Genesis 1:1-2:3 Six Days and a Rest

In 2005, as many of you know, my son was diagnosed with what would ultimately become a high-functioning form of autism.  Thus began the long road of testing, therapies, retesting, more therapies, special preschools, more therapies, classroom aids, sensory swings, and more therapies.

I vividly remember when he was being tested to see if he qualified for the special needs preschool for children ages 3-5, the therapists who were administering the tests kept asking if they could try one more thing, one more thing, one more thing.  After the first two, I realized they were no longer testing him for the purpose of qualifying him, but he had sparked their curiosity and they were seeing just what he could do.  The therapist would put a peg board in front of him, and show him another one with a pattern in it.  She would ask him to make the pattern on his board.  Almost immediately he would!  After he progressed through the peg boards, she began tapping out rhythms on the table for him to imitate, more and more complex every time.  Each time he repeated a different pattern, she would marvel at the way his brain picked up on patterns so well. Even with his brain being wired so differently from ours, patterns were still recognizable, and served as a method for us to help him grow and develop.  Patterns became very important in our home. Schedules, doing things the same way every time, using the same phrases as the teachers and therapists in our home so that he would have consistency.  Repetition, repetition, repetition.  It became a point of commonality between that enigma of a brain of his, and ours.  It was our connection.  A place we could agree, and start from to begin developing new connections.

You go back even further in our family’s history, back to the BC years – the before children years.  My husband was a math major at Portland State, and he discovered this amazing pattern, and he was enthralled.  In fact, mathematicians and scientists have been enthralled with that same pattern for centuries.  Now, I am not a mathematician, so I will not attempt to explain it.  However, being the nerdy family that we are, I have a clip from an old, old Disney movie that will help explain this pattern.  This is from a movie called Donald in Mathmagicland, and the narrator is going to help explain something called the Golden Rectangle, which is connected to a series of numbers called the Fibonacci sequence.  You may have heard of it, or not.  Watch this. **

There at the end, the narrator spent so little time on it, but did you see?  One of the reasons this rectangle, or spiral, or ratio, or whatever mathematical term you want to use, is so fascinating to these people is because it is a naturally occurring phenomenon.  It is seen in the pattern of the petals of a rose as it blooms, in the perfect spiral of a snail’s shell, in the petals of an artichoke, or the thingies on the outside of the pinecone, the spacing of branches on trees, the number of petals or leaves, a ratio that leads us to consider things perfectly beautiful, even though they are far from symmetric.

These mathematicians and scientists have broken this “thing” down so much that they can use math to explain why we thing something is beautiful – and yes, I know, for some of us that takes some of the “mystery” of beauty away.  But does it really?  Even if these big brained people break it down to the minutest of numbers, and analyze that pattern to the ends of their understanding, there will always be an end to their understanding.  They can tell us that we prefer one piece of art over another because its composition fits that spiral, they can tell us which flowers are considered the most beautiful because of their ratios.  But, they cannot tell us WHY.  They cannot tell us HOW that pattern came to be.

We can. 

We can explain to them that yes, there is a design there.  It’s there because there was and is a designer!

This week we read about a lot of patterns.  Patterns put in place by a designer who we have to assume, by nature of being a designer, put them there intentionally!

We are going to take a glimpse this morning at some of the patterns we find in the creation account.  Let’s start with the one that recaps what Mary taught about two weeks ago.  “In the beginning. . . “  God.  Follow the pattern with me, in verse 3 “And God said. . .”  Verse 4, “And God saw”  “God separated”.  Verse 5 “God called”. Verse 6 “And God said. . .” “God made” “God called”  “And God said. . .” all the way through to chapter 2 verse 3: “God blessed” “God rested”  It’s a pattern that those who have grown up with the bible are familiar with.  Probably the first one you would think of when someone would ask you about a pattern to creation.

Why does it matter?  This pattern.  Well, on the handouts you have, the first fill-in.  It matters because GOD ALONE stands behind creation.  As Mary talked about last time, it.  is.  HIS.  It’s his because he alone made it.

The next pattern is the rhythm he used in creating.

Let there be. . .

There was. . .

Evening, morning, the nth day.

That’s probably the second pattern you think of when you think of Genesis 1.  He followed that pattern in each step of creation.  Why this pattern?  Fill in number 2: It matters because His work of creation was an ORDERLY WORK.  God brings order to chaos, he is intentional.  Nothing by accident.  Why does that matter?  If God is intentional, and orderly, do you think he was surprised when we were told Jeremy had a social and communication disorder that he would need help to deal with?  Do you think he was surprised when my daughter Jenny developed pancreatitis for seemingly no reason?  Do you think he is surprised you are here in this room this morning at the table with these exact women?

