1 Chronicles 15:1–16, Genesis 1
Samuel Lesson #137
July 10, 2018
“Father, we’re thankful we have forgiveness of sins, that we have positional forgiveness at salvation, and that when we sin along the way we admit our sins to You and we are instantly forgiven and restored to fellowship so we can actively pursue spiritual growth.
“Father, we’re thankful for Your grace and Your goodness, all that You provided for us and the guidance of Your Word. Father, as we study about worship, which is a topic that for many is controversial today, we need to understand what You have revealed through the ages about worship.
“We need to come to understand who You are. I think the more we understand who You are, the more some of these issues that people argue about or disagree over will hopefully just fade into the sunset. We know it’s all about You. It’s not about us.
“Father, help us to focus on who You are as we study about You as our Creator tonight. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”
We’ve been studying about worship. We started in 1 Chronicles 15 and at that time as we’re going through the life of David in 2 Samuel and 1 Chronicles. which tell the full story of what David did at the time he is moving the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem from Kiriath-Jearim in order to eventually prepare things for the construction of the temple.
That is the dwelling place, the sanctuary for God. The Ark of the Covenant is significant for a number of different reasons but ultimately because this is where the psalmist says that God dwells. “His throne is above the cherubim.”
On the Mercy Seat on the lid over the Ark of the Covenant, there are the two cherubim who look down on the contents of the Ark of the Covenant and it is there that God is said to be indwelling. He’s invisible.
I believe as we go through this you’ll understand some of the reasons for it eventually. This is where Heaven and Earth intersect. There is something incredibly significant about the location on the Temple Mount. A lot of people don’t realize this. Several people on this latest trip to Israel and previous trips commented that the Temple Mount where that monstrosity called the Dome of the Rock is located that the rock refers to the foundation stone.
That’s what the term “rock” refers to. That rock, that foundation stone, is where the Ark of the Covenant sat in the Holy of Holies in the temple. This was the dwelling place of God in the first temple. Because of Israel’s carnality and apostasy, the glory of God departed from the temple.
Beyond that, this is the location where Abraham took his son, his only son, Isaac, to follow God’s command to sacrifice Isaac. It was a test to see if Abraham finally understood that his son would be the promised seed through whom his descendants would come and then God would bless the world through Isaac.
This was the test. God never intended for Abraham to actually carry through with this command to sacrifice Isaac, but that occurs because it was the test. You have the beautiful picture of God sending a ram that was caught in the trees there on Mount Moriah to provide a substitute for Isaac as a picture of substitutionary atonement.
There’s something about this place that is significant because this place will eventually be where there is this geological uplift after the earthquake that occurs after the Second Coming of Christ. This is where the future temple will be located. There’s something about God’s plan for the geography there that is significant.
All of this is related to our topic of worship because it takes us into the Old Testament. To understand worship we have to start in Genesis 1. We have to start where the Bible starts and build a biblical understanding of what worship is.
Every doctrine is revealed incrementally or progressively down through the ages so we need to take a little time to do that. I don’t want to get bogged down. This could be a long series because there’s a lot to it. I want to hit the high points because what we’ll see as we proceed here is, first of all, we’ll examine how God as the Creator is connected to His majesty and His power.
What we’ve seen in our previous lessons on worship is that Isaiah, the prophet, has this vision. He comes into the temple. There’s the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies. He’s not in there but he’s in the temple and God grants him a vision to see beyond this dimension into Heaven.
He sees the throne of God where God is enthroned above the cherubim. He sees the seraphim in Heaven who are singing to God, “Holy. Holy. Holy.” He recognizes that he is a man of unclean lips from a people of unclean lips, emphasizing their sinfulness and that there must be a cleansing.
This is something that we’ll see all the way through Scripture. There’s a prelude to worship, a need for spiritual cleansing which is why we always have silent prayer before we study the Word.
Isaiah comes face-to-face with the majesty and power and righteousness of God in that particular scene. As the angels are singing they talk about the fullness of God. That’s in relation to this whole doctrine of Creation.
We have to look at worship as specifically comprehending the majesty, the power, the wonder, and the glory of God and all of these terms that are used there. To start with that we have to look at this doctrine of Creation. Once we do that, we’ll go back and refer to some things in Genesis 1.
We’ve done a lot of things in Genesis 1 in the past so we’re building on what we’ve learned in those studies. We’ll move through God’s creation as it’s described in Genesis 1, 2, and 4 in order to comprehend what is happening to worship.
We’re going to build on a lot of things that we’ve covered before in Hebrews, things we’ve covered before in Kings about the tabernacle and the temple. We’ll try to correlate these things and try to comprehend what is so significant about the dwelling of God in the midst of His people.
It starts in Genesis 1. It starts in this garden that is planted east of Eden in Genesis 2 where He puts these two creatures which He’s created, male and female, in His image. That is where worship begins and it’s also where worship became corrupted because of sin, so we need to trace this whole idea out.
