In the Beginning There is a novel which I once read in which a genetecist is talking with a computer about a bean she's designing which can grow wild at extremely high altitudes. The genetecist is talking about what future generations might learn about her from her bean. The computer, in a slightly incredulous tone, asks what a person could learn about her from her bean. She answers that they might learn she's intelligent, cares about people, and has a thing for travelers crossing the nearly-astronomically high mountains. The genetecist knew what the computer should have realized- that the best way to get to know an artist or inventor is to study their work. Last week, I said that we were going to start studying biblical history, and it doesn't get more historical than this. Now in my message last week, I said we'd be searching the historical scriptures for three things: The holiness of God, the personality of God, and the thread of history. So to start, what can we pull out of this passage about God's holiness? How many times have you heard someone lay claim to special rights with the phrase "I was here first!"? It's good for an awful lot. Being there first means not having to wait in the checkout line. Is there a contest over a piece of land? It goes to the one who was on it first. If you're an American indian, you can get certain things from the government, including a full-ride scholarship to the institution of your choice, because your nation was here first. Facing layoffs at work? Generally, it's those with seniority who get to stay, because they were there first. Being there first counts for a great deal in terms of moral rights. Genesis tells us that in the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth. He has ALL the rights. He was here before anyone else. He was here before anyTHING else. He was here before mortals dreamed up any other god. His claim to total authority over the universe and to the throne as the ONLY god are uncontestable if for that reason alone. Of course, if we skip ahead to the New Testament, John 1:1 and 14 tell us that Jesus was there in the beginning as well. So how can I say that God pre-existed everything else? Because Jesus and Jehovah are one and the same God. Not the same PERSON, mind you, but the same God. All three persons of the godhead, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, share a single authority, a single and infinite pool of knowledge, a perfect nature and a nature of perfection, and a complete and perfect knowledge of each other. This is why John 1:1 tells us that the Word (Jesus) was with God and WAS God. And of course, God is the creator. His first words to the void were "let there be light". Now what happens when you focus light into an infinitessimally small space? It turns into matter. By calculating the exact amount of energy needed to create a particle and focussing exactly that much light into a point, particle physicists have been able to create specific particles. Focus a LOT of light into the same space, and you get a shower of all kinds of different particles. You get a miniature big bang. With His first command, "Let there be light", God spoke the building blocks of the universe into existance. Who here likes building-toys? You know... Lego, tinker-toys, erector set, k-nex, magnetix... If you build a toy with someone else's set, who does it belong to? It belongs to the one who owns the pieces, that's who. If God created all the pieces, then who does the universe belong to? You can create anything you want to create, but ultimately, it belongs to God because it's made with God's blocks. So we see God's seniority, his completeness, perfection and unity, and His ownership of all things. Okay, but what about God's personality? Well, the first thing that occurs to me comes when I observe creation itself. That is the incredible variety of things which God created. How many species does it take to make an ecosystem? Only three. You need one species of plant, one species of animal, and one species of bacteria. Yet God in his infinite creativity gave us an incredible array of life forms. From non-cellular creatures such as the common cold to symbiotic bacteria to curious protists to fungi to ferns to algae, to trees, to bushes, to ivy to fish to dinosaurs to frogs to horses to otters to whales and I could go on and on and on. Just about any creature we can conceive of has been done in one way or another. Just the other day, someone showed me a web page which discussed how all pokemon had real-life counterparts. Even my own Magimals are only slight variations of what God has already done. His artistry and imagination are breathtaking. Neither does it extend only to life forms. Just look into the sky. The breathtaking array of wonders that fill the Heavens are anough to leave man speechless. The disk of a spiral galaxy, the vast expanse of a nebula, the violent brightness of a quasar, the tumult of a jovian planet. None of these were truly necessary for life on Earth if you don't accept a purely natural creation process devoid of divine intervention. But God put them here for a reason- that reason is that they are beautiful. Something else that I find very interesting is that every life form on this planet is based on the same model. Every single life form on this planet uses the same genetic material- DNA. Even RNA viruses depend on external DNA to complete their life cycle. And with such a dazzling array of life, you see the same designs repeated over and over. Why, if I could just use ashenfox as an example here... Look at us. An otter and a fox. Two very different creatures. Yet we each have two eyes, two ears, a nose, a mouth, two arms, two legs, a tail, a coat of fur... and if you were to look inside, you would find in each of us one heart, two lungs, a liver, a pancreas, two kidneys, a stomach... you would find all the same bones, all the same muscles, all the same blood vessels, only the proportions would be different. It amazes me that with the same basic design, God made horses, frogs, chickens, lions, ostriches, stegasauruses, gorillas, crocodiles, mudskippers and skunks. Some would use this as evidence of evolution. But would you say that cars evolved by accident? No, you know that they all have the same basic design because that's what works. The basic similarities of all cars are due to inteligent design. So the similarities of all life shows an intelligence that is far ahead of our own. The third thing that I can derive about God's personality is that He cares about quality control. He didn't have to. He could have just assumed that everything would turn out all right. He is perfect after all. And even if it didn't, who would complain? There weren't any people yet, besides the three of God. He didn't have to try to please anyone. Yet when God created the universe, it was of importance to Him that it was good. Why? Because He's not just a creator, he is Father. Isaiah 9:6 calls our Lord the Everlasting Father. Not just Jehovah, but this verse refers specifically to Jesus. Now this is not to say that God is the father of everything. Creating something does not make you a father. I created the characters of Rudy Marquette, Cason and Lord Jhirk. That does not mean that I am their father. But God foresaw that their would be those people who would become his children. For their sakes, as well as for the sake of kindness, God made the world very good. How does this fit into our "river of history"? That part is pretty obvious, really. This is where it begins. It starts with God, who is literally the author of life. He began the universe, and He has overseen its course since the beginning. He created the water and set the spring in motion. There is no challenge for this week. The goal for this sermon was to learn about God's holiness, His character, and the starting point of history, and we have done that. My only suggestion is to meditate on these things. Next week: Eden! Today's reading: Genesis 1 Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning--the first day. 6 And God said, "Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate water from water." 7 So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the expanse "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning--the second day. 9 And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good. 11 Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning--the third day. 14 And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. 16 God made two great lights--the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning--the fourth day. 20 And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky." 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth." 23 And there was evening, and there was morning--the fifth day. 24 And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: livestock, creatures that move along the ground, and wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground." 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground." 29 Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground--everything that has the breath of life in it--I give every green plant for food." And it was so. 31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning--the sixth day.