Created for God’s Glory

Genesis 1:14-25

October 29, 2022 | Brian Bill

As we journey through the six days of creation, we can see two triads.  God formed creation on days 1-3, and He filled, or finished creation, on days 4-6.  Matthew Henry says it like this: “God created the frame and the furniture of the universe.”  Isaiah 45:18 says: “He did not create it empty, He formed it to be inhabited.  I am the Lord and there is no other.”  

If we take the first, second, and third days of creation and line them up with the fourth, fifth, and sixth days, we can see an amazing symmetry.

Day 1 (light) Day 4 (sun, moon, and stars)

Day 2 (sea and sky) Day 5 (fish and birds)

Day 3 (earth) Day 6 (creatures of the land)

Let’s go back to Genesis 1:2, where we read the earth was “without form and void.”  We can see how the Lord addressed this formlessness on days 1-3 and He filled the emptiness on days 4-6.

Here’s our main idea: God forms and fills His creation for His glory and our good.  This makes me think of the answer to the first question in the Westminster Shorter Catechism: “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.”  Or, as we’ve stated before on Reformation weekend: Soli Deo Gloria, to the glory of God alone.  Psalm 19:1 says: “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.”  Psalm 150:1 says, “Praise Him in the highest heavens!”

As we consider how creation gives glory to God, I’m humbled to be part of a church that has always embraced the inerrancy and authority of Scripture.  Recently, I came across a booklet entitled, “Your Church and You” published by Rev. William Sears and the deacons of Edgewood in October of 1957.  Listen to this paragraph from the section called, “What This Church Believes.”

“We believe in the Genesis account of the creation, and that it is to be accepted literally, and not allegorically or figuratively; that man was created in innocence in God’s own image and after God’s own likeness; that man’s creation was not a matter of evolution…that all animal and vegetable life was made directly, and God’s established law was that they should bring forth ‘after their own kind.’”

Let’s give God glory and enjoy Him now as we submit to the Scriptures.  Having created light (singular) on the first day, God now creates lights (plural) on the fourth day.  

Day 4

Listen to Genesis 1:14-19: And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night—and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

The phrase, “Let there be lights” indicates this is a new creative act of Elohim.  As we learned a couple weeks ago, when God says it, that settles it.  Observe how Moses avoided using the words “sun” and “moon” because the sun and moon were considered gods in Egypt.  Deuteronomy 4:19 warns: “And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them…”

God alone is king over His creation.  I was moved last week when Pastor Chris mentioned the sun in the sky today is the same sun God created back in Genesis.  As steady and predictable as the sun appears, I find it fascinating how God chose to show His sovereignty over the sun on various occasions.

  • In Joshua 10:12-14, God made the sun stand still for an entire day, so the Israelites had more time to win a battle.
  • In 2 Kings 20:8-11, God turned back the shadow of the sun on a sundial as a sign to show Hezekiah he would be healed and live an additional 15 years.
  • In Luke 23:44, the sun went dark for three hours while Jesus absorbed our sins on the cross.
  • According to Revelation 6:12, during the Great Tribulation, the sun will be as black as sackcloth and the full moon will become like blood.

We see four roles for the sun, moon, and stars according to this passage.

  • Separation.  To separate the day from the night.
  • Signs.  A sign was an “awe-inspiring event, a mark or a miracle.”  Every time we gaze upon the heavens, we are seeing a dazzling display of God’s glory. When we see the heavenly luminaries, we can’t help but give glory to the Lord of heaven and earth.
  • Seasons.  The orbit of the earth around the sun determines the length of our year, providing seasons of sowing and seasons for harvest.  God in His glory has ordained the sun and moon to provide measures of time which mark off days and years.  These cycles are daily reminders of God’s provision and presence, of how His “mercies are new every morning.”  The lunar cycles also helped Israel remember their appointed feasts and festivals as we see in Psalm 81:3: “Blow the trumpet at the new moon, at the full moon, on our feast day.” 
  • Shining.  Verse 15 says theses luminaries “give light upon the earth.”

