Tag: The Basics

Shattered Relationships: The Fall

Genesis 3:1-13 

No big secret, is obvious to people the world over that something is not quite right. Things are not the way they ought to be on this planet, maybe not even in the universe. Bible confirms that perspective: begins with creation (heaven and earth), ends with new creation (new heaven and earth, Rev. 21:1ff)… what happened? What you get for an answer depends on who you ask, what their basic worldview is.

Only one explanation that adequately addresses all the issues, provides coherent answer to the question… the one found in our text. Is the one answer that leads to genuine solution, one that provides hope. Is also the one people are least likely to find on their own.

A. questioning God  v.1

questioning God’s word – “is it really true?”

serpent acting as agent of Satan, fallen angel, fired opening shot – tactic we take as matter of course now… spin

common tactic that works so effectively to manipulate people: FUD – only takes carefully worded question, partially reported statement to begin process

first round: did God really say that? – might wonder who in right mind would question God’s word… happens every day, including in the church: yeah it says this but really means that

questioning God’s goodness

once you begin questioning / doubting someone’s word, what they really said, close second is questioning character/motive

by introducing doubt about what God said, was easy progression for Eve to wonder if God had her best interests in mind

and if God was holding out on her, what would that mean about God’s character… and… down slippery slope she went

NOTE: beginning of Eve’s discontent had its root in Eve focusing on what she did not have instead of abundance she did have

B. misquoting God  v.2-3

this plus that

give Eve credit – everything God said Eve repeated correctly; problem came when she went beyond what God said

is that in abundance even today, well-meaning people including Christians putting words in God’s mouth he never intended

now God is not only holding out on her, keeping her from full enjoyment of what she deserved, God is excessively restrictive in setting unreasonable boundaries

truth mixed with error

here is second assault on truth – adding to it, mixing with it what will make it toxic: old version d-Con 99.5% non-toxic

successful spin doctor only adds microscopic amount of error… to start, then slowly methodically adds more untruth

NOTE: best safeguard against being taken in with error: keep going back to what you know to be pure truth, God’s Word

C. contradicting God  v.4-5

that won’t happen

Eve would not have been taken in by blatant contradiction at start – by round three, confidence in God and his goodness weakened enough so she listened

contradiction made more appealing by what was promised as benefit – that also common tactic in present world

this will happen instead

potential benefits will outweigh side effects – worst you expect not going to happen, but you will gain this if you act

gain understanding – eyes will be opened; gain position – be like God; gain knowledge – both good and evil

two out of three not bad, would gain understanding and knowledge – would not / could not be like God by taking that route

NOTE: these things promoted by serpent as benefits even though acquiring them would be deadly – how many things like that today: evil wrapped up and presented as good

D. defying God  v.6-7

he’s right and You’re wrong

notice where Eve looked – at the tree, not God… at what she did not have, not the One who gave all she needed in abundance

was also looking at forbidden fruit from perspective of wrong worldview, intentionally distorted by serpent in order to deceive

I know what I want

relying on her now distorted vision, could see nothing dangerous about fruit, believed she knew what was best for her

everything she could see was desirable – the fruit itself, the promised benefits of eating it, perceived liberty she would enjoy

I know what will meet my need / desire

tragic irony of all this – Eve already possessed everything that would be good for her

she understood and knew what was good, already was as like God as she could be… she bore his image, had perfect freedom to do what was good

by defying God she added only evil to understanding and knowledge, lost her freedom and became hopelessly enslaved

E. quarreling with God  v.8-13

you make me afraid

went quickly from bad to worse to awful – two who had perfect open fellowship with each other and God at each other’s throat… starting with God

uncertainty and doubt encouraged by serpent now accompanied by fear – should have feared serpent, instead blamed God

she made me do it

no hint of ownership here, acceptance of responsibility – one who made Adam, one made from Adam now enemies

big picture outcome would not have largely changed yet God gave Adam & Eve plenty of opportunity for repentance and forgiveness… but they resisted

it’s his fault

Eve followed same pattern, dodging responsibility and placing blame on the serpent for his deception

a whole cascade of sinful thoughts and actions here… against God… and one another… yet all part of God’s eternal plan

