- Shopping Bag ( 0 items )
Ships from: Grand Rapids, MI
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
Ships from: Chatham, NJ
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
Ships from: Chicago, IL
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)
"In the beginning God" is the seminal statement that launches the divine manuscript of the Bible. One commentator suggests that these are the most important four words ever written. This inspired quartet of words expresses faith in God as the foundation of life and the world.
They answer the riddle of the universe, affirming that the world did not come about by chance, but God is its first great Cause. They don't tell how the universe was created, but who created it, and they go on to relate, not the process, but the purpose of creation.
The verse proclaims that the universe can be understood only in the light of divine conception. Its declaration refutes atheism, contradicts pantheism, rebuts polytheism, and belies materialism.
Although it is impossible for us to comprehend fully this concept of an eternal, transcendent God, the only alternative is that of an eternal, self-existing universe, a concept that is not only incomprehensible but irrational. Eternal God or eternal matter - that is the choice.
Genesis 1:1, and its context, declares that the sovereign God created this complex,orderly universe, with intelligent and moral persons on a planet fantastically designed for their living and care. That monumental declaration of truth assures that the sovereign God also holds our future and finite lives in his mighty and loving hands.
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)
These words may well be considered the most stupendous announcement of ancient history. It is a breathtaking thought, that on the sixth day of world history the Creator of the universe chose to mirror himself in the creation of a being with magnificent capabilities.
This declaration tells me that I am more than a cosmic accident, an animated clod, a bit of enchanted dust, a pawn in the universe, a fortuitous concourse of atoms, or the plaything of an inscrutable fate. I am something more than a series of breaths, a sequence of footsteps, a frail chain of words. I am created a two-world creature, with feet of clay to walk the earth, but with the imprint of divinity upon me. By divine fiat, God made us in his very image.
Shakespeare's Hamlet, contemplating humankind, was constrained to exclaim:
What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! How infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In apprehension how like a God!
Our golden text declares that man and woman were created imago Dei - in likeness to God. We are a paradox of dust and divinity. "Frail children of dust," yet made in the image of the Creator, we have a holy purpose in this life and an eternal destiny in the life to come.
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)
For the first time in creation something is not good: "The Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him'" (Genesis 2:18). Without female companionship man was not complete.
God then creates woman and ordains that she and man should be as one, the words of our text providing the scriptural institution of marriage. The words have a familiar ring, of course, not only because they are usually quoted during the marriage ceremony, but also because Jesus based his own teaching on marriage on this primeval account in Genesis (Matthew 19:4-6).
In the metaphysics of marriage, one and one make one - for the two shall "become one flesh." The relationship of husband and wife is an inseparable union, the most indissoluble of all human relationships. The "leaving" and "cleaving" may sound old-fashioned - and so it is - but it is still God's societal law.
The first human institution established by God was that of marriage. In his provision for marital companionship and love, God ordained the family and home to be the basic human unit, which would provide the nurturing and training foundation for children born into the family.
This inspired passage at the very beginning of the creation account in the Bible leads us to understand afresh the divine plan for life's highest happiness and fulfillment. Only as the family is seen and understood as God's sacred institution can the life of individuals, and that of a society and nation, realize God's plan of true joy and fulfillment.
"And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." (Genesis 3:15)
This peerless promise in Genesis 3:15 has long been known as the Protevangelium - the "first gospel." Viewed in light of the Christian gospel, Bible scholars see a veiled reference to Christ, the earliest promise of the coming Messiah, his suffering, and final triumph over sin and Satan. Here we have the beginning and germ of all prophecy.
The "seed of the woman" (King James Version) provides the earliest hint of the Messiah's birth. It would have been traditional to write of the Lord's paternal parentage, but the prophecy speaks of "her offspring," the first intimation concerning the supernatural birth of the Savior, later prophesied by Isaiah (7:14) and ultimately fulfilled as recorded in the Gospels (Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:35).
"He will crush your head," God says to the Deceiver, predicting the ultimate defeat of Satan. "You will strike his heel" is a symbolical reference to the sufferings and death of the Savior, but this would not be a mortal wound, as Satan's wound will be. From this fountainhead the prophecy of redemption widens in Scripture as an ever-broadening stream.
This verse was to be the only star of promise for redemption on humankind's horizon until the coming of the prophets several millennia later. In humanity's darkest hour, when sin had marred the divine image, when judgment had been pronounced, in the bleak sky there appeared this scintilla of the promise of God's grace and mercy, in the coming Savior and his redemptive work.
"For dust you are and to dust you will return." (Genesis 3:19)
How many times we have stood before the open grave and heard the words, "ashes to ashes, dust to dust." They serve as a reminder of our mortality and the ultimate consignment of life to the grave.
The great Charles H. Spurgeon in one of his sermons asked, "Why is it that I must die? The angels do not die. Why must I die? Why all this skill and wisdom to endure but for an hour?" He goes on to answer his burning question: "We die because Adam sinned. Sin is the mother of death. Sin slays the race. Adam's sin in Eden dug the graves of all his children."
The poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow reminds us, "Our hearts, Like muffled drums, are beating funeral marches to the grave." No matter how much we exercise, how much we diet, how many vitamins we take, or how many doctors we visit, someday we will die. Death is too powerful for us to fight by ourselves; we cannot face it alone. We need someone greater and stronger than death, the One who has conquered death for us!
