Saturday, August 9, 2014
Creation: A Christian's Bedrock Part 4
Verse 25 tells us that just as God proposed, He did. When God looked back on the created order of animals and plants peopling His earth He declared that “it was good.” But He was not yet finished. Verse 26 commences with mankind’s introduction into this universe.
“Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth,” Genesis 1:26. Mankind was to have “dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” First note that dominion was given “them,” inferring that the whole of man’s creation as described in Genesis 2:7, 18-22 had occurred at this point. Both Adam and Eve were in mind here, and the myriad descendants that would come forth from them, both man and woman, or mankind. To further concrete this idea verse 27 goes on: “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
God blesses Adam and Eve (and through them, us) with a blessing that goes beyond what He gave to the animal kingdom. He says, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth,” Genesis 1:28. The Hebrew term for “subdue” is “kabash” whose primary root means to “tread down” and can be translated “conquer, subjugate or even violate” depending on the context. God was placing our first parents (and by implication us) in the role of stewards over the earth, not marauders. To make this more clear, if we turn to the book of Revelation God gives the stern warning that for those who exploit the lawful enterprises begun in Eden God will “destroy those who destroy the earth,” Revelation 11:18. This is not a call to plunder but to subdue in the sense that we learn about the earth and its processes for the benefit of mankind and the glory of God; this is the beginning or genesis of true science.
To confirm that all life was vegetarian in the beginning we simply read verses 29-30 which tell us “I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be your food. Also, to every beast of the earth (wild or domesticated), to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food.” Our first parents were not primitive hunter gatherers but gardeners, tending Eden and eating of its fruit. Likewise the animal kingdom was not a tooth and claw “survival of the fittest” but rather the opposite. The real struggle for survival had not begun, since sin and its consequence, death, had yet to enter the world.
Verse 31 informs us that God beheld all that He had created and pronounced it as “very good.” This brings to a close the sixth creation day, and the conclusion of the creation week, with God resting on the seventh day and establishing the seven day week as we observe it (Genesis 2:2), and later the pattern for the Jewish people when they received the Law at Sinai and the Sabbath, Exodus 20:8-11. It would be testing our credulity more than a trifle to suggest that God, had He employed any kind of Evolutionary method for creation, would look out on the world with the death and suffering that preceded the advent of humanity only to declare it “very good.” One has to pause at this point and honestly question: “Are we referring to the same God?”
For many, Genesis is where we meet God. The first chapter of the Bible is one of the most well known in literature. It is also one of the most maligned in today’s thinking, as it has been deeply entrenched in our minds that to court literal creation is something akin to intellectual suicide. It is met with mockery and it is met with hostility; but then again so is the gospel itself. That alone should give us pause to wonder about the compromises we make as Christians. Are we not aware that our enemy (the Devil, not people) will not rest until we have entirely capitulated any trust or hope we have in God’s inspired word? He is eroding the foundation with Genesis and many sensitive witnesses see how our faith wavers and begin to doubt that the Bible is trustworthy. If some portions are not genuine, or must be interpreted through some other medium like human wisdom or evolutionary science, then how do we know what parts are trustworthy and who determines it? The gospel itself is (and has been) under assault for its intolerant claims that the gospel alone saves. No religion on earth, nor good works, nor being good can merit God’s permission for entrance to Heaven. Only faith in Christ provides the way, for it is our Lord Himself who affirmed “I am the way, the truth and the life, no man comes to the Father but through Me,” John 14:6. But as Genesis has been critically reassessed and rejected by so many professing Christians over the last two hundred years, so too has the gospel come under the microscope. It is too narrow and unloving to suggest, much less adamantly affirm, that salvation from sin and fellowship with God as His child is only attained through trusting in Christ as our vicarious sin-bearer.