Monday, January 20, 2014

Bible for Dummies - Genesis 1-3 (Chapter 3, Part 1)

We dive into the specific books of the Bible starting at the beginning (of course) with the book of Genesis - appropriately named as the book that records the Beginning of God's Creation...and so much more.

Some of the key Covenants of God are disclosed in Genesis...along with significant historic events such as the Creation, the "Fall", the Flood, and many others.

Chapter 3 – Part 1
Creation, Paradise Lost, and Other Mysteries of Life

(Genesis 1-3)


·      Hebrew: bereshith bara Elohim = in/at the “beginning” God created (i.e., the opening words from Genesis 1)

·      Greek: “Genesis” = origin or beginning

·      The book is not only the first book of the Hebrew and Christian Bible, but also functions 
to tell us the beginning of God’s purpose for Creation – living in relationship with Him.

·      Human Authorship:

o   Some traditional Jewish scholars (followed by traditional Christian scholars) give credit to Moses

o   However, most scholars hold to the Document Hypothesis origin, which states that the Torah (first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures) are the compilation of multiple writers whose information was handed down through generations via oral tradition, only to be recorded later during Moses’ life.

·      Uniqueness

o   Judaism is the first monotheistic religion of recorded time. Thus, the book of Genesis introduces the reader to the existence and truth of the One, True God of creation.

** The Bible begins and ends with God – Hebrew, El(oah)

·      God has no beginning and no end – he is eternal

·      God is a “plurality” of persons, yet one God

o   Genesis 1:1 – “In the beginning, God (i.e.: Elohim = Plural of El…but not “Gods” since God is “one”, as we learn later in the Bible – Deuteronomy 6:4)

o   See also Isaiah 6:8 – God speaks of himself as “Us”

Part 1: The Two Creation Accounts
(Genesis 1 and 2)

** Same message…different Emphasis/Focus

The “First” Creation Account
Genesis 1 – 2:3 – A Focus on Creation
** …for Engineer types

Day 1: Light
Day 2: Sky and Sea
Day 3: Dry land and plants
Day 4: Sun, Moon, Stars (Day and Night)
Day 5: Birds and Fish
Day 6: Animals and Humanity
Day 7: Sabbath

The “Second” Creation Account
Genesis 2:4-25 – A Focus on Humanity
** …for “Feelers”

First: Man
Second: Eden (Garden)
Third: Trees, plants, water
Fourth: Inhabitation (Man goes to Eden)
Fifth: Animals, birds
Sixth: Woman – Hebrew, ishah = “out of man”

The Key Points Common to Both Accounts:

1.     God Created.

a.     He is All-Powerful and is the sole Creator of all that is.

b.     He is transcendent from his creation.

c.     He is the Life-giver

2.     Humanity is the Highlight of Creation

a.     Humanity made in the Image of God

                                               i.     What does “Image of God” mean?

1.     Humans are created with a spiritual component that the rest of creation does not share.

2.     “Image of God” has nothing to do with an innate capacity to become a god (as in Mormon theology)

                                             ii.     Note: Humanity’s perfect expression is Male/Female. (It’s not about superiority/inferiority, dominance, rolls, etc.)  See - Galatians 3:28

                                            iii.     Note 2: With reference to the physical and spiritual “Image of God” (see p. 37 in the textbook) remember, God is Spirit (c.f.: John 4:24). So other than Jesus Christ, we don’t know what “physical” realities or likenesses humanity shares with Him.

                                            iv.     All Biblical references to the God the Father and even Holy Spirit are anthropomorphisms = analogies to the human existence/body that help us understand some truth about God.
b.     Humanity given “dominion” over Creation

                                               i.     Dominion implies and ascribes stewardship responsibilities

                                             ii.     Dominion is not license to abuse or misuse.

Note:  See Romans 8:17

So why the Differences in the Accounts? 

The easy answer: It’s all about the emphasis.

·      The “First” account emphasizes the sovereign role of the Almighty God who is able to create out of nothing (what Theologians call, Ex Nihilo – Latin for “out of nothing”) WITHOUT regard to the response of the creation.

o   Again…this emphasizes the transcendence of God…that he is completely “other” than creation.

