Tuesday 25 March 2014

Genesis 1 - In the Beginning

 Andy Falleur, Pastor  

1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

Moses is attributed as the author of these words, but many scholars believe that in sections such as the one we just read, Moses has simply written down, or included established history. Stephen says in Acts 7:22 ­ that Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians. Still, what we have just read is unique among all accounts of creation, or origins, even those of recent days.

The first word in Hebrew is “beginning.” In Latin, it’s the word Genesis, and we still call this first book of Moses by that first word in the Latin translation.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Such a simple statement, anyone can understand it and no one can plumb its depths. Each word is a mystery.
In the beginning, meaning there is a start to time. Time isn’t cyclical, there’s a beginning. That makes sense to us, the beginning of time. But, you should know that no scientist, physicist, philosopher or psychologist can tell you what time is. Google it… not now, but later. “What is time?” No one knows. Oh, we know what time it is. At least we have agreed to call this moment in time by a measurement we all agree on. But, we don’t understand time. In fact, some of the scientists, physicists and so forth have decided that time isn’t real.

But, the Bible simply declares… in the beginning…” There was a start to time.
The Bible also clearly declares that there is an end of time. Daniel records prophecies that he is told are for the “time of the end.” You can read those in Daniel 8, 11, and 12. In the New Testament, we are clearly told, that the time is short. 1 Peter 4:7 ­ the end of all things is at hand. Revelation 1:3, and Revelation 22:10, both say the same thing… the time is near.

In the beginning, God. You’ll want to note that in the original language, the word God there is “Elohim” and it’s plural. The next word “created”, the verb, it is singular. The linguists tell us that the reason that God is plural is to denote his majesty and superiority and splendor above all others. He is one, instead of many gods, because the verb, the action is singular. But, it’s still odd, especially because we are familiar with the rest of the Bible. John 1:1,2 ­ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. So, there’s 2 that were there, in the beginning, standing outside of time. But, then there’s Proverbs 8:22, where wisdom is talking and she says: 22 “The Lord possessed me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of old. 23 Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth. So, there’s three, I think that’s enough to warrant a plural word, however, obviously operating singularly. This I think is a clue in the second word of the Bible of the doctrine of the Trinity. We’ll see another HUGE clue later on in the chapter.

In the beginning, God created… The word for created is “bara”, it’s singular. The Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains: Hebrew Old Testament says this about “bara” ­ make something that has not been in existence before. It’s to create out of nothing. There’s a different Hebrew word we will encounter down in verse 7, and it’s the word “asah” and it means to fashion something, or to make it out of existing materials.

So, In the beginning, God, created out of nothing… “So, Andy, how did He do that?” I don’t know. Listen, we can’t even figure out how He did it after He had something to work with. We don’t even know for sure when He did it. And, some of us are still reeling from the plain simple fact, that wisdom was there, and she was a she!

In the beginning God created

What we do reject, and it seems that the scientific community is also starting to reject is neo­Darwinism or evolution by natural selection. Thomas Nagel wrote a book that was released in 2012 called: “Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo­Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False.” There’s some significant problems with the materialist naturalism worldview. Beyond Nagel, the evolutionist must still wrestle with the origin of things, if there’s nothing, how do you get something out of nothing?

Currently, there seem to be three major ideas that Christians take on creation.
First, there’s 6 day creation, or young earth creationists, and they believe and can show you how God created everything in 6, literal, 24 hour, days. Then, there’s the old­earth creationists who believe and can show you how God created everything over these very, very long periods of time. Lastly, there are the theistic evolutionists, who believe that God created everything through the mechanism of evolution.

Here’s the problem, no one knows when, and no one knows how, because God has kept it to himself. He even says this to Job, in Job 38:4 ­ “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?...

No matter which way you turn for answers on origins, you have to take it by faith. You’re going to have to put your trust in someone’s explanation. Hebrews 11:3 ­ By faith, we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

One more question here. Why do you want to know? Why do you want to know how and when? Consider this, Paul wrote in Romans 1:19, 20, that all of God’s attributes and character are fully visible in creation. Frankly, what drives most of our discoveries these days is how to manipulate the created order, alter it in order to serve our pleasures, to assist us in the worship of intellect, power, money and pleasure. It seems the further we dig into creation, in trying to understand, the universe, quantum physics, cellular biology, psychology, etc… the more complex and complicated and exasperating it becomes. His ways are past finding out. (Romans 11:33 ­ KJV)

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. St. Augustine uses 91 pages out of his 347 pages in Confessions, almost a third, exploring this idea of heavens and earth in this verse. It is absolutely remarkable reading.

The idea that existence has an upper story or dimension and a lower story or dimension can be found here. The idea of space and matter taken together, visible and invisible. It’s interesting that all through the Old Testament these two words are almost always found together. They work as a 2 word explanation for what we have in the one word ­ universe. It’s a Latin word that means ­ turned into one, or combined into a whole.

Consider these verses. Psalm 115:16 ­ The heavens are the Lord’s heavens, but the earth he has given to the children of man.

Jesus in teaching the disciples to pray said in Matthew 6:10 ­ Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Jesus again, this time in a prayer recorded in both Matthew 11:25, and Luke 10:21, says ­ I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth…

And, then who can forget Isaiah 65:17 ­ For behold, I create a new heavens and a new earth and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness (yes, darkness, the absence of light) was over the face of the deep.

What’s the deep?  The Dictionary of Biblical Languages With Semantic Domains: Hebrew Old Testament defines the deep as: the deep, the depths, i.e., an area below the surface of bodies of water, a dark, inaccessible, inexhaustible, and mysterious place controlled only by objects with immense powers.
What’s the deep? I don’t know, and it seems inexhaustible and inaccessible because there’s darkness over the face of it in the beginning.

