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Genesis 1:1 by Robert Dean
Series:Understanding the Old Testament (2000)
Duration:1 hr 3 mins 48 secs

Old Testament Overview and Creation
Genesis 1:1
Understanding the Old Testament Lesson #002
January 9, 2000
www.deanbibleministries.org

Father, the Scripture says that "the Heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows us His handiwork." Psalm 19:1 And as we look about us in the Creation we see the nonverbal testimony of Your Greatness, Your Grandeur, Your Power, and beyond all that we have Your Written Word; and as we begin to study it, and as we look at it, and understand the scope of it, and its depth, and all the implications that we see in it, we stand in awe. Father, the Scripture says that "it is more desirable than gold," Psalm 19:10. It is the most important thing for us as believers to do. To learn Your Word; our Lord prayed, Father, sanctify them in Truth, Thy Word is Truth; and there is no other means for our spiritual growth, our spiritual health, and our advance than to learn Your Word. Now, Father, as we continue to study the Old Testament, we pray that You will open up the eyes of the understanding of our souls, that we might understand and see these things and see how they relate to our lives. We pray this in Jesus Name, Amen.

Last time we began our study of the Old Testament. The purpose of this is to give you a good understanding and appreciation of what lies behind the New Testament. So often Christians get the idea, I don't know where it comes from, that while we are living in the Church Age (CA) it is the New Testament that matters. And they just ignore the Old Testament, which represents about 2/3s of the Bible and is the foundation for the New Testament. And as we saw last time in our introduction, when the Apostle Paul is writing to Timothy and says, "All Scripture is breathed out by God," 2Timothy 3:15; he primarily has in mind the Old Testament because the New Testament Canon had not been developed at that time.

Now this morning we are going to continue that study, but we need to have a little review. Whenever you talk about some of the things we discussed last time in terms of how we got the Old Testament. Sometimes it is a little tough on the little gray cells, and so we need to review because that is how we get this locked into our minds. Now last time we looked at the organization, recognition, and transmission of the Old Testament Canon. The word 'canon' is from an English word derived from the Greek word KANON meaning a rule or standard. It describes that set of books, which is authoritative and is the authoritative revelation of God to man containing everything related to God's plan, purposes, and will for the human race. As we look at the organization, recognition, and transmission of the Canon last time. We saw that in the Hebrew Bible the text was organized according to its writer. It was Moses who wrote the torah, the first five books of the Old Testament; torah means law in the general translation. The more accurate translation is 'Drill and Instruction;' and then the Prophets, the Former Prophets,  and the Later Prophets, and then the Writings, which include all the other Books, Poetry Books, and those Books written by non- prophets. In your English Bible the Books are arranged by subject matter. It begins with the Law, the Pentateuch, the first five books, Genesis through Deuteronomy. Then it is followed by the Historical Books, from Joshua through Esther. Following that you have the Poetry Books, Job, Psalm, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and then the Major Prophets and the Minor Prophets.

We looked at the evidence that the Canon was closed before the incarnation of Jesus Christ. What you often hear, if you ever attend a class in Sociology of Religion or if you are ever exposed to some form of Liberal Protestant Christianity, somebody will say, 'Well those Books were chose by the Rabbis at a Council held in Jamnia after the destruction of Jerusalem. The Rabbis got together to discuss some issues related to the Canon of Scripture. They did not determine the extent of the Canon at that time or even if there was a Canon.' They recognized the fact that a Canon already existed. In that meeting they did debate some things about Esther, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, as to whether or not to leave them in the Canon and they affirmed that they should. The kept the same 22 or 24 Book Canon that had been adopted in Judaism since approximately 200-250 BC.

Now Liberal Theology always says that man gives these Books authority. And Conservative Theology and the Bible claim that God is the One who gives these Books authority. If you read these Books, especially in contrast any of the other Apocryphal books you will clearly see a difference. Now one of the other Books that was disputed at the time in the Old Testament, they had some questions about, was Ezekiel. Ezekiel was disputed because the description of the temple in the later part of Ezekiel was quite different from the description of the temple in the Mosaic Law, as was the sacrificial system that Ezekiel described that is supposes to be part of the Millennial Kingdom. But because the Jews did not recognize that this was prophesy and related to the future Kingdom and that the Mosaic system would eventually end; they thought there was some sort of conflict and so they were not ready to include Ezekiel in the Canon. But one of the Rabbis named Kianena ben Hezekiah took the Ezekiel scroll and the scroll of the torah and sequestered himself in an upper chamber to attempt a reconciliation of the two Books. And after he burned over 300 jars of oil in his lamp, he finally completed the path of reconciliation and so we are told that Ezekiel was accepted into the Canon after that.

