The Beginning of Earth and All It Contains — Gen. 1:1-2:3Posted by Paul Apple on Feb 20, 2017 in Christian | Comments Off on The Beginning of Earth and All It Contains — Gen. 1:1-2:3
We live in a culture that resists the authoritative declaration of absolute standards. In our world, everything is relative – everything revolves around your individual perception rather than some objective standard outside of yourself. And yet the paradox is that we like to label certain things morally good and others morally evil. What is the basis for those types of evaluations apart from God being the standard for good and evil? Otherwise one culture could establish a norm that murdering is good instead of evil.
God has a lot to say about people who have lost their moral compass; whose conscience and discernment have been so perverted by sin that they call good “evil”, and evil “good.” They have exchanged the truth of God for a lie and end up worshiping and serving the creature rather than the Creator.
As we enter into our study of Genesis – the Book of Beginnings – we see God laying the foundation for what He declares to be objectively good and objectively evil. These are the absolute standards that God has never changed and that apply down through the centuries, regardless of the confusion in men’s minds and hearts.
God is able to do this because by nature, He declares that in His very essence He is Good. Remember what Jesus explained to the rich young ruler: “Why do you call Me good? No one is good except God alone.” (Luke 18:19) That is why the commandments that He issues are good and right and consistent with a path of goodness and righteousness because they are consistent with the character of God.
As we read through the first chapter of Genesis, what has to strike you is the repetitive phrase: “God was that it [what He had created] was good.” In fact when it comes to summing up the entire six days of creation, He feels compelled to ramp up His evaluation and declare “it was very good.” (vs. 31)
EVERY ASPECT OF GOD’S CREATION WAS JUDGED TO BE GOOD BY GOD HIMSELF
5 MAJOR TOPICS
Can’t offer any type of exhaustive treatment … but giving some summary observations;
Each of these could easily be a series of messages
I. CHRONOLOGY ISSUES — THE EARTH’S AGE AND THE DAYS OF CREATION AND THE THEORY OF EVOLUTION
A. Earth is Billions of Years Old or Relatively Young?
Less than 10,000 years old or as Wikipedia quotes: Evidence from numerous scientific disciplines contradicts Young Earth creationism, showing the age of the universe as 13.8 billion years, the formation of the Earth as at least 4.5 billion years ago, and the first appearance of life on Earth as occurring at least 3.5 billion years ago. That is quite a contrast in viewpoints.
How to treat verse 1? Have to account for the creation of the angels and the demons –
Clear from Col 1:16,17 that they were created by the Triune God – plural of majesty in the plural form of God — Elohim
Parunak: Those who understand 1:1 as a summary [with the details then developed in the rest of the chapter] take “the heavens and the earth” as a merism expressing totality, like our expression “from soup to nuts” (the first and last courses of a dinner). But the terms are not necessarily thus understood: Deut 10:14; Ps 96:11; Isa 42:5; etc.
It is more appropriate to understand the expression of the two great spheres of creation:
heavenly (including the angelic host) and earthly (the focus of the rest of Gen 1-2).
o This fits better with 1:2, which as a disjunctive clause focuses in on the second of these two:
“Now as far as the earth is concerned, it was without form and void, …”
- Arguments from science
Believers in universal flood geology attach great importance to the biblical story of Noah’s Flood in explaining the fossil record and geological strata. Major American YEC organizations such as the Institute for Creation Research and Answers in Genesis support this approach.
The 10 Best Evidences from Science that Confirm a Young Earth
Some examples of scientific arguments from various disciplines:
From Biological Evidence:
DNA in ‘ancient’ fossils. DNA extracted from bacteria that are supposed to be 425 million years old brings into question that age, because DNA could not last more than thousands of years.
From Geological Evidence:
Scarcity of plant fossils in many formations containing abundant animal / herbivore fossils. E.g., the Morrison Formation (Jurassic) in Montana. See Origins 21(1):51–56, 1994. Also the Coconino sandstone in the Grand Canyon has many track-ways (animals), but is almost devoid of plants. Implication: these rocks are not ecosystems of an ‘era’ buried in situ over eons of time as evolutionists claim. The evidence is more consistent with catastrophic transport then burial during the massive global Flood of Noah’s day. This eliminates supposed evidence for millions of years.
From radiometric dating:
Carbon-14 in coal suggests ages of thousands of years and clearly contradict ages of millions of years.
From astronomical evidence:
Evidence of recent volcanic activity on Earth’s moon is inconsistent with its supposed vast age because it should have long since cooled if it were billions of years old.
