Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Genesis Chapter One

I have thought it fitting to begin a personal journey through the Bible together, to see what we may glean through our studies, beginning with the first 11 chapters of Genesis. Before we open our Bibles and begin to study and apply the word of God I feel compelled to add this in: that I do not have all the answers. In reality, I have precious few answers for the deep mysteries of the word of God, and His plan for mankind and the universe. I understand salvation, and that the universe will eventually be reconciled back to God through Christ, and that all will be made new, eternal, and sinless. I do not know, nor will I pretend to know, why God chose this exact way of redeeming men and women; what I mean is why did He make earth thus, populate it with our race, and allow sin it’s entrance, and to run its course as it largely has. I will dispel the illusion or delusion that sin surprised God. No, He fully knew that Adam and Eve would sin, just as He knew Satan would sin, but created him nonetheless. Why? God has His reasons, and His reasons and wisdom are perfect, so I am obliged simply to agree that God is wiser than I am, and He knows what He is doing. “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever,” Deuteronomy 29:29. To fully know the mind of God one would have to be God, even if He deigned to explain Himself to mortal man, whose frame is dust, Psalm 103:14. Therefore cease striving to understand all His ways. “Oh, the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” Romans 11:33. See also Job 11:7; 15:8; Ecclesiastes 3:11; Isaiah 55:8-9 for further examples of our inability to understand God and His works.

Now this may seem to the unbeliever as a cop-out, but hear me out. If you could explain God entirely, or even mostly, would you consider Him even worthy of the title “God”? I wouldn’t! God is mysterious and awesome, holy, unique and all-powerful. He is living, and abides forever, and does whatever He pleases. The fact that I cannot fathom all that He does is an elegant proof that He is, indeed, the living and only God. Set your ego aside, and put down your corrupt reasoning faculties, and hear His word and His pure wisdom, for He desires to impart such to the likes of us, though we have done nothing to earn it, and do not deserve it.
One last comment about the topic we are entering: namely the Bible. Never trust anyone who claims to have all the answers to the word of God. Yes, we are priests to God as Christians, and people should seek the law from our mouths, because we are messengers of the Lord of Hosts, see Malachi 2:7. Also, we are to be like the householders Jesus described, who brought out of their treasures things both new and old, see Matthew 13:52. But rather, we should heed the apostle’s advice when he said, “if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know,” 1st Corinthians 8:2. Bearing this in mind, let us now turn our attention to Scripture, and roam through Genesis, to see what the Holy Spirit will reveal to us, I pray, for our mutual edification.

1:1 In the beginning…God
God has been from the beginning. Before the earth was, or the material universe, or the heavens, or the highest heavens, or the ranks of angels, there was God. The name revealed to Moses is “I AM.” God is ever rooted in the present, so to speak, since He dwells in eternity, removed from the boundaries of time and space which he erected for our race to function in; which happens to be one massive reason why we have so much difficulty, even as Christians, fathoming the scope of God’s plan of redemption and reconciliation. We are stuck in time, seeing past, present, and future divided and separate, and us doomed to leave the stage at some point in time. The very phrase, “in time” has no application in God, except in regards to when He deals with mankind, because He deals with us in accordance to the rules and laws He created. The same I AM who spoke with Moses in the burning bush around 1450 BC (Exodus 3:14), also spoke with the Jews of Judea during His days of the flesh about 30 AD (John 8:58). Our linear and muddled thinking does much harm to our view of God. He should be elevated in our mind and heart as transcendental; a Being who deserves our godly fear.
1:1 God created the heaven and the earth
God alone, before there was time or space or material reality of any sort, created the heaven and the earth from nothing. We know that heaven was made before the earth was, and the sons of God (bene Elohim in Hebrew) were already created and present watching God make the earth, see Job 38:7. The angels in all of their ranks were in place, and this includes Lucifer, who would become Satan. Satan means “adversary.” He is indeed our adversary, and the accuser of our brethren, who still have access to the throne of God, see 1st Kings 22:19-22 & Job 1:6-7; 2:1-2. Satan is finally cast out during the middle of the seven-year Tribulation period, and his access to God’s throne finally revoked, Revelation 12:7-9. Note also that the Bible states God made heaven and earth in comparatively short order; six days, in fact. Exodus 20:11 and 31:17 reconfirm this fact, that God made heaven and earth in six literal days, which we will shortly see.