We also saw last time that Eccleciasticus, which is one of the Apocryphal books, written about 125 BC, includes a reference by Yehoshua or Joshua, the son of Serass, who stated that at the time of his grandfather, which would be about 180-200 BC, the Canon was complete. Further we saw that Judas Maccabeus wrote in 1Macabees 9:27, approximately 164 BC, that he compiled a list of Canonical Books and he also recognizes the gift of prophesy has ceased. So, what we are building a case for is simply that by sometime between 225 BC and 175 BC it was clear that the Jews recognized the gift of prophesy had ceased and God was no longer revealing Scripture to man. That is 175 to 200 years before the birth of Christ. The Babylonian Talmud, which was written around AD 200-300, reflects oral tradition that goes back probably before the time of Christ and recognizes the closing of the Canon. Also, Philo, who wrote from the Egyptian area, recognized the same 22-24 Book Canon; Josephus, who was writing in the Palestinian area; and these recognize the three major groups of Jews in the ancient world, in Babylon, Egypt, and Palestine; and they all came to the same conclusion -- that the same Books were authoritative, and they came to that conclusion independent of each other.  And then we saw that Jesus and the disciples also accepted the same group of Books. And so, we know with confidence that we have the Word of God.

Furthermore, we saw that the Dead Sea Scrolls provided text some 1,000 years older than the oldest manuscripts that we had at the time they were discovered in 1948, and thus confirm the accuracy of the transmission of the Bible. It did not get garbled in those 1000 years. We saw several examples and how the Bible was preserved accurately in its transmission; errors did not come along. You hear people say, well, how can you really trust the Bible; how do we know it is the Word of God; how can you be sure that we have it and that scribes did not come along in the Middle Ages and change things... You always hear these kinds of statements made, except there is no historical evidence at all for those kinds of doubts. The fact is that all of the evidence we have shows that the Text that Jesus and the Apostles had in the 1st century AD is the same Text that we have today.

Now we are going to begin our study of the Old Testament and look at an overview of the Old Testament, but first we need to look at why it is important to study the Old Testament. We'll begin by looking at 1 Corinthians 10. Now one of the things I am going to be doing, just experimenting with as we look at this new technology... I don't want you to become a cripple on the screen; okay, you need to be looking in your Bible and you need to be taking notes, and you need to be doing what I suggested before and write in the margin sort of a daisy chain of Scripture references so that you can retrace the steps when you study these passages later on.

In 1 Corinthians 10 Paul is addressing the carnal Corinthians. Paul says, 1 Corinthians 10:1 "For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers (the Jewish Patriarchs and specifically the Exodus generation) were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea (that is the Red Sea) ; 2and all were baptized (identification; they were all identified with) into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3and all ate the same spiritual food (manna that God provided for them in the wilderness); 4and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ."

So we see from this that God's provision of the physical manna and the physical water was a 'type' or example. It was to demonstrate that just as God provides for our physical sustenance and nourishment God also provides everything that we need for our spiritual sustenance and nourishment. And that was the doctrine that Moses taught the Israelites in the wilderness and the revelation that he gave in the Mosaic law.

1 Corinthians 10:5 "Nevertheless, with most of them (even though they were all believers) God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness." The Exodus generation continuously disobeyed God. They did not have any appreciation for the freedom they had. This is so often true when people are delivered from slavery; if they do not learn doctrine, if they do not grow and advance, they do not have capacity for freedom and consequently they begin to yearn to go back under that system of slavery that they came from. I saw an example of that when I was over in Belarus five years ago and spent a lot of time talking with various people over there. Belarus was the former Soviet Republic, which lies between Poland and Russia. And the economy there is just horrendous. At the time I was there they were experiencing about 150% inflation and 20,000 Belarusian rubles equaled a dollar. They just started slashing and adding zeros to bills. Now it is about 20 million Belarusian rubles equals a dollar. When I would speak with the people there they yearned for the days of Brezhnev. Because at that time they had money; they had job security; they could take vacations; they could buy whatever they wanted to at the grocery store; they had plenty of meat on the table -- and yet they did not have any kind of true freedom. But they did have security. Because they were not as a people as a whole were not positive to doctrine and were not learning the Word; they had no capacity for freedom, so they wanted to go back under the old system of slavery. That was the same thing that happened with the Israelites in the desert. They rejected doctrine, so they had no capacity for freedom, so they moaned and groaned and complained the entire time; and they had no gratitude, no sense of appreciation, no realization of everything that God provided for them.

1 Corinthians 10:6 "Now these things happened (this is the point of all of this that Paul is making and what I want you to pay attention to) these things happened (that is all of these events in the Old Testament specifically with the Israelites, but this would include everything in the Old Testament) these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved." In other words, you should look and study this material and not make the same mistakes that they made, learn from them.

1 Corinthians10:7 "Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, "THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY." 8"Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day." These refer to two different instances, 1 Corinthians 10:7 refers to the incident when Moses was still up on the mountain and the people got Aaron to build the golden calf and they worshipped it and had a big drunken orgy; and then, 1 Corinthians 10:8 refers to a rebellion under Korah, led by Korah, Dathan and Abiram later on. God disciplined them and 23,000 feel in one day.

1 Corinthians 10:9 "Nor let us try [test] the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents." So you have three different incidents of disobedience to God and Divine discipline listed in 1Corinthians 10:7-9.

1 Corinthians 10:10 "Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer…." That is our fourth example of divine discipline on the children of Israel for disobedience.