As we develop this we talked through this whole idea of God’s dwelling place in the Old Testament, where God dwelt on the earth. This was His dwelling in Eden and then He stayed there, I believe, during that first period, the first Age of the Gentiles until the Flood.
Then after that there’s no dwelling of God upon the earth until the tabernacle is built. Then the temple is built and the glory of God departs. Then what happens? You have the incarnation of Jesus and it says He tabernacled among us.
SKENE is the Greek word. It’s the same word that’s used to describe the tabernacle in the Old Testament. The Hebrew word is mshkn. Those are the consonants. Shekinah is the Hebrew word for dwelling. So when you make it a noun, the dwelling place, you call it the mishkan. This is what the tabernacle was called, the dwelling place of God.
Jesus tabernacled among us, according to John 1 and then what happens? You have the Ascension of Christ from the Mount of Olives, which we’ve studied. Jesus ascends from the same location that the SKENE, the shekinah glory of God departed from the Mount of Olives in Ezekiel’s vision back in about 600 BC.
Then what happens? Ten days later the Holy Spirit comes to indwell every Church Age believer and we are made a temple. This whole thing comes together and eventually all of this focuses on what happens in the Millennial Kingdom and the relation to the millennial temple and then the eternal state where God dwells on the earth among us.
You have to develop a holistic picture. There’s something that began in Genesis 1, was corrupted in Genesis 2, and then expands and develops through the rest of the Scripture until we have a complete restoration by the time we get to Revelation 22.
The purpose of this is to expand our understanding of worship. As we look at this and examine this we’re going to have to expand our understanding of the following:
1. First, God’s purposes in creation related to His rule, which is a key idea which runs all through Scripture. It’s the rule of God.
2. Secondly, God’s majesty which is displayed through His creation. So we look at God’s purposes in creation related to His rule and then the majesty of God as displayed through His creation.
3. Then third, we look at the role of man in relation to that rule.
So this is a key idea. The rule of God sometimes referred to as God’s dominion. All of this is foundational and interconnects with everything related to worship.
In Genesis 1:26, what does God say when He creates man? He says let’s make man in Our image. Image is a key word. Go through all the pagan temples in the Old Testament. What do you find? You find the image of a god.
What does God say in the beginning of the Ten Commandments? “You shall have no gods before Me. You shall make no images.” So who is the image of God? It’s human beings. We’re the image of God.
That’s vital for understanding what happens in terms of Church Age believers as temples of the Holy Spirit. It’s all related to the fact that we have to have this image restored or renovated in order to fulfill the initial purpose of God.
That’s what’s stated in Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, ‘Let’s make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion [rule] over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ ”
This verse was clearly understood by early environmentalists at the end of the 19th century to be an anti-environmentalist concept, that man was to rule over the animals. The creation is in a subordinate role. As a result of that, these early modern environmentalists in Europe understood that this was a Jewish concept. This was something else that fed the anti-Semitism of Europe and eventually became a key element within Nazi theology and Nazi philosophy in the era from the 1920s until the time of the Third Reich.
Mark Musser has written a tremendous book on this called Nazi Oaks. I took copies over and put them in the Yad Vashem library because it connects this Jewish Old Testament theology of man’s purpose to have dominion over nature to the rejection of this by environmentalists and how that fed into their anti-Semitism.
In Genesis 1:27 it says, “So God created man in His own image: in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them.” This is the second and third time we have this concept mentioned. Whenever the Holy Spirit repeats things like this we have to pay attention.
It’s critical to understand that every human being, male and female, is in the image of God. This wasn’t erased with sin. It’s corrupted by sin but nevertheless, we still have this mission of dominion although it’s very limited until the Messiah returns.
Genesis 1:28, “Then God blessed them, and God said to them [five commands which run counter to modern environmentalism who believe in population control], ‘Be fruitful and multiply’ …” He says that again after the Noahic Covenant, the worldwide Flood. “Be fruitful and multiply.” He never said to stop, so this is still a mission for the human race. We do not suffer from overpopulation at all despite what the liberals say, who all have a foundation that rejects the Scripture.
Genesis 1:28, “… Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth and subdue it [God made the earth and the natural resources on the earth for the benefit and pleasure of man. We should not destroy it in the process, which often has happened, but we are to develop it and use it for the comfort of our lives].
Then He says to “Have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living that moves on the earth.” Those are the first five mandates that He gives to the human race, but He gives two more when we get into Genesis 2.
In Genesis 2:15 God has created Adam but He hasn’t yet created Eve, so there is a statement made here which is an expansion of what happens on the sixth day. We read, “Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to serve [work] and watch over [keep] it.”
