Genesis 1v1 May I Have Your Attention
By Ken Humphries
A young preacher was to preach his first sermon. He asked an old preacher for advice. The old preacher said, “You want a good introduction. A good introduction gets the attention of the people.” The young preacher then asked the old preacher if he knew a good introduction. The old preacher said, "There is an introduction that I have used frequently and it has always got the attention of the people. When you get up, look at the people and tell them that the best years of your life were spent in the arms of another woman. Pause for a few seconds and then tell them that woman was your mother.” The young preacher asked, “Are you sure that will get their attention?” The old preacher answered, “Young man, it's a sure-fire attention getter. It always works. But let me warn you to tell your wife about it before you use it.”
The Sunday came for the young preacher to preach his first sermon. He got up to preach and was scared to death. He had also forgotten to tell his wife about his introduction. Nervously he looked out at the congregation and said, “Folks, the best years of my life were spent in the arms of another woman.” He paused. Folk’s mouths fell open. People gasped all over the building. His wife jumped up out of her seat and started to the pulpit. He was already scared to death and when he saw the reaction of the people and saw his wife storming up the aisle, it really rattled him. He stuttered and said, “And to save my life, I can't remember who it was.”
I have no doubt that he got their attention. In Genesis 1v1, we have an introduction that gets our attention. It is an introduction that not only gets our attention but also holds it throughout the Bible and throughout the ages. God suddenly steps out of eternity and introduces Himself. God steps into history and says to humanity, “I AM GOD!” May I have your attention!
The word “Genesis” means “beginnings.” In Genesis we see the beginning of all things. We see the beginning of such things as the Universe, the Human race, marriage, the family, death, Human government, nations and races, languages, trades, occupations, labour, along with many other things. The book of Genesis covers about 2500 years of human history.
From the creation of Adam to the death of Joseph, it basically gives us the history of 3 families, the family of Adam, Noah, and Abraham. In Genesis we see the beginning of the human race and the Hebrew race. But the most important fact about the book of Genesis is that we meet God for the first time.
In this study we want to consider again the first 4 words of Genesis. “In thebeginning God.”These four words are not just the first 4 words of the book of Genesis and the first 4 words of the Bible. They are first and foremost a revelation of God. In the first 31 verses of Genesis, God is mentioned 32 times. Add the personal pronouns; God is mentioned no less than 43 times. Genesis 1 is more than a revelation of creation. It is a revelation of the Creator. Creation is the object of Genesis chapter 1, but God is the subject.
1. The Faithful Definition Of God!
The first statement in Genesis and in the Bible is a statement about God. We see God revealing Himself. We see God making Himself known. We see God wanting to get our attention! (Matthew-Our Grandson had been attending Sunday School Class, teacher had been teaching about God the creator, Matthew’s question was, “How did God make Himself”) for a then five year old boy it was necessary to condense and simplify an explanation but for us In this opening statement there are 3 great truths about God that are declared and will answer the questions which build up in minds.
A. Firstly God Says Let Me Tell You About My Existence:
We are told that there is a God. At the very beginning the matter of ATHEISM (the belief that there is no God) is answered. Genesis 1v1 does not seek to prove the existence of God, it seeks to proclaim the existence of God. It does not seek to persuade us of the existence of God; it propounds the existence of God.
The Russian astronaut Gherman Titoy said after his return from space: “Some people say there is a God out there…but in my travels around the earth all day long, I looked and didn't see Him, I saw neither God nor angels, I don't believe in God.”
George Barna states that more than nine out of ten adults (93%) say they believe God exists. The Bible says in Psalm 14v1, “The fool hath said in his heart there is noGod."Men may doubt and deny the existence of God. The Bible calls them a fool.
An atheist was once complaining to a Christian that Christians had all the holidays but atheists didn't have any. He said, “You have Easter,
Thanksgiving, Christmas, National day of Prayer, and others.” The Christian said, “You do have a holiday. 1st April, April Fool's Day.”
The natural assumption of the human heart and mind is that there is a God. It is unnatural to the heart and mind not to believe in a God. An atheist is someone who chooses to believe there is no God. He chooses to doubt the existence of God and deny the existence of God in spite of what his heart and head tells him. The atheist cries, “Prove to me there is a God.” I would say to the atheist, “Prove to me there is no God.” The atheist may proclaim that there is no God, but he cannot prove that there is no God. There is much proof that there is a God, but no proof that He does not exist. Atheism is a choice.
