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From Nothing - Something

Genesis 1:1-5

“When God began to create[a] the heavens and the earth, the earth was complete chaos, and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God[b] swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good, and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening, and there was morning, the first day.”

Mark 1:4-11

“So John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And the whole Judean region and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him and were baptized by him in the River Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, ‘The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the strap of his sandals. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.’ In those days, Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’”


Have you ever reflected on your earliest memory? It’s intriguing to consider how far back our recollections can go. Some people can recall things from their infancy in great detail, while others only have clear memories once they are six or seven years old. This variation in memory recall is a fascinating subject that scientists and researchers have been exploring for years. They’ve discovered that the ability to remember early experiences is influenced by various factors such as genetics, environment, and life events.

 

I believe if the universe could speak, it would recall its first memory as God, the Creator. This memory is revealed through what theologians call natural revelation, and scientists call scientific observation. Creation is the ultimate masterpiece of God’s handiwork, and the opening verses of Genesis contain profound truths about God and creation.

 

The critical thing to remember about Genesis One (and Two) is that it is not a history of how. It does not give a scientific, systematic, reasoned explanation of how God made the universe as much as why God made the universe. And if you read Chapters One (and Two) to the end, you will see that God created the universe for relationship’s sake, to be in communion with creation. We can infer that this is why God made humankind and why God gave humankind dominion over the earth. We must care for creation as God would so we can commune with God as we commune with nature. But we haven’t done that. We took dominion to mean domination. We invented such concepts as manifest destiny and survival of the fittest. We allowed evil to become the way instead of love. (but that’s another sermon) But back to the first day…

 

I. In the Beginning…

 

The Bible teaches us that God existed even before time itself. The phrase “In the beginning, God...” signifies the omnipresence of God, indicating that He was present even before the human mind could conceive anything that we know to exist. While scientific theories such as the Big Bang attempt to explain the creation of the universe, the Bible tells us that God spoke existence into being. With the sheer power of His voice, God created everything that we see around us today - the stars, the planets, and everything in between.

 

In chapter 2 of the Bible, we learn how God created humans. According to the text, God breathed rûah, which means the Spirit or Breath of God, into Adam, giving him life. This highlights the fact that God used nothing but Himself to create everything. He is the fundamental force that exists above all else, and it is through His grace and mercy that we exist as we are. Rûah is also translated as wind in verse two of our text today.

 

As Christians, we are taught to be mindful of the grave sin of idolatry, which places the created above the Creator. The Bible also teaches us to worship God only and to acknowledge Him as the ultimate authority and power in the universe. We should always strive to live our lives in accordance with God’s teachings, for it is through this life of obedience that we find true peace, happiness, and fulfillment.

What created thing do you put before the Creator?

 

 

II. What Caused the Beginning?

 

The creation of the universe is a fascinating topic that has intrigued humans for centuries. According to all Abrahamic religious beliefs, God is the mastermind behind the creation of everything that exists. He is the ultimate force that brought the universe into existence and set everything in motion. You could say God is the prime mover and the supreme Creator because that’s what the Bible teaches. 😇

 

The manner in which God creates is of little importance. The focus should be on the fact that God is responsible for the creation of everything, from the tiniest microscopic organism to the vast expanse of the universe. Questions like whether the creation took place on a twenty-four-hour day or in the span of an eon are trivial and should not distract us from the bigger picture.

 

The critical thing to note is that God’s act of creation is an act of love. The very fact that God created everything out of nothingness is a testament to his boundless love. God loves his creation, and he wants us to love him in return. As Christian Philosopher G.K. Chesterton wrote, “The whole difference between construction and creation is exactly this: that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists.” (Lubbers 2000)

 

God’s love for his creation is also evident in the fact that he allows us to be part of this creative work. We are privileged to participate in God’s creative process. Through His grace, we can watch a tiny baby grow. We can be reminded of how God enables us to play a role in his creation. As we marvel at the miracle of life, we should be grateful for the opportunity to be part of God’s ongoing creative work and his ongoing act of love.

