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I. What is meant by creation? The giving being to that which before was not. The expression, "the heavens and the earth," is the most exhaustive phrase the Hebrews could employ to name the universe, which is regarded as a twofold whole, consisting of unequal parts. Writing for men, Moses writes as a man. The moral importance of the earth, as the scene of man's probation, is the reason for the form which the phrase assumes. The truth of the creation governs the theology of the Old and New Testaments, and may have influenced the formation of heathen cosmogonies, such as the Etruscan and the Zendavesta. Creation is a mystery, satisfactory to the reason, but strictly beyond it. We can modify existing matter, but we cannot create one particle of it. That God summoned it into being is a truth which we believe on God's authority, but which we can never verify.
II. Belief in the creation of the universe out of nothing is the only account of its origin which is compatible with belief in a personal and moral God.
Creation suggests Providence, and Providence leads the way to Redemption. If love or goodness were the true motive in creation, it implies God's continuous interest in created life. By His love, which led Him to move out of Himself in creation at the first, He travels with the slow, onward movement of the world and of humanity, and His Incarnation in time, when demanded by the needs of the creatures of His hand, is in a line with that first of mysteries, His deigning to create at all. Belief in creation keeps man in his right place of humble dependence and thankful service. A moral God will not despise the work of His own hands, and Creation leads up to Redemption.
H. P. Liddon, University Sermons, 2nd series, p. 38.
The Bible spoke in the language and through the knowledge of its time. It was content to reveal spiritual truth, but left men to find out scientific truth for themselves. It is inspired with regard to principles, but not as regards details of fact. The principles laid down in this chapter are: (1) the unity of God; (2) that all noble work is gradual; (3) the interdependence of rest and work; (4) that man was made in the image of God.
S. A. Brooke, Sermons, p. 222.
I. Man naturally asks for some account of the world in which he lives. The answer of the text as to the creation of the heavens and the earth is: (1) simple; (2) sublime; (3) sufficient.
If God created all things, then ( a ) all things are under His government; ( b ) the heavens and the earth may be studied religiously; ( c ) it is reasonable that He should take an interest in the things which He created.
II. Biblical theology teaches: (1) that creation is an expression of God's mind; (2) that creation may form the basis for the consideration of God's personality and character; (3) that God's word is its own security for fulfilment; (4) that the word which accounts for the existence of nature accounts also for the existence of man.
Parker, People's Bible, vol. i., p. 118.
The whole Trinity, each in His separate office, though all in unity, addressed themselves to the work of creation: (1) the Holy Spirit brooded over the watery chaos; (2) the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, was that power, or "Arm of the Lord," by which the whole work was executed, "In the beginning was the Word;" (3) the Father's mind willed all, planned all, and did all. God created only "the heaven and the earth." He provided a heaven, but He did not provide a hell. That was provided, not for our world at all, but for the devil and his angels. If we ask why God created this universe of ours, three purposes suggest themselves: (1) it was the expression and out-going of His wisdom, power, and love; (2) it was for the sake of His noblest work, His creature, man; (3) the heaven and the earth were meant to be the scene of the exhibition of His own dear Son. Remember, that marvellously grand as it was, that first creation was only a type and earnest of a better.
J. Vaughan, Sermons, 15th series, p. 37.
References: Genesis 1:1 H. P. Liddon, Penny Pulpit, No. 205 (see Old Testament Outlines, p. 1); J. Van Oosterzee, The Year of Salvation, vol. ii., p. 320; H. Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. iv., p. 1; A. P. Peabody, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xii., p. 333; J. Cumming, Church before the Flood, p. 79; Homiletic Quarterly, vol. i., p. 87, vol. iv., p. 420; Clergyman's Magazine, vol. xx., p. 19, vol. xxii., p. 82; S. Leathes, Truth and Life, p. 1; J. E. Gibberd, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xvii., p. 249; M. G. Pearse, Some Aspects of the Blessed Life, p. 25; C. Kingsley, Discipline and other Sermons, p. 112; C. Kingsley, The Gospel of the Pentateuch, p. 1; R. S. Candlish, The Book of Genesis, Discourses, vol. i., p. 18; B. Waugh, The Sunday Magazine (1887), p. 59. Genesis 1:1-3 F. W. Robertson, Notes on Genesis, p. 1.Genesis 1:1-5 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xi., No. 660.