A Quaker and a rationalist were talking. The rationalist was explaining why he believed there was no God. He said, “My mind refuses to believe in that which no one has ever seen. No one has ever seen God thus there must not be a God.” The Quaker asked, “Hast thou ever seen Paris, France?” The rationalist replied, “No, but others have and that allows me to believe there is a place called Paris, France.” The Quaker said, “I think I am beginning to understand your reasoning. Hast thou ever seen thy brains?” “No.” “Hast thou ever met anyone who hast seen thy brains?” “No.” “Reckon thou hast any brains?”
Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “It takes no brains to be an atheist. Any stupid person can deny the existence of a super-natural power because man's physical senses cannot detect it. But there cannot be ignored the mystery of first life…or the marvellous order in which the universe moves about us. All of these evidence the handiwork of a beneficent Deity. For my part, that Deity is the God of the Bible, and Christ, His Son.”
B. Secondly God Says Let Me Tell You About My Eternalness:
In this opening statement we not only have the answer to atheism, but we also
have the answer to PANTHEISM (the belief that God is nature and in nature).
We find a beginning but not a beginning of God. God is not nature for He was before nature. God existed before anything or anyone.
We read in John 1v1 “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God." (In the beginning was the Word) when anything that ever had a beginning began the “Word” was, that is the Logos, The Living Word, He is eternally God! (The Word was with God) that phrase in the original means He was face to face with God, that is, the Logos, The Living Word, was on a power with God! He is equally God! (And the Word was God) that is, the Logos, The Living Word, He is Essentially God! Itis hard for us to imagine something without a beginning. Yet, God had no beginning. Furthermore, He will have no end.
Isaiah 57v15, “For thus saith the high and lofty One That inhabiteth eternity.” Psalm 90v2, "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever Thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God." God has ever existed and will always exist. He is the Eternal God.
C. Thirdly God Says Let Me tell You About My Exclusiveness:
We not only see thatAtheism and Pantheism is answered in the opening statement of the Bible, but also POLYTHEISM(the belief that there is more than one God). Genesis 1v1, declares that there was a time when there was nothing but God. He was not one among many gods; He was the only God. There was nothing else and there was no one else. If there is more than one god, then the God of the Bible had to create them. Yet, no where do we read in the Bible that God ever created other gods. The many gods of this world were created by man, not by God. We read in Deuteronomy 4v35, “Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the LORD he is God; there is none else beside him.” Man has made gods out of the sun, moon, stars, trees, rivers, and almost all of creation. They have imagined and designed gods of wood, stone, and marble. Yet there is only one God, and He is the Lord God of Genesis 1. We not only see the first declaration of God, but also:
2. The Foundational Description Of God!
Genesis 1v1is not only important in that we see God revealing Himself, but it is also important in how God revealed Himself. As God introduced Himself, He simply revealed Himself as “God.” There are many names for God in the Bible. Each name is a revelation of God's person. In each name something about God is revealed or taught. When God first revealed Himself, he could have revealed Himself as Jehovah, Father, LORD, or by one of His many other names in the Bible. But when He first made Himself known He did so as "God." In so doing so, He was laying the foundation for all that he would reveal about Himself. God wants us to take notice and hear what He is saying! Clearly he wants to have and hold our attention.
In any phase of Bible study there is what is called “The Law of First Mention.”By that we mean that the first mention of a person, place, doctrine, or word in the Bible gives us an understanding of that truth through-out the rest of the Bible. It is as one said, “The first mention of a person, place, doctrine, or word, is an embryo of a feature or fact for which there is fuller development.” When God revealed Himself as “God” it was foundational. At the very beginning God wanted us to know Him as “God.” He wanted us to know that He was “God.” The name “God” is the Hebrew word “Elohim.” Elohim is a compound of two names, “El” and “Alah.” It is found some 2500 times in the Old Testament. The name teaches us two great truths about God.
A. He is a God Of Unlimited Power:
The name “EL” literally means “strong one or Almighty.” The very first thing God revealed about Himself was that He was the “Strong One,” the “Almighty One.” He was declaring that in Him was fullness of might. God was telling us that there was nothing impossible for Him to do. He was a God of unlimited power.
We read in Jeremiah 32v17, “Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power end stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee.”In the beginning God declared Himself to be a God of unlimited power and throughout the rest of the Bible and history He displayed Himself to be a God of unlimited power.
There are many examples of His unlimited power. Job said in Job 38v22, “Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow?”Job said that there were certain treasures to be found in the snow. One of the treasures we find is that the snow is a demonstration of God's unlimited power. A certain physicist has stated that to produce from the vapour of water a quantity of snowflakes which a child could carry would demand energy competent to gather up the shattered blocks of the largest stone avalanche of the Alps, and pitch them twice the height from which they fell.