 

III. God’s Goals Are Set and Accomplished in Creation

 

Some believe that the universe is nothing more than a colossal coincidence—a product of chance and happenstance. However, for those who hold faith dear to their hearts, the words of Genesis carry a profound truth. According to this belief, everything in existence has been created with a divine purpose. No matter how insignificant something may seem, it has been brought into being for a reason by a higher power that imbued it with meaning and significance.

 

God’s handiwork can be seen all around us as he brings order to chaos and shapes the formless into something tangible and beautiful. From the depths of nothingness, he has created something wondrous and unique. Despite the darkness that may surround us, God’s light still shines, illuminating our path and guiding us toward a brighter future. It is through the rûah, the breath of God, that all things are brought forth, the land shaped and molded, and light imbued into the world.

That is how God creates—by taking what seems like nothing and transforming it into an incredible thing in his divine hands.

• from nothing—something! 

• from formless—structure! 

• from darkness—light!

What was once “without form and void” is now our miraculous universe.

 

I mentioned how science is actively trying to explain what was before the Big Bang. They have mathematically theorized what happened back to 10-33 seconds after the Big Bang but can’t seem to get the math to work beyond that. The funny thing is that it is so close to zero but not at zero. The closer we come to zero, the math breaks down. Interestingly, 10-33 is such a small number that it will fit into a second more times than there have been seconds since the Big Bang. 13.8 Billion years ago.

 

I am passionate about science and enjoy reading about how scientists are uncovering the mysteries of the universe. Although some may argue that we do not need to know these things, I believe that God would not have gifted us with curiosity and creativity if there was no purpose for it. However, as a religious person, I understand that what occurred before the Big Bang is irrelevant because, in the beginning, God existed.

 

I challenge anyone who disputes that curiosity and creativity are not God-given attributes. One need only look at the vast diversity of plant and animal life, observe the process of evolution, and consider the tremendous artistic talents throughout history, such as sculptors, painters, and musicians.

 

So, for those of you who are bothering to read the bulletin cover, you will notice that today is the celebration of Jesus’ baptism. So, why am I talking about the creation of the universe? I do so to ask this also seemingly unrelated question. Have you ever wondered why we do not have an account of Jesus’ life throughout his teenage years?

 

“Why do we only have a birth story, a dedication story, and a story of Jesus getting lost at the temple as a preteen in the Bible, but nothing until he is about 30 years old? Even if you believe that the Bible is infallible and written by God’s hand, it is still a valid question. The reason is that until Jesus proclaimed his intention through baptism, anything that happened in his life prior to that moment was not relevant to his mission. That’s why we don’t have any stories of Jesus’ teenage years in the Bible. When Jesus went to John the Baptist, he was ready to carry out his father’s will, and that’s when his story began.”

 

Baptism expresses a powerful message about the transformation that God has brought about in us through Jesus Christ. According to scripture, both directly and indirectly, God has taken us from a state of sin and unrighteousness and transformed us into children of God, capable of righteousness and holiness. This transformation is not just a minor change or an improvement in our previous state; instead, it is a complete renewal of our being. Through this transformation, we have been changed from sinners into saints, from being lost to being found, and from nothing into something.

  

Thanks to the transformative power of God’s grace, our past mistakes and transgressions are no longer relevant. When we publicly proclaimed our faith and received baptism, we were reborn with a new identity as children of God. We’ve been given a clean slate to start anew, so we should focus on this fresh start rather than dwelling on our past selves. Whenever we reflect on the incredible power of creation or the simple but profound act of baptism, let it remind us of the transformative power of God and the new life we have received through Christ. This realization should make us all bow our heads and say, “Amen!”

 

Because we were nothing, and now, thank God, we are something.

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN.


Rev. Rob Jones

January 7, 2024

 


Quote Source:

Lubbers, Arend D. “Remarks, Delivered at the DeVos Center Dedication on September 7, 2000.” (2000). https://core.ac.uk/download/220123505.pdf.  

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