As I hope you know by now, our church family will be using Unfolding Grace as a church-wide devotional in 2021. The book has 40 chapters, each of which covers about 4 chapters of Scripture. The book will take us through the main storyline of redemption found in the Bible. So this week, we begin at the beginning, covering God’s Creation and Humanity’s Fall (Genesis 1-4).
As we begin this journey, I’d like to offer some “tips” to guide us. First, don’t lose sight of the big picture. That is why we are following this particular route through Scripture. It highlights the “one overarching narrative” of Scripture. So one of the ways you can be mindful of the big picture is to study the table of contents as it will keep you oriented in the storyline. There you will find we are currently in Part 1, where “the story begins.” Second, I’ll use the midweek devotions to emphasize a smaller portion within the selected reading for the week. This will allow us as a church family to take a somewhat deeper dive together. Third, please feel free to supplement the Unfolding Grace text with a Study Bible. For some, this may be a relatively new practice of reading the Scriptures. The notes in the Study Bible will help guide you along the way.
Wednesday, January 6th
Larger Portion of Scripture - Genesis 1
Focused Passage for Reflection - Genesis 1:26-31
Reflecting on the Text:
The Bible begins at the beginning..or at least the beginning of creation. But as we look to the beginning, the Bible takes us beyond the beginning to the Source of all creation. God, Himself is the source. He is the One who spoke creation into being by the power of His Word. This makes Him the source of all matter…water, rocks, and oak trees. It also makes Him the source, or absolute measure, of every quality and attribute of creation…goodness, truth, beauty.
In other words, we know beauty because God is the absolute by which all beauty is measured. If we desire to know truth, we must go to the source of truth. We go to the Creator. And in His creation, we find truthful clues as to His character. Genesis 1 speaks to the orderliness and intricacy of God’s design, telling us of His creativity. The text (and our experience) speaks to the magnitude of creation, telling us of His power.
And among other things, vv. 26-31 speak to God’s intimate connection to creation, telling us of His love. All was good...everything on every day leading up to the 6th day. Then, at some point during the 6th day, after He spoke the animals into creation, something changed in the pattern. God created a new kind of being…one created in His image. Genesis 2, which further expounds on the details of this 6th day, tells us at this point God formed man out of the dust. Everything else had been spoken. But with man, God formed.
And this new creature He formed bore a striking resemblance to the Creator. That resemblance ran far deeper than hair and eye color. It was at the level of the man’s essence. Man and woman were created in God’s image and then were given the great privilege and responsibility of stewarding God’s Creation. They were given dominion over the creation and were commanded to act on God’s behalf as they, in essence, created culture on earth. And best of all, they were given unhindered intimate access to each other and to God.
What a beautiful beginning! What a glorious creation from a glorious Creator! This is where we must start because this beginning shapes our understanding of the Source of Creation, and because it sets the tone for where we are headed in the storyline of redemption…moving towards re-Creation.
But as we know all too well, the story was just beginning. Though God did not change, His creation did. Adam and Eve fell into sin when they bought into the lie that God was holding out on them…that they could be like Him by disobeying His perfect Word. And in their fall, all creation fell.
As we begin our journey through the Word, a journey we will continue throughout the year, please see from the beginning the power of the Word. In the beginning, God spoke creation into being through the power of His Word. Satan then whispered a word of temptation, ushering in evil and death. But then, on the heels of the fall, God spoke a new Word. In Genesis 3:15 He spoke the Word of promise, that one day He would provide a Redeemer. And though that Redeemer’s heel would be bruised, He would crush the head of the serpent, defeating our enemy and winning our redemption. This new Word was a Word of grace. It was spoken at the beginning and continues to unfold across the pages of redemptive history. This year, we will turn those pages and see the goodness, truth, and beauty of our God Triune. Let’s read them together.
Questions for personal reflection:
How does Genesis 1 give you a new appreciation for God’s authority over creation?
How does Genesis 1 give you a new appreciation for God’s care in creation?
How does Genesis 3:15 give you a new appreciation for God’s work of re-Creation?