If it would require that much power to form enough snow for a child to carry, think of the power that is necessary for the formation of a snow that would blanket the earth. God wanted us to know that He was able! He said, “I am God. I am a God of unlimited power. There is nothing too hard for me. There is nothing impossible for me.”
We also see that:
B. He Is A God Of Unquestionable Promises:
The other half of the name, “ALAH” means “to swear, to bind with an oath, or to make a covenant.” In the beginning God was declaring that He was a God Who always keeps His word. His word is unquestionable. Anything and everything He says is true. God was letting us know at the start that He never lies. Hebrews 6v18, tells us that is impossible for God to lie. He is a God that can be trusted. His Word is truth!
A preacher noticed a group of boys standing around a small stray dog. He walked up and asked, “What are you doing boys?” “Telling lies,” said one of the boys. “The one who tells the biggest lie gets the dog.” The preacher was shocked. He said, “Boy's when I was your age, I never thought of telling a lie.” The boys looked at each other and finally one shrugged his shoulders and said, “I guess he wins the dog.”
God was letting us know at the start that He never breaks a promise. He will do what He said. He is God! God wanted us to know at the start that everything else He was going to say in the Bible was true. That's so important for it tells that what God said about creation is true, sin is true, salvation is true, Heaven is true, Hell is true, and Jesus is true.
In the beginning we see that He is God! This is foundational to all else that is said about Him and by Him. Thirdly, we not only see the faithful defination of God and the foundational description of God, but also we see:
3. The Fulfilling Desire Of God!
Now in these first 4 words of the Bible there is a desire of God that is fulfilling and emphasized. He makes Himself known, but the truth is He didn't have to reveal Himself. He is a self-sufficient and self-sustained God. Back in eternity past, if I may dare use the term, God never had a need for anything for anyone. He needed nothing to exist. He needed no one to survive. He could have existed in eternity without ever having to make Himself known. But He wanted to be known as God. He wanted others to know that He was God. So He began time as we know it and created a universe. In that universe he created a particular planet called earth. He prepared that earth for a human race. On that planet he put man and it was to man He revealed Himself.
He had a passionate desire to fulfil so he chooses humankind to fulfil that desire! Why did God reveal Himself to man? First, we see that:
A. He Revealed Himself That We Might Know Him Intellectually:
He wanted to bring us to a mental realization of Himself as God. He wanted us to learn of Him and about Him. He gave man a mind to seek Him out in creation. He gave man the ability to think, reason, and conclude so that we would be filled with wonder. The great tragedy of mankind is that they spend a lifetime learning about science, history, and humanity and never come to a knowledge of God in it all.
B. He Revealed Himself That We Might Know Him Intimately:
He not only wanted us to know about Him, He wanted us to know Him. He not only wanted a mental realization of God, but a personal relationship with God. We read in Genesis 3v8, that Adam and Eve heard the voice of God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. Adam and Eve enjoyed personal and intimate fellowship with God. God wants to be more than a fact of science and history. He wants to be a personal God that we know and are intimate with. Here is the great truth of Genesis 1v1. This God that has revealed Himself we can know in a personal way. Surely that is the whole purpose of understanding the Scriptures, not just to have head knowledge but that we might know God in a very personal way.
Acquaint thyself with God,
If thou wouldst taste His works.
Admitted once to his embrace,
Thou shalt perceive that thou wast blind before.
William Cowper (1731-1800)
“That I might know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3v10).
Isaiah 6 we have a servant of the living God, a man called of God but who had his eyes on man, when that man died, the king, Isaiah once again lifted his eyes heavenward and saw the Lord high and lifted up. When he saw the Lord as he had not seen him in a long time because he had his eye on the King then he saw himself as God saw him and recognized he was not the man he thought he was, from that moment on God had his full attention, it was only then his service for God went into overdrive, it was only then God resigned him for the work ahead and asked the question, “who will I send and who will go for us”? to, which Isaiah might have replied, “but Lord I am already your servant, I am already your prophet, why do you want to send another”? but not so, Isaiah knew exactly how out of touch he was as the servant of God and with his whole heart cried, and meant every word of it, Here am I, send me!
How many are like that famous painting of olden times, in which the artist depicted what seemed at a distance a holy friar with a book before him, and his hands crossed in devotion, looking like a saint indeed, but when you came close to the venerable impostor, you found that his hands, though clasped, enclosed a lemon, and instead of a book there was a punch- bowl into which he was squeezing juice. To seem to be answers men's purposes so well that it is little marvel if pretenders swarm like the flies in Egypt's plague. Yet if they would remember the last great day, men would abhor hypocrisy.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon, The Quotable Spurgeon, (Wheaton: Harold Shaw Publishers, Inc, 1990)
Aren’t you glad God wants to get our attention!