April 25, 2021 | Chad Gilbert
Today, if someone were to ask me to tell them about my wife, I will likely look off in the distance with a smile on my face and say, “She is amazing.”
Now is such a concise, simple response an indication of lacking specifics about who she is? No. I could tell you about how much I love her laugh and how much I love to make her laugh, and how much we enjoy laughing together in our marriage. I could tell you how beautiful she. I could tell you about what an amazing cook she is. I could tell you about what a fantastic leader she is and how God has given her amazing administrative skills. I could tell you how smart she is and how much I enjoy talking through ideas with her. I could tell you what an amazing mother she is and how I am floored at her dedication as a homeschool mom and the director of our homeschool community.
Or, I could look off in the distance with a smile on my face, my mind cycling through all of those thoughts and say, “She is amazing.”
That’s what I hope you and I will be able to do at the end of this sermon when someone asks us about God and His Design. I want for you and me to be reminded today of just how amazing He is, and His design was by looking at specific aspects of that design so that when we tell someone about God’s Design, we know in the depth of our hearts just how amazing it was and just how amazing He is.
We will be looking at all of chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis today, but I would like to invite you to stand in honor of one of the most important verses in the Bible.
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." — Genesis 1:1
Today, in reflection of the seven days of creation and rest, we will see 7 aspects of God’s Design
- God’s Design brought order out of chaos (Gen 1:1-25)
- God’s Design included male and female, both made in the image of God (Gen 1:26-30; 2:7; 2:18-23)
- God’s Design was very good for the earth, animals, and people (Gen 1:31)
- God’s Design included a day of rest (Gen. 2:1-3)
- God’s Design included His Word (Gen. 1:28-30; Gen. 2:16-17)
- God’s Design ordained marriage and procreation (Gen. 2:24)
- God’s Design was absent of shame (Gen. 2:25)
God’s Design brought order out of chaos.
Look at verse 2 – “formless and empty, darkness covered the surface of the watery depths.”
Like an episode of HGTV, God takes the formless, empty, dark depths and begins to order them and bring forth light and life.
Verse 2 sounds more like a description of Venus than earth. And yet, step by step, we see God receiving all the credit, all the glory for crafting a planet on which life could exist, the crowning aspect of life being human beings.
To the chaos of verse 2, we see the following ordering: Let there be, let there be, let there be, let there be, let there be
But don’t miss this – the very first thing God said was, “Let there be light.”
Paul said in 2 Corthinians 4:6 – “6 For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ.”
He is still the God who can bring order out of chaos, for this has always been His design, and although it was lost, it is restored through Jesus.
God’s Design included male and female, both made in the image of God.
Let’s look at Genesis 1:26.
Notice what it does not say:
- It does not say anything about skin color
- Genesis 1:27 condemns the institution of slavery.
- But Chad, later in the Old Testament, in Exodus, Moses talks about slaves, permitting slavery, so doesn’t that mean that biblically it was okay.
- The Pharisees in Jesus’ day made the same argument about divorce. They said, “If divorce is not okay, then why did Moses permit us to issue a certificate of divorce?”
- Jesus’ response was to go back to Genesis 1 and 2, clearly articulating God’s design, but then noting that Moses wrote about divorce because of the hardness of their hearts. Anyone who would today argue that God is fine with slavery has that same hard heart that the Pharisees displayed.
- God has always been opposed to slavery and every form of racism and continues to oppose it today, and those in Christ stand with God against slavery and all forms of racism.
- Genesis 1:27 condemns the institution of slavery.
Notice what it does say:
- “He created them male and female.”
- Ever since the Fall, most cultures have reduced the inherent value of women, which is equal to men.
- Notice that God celebrates the distinctiveness of women by shifting from corporate “mankind” “human being” language and specifically noting the two genders.
- Paul does the same thing in Ephesians, which we recently considered
- Male and female, together, reflect the likeness of God – so that each reflects the glory of God, though neither fully reflects the glory of God alone
- This matter of gender is hotly debated today. Some argue that gender is a social construct – in other words, it is something that we, as people, came up with to suppress women and promote male dominance. I absolutely understand how people who argue this way have come to these conclusions – such an explanation makes great sense out of observable data. But, just as in every other arena of life, certain presuppositions exist in the social sciences. Many social scientists operate from a worldview that presupposes the non-existence of God, instead presupposing that gods are the social constructs of people – thus the proliferation of various gods and manners of worship. Again, this is a very understandable conclusion based on observation. But other near-eastern law codes treated women in their laws the way they protected and spoke of cattle and other animals. Women were more akin to property than a person. The explanation that Moses lifted a creation narrative from literature he received in his world-class Egyptian education in the household of Pharoah doesn’t fit. It may help explain the excellence of Moses’ form, but it does not explain the content, especially the content of Genesis 1 and 2. The content is best explained as a revelation. God made known to Moses the manner and meaning of His created order. I cannot overstate how significant this idea is. If Genesis 1 and 2 truly reveal God’s design – his intention for human flourishing is not something we invent but something we recover and pursue.