F. consequences from God

came about either as result of God’s design for mankind or by direct of God as described in following section

man with self

no longer able to view self accurately – had disobeyed God and then defended it, viewing self as victim of another’s actions and not a responsible agent

man with (wo)man

failed to properly honor one another: Adam protecting and defending his wife, Eve looking to Adam for guidance

Eve acted on her own authority, usurped Adam’s role as head; Adam listened to wife rather than lead

began to hide from one another – were trying to hide from God, but fig leaves started the barriers between man and man

man with God

hid from God because he was afraid – knew without being told things had changed, never be the same again

if Adam and Eve’s first response to hide behind fig leaves and bushes, no wonder mankind today does not naturally seek God

man with ground

will come in next section but by God’s decree the earth that would have cooperated will now resist man’s attempts to subdue

That we are here several thousand years later testifies to amazing grace of God. While every relationship would ultimately be shattered by Fall into sin, God not satisfied to leave his creation in that fallen condition. Even before sin was a reality, God had purposed how he was going to reconcile sinners to himself and one another. Made a promise immediately after Fall that in his perfect time was fulfilled. Seed of the woman did indeed crush the head of the serpent, provide way for sinful people to be delivered from slavery in sin, enjoy restored relationships and gift of eternal life.

God Relates

Genesis 2:4-25 

God is Ruler (ch. 1); God is Relational (ch. 2); God is Redeemer (ch. 3). Rest of Bible has some bearing on one or more of those characteristics. Adds to evidence that God indeed does rule over all his creation – he established order of universe during creation process, maintains that order through his Son (Heb. 1:2-3). Our present text as well as every other page in some way bears witness to how God relates to his creatures. And after chapter 3, rest of record in some way bears on need for redemption, nature of redemption.

Since we bear image of our Creator, we have part in Ruling, subduing and making world around us productive. Intended to be Relational beings, in relationships of all kinds: with our Creator, our surroundings, our families, our neighbors. And… we have vital role in God’s plan of Redemption:

Rom. 10:13-15 “For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.” How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!””

Will hear more in coming weeks about relationships, what our responsibilities are toward others. Today, about what we learn from text about our relational God, who for reasons known only to him wants to have particular kind of relationships with people.

A. God is life-giver  v.4-7

YHWH Elohim – name change, balance of ch. 2 (v.4 on) and all of ch. 3

all of account up to this point emphasizes Elohim, creator God – eternal, self-existent, powerful, perhaps remote/distant from created things

potentially overwhelming, overpowering, frightening if have not been properly introduced – not kind of God could easily warm up to

especially true given how different Eden and surrounding area were compared to Sinai wilderness – something must have happened since then

certainly good place to start telling the story – make sure those who hear it grasp enough of God’s awesomeness to give respect he deserves

is not all he is, though… whole story something Hebrew children needed to hear, were still learning differences between pagan Egyptian worldview and the right one

Moses makes point here: this Elohim who brought everything into existence is YHWH who brought you out of Egypt

hands-on: formed, not spoken

LORD God was the one who, like potter with shapeless lump of clay, brought first man into existence by an intimate process

may have only taken an instant of time, yet transcendent Creator God detail by detail formed Adam into a being with God’s own image – God’s “fingerprints” all over him

Adam had perfect form, all necessary attributes but one… life – required divine CPR, not impersonal command for him to become living being

a few thousand years later, Louis Pasteur did his famous crook-neck flask experiment, disproved spontaneous generation, “proved” life only comes from life – Moses did get his facts right!

personal first-name relationship

acted as YHWH toward Adam and generations of others before Moses even though did not know by that name (Exod. 6:3)

God’s intention from beginning was to know and be known – went to great lengths revealing himself so that could happen

relationship designed to continue forever, would have done so had not sin reared its ugly head

B. God is life-director  v.8-17

gave man a place

God didn’t give Adam a kit – some acreage, some seed, and some tools – and then tell him to go for it

prepared specific place for him, complete down to last detail – all would ever need in abundance to satisfy every good desire

place where Adam could fulfill his design – be fruitful and multiply – in setting of perfect fellowship with his Creator

gave man a purpose

the kind of place God prepared for Adam required regular attention… that was Adam’s assignment: tend and keep

even in original state, created order needed someone to keep it orderly and productive – if that was Adam’s job, must be able to do it with resources God supplied him

gave man a promise

blessing for carrying out his purpose, certain disaster for disobedience – no question who was in charge, setting boundaries

if declared consequence for disobedience was death, result of obedience would then be life… guaranteed by God

at this point, perfect man in perfect surroundings, promised life would be rewarding / pleasurable / abundant / nothing lacking