From human history:
Human population growth. Less than 0.5% p.a. growth from six people 4,500 years ago would produce today’s population. Where are all the people? if we have been here much longer?
- Appearance of Age – mature earth
- Analogy – Adam appeared to be 25 years old … but just 15 minutes old; you may have been created 15 minutes ago with false memories … but that would be somewhat deceptive … not deceptive to have rocks with appearance of age or tree rings; is God intentionally deceiving us??
2. Arguments from the Bible:
1) What’s the point of a huge gap of time with no people on the earth? What is God trying to accomplish in such a time period? Hard to mesh with concept of History being His Story …
1) Sure there can be some gap in the recorded genealogies – skipping several generations; but what is the point if you are skipping huge blocks of time – this only matters from the onset of humanity (not an argument for the overall age of the earth); genealogies are recorded as significant historical records – not meaningless
B. Days of Creation are Literal 24 hour periods of time or representative of long ages of time? Day Age Theory
- 2 Peter 3:8 has nothing whatever to do with the length of the creation week. Genesis 1 needs to be interpreted in its own context; even if you grant the formula 1 day = 1,000 years, you have not added enough years to make a significant dent in the argument; do a study of the Hebrew word “day” (yom) in the OT; The Hebrew word olamwas available to communicate the idea of a long time period if Moses had intended to convey that idea.
- The Hebrew wordyom is used more than 2000 times in the Old Testament. A cursory examination reveals that in over 1900 cases (95%) the word is clearly used of a 24-hour day, or of the daylight portion of a normal day. Many of the other 5% refer to expressions such as “the day of the Lord” (Joel 2:1) which may not be exceptions at all, since the second coming of Christ will occur on one particular day (1 Cor. 15:51-52), even though His reign extends over a longer period of time. Therefore, even without a context, an unbiased translator would normally understand the idea of “24-hour period” for the word yom. Used here in the context with evening and morning which point to a 24 hour period http://www.icr.org/article/theistic-evolution-day-age-theory/
- You always run into inconsistencies regarding what was created ahead of what … and how could it have existed in such a state for millions of years –
- Plants could have survived for 48 or 72 hours without the birds and the bees, but could they have survived 2-3 billion years without each other according to the day-age scenario? Many birds eat only insects. Could they have survived a billion years while waiting for the insects to evolve? http://www.icr.org/article/theistic-evolution-day-age-theory/
- Institution of one day of rest in the seven day week – following 6 days of labor; the Fourth Commandment – otherwise would make no sense
- Most importantly, you never have a theological answer to the problem of how sin and death enters into the world – Bible presents it as connected to man’s sin; it was at that time that God cursed an environment that before that time was judged to be very good Romans 5:12 “Therefore as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, so death passed to all men, because all have sinned.”
There is yet another lesson to be learned from this New Testament passage. There is a tendency among neo-evangelicals today to make a false dichotomy between the Bible’s statements of faith and practice and statements pertaining to science and history. The former, we are told, are accurate; the latter are riddled with errors of fact. This view is also known as the partial inspiration or limited inerrancy view of inspiration. Romans 5:12 shows that the above is untenable because the passage bases a theological doctrine (man’s sin) upon a historical event (Adam’s fall). Likewise 1 Cor. 15:45 bases the doctrine of the resurrection upon the historicity of Adam as the first man. Many other examples could be cited, but the lesson is clear: the theology (“faith and practice”) of the Christian life is inseparably linked to and interwoven with the historicity and scientific validity of the narrative portions of Scripture. To deny one is to deny the other. http://www.icr.org/article/theistic-evolution-day-age-theory/
C. Each Animal is Limited to Producing After its Kind, or Over Long Amounts of Time creatures evolve from one type of species to a more advanced form?
Where are the transitional forms in the fossil records?? Scientists come up with some imaginative attempts from just a fragment of a bone or of a tooth … shows they are working from a presuppositional approach as well
Confusion if you equate the biblical concept of “kind” with scientific term “species” – claim against Christians that they believe that the species are fixed – according to what definition of species?? Definition changed over time
Dogs will remain dogs – variation within dogs … but dogs don’t become cats
Example: dogs can easily breed with one another, whether wolves, dingoes, coyotes, or
Cats will remain cats
We are not related to gorillas
II. WORLD VIEW ISSUES — THE BASIC CHRISTIAN WORLD VIEW IN CONTRAST TO PAGAN THINKING
A worldview is the framework from which we view reality and make sense of life and the world.