1:2 And the earth was without form, and void
Alternate renderings suggest “waste and emptiness” or “wreck and ruin.” Neither of these is a majority rendering, however, and no Jewish translator apparently perceived it to be translated this way. I t garnered notice and popularity during the 1800’s, when geology and evolution were gaining momentum, and men began trying to find places to “fit” billions of years into, somewhere in the Bible. This became known as the Gap Theory. In this theoretical “gap” lurks a former earth, Lucifer as its angelic monarch, and an entirely different race pre-dating mankind! But this is not, and cannot, be honestly supported by the Bible. First, God is crystal clear when He tells Moses, “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them,” Exodus 20:11; again repeated for effect in Exodus 31:17. The language is too plain to suggest a massive gap lurking somewhere in the darkness before God “re-created” the inundated earth. Elsewhere, our Lord states, “But from the beginning of creation, God made them [Adam and Eve] male and female,” Mark 10:6. Both Adam and Eve existed from the beginning of God’s creation, which makes sense if they were created only six days after the heavens were made. Finally, death entered the world through sin as a consequence of man’s rebellion against God, Genesis 2:17; Romans 5:12 & 1st Corinthians 15:21-22. The fossil record, which reveals massive death on a global scale, would seem to put a lie to God’s word that death only entered the world when sin came, through Adam. But if this fossil record is instead a memorial of the Flood which inundated the earth during Noah’s time, then all becomes clear. Which is a more biblically defensible position? God called all things “very good,” when He created the earth, Genesis 1:31; how do we reconcile that if the new earth was built atop the enormous remains of so many dead? The answer is clear: there is no “gap,” the earth was made shortly after the heaven, and sin entered after Adam and Eve were created. Their disobedience, not a previous imagined cataclysm, brought death to the creation.
1:3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light
The Holy Spirit had been moving or hovering over the face of the waters in the previous verse, and His entrance into material existence caused light. His command created light, and He divided it from the darkness. God says in Isaiah, “I form the light and create darkness,” 45:7. Here is something of an object lesson about cause and effect. As darkness is merely an absence of light, when God brought forth light, darkness sprang into being, and here we have a primeval lesson in the dividing of light and dark, that the two do not intermingle, and will not share the same destiny. It is a testimony of God’s amazing power and authority that He could merely speak and light emerged. It was this same God who told the prophet, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it,” Isaiah 55:11.
1:5 God called the light Day, and the Darkness He called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day
The first day. Here is a vivid explanation of the course of the first day in history. Here is where another defunct theory, known as Day-Age Theory, utterly breaks down. Advocates of this theory postulate that the “days” God made the earth by were actually eons, vast periods of time in which countless millennia swept by. But this supposed explanation, again trying to conform Scripture to the “fact” of Evolution, does not answer at all to the language. God called the light Day, and the darkness Night, and the evening, with its successive morning, formed the first full, 24 hour, day. If you follow the gospels, and listen closely to the hours given during the day you will hear phrases such as the third hour, the sixth hour, or the eleventh hour. Jesus Himself asked, are there not twelve hours in the day? John 11:9. The Jewish day began at 6 P.M. (roughly) and ended 24 hours later. God was using the Jewish day, or better, the Jews adopted God’s timetable in giving time, which was apparently still in usage during Jesus’ earthly ministry. At any rate, God defines the use of the word “day” in this verse in terms which one must deliberately do violence to, in order to retrieve a variant meaning. This was day one of the creation, and day one of planet earth. The earth is not 4.6 billion years old.
1:7 God…divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament
Bear with me on this one. We already had achieved a rotating planet by verse 5, or else night and day cycles could not occur. But now, it would seem, God was giving a sharper definition to the planet. Perhaps what this verse states is that the water above the firmament (outer space) was removed via the earth’s atmosphere, while the water under the firmament was gathered into a more orderly form; as God is a God of order. The earth was being readied to bring forth dry land, and much of the water canvassing the earth presently I believe went into the reservoirs beneath the earth where the “fountains of the great deep” would hold them, until the time for God’s judgment had come. Does God ever mention outer space, or the earth’s shape? If this verse isn’t satisfactory, perhaps these may suffice: “He stretches out the north over empty space (tohu, apparently the same word rendered “without form” in Genesis 1:2); he hangs the earth on nothing,” Job 26:7. “It is He who sits above the circle (or compass) of the earth,” Isaiah 40:22. “When He prepared the heavens, I was there, when He drew a circle on the face of the deep (the same “deep” which darkness covered in Genesis 1:2, I would wager),” Proverbs 8:27.