It’s interesting how the greater and lesser lights get most of the attention in these verses and then, almost as an afterthought, we read, “and the stars.”  Our galaxy alone has 200 billion stars, and there are billions of galaxies.  Astronomers can’t even count all of them, much less name them.  And yet, Isaiah 40:26 tells us God notices and names each one because He created them: “Lift up your eyes on high and see: who created these?  He who brings out their host by number, calling them all by name; by the greatness of His might and because He is strong in power, not one is missing.”   In addition, 1 Corinthians 15:41 says all the stars are different from each other: “For star differs from star in glory.”

How much better to follow the Creator of the stars than the inanimate stars themselves

As amazing as they are, stars don’t rule our lives; only God does.  As one pastor put it: “The sun, moon, and stars are not divine gods or horoscope helps.”  If you’ve been consulting your horoscope, you should be horrified by that and stop.  It’s time to repent and seek only the holy God for His leading.  He alone holds your future.  How much better to follow the Creator of the stars than the inanimate stars themselves.  How can stars in the sky have any clue what’s in store for you?  Having said that, since God made the stars, He has used them as signs before, as He did for the astrologers when they followed the star to the Christ child (Matthew 2:9-10).

In the Scriptures, the sun is repeatedly used as a symbol of Jesus Christ as in Malachi 4:2: “But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings.”  A star also symbolized a coming ruler as stated in Numbers 24:17: “A star shall come out of Jacob, a scepter shall rise out of Israel.”

God forms and fills His creation for His glory and our good.  

Day 5

God formed the seas and the skies on the second day and now He fills the seas and skies with fish and fowl, or as one commentator puts it, “the finny and the feathery.”  Let’s turn our attention to Genesis 1:20-23:

And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” 21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day. 

The command for the waters to “swarm with living creatures” refers to “swift movement back and forth, to teem and multiply.”  It’s the idea of an untold number of moving creatures who are swimming and swarming as stated in Ezekiel 47:9: “…every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish.”  

Verse 21 says God “created the great sea creatures,” which included whales and the amphibious dinosaurs which are described in Job 7:12.  It was especially significant for the Israelites to hear God created the sea creatures because their pagan neighbors worshipped Rahab, a mythical sea monster.  Psalm 148:7 tells us these creatures create a chorus of praise to the Creator: “Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all deeps.”

Some time ago, I watched a documentary showcasing swarms of fish and how scientists are still discovering species which have never been seen before in the depths of the ocean.  One article referred to the ocean as “…one of the last undiscovered areas on earth…scientists discover and describe new species every year.  In 2021, at least 2,241 new marine animals and plants were described worldwide.  It is estimated that there are still about 1.5 million species undiscovered in the world’s seas.”  

God also created birds, or more literally, “the flying ones” to “fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.”  While God created creatures to be autonomous and to move according to their instincts, they’re still controlled by the Creator to do His bidding.  I think of how God steered the great fish to swallow Jonah, how He commanded frogs, lice, flies, and locusts to plague Egypt, and how He commandeered ravens to feed Elijah.

God created all this beauty, diversity, color, and movement for His pleasure, for His glory, and for our good.  John Frame says it like this: “God created a world that is unnecessarily diverse and abundant.”  God created sharks and sparrows, eagles and eels, sea bass and sea horses, crappie and canaries, piranhas and parrots, rainbow trout and robins, swordfish and squid, walruses and wing bats.  

He created the heavens and the earth as an arena to display His glory and populated it with variety on purpose for His purposes.  Psalm 104:24-25: “O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.  Here is the sea, great and wide, which teems with creatures innumerable, living things both small and great.” 

Verse 22 tells us this is the first instance of God blessing what He created.  The word “blessing” is used 88 times in various forms in Genesis, more than any other book in the Old Testament.  One commentator says, “The book of Genesis ends with an abundant burst of blessing in Jacob’s parting words.”  It’s interesting the first blessing is not for humans but for beluga whales and blue jays.  

Since God is blessed by what He has birthed, He blesses His creation so it will give birth and multiply. 