It is possible that God made at first only one kind of matter, the germ of all the universe. Indeed, Scripture seems to hint this in the sublime record of the origin of light: "And God said, Let there be light, and there was light." Here light is evidently regarded as the first of all sublunary things.
The principal agent in this work was the Son of God. He had made the third heaven. He had created angels. The strong Satan himself was originally the workmanship of Christ. It is no strange hand that moulded the worlds. Go wherever you may, the hand of Christ has been before you, and He Who made all these strange suns, and all these mighty systems, is the very Victim that suffered, bled, and died on Calvary.
I. The creation was a gradual process, a process probably extending over millions of ages; not merely a process, but a procession of things and beings, from inferior to superior, from the less to the more perfect. The reasons might be: (1) to show that God's works were not the offspring of hasty impulse, but that they were planned from everlasting, and executed with minute and lingering care; (2) to discover the variety of methods which a God infinitely rich in resources can employ in effecting His great purposes. This gradual creative work occupied the Creator for millions of ages. This we gather, not from the Bible, but from the discoveries of geology.
II. The creative process at last came to a point in man, who, amidst ten thousand other animated forms, alone was made, in the full sense of that word, perfect, and who became the best and highest work of God. From the Scripture statements about the creation of man we deduce the following principles: (1) that man was formed by a direct act of Omnipotence; (2) that he was made after the model of his Maker, and therefore perfect; (3) that he was immeasurably superior to the lower animals, and entitled to dominion over them; (4) that he was the object of God's peculiar blessing; (5) that one main purpose of his creation was to subdue and cultivate the earth; (6) that he consisted of two parts a body taken out of the dust of the ground, and an immaterial part breathed into him by his Creator; (7) that although created a unit, he was potentially plural, too, and was destined to be joined by a companion in his original state of innocence and purity; (8) and that he was in a state of probation, and exposed to temptation and the hazard of fall.
G. Gilfillan, Alpha and Omega, vol. i., p. 49.
References: Genesis 1:0 . H. Alford, Meditations in Advent, p 71; S. Leathes, Studies in Genesis, pp. 5, 17; Expositor, 2nd series, vol. iv., p. 191, vol. vii., p. 444; 3rd series, vol. iii., p. 354; Parker, vol. i., pp. 103, III. 1-2:4. Clergyman's Magazine, vol. iv., p. 34; J. Monro Gibson, The Ages before Moses, p. 55.
We should be sure we understand both Nature and Scripture before we pronounce certainly on their agreement or disagreement, and it can hardly be said that either is quite understood. To attempt to reconcile all the expressions in this chapter with the details of science is a mistake. It has certain true things to declare, facts of nature which have a religious bearing, and are a needed introduction to the revelation which follows; and these facts it presents in the poetic form natural to the East, and most suited to impress all kinds of readers. The "six days" are fit stages in a poetical account of the great evolution, even as a play acted in a few hours represents the events of years. Three great lessons are impressed in this chapter: (1) that God is the Maker of heaven and earth; (2) that by means of His operation on dead and formless matter the order and beauty of the varied and living world were produced; (3) that the change was gradual. The Spirit of God brought order and development to the material world. We cannot see the Intelligence, the Mind which directs the works of nature; but it is equally true that we cannot see them in the works of man. It is truer to say that the Invisible Mind, the unseen Spirit of God, moved upon the formless earth and brought it to its present ordered form, than to say it happened so. The Spirit of God moved, i.e., brooded as a bird over her young. This indicates the quiet, untiring ways in which God works in the heavens and the earth. The Spirit of God must bring order and development (1) to the spiritual world, (2) to the individual soul. The Spirit of God must move or brood upon the worse than darkness of sinful and godless hearts.
T. M. Herbert, Sketches of Sermons, p. 1.
References: Genesis 1:2 R. M. McCheyne, Additional Remains, p. 88; Sermons for the Christian Seasons, 2nd Series, vol. ii., p. 593; R. W. Evans, Parochial Sermons, p. 237; Bishop H. Browne, Old Testament Outlines, p. 2; A. P. Stanley, Good Words (1875), p. 273; B. Waugh, Sunday Magazine (1887), p. 63.Genesis 1:3 A. P. Stanley, Church Sermons, vol. i., p. 171 (see also Old Testament Outlines, p. 3); B. Waugh, Sunday Magazine (1887), p. 61.Genesis 1:4 . Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxi., No. 1252; Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 5; Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, pp. 5, 192; Parker, Pulpit Notes, p. 148; Christian World Pulpit, vol. ii., p. 113.