And Paul says in1 Corinthians 10:11 "Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon which the ends of the ages have come." That is those in the Church Age (CA). The last phrase refers to the CA because it is the highest, most significant time of all human history. So the point that Paul is making in these verses is that we are to pay attention to everything in the Old Testament; it was written specifically for our instruction. The application that we need to take from this is, first of all, that all application in the Scripture is drawn from literal historical events.

This is not mythology. This is not some sort of fable that is just devised to give us a moral or some principle of life. The Scriptures ground their application and precepts in physical historical events that actually took place; this isn't allegory. The point from that is that if you destroy the historicity of those events then you also destroy the significance of the application. If those things did not happen as they are recorded as happening, then the significance in terms of the mandates, the principles, the theology, is irrelevant; it's meaningless. The Bible is clearly a book of history that is why history is continuously attacked by Satan. We learn from all of this, that of course from the passage, that the Old Testament is thoroughly relevant for today.

Now often I hear as a Pastor, "Well, I'm not sure if these things are really relevant, Pastor." Well, then why don't you make them relevant? You see, we have this screwed up idea that somehow it's not me that has to change, it is the Bible that has to change. You see the problem is if the Bible is not relevant to us, then we're not relevant to God. One of the things that we will see in the coming weeks is that we are all abnormal. Every one of us is born abnormal. We are fallen creatures. We're not what God intended us to be and the point of salvation, redemption, and sanctification is so we can begin to return to normality. It is the carnal believer and unbeliever that are abnormal, not the believer who is advancing toward spiritual maturity. So we get this backward and we think that somehow God must become relevant to us. The problem is, because of our fallen status as sinful creatures, we have become irrelevant to God. The only way to become relevant is to get into the Word of God and let our thinking be transformed.

When we look at the Old Testament we need to understand the 'big picture;' what is really going on here? So we are going to have the chart that I handed out to you (no chart available.) The English Bible begins with The Law, the first five books of Moses. It really should be translated "instruction," that is what torah means, instruction in life, instruction in all the areas of life, and instruction in how to think about the world around us. When Moses wrote the torah, the law, he was writing at a particular time and in a particular place to a particular people. He is writing at about 1400 BC to the Israelites. They have just gone through forty years of wanderings in the wilderness because of their disobedience to God at Mount Sinai. Prior to that God delivered them from slavery in Egypt and now Moses is writing to answer the questions: Why has God done this? What is your purpose in history? What does God have in store for you? And since God has done all of this for you as a people, Israel, how then are you to live? So that is the general purpose of the first five books of the Old Testament.

The second division is the Historical Books. I have a marker in there (the chart) just above the't' that indicates a 1000 BC. This historical period covers the beginning of the conquest under Joshua and you have up until the exile in 596 BC. This is covered in the Books of Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, and 1 and 2 Chronicles. Then you have both the Northern Kingdom taken out and disciplined in 722 BC, and then in 596 BC the Southern Kingdom taken out in divine discipline, which is called the exile, the seventy years of captivity in Babylon. That is followed by the three post-exilic Historical Books: Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther. These Books describe: Esther describes the Jews in captivity when they are in Persia; Ezra and Nehemiah focus on groups that returned to the land after the exile. So that gives you the historical overview of the Old Testament.

The Law begins with Creation and extends up to the Jewish nation poised to go into the land. The Historical Books cover the entry into the land and then the history of the Kingdom (of Israel); first the United Kingdom and then the Divided Kingdom, into the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Then as they disobey God, the precepts in the Mosaic Law says, 'If 'you obey Me I will bless you; 'If' you disobey Me you will go through a series of cyclical disciplines, the most extreme of which will mean your removal from the land I have promised to give you. And that is what happened in 586 BC. After 70 years in exile they returned. Now that covers the Historical Books.

Then we have the Non-Historical Books: Job, which was written sometime during the period covered by the Pentateuch. We do not know who wrote it and we don't know when it was written, but it took place probably before Abraham was called in Genesis 12. Then the Poetic Books, like the Psalms, most of which were written by David; one we know was written by Moses; some were written by the sons of Korah; some were written by others. And so that gives us the Hymns Literature, the hymns that the Jews sang in the tabernacle and the temple in the worship of God. Then the Books of Solomon, the Wisdom Literature, Proverbs, Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes. These were written during Solomon's lifetime.

Then we have the Major Prophets, Isaiah, who wrote during the 7th century BC; then Jeremiah; who lives up and into the exile; Ezekiel lived into the exile; Jeremiah went with the group that went to Egypt. Ezekiel went with the group that went the group to Babylon as did Daniel. And then the Minor Prophets and they are usually divided into three groups: the Pre-Exilic Prophets, those who had a ministry before the exile; then there is a couple that had a ministry during the exile; and then three Post-Exilic prophets; the last three Zechariah, Haggai and Malachi. So that give you just a scope of how the Old Testament fits together. It gives you that overall view of history.

You see, history is important because history is the outworking of the plan and purposes of God. And we live in a time when history is usually rejected, for good reason by a lot of people, because the way it is taught in most high school and college courses is rather boring. We live in a time when man has lost the idea that there is universal meaning and history, therefore, if you don't have a frame of reference, an over-arching principle that gives meaning to the details of history, then all you are left with is this mass of detail. So people end up teaching history as simple dates, facts, and there is nothing to put it together to weave it together. And in the post-modern vernacular that is called the meta-narrative, the over-arching principle that unifies, and without this unifying concept today, which has been rejected, all you are left with is the details.