The word “blessed” means, “to enrich and endow, to salute on bended knee.”  Blessing is linked to the ability to multiply and reproduce: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill.”   We also see this in the blessing God gave to humans in Genesis 1:28: “And God blessed them.  And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth…’”  The Creator God wants His creation to be fruitful, to flourish, and to fill what He has formed.  This fruitfulness comes from divine decree, not from some pagan cultic fertility ritual.  Since God is blessed by what He has birthed, He blesses His creation so it will give birth and multiply.  Having said that, it doesn’t mean you are not blessed if you are single or struggle with infertility.

I’ve quoted my pastor friend previously, but I can’t help doing so again because his insight is spot on.

The first ‘destination’ of His blessing is in the realm of birds and marine life…what’s fascinating is that they have already been pronounced ‘good’ in Genesis 1:21…so, the reader is meant to understand ‘blessed’ as a state beyond ‘good.’  Blessing is a good upon good, moving past the threshold of ‘good’ into uncharted territory of unimaginable abundance…understanding how the blessing of God is meted out throughout Genesis causes a proper image of Him to emerge.  He is a God who loves vast fullness, channeled in the most wondrous and productive way.  And He also delights in bestowing that blessing upon the most unlikely of people, against the most troublesome odds. 

Here’s the principle: God blesses us so we can be a blessing to others.  In Genesis 12:2, God blessed Abram so he in turn would bless the nations: “I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.”  God desires for His creation to reproduce and He longs for the Great Commission to multiply as we make disciples of our neighbors and the nations.  Incidentally, one of our three new men’s groups is studying material called “Multiply” on Thursday mornings.  Speaking of multiplying, we still need more servants to serve on our snow removal team.

God forms and fills His creation for His glory and our good.  

Day 6

God formed the dry land on the third day and when conditions were right for life, God filled the land with animals and mankind on the sixth day. You can sense creation building toward a climax, which will culminate in the creation of humans made in the image of God (that’s our topic next weekend).  Listen now to verses 24-25.

24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.

The phrase “according to its kind” or “according to their kinds” is used 10 times in Genesis 1 to indicate there are separate species and genders which are distinct and different.  God established categories of creation.  In addition, the word “separate” is used five times in the first chapter and means, “to set apart.”  This is a word of distinction, or differentiation.  That’s why a squirrel always gives birth to a squirrel and not a squid.  As one commentator says, “The great Architect of the universe does not permit the colors of His canvas to run together.”

Specifically, three categories are mentioned.

  • Livestock.  This is a general term referring to domesticated animals like cows, horses, goats, sheep, dogs, and cats.
  • Everything that creeps on the ground.  This refers to small animals, reptiles, rodents, and snakes.  The next time you’re creeped out by a creepy creature, remember God created it for His glory (but maybe not for your good).
  • Beasts of the earth.  These are the wild animals like elephants, hippos, lions, tigers, and bears (oh, my!).  This also includes dinosaurs.

If we go back to verse 2, God brought order and design out of the chaos of formless emptiness by creating distinct and separate categories.  In reflecting on our current cultural situation, I wrote down this sentence: Because creation distinctions have now become fluid, we’ve slid back into a dark chaos, leaving us formless and unfulfilled.  More about that next week.

God forms and fills His creation for His glory and our good.  

Action Steps

1. Give credit to God for His creation. 

Whenever you look up into the sky or when you see a plant, a fish, a bird, an animal, or even a creepy creeping thing, train yourself to say, “God made that.” Say it to yourself or proclaim it out loud for others to hear. Recently, I did this with a grandchild when we were out for a walk.  I simply pointed to the trees, the grass, and the sky and repeatedly said these words with a smile on my face, “God made that.”  God wants us to find happiness in His handiwork.  

2. Since God cares for His creation, trust Him to care for you when you are struggling.

Jesus calls us to look to the Creator and His creation as an antidote for our anxiety in Matthew 6:25-26: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?”  What are my problems to a God who can create everything out of nothing and then sovereignly give direction to all of those things?