(1) One of the first lessons which God intends us to learn from the night is a larger respect for wholesome renovation. Perhaps this may not show itself in any great lengthening of our bodily life, but rather in a more healthy spirit, less exposed to that prevailing unrest which fills the air and which troubles so many minds. (2) The night is the season of wonder. A new and strangely equipped population, another race of beings, another sequence of events, comes into and fills the world of the mind. Men who have left their seal upon the world, and largely helped in the formation of its deepest history, men whose names stand up through the dim darkness of the past, great leaders and masters, have admitted that they learned much from the night. (3) The next thought belonging to the night is that then another world comes out and, as it were, begins its day. There is a rank of creatures which moves out into activity as soon as the sun has set. This thought should teach us something of tolerance; senses, dispositions, and characters are very manifold and various among ourselves. Each should try to live up to the light he has, and allow a brother to do the same. (4) Such extreme contrasts as are involved in light and darkness may tell us that we have as yet no true measure of what life is, and it must be left to some other conditions of existence for us to realize in anything like fulness the stores, the processes, the ways of the Kingdom of the Lord which are provided for such as keep His law. (5) Let us learn that, whether men wake or sleep, the universe is in a state of progress, "the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together." (6) Let us learn to use day rightly and righteously, to accept the grace and the forces of the Lord while it is called today, and then the night shall have no forbidding, no repulsive significance.
H. Jones, The Family Churchman, Oct. 20th, 1886.
References: Genesis 1:5 Spurgeon, Morning by Morning, p. 153; Spurgeon, Evening by Evening, p. 193.Genesis 1:5-6 Clergyman's Magazine, vol. vi., p. 38. Genesis 1:11 . B. Waugh, Sunday Magazine (1887), p. 65.
There are few words much oftener in our mouths than that short but most important word, "Time." It is the long measure of our labour, expectation, and pain; it is the scanty measure of our rest and joy. And yet, with all this frequent mention of it, there are, perhaps, few things about which men really think less, few things upon which they have less real settled thought.
I. Two remarkable characteristics make up the best account which we can give of time. The one, how completely, except in its issue, it passes from us; the other, how entirely, in that issue, it ever abides with us. We are the sum of all past time. It was the measure of our opportunities, of our growth. Our past sins are still with us as losses in the sum of our lives. Our past acts of self-denial, our struggles with temptation, our prayers, our times of more earnest communion with God, these are with us still in the blessed work which the Holy Spirit has wrought within us.
II. Such thoughts should awaken in us: (1) deep humiliation for the past; (2) thankfulness for the past mercies of God; (3) calm trust and increased earnestness for the future.
S. Wilberforce, Sermons, p. 73.
References: Genesis 1:14 . H. Macmillan, Two Worlds are Ours, p. 18. Genesis 1:14 , Genesis 1:15 . A. P. Stanley, Good Words, 1871, p. 453.Genesis 1:14-19 Clergyman's Magazine, vol. vi., p. 39.
It is noticeable that while this chapter does not profess to be a scientific account of creation, not only is creation represented as a gradual process, but the simpler living forms are introduced first, and the more advanced afterwards, as the fossil remains of plants and animals prove to have been the case. God has seen fit to appoint, in the world of mind as well as of matter, great lights, and lesser lights, and least lights, answering to the daylight, moonlight, and starlight of the heavens.
I. Consider the lights of angels, of men, and of animals. The angels behold the face of God and watch His plans from age to age. Compared with us, they live in the blaze of day: we have the lesser light of human reason, which relieves, but does not banish, the night. There are around us other conscious creatures, endowed with still feebler powers, who grope in the dim starlight of animal existence. God is the "Father of all lights."
II. The lights of Heathenism, Judaism, and Christianity. What a glimmering starlight of religious knowledge is that of the heathen millions! How partial and imperfect was the knowledge that even the Jews possessed! At last "the Sun of Righteousness arose with healing in His wings." The world has not exhausted, it has scarcely touched, the wealth of spiritual light and life in Him.
III. The lights of childhood, manhood, and the heavenly state. The faint gleam of light in childhood develops into the stronger light of manhood, but even that does not banish the night. "In Thy light we shall see light.
T. M. Herbert, Sketches of Sermons, p. 16.
References: Genesis 1:21 . Expositor, 2nd series, vol. iv., p. 191.Genesis 1:24 . Clergyman's Magazine, vol. vi., p. 40. Genesis 1:24-26 . Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxi., p. 371.