·      The “Second” account emphasizes the intimate nature of the Loving God who cares for his creation, especially for humanity, by providing sustenance and purpose for his creation (again, especially for humanity) with TOTAL regard for the hoped-for response from creation…that we would love God in return

o   It is only through the Ruach (Hebrew for “Breath/Wind of God” or Holy Spirit) that creation has its life.

o   Note: The Greek (New Testament language) equivalent Ruach is pneuma.  Pneuma means both wind and spirit. This makes John 3:1-10 completely connected to the Genesis story, which is understandable to the Jewish ear.

Part 2: “He Made Me Do It!” – The Fall and its Fallout  
(Genesis 3)

Eden was the perfect existence for humanity. God was providing all they needed: physically, emotionally, relationally, spiritually.  So what happened?  Why are we not living with God in an uninterrupted existence? The answer is often called, the “Fall”.

THE TRANSITION: Genesis 2:15-17

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.” (NRSV)

** The Creation Stories revealed the perfect life…what some call “Paradise.”

Note: Now, since the Fall, these Creation Stories give us a preview of what God desires for humanity and all of creation when he returns to make a “new heaven and a new earth.”

THE TEMPTATION: “Understanding the Two Trees (p. 41 in the textbook)

“Tree of Life” (Hebrew: Ayts Chayim) – eating it seems to impart a destiny of permanence.

“Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” – eating it…

1.     Is in direct disobedience to the first prescriptive or command in the Bible.

2.     Imparts a condition of separation from God…“death”

3.     “Evil” = disobedience to the will of God

THE TEMPTER:  The “Snake”

** The Essence of the temptation:  “…your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:5)

Note: As the textbook says, the interesting thing is, humans are already like God in that they are made in his image.

Tragic Consequences of the Fall:

1.     All of creation suffers.

2.     Humanity is separated from God and banished from Eden.

3.     The Snake (personification of Satan) is condemned.

4.     Humanity is doomed to a life of “labor”

a.     A woman’s labor will be in the “pain” of childbirth and she will also be “ruled” by her husband (3:16)

b.     A man’s labor will be in the anguish of working for his food.

Note: This is exacerbated by the impact of the Fall on the ground, itself, causing the deterioration of the soil from which he must grow food.

Note 2: And as the textbook notes, an additional consequence of the Fall is the impact on the rest of creation. Specifically, God sacrificed an animal for its skin so Adam and Eve might cover themselves.

“Young Earth” vs. “Old Earth” Tension
…not in the text book…

** The “Young Earth” adherents are often called “Biblical Creationists”, and are almost exclusively Jews and Christians. They believe that God created the world only a few thousand (5,000-10,000) years ago.

·      This is due to their belief that one can count back in Genesis from the time of Abraham in order to discern the age of the Earth.

·      It is done by using a very literal interpretation of the creation story, specifically that the “days” of the creation story were 24-hour periods.

** The “Old Earth” adherents, both Christian and secular, who take “data” from observations and experiments to discern that the Earth is likely 4.5-6 billion years old, with life forms inhabiting the Earth for about 2.5-3 billion years.

Note: Kirk’s personal stance (if you should care)…

·      I believe that the purpose of the Creation story is to draw us closer to the God who created.

·      The age of creation is irrelevant to me, since the point of the story is to give testimony to the Sovereign God who created.  To say it another way…whether the Earth is billions or only thousands of years old does not matter!  What matters is “WHY” the Earth exists…and “WHO” created it since it is scientifically “un-proveable” (i.e.: species do not evolve from one species into another) and mathematically impossible (i.e.: even given the oldest possible age for the Earth, and even IF humans could have evolved from primates – for which there is absolutely no scientific evidence or examples of that possibility, as mentioned above – there has not been enough time for that sort of evolution to have taken place…see Dr. Hugh Ross, The Fingerprint of God) for humans to exist via evolution.

·      ALL applications of Genesis (i.e.: trying to prove the age of the Earth) are subject to speculation and interpretations since the Bible does not speak directly to that issue, nor do we know with absolute certainty that the “days” of Genesis are 24-hour periods or eras of time.

·      The bottom line is:  God created the world in order that the world would serve his purpose.  (See Romans 1:18-23)

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