Sermon on Genesis 1:27-31
Text: So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground — everything that has the breath of life in it — I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning — the sixth day.
One of the first prayers that Christian parents may teach their children is, “O, give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his mercy endureth forever.” This is a wonderful prayer, reminding us to be thankful for all of the Lord’s blessings that he showers upon us. Yet, it is so easy for us, when we have prayed that prayer a countless number of times, to just say the words, without thinking about what we are saying. This morning, as we reflect on the mystery of the Triune God, I would like to take a few moments and think about the goodness of our God to us as it was displayed in his creation of the world. Let us LEARN ABOUT THE GOODNESS OF GOD. 1. Everything That He Created Was Very Good. 2. He Created Humanity In His Image. 3. He Lovingly Entrusted Creation To Us.
At the end of the sixth day of creation, it says, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.” (Verse 31) When God finished his creation of the world, he looked at everything that he had made and he declared it to be “very good.” This is not the same as a craftsman might look at a woodworking project and declare that he had done a good job. ‘This is the best cabinet that I have ever made.’ Rather, God makes this declaration for our sake. He wants us to take note of the wisdom and order he put into creating the world, which he was preparing for us to inhabit. This is so easy to see when you mark the order of what was created on each day. God didn’t just haphazardly throw things together. He made sure that there was light before he put any living things on the earth, because it is necessary for survival. He put plants on the earth, before he put animals on the earth so that they would have something to eat. If you and I were to make something from scratch, there is no doubt that we would make some mistakes along the way. We would have to make something to compensate for an earlier mistake. When God created the world, it was perfectly put together from start to finish. When God says that, at the end of creation, the world was very good, he reminds us of his wisdom and goodness in the creation of the world.
I would like to call your attention to a couple of side notes, when we think about the creation of the world. The first is the manner in which the world was created. If you or I were to make something, we have to have the basic elements to begin with. You make a cake by gathering together flour, eggs, milk, etc. If you are going to build something, you have to have the materials. Then, we have to use our hands and put it together. We see the power of God in creation, as he simply spoke the words “Let there be,” and the thing was created. Not only do we see God’s goodness in creation, but we also marvel at his almighty power.
The next thing of note is the phrase, “And there was evening, and there was morning — the sixth day.” (Verse 31) This verse, as well as the other verses in Genesis 1 that mark the passing of time, shows us that the world was created in six twenty-four-hour days. It did not take millions and billions of years for the world as we know it to take shape. This is one of the basic tenets of evolution. Unfortunately, there are some who want to blend the concepts of creation and evolution by saying that the word “day” really means an eon or a long period of time. They say that God worked through the evolutionary process and each of the days listed in Genesis 1 are really long periods of time. However, there is no other place in the entire Old Testament that uses the word “day” to mean anything other than a twenty-four-hour period of time. God used his almighty power during those days to create the wonderful world in which we live. Even at a cursory glance, we can see the goodness of our God when we look at the world he created.
In addition to the marvelous human body that he has given us, God gave humanity a blessing that he did not give to any other creature. It says in verse 27, “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” What is meant by the fact that humanity was created in the image of God? First of all, let’s talk about what it does not mean. First of all, it does not mean that we were created to look like God. Often you will hear that a child is the spitting image of a parent or grandparent, because they look just like they did at that age. However, this cannot be the case here, because God is a spirit. He does not have a body, as we do. Secondly, this is not referring to the fact that human beings possess a self-consciousness and a fully developed ability to reason. This is in opposition to the animals that merely act on the instincts that God has given them. They do what they do because this is the way that God created them. We know that we exist and we have the ability to think about the choices that we make. This is not what is meant by the image of God.
What is meant is that God created humanity with a perfect knowledge of God’s will. They just knew those things that God wanted them to do. They were in perfect step with him. More than that, God not only gave a perfect knowledge of his will. God also gave humanity the ability to carry it out. They could choose to do God’s will and they could do it perfectly. This is a blessing that God gave to no other creature on the earth. We see the amazing goodness that God showed to humanity by creating them in his image.