The word to “put” is an interesting Hebrew word. When I’ve studied this in the past I’ve missed this. It’s the same word that is the root word for the name of Noah. It means rest. So, God is putting man in the Garden and it is related to the whole concept of the Sabbath rest. The Sabbath rest isn’t that when man decreed the seventh day that man was just going to sit around and twiddle his thumbs and be a couch potato for about twenty-four hours, but that he would be involved in worshipping God.
This was a time of celebration of God’s work. God set apart the seventh day and hallowed it, which means He sanctified it. That means He set it apart as a day to focus upon God. There’s a correlation there between the words that are used for rest in Genesis 2:2 and the synonym of Noah in Genesis 2:15.
There’s a connection there with the verb there and the purpose is stated is that God is going to put Adam in the garden to serve and to watch over it. Those are some interesting words because it’s usually not translated with “serve” and “watch”. It’s usually translated with the idea that the man was put in the garden to tend and to keep “it” and “it” is taken to be the garden.
We’ll get into the technicalities of this eventually, but the “it” is a misunderstanding of the Hebrew. The Hebrew suffix there isn’t a suffix that should be translated as the pronoun “it”, but it should be translated simply as an infinitive. The “it” is not there. The little dot there in the Hebrew makes a big difference. If you don’t have the dot there it should be rendered as an infinitive.
It means that God put them in the garden to serve and to guard [shamar]. We’ll get into this a little later on, but those two words are critical for understanding worship because it’s those words used individually and many times in the same verse all through the latter part of Exodus and Leviticus when it’s describing the work of the Levitical priest. They are there to watch, to guard, to protect, and to serve God.
The word “work” here is the word for serve. It is a key word for understanding serving God, which is the essence of worship.
We see a connection to this from the beginning to the end. We look at the end of the Bible, Revelation 22:3, after the new heavens and new earth have been created and God is now dwelling on the earth. So, the whole earth becomes God’s dwelling place. His presence illuminates the earth so there’s no need for a sun or a moon
We read in those first five verses of Revelation 22, “And there shall be no more curse …” There’s no evidence of the curse of Genesis 3 anymore. “… but the throne of God and of the Lamb …” That’s important. It’s one throne and God and the Lamb are on that throne.
By this point Jesus has been enthroned and it’s His throne as well as the Father’s throne. “… and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His servants shall serve Him.” That’s all of the regenerate of the ages. We are there in the New Heavens and the New Earth to serve Him. That is worship.
Let me show you what else happens in this same verse. I want to use a couple of quotes to tie some things together from some key commentaries so you understand it as I’m building all of this. This is something I’ve sat around contemplating my navel for the last two or three weeks making these kinds of connections.
Umberto Cassuto is a brilliant Jewish exegete. He’s not a believer but he is profound in the text. He makes a statement related to Eden. He’s talking about the Ezekiel passage and the anointed cherub there, which we know is Satan and his presence there.
He makes a quote at the end of this passage that the cherub there is not necessarily outside of Paradise as is depicted here, but is actually inside. The reason I’m citing this is that here’s a guy who is looking at Eden as Paradise.
Another guy who does that is Arnold Fruchtenbaum. In Arnold’s commentary on Genesis he makes the point that in Genesis 2 and 3 you have the presence of Paradise on the earth. Paradise is a term that applies to Eden and Paradise is lost in Genesis 3.
That’s where John Milton got the title for his poem “Paradise Lost”. Of course, the sequel to it is “Paradise Regained”. Arnold has in his chart comparing Genesis to Revelation a whole list of things, one of which is Paradise lost in Genesis 3 and Paradise regained in Revelation 21 and 22.
Another important commentator today is Robert Thomas. As you know he is very conservative and he went to be with the Lord last September. We were struggling with Harvey so not paying attention, but I think he was almost 100.
He says, “The earliest description of Paradise is in Genesis 2. Man’s banishment from it is in Genesis 3. Luke 23:43 tells of a restoration to it [a future restoration of Paradise] and 2 Corinthians 12:2–4 speak of a vision of it.” [Paul has a vision of going to Paradise.] A promise of a future enjoyment within it is in Revelation 2:7.” [It’s part of a reward for persevering believers.]
He then says, “The five verses that begin Revelation 22 show that God’s redemption will return the new creation to the Garden of Eden state and to the Creator’s intention for humanity.”
See, this is the story of the Bible. Paradise is lost and it talks about everything God is going to do to bring it to a culmination when we get to the end in the New Heaven and the New Earth. When we do this, we’re going to see a lot of threads, a lot of images, and a lot of terminology that just goes through the Bible.
One of the things I find so neat about that is that it shows that the Bible couldn’t just be made up. You’ve got over forty writers writing these books over a period of fifteen hundred years, yet they use similar vocabulary when they’re talking about similar things. This just can’t be coincidence. There are ways that the text is structured that I hope to get to tonight, if not, it’ll be next time, where it just isn’t coincidence the way God structures His Word. If we believe that the Word is inspired by God and it’s inerrant, then these things are the way they are to get our attention. That’s in the original. We miss it in the translations.