It is the unifying principle that history is God's plan and purpose that gives meaning to all the details. What modern man has done, by rejecting the possibility of a universal knowledge, is that he is trying to find meaning, purpose, and value in the details. And so you find that in historic history departments, in universities they spend hours and hours writing thesis and dissertations on this minute stuff and all this detail breaking things down into different cultures and you get multiculturalism and these other various schools of thought that are dominating today and all they are doing is spending all this time on details, but there is no universals. And yet, they overwhelm themselves with this massive data and think that just because they have all this data that somehow there is meaning; so the data is used to anathematize modern man to the despair of a loss of meaning in life.

You see the same thing that happened in English departments and literature courses; in fact, one of the most difficult places for a Christian to operate in the world today is not in a science department, but in a literature department. Because the literature departments are dominated by post-modern concepts. Literature written before the 20th century is not that relevant and the focus is on the 20th century literature, which is primarily existential and is very negative and very depressing because modern 20th century writers have rejected the fact that there are absolutes and values, meaning, and even hope in the universe.

Now if you go back and compare modern literature and start off reading in the 16th or 17th century, you discover a vase difference, and that is because the writers, whether they were believers or unbelievers, still had a sense of hope and optimism because in a general sense they believed that there was the opportunity or the possibility of a unified knowledge, and that has been rejected. So the modern man is left to watch and see if subjectivity and pessimism and negativism, and it is no wonder that when you read the kind of literature that dominates the high school classrooms and college classrooms, why there is such a high level of suicide among teenagers today. It's just depressing; there is no meaning or value in life.

So history is important because it is the outworking of the plan and purposes of God. And when we read the Old Testament we will get into a lot of history, but it is sort of the editorialized history; that is what real history is, it is not just a collection of data, it is looking at what happened and understanding why it happened. What it's significance is; what it's meaning is. That is ultimately be assigned only from God Who is the Lord of history and the Creator of history.

When we begin our study of the Old Testament we look first at the torah, the first five books of Moses, which begins with the creation of the universe in Genesis 1:1; and at the end of Deuteronomy we come to the death of Moses and the Jews are on the verge of entering into the land that God had promised to Abraham, some half a century or some half a millennia previously. These first five books are:

Genesis, the Book of Beginning

Exodus, the Book of Deliverance

Leviticus, which describes the priesthood and all of the sacrifices that are required under the Mosaic law

Numbers, which describes the wanderings of the Israelites during the forty years of divine discipline in the wilderness

Deuteronomy, means a Second Law, a restatement of the Law

It is basically a sermon that Moses preached. It is the doctrine that he taught reminding the people that God had made a covenant with the nation and that they were to fulfill their responsibilities under the covenant as God led them into the promised land. These five Books were written by Moses on the plains of Moab just prior to the Israelites entering into the land.

We will begin our study with Genesis. Genesis is the title from the Latin, which means The Beginning. The Hebrew title was be-reshit, which also means 'beginning.' You can organize our thoughts about Genesis around seven events that take place, really four events and three people. The first is the Creation. The first four events are the Creation, the Fall, Flood and Babel. These are the four events that occur in the first eleven chapters and everything revolves around that.

1. First, the Creation in Genesis 1-2

2. Then the Fall in Genesis 3

3. The Prelude to the Flood in Genesis 4-5

4. Then the Flood narrative covers Genesis 6-9.

And then you have another genealogy and the episode at Babel. These seven events: Creation, Fall, Flood, Babel; and then three people, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The interesting thing is that when you look at Genesis, it is a Book that in the English is divided into 50 chapters; and yet the first four events, Creation, Fall, Flood and Babel, take place in the first eleven chapters. Chapters 12-50, which is approximately 38 chapters; 38 chapters cover the lives of three people.

What do you think the emphasis is in Genesis? It is on Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Why? Because Moses is writing this to the nation Israel to explain their existence. Why are we here and what is God's purpose for us? Why did God call us out as a Nation? Why did God redeem us from slavery in Egypt? Why were we enslaved in Egypt if we are God's people? And what is God's purpose for us?

That is the purpose of writing Genesis. It is not just giving history; it is giving an explanation for the existence of the nation Israel and God's plan and purpose for Israel throughout all of human history. Therefore, once again I will belabor the point that if these things did not happen the way they are said to happen, then you might as well throw out the rest of the Bible. That is why the historicity of the first eleven chapters of Genesis is such a battlefield.  

Origins make a difference. If our origins are what the Bible claims they were then that means one thing. If we are, on the other hand, just the products of chance and everything just happened and man is nothing more than a collection of molecules, then there really is no meaning in life, no basis for absolutes, everything is relative, everything is pragmatic, and so that develops and entirely different set of morals and ethics. In other words, your social life, including morals, mores, ethics, everything related to man's society, politics, marriage, family, everything is going to be viewed vastly different if you accept, depending on how we view the first eleven chapters of Genesis. That is why this is so crucial for us to understand.