It is not too much to say that redemption, with all its graces and all its glories, finds its explanation and its reason in creation. He who thought it worth while to create, foreseeing consequences, can be believed, if He says so, to have thought it worth while to rescue and to renew. Nay, there is in this redemption a sort of antecedent fitness, inasmuch as it exculpates the act of creation from the charge of short-sightedness or of mistake. "Let us make man in our image," created anew in Jesus Christ, "after the image of Him that created him."
Notice three respects in which the Divine image has been traced in the human.
I. "God is Spirit," was our Lord's saying to the Samaritan. Man is spirit also. This it is which makes him capable of intercourse and communion with God Himself. This it is which makes prayer possible, and thanksgiving possible, and worship possible in more than a form and name. Spirituality thus becomes the very differentia of humanity. The man who declares that the spiritual is not, or is not for him, may well fancy himself developed out of lower organisms by a process which leaves him still generically one of them; for he has parted altogether from the great strength and life of his race.
II. Spirituality is the first Divine likeness. We will make sympathy the second. Fellow-suffering is not necessarily sympathy. On the other hand, sympathy may be Where fellow-suffering is not. Love is sympathy, and God is love. Sympathy is an attribute of Deity. When God made man in His own likeness, He made him thereby capable of sympathy. Spirituality without sympathy might conceivably be a cold and spiritless grace; it might lift us above earth, but it would not brighten earth itself. III. The third feature is that which we call influence, the other two are conditions of it. Influence is by name and essence the gentle flowing in of one nature and one personality into another, which touches the spring of will and makes the volition of one the volition of the other. It is indeed a worse than heathenish negation of the power and activity of God, the source of all, if we debar Him alone from the exercise of that spiritual influence upon the understanding, the conscience, and the heart of mankind, which we find to be all but resistless in the hands of those who possess it by His leave. "God said, Let us make man in our image, after our own likeness."
C. J. Vaughan, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xix., p. 369.
References: Genesis 1:26 . Parker, vol. i., p. 164; C. Kingsley, Gospel of the Pentateuch, p. 18; Bishop Woodford, Sermons Preached in Various Churches, p. 33; H. Melvill, Penny Pulpit, No. 1491; E. M. Goulburn, Pursuit of Holiness, p. 102; J. Laidlaw, The Bible Doctrine of Man, p. 98; Smith, Donellan Lecture (1884-85), p. 173; H. Grey, A Parting Memorial, p. 286; A. Murray, With Christ in the School of Prayer, p. 137; S. T. Williams, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xvi., p. 218. Genesis 1:26-31 . F. W. Robertson, Notes on Genesis, p. 9. Genesis 1:26 , Genesis 1:27 . Clergyman's Magazine, vol. x., p. 214.
Man is one, yet threefold: he has mind, body, and soul, a mind ruling the body, a body executing the decrees of the mind, a soul giving life to and energising the body. On the mind alone there is a triple stamp of the Creator; in the mind of man are Intelligence, Will, and Memory. Intelligence, whereby he can understand about God; Will, whereby he may seek Him; Memory, whereby he may recall the blessings God has showered upon him. Before these three powers can obtain their perfect satisfaction in God, the three wounds of man must be healed. By his fall from God the Father, who is Omnipotence, man has contracted infirmity; by withdrawing from God the Son, who is the Wisdom of God, he has contracted ignorance; by withdrawing from the Spirit, who is the Goodness of God, he has contracted love of evil. These three wounds will be healed by Faith, which will illumine man's ignorance; by Hope, which will sustain his infirmity; and by Charity or Love, which will counteract his evil concupiscence.
S. Baring-Gould, Village Preaching for a Year, vol. ii., p. 9.
I. God's image in man consisted: (1) in the possession of moral powers and susceptibilities; (2) in the pure and righteous state of his whole nature; (3) in his relative position toward other terrestrial creatures.
II. The blessedness involved in the possession of God's image consisted in making human nature: (1) a mirror of God in itself; (2) a mirror of God to other creatures; (3) a mirror in which God saw Himself.
