In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The first sentence of the first verse, of the first book of the Bible is the foundation for everything that follows. The book of Genesis tells the story of the foundation of the world and the beginning of humanity’s relationship with God. Coming from the Hebrew word for beginning, Genesis sets the stage for the biblical narrative and introduces us to the God who created everything by speaking it into existence. God is all-powerful. God has no rival, no equal, no limitations, and no boundaries. The names used for God in Genesis reveal God’s character because God decided to be in relationship with humans. Names like Adonai, the Lord, let us know that God owns everything; everything belongs to God. Names like Elohim, the Almighty God, let us know that God is supreme, multifaceted, and greater than anything. God creates the heavens, the sun, moon, stars, galaxies, and planets all by speaking them into existence.
God Creates Humanity
The focus of Genesis quickly shifts from God’s relationship with creation in general to God’s relationship with humanity. God creates man and woman giving them authority over all the rest of creation on earth. God tells Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, fill the
earth and subdue it giving the man and woman purpose. Adam and Eve sin by disobeying God, and it immediately invites shame, blame, and broken relationship into the world. God removes the family from the Garden of Eden, cutting them off from the tree of life. The sin that has infected humanity continues to grow and cause death, straining humanity’s relationship with God to the point where God decides to destroy His creations on earth with the Flood. God has the right to allow destruction of what He creates because it belongs to Him. Yet, in His mercy, God preserves Noah, his family and all the animals in the Ark. God had already set the plan for redemption in motion, so that all creation would be reconciled to Him and filled with His glory instead of wickedness; so that humanity would be the children of God instead of the enemies of God.
God is Sovereign
God is the Creator of everything. God has the authority, power, and right to be destroyer of anything because God is the Creator. Often in the modern church, we give too much credit to the kingdom of darkness and its ability to destroy people’s lives with everything that is not like God. But the Old Testament perspective is clear that it is God alone who has the right to allow destruction of His creation.
The risk of freedom for humanity is that people can choose to obey or depart from right
relationship with God. Anything less than perfect relationship with the one who is life is sin. Sin will always destroy God’s beautiful creation if left unchecked. However, the evidence of God’s mercy is that He never destroys creation entirely, He always leaves a remnant to redeem and re-create. While sin naturally leads to death, God steps in to strip the weeds of sin from choking the life out of our gardens. Mercy cuts down the weeds in God’s garden. Grace takes the seeds of Eden and plants a new garden where there are no weeds. God’s created family—Adam and Eve— needed intervention to keep them from destroying themselves. The effects of sin were seen quickly with one son murdering the other. The destruction of the family began to destroy the land as humanity sought to satisfy its need for purpose apart from God.
God’s Covenant Family
Despite the failings of each generation from Noah and his children to Abraham and Sarah
to Isaac and Rebekah to Jacob and his wives and children, God never sees the family of faith as beyond redemption. God chooses a family to bring forth redemption. In eternal wisdom, God picks Abram and makes him a promise. God will bless Abram, give him land, and allow his descendants to be as numerous as the stars in the heavens. Through Abram’s seed, all humanity will be blessed. Yet as Abram becomes Abraham, the father of many nations, and his family becomes the family of promise, the reality of humanity continues to complicate the process to fulfillment of the promise. First Abraham and his wife Sarah have a hard time believing the promise can come to pass so they try to help God. The result is that Abraham fathers Ishmael with Hagar. When Sarah does give birth to Isaac, the son of promise, Abraham’s faith is tested. But the family, the children of God, God’s people must continue to show the redemptive power of God until ultimate redemption can come.
When Isaac is of marrying age he has to find a wife to continue the family. His servant is told to find a wife on his behalf from among his father’s people, a woman of good character to partner with him in bringing forth the promise and walking in the blessing of “being fruitful and multiplying” of keeping the covenant between Abraham and the Lord. Isaac’s wife Rebekah becomes the mother of twin boys, Esau and Jacob, and the latter becomes greater than the former. Jacob schemes and tricks his way into receiving his brother’s birthright and blessing even though God had already promised he would receive it. The family is broken yet again as Esau seeks revenge and Jacob flees into the wilderness.
While in the wilderness—in the place of isolation, shame, fear, and lack—Jacob meets God. In the place of Jacob experiencing the results of his sin against his brother and trying to get God’s blessing through deceitful means, Jacob reaches the end of his own strength. Rather than showing up to condemn him, God shows up to begin a conversation. The conversation causes conviction: Jacob sees the heavens open and the presence of the angels leaves him in awe of God. Then God promises him that where he lays now will be his land, that he will be fruitful, multiply, fill the land, and possess it. God will protect him on his journey. God renews the initial command he gave to Adam and Eve with a promise that God will help Jacob begin to fulfill it on a smaller scale. Yet Jacob has no idea that God will use his seed to bring forth the ultimate Seed of Redemption: Jesus Christ. God had already made a promise before Jacob was born, already worked the divine plan to redeem and re-create before the destruction of sin even began.
God’s Family by Faith
God brings forth His sinless Son from that family of chosen relationship, the one who would redeem the family and renew creation by calling forth a new family of faith. A family by choice. An adopted family that could inherit and lead the care of creation that was promised to humanity in the Garden of Eden. That family is known today as the church. We are God’s family, sons and daughters of the Spirit by grace through faith. God’s grace continues to find us in our broken places, our wilderness, our shame and sin, and call us into new life in right relationship with Him through Jesus Christ. God’s grace and new relationship with Jesus Christ teach us how to properly care for creation. Yet the church is only the beginning of God’s manifest kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. The church is simply the chosen vessel that God wants to use to reconcile all creation back to right relationship with Him and itself. Although the church is still being perfected until the day the Lord Jesus returns, in every place the children of God gather, share, and serve there is a glimpse of the revelation of the kingdom, the renewal of the promise, the reconciliation of the family, and the redemption of all creation.