The Starting Line

With five words, the biblical author set the tone for all of Scripture and for all of life.  “In the beginning God created.”  Those words communicate the truth.  For as Professor John Sailhamer wrote, “. . . God alone is eternal and . . . all else owes its origin and existence to him” (Expositor's, p. 20).  These words point to the source, they point to what Walter Bowie calls “a divine conception” (Interpreter’s, p 465).

In this first post of 2017, I focus on new beginnings.  Every new year is a good time to return to the starting line of life.  While there, ask to view the “replay.”  As we hit the play button, look closely to see if you exploded out of the blocks with determined purpose or if you got a false start.  Do you run with purpose?  Do you run with the right purpose?

24-25 You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally.
26-27 I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.    
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (MSG)

As you run, you do not want to run aimlessly.  Running aimlessly leads us into the all-too-common “rat race.”  You are not a rat; therefore, by definition, you do not belong in their race.

However, far too many men and women end up in the rat race, running in circles, because they got a false start.  A clean start is key to your race. 
Join me at the starting line.  On that line that you cannot cross until you hear the gun you see the words, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Those words introduce us to the biblical record.  Page one of the Bible sets the pace.  H.I. Hester, in his book The Heart of Hebrew History, points out that within the chapter that these words begin, “the expression ‘and God’ is found thirty times” (p 69).  God is the focus.  Is that true for you?

Perhaps you got off to a clean start. 
You experienced the love, encouragement, witness, and teaching of parents, teachers, ministers, churches and friends.  You discovered early in life, thanks to their influence, the truth of God’s purpose for you and the truth of His Lordship over all. 

Or, perhaps, for you the starter’s pistol misfired.
  You experienced the rejection, discouragement, harsh words, and neglect of parents, teachers, ministers, churches, and friends.  You reasoned early in life – thanks, or rather no thanks, to their influence - the philosophy of the futility of life and the concept of your lordship over your life.

Our race, the human race, contains more penalties, trippings, lane violations. and over-all random acts of carelessness than any other race.

Well aware of human nature, which has not changed at all since Adam and Eve and the Fall, the Hebrew author set out to remind his readers of the foundation of their existence.

“In the beginning God” coupled with “and God” thirty times, were his key tools of communication.  Is his message clear?  In a nutshell here it is,
     -    God, the eternal, created.
     -    God drew the starting line.
     -    You are here because of and for God.

I want you to start well in all that you do and to run well as you keep the pace.  Acknowledge God’s sovereign rule and adore Him and you will run with strength, purpose, and energy. 

One of my all-time favorite movies and one of only two songs I can play on the piano is, “Chariots of Fire.”  The star runner in the movie is Eric Liddell.  He is fast and he is a Christian.  In fact Eric says, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast.  And when I run I feel His pleasure.”

Run and feel His pleasure. 

For further reading:
  • Bowie, Walter R. The Interpreter’s Bible. Ed. George Arthur Buttrick. Vol. 1. New York: Abingdon, 1952.
  • Hester, H. I. The Heart of Hebrew History. Liberty, MO: Quality Press, 1962.
  • Sailhamer, John H. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Gen. Ed. Frank E. Gaebelein. Vol. 2. Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1990.

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