Then Bob Thomas says about Revelation 22:3, “The absence of the curse and the presence of God and of the Lamb further characterize the restoration of Paradise …” All of this is related to understanding a broad view of what worship is.
In Revelation 22:5 we read, “There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they [those who are serving Him] will reign forever and ever.” That connects a lot of dots for you. If you understand what Jesus was telling the disciples that the first would be last and that the key to leadership is humility and serving one another.
Those who serve are the ones who are going to reign forever and ever. Then in Revelation 22:9, “Then he [the angel who is guiding John] said to me [John], ‘See that you do not do that. [John was about to bow down to the angel.] For I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book…” Then the command, “Worship God.”
We see from beginning to end this focus that the purpose of humanity is to worship God. We need to understand how to worship Him in a biblical framework. The foundation for understanding worship is that God is the Creator. God’s creative activity runs through all these passages that are in relation to worship.
Psalm 148:5 says, “Let them praise the name of the Lord, for He commanded and they were created.” I started getting involved in studying creation science when I was fourteen years old. Many of you have heard the story of how a counselor at Camp Peniel gave me a book called The Genesis Flood when I was about fourteen. A lot of it was over my head, but a lot of it I could grasp.
It gave me great confidence that the Bible could be defended as being literally true, especially in the area of Creation. Over the years when the topic of creation did come up such as younger creation versus older creation and other aspects of creation, aside from the details of creation, you would have people who would express concern or doubts of distress over the biblical teaching of Creation. They said it was a distraction from the gospel.
I heard that from a lot of people—people you may love and respect. They said we have to focus on the gospel because people couldn’t understand Creation if they weren’t regenerate. Yes and no, but you can’t talk about Jesus without talking about Creation. You don’t know who Jesus is if you don’t know about Creation.
This has become a contemporary problem because as I pointed on Sunday about three weeks ago. Dr. Ken Ham who is the president and founders of Answers in Genesis ministry that has the Creation Museum in Kentucky and the Ark Museum, said that Andy Stanley, who is pastor of one of the largest churches in the Atlanta area and son of a much more orthodox father, has made some extremely distressing comments about the Old Testament.
Andy Stanley said recently in a sermon that Christians need to unhitch the Old Testament from their understanding of the faith. When he went on to explain that, he said that many had lost faith because of things in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament. He said that once people can no longer accept all the historicity of the Old Testament, such as the miracles and the Genesis Creation, which are myths [which is how he characterizes Genesis Creation], then their whole house of faith is like a house of cards that came tumbling down. If it’s all God’s Word and you find one part that’s not true, then uh oh, the whole things come tumbling down.
He’s attacking and basically saying that people don’t really need to know this. In contrast the Bible shows that understanding God as the Creator is fundamental to understanding everything else in the Bible. If you throw out Creation, you’re going to have some incredible problems.
If you don’t understand Creation, then you don’t understand the purpose and meaning of humanity. You don’t understand the value of mankind. You don’t understand the basic problem, which is sin. You don’t understand that the ones who have this basic problem are all of us and that we’re spiritually dead.
If you don’t understand what the solution is, which is redemption, and if you don’t understand sin and redemption, then you don’t understand why God needs to send a Savior and why you need to believe in Jesus who died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sins. All of that is wrapped up and stands on a doctrine of Creation and a historicity and the accuracy of Genesis 1–3.
When we look at the Bible we see the emphasis that the God of the Bible created ex nihilo [out of nothing] something before there was a universe. There was absolutely nothing except God and He spoke, He commanded, and it came into existence. There was nothing and then there was something. That is the most profound thing.
If God can speak something into existence out of nothing then all these attempts to assimilate to evolution are unnecessary. What they do is to minimize God as the Creator. If He made something out of nothing, then why would He need to do this over millions or billions of years?
Why would He need to use a mechanism like evolution or all these other things that violate this basic precept of God as the Creator?
I want to just run through just a few things to show you how central this is to worship. First of all, in this passage in Psalm 148:5 we see this is a psalm that calls upon the creation, where it’s personified to worship God. Five times in this psalm there is a call to worship. There is a call to the moon and the stars. The only sentient beings who are called on to worship God in that psalm are the angels.
The angels are called upon to praise God. The reason is then given in this verse. “Let them praise the name of the Lord, for He commanded and they were created.” “Them” refers to the stars and the moon and the sun and everything in the creation, including the angels. “Let them praise the name of the Lord, for He commanded and they were created.”
The word there for “created” is the word bara, which is only used of God. Only God creates using that verb. No human being is ever said in the Old Testament to bara anything. This is a divine act of Creation.