Now, when we come to our study of Genesis we see that it is indeed the Book of Beginnings. I listed at least twenty-five things that begin in the first eleven chapters of Genesis and then become foundational for everything that is said about them in the remainder of the Bible.

1. The creation of the space-time continuum in the first verse.

2. The creation of the universe -- and we will see a little later on that there is a vase difference in the space-time continuum and the universe as we know it.

3. The creation of the solar system as we know it.

4.  The creation of vegetation and animal life.

5. The creation of the human race.

6. The institution of marriage -- before the Fall, when everything was perfect, God instituted marriage; so marriage was not something designed to make up for problems in Creation because of the Fall, but it is something that God intended from the inception in perfect environment.

7. The institution of the family.

8. The beginning of sin in the human race.

9. The beginning of judgment in the human race (because of sin).

10. The beginning of salvation, God's grace and the outworking of His redemptive plan in human history.

11. The beginning of law and the basis for a judicial system in the first eleven chapters of Genesis. If you go back and read the major legal thinkers that influenced the formation of the US Constitution and our whole legal system and much of English law, these were people who went back and read the first eleven chapters of Genesis, took them literally, and unpacked from these chapters, principles related to the meaning of law and the function of human government.

12. Principles related to economics. Economics is based upon labor and work. This is what we see in the very beginning before there is sin, before there is the Fall.

13. Before the fall man is given responsibility and he is to name all of the animals, and he is to guard and keep the garden.

14. After the fall man's work becomes laborious. It is the sweat of his brow because there is now conflict between his work and what he needs to do with the land and the curse on the earth. Because now man has to work and has to work harder, he has to spend so much time working this keeps him from pursuing evil and sin. So there is in a sense a benefit to labor that reduces criminality and sin. Principles related to economics. The Bible has a lot to say about finances and economics. Labor, social make-up, social principles.

15. Language and learning. In the very beginning God is the one who begins to name things. Because He names things He first separates them. For example, in the first day he distinguishes between darkness and light -- because He has made a sharp distinction between darkness and light, God can then name them; the very fact that something is named indicates that there are distinct boundaries limiting that thing. So you see that language presupposes absolute categories in Creation. We will see some implications of that a little later on. God begins language and it is with language that we think. So we can begin to unpack from what we see in the first two chapters of Genesis some principles related to how the mind, the brain works, and how learning takes place. God initiated human vocabulary; it is interesting to note that in the first two days of Creation God is naming things and then He stops naming things and He delegates that responsibility to man. But it is God Who initiated the process of language and language development.

16. The development of cities in the fourth chapter of Genesis.

17. The development of God's grace toward man despite man's disobedience and sinfulness.

18. The introduction of the idea of sacrifice.

19. The development of music.

20. The development of metallurgy in 4th and 5th chapters of Genesis.

21. The beginnings of demonism in human history.

22. The beginning of idolatry.

23. Globalism and internationalism developed and its culmination in God's judgment at the Tower of Babel, which was the first attempt at a United Nations.

24. God's institution of government in Genesis 9.

25. National distinctions as a result of the confusion of the languages in Genesis 11. Then at right at the end of Genesis 11 and beginning chapter 12 the beginning of the nation Israel.

Everything that the Bible says about these subjects, from Genesis 12 through Revelation 21, assumes the literal historicity of these events. What happens historically cannot be divorced from the doctrine derived there without destroying the doctrine. Think about it, a real simple example is, Jesus did not live as the Bible says He lived, if that is not historically accurate then there is no meaning to Christianity. If Jesus did not rise from the dead physically, the resurrection, then there is no meaning to Christianity. If you divorce Christianity from its historical roots, from the historical context in which these events took place, then it is no long true, valid. That was Paul's argument for resurrection in 1Corinthians 16. That is why it is important when people say they believe the Bible is true in all matters related to morals, faith and practice, what they are not saying is that the Bible is also true when it touches on matters meteorology, matters of history, matters related to the military, to warfare; -- if there are mistakes there then the principles grounded there are also wrong. That means that faith in the Bible is always based on historical events. You remove the foundation, and then you remove the other.

Now, why is Creation important? We begin our look in Genesis. We will begin with the Creation narrative in Genesis 1. Why is this so important? It is indeed, I will argue, foundational to everything else in the Bible. This is how the apostle Paul treated it in one of his encounters with Gentile unbelievers in Acts 14.

In Acts 14, the Apostles had come into South Galatia, and as they entered the town and performed some miracles. The Gentiles thought that they were gods and they began to bring flowers to them and they began to bring offerings to them, and thinking that Barnabas was Mercury and Paul was Zeus. When the Apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it they tore their robes and they rushed out into the crowd. See how seriously they responded to the idolatry of the unbelievers. They did not treat it casually; they did not sit back and say, well they are just ignorant, they don't know better. They caught the importance of this, that they were being viewed as gods and how serious that was. And look at what they say when they respond to the Gentile unbeliever.

