“I am Jehovah, that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth;”-Isaiah 44:24 (ASV).
Have you ever had one sentence or one idea influence your thinking on a subject? A few years ago, I heard a Bible professor (his name escapes me) comment on the creation account in the book of Genesis. He asked the question, “What was God, through Moses, trying to get across to the Israelites as they wandered for 40 years in the wilderness (Numbers 14:33-34)? What did they need to know about Jehovah the one and only true God?” The answers are not complicated but they are profound. Let’s take a look.
Truths About God: The story of God creating the world by speaking it into existence, has started many a bitter battle over the years. What does it mean? Who wrote it when? Are they literal 24-days? I have no more answers for you than others. I believe God is powerful enough to call, “into existence the things that do not exist.-Romans 4:17. How he did those things is his business. I believe he did them.
At this point in the discussion, people usually break into camps about: Is the “day/age theory” incompatible with the Bible? How can the first three days be 24-hours long when there is no sun or moon? Can you believe in the Big Bang theory” and still be a Christian? When that happens, I immediately think, “Wow! None of this would mean anything to Israelites wandering in the wilderness 3,400-years ago.”
Moses wrote to let Israel know their God, YHWH, was the one true God who, “made the world and all things therein, he, being Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;”-Acts 17:24 (ASV). They were entering a land which had local deities for everything. The Canaanites had gods for harvest, the land, the sea, the stars, fertility, and wine. They clearly were made from the imagination of human beings. The first two chapters of Genesis declare there is one God over all things. The one God of Israel is master of earth and sky, sun and moon, fish and birds, plants and animals, and even man and woman.
The message of the creation story is, “the LORD God made the earth and the heavens”-Genesis 2:4. God had just shown the world his dominance over the false gods of Egypt. The Egyptian gods of the Nile, sun, crops, and life itself were shown to have no power before YHWH. Now God is telling them, “Have no fear of Molech, Asherah, Baal, Chemosh, or Dagon.” The gods of the Canaanites are not to be feared. The LORD is God and he dwells with Israel above the mercy seat.
Truths About Israel: Where are we going and why? If you were an Israelite whose entire life was spent in slavery in Egypt, and then found yourself wandering in the wilderness for 40-years, wouldn’t you want some explanation?!?! God answers the two most important questions of all time, “Who am I and where am I going?
God inspired Moses with a message of hope in which they could trust. You are sons of Abraham and you are bound for the promised land (Genesis 28:13). Your God promises children to the barren, and land to the sojourner. You are not slaves, you are the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (aka Israel). You are God’s promised and chosen people. You are his nation and you will possess the land of the Canaanites.
The people of Israel found themselves in the scroll of beginnings, “Then the LORD said to Abram, ‘Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions.’”-Genesis 15:13-14. What kind of God could predict the future and destroy the gods of Egypt and Canaan? The LORD God who said, “’Let there be light,’ and there was light.”-Genesis 1:4. When you read about the creation, don’t miss God’s message of comfort to the hurting and power to the fearful!