We see that the angels are called to worship God. This is grounded on His Creation because He created them.
I want to read through some psalms because I want to show you the centrality of worship to Creation. In Psalm 8, which is written to the Chief Musician accompanied by a stringed instrument, A Psalm of David. It says, “O LORD, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth, who have set Your glory above the heavens!” That is a profound statement, because as we have seen the glory of God [kavod] has the idea of the weightiness, the significance, the importance of God.
If that is set above the heavens and heavens is a term that incorporates all of Creation, then if God’s glory is above that, then that emphasizes that God is superior to everything that is created. It emphasizes the Creator/creature distinction.
“Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength, because of Your enemies, that You may silence the enemy and the avenger.” So, this somehow relates the creation to His enemies. We won’t go into that right now.
Psalm 8:3–5, “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers [that’s an anthropomorphism picturing God as an artist creating and building the universe], the moon and the stars, which you have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him [human beings] a little lower than angels, yet You crowned him with glory and honor.”
What is that glory and honor? Why is man crowned? Because he’s in the image of God. He is God’s representative to rule over His creation.
Psalm 8:6–8, “You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, All sheep and oxen—even the beasts of the field, The birds of the air, and the fish of the sea …”
Unbelievers think this is a terrible doctrine, that says that man rules the environment. It runs completely counter to all this pagan environmentalism that dominates our culture today.
Psalm 8:8–9, “The birds of the air, and the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas. O LORD, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth!” This psalm becomes meaningless if God didn’t create everything ex nihilo and if Genesis 1 and 2 are not literally true.
No pagan god can do this. The pagans worship the sun god, the moon god, and animal gods. In Egypt you had crocodiles and all kinds of other creatures that were worshipped. They worshipped the creatures, but God, Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, created all of those things. Those are not gods. They are the creation of the God.
So we come to Psalm 136:1–9, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!” Then there’s a chorus that runs through this whole psalm. For the sake of time I’m not going to repeat the chorus. It’s “For He is good! For His mercy endures forever.”
“Oh give thanks to the God of gods!” He is superior to all of the false gods. There’s a polemic that runs through here. A polemic is an argument against something and to show that something is not valid and that something is not accurate. What they’re showing is that it’s God who is superior to the gods of the pagans.
“Oh give thanks to the Lord of lords! To Him who alone does great wonders.” What are these great wonders? Creation.
“To Him who by wisdom made the heavens. To Him who laid out the earth above the waters.” Remember in Genesis 1 you have the waters that were below the earth and the waters above the earth. God separated the land and dry land came out of the waters below.
Verse 7, “To Him who made great lights.” One of the goddesses of Babylonia was the goddess Tiamat, which is a cognate to the Hebrew word tehom, which is the word for the deep in Genesis 1:2. So the idea that God is over the waters and causes the waters to separate is that God is superior to the Babylonian goddess, Tiamat.
“He makes the great lights.” That’s the sun and the moon. You have the worship of the sun god and the worship of the moon god and they’re worshipped by the pagans. This was always a problem in Israel’s history, because they would get sucked into the worship of the pagan gods.
You see one example of this in Ezekiel 9. Ezekiel goes to the temple and the leaders of the temple worship are standing out in front of the East Gate. The East Gate is obviously facing the east. A lot of people think that had something to do with the rising of the sun and illumination in the temple.
You have to pay attention. This happens also in Jeremiah. What’s happens is that Ezekiel makes the observation they are facing East. They are worshipping the sun. They’re apostates. They’re idol worshippers.
What has to happen visually and physically if you’re going to worship Yahweh in the temple? You have to turn around and turn your back to the sun and worship the true God. It’s a physical representation of the rejection of idolatry and allegiance to the God of Israel.
God made the great lights, the sun and the moon. They’re not gods or goddesses. They’re created by the God. All of this emphasizes God’s creation, which is at the very core of our worship because God has created all things.
Psalm 29:9, “The voice of the Lord [He speaks and things are] makes the deer give birth, and strips the forests bare; And in His temple everyone says, ‘Glory!’ ” God speaks and the deer gives birth. Birth and death are under God’s control.
We don’t worship death. This was a part of Canaanite worship. We don’t worship death. These are not gods and goddesses. Birth and death are under the control of Yahweh.
When we start working our way through this we see that the first glimpse of angelic worship is directed to God as Creator for His Creation.
This is in Job 38:4–7. In these rhetorical questions of God to Job, God is pointing out the finiteness of Job’s knowledge. “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements? Surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? To what were its foundations fastened? Or who laid its cornerstone.”
“When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” Sons of God here is a term for the angels. They are worshipping God and praising Him in unity when He is creating the heavens and the earth. And they all shout together for joy.
Another glimpse we have of this is in Isaiah 6:3 and in the future in Revelation, chapters 4 and 5.