We see another example of God’s goodness to us in verses 28&29, “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’ Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food.” These verses show us that God gave humanity preeminence over the rest of his creation. God created the world for mankind to rule over it and to take care of it. Oftentimes, it seems, that people get this backward, as though we are to be less than the rest of the created world. Nature is seen to be more important than people. This is not the case, at all. We are to rule over the earth. Please, don’t misunderstand me as though I am saying that we are not to take care of the world in which we have been placed. God wants us to be good stewards of the planet on which we live. We don’t want to be wasteful or purposefully destroy. Yet, we see in the order of creation that God created the world for humanity, and not the other way around. God gave us this wonderful world in which we live to provide for us and to enjoy another way that he wishes to bless us.
God has shown his goodness to us by the world that he created. When he finished, he pronounced it to be “very good,” that is to say, perfect. Yet, we know that the world is no longer perfect. The reason for the loss of perfection is revealed to us in chapter three of Genesis when Adam and Eve fell into sin. As soon as that happened, nature lost its perfection. God told Adam in Genesis 3:17&18, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.” Before this, creation would naturally provide for humanity. Now, it would require labor. Because sin entered the world, so did decay and rust and violent storms. Creation was ruined because of sin.
Even worse than the loss of perfection for creation was the loss of the image of God. Now, people do not have the ability to carry out the will of God. Even the things that look good to the rest of the world are filthy rags in God’s sight. Because that image of God was lost, the only thing that lay in the future for humanity, for you and for me, was an eternity of being separated from God’s goodness in the torments of hell. This loss of God’s image is seen every single time that you and I sin. Instead of living forever in God’s presence, as God originally intended, we would have been lost forever.
However, we see God’s goodness showing forth ever so brightly against this as he sent his Son to rescue us from this situation. Jesus came to bring us back to God. The way that this had to be accomplished was to pay the debt of sin that we owed our God. Jesus took care of this through his life, through his suffering and death on the cross, and his glorious resurrection. This image of God, also known now as the New Man, was restored to us through the working of the Holy Spirit. When we were brought to faith, this New Man was created in us, that knows our Father’s will. The New Man delights in doing this. We, also, have the ability to do this. Motivated by the love that has been shown to us, we choose to do that which pleases our loving God. Unfortunately, we will never do this perfectly, while we are here on this earth. We still have the Old Adam in us that rebels at the thought of doing what God wants us to do. Yet, God in his goodness to us, strengthens the New Man in us through his Word and the sacraments so that we are able to do what God wants. God has shown his goodness to us in restoring the image in which he created Adam and Eve. We look forward to that time, when we will no longer have the Old Adam in us. We will only have the New Man for all eternity.
Furthermore, God continues to show his goodness to us in creation by providing all that we need to survive through it. He shows his love by the various seasons. He causes plants and animals to grow for our usage. There are the minerals in the earth that he has placed there for us. He has given us the atmosphere to protect us from the harmful rays of the sun. Everywhere we look, we see God’s goodness being shown to us. We also look forward to that day when creation will also be restored to its perfection. All the effects of sin will be gone. The world will be as it was on that sixth day of creation and God will again declare it to be “very good.”
God has so richly blessed us through his creation. He has showered blessing upon blessing on us. God has been so very good to us. Yet, sometimes, we forget how God has shown his goodness to us in his creation. We have gotten so used to them that we take them for granted. Let us take a lesson from the hymn “How Great Thou Art.” He reviews the many blessings that are seen in the world around us. He talks about the stars above us, the power of the thunderstorm, the woods, the sweet singing of the birds, the mountains, and the babbling brook. What is his response when he sees all of these things? “Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee,
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!” May God continue to remind us the goodness that he has shown to us and may we open our mouths to praise him for it. Amen.
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