3. Increase your generosity and experience God’s blessing. 

My guess is you’ve been struggling during this season of high gas prices, utilities, food costs, and rising interest rates.  Everything feels more expensive, doesn’t it?  Amid those struggles, the Bible promises a blessing to those who give what has been given to them.

I had an interesting experience on Thursday.  I spent most of the day working on this sermon and had just read Malachi 3:10: “Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”  No more than 20 minutes later, I received a phone call from an Edgewood attender who told me he had been prompted to give some money to someone who is struggling.  That same day, he received an unexpected check which was significantly more than what he had just given.  He was almost giddy and said he can’t wait to give again.

Let me take us back to the “Your Church and You” booklet from 1957.  The very last statement under “What This Church Believes” is entitled, “About the Grace of Giving: Tithes and Offerings.”  

We believe that God’s method of financing the spread of the gospel is by the giving of tithes and offerings; that Scriptural giving is one of the fundamentals of our faith; that it forms part of our worship.

Underneath this statement are eight questions with Scripture references as the answers.  I’ll list the first and the last questions.

  • What is a tithe?  Genesis 14:20: “And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.”  Literally, a tithe is 10% of your income.  I like to say, a tithe is a good place to start.
  • Can you afford to tithe?  Luke 6:38 says, “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”   We see again that when God blesses, He multiplies.  If you’re wondering if you can afford to tithe, I would say you can’t afford not to.

This statement has not changed from the original commitment made in 1905 [that’s the year Pastor Ed was born], when over 40 charter members of Edgewood covenanted together: “…to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expense of the church, the relief of the poor, and the spread of the Gospel through all nations.”

We celebrate how the Holy Spirit is at work today as we’re seeing evidence of revival, renewal, and many rebirths.  Our ministries are exploding with growth, with involvement higher than before Covid.  The Spirit is blowing, and our ministries are growing!  As a result, we’re spending more in these ministries, as numbers have gone up, and costs have increased.

We recognize that the percent of people who are tithing in most churches is not what it should be.  In response to this, one of the deacons made a comment that I found refreshing: “I feel bad when I realize how many people aren’t tithing because they’re missing out on a blessing from God.”  It’s a blessing to have deacons who have such a heart to serve as they ensure we are stewarding God’s resources for maximum kingdom impact.

When we give, we’re simply giving back to God what is already His.  Properly understood, giving is an act of worship. We give not to get, but we give to the glory of God.  God wants us to give generously and when we do, He is blessed, we are blessed, and He blesses those we’re able to reach in our community and on the continents.  If you’re ready to join God through your generosity, you can place your checks in the offering boxes in either lobby or you can give safely through our website or mobile app.

Shortly after Dallas Seminary was founded in the 1920s, it almost closed because of bankruptcy.  The founders met for prayer and when it was Harry Ironside’s turn, he prayed, “Lord we know that the cattle on a thousand hills are Thine.  Please sell some of them and send us the money.”  As the story goes, just then a Texas rancher came and gave them a check from the sale of two carloads of cattle for the exact amount of money needed to keep the seminary going.  Dr. Lewis Sperry Chafer, the president of the school, turned to Dr. Ironside and said, “Harry, God sold the cattle!”  

Let us know if you have any cattle to sell.

Family, in all seriousness, if you’re a regular, generous, worshipful giver to Edgewood and the work God is doing here and through our Go Team partners strategically positioned around the globe, thank you!  God is at work in you and in this place and your partnership is important.

Some of you are new and please know there is no pressure here to give.  Others of you might be giving but God may be calling you to be more generous, or even sacrificial.  I’m not trying to guilt you into giving because our giving should be in response to God’s grace in our lives.  My heart is simply this.  I wanted you to know about our situation and wanted to remind you that giving is one of our four core values and is part of our discipleship and our worship.  When you give generously, God is blessed, you are blessed, and our neighbors and the nations are also blessed with the gospel

4. Ask God to make you into a new creation. 

God is not done with His creative work as He draws people to His Son for salvation.  If you’re ready to become His new creation through the new birth, it’s time to repent of your sins and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

Do you have any thoughts or questions about this post?