C. God is life-partner supplier  v.18-25

aloneness is not good

immediately prior to this point (v.18) in creation sequence, had God looked at all he had made, his conclusion would not have been “all very good” – something missing

parade of animals not for God’s benefit – no need for trial and error on God’s part — intended to reinforce in Adam’s understanding how he was to relate to the animals

could probably have figured out – for someone who bears image of God, closest most intimate relationships must be with those who share same image

image-bearers are relational

since God by his very nature is relational, those bearing his image will also be relational – one God, yes, but in three persons, eternally self-existent

intrusion of sin into Adam’s life would have devastating effect on all his relationships but… all those relationships would still exist

God has something to say in his word about all the different kinds of relationships we have – God has expectations of what those relationships should be like

clear from beginning God did not intend mankind to live in total or even partial isolation – true for both individuals and groups

only one kind of partner will do

second thing “parade of animals” made clear to Adam – after God, the one he was to relate to most closely not found anywhere among animals

two conditions needed to be met: suitable complement for Adam, satisfactory end result for God – “all very good”

“Marriage among human beings is here shown to be something very different from mating among the animals.” Dr. Albertus Pieters

was God who established family unit, marriage relationship, how mankind intended / designed to obey commands God had given… to be fruitful (productive) and grow to fill the earth

with wise use of resources God has entrusted to mankind, no reason to doubt creation’s ability to support life

If beginning point is correct, God is relational and does relate to his creatures, what kind of relationship has he demonstrated? Don’t find it stated until NT but has always been true of God… what apostle John wrote in first epistle:

1 John 4:8-10 “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

God showed great love to man in how he prepared perfect place for him, gave him life and purpose and perfect partner. Then, after Fall, after man’s relationship with God profoundly changed, God’s love continued as he made provision for full reconciliation between sinful man and holy God.

If we are to bear image of God well, must relate to others as God does: loving them when they are sinful, showing them love of Christ, introducing them to God who sent his Son to save sinners, encouraging growth of Christ-likeness in others.

God Rested

Genesis 2:1-3 

So if God was perfectly content to fellowship with himself for an incomprehensible amount of time, why did he “create all things out of nothing, by the word of his power, in the space of six days, and all very good”? (WSC Q9) Certainly not because the Father was lonely – had Son and Spirit in perfect relationship. At times, seems like all God made have caused him more trouble than anything else. Didn’t make a universe because he was bored or even just because…, God as he is revealed to us in his Word the Bible always acts with purpose.

Lets us know everything God made in those six days intended to serve particular purpose in his eternal plan. Some of that purpose we can figure out from other parts of Bible – e.g., Psa. 19:1-2

“The heavens declare God’s glory; the sky displays his handiwork. Day after day it speaks out; night after night it reveals his greatness.”

Doesn’t say features of creation can attest to God’s handiwork, it says that is what they do! Day after day, night after night, declaring God’s glory and revealing his greatness. What about mankind’s purpose, reason for being? Portion revealed in Creation Mandate, God’s initial instruction that covered being fruitful, filling the earth and subduing it. Yet we can’t find the complete answer for that in “six days of creation”. Need to look at what came next, what God did after he was done doing.

A. the peak of God’s work  v.1-2a

what if creation account ended with v.1

would have basic idea of what God had made, would probably assume God saved best for last, creation of man and woman

life as modeled for man and described by God would be one of continual activity, day after day w/little change

mankind the high point

to restrict the story to six days of creation raises man to position of most important / significant of God’s creative handiwork

objective consideration of all we know about universe would seem to bear that out – the most complex and capable of all the creatures

given his ability and responsibility, has a massive task – maintaining order of things on the earth, making it productive, always on duty

center of the universe

clearly this planet we call home different from all others we can observe – is ideally suited to support life… including ours

even if earth not the center of our solar system, perhaps it is center of universe… all designed to revolve around mankind and his needs

would be easy conclusion to reach if we look only at account of what God made and completed in six days

and if that is true, God probably off to another adventure leaving man as highest authority in the universe

