“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
These are the first words of the Bible. It goes on to tell the most important story in the world. The Bible is human history presented from God’s point of view. While God used His human servants to write it down for Him, all the words are His. He was determined to reveal Himself to the human race and show what He is like. He sought to explain why our world has all the problems it has and why we struggle so greatly. He wanted to show us how we are meant to relate to Him and receive His love even as we live in a world that is cursed and burdened with evil. Most importantly, He was making known His plan to break the power of evil over our world and rescue us from our plight through salvation in Jesus Christ.
There are many other versions of history as they are told from a human perspective. A lot of them are very helpful. There are many valuable lessons we can learn from subjects like science or math or psychology. These subjects are not the main focus of Scripture, though our foundational understanding about them is best understood in light of Scripture. When we read the Bible, we learn about God Himself, and that gives us wisdom and power to understand everything else along the way.
For example, we can appreciate the details of the incredibly, elegantly consistent order of the universe because of what we learn from the natural sciences. Their revelations can help us understand the genius of God and stand in awe of His power. We can both enjoy the hard work and insight of scientists and also recognize the limitations of their findings. Their explorations are based on the empirical tests of mere mortals. By definition, they are limited in what they can understand with the five senses.
The authors of Scripture explain that knowledge of God is quite beyond the five senses that He created us with. He is gloriously holy and magnificent in every way…there are no words in any language that can fully exhibit the greatness of His grandeur. Yet this all powerful, all knowing God wanted to teach His people how to come to Him…because He is also all loving. He loves with a perfect love, and He wanted to share His love with us by sharing Himself.
The first thing we learn from the Bible is how God made the universe. In His perfect wisdom He made everything that is. He made the stars and the moon and the earth simply by speaking them into place.
Each time God spoke, something wonderful happened. First there was only darkness, but God spoke and said, “Let there be light” and out of nothing, brilliant light sprang out into the dark void. All of Creation obeyed as day after day, God spoke new, amazing things out of nothing…Stars! Oceans! Dolphins! Trees and flowers and grass! And the angels of Heaven shouted for joy as they watched their Most Holy God display His majesty through the wonderful designs that poured forth from His Word.
Imagine the brilliant creativity of the mind of God as He made the exotic petals of a jungle lily, the atomic explosions of the sun, and the gentle trickling of a mountain stream. There is a certain amount of childlike delight that is totally appropriate when we think of the wild diversities of nature. This same God that made the dark clouds, rumbling thunder, and falling rain also made the fluffy innocence of a lamb. From absolutely nothing, Almighty God created the universe. Pondering that reality helps us grasp it’s magnificence, but it is so great that even scientists raise their hands in surrender to it’s incomprehensibility. They can tell us there was a Big Bang, but they have to admit they have no idea where it came from or what came before it.
The last thing that God made was the most important thing of all. It was the crowning glory of His Creation. It was so important that God did more than speak and make it so. God came down to the earth. He had just spoken into place and formed these creatures with His own hands. These creatures were the first man and the first woman. They were the reason God made the whole universe. He was building their home. It was the beautiful, glorious place where God could be close to the ones He had made for Himself.
God created humanity to love them and bless them with Himself. This is not some form of arrogance or delusion of grandeur…it is simply the truth. God is all that is pure and right and hopeful. He is complete joy. Giving Himself away is giving the greatest gift anyone could ever receive. He didn’t want to give Himself to just one or two humans. He wanted to create a whole bunch more to love. Instead of crafting them with His hands, He designed humanity to have the privilege of bringing more humans into the world through the union and pleasure of romantic love.
The story of the Bible does not stop with how God made the first humans. It continues to tell the story of what happened to the human race afterwards. For you see, a terrible, horrific problem enters into the story from its very first chapters. There was treachery amidst a great mutiny of evil. Even though God put the first humans in a bright, beautiful and perfect world, they broke out in rebellion against God. They rejected Him and chose their own way, and He allowed them their choice. The problem is that God is the only source of good, so when they separated themselves from Him, they separated themselves from goodness. But God so loved the world that He would not let the story end with devastation and destruction. From the very beginning, He staged a rescue plan that would turn the whole story around.
The Bible tells the story of God’s plan to bring us back to Himself. Over thousands of years, God has continuously worked throughout human history to solve the problem of humanity’s terrible sin and weakness. In the middle of the story, God did His most important work of all. He sent His own Son to die as a payment for humanity’s sins. He made a way for humans to be washed clean so that they could be completely forgiven. They could be close to God again, just as they had been in the Garden. Throughout history many people have rejected God and worshipped other things (Isaiah 40), but many others have turned to Him…many are among those who God takes hold of (John 10:22-29; Ephesians 1:3-4)…many are saved. Right now, we are in a time of our own choosing. Will we follow after God and enter the Kingdom of Light, or choose to live in the Kingdom of Darkness? (2 Peter 1:3-10).
The Bible shows us how we can seek the presence of God and enter into the blessings of His love right now (Ephesians 3:14-19). The Bible also tells how this great story is going to end. One day, God is going take this creation that has been tainted with darkness and sin, and He will roll it up like a scroll and bring the whole universe to an end. Then He is going to make a whole New Creation, a New Heaven and a New Earth. Everyone that believes in God will live there with Him forever and ever. There will be no more tears or pain, and we will share completely and freely in His love (See Revelation 19-22). As we read the Bible, we can read the whole story of the human race and the universe He made for us from beginning to end.