Acts 14:15 "Men, why are you doing these things, we are also men as the nature as you (we are not gods) and we preach the Gospel to you." Now, stop right there, most of us, when we think of preaching the Gospel, we start off taking somebody down the Roman Road, first of all, "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." Then, "The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ." Now, you see, all of a sudden, we are at Jesus Christ. We have talked about all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, but we haven't talked at all abut Who God is. What God? How do you know? What content are you giving to the word GOD? All kinds of people talk about belief in GOD. But when you look at the Bible it is very precise when he uses that word "God"; and notice that Paul is as well. He doesn't just preach the Gospel. He doesn't stop there; it is not just a trip down the Roman Road, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved…."  He says, "We preach the Gospel to you in order that you should turn from these vain things to a living God." And how does he define God? "Who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that is in them?" You see, for Paul to understand and actively proclaim the Gospel, you have to ground it in the Creation event of Genesis 1-3. If you take away the God of Creation that made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them, then you take away the Gospel.

That is why the attacks of evolution on the Gospel, on the first three chapters of Genesis, are attacks on the cross. We do not have time to go there, but if you look at how Paul interacts with the Athenians and other Greeks in Acts 17 and Acts 19, he always goes back to the God who made the heavens and the earth. The Gospel presentation and evangelism are firmly grounded in a literal Creation and a literal Genesis. What is interesting when you come to Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, is that they seem to be contradictory accounts. Several people have noticed that how in the world could all of the things described in Genesis 2 take place on the sixth day of Creation. God creates the man and brings the animals to the man and he begins to name them and realizes that there is a male and a female. Then, that is going to take a long time to name all the animals, and then God puts a deep sleep on him (Adam), and he takes a woman from his side and creates ishah, the woman, and joins them together. How could all of that take place in just one day?

So Liberal Theologians have said that this is an example of contradiction in the Bible. You have two different ------ that are just kind of put in there together and one contradicts the other. So how can you believe the Bible you stupid Christian? I had a history professor in college who basically made that same argument. It shows the number of problems and the arrogance of the rejection of the Bible.

1. Point one, how absurd would it be; what a low view they must have of this supposed editor of the Scriptures to think that there was a contradiction between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2. The assumption there is this person had to have room temperature IQ and could not see that there was a contradiction between the two.

2. Secondly, it reveals a complete failure to understand how Hebrews, how Jews wrote history. First they give the summary, and then they come back and give the details. Genesis 1:1 through Genesis 2:4 is the summary of the entire Creation event, the six days of Creation and the seventh day's rest. In Genesis 2 the writer comes back and fills in the gaps and gives you the details on what he wants you to really pay attention to, i.e. the creation of man. Furthermore, if Genesis 1 was written by one person and Genesis 2 written by somebody else, and they are contradictory accounts, the inference from that, as far as our Lord is concerned, is that He certainly was stupid too.

Notice what Jesus does in Matthew 19:4-5 "And He answered the Pharisees and said, 'Have you not read that He who created {them} from the beginning MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE (that is a reference to Genesis 1:27, the first chapter of Genesis), and then in Matthew 19:5 He said, 'FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH' (that is a quote from Genesis 2.) So Jesus clearly saw that Genesis chapters one and two were complementary accounts of Creation and not contradictory accounts, and he affirms the literal historicity of both events in this statement.

The apostle Paul does the same thing in 1 Timothy 2 Paul refers to the Creation of Adam and Even in Genesis 1.  1 Timothy 2:13 "For it was Adam who was first created, {and} then Eve (that took place in Genesis1.) 14And {it was} not Adam {who} was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression (a quote from Genesis 3.)" So Paul also recognized that Genesis 1 and 3 as being literal historical reality. If you do away with the historical reality of Genesis 1-11 you take away the foundation of the New Testament. If Genesis 1-11did not take place the way the Scripture describes it, then it undercuts the foundation for everything that is said in the New Testament. You cannot come in with a red razor blade and say well we'll accept this and we won't accept that…; it is an integrated, unified whole.

Let's begin with Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Throughout the Scripture we see the emphasis that God is the God of Creation. Isaiah 42:5 "Thus said the LORD God, (yahweh elohim) He Who created the heavens (ant there we have the Hebrew word bara, which only God is the subject of that verb; only God created the heavens and stretched them forth) and stretched them out, Who spread out the earth and its offspring, Who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it… God created everything and not only that, He is the one who gives breath to every single one of us, believer or unbeliever.

The reason you breathe from moment to moment is because God gives you breath. He sustains the universe from moment to moment. That is why we do not have to worry about all the greenies and all the tree huggers running around screaming gloom and doom all the time because of environmental problems. What they resent is the fact that Jesus Christ controls history and Jesus Christ controls the environment. Isaiah 45:12 God says, "It is I who made the earth (ashah, meaning to make it from existing materials), and created man upon it. I, even My Hands has stretched out the heavens all their host have I commanded." Jeremiah 10:12 "He has made the earth by His power; He has established the world by His wisdom and by His understanding hath He stretched out the heavens." And just to make sure we don't miss the point, the Holy Spirit repeats Himself in Jeremiah 51:15 by repeating the same statement verbatim.