S. Martin, Westminster Chapel Pulpit, 1878, p. 210.
References: Genesis 1:27 . B. Waugh, Sunday Magazine (1887), pp. 133, 207, 278, 427; Bishop W. Basil Jones, Old Testament Outlines, p. 4; T. G. Bonney, Oxford and Cambridge Undergraduates' Journal, May 10th, 1887; Sermons for the Christian Seasons, 1st series, vol. i., p. 205; J. W. Burgon, Oxford Undergraduates' Journal, June 12th, 1884; Bishop Harvey Goodwin, Parish Sermons, vol. v., p. 1; Bishop Alexander, Norwich Cathedral Discourses, 4th series, No. 1; H. Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. iv., p. 35; F. Temple, Bampton Lecture (1884), pp. 37, 69; S. A. Brooke, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xviii., p. 17. Genesis 1:27 , Genesis 1:28 . F. A. Tholuck, Hours of Christian Devotion, p. 370.
Does this command mean for the human race a destiny of progress or poverty? This question is being pressed upon us to-day from many directions. It is asked, not only by theologians and economists, but as a vital question of daily bread by English labourers and workmen. In the power to bring social questions within the range of a common religious teaching is to be found, in these days, the true "note" of a standing or falling Church. If Christianity still holds the key to all the unsolved problems, both of society and of the individual, it is for the Church of the present to grasp, if she can, and set forth, whether by word or deed, the bearing which Christianity has upon the social life of man.
I. Is poverty a perpetual ordinance of God, to be accepted as an essential part of the providential scheme of government? To any one who believes in the daily prayer Christ taught us, "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven," there can be no doubt as to the true answer to that question. We believe in the perfectibility of humanity. The grand sweep of things is from the lower to the higher. So far from attributing the state of poverty to the providential order of society, it is to that social order that we attribute all victories which have been won over poverty. Study the laws of Providence, strive to co-operate with them, and you shall see accomplished in humanity this double manifestation of progress, all men approximating to a common level, and a level which is continually rising.
II. How shall we explain Christ's apparent exaltation of poverty and depreciation of just those social elements which seem most characteristic of modern civilisation?
Jesus Christ did not come into the world to give men a new system of morality, but to give us a new motive to be good and to do right. His denunciation of riches and exaltation of poverty must not be separated from the conditions under which He spoke, much less from the real object which He had in view. His method always was to put the abstract principle into concrete shape. We must not go to the New Testament as to a code of maxims and dicta; we must imbue ourselves with the mind of Christ, and let our behaviour flow freely from it.
III. Let us not rest satisfied with the message of the man of science, of the sociologist who tells us that our only hope is in the slow progress of social evolution; let us go down into the thick of the fight, into the grimy street and monotonous village, and there, amid the "dim common populations," let us do journeyman service.
C. W. Stubbs, Oxford and Cambridge Undergraduates' Journal,, March 1st, 1883.
No one can prove to us that God made the world; but faith, which is stronger than all arguments, makes us certain of it.
I. All which God has made is good, as He is, and, therefore, if anything in the world seems to be bad, one of two things must be true of it: (1) either it is not bad, though it seems so to us, and God will bring good out of it in His own good time; or (2) if the thing is really bad, then God did not make it. It must be a disease, a mistake, a failure of man's making, or of some person's making, but not of God's making. For all that He has made He sees eternally, and, behold, it is very good.
II. God created each of us good in His own mind, else He would not have created us at all. Why does God's thought of us, God's purpose about us, seem to have failed? We do not know, and we need not know. Whatever sin we inherited from Adam, God looks on us now, not as we are in Adam, but as we are in Christ. God looks not on the old corrupt nature which we inherited from Adam, but on the new and good grace which God has meant for us from all eternity, which Christ has given us now.
III. That which is good in us God has made; He will take care of what He has made, for He loves it. All which is bad in us God has not made, and therefore He will destroy it; for He hates all that He has not made, and will not suffer it in His world. Before all worlds, from eternity itself, God said, "Let us make man in our likeness," and nothing can hinder God's word but the man himself. If a man loves his fallen nature better than the noble, just, loving grace of God, and gives himself willingly up to the likeness of the beasts that perish, then only can God's purpose towards him become of none effect.
C. Kingsley, The Good News of God, p. 268.
References: Genesis 1:31 . T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. ii., p. 238, vol. vi., p. 1; F. W. Farrar, Ephphatha, Sermons, p. 157; Outline Sermons to Children, p. 1; T. Birkett Dover, A Lent Manual, p. 19; Archbishop Thomson, Lincoln's Inn Sermons, pp. 138, 155; Christian World Pulpit, vol. xxv., p. 42.
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