IN THE BEGINNING, GOD Discussion Guide
Lesson: “What Do We Learn From The Animals?”
Texts: Genesis 1:1-2:3, Job 39:1-8, 19-22
Aim: to emphasize we have a special relationship with God because we are made in His image.
ICEBREAKER QUESTION: Our God created an amazing variety of creatures in this world. If you were visiting a zoo or aquarium, what is the ONE ANIMAL or FISH that you would make sure to see? As we go around the circle and tell our name, would you also please share with the group what would be your FAVORITE CREATURE at the zoo or aquarium? I’ll begin: my name is _________, and when I’m at the zoo or aquarium I always enjoy watching the _______,
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Now that we’re at the zoo in our imaginations, let’s look around. What would you say is: 1. The cutest animal? 2. The funniest looking? 3. The most frightening creature? 4. The strongest? 5. The most intelligent?
DISCUSSION QUESTION: There are 278 zoos and 78 aquariums in the United States, and each year they receive more than 150 million visitors. Why do you suppose humans derive so much enjoyment from looking at the animals? (After all, the animals don’t pay to look at US!)
We understand that God made the animals, but did you realize he takes great pride and pleasure in his handiwork? TURN to the book of Job (in the middle of your Old Testament), Chapter 39.
READ Verses 1-8, then Verses 19-22 DISCUSSION QUESTION: In Chapters 38 through 41 the Lord takes Job on a tour of nature and points with satisfaction to many different animals he created, including lions, ravens, mountain goats, deer, wild donkeys, the mighty ox, and a magnificent stallion. What do you suppose God wants Job to learn from looking at the animals? And, what are some of the lessons WE can learn today from considering the creatures God has made?
Last week we talked about the evidence for God in the natural world. In this lesson we will consider God’s handiwork in all of creation, including the animals. TURN to Genesis, Chapter 1.
We will take the time to read the entire account of the creation. As we do, be watching for two things: first, watch for PATTERNS that you can identify in this description of creation; and second, think about the basic LESSONS it teaches us about God.
READ from Genesis 1:1 through Genesis 2:3. DISCUSSION QUESTION: As we went through the passage, did you notice any PATTERNS in the account of creation?
Possible Answers: There were six days of creation and a seventh day of rest; God spoke everything into being; Every act of creation met with God’s approval (“it was good”); God gives everything a NAME: It moves from the natural world to living beings; Creation moves from DISORDER to ORDER, from EMPTINESS to being FILLED; Verse 2 says the earth was “shapeless and empty,” so creation came in two sets of three: three days of SHAPING the world (separating light from darkness, separating water from sky, separating sea from dry land) and three days of FILLING the creation (filling the sky with lights, filling the sea and sky with birds and fish; filling the land with animals and humans).
LEADER’S INSIGHT: In The Message of Creation, David Wilkerson suggests there is a hidden pattern in the story. In the Bible the number seven is associated with completion and perfection. Not only are there seven days, but each day had seven elements (God said, God’s command, Fulfillment of God’s command, Description of his creation, God’s approval, God named, Day number). The Hebrew text also contains numerous multiples of seven: there are 7 words in verse 1; 14 in verse 2; the “earth” appears 21 times; “God” 35 times; etc.
DISCUSSION QUESTION: As you reflect on this passage, what would you say are some of the essential LESSONS this story teaches us? For example, if you were preparing a Bible class presentation on Genesis 1, what are some of the basic points you would make?
Possible Answers: God existed before the world was here; He is the only Creator – there is no other; His power is awesome; What God “says” something, it will happen!; There is order and design in the universe; Creation seems to occur in a hierarchy, with humans as the crowning act of creation; We have responsibility over the world; If God rested one day a week, then so should we (READ Exodus 20:8-11)!
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: 1. People in the ancient world often worshiped the elements of nature, such as the sun, moon, and stars. What might THEY learn from reading this passage?
2. People in the ancient world aren’t the only ones with a mistaken attitude towards the created world. There are still “nature worshippers” today. In your opinion, what would be a sign that someone has gone to a spiritually unhealthy extreme in their attitude towards nature?
DISCUSSION QUESTION: Worshipping the earth is one false extreme; selfishly abusing it is the opposite extreme. Psalm 24:1 says “The earth is THE LORD’S, and everything in it.” Genesis 1:28 tells us that, just as we are entrusted with the stewardship of our money, we are entrusted with the stewardship of God’s world. In your opinion, what is the most important thing we need to do in order to be responsible stewards of God’s creation?
RE-READ Verses 24-26 of Chapter 1. DISCUSSION QUESTION: Human beings are made on the sixth day, the same day the land animals are made. We were designed by the same Creator, and made on the same day of creation, so you would expect humans and animals to have some similarities. Can you identify some of the things humans have IN COMMON with the animals?
Possible Answers: We are both provided food by God (Verses 29-30: see Psalm 104:10-29); Both dwell on the land (Verse 24); Both are made from the dust (cf. Genesis 2:7); Both are commanded to reproduce (v. 22, 28); Both have survival instincts, care for their young, and are capable of experiencing suffering.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: 1. Humans are told to “rule over” the other living creatures. What are some of the ways that animals benefit us? How do they enrich our lives?
2. Proverbs 12:10 says “A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal.” If you have ever cared for farm animals, or have taken care of a pet, what are some of the lessons you learned from that experience?
DISCUSSION QUESTION: In the creation account, man is superior to the animals, and God is superior to man. So, do you think God looks at US the way WE look at the animals? Why, or why not?
SUMMARY STATEMENT: The account of creation in Genesis 1 teaches that all life comes from God. When we consider the wonderful diversity of animals God made, and the pride He takes in His creation, we are not only reminded of His power but also of our own responsibility to be good stewards of the earth, and of the animals, He has given us.