it drifts away from belief in an Almighty Creator, it increasingly embraces the old spiritualist pagan notions that divide body and soul and that denigrate our physical natures as something lesser or lower than the spirit. This type of thinking even infects us Christians, where we tend to think of body and soul as two separate and independent things, when they’re not. To put it simply, the soul is the unique life of a particular bodily person. In fact in the NT, the word for soul can also be translated as “life.” Only death rips body and life, body and soul apart in the most unnatural of occurrences. And so it’s not like in the movies where the spirit of one person can inhabit the body of another, or anything like that; that’s not how it works. There aren’t little souls up in heaven waiting to jump down into a body during pregnancy. No, the soul is the unique life of a particular body, both of which God creates as one at conception, and which He described in the beginning as good. Only the awful curse of sin and death tears asunder the flesh and spirit that God has joined together.
This is important to remember, because then we will avoid the foolish thinking which says, “My outward behavior and actions don’t have much eternal significance. It’s what’s on the inside, not the body but the soul that matters.” This is how people can continuously conduct themselves one way with their bodies, avoiding church or acting sinfully in some way, and then still claim to be very spiritual and have faith in God in their hearts. They really think that body and spirit can be separated like that. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can willfully and continuously engage bodily in sinful deeds, or willfully refrain from doing bodily good, and somehow that has nothing to do with your heart and your spirit and your faith. That’s just justifying sin and demeaning God’s created gift of your body.
This sort of pagan thinking has so infected our culture that some supposedly smart people actually talk about gender and one’s biological sex as if they’re two different things, as if a man can be trapped in a female body, or vice versa. How ridiculous! As if you can be one gender in your spirit and a different sex biologically, as if you can have a mismatched body and soul! Your gender is not based on some feeling or preference that you have, but on the body that God created; it’s as straightforward as that. “Male and female He created them.” This doesn’t come from within us; it’s given to us from outside of us. To say otherwise is to reject one’s Creator and to engage in unbelief and the idolatry of the self. It is to say that what God created is not good, not right.
Now, to be sure, humanity’s fall into sin has corrupted all of creation. And so, too, our maleness or femaleness that God created as good can be corrupted and distorted, and this can show itself even in biological ways in very rare cases. But those effects of the curse–which must be handled with great compassion–they don’t undo the fundamental truth, reflected even in our DNA, that God created us male and female, and only male or female–there’s not 3 or 10 or 30 options like the world is trying to put forth. The answer to the curse of sin as it affects our bodies and souls is not to embrace the curse and call it good, but to seek deliverance from the curse by God’s mercy.
And of course, it needs to be said that this also applies to homosexual behavior. Only those who deny the Creator and the goodness of His bodily creation, who reject male and female as foundational to a God-given sexual union, can support same-sex relationships. Only a person who rejects the Creator’s words, “Be fruitful and multiply” can call gay marriage good, for by its very nature it is sterile and cannot be fruitful or produce life–and not because of age or a health defect, but by its very nature. Only male and female together form the completeness of what humanity is, both biologically and theologically. Even if someone feels same-sex attraction as a natural thing for whatever reason, that doesn’t change matters. For we are all naturally inclined to sinful desires of some sort, from greed to lust to gluttony to envy to selfish pride. Just because a desire comes naturally doesn’t mean it’s good or that we should embrace it; we must, each and every one of us, repent of such things. To be sure, we should deal with all people without hatred and with compassion and love. But it’s not an act of compassion to condone and accept someone’s sin. That doesn’t help them. That’s certainly not the way of real love. God’s love rather calls us all to turn away from our sins, whatever they are, and turn to Him. For His desire is to deliver us from the death that sin brings and to give us His life forever.
And the creation account is all about how God gives His life to us. First, note how God goes about creating. He doesn’t start with pre-existing stuff. Rather, He calls things into existence by the power of His Word. “Thy strong Word did cleave the darkness; at Thy speaking, it was done.” “Let there be light,” and there was light. There’s the second thing that keeps getting repeated in this account. God speaks again and again, saying “Let there be . . .” God brings life to creation by His Word. So it was in the beginning; so it has been all throughout history, and so it is still to this very day–it’s all the power of the Word.