NOTE: there’s more to the story, will get there in a minute; but… mankind does have great significance and value – not because of order of his creation, not solely because of mandate following his creation

mankind, men and women, boys and girls, regardless of age or ability or appearance or anything else are significant because each one bears the image of God our Creator – yet it is a derived significance, stemming from who God is and that it is his image we bear

B. the peak of God’s week  v.2b-3

it has seven days

account of Creation doesn’t end with v.1 and morning and evening being the sixth day – story keeps going

God’s work of making things may have ended on Day 6 but God was not done being active and involved with his creation

God’s week just like ours had 7 days, not 6 – that pattern of 7 days making a week not random choice, one that is built into fabric of many created things

the seventh one is different

this day received special treatment from God himself – not simply what God did / did not do on that day, God gave seventh day special characteristics not given to other six

on seventh day: God finished his work, rested from his work, blessed the day, made the day different (holy, set apart)

a day of celebration for God: could take full pleasure in completion of his perfect works of creation – was all very good

on that first day of rest, everything man could observe and God survey was declaring the glory of God in perfect tune and harmony – no sour notes / missed words anywhere

Adam and Eve’s first full day of existence not devoted to work but worship and praise of their awesome God and Creator

the final step of order from chaos

God’s final action during Creation week was to define that week as having seven days, following pattern he acted out as example of six given to work and one to rest and celebration

while man may be the most significant of all things God made, our focus must not stop with man but continue on to God

God graciously as part of order of daily life gives regular reminder of need to rest from labors and devote time / energy to praise and worship of the Creator

C. the purpose of man’s life  (Heb. 4)

enjoy a rest

something Jesus got exercised about during his ministry – regulations imposed by religious leaders that had turned day of rest into a burden

no question, God’s plan from beginning included work – just as certain, plan included rest… and rest by definition requires action: cannot rest from labor if no labor!

rest the people of God are to enjoy far more than simple cessation of work – is a resting in as well as resting from

writer of Hebrews reminds readers that God had linked idea of rest with Promised Land, declaring those who rebelled would all die in wilderness and not enter His rest

enter into His rest

same author also reminds NT readers that promise of entering His rest still remains, a rest for the people of God

even for those who did believe and were brought into Canaan under Joshua’s leadership, Promised Land only a down-payment on ultimate future rest

resting we enjoy on Lord’s Day much like Canaan, a dim picture of what is yet to come in next life

now: a rest from normal labors of other six days, resting in fellowship with other believers in presence of God

day when we can rest from labor and celebrate God’s great work of re-creation, recharge spiritual batteries

the One who leads into that rest

writer of Hebrews makes something else clear:

For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. For we who have believed do enter that rest…”

if we are to enter into that rest pictured on seventh day of Creation, Gospel must be mixed with faith in us who hear it

is only our “great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God” who can lead us into our rest

People we encounter on daily basis who are tired – tired of frustrations of hopelessness, tired of day after day after day more of the same, tired of the weight of sin. Need to hear the message of hope, need to hear the Gospel proclaimed as we have heard it, need to see it lived out faithfully day by day. Need to be introduced to the one who is worthy “to receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”.

God Said

Genesis 1:3-31 

Need to keep in mind Genesis does not tell us all we want to know about origins and creation. However… it does tell all we need to know. If there is more that we can comprehend, if it will be good and profitable for us to know, God will reveal / explain it someday.

Also know from later in the story that our frame of reference does not apply exactly to how the universe was at the beginning. The Fall changed things profoundly, Flood further altered landscape and climate. Then and now is comparable, similar, but not the same.

And… as we delve deeper into account of beginnings, must keep in mind primary purpose of these chapters: like all of scripture, to reveal God, his nature / character / actions. Not intended to explain how God performs his mighty acts of creation and providence, rather teach us who to praise and worship for doing them.

What do we see here of God? What was he doing and why is that important? Verse 2 lets us know original universe was dark and empty, without distinct shape or form. As God spoke, he brought initial order to his creation, then filled it with all manner of things. Even in original condition, God did not expect created order to run itself; he appointed managers to be productive and make the earth productive. When all done complete, God was pleased with his creation.