Now, how did this Creation take place? When you look at the Bible, Genesis 1:1 it begins, "God created the heavens and the earth." The phrase in the Hebrew is hashishamyim veeth hararets. What is called a merism, a figure of speech, the same kind of thing we read in the Psalms when it says, "He meditated upon God's Word day and night." You use opposites to indicate a totality. You do something from 'top to bottom,' that means you do it completely. There is no word in the Hebrew language for 'universe.' So you cannot say that God created the 'universe', but you can say that God created the heavens and the earth. From these other passages you see the image of God stretching out the heavens. It is a very spatial concept.

What we have in Genesis 1:1 is the creation of the space-time continuum. The planets, the solar system, the stars have to fit inside something. It is as if God stretches out this box, this universe that we have. This is the space-time continuum. That is all that is there is Genesis 1:1 is that big empty box, empty except for one thing, there is a planet in the middle and it is the planet earth. That is all that is there in Genesis 1:1. There are various stages that we must understand as we go through these first three verses. God creates; first of all there is the original earth, which is called the Garden of God, which is in reference to Satan's fall in Ezekiel 28. This is the original earth that was apparently the habitation of Lucifer and I think that God had His throne on the earth.

You Navy guys will understand this; this is somewhat analogous to the fact that an Admiral will take one of the ships in the fleet as the flag ship. He is not the commander of that ship, there is still a Captain for that particular ship; the Admiral is simply putting his headquarters there. So I think the situation in the earth at that time was the location of Lucifer's headquarters. Lucifer, prior to the fall, and where he had his responsibilities specifically related to the throne of God, and God had His throne here. Why? We don't know, that is not specified in Scripture and all we have is a few tantalizing hints from Ezekiel 28 and a few other places. This was a place of perfect environment and yet something happened tragic. There was the Fall of Lucifer, when he uttered his five "I wills" found in Isaiah 14, and as a result of that there is a judgment upon the earth. And we find the phrase in Genesis 1:2 "The earth was formless and void…" The Hebrew phrase is tohu waw bohu, and it indicates that there is a state of chaos and destruction and judgment upon the earth.

Now we look at a few passages of Scripture to confirm this; we see Isaiah 45:18 "For thus says the LORD, Who created the heavens (He is the God who formed the earth and made it, He established it {and} did not create it a waste place (tohu - He did not create it a waste place, so it must have become that.) That is indicated incidentally by the opening phrase "and the earth became;" it is really a conjunction of contrast, a contrasting conjunction in the Hebrew {but} indicating that something has happened. It was not originally created tohu, but it became tohu. God originally formed it to be inhabited by the angels. There was no pre-Adamic race, no other life, just angelic life.)

Isaiah 34:11 uses this word bohu in reference to Divine judgment. "But pelican and porcupine (hedgehog) will possess it (is a reference to Judea after God's promised destruction by an enemy force because of their disobedience); And owl and raven will dwell in it; And He will stretch over it the line of confusion and the plummet of emptiness." This word for confusion is tohu and emptiness is bohu indicating that this is related to Divine judgment because of sin. Jeremiah 4:23 "I beheld the earth and low it was waste and void (that is tohu waw bohu); And to the heavens, and they had no light." This indicates Divine judgment because of sin. Isaiah 45:7 says another aspect of this verse.

Now if you look at Genesis 1:1-2, it says, "And the earth became empty and void and darkness was on the face of the deep. There are three things that are referenced in Genesis 1:2:

1.  tohu waw bohu

2. DARKNESS, which everywhere else in the Scriptures "darkness" is related to the judgment of God. God is light. If we went to the end of Scripture, when we see the new heavens and the new earth, there is no darkness, everything in the universe is illuminated by the Glory of God because God is light. So the condition in the original earth was light. Where did the darkness come from? Remember, darkness is the absence of light; so, what caused the judgment.

3. SALT SEA, which is always a picture of chaos and judgment in the Scriptures. So there are three terms in Genesis 1:2, all of which indicate judgment throughout the rest of the Scripture.  

Now Isaiah 45:7 "The One forming light and creating darkness,… (causing well-being is parallel to light, and creating calamity, that is the parallel to darkness;) I am the LORD who does all these." Darkness is seen as evil and judgment.  

Revelation 21:1 "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer {any} sea." So we see that in the perfect environment of the new earth there will be no sea. Why was this sea in Genesis 1:1? The turbulent salt sea? Because of God's judgment on planet earth. And then Revelation 21:25 "In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed." So there is eternal daytime, eternal light, in the new heavens and the new earth. So something took place. Job 38:4-5 tells us that when the earth was originally created that there was unity among the angels. So in Job 38:4-5 "Where were you when I lay the foundation of the earth? Tell me if you have understanding, Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it?" When, notice, this is the point, Job 38:7, "When the morning stars sang together And all the sons of God shouted for joy?"

So at the Creation of the earth the angelic hosts were unified, there was no division between fallen and unfallen angels; there was unity at the point of the original Creation of the earth in Genesis 1:1. So first the angels are created and then God stretches out the heavens to make a habitation for them and then He makes the earth, and at that point you see the heavenly chorus singing together and praising God for His magnificent Creation.

