Believing the Unbelievable. Why Genesis 1 matters.

imagesIf you ask people what are some of the most unbelievable stories in the Bible, there are a handful of usual suspects that inevitably rise to the top of the list.  Those stories would include Jonah and the giant fish, a cataclysmic flood wiping out everything except for a few humans and animals crammed into a massive boat, God parting the Red Sea, or the Virgin Birth of Jesus.  Even people who claim to be Christians get nervous about certain stories and tend to try to explain away or “downsize” the story by giving a non-supernatural explanation for such things.  imagesSo instead of just embracing the notion that God could command a fish to swallow a runaway prophet, supernaturally sustain that prophet’s life for three days in the animal’s stomach, command it to go to shore and vomit the man up, we instead scour for stories in history of other examples of poor fellows who were swallowed and survived to tell about it to prove its scientifically possible.

imagesInstead of being awestruck by a God who pushes millions of gallons of water to either side to let hundreds of thousands of Israelites pass through on dry land, some look to natural phenomena.  Perhaps there was simply a strong wind combined with shallow water and low tide.  Those lucky Hebrews!  It’s amazing how stuff just happens to work out for them.

This problem of unbelief is nothing new.  Our ancestors struggled too.  When God promised Sarah she would have a child well past her fertile years she laughed.  God’s comeback is classic.  “Is anything too hard for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” (Genesis 18:14)  You’ll never guess what happened next year.

We should cut Sarah some slack, though.  We’re more guilty than her.  Sarah didn’t have a Bible full of records of all the “impossible” things God did.  We do.

Such doubts over these ancient stories puzzle me in light of what may well be the most important verse in the whole Bible, and that’s the very first verse.  “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  And now that I think of it, perhaps Sarah was as guilty as we are.  She didn’t have the Bible, but she knew Genesis 1:1.  Apparently she forgot the implications of that verse as we are prone to do today.

Why is this verse so important?  Because if you believe Genesis 1:1 you should have absolutely no trouble believing in the rest of the Bible.  Genesis 1 tells us that God spoke, and the whole universe leapt into existence.   Be in awe of that for just a moment.  Many of us are so familiar with Genesis 1 it does not affect us as it should.

imagesHave you ever gone out on a clear dark night away from the city, away from the lights, and just looked up at the sky?  What did you see?  You saw the moon.  Behind the moon you saw endless stars.  Have you ever contemplated the bigness of the universe on such a glorious night?  Did you know that there are hundreds of thousands of millions of stars in our own galaxy?  And did you know that there are millions upon millions of galaxies full of their own stars?  Truth be told, we don’t even know how many stars there are.  The further we peer out into the universe, the more we find.  But Scripture tells us that God made them all, knows their number, and has named each one. (Psalm 147:4)  Does this make you shudder?  It should.

If God made it imagesall simply by speaking a word, then God telling a big fish to swallow Jonah alive and keep him preserved in its belly three days and nights is child’s play.  When you consider that God, in His infinite power effortlessly flung the galaxies out into space, then why in the world would you doubt that God could part the Red Sea for Moses?  When you’re looking at the night sky and you’re just taking it all in, the notion of an ex-corpse walking out of a tomb after being dead for three days suddenly sounds not so impossible after all.

God asked Sarah, “Is anything too hard for the LORD?”  Sarah said nothing, but the prophet Jeremiah answered the question much later. “‘Ah, Lord GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.” (Jeremiah 32:17)  What’s the root of Jeremiah’s faith that nothing is too hard for God?  The root is Genesis 1:1.  God’s mighty display of power in creation.

But what does this all mean for you?  Everything.  If God can do the unbelievable, then having a relationship with this God opens up a whole new world for you.  It means that not only can God heal your sickness but He can sustain you and give you deep joy, satisfaction, and peace if He chooses not to heal you.  It means that Romans 8:28 is not just a warm and fuzzy slogan but that this great God really can “work all things together for good” for His people, even the most difficult and painful things.  And it means that if God can do what we deem impossible, He can take cold, dead, sinful, rebellious hearts like mine and yours and breathe new life into them.  He can awaken us to Himself and His truth, and transform our lives into something more beautiful than we could ever imagine.  He really can forgive us.  He really can give us a new start.  He really can save us.

imagesThis same God who fashioned the constellations together without breaking a sweat actually cares for people.  This blew King David’s mind. “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, …that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4)

When you struggle with doubt regarding God’s promises, God’s care, and God’s provision, whether it’s regarding ancient Old Testament stories or your own life in the here and now, open up your Bible to the very first words.  Meditate on them. Let the massive implications of that verse sink in, and revel in the simple fact that “nothing is too hard for the Lord.”

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Demer

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