1:8 And God called the firmament Heaven
This simply corroborates the previous verse, that the former use of the word “firmament” was connected with outer space, which came to be known as the heavens. The Heaven of heavens, a description used in the Old Testament, or the Third Heaven, used in the New Testament, may simply refer to the dwelling place of God’s throne and the heavenly Jerusalem, and where the holy angels reside.
1:14 And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years
I know there are those who advocate that the stars and such were placed in heaven as a primitive “gospel” message, the gospel in the stars, as it is called, but again the language just does not seem to agree. The foremost reason God gave for putting the lights in the heaven, including the sun and the moon, were to divide day from night. They would be for signs to the people of earth to mark the passage of seasons, the passing of days, and to mark the passage of years. Note now that the Jewish calendar (and primarily all ancient calendars) were lunar calendars, and passed the year on a 360 day cycle of the moon’s phases. Israel and all the ancient world did indeed then take God’s gracious gift to them, and make the heavenly bodies for signs. Unfortunately, this idea was perverted from the first, especially at Babel, when the heavenly bodies were worshiped as incarnations of gods or symbols of future happenings; a sad and superstitious practice which even endures and thrives today in our supposedly “intellectual” climate. But God made it clear that the heavens were to mark time’s passage, an important thing to a people that were entrenched in a world that was governed by time. There is one more sign which the heavenly bodies excel at demonstrating: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork,” Psalm 19:1. Paul tells his Roman audience that the created order of the world and universe, or cosmos, reveal God’s eternal power and essential deity, Romans 1:20. The created world should turn us to seeking the uncreated Maker.
1:20 and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven
The New King James translates this passage, “let the birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens.” The Hebrew word for ‘open’ may also be translated ‘face,’ which the New King James version employed. Think about it: you are on the surface of the earth and are looking up at the heavens (outer space; not the Heaven of heavens). To us, from our perspective, the atmosphere of Earth is the ‘face’ of the heavens above. The ‘open’ firmament the fowls of the air are allowed to fly in implies that the bounds are set for where they may and may not go. The face of the heavens is an earthbound perspective, as our planet is canvassed in its atmosphere; a window, as it were, of the heavens that comprise outer space.
1:21 And God created great whales
The Hebrew word for “whales” is tannin, and is frequently translated “dragons” in the Bible. It is also translated “sea-serpent.” The word is used about 22 times in the Old Testament, and seems to refer both to aquatic and land dwelling animals, and may indeed be a direct reference to what we presently call dinosaurs. In the book of Job two such great animals are described at length by God Himself, titanic and terrifying in their size and power. Evolution and geologic “findings” have convinced the world, on no actual concrete or verifiable proof, that dinosaurs died out 65 million years ago. Gap theorists neatly tuck dinosaurs into the former period of the earth, while Day-Age theorists say that dinosaurs existed in the wide eons between “days.” But God states in Genesis that ALL animals were created within the six days, and this must include dinosaurs. This only scandalizes our thinking because we have been trained by a school system entrenched in Evolutionary thought that would tell us, again with no real authority, that dinosaurs and man were never contemporaries. The Bible, however, tells a different story.