So the stages of Creation now: the original earth, it's the Garden of God; then the Fall of Lucifer; the chaotic judgment upon the earth where there was absolute darkness in the universe, no light whatsoever, which means that the earth is covered with water that is going to be frozen, covered in an ice pack; and then you have the picture of the redemptive work of God begins with the Holy Spirit of God hovering over the face of the deep, and we see the beginning process of redemption and the restitution of planet earth into the present earth. The stars are not created until the fourth day, so there are no stars in that pre-Genesis 1:2 universe. It is as different from today's universe as the new heavens and the new earth will be after Revelation 21.

Just a couple of things about Creation. The question is always asked: How old is the earth? We don't know how old the earth is, but the scientists are going to operate and they are going to tell us. They operate on a principle called uniformitarianism. Uniformitarianism is the underlying foundation of all the dating thinks; whenever you go to a national park or you read a science book and someone ways "this has been here so many years…" What they do is measure decay rates, either Carbon 14 or some other chemical; they measure the decay rates and extrapolate backwards. The assumption is that the decay rate has been uniform throughout all time and history; okay, so let's see, Carbon 14 is one plot, that yields one date. A plot means a measuring device for time. Potassium Argon is another plot. The Scriptures prophesized this, 2 Peter 3:3 "Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with {their} mocking, following after their own lusts, 2 Peter 3:4 and saying, 'Where is the promise of His coming? For {ever} since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.'" That is uniformitarianism thinking. The processes are always the same.

And then, Peter goes on to say, 2 Peter 3:5-6 "For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the Word of God {the} heavens existed long ago (this is the antediluvian world before Noah's flood) and {the} earth was formed out of water and by water (2nd day of creation separating the outer water, water vapor canopy, atmosphere and then the water on the earth), 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water." What is his point? The point is that there is a catastrophe in human history that changes the process. The assumption is that all things always continue at this rate, but Scripture says that there was a world-wide flood that completely changes the dynamics of everything. So that these dating mechanisms are only good for a short amount of time.

For example, you can measure the process of the influx of the sulfate into the ocean that is as the rivers come down and deposit the sulfate at the Delta where it comes into the ocean; you can measure that to indicate that the earth is 10 million years old. You can look at the decay of natural plutonium and other substances and that would give an indicated age of 80 million years. You can look at the decay of the earth's magnetic field. Since the day of Kepler we have been able to measure the strength of the earth's magnetic field and it has declined each year. So you can extrapolate back. That gives an age of the earth at 10,000 years. See, if the earth were any older than that it would implode because of the strength of the magnetic field. The influx of radio carbons to the earth from outer space also indicates an age of the earth of about 10,000 years. The influx of the magma of the earth's core out to the mantle to form the crust indicates an age of 500 million years.

Notice how vastly different all these are. Who is to say which is right? The formation of river deltas indicate an age of the earth of 5,000 years. The development of human population, you can develop statistics based on population and extrapolate back and that leaves an age of the earth of over 4,000 years. The influx of aluminum to the ocean via the rivers indicates an age is only 100 years. The influx of lead to the ocean via rivers indicate an age of only 2,000 years. So you see there is all kinds of plots and I got these from a book by Henry Morris called The Biblical Basis for Modern Science. He list 64 different plots and I have seen other plots of a similar nature that indicate which indicate everything from a range of 100 years to 500 million years.

Who is to say that Carbon 14 or Potassium Argon dating of the earth and the aging of the earth is as great a problem to any evolutionist or historical geologist as it is to the ---; they do not have an answer and you will never hear this kind of information in any college classroom. So we don't know when Genesis 1:1 took place, but we can date back to Genesis 1:3, when the restitution of the planet took place. And that took place, I believe, between 4000 and 4500 BC based upon all of the genealogical records. That changes the way people think about things; they say, "But what about the pyramids and what about that…" We will cover some of those issues as we go through this. Why it is that these evolutionary assumptions, these uniformitarianism assumptions control everything? Every time you go anywhere you start hearing sometime of date beyond about 2000 BC. Put a big question mark on it because what underlies is a 'Who' theological framework and frame of reference.

But what we see in The Beginning is that God is a God of grace in judgment, a God of redemption; we see throughout the Bible that grace proceeds judgment, and here we see that grace follows judgment. God is a God Who redeems even in spite of judgment. The point is no matter what you have done in life, no matter how bad, no matter what your failure; God is still a God of grace. He is not a God Who delights in judgment; He is not a God Who delights in catastrophe or cataclysms; He is a God Who when it is called upon Him to judge, He is a God Who still exercises grace and redemption.

With our heads bowed and our eyes closed: Father, we thank You for the time we have had to look to Your Word to see the magnificent sense of Your Creation and as we continue this study of the Old Testament, I pray that we would challenged in our thinking in how we look at history, how we look at what You have done in history, and what you have done to provide us salvation. We pray that if there is anyone here this morning without security of their eternal destiny, without salvation, that now they would take the time to make that decision. If you have never made the decision regarding your eternal destiny, this is your opportunity to do so, with your head bowed and your eyes closed, you have the privacy to decide what you think about Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is God's ultimate grace solution. He sent His Son to die on the cross as a substitute for your sin. So that by faith alone in Christ alone you can have eternal salvation. And now is your opportunity to make that decision. Father, we pray that You would challenge the rest of us with what we have learned this morning; may You call this to our mind when necessary. We pray this in Jesus' Name, Amen.