170611 Genesis 1:1-2:3

Last Updated on Monday, 12 June 2017 Written by Pastor Pagels

Text: Genesis1:1-2:3
Theme: The Origins Of Intelligent Design

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, dear friends:

ID. Put those two letters together and they mean different things to different people. If you have a pen pal in Boise, you probably recognize ID as the postal abbreviation for Idaho. If you are looking to buy a bottle of wine at the grocery store, the checkout person might ask for some ID. In that case, ID stands for identification.

In recent years the letters "ID" have become associated with something else, a movement in the scientific community known as intelligent design. At the risk of oversimplification intelligent design is the assertion that certain features of the universe and living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection (a theory that is consistent with evolution and widely accepted by the scientific establishment).

The beginnings of the modern Intelligent Design movement can be traced back to the 1980s, but the term itself is actually much older. It can be found in an 1847 issue of Scientific American, and ironically it appeared in a letter written by Charles Darwin in 1861.

We aren't here today to debate the claims made by the proponents of intelligent design. We don't need to argue about how and when the movement began...because we already know. It began in the beginning, the beginning of the Bible, the beginning of history, the beginning of the world. Only God was present at creation, and in the opening verses of Genesis he tells us everything we need to know about...


I. The design of the Creator
II. The design of his creation

"In the beginning God..." (1:1). This is how the Creator introduces himself to us in the opening words of the Bible. He doesn't explain where he came from. He doesn't try to justify his existence. With these four words Moses (the inspired author of Genesis) asks the reader to simply accept the fact that God is.

Before Moses said anything else he drew attention to one of God's divine attributes. God is eternal. He was present when the world began. He was present before the world began. He always was, always is, always will be.

Moses expands on this thought in the only psalm that is attributed to him, Psalm 90: "Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God" (90:1, 2). The fact that God is literally older than the hills is proof that he is eternal. The fact that God made the mountains and everything else in the world proves that he is all-powerful.

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (1:1). It wasn't a big bang. It wasn't a process that took millions and millions of years. According to the Bible, it was God who created the heavens and earth. Instantly. Immediately. Powerfully. And the only tool he needed to get the job done was his Word.

God said: "Let there be light" (1:3), and there was light. He said: "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water" (1:6), and there was sky. He said: "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear" (1:9), and the waters immediately obeyed his command.

You get the point. You can point to the plants and the planets, the fish and the birds, Adam and Eve. You can point to anything that was created on any of the six days of creation and see the evidence of God's awesome power. But don't let the sheer might of the Almighty keep you from recognizing something else creation tells us about its Creator, and that is that God is wise.

God is the intelligent designer of the universe, and with all the advances in medicine and science in the last century, we are only beginning to discover how intelligent God is. The more we learn about the human body, the more we appreciate the words of David who said: "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14). The more we learn about the heavenly bodies, the more we appreciate the words of Psalm 104: "How many are your works, O LORD! In wisdom you made them all" (24).

God tells us so many things about himself in the opening chapter of Genesis, but we haven't covered everything yet. This text was chosen specifically for Trinity Sunday because in this chapter God also reveals that he is triune. The truth may not be stated as clearly as it is in today's gospel lesson where Jesus tells his disciples to "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19), but it's there.

It's embedded in the name, "God," which appears over thirty times in the creation account. The Hebrew word for "God" is plural, implying that the God of the Bible is no ordinary God. We find additional evidence in something God said just before he created Adam. God said: "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness (1:26).

It's one thing to see the Trinity in the plural form of nouns and pronouns. It's another thing to see the Triune God at work in creation. Moses tells us that the Spirit of God was there in the beginning, "hovering over the waters" (1:2).

The gospel writer John tells us that Jesus was there too, but this Son was not sitting off to the side watching his Father work. John writes: "In the beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made" (John 1:1-3).

In the Apostles' Creed we confess: "I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker heaven and earth." We believe that, but we don't believe that God the Father acted independently. Creation was a cooperative act of the one true God, the triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We've talked about God quite a bit already this morning. He is eternal and powerful and wise. He is three persons in one God. But we haven't talked about God's most important attribute yet, the fact that God is love. The good news is that we don't have to look very far to find it. We can see the evidence of God's goodness already in the design of God's creation.

If you are looking for a new or different way to study this account, read the first chapter of Genesis a few times in a row and see how many different patterns emerge. For one thing, you will be amazed by the orderliness of creation.

After God's first creative act the earth was "formless and void," but that didn't last long. In the first three days of creation God gave form to what had been formless. First he created light, which every living thing needs to live. Then he made the atmosphere so his creatures could breathe. Then he made dry land appear so his creatures would have somewhere to stand. Then he made the plants and trees to provide his creatures with food.

And when that was done, once creation had its form, God filled the void. He placed the sun and moon and stars in the heavens. He made birds to fill the skies and fish to fill the seas. He filled the earth with all kinds of animals, and last but not least God created man, the crown of his creation, to take care of it all.

Another pattern that emerges is a phrase that is repeated several times. After God made the plants and trees, after he made the fish and birds, after he made the livestock and the wild animals and all the creatures that move along the ground, he gave each of them the ability to reproduce "according to their kinds."

It almost seems like God was anticipating that someone would come up with an alternative explanation for "the origin of species," and so he repeated the same words over and over to make a point, to make it clear that birds make birds and bees make bees. That's the way it works now, and according to God that's the way it has been working from the beginning.

The most intriguing pattern is another phrase that Moses sprinkles throughout the chapter. In six days he reports six different times that what God made was "good." And at the end of the sixth day, when God was finished with his creation, he concluded that it was "very good" (1:31). Nothing was lacking. Everything was perfect.

But when we look at the same world today, we don't see the same thing. When we look at God's creation, it doesn't look so good anymore. Instead of perfection, we see pollution. Instead of peace and harmony, we see hatred and hostility. We see God's creatures defying their Creator. We see God's creatures denying the existence of a Creator. We see sin everywhere, and we even see sin in here.

It's not God's fault. We can't blame Adam and Eve either. They were the first ones to fall for the serpent's lies, but we want to believe them too. We want to believe that we are wise. We want to believe that we are in control. We want to believe that eating a little forbidden fruit once in a while won't hurt anything, but it does. In fact, it kills.

Sin ruined God's perfect creation. Sin ruins our relationship with a perfect God. We can't change that. We can't undo what has been done, but we still have hope. There is hope for us because of one perfect act of love performed on our behalf. You won't be able to find it by looking into a microscope or staring at the stars. The only place you can find this love is in the pages of Scripture.

In the Bible God doesn't just tell us that he loves us. He showed us how much he loves us: "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins" (1 John 4:10). God was willing to give up his most precious possession. Jesus was willing to give up his life to save us from eternal death. Because he loves us. Because he wants us to live with him in a place Peter described as "a new heaven and a new earth" (2 Peter 3:13). Because he wants us to experience eternal perfection in heaven.

Critics of intelligent design mockingly point out that "I" and "D" are the first two letters in the word, "idiot." They say that believing in the Bible, and especially believing in a six day creation, is a sign of a lack of intelligence.

I suppose that everyone has the right to an opinion, but Christians see things differently. Believing in creation doesn't equal a lack of intelligence. People who believe in creation have put their trust in a higher intelligence, God. We believe in the eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing triune God, the God who designed us, the God who loved us so much that he designed a plan to save us. Amen.

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