1:24 After his kind
God created the herb yielding seed, the fruit tree yielding fruit, aquatic creatures in the sea, every winged animal, as well as creeping things, beasts and cattle, all after their kind. “After his kind” was a trade mark or patent which God placed over His created kingdoms, to tell everyone henceforth that nothing entirely new would emerge. “Is there anything of which it may be said, ‘See, this is new?’ It has already been in ancient times before us,” Ecclesiastes 1:10. Macroevolution is a dream that has set man on a fruitless and mad pursuit of man’s ascension from primordial ooze to monkeys to the dominant race on the planet. But we did not become so by time plus chance; God placed us here with intention, and gave us the stewardship, Genesis 1:28. Evolution, which is actually a very ancient idea (most polytheistic and pantheistic religions are based on some form of it) is Satan’s original lie of ascending upward from one’s current state: “Your eyes shall be opened and ye shall be as gods (or God),” Genesis 3:5. Since that time man has been obsessed with self-realization, spiritual ascendancy, or transcendental enlightenment; all apart from God. Macroevolution (one species evolving into a new, better species) is a lie. It has never been witnessed or recorded, cannot be duplicated in the laboratory despite hundreds of failed attempts, and simply does not accord with reality. Microevolution, one species becoming diverse through mutation, is apparent. Just look at dogs, for instance. But a dog only and always begets another dog. God laid down the genetic cardinal rule: “after his kind.” Here I cannot let pass the third member of the trinity of compromise which hounds Genesis in the church. Theistic Evolution claims that while God began all creative processes and ultimately governs the universe, He set in motion the mechanism of Evolution to be His guiding law by which life arose. Some propose that in Genesis when God breathed in man’s nostrils the breath of life (Genesis 2:7), that meant that apes were given intelligence and a soul. What! How much more plainly could God be called a liar? Walt Brown, in his excellent study book, In the Beginning, comprises a list of 75 topics which differ greatly between special creation and Evolution of any kind. Theistic Evolution is one more effort on the part of men to give concessions to an enemy who is defeated, and plays the role of the fool by saying, “There is no God,” Psalm 14:1; 53:1.
1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness
Here is the first of many passages in the Old Testament which plainly and boldly speaks about God’s triune nature. He is three Persons in one Being, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Two more times in Genesis chapters 1-11 (which liberal Christianity herald as fictitious and mythical) God speaks in plurality, in 3:22 and 11:7. A similar occurrence is found in Isaiah: “And now the Lord God and His Spirit have sent Me,” 48:16. The original Hebrew verb for “have”, a footnote informs us, is singular (has), though more than one person is being spoken of. What does it mean to be made in the image of God? We have His moral qualities. We know between right and wrong, we have volition and power of choice. We have intelligence and great creative ability. We ourselves are triune in a certain sense in that we are spirit, soul, and body, as found in 1st Thessalonians 5:23. Yes, God’s word does make a difference between the soul and spirit, so much so that God’s sword (the Bible, the word of God) can split them asunder, Hebrews 4:12. Our soul is our natural person, our personality, intellect, reason, emotion, etc. It is this soul that cannot know the things of God, because they are spiritually discerned, 1st Corinthians 2:14. Man’s God-given spirit died in the fall (see Genesis 2:17). That is why we need the re-birth through the Holy Spirit, and why Jesus said that the flesh profits nothing, it is the Spirit who gives life, John 6:63. When we are born again, and have put on the new man, we are “renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him,” Colossians 3:10. Our spirit, through the inner operation of the Holy Spirit, is made alive again! As Paul wrote we are “renewed.” A re-Genesis has occurred. We are entirely unlike God, however, both in holiness and autonomy. God has the monopoly on those. A man may only be righteous or holy because the Spirit of God abides on him, and only God alone is autonomous. I mean truly autonomous, answerable to no one and indebted to no one. We are hopeless debtors to our Maker, who made us and purchased us with His own blood, Acts 20:28.
1:27 male and female created he them
Both men and women are joint heirs of salvation, 1st Peter 3:7. Both are spirits housed in a body, and both are fully capable, through the new birth, to commune and have a relationship with God. Neither man nor woman has the advantage in this point. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus,” Galatians 3:28. God made a man and woman to compliment each other in this life, where such companionship can be pleasant and necessary, Genesis 2:18, 23-24; Proverbs 5:18-19; 18:22 & Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. But in the next life we shall not be married or given in marriage, but in that regard be like the angels of heaven, Mark 12:25. As a married man, I delight in my wife, and thank God every day for so wonderful and fulfilling a marriage as He has deigned to give us. I do rejoice in her, and value all of the earthly time we have together. I counsel every man reading this, if you are married, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church,” Ephesians 5:25.
1:30 To every beast of the earth…I have given every green herb for meat
It would appear by this verse that every animal on earth, carnivore, herbivore, or omnivore presently, were herbivores before the Flood. See Genesis 9:2-3 when conditions between man and animals apparently changed.

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All Scripture is taken from the King James Bible (KJV) or New King James Bible (NKJV). Copyright 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.