In Isaiah 6:3 when the seraphim are crying out to one another “Holy. Holy. Holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” That is making a statement about His Creation because God created the earth as in Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God and the firmament shows His handiwork.”
The Creation is expressing God’s glory. It is a representation of the significance and importance of God. So God as the Creator of the heavens and earth is what is embedded and what is implied in this verse.
Then we get to its echo in the future. So from the beginning of Creation when God is praised by the angels for His Creation, during human history when the seraphim praise Him for His Creation, and at the end He is still being praised by the angels for Creation.
We read in Revelation 4:8, “The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night ...” So this goes on and on. This is a continual song to the Lord. “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!”
Revelation 4:11, “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power.” That all relates to the majesty of God. “For You created all things.” We worship God’s majesty because He is the Creator. If you take away the doctrine of Creation, you strip the foundation out from under worship. “You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.”
We see Creation is the starting point for worship. It starts with the angels and this is their primary emphasis in their worship of God. Second, we see from the Old Testament that Creation is related to appreciating the majesty of God.
1 Chronicles 29:11 is a key passage here. The context is interesting. This is near the end of David’s life and this is sort of his parting message to the Israelites. God has told him that he cannot build the temple. It’s reserved for his son, Solomon.
David drew up the plans. David made sure all the building materials were brought together. He organized everything.
The temple was going to be built with precious metals and jewels. It was going to be expensive. It was probably the most expensive temple in the ancient world. Of course, God provided everything.
It was a time of incredible prosperity in Israel at the end of David’s reign and the beginning of Solomon’s reign. The wealth was incredible and the people came and made these free will offerings of precious stones and precious metals.
David is thanking them for that and he’s offering praise to God for providing all this for His people to give. In 1 Chronicles 29:11, we read, “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power and the glory …” The word for “glory” here isn’t the usual word for glory (kavod). It’s a word that means beauty and pride. It’s used a number of times in the Old Testament, emphasizing the beauty of God.
We know that God is a God who creates beauty and it reflects Him as beautiful. I’ve talked about that before. We’ve talked about music and singing and that we should have a great sense to the degree that we can to promote that which is beautiful, because that reflects who God is and His Creation.
“The power and the glory and the majesty for all that is in the heaven and in earth is Yours.” It’s His because He created it. That’s all based on His being the Creator. “Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted as head over all.”
Here are the three key words that are translated majesty in the Old Testament. The first word is ga’awa which refers to majesty in the sense of God’s excellence. He is superior to everything. He is the ultimate benchmark for quality, for perfection, and for beauty. Everything comes from God.
The second word is the word hod which is a word that was used in 1 Chronicles 29:11 passage we just looked at. It’s translated as splendor, majesty, vigor, glory, and honor. The third word is the word harar which talks about ornament, splendor, or honor.
All of these are talking about the indescribable beauty and glory and brilliance of God. This is foundational to understanding who God is.
1 Chronicles 16:26–27 says, “For all the gods of the peoples are idols …” We see these passages talk about God as the God of gods, it’s talking about Yahweh Elohim’s superiority over the false gods of the people. “For all the gods of the peoples are idols but Yahweh made the heavens.” Once again you see God as the Creator is foundational to worship.
“Honor and majesty are before Him; Strength and gladness are in His place.” When we think about worship, our focal point is on the glory of God. His majesty. His character. That is first and foremost expressed at Creation. Secondly, it’s going to focus on His redemption, but we haven’t gotten to the Fall yet in this study.
Psalm 145:4–5 David says, “One generation shall praise Your works to another …” That’s talking about the ongoing transmission of praise. One generation after another sings the same psalms. “… and shall declare Your mighty acts. I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, and on Your wondrous works.”
The wondrous works here are creation as we’ve seen defined in the Psalms and other passages. So we’re to meditate on God’s creation. This is critical for understanding genuine biblical worship.
The third point we see in terms of God as Creator is that He is the ex nihilo Creator of all things, He created out of nothing. That’s foundational to everything in our lives. Without Creation as the Bible describes it, there’s no basis for redemption and there’s no basis for understanding the need for redemption, which is the Fall.
There’s no basis for the value of humanity. There’s no basis for ethics. None of these. There’s no basis for talking about what’s right and what’s wrong.
In the ancient world you have these pagan gods and goddesses that are worshipped. They’re basically grotesque. They’re often caricatures of human sinfulness. They’re involved in adultery. They’re involved in violent wars and violent activities so that in the Babylonian creation myth you have one god killing another god and then ripping its body apart and using that as the building blocks for creation. So nothing in pagan religions is created out of nothing. There is simply these gods who are very grotestque, perverted, and very human doing this activity.
The passages in the Bible are polemics. Now anything that’s polemical today is not politically correct. It is attacked by the radical left. That’s just Satan’s ploy because God uses polemics all the time and God makes fun of false religions.