The next pattern is one that is established here in the creation account, but is then used to establish others.  Fill in number 3: His creation gives a PATTERN for LIFE.  He worked for six days, and rested.  This is reflected in our modern idea of a work week and a weekend.  He told the Israelites to repeat this pattern of 6/1 in many ways.  In festivals, in the idea of the year of Jubilee.  The instruction to plow a field for six years, but on the seventh year to let it lie unplanted.  Of servants working six years, and being given their freedom on the seventh.  The 10 commandments even command us to remember that seventh day and keep it holy.

Why?  Why do we need to remember it?  It wasn’t until recently I began to understand that when God rested on the seventh day, it wasn’t because he was tired!  It was a real “duh” moment for me!  So if he wasn’t tired, why did he rest?  He rested because he was done!  The work was finished.  And his time of rest was his time to pull back and look at the entirety of what he had done, and to bless it – to give it his approval, to witness all he had done.  This wasn’t the only time he did this either!  I love how she pointed out the pattern repeat in the final week of Jesus’ life.  Before this study had you ever given thought to the fact that by Jesus dying on Friday afternoon, he declared his work on the cross finished,  and then what was the next day  – according to the Jewish tradition?  It was the Sabbath!  I had never made that connection before.  In Genesis, when it says in Chapter 2:1 “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished”, and then in John chapter 19: 28 “After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished. . .”  I don’t think that’s an accident.  I think we are supposed to make that connection!

We are supposed to make that connection because Jesus is creating something new!

Okay, I am getting ahead of myself.  Let’s examine this pattern of work and rest a little more.  In the chart on your handout, let’s consider:

 Genesis 1:2 in the NIV reads “Now the earth was FORMLESS and EMPTY. . .”

So in that first column, let’s look at the first three days of creation.  What does he do on the first day?  He “forms” light.  On the second day, he “forms” the sea and the expanse.  On the third day, he “forms” the earth, and he “forms” the vegetation.  So the first half of the week he spent his time giving form to the formless.

 Okay, second column.  Days 4, 5, and 6.  Day four, he brings the light to its fullness by creating the luminaries in the sky – sun, moon, stars.  Day five, he brings the sea and the expanse to their fullness by FILLING them with fish, sea creatures, and birds.  Day six, he brings the earth to its fullness by FILLING it with land animals and humans.  He spends the second half of the week filling what was once empty to its fullness – to its completion.

On the seventh day, he rested because it was DONE.  It was perfect, nothing else needed to be done.

This pattern is mirrored in Christ’s recreation in the new testament.  I love 2 Corinthians 5:17.  It’s the reason you will find butterflies on many things I own, from jewelry to artwork on my walls, to covers of notebooks, to my refrigerator.  The only magnet on my fridge is an orange monarch butterfly.  Why?  Butterflies are about the only thing I can think of in creation that begin as one thing, and through a process of mushing, smushing, hiding, sleeping, and whatever other seemingly magical thing God does to that caterpillar in the chrysalis, it emerges as something that in no way whatsoever bears a resemblance to the what it was before!  It is this verse!   It’s NOT just the butterfly who gets to be transformed like this!  We do too!!!

So, what does that look like?  Well, in our original creation account, {which for the purposes of the hand out is OLD CREATION} God gave form.  In the new creation, God Justifies us.  We are freed from the penalty for our sins.  Wiped away, clean slate.  In the old creation, God brought those forms to their fullness.  In the new creation, we are sanctified.  We are molded and shaped, mushed and smushed by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, and brought to fullness.  We are given the power to resist sin.  But alas, because we are still in our sinful bodies in a sinful world, we will never, in this life, reach completion or perfection.  So how does the new creation mirror the old creation in its rest?  For us, as that new creation, that comes when we are brought into God’s presence and glorified, finally made perfect, and rest with him for all eternity.

Isn’t that amazing? 

Yet, that day of rest is not now.  So how do we honor God’s Sabbath rest on the seventh day now?  I don’t think we do it like the Pharisees did.  Even Jesus called them on the carpet for that one.  Consider, whose work was God observing when he rested?  HIS work.  What HE had done.  God rests to give us a pattern of rest.  Whatever form (and yes I believe there is freedom to choose what form this will take) you choose to observe it in – a full day, a half a day, a space of time.  It’s not about the time, but what you DO with the time.  It is a period of time for me to pull back from my regular work, observe GOD’S work without distraction or obstacle, and realize just how non-self-sufficient I am.  I am not the one keeping the planets spinning.  It is an opportunity for me to remember who is really in control.  But, I don’t think this is meant for us to disengage or neglect our responsibilities.  Rather, Sabbath means engaging, worshipping God without obstacle.  Without anything that might distract or cause us to lose sight of who it is that really deserves our worship.

So my question for you this morning, for you to discuss together as we finish, What does that look like?

How does the idea that you are a new creation affect your idea of rest? What would it look like for you to engage in worshipping God without obstacle?  What would happen if you set aside that time to remember who is in control?

**There is a video referenced here titled “Donald in Mathmagicland.”  It is a wonderfully fun video that children will enjoy.  The sections we watch are the two sections on the Golden Rectangle.

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