Today we come to our third week in our series called “You Are Here,” where we are exploring the fact that the Bible is one story, and the main character of that story is Jesus Christ, and we are a part of that story today.
Last week we considered the prologue to the story: everything that was going on before the beginning. We considered how God is a trinity who has existed forever in perfect relationship of love. And we saw the incredible truth that the whole story that we are a part of—the creation of the universe and the redemption of humanity—is all one big gift of love from God the Father to God the Son.
The Father created us and chose us and gave us grace so that we will bring glory to Jesus by loving Him forever with the very same love that the Father has for Him. That’s what this whole story is about, and it was all laid out before the beginning.
But then, there was a beginning. And that’s where we are today. With promises made and His people chosen and the plan of redemption already fully laid out, God put the plan into action and began to tell the story.
And so we read in the very first verse of the very first book of the Bible: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
The story begins with creation: with God making everything that we see.
Maybe you’ve read Genesis 1:1 so many times that you’re used to it. But this morning, I want us to notice just how important this verse is. Just think about what it’s telling us: God, the God of redemption who communicates with us in the Bible and hears our prayers and sent Jesus to save us—this is the same person who made the universe.
God is not just one actor on the stage of space and time. He built the stage itself.
This is why in the book of Acts, when Paul was talking to people who didn’t know the Bible, He always began with creation. Because knowing that God created everything is absolutely essential to establishing His identity. “This world that you’ve living on? That food you’re eating? That air you’re breathing? That body you’ve been given? It was all made by someone. And so it belongs to Him. And so you owe everything to Him.”
Psalm 24:1 sums this up when it says that “The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” (Psalm 24:1).
When I was camping with the Young Adults back in August we set up camp on some Crown land north of the Torch River. And we talked about the fact that that parcel of land is actually owned by Her Majesty the Queen. As citizens of Canada, we’re free to use it, but it’s not ours. It’s hers.
The truth is that all of planet Earth is crown land, owned by His Majesty the King of Kings. God made everything we see, and so it belongs to Him.
Made to Display Glory
Why did God create this universe? The answer shouldn’t surprise us given what we saw last week. God made the heavens, and the earth, and us, for His glory. God built this incredible universe to showcase His power and creativity and majesty., which is another way of saying, He made this for His glory
Romans 1 tells us this when it says that God’s “invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Romans 1:20).
Everywhere we look, we are clearly perceiving the invisible attributes of the majestic God who made this. You don’t need to be a scientist to know that a glorious God created this world. You just need to watch the sunrise. You just need to look around you and look up.
Psalm 19 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge” (Psalm 19:1–2).
God made this physical universe to preach. To pour forth speech about Him, constantly, every day and night. Like we sang this morning, creation sings the Father’s song. It’s all communicating truth about Him. And so it should make us worship Him.
While I was on vacation this summer I watched some worship DVDs with my sons. These worship DVDs are part of a worship series made by the BBC called “Blue Planet.”
And maybe you’re thinking, “That’s not a worship program, those are nature documentaries.” But when you know God, there should be no difference. Nature documentaries should cause us to worship, because they are nothing less than a spotlight on the power and creativity of the God we know.
And you don’t need to be a scientist to see this. But if you do look deeper at this world with the eyes of science, what you’ll see is further and further levels of a world that is shouting it’s creator’s name. God has created a universe incredibly complex and beautifully structured.
I wish we could spend a whole morning talking about things like the precise mathematical system underlying all of the physical universe, all the laws and constants that are fine-tuned in incredibly specific ways, the fact that you have 20 GB or more of carefully-written information stored inside each one of the trillions of cells in your body, and on and on.
Whether we look up with a telescope, or look down with a microscope, or look around with our own two eyes, we should see a universe that is preaching about the glory of the One who made it.
Adam as King
Genesis 1 goes on to show us that after making everything else and declaring it to be good, God then created the capstone of His creation- us. Verse 26-27: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
There’s so much in these verses and the ones that follow, so much that we could spend weeks studying. But for our purposes this morning, we’re focus in on three aspects of the creation of Adam and Eve.
The first thing we need to notice is that Adam and Eve were created in God’s image, after His likeness.
This whole universe displays God’s glory, but humans—Adam and Eve and you and I—were made to reflect God by being like him in an absolutely unique way. We were made in His image, after his likeness.
But what does that actually mean? We know that God doesn’t have a body. So been in His image can’t mean that we look like him physically. So what does it mean to be made in His image?
Something that’s been exciting to learn in the past few years is that this language of being made in God’s image and likeness would have been familiar to the original readers of Genesis, the Israelites coming out of Egypt. In Egypt, they believed that the Pharaoh was the image, or “a living statue,” of one of their gods.
And it wasn’t because of how he looked. It had to do with his behaviour or character. He reflected the character of that god or goddess. And so he was their image, and as their image, he represented their authority here on earth.