That’s what’s happening in these passages. He’s often poking fun at people who go out in the forest, cut down a tree, chop up half the tree and use it to heat their house and burn it in the fire. Then they carve up the other half of the tree and bow down and worship it. Isaiah makes great fun of the Israelites during this time for their idolatry. That’s what is meant by a polemic.
In the Canaanite religions it was really perverse. All of their religion centered around prosperity. They thought they had to motivate the gods to make everything fertile, to have crops that are productive and to have children. The whole idea was to go into their temples and have sex with the prostitutes because that is a form of sympathetic magic which encourages the gods to make us productive. This was one of the most perverse forms of worship in the ancient world.
Genesis says in the face of that God speaks and man and everything comes into existence. He guarantees blessing and fertility on a permanent basis, not because you have to keep coming back to Him every year to somehow convince Him and manipulate Him into giving you prosperity.
He simply speaks and it comes into existence. That’s completely contrary to all religions at the time. So his ex nihilo creation is foundational.
Fourth, we can’t understand Jesus without a biblical doctrine of Creation. Jesus reaffirms Genesis several times in His ministry. In John 1, there is a prologue to the Gospel of John where John is defining who Jesus is. He calls Him the logos, which is translated word.
He says, “In the beginning was the Word …” That means that when things began, the Word was already present. The Greek tense there indicates continuous existence. “In the beginning the Word was already existing and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”
There’s he’s affirming that this Person was alongside of God and is equally divine. In John 1:3, “All things were made through Him [the logos] and without Him nothing was made that was made.” So he’s saying that Jesus was the Creator.
In the Trinity we have Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Father is the architect, the planner. Jesus Christ is the One who executes the plan, and God the Holy Spirit is the One who renovates the creation. We see that in Genesis 1:2. After there’s already been a judgment on the earth, the Holy Spirit is moving on the face of the deep. That’s the role of the Holy Spirit, renovation.
So John 1:1–3 emphasizes the role of Jesus. We also have that in Colossians 1:16, “For by Him [Jesus] all things were created that are in heavens and on the earth, visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.”
The fifth thing we see is that God as Creator is contrasted to all these false gods, the idols. That happens again and again and again in the Old Testament. The emphasis is that God is the One who is the Creator.
1 Chronicles 16:26, “For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.” They’re manufactured by human beings. Yahweh made the heavens. You never have any kind of ex nihilo creation among the gods of the ancient near eastern people nor any of the gods of the other religions.
God speaks and it comes into existence. Psalm 33:6–9, “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.” He commands and it comes forth. “He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deep in storehouses.” This is a polemic against the gods of the Babylonians.
“Let all the earth fear Yahweh.” Part of worship is fearing the Lord. Why? Because He is the Creator. “Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast.”
Essential to worship is understanding Creation. Essential to understanding redemption is that God is the Creator. This is not an optional idea. It is foundational to understanding all of the Scripture.
Not only that, but it is foundational to understanding the Law, The Mosaic Law, the Ten Commandments. Creation is described in Genesis 1 as the foundation of the Law and the rationale for all the Ten Commandments.
Remember, the first five books of the Bible are called the Pentateuch. Penta means five, like in Pentagon. The Pentagon in Washington, D.C. has five sides. Genesis is the prelude of the five books in the Pentateuch. It tells where the Jewish people came from, why God had to call out Abraham, and what their purpose is.
Then we skip about three or four hundred years and we have Exodus and we see that the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph are all in Egypt and they’re slaves to the Egyptians. God is going to free them to bring them to the land He promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
To have a nation, you have to have a law code. You have to have laws. You have to be a people of laws. That’s where we got the idea in this country. You have a lot of radical people on the left who want to do away with borders. When you do away with borders, you kill a nation.
A nation cannot exist without borders that are enforced any more than you can take care of your property wherever you live or rent if you just open all the doors and windows so anyone can come in whenever they want to. You have no property. You have nothing. That’s a guarantee to self-destruction if you have open borders.
In order to have a nation you have to have borders and you have to have law. You have to have the rule of law. That’s the Ten Commandments, which are grounded on an understanding of Genesis 1. Now think about this. If the U.S. Constitution is grounded on the Mosaic Law and the Mosaic Law is grounded on Genesis 1 and literal Creation, don’t you think it’s a logical conclusion that the United States Constitution is ideologically grounded on a literal Genesis 1?
Without that you’ve lost the whole basis for the law. An example of this is in the fourth commandment. You have the command to work six days and then to rest. Here’s where you have the word nuach, which I pointed out earlier in Genesis 1. On the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord Your God. You’re to do no work that you do the previous six days. Now you’re going to labor in the work of God.
Why? Exodus 20:11, “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day.” If God didn’t literally create in six twenty-four hour consecutive day periods, that command would be meaningless.
