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Jan 4 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

January 3, 2016 – Genesis 1:1-5

What Do You See?

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.
Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. Genesis 1:1-5

Intro: I want you to do something for me

Please–think what this phrase might mean: And God saw that the light was good
– what first comes to mind is probably wrong
• for example, that God suddenly perceived or realized something
◦ that he made a surprising discovery
◦ or that an insight occurred to him that hand not already been in his mind
• if we maintain theological credibility, these are not real options
– so give it some thought and we’ll circle back to this phrase later

The Bible begins at the beginning

In verse 1, the clock starts ticking
– the universe appears like an infant fresh from womb
– and there is God, its Creator — Architect, Artisan and Sculptor
• he begins by creating the raw elements for his project
◦ energy and matter and the space to accommodate its formation

Reading these verses, I find myself drawn to the words that depict God at work:
– God said, God saw, God separated, God called
• compact, succinct, profound
• this is a description of the way God organized the chaotic stew
◦ by speaking, separating and calling, God gave the elements order, form and beauty

“God said” – the speech or word of God is essential
– it turns a mass of atoms into something specific
• it gives a thing an identity–e.g., after creating light, God named it
◦ in a sense, naming a thing gives it existence
– God soon shared this responsibility of labeling things with humankind
• he had Adam give names to animals, while Eve named her children

Darkness is one of the primal facts of our universe

Unlike us, however, God is not affected by darkness
– God is more than the universe – he is within it and beyond it at the same time
• the universe does not contain him, God contains it
• darkness does not exist for God

If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be night,”
Even the darkness is not dark to You,
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You. (Ps. 139:11-12)

– but since God was making the universe for us, he switched on the light
• the creation of light (v. 3) enables us to see what God does in the rest of the chapter

We are so accustomed to light, we hardly appreciate the miracle that it is
– as laser it can heal, as x-ray it provides us cloudy images of our insides
• forensic light can identify a crime scene and perhaps the criminal
– for centuries, we’ve used light to communicate
• from signal fires and lighthouses to fiber optic cables

Light enables us to see what is visible to the human eye
– but that is also our limitation
• there’s more to the light spectrum than we can see
◦ what we cannot see remains in “darkness”
• we can’t overcome this limitation, but we can try to shine light into dark places
– at times God expects us to see the invisible (He.11:27)
• to look through what is visible to what lies beyond it

When God told Jeremiah it was his destiny to be a prophet, the young man resisted, arguing that he was not qualified. God dismissed Jeremiah’s objection and gave him a crash course in prophetic ministry. Jeremiah’s training began when God asked him, “What do you see?” This was Jeremiah’s first vision. When he answered the question, God told him, “You have seen well” (Jer. 1:6-12)

◦ God wants to teach us how to see

One time, when Jesus was invited to dinner in the home of a Pharisee, “a woman in the city who was a sinner” approached him, wet his feet with her tears, dried his feet with her hair and anointed his feet with kisses and perfume. The Pharisee was offended by her behavior, but even more upset that Jesus did not stop or scold her. He concluded that Jesus could not be a prophet. Jesus told the Pharisee a parable in an attempt to enlighten him and then asked his host, “Do you see this woman?” That was the central question. Not, “Do you see this sinner?” or this specimen, but can you see the person in front of you. Up until that moment, he had not seen her; at least not as Jesus saw her.

• that we can only see visible things is a limitation we need to overcome

So what does it mean, “God saw that the light was good?”

I don’t think we’re to take this seeing figuratively–i.e., perceive
– of course, there’s a problem if we take it literally
• as though the way God sees that is identical to our sense of sight
• in fact, anthropomorphism is precisely the error we want to avoid
– the point is, God not only made light, he afterward observed it in action
• God brought his attention to what he had made – inspected it, so to speak

God did not toss galaxies into space, then turned his attention elsewhere
– he did not mass-producing millions or billions of units (stars, seeds, grains of sand)
• to cover a canvas or populate an aquarium
• there was ongoing interaction between Creator and creation
– God was writing his book and reading it at same time
• what he saw, was the goodness of each thing he made
◦ that is, its appropriateness, excellence, the form and function
• everything was good, because it was exactly what he meant it to be

It’s impossible for us to comprehend
– the depth of God’s connection with his creation
• he calls the stars by name (Isa. 40:26)
the mention of vegetation and fruit trees in verse 11 refers to general categories
◦ it doesn’t include lists all the varieties of apples, grapes, citrus and so on
• in a similar way, we can talk botany and horticulture
◦ without ever examining a single stalk of grain or rosebud
◦ but mowing a lawn is a different experience from studying a single blade of grass
– God’s familiarity and attention to his creation is close up and thorough
• Jesus alluded to his intimate knowledge of us when he said our “hairs are numbered”
◦ he saw both the forest & each individual tree
• so when we read that God “saw that the was good,” it was in this way
◦ in some sense, God experienced the goodness of light

Conc: God invites us to sit with him and see what he sees

He points out the things he wants us to notice
– to observe and experience one particular tree, cloud, bird
• or elderly man or small child
• God wants us to see and in seeing to awaken feelings within us
◦ empathy, compassion, and connection
◦ he wants us to see and experience what is good
– Psalm 34:8 says, Taste and see that the LORD is good
• David could have as easily said, Look and see that the LORD is good
◦ or smell and see, or feel and see, or listen and see that the LORD is good
• it is not like learning the name of a thing or putting a label on everything
◦ it is paying attention to the pure experience of something
◦ and allowing God show us what he sees

Friday, I walked Kona, our yellow lab
– I braced myself for the breeze that had chilled the air all week
• looking up, I noticed vapor-like clouds
◦ they stretched long, thin fingers from the ocean’s horizon to over our heads
◦ they looked as if they had been airbrushed against the sky
– along their path, some were twisted and curled into impossible shapes
• a ring–not a solid circle, but a round ring with a hole in the middle
◦ one small configuration looped, like the letter ‘E’ in perfect cursive writing

I knew I was supposed to see those cloud formations–God was also seeing them
– since then, ever morning and evening when letting the dog out, I look up
• the clouds persist translucent and ghost-like, hauntingly fascinating
• I feel gratitude, but I haven’t been saying “Thank You”
◦ instead, I’ve been saying,
“Lord, I want to be there. I want to walk there and glide gently across the night”

This week, let God show you what he wants you to see
Look, and see what it is that he sees and how he sees it
See the good in creation
And in seeing, become what he has made you to be

Mine is the sunlight!
Mine is the morning
born of one light Eden saw play!
Praise with elation,
praise every morning,
God’s re-creation of the new day!
Eleanor Farjeon

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