For example, a 2-year-old believes he’s the center of his world, a secular humanist believes that the material world is all that exists, and a Buddhist believes he can be liberated from suffering by self-purification.
Someone with a biblical worldview believes his primary reason for existence is to love and serve God. http://www.focusonthefamily.com/faith/christian-worldview/whats-a-christian-worldview/whats-a-worldview-anyway
6 basic world view questions:
- What is the nature of reality / what is the nature of metaphysics? What is the nature of being or existence / ontology? These 2 are related …
Evolutionist, materialist, naturalist cannot answer this question with any meaning
“the stuff that I can see and touch”
Reality is just chance; matter in motion; accidental events
Genesis asserts the existence of God as ultimate reality – being and existence are in Him;
God is existence Himself – in Him, we live and move and have our being
The Christian philosophy view of metaphysics is clearly spelled out in Scripture: “In the beginning [of the cosmos] was the Word [Logos, mind, reason, thought, wisdom, intelligence, idea, law, order, purpose, design], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same [Word] was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:1–4).
Christian Philosophy and Mind before Matter
The flow of this passage sets the parameters of Christian philosophy—mind before matter; God before people; plan and design before creation; life from life; and enlightenment from the Light. The orderly universe was conceived in the orderly and rational mind of God before it was created. Without the Logos there would be no cosmos. From the Christian perspective it is no surprise to see philosophers and scientists refer to the universe as a manifestation of mathematical law, order, design, and beauty. . .
The current theory of evolution declares the cosmos to be the result of a series of random accidents. Christianity considers this view an entirely irrational notion. Such a position is tantamount to claiming that a skyscraper can come together without an architect, plan, or engineer. It doesn’t happen that way in the real world; only in the minds of those who assume there is no supernatural Designer. http://www.allaboutworldview.org/christian-philosophy-and-metaphysics-faq.htm
- Cosmology; the nature of the world around us – closely related to Metaphysics above —
There is a creator and a designer and governor – involved with that which He brought into existence
- What is the nature of man, anthropology? All of life is sacred and has dignity; man and woman made in image of God; vs. man is no different in essence than any animal
- What is the nature of knowledge; epistemology – How do we know what we know?
Because God reveals these truths; God speaks authoritatively and discloses what we need to know – Creation speaks to the General Revelation that God graciously makes known to all mankind so that they are aware of His power and majestic attributes
- What is the basis of morality; nature of ethics? Why shouldn’t I steal or murder my neighbor? Consensus of the community as the basis for morality?? What about Nazi Germany and Jewish Holocaust?? God lays down the standard of morality – established in the heart and conscience of every human
- What is the ultimate purpose of life and history — our past and future? If you are here by accident you are just here by accident; universe of chance and randomness; where are we headed – talked about ultimate destiny from Rev. 21 in earlier message
How can you tell if you have a biblical world view –
George Barma in his surveys used these litmus test questions
Do absolute moral truths exist?
Is absolute truth defined by the Bible?
Did Jesus Christ live a sinless life?
Is God the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe, and does He still rule it today?
Is salvation a gift from God that cannot be earned?
Is Satan real?
Does a Christian have a responsibility to share his or her faith in Christ with other people?
Is the Bible accurate in all of its teachings?
III. (:26-27) DESIGN ISSUES — THE IMPLICATIONS OF BEING CREATED IN THE IMAGE OF GOD AND EITHER AS MAN OR AS WOMAN
A. Image of God
Divine dialogue here within the Trinity – “Let us” — different structure than what took place with the rest of creation where God just spoke it into existence … man is seen to be the crown and climax of God’s creation
Immaterial part of man is the key here – not mainly differences in his physical body from animals because God is a Spirit; and yet man is a complete being – body and spirit combined; so there may be some reference to the physical as well – look at how Jesus appeared in His Incarnation and how He maintains a resurrection body even now
Several NT references:
Ephesians 4:24 “put on the new self, which I the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.”
While God has character traits that He does not share with humanity (e.g., God is self-existent, omniscient, omnipotent), we can still see His shared attributes in humanity today, even though they are distorted by sin. Attributes such as love, self-awareness, justice, grace, and mercy are distinct from attributes associated with animals. They are part of the very being of humanity.
Aquinas: Aquinas locates the image of God in humanity’s intellectual nature or reason, but Aquinas believes that the image of God is in humanity in three ways. First, which all humanity possess, the image of God is present in humanity’s capacity for understanding and loving God, second, which only those who are justified possess, the image is present when humanity actually knows and loves God imperfectly, and thirdly, which only the blessed possess, the image is present when humanity knows and loves God perfectly
Piper: Man as man—complex physical/spiritual being—in his wholeness, not his parts, is like God. It is not enough to say he reasons . . .
