Week of January 2

Beginning and Living with the End in Mind

Read: Genesis 1-2; Luke 1

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
Genesis 1:1, ESV


Let’s begin the new year with an assignment! Take a moment to write your life statement in seven words. That task would be quite challenging. Interestingly, the Hebrew text of Genesis 1:1 contains seven very important words. That single verse in the Hebrew text provides readers with the foundation for everything that will follow in the rest of the Bible.

We should read them as the first faith statement in all of God’s word because they provide the beginning to God’s great salvation story that includes Abraham’s call (12:1), Israel’s deliverance from Egypt (3:15), and the eventual coming of the Savior (Luke 1:31-33)! Please do not turn the study of God’s word into an academic exercise, because your story is included in “His-story,” meaning God’s redemptive work in His creation.

Understanding the Bible Context

A Distinct Worldview
“In the beginning God” makes a profound claim that states that God’s authority extends over all the things that He created and over humankind, His special human creation. I believe that it is important to remember that to claim, “in the beginning,” means there will be an “ending” (NAC). Therefore, our personal life stories are included in God’s grand narrative. Hopefully, we will begin to see throughout scripture the combination of the words “beginning” and “end.” The prophets and Apostles, for example, could speak about an end in view of beginnings (Isaiah 65:17; Revelation 21:1; NAC).

This truth should awaken us to the end time and the need to prepare for it (“eschatology”). Since God created all things, then He is infinite and by design we are finite. The wonder is that God makes it possible for us to know and experience Him in His world (cf. Hebrews 1:3). This “little bit of doctrine” is truly a big worldview, or way of seeing the world. Let’s expand upon this biblical worldview a bit more.
Two Perspectives on Creation and One Purpose
We have before us two creation accounts—the first in 1:1-2:3 and the second in 2:4-25 (HCBC; cf. also Luke 1:26ff.). God made all the universe (1:1-2:3) and He also made humans, His special creation, to rule over all other created things (2:4-25; HCBC). We see a unity in creation that is made possible when the Creator reigns supreme! Do not miss the point. Even though the aim of these accounts of origins is not primarily scientific, we may see something of the careful attention that God gives to each specific part of the whole (1:11-12, 21, 24-25; “according to its kind”).

A moral application is clear. We also should show great care of the world that He has made as a sign of our commitment to Him (1:28). If I may, in Ashlock speak, “Long before I clean up the plastic from the ocean, which is important, I should invite God to clean up my personal view of His world.” His rule over my life leads to my proper service in His creation. God intended for creation resources to be preserved and not exploited by human beings. Genesis teaches us about this role that humans will fulfill in God’s world.
Our Unique Role and Responsibility as Humans
Genesis teaches us that human creation is unique, despite the many contemporary claims that it has no special significance (cf. Peter Singer and “species-ism”; 1:26, “in his image”). Time and space will prevent me from expanding on this claim. I will simply state my belief that humankind was created to represent God on earth and to govern over all things in His name (1:26-28).

Sadly, humans would fall into sin, wander away from God, and ultimately make gods out of the things that He created and worship them (cf. Exodus 20:1-6; “no other gods before me”). This must not be. Proper representation requires our subordination to the Creator. Therefore, “In the beginning God” should preface every human attitude and endeavor! This faith claim should be our New Year’s Day resolution to be enacted throughout the coming year.

The impact of this claim may be grasped when we consider that our value is connected to our Creator. Since God is of “inestimable worth,” then human beings made in His image must have great value, too. Notice also that while this image was certainly marred after humankind’s fall into sin, nonetheless, it remains (cf. Genesis 9:5-6). Let’s apply this passage about origins “way back when” to our lives in the “here and now.”

Applying the Passage to Our Lives

Here’s a simple anecdote. I enjoy using humor with our grandchildren. They understand and laugh at some of my jokes, but there are several that they do not grasp. OK, my children would say that they do not get about eighty percent of them, but that is beside the point! Seriously, I tell them, “In about ten years, you will be driving down the road and you will suddenly understand this joke and begin to laugh!” Humor is a part of the whole context of our lives and reflects the image of God stamped upon us. Furthermore, they will know me better even as I have known them since they were born. My relationship with them will be deeper because of life lived in relationship with each other.

First, “God created” declares a singular worldview and holds profound implications for Genesis 1:1-Revelation 22:21. It also holds profound significance for our lives each and every day! Secondly, we must always (and this means every day) keep in mind that to say, “in the beginning” means that there will one day be an “at the end.” This world and our lives have a time frame. Keep the thought about our finitude in mind as we continue.

Reflecting Upon and Discussing the Passage

1. Put on your theological lenses today. How will you, as a child of God, fulfill God’s creative kingdom purposes in your daily schedule? Your family? Your job?

2. It will make all the difference in your day if you will look actively for God’s living presence in His creation. How do you see Him at work in your world?

3. For Families: What if your children were to memorize a verse a week this new year? If they do, at the end of 2022, they will have half a hundred verses put to memory! What an excellent life goal for them! To help them with this first verse in the Bible, write on their fingers and thumb with a sharpie the ten words of the English Bible, one word per digit: "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Now let them wiggle their fingers as they say and learn the verse. At random times during the week, surprise them by shouting, “Who made the heavens and the earth?!” or “How did the world come to be?!” Listen to them shout back their answer with their memory verse.

May your paths be straight,
Larry C. Ashlock