The Pharaohs believed this about themselves, and they went a step further by actually doing this for themselves: they made images of themselves to represent their rulership and authority over other places.
So there’s an example of a pharaoh who conquered some new territory far away from Egypt, and he wanted to demonstrate that he ruled over that territory. And the way he did that was by making in image of himself in that place, almost like a mini-Mount Rushmore. And his image represented him there, and was meant to show that he was the king of that land.
So when Moses wrote that God made the earth and then created man in His image, the Israelites, who had just left Egypt, would have a background to understand what this meant.
They would have understood this to be saying that, first of all, Adam and Eve were like God in some important ways. Not in how they looked, but in how they behaved like God and reflected His characteristics God. And second, they would have understood this to mean that Adam and Eve were created to represent God here on earth as they ruled under Him.
Being made in the image of God meant that they were a king and a queen, ruling under the authority of the great Heavenly Emperor.
We can actually see all of this right in the text, in the way that Genesis 1:26 says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness,” and then right away it says, “And let them have dominion.” It’s not changing the subject when it does that. Being the image of God means having dominion- ruling here on earth as God’s representative.
And that’s why God gave Adam and Eve a royal mission in verse 28: “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” Do you hear those words? Subdue, have dominion. Adam and then Eve were created to rule.
Adam as Priest
So the first thing we should see about Adam and Eve is that they were created to be a king and a queen who ruled here on earth as God’s representatives. There’s second important angle to the creation of Adam in particular. In addition to being a king, Adam was created to be a priest. And we see this if we turn over to chapter 2, beginning with verse 8.
“And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. A river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is the Gihon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Cush. And the name of the third river is the Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates. The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” (Genesis 2:8–15).
Once again, as we consider this passage, what’s important to recognize is how this passage would have been read by the original readers, the children of Israel coming out of Egypt. And this might surprise us, but to them, this passage would have been full of imagery of the tabernacle. You know the tabernacle, right? The tent that they built in the desert, like a portable temple, where the priests served him and where God met with them.
This description of Eden is full of connections to the tabernacle. There is a parallel between the tree of life in the centre of the garden and the 7-stemmed lamp stand in the tabernacle. There’s a reason Moses drew attention to the first branch of the river coming out of Eden, and how it flowed through a land rich in materials that were used in building of the tabernacle.
When it says that God put Adam in the garden to work it and keep it, those are the exact same two words used later on to describe the work of the Levites in the tabernacle.
Later on in Genesis 3:8 we read about God coming to walk with Adam in the garden, which is the exact same Hebrew word that’s later used regarding God’s presence in the tabernacle. When Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden, it was guarded by two angels, just like the ark of the covenant in the holy of holies.
There’s more connections, but that’s all I’ll mention for now. The point is that to the original hearers, they would have understood the Garden of Eden to be a God’s sanctuary, like the tabernacle, and they would have understood that Adam was put there in the presence of God to work it and keep it just like a priest.
Adam as Prophet
There’s a third and a final element to God’s creation of Adam in particular, which you can see if you read Genesis 2:16-17, where God told Adam which trees he could eat and which ones he could not eat. Don’t miss the fact that God spoke to Adam. He revealed His word to him.
And it was after this the Eve was created. So Adam would have told Eve what God told Him.
What’s the word for someone who receives God’s word and then shares is with others? A prophet.
So do you notice here how Adam had these three roles: prophet, priest, and king? These are the three offices of Christ, which should not surprise us, because Jesus is the last Adam.
Celebrating All This Today
And just mentioning that does bring me to the fact that this is a hard message to wrap up and apply. There’s so much more we could say about creation, and there’s so much that I want to say about Adam and Eve and their relationship to us and to Jesus, but those are all things that we’re going to talk about at a later point in this series.
But for this morning, without diving in to the rest of this series, I think we can take home some important truths to apply to our lives as we think about the fact that God created this world for His glory, He owns it, and He created Adam and Eve to rely on His word, have relationship with Him, and rule this world as His representatives.
So I want us to think about five main ways we can take these truths home with us this week.
1) We should celebrate that we were made in the image of God. We were created to be like God. And what do we read about God in Genesis 1? That He is creative. He makes things. And in creating, He brings order out of chaos. He organizes things, separating the day from the night and the waters from the earth.
It shouldn’t surprise us to see those same traits in us. And when we see them, what we are seeing is the image of God.
I see the image of God in my boys, who can’t help but make things wherever they go, whether it’s with dirt, or crayons and paper, or Lego. That’s what they do: they build and make. And it doesn’t stop when we grow up. Each of us reflects the image of God as we build things and fix things and plant things and clean things and organize things. And the satisfaction we get when we do all that is a sign that we are made in the image of God, after His likeness.