Until we know God fully … probably not capable of fully explaining in what sense man has been created like God
Implications flow out of each of these characteristics
Are we reflecting the glory of God??
We are called to image God; be an image bearer; dignity and sanctity of being human
- As Man or Woman
Not a state which you are able to alter … these sex change operations are changing some outward physical characteristics .. but not altering the DNA of the individual; not making it possible for a person created as a man to then bear children
Equality of personhood of both man and woman – both made equally in the image of God; equal in essence, dignity, worth and importance;
Just as 3 Persons of Trinity are equal in person;
But male and female are amazingly and wonderfully different – males aren’t females and females aren’t males
Reflect different ways of being human
Complementary – complete each other in God’s design; fundamentally different roles based on gender
Expresses the sanctity of human sexuality – marriage is to be heterosexual and monogamous; human sexuality is created by God – for procreation and for mutual pleasure and enjoyment within the bonds of marriage
Bible also commends singleness with its advantages for extraordinary purpose and contribution – never expresses this with any sense of loss
1) Profound equality between men and women; no denigration of woman as a person – guard against perverted view of male headship – Yes, men are to function as head in the home and leaders in the church
2) Feminism which wants to erase basic gender distinctions in order to obliterate fundamental gender roles is in violation of God’s created design; no such thing as evangelical feminism
3) Perverted forms of sex are clear violation of God’s created intention
IV. (:28) DOMINION ISSUES — THE BIBLICAL REFUTATION OF DOMINION THEOLOGY IN TERMS OF CHRISTIAN RECONSTRUCTIONISM AND THEONOMY
God had a special purpose for man in His creation – to have rule and dominion over the other forms of life
Cf. Israel worshiping a golden calf – pathetic
David Thompson: 3 Blessings
1) Blessing of Posterity – “be fruitful and multiply”
Abortion destroys this gift of posterity
2) Blessing of Position – authority and rule; Satan wanted dominion over this world; he came up with a plan to get control of this world for a time; not God’s plan that man just survive on this earth; our final destiny – we will rule with God on this earth
3) Blessing of Provisions – vs. 29 – man and animals were originally vegetarians; no death yet;
Nutritious, plentiful, sufficient
Don Dunavant: While our creativity is different from God’s, who made everything from nothing, the linkage of the image of God in man in creation to the cultural mandate in Genesis 1:26-27 speaks to our creative responsibility. Nancy Pearcey observes that the first phrase, be fruitful and multiply, may mean: “to develop the social world: build families, churches, schools, cities, government, laws.” She suggests the second phrase, subdue the earth, means: “to harness the natural world: plant crops, build bridges, design computers, compose music. This passage … tells us that our original purpose was to create culture and build civilizations — nothing less.”
This verse is taken by Christian Dominionists as a divine mandate to claim dominion over the earth, physically, spiritually and politically. However, this is taking a large step away from the text, which only says to have dominion over the creatures of earth, and to “subdue” the earth. It is likely that this verse simply means for humanity to
- a) multiply and expand over the face of the earth instead of staying in one place [Tower of Babel is God’s judgment when mankind fails to obey this command] and
- b) keep and take care of all other living things. There were no political entities in Genesis 1.
Dominion theology is also known as Christian reconstructionism and theonomy. Dominion theology states that biblical Christianity will rule all areas of society, personal and corporate. Christian reconstructionism reasons that society will be reconstructed by the Law of God as preached in the gospel and the Great Commission. Theonomy is a post-millennial view believing that all of the moral laws contained in the Old Testament are yet binding today. . .
Those who hold these views believe that it is the duty of Christians to create a worldwide kingdom patterned after the Mosaic Law. They believe that Christ will not return to earth until such a kingdom has been established. The principal goal, then, of dominion theology and Christian reconstructionism is political and religious domination of the world through the implementation of the moral laws, and subsequent punishments, of the Old Testament (the sacrificial and ceremonial laws having been fulfilled in the New Testament). This is not a government system ruled by the church, but rather a government conformed to the Law of God.