Let us set alongside this text that given by Paul, who in his chapter on the resurrection declares: "The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable.... For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality" (1 Corinthians 15:42, 53).
Longfellow echoes this truth in his memorable lines from "Psalm of Life":
Life is real! Life is earnest! And the grave is not its goal; "Dust thou art, to dust returnest," was not spoken of the soul.
"Am I my brother's keeper?" (Genesis 4:9)
The context of our text shows how temptation must be mastered at the start, lest it lead us down the slippery slope to destruction. First, we find that Cain was angry and downcast with a deadly jealousy, which embittered him because of his brother Abel's more acceptable worship of God. Cain's worship was a mere formal act. Abel is commended in the New Testament for his faith (Hebrews 11:4) and Jesus himself referred to Abel as righteous (Matthew 23:35).
God sternly warned Cain about ungoverned jealousy and anger: "Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it" (Genesis 4:7). Either we master sin, or it masters us, and we can master sin only by our dependence upon God. Cain failed to heed God's warning and went on to practice deception and then to commit the first murder in God's creation (v. 8). The first man born on earth killed the second man born on earth - his own brother - and the terrifying aftermath has been the progression of violence and murder from generation to generation.
Confronted by God, Cain was called to account: "Where is your brother Abel?" He responded with an outright lie, "I don't know," and insolently disavowed responsibility: "Am I my brother's keeper?" There may have been no human witness to Cain's crime, but the eye of God had seen it. After the divine inquisition comes the divine sentence. The final consequence for his heinous sin is God's judgment upon him and his alienation from God.
John Donne reminds us: "I am involved with mankind." We cannot escape our responsibility for our brothers and sisters in our Father's world. As taught by Christ in Matthew 25, at the "Great Assize" we will be held accountable to God for our relationships with others. Our Lord calls us to be more than our brother's "keeper"; he calls us to be our brother's brother!
CH7[ Enoch's Long Walk
Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away. (Genesis 5:24)
The greatest thing that can be said about a person is that "He is a man of God," or "She is a woman of God." Twice in Enoch's two-verse biography it is said of him, "Enoch walked with God." If it is true that we can be judged by the company we keep, then this simple statement gives the most illuminating insight into the godly character of Enoch.
In the very next chapter of Genesis we read one of the most vivid descriptions in the Bible of humanity's depravity: "The Lord saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time" (6:5). Then follows the account of God's judgment in sending the Great Deluge that destroyed all except Noah's family. Enoch's walk with God was going against the tide; his life was a shining light in the darkness.
To walk with God implies moral fitness and harmony with his will. A walk suggests steady progress. Enoch walked with God for over three hundred years. In that fifth chapter of Genesis no less than eight times a patriarch's genealogy concludes with the words, "and then he died." But in the cameo of Enoch we find a notable exception: "then he was no more, because God took him away." Hebrews 11:5 interprets this verse for us: "By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away." Enoch walked with God, and one day he walked so far that he simply stepped off into heaven.
Ours is an even greater privilege than that of Enoch. We may enjoy an even closer walk with God through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. May it be said of us, "He walks with God" or "She walks with God." ]CH7
CH8[ Why Methuselah Lived So Long
Methuselah lived 969 years, and then he died. (Genesis 5:27)
Methuselah is known the world over for his legendary longevity, 969 years, the longest recorded life span. The most sanguine hopes of scientists today, who seek to optimize the length of life, do not approach the record in the fifth chapter of Genesis of patriarchs who averaged 912 years of life upon earth. Various theories have been advanced for such longevity, as well as speculations about the marvelous nature of the world's primeval environment, but in the end it remains a mystery.
Many embark on a rigorous quest for a long life. They consume vitamins, undertake diets, exercise on the most sophisticated equipment. But in the end, even as it was for ancient Methuselah, the epitaph is inscribed. No one escapes death.
The name given by Enoch to his son Methuselah had a sacred meaning: "When he dies, it shall be sent," or, "When he dies, judgment." A divine revelation was memorialized in his name. It was as though God said to Enoch: "Do you see that baby? The world will last as long as he lives and no longer. When that child dies, I shall deal with the world in judgment."
His name commemorated both a warning and a promise of God. As long as Methuselah lived, the day of grace was still available to humankind. What a beautiful testimony to God's grace that the longest span of life ever recorded was the measure of time God gave to humanity to repent before he would send his judgment, the Great Deluge, upon all the earth.
The stern warning of Genesis 6:3 is still true today: God said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever." We have no Methuselah's life span today in which to repent and receive God's gift of salvation. We can be saved from the judgment of God only if we accept God's free offer of his marvelous grace and gift of life eternal. ]CH8
CH9[ Witness of the Seasons
"As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease." (Genesis 8:22)
As we look about us we will find that wonders never cease as long as we never cease to wonder. The poet William Wordsworth invites us to "Let Nature be your teacher./She has a world of ready wealth,/Our minds and hearts to bless."
We live in an age more remote from nature than ever before. The difference is epitomized in the homely statement: "Grandfather had a farm, his son had a garden, and his grandson has a can opener." An urban child may suppose that breakfast comes from the supermarket, and heat from the furnace. However, our text reminds us that "seedtime and harvest," with its bountiful store of our daily bread and provisions for life, is a gift from God.
Excerpted from Daily Meditations on Golden Texts of the Bible by Henry Gariepy Copyright © 2004 by Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.