|Chapter 1 Introduction
|Before we discuss Genesis, we should get a solid foundation on what the book is. Some consider Genesis to be the most important book of the Bible. It sets the foundation of trust and belief between God and mankind. It sets up guides and covenants that show God's love for us. Many things would not be understandable if the book were removed from the Bible. The word "Genesis" means the origin or beginning. Genesis is alone in describing the actual creation. It accounts for the ultimate origin of matter, space, and time. Orderly and complex things tend, with time, to become disorderly and simple. Order and complexity don't just happen; they are always generated by a cause that has programmed that order. It cannot randomly happen. The origins of life, mankind, marriage, evil, language, government, culture, nations, religion, and of course chosen people are defined in Genesis.|
So, who wrote Genesis? It is easy to say all the books were under the inspiration of God. Do we believe it? Peter and Paul say it well (2 Peter 1:21; 2 Tim. 3:16). Many scholars and theologians have held to the idea that the book was written by several unknown writers. Old legends and traditions were compiled and verbally transmitted. The general conservative and evangelical believers say Moses wrote the book of Genesis.
It is also called the JEDP Hypothesis. The letters stand for J = Jehovist Document (about 850 BC); Elohist Document (about 750 BC); Deuteronomist Document (about 620 BC); and Priestly Document (about 500 BC). THe Jehovist was to have been marked by the use of Jehovah. THe Elohist was to have been marked by the use of Elohim. The Deuteronimist is to have taken the first two and edited them. The Priestly was to have been written and edited by a group of Hebrew priests. The scholars advocating the JEDP say it is because of apparent language and style differences in parts of Genesis.
Most conservatives believe that Moses wrote the book of Genesis (as a matter of fact, the first five books - The Pentateuch). The books are considered the Books of the Law (Torah) by the Hebrews. Christ, Himself, supports the beginnings and the law of Moses (Luke 24:27, 44). If Moses was the writer, how did he get all the information. We assume that if God declared mankind as very good, i.e. perfect, He left them with languages (speech and writing) with which to communicate. Moses would have to have received the information from:
Henry Morris in The Genesis Record says that there are many parallels or reflections between the beginning or the Bible, Genesis, and the end of the Bible, Revelation. He says paradise lost in Genesis is paradise gained in Revelation. He makes several comparisons:
There is also a contrast of the world:
|"… God created the heavens …"||Looking at verse one of Genesis:
Gen. 1:1: "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
Immediately, while reading the first sentence of the Bible, we have a questionable set of words. Most people who believe in a God, believe that somehow God took part in the creation of the earth. However, note God created heavens (plural) . There are three heavens mentioned in the Bible (184 times) and God created all three. The first heaven is the home of the birds and clouds ( Matt. 6:26; Dan. 4:12). The second heaven is the location of the sun, moon, and stars (Rom. 1:20); Ps. 19:1). It could be said the first two heavens are those heavens we can normally see. The third heaven (2 Cor. 12:1-4)) is the home of the angels the departed saints and God's abode.
Mankind "makes"; God "creates". The use of the Hebrew word bara is used always for the work of God. Only God can create: that is, bring into existence something that was not in existence ex nihilo "out of nothing".
Verse one is unique in its position in the creation story. This verse is either a statement for God's starting the creation activities OR it is a statement which means ALL of creation is finished and the following verses explain how He did it. The theistic evolutionists, because they cannot get rid of the possibility of a God directed evolution (a long term creation - millions of years), have generated the "Gap Theory". This theory states there is a very large gap of time between the 1st and 2nd verses of Genesis. This time was what God used (though not needed) to do all the creating. The creationists view the 1st verse as an all encompassing summary creation statement which just says: What God created. The following verses tell how He did it (with no time gap).
The "Gap Theory" is not only scientific but is destructive theologically. In order to accept millions or billions of years, one has to accept the fossil records for dating. What are fossils? They are DEAD creatures. That infers death, suffering, possibly disease. Therefore, suffering and death occurred for billions of years prior to the Fall of Adam. However, the Bible says that death was brought into the world at the time of first sin (Rom. 5:12; 1 Cor. 15:21) . That sin is the sin of Adam.
One other thing to consider about evolution. Evolution, whether atheistic or theistic, infers letting nature take its course, whatever it is. This removes the belief that God is an all caring, working God. The evolutionary process requires no work from God. This is something very important to consider in decision making because it is so contrary to the way the God we know operates.
This study is not going to cover other possible problems which may have occurred between the 1st and 2nd verses. One thought is the horrible fall of Satan and his angels partly described in Isa. 14:12-18.
What are "days"?