There’s many reasons why it’s important for us to celebrate this, and one of them is that we’re often told today that humans are the problem with our world. Human creativity, human industry, has wrecked everything, and our planet would be better off without us.
It’s true that humans have done and continue to do some pretty nasty stuff to this planet. But that doesn’t erase the fact that God made us in His image, with this drive to create and bring order, because He created a planet that needs us to do that. God did not design the world to work best without us. Even the Garden of Eden needed Adam to work it and keep it.
We learned that lesson this summer as we planted our first garden. Those of you who garden know that things don’t work best when you put some seeds in the ground and just let things happen. Aimee and I have been blown away this summer by how much specific knowledge you need to make a garden grow well. It’s so obvious that God designed things to flourish best under the care of wise humans.
So within Biblical parameters, we should celebrate human accomplishments. We should celebrate things like art and culture. We should celebrate engineering and technology. We should celebrate the way that farmers have figured out how to get such incredible yields out of a piece of land. We should celebrate the way that we’ve figured out how to take sand and carve it into microchips and melt it into glass and create marvels like the iPhone.
These are examples of us doing what God created us to do: creating and cultivating and having dominion over this planet. And like we talked about at family camp back in June, these are examples of the kinds of things we will get to do forever for the glory of Jesus on the New Earth. And so, in a measured way, within biblical parameters, these are things we can celebrate and enjoy today.
2) We should also celebrate what these passages teach us about work. Really, all these things we’ve just been talking about involve work. And I hope you noticed that even in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had work to do. Work is not a necessary evil for us to get out of the way as soon as we can. Work is a huge part of what it means to be human, what it means to be in the image of God.
That’s all I’m going to say on that for now, because we’ve got a whole sermon on work coming in the second half of the series. But you can start thinking about that now.
3) We should celebrate that we were created for relationship with God. We were created to need God’s word. Things like reading the Bible throughout the week and praying and being here on Sunday—these are not just rules we tack on to our lives. These are deeply connected with what it means to be human. We were made for relationship with God. And so as we go in to our week, this knowledge should cause us to be very intentional regarding our relationship with God
4) We must also celebrate that we were created male and female. We can’t miss that while Adam and Eve were equally created in the image of God, they were created with different roles and functions. We saw a little bit of that today, in that Adam was created first and given a job, a mission, and if you read the rest of Genesis 2 you’ll see how Eve was created second, to help Adam with that mission, because he couldn’t do it alone.
Because He was created first, Adam, as a man, had the unique responsibility of taking leadership to make sure that God’s mission was fulfilled.
And this pattern extends throughout the rest of the Bible. If you read passages like Ephesians 5 or 1 Timothy 2, you can’t miss the fact that especially in the home and in the church, God expects men to carry the primary responsibilities for leadership and protection and provision.
Men, please hear this today: you are not just a human. You are a man. And that is nothing to be ashamed of. It is good that you are a man. And as a man, God expects you to shoulder the heavy burdens, to use your strength to protect and nurture those around you. God expects you to take responsibility for yourself and for those around you. God expects you to lead, to take the initiative in fulfilling the mission he gave us.
And just like Adam in the next chapter, far too many Christian men today are content to fade into the background while others around us, especially the women around us, takes the full brunt of Satan’s attacks. Far too many Christian men are content letting other people lead while they play around with hobbies and sports and video games and pornography.
So men of Emmanuel Baptist Church, let me ask you: what are you doing to take the initiative in fulfilling God’s mission for your life, for your family, for your church? What are the heavy loads that you are carrying so that others don’t need to? What are you doing to protect the weak? What kind of example are you setting? Where are you leading?
Please, if you don’t have answers to those questions, don’t rest until you do. Choose to start somewhere, today, to begin being the kind of man that your family and your church and your world needs you to be.
Ladies, I hope you don’t feel left out by this discussion. There’s so much I could say to you today as well. Your part in the biggest story ever told is massive and crucial.
But I hope you know that everything I just said to the men is actually for you. I have never met a woman who, if she was really honest, didn’t want the men in her life to really be men. And I think your heart resonates when you turn to the Scripture and see that you were made to flourish under the sacrificial leadership of strong men who serve you by shouldering the heavy loads and taking the bullets and being what God called them to be so that you can be what God has called you to be.
Once again, I need to stop there, because that could be a whole sermon series, which I again hope we get to do sometime.
5) And finally, we should celebrate that all of this is about Jesus. Because we know that none of us have done any of this perfectly. We’ve all failed, starting with Adam. There is only one man who has perfectly done what God called Him to do. This is Jesus Christ, the second Adam, prophet, priest and king, the One who died as our sacrifice to pay for our sins, and the one who is working right now to bring us home to the New Earth, where we will work and walk with Him like we were made to do at the beginning.
So today, let’s go out from here with His grace resting in our hearts, eyes open to His glory around us, eager to know Him more and represent Him well to everyone we meet.