Genesis 1:26 – 2:4
What does the word ‘holy’ mean to you? Some may think of the Bible, holy book. Others may think of how God calls us to be holy. For a lot of people today, ‘holy’ is an unnecessary word and the negative phrase, ‘holier than thou’ springs to mind. But the Bible talks about holiness in a wonderful, hugely positive way. We see in this passage the holiness of God.
We see before this passage of Scripture how the world came to be. There was nothing, then God speaks, then the universe comes into being. God starts with creating light, water, land, the moon and stars. He starts filling the earth with birds, fish, animals and humans. All of them, including us, are spoken into existence. At the end of each of the first five days God describes what He has made as ‘good.’ At the end of the sixth day, which includes the creation of mankind, He describes this as ‘very good.’
In chapter 2 we read that the seventh day was not a creation day but something is set up by God – a day of rest. From the word ‘rested’ comes the Hebrew word ‘Shabbat’ meaning ‘Sabbath.’
We enjoy naming our own children and the names given to other children. The vast majority are based on names they like. In Biblical times names were chosen for meaning. Adam means red; he was born from the dust; his name comes from the Hebrew word ‘ground.’ Noah means ‘rest’ and speaks of how he and his family found refuge during the flood. Names give us background, facts about a person.
In Genesis 2:4 we read of two names for God – Elohim, one God, and the first translated name LORD, YHWH in Hebrew. Jews never speak the name YHWH (Yahweh), it is far too holy to utter, ‘In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens (Genesis 2:4).
What does Yahweh mean? Moses saw God in the burning bush, ‘God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.”’ (Exodus 3:14). Yahweh is crucially linked to the phrase of Exodus 3.
‘In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens (Genesis 2:4). On the surface this verse looks uninteresting but when we begin to peel back the layers it is truly fascinating. It is like an underground mine, where you don’t find great jewels straight away, you have to work for it. Let’s dig!
People ask ‘who made God?’ Was He created by someone even more powerful? God is not made of matter, ‘God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’ (John 4:24). Everything we see has been created (Psalm 90:2). The bible is the way of Word of God. He has no beginning and no end. He will to cease to exist. He is outside of time. We will be forever worshipping Him when we get to heaven. It will be glorious, outstanding, worshipping and praising Him in sinless bodies. Jesus Himself says He is God, He is eternal. Our Lord is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is omniscient. He knows all. He doesn’t develop because He’s always been sovereign. He doesn’t need to grow or develop. When our situation changes here on earth, may be the news of cancer, we don’t know what a day brings. But God does. We bring our changing situations to a constant Father.
In Yahweh we see His absolute independence. To be independent on earth you have to learn, to be taught, given advice, learn from mistakes. But God has never been counselled, been given advice or made a mistake. He’s never needed anyone. Isaiah 55. Without God we are useless, worthless. God created us for His glory, His pleasure. We can enjoy Him too. First God, then Man. That’s always been the order Scripture lays before us. But we try to change it – first Man, then God. Some pretend He doesn’t exist. Christians don’t want to get rid of God but, in changing situations, we try to do things ourselves. But we should first get down on our knees and pray to God.
God has given us work to do. We mustn’t think we can do it on our own. We need help and guidance from Him, not the other way round. Yahweh has absolute independence.
We see His absolute beauty. God is holy, pure, perfect and sinless. It’s us who brought sin into this world. We are inherently sinful. Scripture reminds us that God speaks through creation. Before we even knew of the Bible, God spoke to us through creation. How strong must God be if we see the strength of the mountains? How powerful, how awesome is our Creator! Jupiter’s great red spot is a storm. It’s three times bigger than the earth! On a clear night we can see part of the Milky Way. Of all the stars we see, these are only 0.0000002% of the galaxy stars! There are 2 trillion galaxies – that’s 285 for every person! If we travelled at the speed of light to the next major galaxy, it would take 2.5 million years! This gives us some idea of the scale of our God, of the universe’s beauty. It shows the beauty of Yahweh. He is so far above us. The rolling hills, the proud mountains, rushing rivers, all point to Him.
‘So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation,’ (Genesis 2:3). Day seven is a consecrated as a day of rest. It is sanctified – to be holy. This holy day has been established by one person, the only person, our God.
In the name Yahweh we see His absolute commitment. It is not until Exodus 3:14 that God reveals His name properly, ‘God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.”’ (Exodus 3:14). This is His name forever, to all generations. In all of Genesis chapter 1 we see Elohim, God. Now we see LORD. The relationship between God and man. The relationship was completely tarnished when Adam and Eve sinned. The closeness became an infinite gap. The only bridge to get us across is the bridge of the Cross. God never wanted to turn us away but He had to. But then He sent His Son to redeem us. He had a plan. We can pray, sing, spend time, love Him, worship Him.
Do we have at least some idea of who God is? He is so vast, so wonderful. Yahweh, the LORD, I am. We also have to thank God for His plan. He will keep His relationship covenant with us. We have to come to Him as we are; we can’t make ourselves holy on our own. Let’s thank and praise our great God, who doesn’t let us down. Glory be to Him!