It’s saying that God had this pattern for six consecutive twenty-four hour days—He worked. Then He rested on the seventh. If those were long historical periods, you have say that I’ll work for six thousand years and rest during the seventh thousand years. It means you never have to rest or take time to worship God.
Unless those six days are literal twenty-four hour consecutive days, the whole Sabbath law, which is the sign of the Mosaic Covenant, is rendered meaningless. That’s just one example.
Creation answers the question of why we should obey the commands of God. Why should we do what God says we should do? That runs all the way through the Mosaic Law: love the Lord your God and follow His commands.
What’s interesting is that in Exodus 20 we have the Ten Commandments. Do you think that’s just a coincidence of happenstance? In Genesis 1 we read, “And God said”, ten times. Those are 10 words of God in Genesis 1. In those ten words there are seven expressed commands. Do you think that’s a coincidence that there are seven commands in seven days?
What we see is that since all creation obeyed God when He commanded them to come into existence, that’s why we should obey God. Look around. It’s a perfect Creation. God commanded and everything came into existence and if they obeyed God, then we should obey God.
The second thing that’s pointed out is God’s commands produced absolute perfection and beauty. What could be wrong with obeying God’s commands? He expresses perfection.
Also, God’s commands produce life, harmony, and peace. So if you want to have life, harmony, and peace, which is the theme of all the wisdom literature in the Bible—Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes—all of that is predicated in understanding that following God’s commands will produce real life and happiness.
We look at the first commandment, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.”
Why? God is saying that all of the other “gods” are forces of nature created by Yahweh, or they represent aspects of God’s creation. God is saying “why should you worship them? I made all of them. I made the sun. I made the moon. I made the air. I made the water. I made the stars.”
Another example which I talked about a minute ago is in the 4th commandment. When you go back to Genesis 2:4, this is interesting about the structure of Genesis 1 and the whole Creation story. This is not something just thrown together, but is very well crafted.
There are three consecutive parallel lines, each containing seven words and divided into two parts. The first part in every case is like a three-fold refrain with the word, “the seventh day”. It doesn’t come across in the English that way, but that’s the way it’s stated in the Hebrew.
Only one who is insensitive to the beauty and majesty of that line, writes Cassuto, could conceive of the possibility that this just happened by chance. He goes on to list a number of things that relate to the structure of Genesis 1, saying, “Each of the three nouns that occur in the first verse ‘in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’ express the basic concepts of the whole section: God, heavens, and earth.”
He goes on to say, “the name of God occurs thirty-five times, that is five times seven. In the first four chapters the divine name of God occurs seventy times.” (He has further discussion on that). This is all structured very clearly. He says “ten times we have the phrase ‘God said.’ In those ten statements there are seven commands. The terms light and day are found seven times in the first paragraph and there are seven references to light in the fourth paragraph. Water is mentioned seven times. The fifth and sixth paragraph forms of the word living beasts occurs seven times. The expression ‘it is good’ appears seven times. The first verse has seven words. The second verse contains fourteen words, which is seven times two.”
You don’t have to remember all of this. The point is that there’s a structure here where everything culminates in the seventh day. There is an order and purpose to all of this. What we will find out is that when you go a step further in this study and we’re talking about the tabernacle, which is the center piece of God’s dwelling, that in God’s revelation of how to build the tabernacle in Exodus 25–31, there are a series of chapters. In the Hebrew there is a structure. There are seven speeches for each of the seven days of Creation and the seventh speech relates to the function of the worship of God.
All of this is designed to point to the fact that man’s purpose is to worship God. In the Sabbath rest we have this word nuach, which means rest. That idea of rest runs through the Old Testament. It is hammered by Jesus. What does He say? “Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” It’s the rest that’s lost in the Fall.
Then we come to Hebrews and Hebrews says there is a future rest and that relates to the coming Kingdom. The Sabbath rest talked about in Hebrews is yet future. If you understand what is going on in Genesis 1–3 where you lose Paradise and it’s restored ultimately. And it’s all related to the worship of God throughout this fallen period, and how it will culminate.
In Revelation 22 we are commanded that in the new heavens and new earth we will worship God. That should be the focal point for our lives.
“Father, we’re thankful we can study this tonight and get this overview. We see the significance of Your Creation and Your creative activity. You are the One who created the heavens and the seas and all that is in them.
“This is not just some poetry or hyperbole or imagery. It is the specific statement that is foundational to our understanding of Your majesty, Your power, and Your glory, and our role as those in Your image, created in Your image in order to rule over this creation. How that was lost and how it will be restored.
“Father, we’re thankful that all of this culminates in our future realization of redemption and the regeneration when all is realized in the future in the new heavens and the new earth when we worship you as we continue to carry out the responsibilities You delegate to us at that time.
“We pray that we will marvel at what we have learned and what is exposed in the Scripture. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”