Remember Proverbs 8, where Wisdom is talking about being there with God in the beginning, she continues in verse 24 ­ 24 When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water. 25 Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth, 26 before he had made the earth with its fields, or the first of the dust of the world. 27 When he established the heavens, I was there; when he drew a circle on the face of the deep, 28 when he made firm the skies above, when he established the fountains of the deep, 29 when he assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth, 30 then I was beside him, like a master workman, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always, 31 rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the children of man.

Here’s the deal. It seems like the only place you can find this word “deep” or “the Great Deep” in the Old Testament is in Hebrew Poetry, like here in Proverbs, or Job. But, it’s also found in Ecclesiastes which is philosophy, and then it’s also found in prophecy. The deep may not be physical, but spiritual.

and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God (the breath of God, the life of God, the power of God) was hovering (or brooding, or flying) over the face of the waters.

I don’t see where in this account the waters were created. It seems that water was just there in the beginning.

Seems like a baby in the womb, shrouded in darkness, covered in water. Peter writes in 2 Peter 3:5 ­ For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God.

Now, there’s an interesting theory called the ‘gap theory’ or the reconstruction theory, that says that the earth was inhabited before Adam, and it was destroyed and God started over. There’s some validity to it because of the language here in verse 2, in that darkness is already present, the deep is already present, the earth is without form and void, and those words in other places in the Bible are used in the context of something having been destroyed. And, then of course, you have water. It’s a theory, and like young­ earth creationism, old­ earth creationism and theistic evolution, it is hotly debated.

But, this scene of the Spirit hovering above the waters, is when all the action starts.
3 And God said, (his first recorded words…) “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

You might want to note, that the sun and the moon aren’t created until the 4th day, making day and night, not just physical, but spiritual. Jesus in John 9:4 ­ 4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:5 ­ 5 For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. 6 So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, are drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. verse 6… 6 And God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” 7 And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so. 8 And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.

There’s another theory, that is interesting here as well. This expanse, called Heaven, separating waters from waters, might be something different than our atmosphere today. Years ago, when the Russians were drilling for oil up above the Arctic Circle, they would get drill down into the ice, pretty far, and then at some point, started pulling up chunks of palm trees. They’ve discovered similar things in Canada, and it’s widely known that the Arctic at one time had a tropical climate. One of the theories is that before the flood, there was a canopy of some type separating the waters on the earth, with waters above the heavens, and those waters served as a roof of a greenhouse for all the earth, making it tropical everywhere, And, then at the flood, all that water was deluged upon the earth. It’s a theory, and again, no one knows for sure.

9 And God said, “Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. 11 And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. 12 The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.

And, as we all know, out of the billions of plants that are planted for food each year, no one has ever, in the history of man, seen a wheat seed produce barley. They always reproduce after their kind. It has to be manipulated genetically in order to reproduce outside of it’s kind.

verse 14 14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. 16 And God made the two great lights—the greater light to rule the day (that would be the sun) and the lesser light to rule the night (that would be the moon) —and the stars. 17 And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, 18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.

It’s interesting, that God created lights even to rule over the night. Let us be reminded that He rules over darkness. Light is more powerful, and will always triumph over darkness.

verse 20 20 And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” 21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, (it’s the first thing that He blesses) saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day. 24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 26 Then God said, “Let us (plural) make man in our (plural) image, after our (plural) likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

The male and female part we will look at next week. But, just to mention quickly, I think the greatest proof of the Trinity is the composition of man. We are a three part being. We are a spirit, that has a soul, that lives in a body. And, we operate as one. You know you are a three part being, because if you were to listen to yourself, talk to yourself, you would hear the three distinct sources. Your spirit or your heart or passion will have something to say about a decision, it’s not always rational, and you’ll hear your soul chime in and say… Hey, that’s not rational. And, then of course, you’re body will always communicate… hey that hurts! We need to stop, I’m hungry! I need a massage.”

Well, you see the connection, we are made in the image of God, Spirit, soul and body, and you can’t separate us, just like you can’t separate Him.
Consider the action of the Lord, in giving us the imprint of Himself. How unselfish.

verse 28 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” 29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. (Of course, this will change in Genesis 9, where meat will be introduced into the human diet) 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

By the way, this is why the Jewish people count days from sundown instead of midnight like we do. They take their cues from the Bible, one of the places, is here, the way that the Lord counts days in creation, there was evening and there was morning.

The Seventh Day, God Rests

2 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

Sabbath… He’s working now… Jesus said: John 5:17 ­ 17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.”

David Psalm 51:10 ­ Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

Isaiah 45:7 ­ I form light and create darkness, I make well­being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.

When I prayed about what to say, I sensed the Lord saying… Tell them that what I do, I do in wisdom. And, it’s always good. Reassure them that they can trust me to be wise and to do good.

Maybe that’s the condition of your life. It’s covered in darkness. It’s without

form and void, and you need God to speak into your life “Let there be light!” Why don’t you come to him, pray that simple prayer that David prayed… Lord...

Saturday 6pm
First Baptist Church,
140 Laurier Ave W,
Ottawa, ON K1P 5J4
We gather on Saturdays at 6pm in the sanctuary of First Baptist Church at the corner of Elgin and Laurier. We gather to worship God, share with each other, study the Bible and pray. There is wheelchair access. You are welcome to join us. We typically have coffee and refreshments available after the service. There is childcare available up to age 9.

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