Sermon: Genesis 1:1-2:3
Pentecost 1 – June 11, 2017 – Rev. Steven J. Radunzel
If I asked you what you noticed about this first reading for Trinity Sunday, that serves as our text for today, you’d probably say first of all that it’s really long. It is the entire account of creation from the first two chapters of Genesis. And you might have a question about this long reading - what does it have to do with Trinity Sunday? The truth is that, while we primarily subscribe creation to God the Father, all three Persons of the Trinity were involved in the creation of the world and of us.
So on this Trinity Sunday we’re going to consider that
THE TRIUNE GOD MADE EVERYTHING
I’m going to begin with a statement that would normally sound pretty unorthodox and get me into some theological trouble. Humanly speaking, and that’s critical, humanly speaking, this account of creation in Genesis 1 and 2 is woefully inadequate as a description of the creation of the universe, the world, and of man. Or let me put that in another way that will not get me into any trouble. God was extremely modest in his inspired description of how he created the universe, the world, and man.
What I mean is this: The creation account that we have as our text and Old Testament reading today is only thirty-four verses long. It covers just a page and half in the Bible. It uses practically no scientific terms. The simple, plain meaning of the text is so clear that even a little child can understand it. It is in fact a very child-like description of how God created our vast universe, our world, and us.
But hiding behind this very simple, child-like description of creation is the earth, together with its vast life forms, that is extraordinarily complex and a universe that is virtually infinite. The size of the universe in miles would be a number that goes far beyond what our minds can even begin to comprehend. There is a delicate balance in the universe between galaxies and planets and especially in our solar system. This balance is so absolutely precise that it allows for life to exist on our planet.
In 1977 NASA launched two spacecrafts, Voyager 1 & 2, whose mission was to fly by and take pictures of the planets at the outer edge of our solar system. They completed that mission and now are billions of miles from the earth and actually exiting our solar system. From billions of miles away Voyager 1 & 2 took pictures looking back at Earth. And scientists were able to see more clearly that our solar system is just one of about 100 billion stars and planetary systems that make up the Milky Way. And the huge Milky Way in which the earth exists is just one of billions of galaxies in the universe.
And as scientists viewed the earth from this vantage point billions of miles away they noticed that our earth exists in just a relatively small band of light that allows for life to exist in this world and no where else. Our Earth is just exactly the right distance from the sun. Any closer and all life would burn up. Any farther away and all life would freeze. The moon’s gravitational pull maintains our earth’s tilt on its axis allowing for the change of seasons and the balance of temperatures. The moon’s gravitational pull also causes the waves and churning of the oceans’ waters that are necessary for life.
The speed of light is 186,000 miles per second. If we could get on a space ship and travel at that enormous speed of light, it would take us 100,000 years before we could view the entire Milky Way. And scientists estimate that after 14 billion years of travel at the speed of light we would begin to see the breathtaking structure of the entire universe.
This vast universe whose extent goes way beyond our slightest ability to comprehend is held together and operates by finely calibrated and mathematically perfect laws and forces. The great scientist and mathematician Albert Einstein once said that “the most incomprehensible thing about our universe is that it is comprehensible.” In other words our universe is amazingly infinite and incomprehensible, and yet it is governed by very specific and comprehensible and observable laws of science.
The honest person who has just a child-like understanding of these truths of our universe has to say that there is an intelligent design to our world. There is a higher intelligence, a supreme being, an almighty god, who designed and created this whole universe that operates under his perfect laws. We confess our belief in that truth every Sunday: “I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.” That’s the truth that some of us learned on the first day of Sunday school.
And God very modestly describes his creation of this vast and amazing universe in one sentence: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Then he goes on in thirty more verses and simply describes how he created life and plants and animals in this world.
Notice God’s continued modest description of creation. The moon is about 240,000 miles from the earth, and its gravitational pull keeps our world balanced. But God simply describes the moon as the light to govern the darkness. Or the sun is thousands of times larger than the earth and is 93,000,000 away from us. God simply calls the sun the light that governs the day, the light that in fact gives us life every day. And about all those stars that we see at night, those billions of stars that really represent individual suns and solar systems and galaxies, God simply says, “He also made the stars.”
There are evolutionists and scientists and astronomers who say that this Genesis account of creation is utterly ridiculous, that it’s just a silly, childish Sunday school story. But we say that it is not just a silly child’s story. We believe that it is God’s own inspired version of how he created our universe and world and everything in it. We just believe these words of Genesis with child-like faith. Along with the writer of Hebrews we say, “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”
If God had really written down every detail about the creation of the universe and this world and all the laws that so precisely govern his creation, it would have taken thousands of books that would take more than a lifetime to read. We can be very thankful that he just used thirty-four simple verses that we could understand and marvel at even as little children in Sunday school.
King David of Israel lived 3000 years ago and certainly did not have the vast knowledge that we have today about the universe and yet he said, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” The immensity and the breathtaking beauty of a clear night sky calls upon every one of us to worship and praise God for his amazingly creative power.
The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Romans makes the same point: “Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” Both David and Paul are saying that if not one single word were ever written down in the Bible, the mere immensity, beauty, and mystery of the world and universe would call upon us to worship, praise, and thank God for his almighty power, wisdom, and goodness.
God created the light and the land, the seas, the sun, moon, and stars, the plants, and animals simply by saying, “Let there be.” But the most important words that God spoke in this creation account are these: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our own image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’” On this Trinity Sunday we especially note how the three Persons of the Trinity conferred together on the creation of man. “Let us make man in our own image, in our likeness.”
And then we read, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” And hidden behind that simple, child-like statement of man and woman’s creation is the amazingly complex operation of our human body and mind. Volumes have been written and far more is yet to be discovered about how the systems of these bodies work, how we see, how we hear, how our bodies naturally regulate themselves, how our brains work. King David never read an anatomy book but he did write in Psalm 139, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
And that’s just our physical being. God created us in his image. He created you and me with the privilege to be like him, to be holy and sinless like him, to think like him, and to have an immortal soul, that spiritual part of us that thinks and feels emotions and makes us alive. For the privilege of God’s image alone he deserves our worship, thanks, and praise.
When Voyager 1 & 2 turned their cameras back on the solar system the earth was just a speck in a small beam of life-giving light. But in this whole and incomprehensibly vast universe something went terribly wrong on that little speck called Earth. The crown of God’s creation, the ones created in God’s image, with the freedom to make choices, rebelled against God, sinned against him, and brought death into the perfection of life.
But God, who is bigger and more powerful and beyond even the infinity of the universe, who is in fact the Creator and Sustainer of the entire vast universe, came to this little speck called Earth to give life back to us sinners. God the Son, the second Person of the Trinity, came to be one of us. He came to die on a cross to atone for Adam’s sin and all our sins and the sins of the whole world. He rose again from the dead victorious over sin and death.
God described his miraculous creation in thirty-four verses. In the rest of the Bible, in sixty-six books, in thousands of passages, he explained what he did to save us from our sins. He told us the story of Jesus. And that story of Jesus he has summarized in one verse: “God so loved the world, (that little speck called Earth) that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
The Triune God made everything, and saved us too! Amen.