One of the biggest arguments between old earth creation (roughly billions of years) and young earth creation (roughly 7000 years) is the length of the days. Are the days millions or billions of years (called the day-age method) that are used by the Atheistic and Theistic evolutionists or are the days 24 hour periods including one period of day and one period of night, as we know them (creationist). There are some that accept the earth is old but the creation of life was started by God at some time and in some way. However, mankind was the only creature of God that may not evolved. Also, the theory of evolution MUST have death and life. The Bible clearly does not have death before the Fall of Adam and Eve. Therefore, all other creatures could have evolved and are trying to tell us through the use of science that the earth is very old. This is supposed to show the immense power of God.
What is a day? That is the question. The biggest argument for the day being a literal 24 hours period is the Hebrew word used. The Hebrew word Yom is the word for a 24 hour day. This is the word used for creation. There are a few deviations from the definition in the Bible, but most scholars accept Yom as the correct word for a 24 hour day. At this point, one might say: Who cares? The point is, if the 24 hour day is not accepted, then evolution must be accepted.
What about Psalms 90:4? Here a thousand years is being compared to a short period of time "watch of the night". The "watch" was a four hour stretch of time watch for security.
In one research report, nine universities' (Oxford, Cambridge, London, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, Toronto, McGill, and Manitoba) were asked whether the use of Yom, as used in Genesis, meant a 24 hour period. Seven of the universities responded and said it was correct to interpret the word as a 24 hour period.
What is the date of creation?
This question has been in controversy for the last couple hundred years. This is also where the "young earth" gets its name. "Young" is used for 7000-10000 years to contrast with "old" being billions of years old. The most well known chronological system is based on the data collected by James Ussher (1581-1656). He calculated creation to be 4004 B.C. Of course, Ussher has bee ridiculed by many. However, he was very knowledgeable about this subject. Until radiocarbon dating, the primary means of dating was done using the writings of the Egyptians. Surprisingly, their writings start about 3000 B.C. There are many other chronologies: Jewish (3760), Septuagint (5270), Josephus (5555), Kepler (3993), Melanchthon (3964), Luther (3961), Lightfoot (3960), and Lipman (3916) to name a few.
Gen. 1:2 "[And, Now] the earth was formless [without form] and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters."
There is still a lot of misunderstanding of the earth being formless and void. Depending on the version of the Bible be studied, the first word may be "And", "Now", or "The". It is obvious the intention was to show a continuity between the first and second verses. There is not "gap" assumed or considered. To justify a "gap", some say that the word was (Hebrew: hayetha) should be became which refers to a change of state of the earth between the first verse and the second verse. The normal word for a change of state is haphak. Although hayetha can be used for a change of state, 98% of the time it is for the word "was". The first verse is assumed to be ordered, perfect. The second verse is assumed to be chaos. Therefore, there is a change of state which infers time. In studying the context of Genesis, we must come up with the conclusion that God was creating. Since He was "creating", the context would not be to go from perfect to chaos. A "gap" infers perfection that goes to imperfection. Not very logical. The more logical inference is the first verse says what was done. Now God tells in the second verse and on how He did it.
Here we are again, context, context, context. Whenever we try to understand, we have to know what happens in the writing before and after. In this case, if you are a "gap" theorist, the words about form and void are different than the understanding of a non-gap theorist. As a gap, the words "formless and void" are "ruined and desolate". That infers perfection (verse 1) becoming bad in verse 2. The thought is since God would not create in chaos, there must have been something that occurred that caused chaos, such as the fall of Lucifer (Satan) (Isa. 14:12-19). Why did God create earth? Did He do it to prove He could do it? He can do anything. The purpose for the earth was to be inhabited. The word formless means formless, not ruined. The word void is primarily emptiness (Hebrew: bohu), not desolation. It was empty because there was nothing there at that time. God was creating. What was there was "perfect" for the first step of His plan.
The main gist of the verse can now be written for understanding as: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth (incl. space and matter), and the matter so created was at first unformed and uninhabited."
"... darkness was over the surface of the deep ..."
Some say that God could not create a world of darkness because He is Light. However, God can do anything, under any conditions. In addition, He tells us He created darkness (Isa 45:7). The word face (Hebrew: panim) means the "presence". What does the "deep" mean? The word means later in the Bible water or ocean. However, at this time there is no form created. There is no form to the existing water at this time. Remember, at this point there is nothing to say that gravity is present. In fact, without form and void may also include non-spherity (not round) of the earth.
The universe had come into existence. However, it was dark and still. There is not form and no light.
A Hebrew word for God is Elohim , the plural of eloah God. The word designates a plural. The Hebrews may not have known about the three natures of God, but they still were inspired to write this name in the plural. Sometimes the Hebrew writings use a plural form to emphasize. In this context, it is the first time that there is an inference of God being a multiple character. Christians now know of the triune God. The Hebrews did not. This point in scripture brings out the Holy Spirit. The word "Spirit" (Hebrew: ruach) means "wind" and "breath". The activity of the Holy Spirit is called "moving" (Hebrew: rachaph) in the presence of the waters. It is used three times in the OT with the base meaning of shaking or fluttering. Therefore, we can that God was "setting in motion" all activities.
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