Interestingly, the Gospel of John in the New Testament begins just like Genesis, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. Through Him all things were made.” The Word is Jesus, the Word made Flesh. Through the living Word of His Son, God created everything out of nothing. The Word, the Son of God, is powerful and creative. He brings about what He says. All creatures owe their existence to Christ the Word, whether they know Him or not. In fact, it is written in Colossians 1 that not only were all things created through the Son of God but that in Him all things hold together still. Jesus is the Logos (to use the Greek word); He is the logic, the wisdom of the universe. The Laws of nature, the intricate complexities of the smallest strand of DNA to the largest galaxy, the beauty and the orderliness and the liveliness of creation all find their source in Jesus. This is why we hold so firmly to the biblical account of creation and the way our Maker has ordered things. It’s an essential part of our faith; in the end it’s all about Jesus. To reject the Creator is also to reject the Savior. Creation is not a separate topic from the Gospel of Christ. Christ is intimately involved in creation right from the start. And the Gospel is all about how Jesus takes His good creation, which is now thoroughly infected with sin and death because of man’s fall, and how He makes all things new, how He brings about the new creation in Himself.
The living Word of God, the eternal Son of the Father, became flesh in order to redeem His fallen creation and restore mankind to life. Jesus became a part of His own creation Himself in order to renew it. As your flesh and blood brother, He took your place under judgment and was held accountable for your sins. Just as all creation groans under the curse with earthquakes and hurricanes and droughts and fires and the like, so Jesus groaned and breathed His last for you on the cross to break the curse of death and to free you from your bondage to decay and destruction. The shed blood of Christ cleanses you and renews you and puts you right with the Father again.
And the creation account itself foretells and foreshadows this saving work of Christ. For there’s something else that keeps getting repeated every day in this narrative. Notice how the days are marked: it’s not morning and then evening the way we usually think of it, but first evening and then morning–evening and morning, the first day; evening and morning, the second day, and so on. First it’s darkness, then it’s light. First it’s the shadow of death, then it’s the light of life. Jesus dies in the darkness of Good Friday to subdue creation, and then He rises at the dawn of Easter on the first day of the week to be the Light of the world, to put an end to death and to bring about a new creation. With fallen humanity, it’s first you live, and then you die. Light then darkness. But with Christ it’s darkness then light; first death, then the resurrection of the body to life everlasting.
Man was created on the sixth day, and then God rested on the seventh. It’s the same way with Jesus, the new Adam. Man was redeemed and recreated on the 6th day of the week, Good Friday. He then rested in the tomb on the seventh day, having finished His work of redemption. And He rose again to bring about an eternal eighth day, a day of unending light and life. The Scriptures say that in the new creation there will be no night. For the Lord God will be its light at all times, and the Lamb will be its lamp. We will need no rest; for He Himself is our rest and our peace. In Jesus the image of God is restored to us. In Jesus our lost humanity is given back to us, and we are made fully human again, prepared soul and body to live in the joys of God’s presence.
That’s what the new creation will be, a real, tangible, bodily, renewed world where God Himself dwells with His people. If material things have no eternal significance, then why would Jesus share in our flesh and blood, die in the flesh, and then rise bodily, even now still being fully human at the right hand of the Father? It’s because the body is good, and Jesus came to redeem us entirely. Salvation is not being delivered out of this creation. It’s for all things to be made new, for creation to be restored through Christ. You see how that puts a different perspective on our life in this world? Our physical lives have great meaning, for God created us to in His image, to be His icons, His presence in the world, to have dominion over creation as His instruments, to continue to set things in order and to bring His life and His self-giving to others. Remember what’s going to happen at the close of this age: it’s not that we’re going to go to heaven and leave material things behind. It’s that heaven is going to come to us. God will dwell with us, visibly in all His glory, and we shall be His people. That renewing, life-giving presence of our Lord is what makes the new creation what it is.
And you have a very real taste of the Lord’s presence right here and now. For the creative Word of God is still speaking, saying, “Be still and know that I am God.” “I forgive you all your sins.” “This is My body; this is my blood given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” And by that Word, the bread actually is His body and the wine actually is His blood, that you may be cleansed and filled with His life and light. Cling to the Word; believe it that you may receive its blessing. For only the Word of Christ can recreate you and put you back in order again. It is written, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.” “Then God saw everything that He had made in Christ, and indeed it was very good.”
✠ In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit ✠