- I love how the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts capture the manner of Jesus’ interaction with women in particular. He treated them with incredible dignity and respect. He appropriately loved them and guided them. When we look at Jesus, we see exactly how God intended women to be treated and valued.
God’s Design was very good for the earth, animals, and people.
Medical Doctor Matthew Sleeth, in his book "Reforesting Faith: What Trees Teach Us about The Nature of God and His Love for Us," writes, “For the majority of my life, I did not believe in God. That’s not the case anymore. In fact, the trees in the Bible are a crucial part of what brought me to faith. Christianity is the only religion that weaves trees from one end of its sacred text to the other. Every important character and every major event has a tree marking the spot. There is a tree in the first and last chapter of the Bible, in the first Psalm, and in the first gospel (a family tree, that is). Christians bring trees indoors once a year to celebrate the birth of their Savior.
Earth Day was on Thursday, April 22 – Christians don’t have the best track record for demonstrating consideration for the earth. Chad, is this political jargon meant to support Green efforts by the new administration? No, this is biblical jargon meant to alert you that you are on borrowed property – we are tenets on someone else’s property, and that should impact the way we treat the earth.
What if one of the barriers to atheists believing that God created the earth is that people who claim to believe in God and who believe that God created the earth treat it like man created it and can do whatever he wants with it. What if our poor stewardship of the earth makes the message of the Bible less believable? As Paul says in Romans, “All of creation is groaning for the sons of God to be revealed” – it stands to reason that the children of God should be currently demonstrating why all of creation groans in anticipation, not the reason it groans in desperation.
God’s Design included a day of rest.
How good is this! So many people work so hard to enjoy the weekend. Many people who love the rest and recreation of the weekend have little to no idea that God designed each week to include a day of rest. Historically, the Sabbath would have begun on Friday when the sun set and end on Saturday when the sun set. 24 hours that actually would have started with rest.
In his book The Overload Syndrome, Medical Doctor Richard Swenson makes a compelling case for the goodness of God’s design in both the symmetry of days being night and day and the rhythm of the week to conclude with a day of rest. He notes 11 categories of overload, including debt, media overload, and accessibility – and his book was written in 1998!!! Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the iPhone had not even been invented yet!
Under the new covenant inaugurated in Jesus’ blood on the cross, we would do well to receive Sabbath as a gift, not a law.
The most successful medical students I have ever had the joy of growing with embraced Sabbath both as a spiritual discipline and a gift. Each Sunday, these medical students would cease from their six days of intense study and work to spend Sunday in worship with the church, in relationship with other believers – often lingering after worship and having lunch together – then enjoying God’s creation in City Park, out at the lake, the Fly, Audubon Park, and elsewhere, and in rest. Study would resume that evening, but for one night and day each week, there was rest, and these students finished at the top of their class.
God’s Design included His Word.
God’s Word results in human flourishing.
God’s Word is a protection.
God’s Design ordained marriage and procreation.
In their book Open Embrace, which explores a Christian couple’s reconsideration of contraception, Sam and Bethany Torode write, “What does it mean to be a human being? For Christians, it means to be created in the image of God. But what exactly is that supposed to mean? This may seem an odd question to begin a discussion of contraception, but it’s really the most important question of all. Our answer to this question determines how we view ourselves, how we relate to each other, and even how we approach the subject of birth control.”
- Hold on, Chad, you are starting to talk a little crazy! Please hear me: I am not suggesting you need to start driving a bus, but I am suggesting that you need to think about things the way Sam and Bethany are – from a biblical worldview that carefully considers God’s Design as a template for human thriving.
Verse 24 provides clarity in God’s design on how marriages are to exist and thrive – “leave and cleave.” A man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife.
God’s Design was absent of shame.
Shame manifests in feelings of unworthiness, inadequacy, a sense that you are a fake, and at any moment, everyone will see who you really are and cancel you. Shame can drive people to generously give time and money, work harder than others, strive towards success. Shame can fuel feelings of anger and bitterness or sorrow and despair. Shame is often silent from our lips but loud in our minds.
Can you imagine a world with zero shame? That is the world God created.
But Romans 10:11 says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame!”
That him is Jesus!