Position: the world should be brought under (reconstructed) the lordship of Jesus Christ in all areas: social, moral, political, judicial, military, family, art, education, music, etc. Christian Reconstructionism advocates the restoration of Old Testament civil and moral laws in order to reconstruct present American society into an Old Testament type Mosaic form and that the three main areas of society – family, church, government – should all be biblically modeled, the Bible being the sole standard. This would include severe punishments for law breakers. Some Christian reconstructionists would advocate death for adulterers, abortionists, idolaters, murderers, homosexuals, rapists, etc. https://carm.org/christian-reconstructionism-theonomy
Refutation of Theonomy:
1) Jesus taught the Great Commission – with an emphasis on sharing in His humiliation and suffering and persecution rather than dominion over all the nations
2) Jesus taught His kingdom is not of this world
3) Things are getting progressively worse during this age rather than better
2 Timothy 3:13-15
Cultural mandate – to be God’s vice regents in the earth; commanded to rule, to subdue and to take care of and cultivate
Same words used for mandate given to priests to care for and guard for the tabernacle and temple; to develop all the potentialities found in the environment as well as in humanity; develop a God honoring culture; this affects the way we understand the mission of the church; is the church responsible for developing and redeeming godly culture
1) Adam failed to rule, to cultivate and guard the Garden – the Fall makes fulfillment of the cultural mandate impossible except through the Last Adam Jesus Christ; the earth has been cursed and is now resistant to man’s efforts; because of the Fall, mankind now has bad intentions in trying to fulfil this mandate – now man-centered in its intention
2) Church’s first and foremost mission right now is the Great Commission – making disciples in the nations; live all of life under the lordship of Jesus – so this impacts the cultural mandate;
3) This results in Christians permeating every area of culture and society – impacting culture for the sake of Christ — we should be concerned about the poor, the unborn, gay marriage, health, economics even though we are not all about any one issue or realm; you must care about compassion for others and taking care of widows and orphans in distress; Christ calls us to do what we can do wherever we are; we are a positive, redemptive influence
V. (2:1-3) ISSUES OF WORK/LIFE/WORSHIP BALANCE
A. Pattern of 6 days of Work, 1 day of Rest and Focused Worship
- Day Was Blessed and Sanctified
Designed for man’s benefit
- Foundation for Jewish Rules Regarding the Sabbath – but not Identical
Ex. 20:8-11 – important to maintain this distinction or else we would be bound today by all of the Sabbath laws
Early church switched day of concentrated worship to Sunday, the first day of the week – fitting to honor the resurrection of Jesus Christ
David Thompson: Quality control team for creation was Triune God; they took a day to evaluate and enjoy it; finished creative activity in 6 days; analysis determined that it all was very good; day which honors him for all of His majestic, creative work
5 main differences between seventh day and all others:
1) no creation formula
2) no ending day formula
3) only day that God blesses and sanctifies
4) unique – not giving form or filling to anything
5) the number of this day is repeated 3 times, not just once
Observation of His created work; complete satisfaction and admiration; special day
Crown to the 6 days of creation
Analyze from 4 Perspectives:
1) Perspective 1 – The Time of this Special Day
Pausing to take a look at everything He had created
2) Purpose of this Special Day
Commemorate time when God rested from His creative work; work of an artist;
Number seven means rest and completion;
More to do with ceasing from work rather than resting because you are tired
Why did God rest? Not tired or fatigued; Omnipotence does not need a rest; God at work even on the Sabbath (John 10); always governing all things at all times;
A day that celebrated and honored His creative work; a great day for God; the enjoyment of accomplishment
No man could have designed all of this grandeur
3) Blessing of this Special Day
Some type of blessing of prosperity; Israel learned later that if they would keep the Sabbath, God would prosper them;
If you miss observing this day, you miss out on blessing from God;
4) Application of this Special Day
– Divine application – day of God; all members of the Trinity reflected on their work; when humans look at home they build – if I could do it again, I would do this differently; not so for God
– national application – Sabbath observance was fully revealed to Israel; Gen. 4:3 – Gen. 8:6ff – seven day intervals; some pattern of regular worship established from earliest time; Sabbath day a sign between God and Israel of her separation as a nation; part of the law;
– spiritual application – also speaks of a spiritual cessation from works – Heb. 4 – stop relying on our works; relying totally on the finished work of Christ;
– individual application – principle needs to be individually applied in every dispensation; principle of regularly meeting together on the seventh day of each week to worship God; work or sports are not more important than worshiping God; wise and healthy to take one day a week to dedicate to God
You can see as we dive into the book of Genesis that we are handling issues of a global magnitude – Issues of Chronology; Issues of World Views; Issues of God’s Design; Issues of Dominion. Genesis is truly a book of Beginnings … and we need to understand those Beginnings to truly grasp our ultimate Destiny.