A. God ordered creation  v.3-10

light and dark / day and night

God’s first step to bring creation to its completed form – divide / distinguish light from darkness: makes sense, “God is light” (1Jo 1:5)

demonstrates his creative authority by commanding light to appear – then shows his governing authority by naming

language used throughout story taken in plain sense: these creative acts had instantaneous results, not outcome of long involved process

evening – morning – day

by this command God began process of establishing increments of time: light/dark, day/night, evening/morning, 1 day

this time unit pattern will later be impressed on countless living things in something we call a circadian rhythm, ~24 hours

wet and dry

two different objects of God’s commands here – water above the earth, water on the earth, distinguishes between them

don’t know exactly what needed to happen, do understand the outcome: a breathable atmosphere, dry land distinguished from bodies of water

throughout these first three days, are given completely opposite view of reality from what science claims: a God who could display this kind of power, to simply speak universe into existence is infinitely larger and wiser and more powerful than anything we can imagine

God dwarfs the universe, not the other way round; God is self-existent, not the cosmos; God is clearly the absolute ultimate Sovereign

B. God filled creation  v.11-25

plant life / sea life and birds / land creatures

earth/sea/air by God’s design able to support life, but did not begin doing so on their own – required God’s command

continuation of order: things to grow on the land, to live in the waters, to inhabit the sky… in abundance… and reproducing, according to their own kind


had created light, then made sources and reflectors of light, each for their particular purpose according to plan

further distinctions and divisions of time marked off by movement of lights relative to earth and each other – day, month, season, year

even though light/darkness and day/night, night would have its own light… a lesser one, along with stars and planets


we speak so easily of laws of nature, Newton’s laws of thermodynamics, law of gravity – certainly ok to call them that

but natural world did not produce those laws randomly or even of necessity – those laws every bit as much God’s doing as “let there be…”

and those laws present and governing from the beginning… according to God’s design and decree… for his glory and our good

C. God appointed managers of his creation  v.26-30

made them

universe, cosmos not self-existent, not self-sustaining or self-governing either – ultimately sustained and governed by God

but… one aspect of God’s comprehensive creative plan saved for the last – the only creature made in God’s image

made by God’s “hands-on” action, not spoken into existence – made with only two distinct genders… with significance… and purpose, distinct from all other creatures

blessed them

see first blessing God gave to mankind: blessing of ability to produce things by working – be fruitful, put creative juices to work

second blessing, fertility: ability to reproduce, to make others in our own image – not to be a chore or burden, but blessing

third blessing, dominion: governing, managing, subduing the earth to make it as productive as possible

are to reflect image of God not only in who we are but also in what we do, mirroring God’s works of creation and providence in our own God-given sphere

instructed / appointed them

God didn’t leave first man and woman to figure all out on their own – gave specific direction how they could actually receive his blessing

appointed them as his vice-regents, his deputies to have significant part in God’s work of making created order fulfill his design

not hard to see something else implied in Creation mandate: are at risk of losing out on God’s blessing when we fail to carry out his instructions

and… here’s one more blessing: in original world as created, nothing had to give its life to sustain another – mankind and all living creatures at the beginning were vegetarian

D. God approved his creation  v.31

incrementally good

six times throughout course of creation account are told God saw outcome of his command “and God saw that it was good”

each step along the way was good by itself – nothing in original creation that was not good, inherently evil

totally very good

at end of six days, God surveyed all he had made and pronounced his judgment on it – it was all very good

what existed at the end of creation that made up heavens and earth accurately displayed character and nature of its Creator

and God was satisfied

nothing needed tweaking, redoing, adding or subtracting – created order was complete and completely satisfactory to God

Is obvious from this creation account who is really in charge – an infinitely good and wise God who both made and governs all his creation. What a great comfort that is, to know human leaders not ultimately in control, nor is arch-enemy Satan. Is same God who keeps it in order (Heb. 1:3)

Is also really obvious universe we inhabit now not like it was in first chapter of Genesis… something awful happened. More on that another week. At same time, God’s grace is equally obvious – he rules the world for sure, yet he does so with truth and grace. And because our God cares about his creation, Bible even says God loves the world… and he loves sinners, sent his only Son “full of grace and truth” to be Savior of the world.

God Is: In the Beginning

Genesis 1:1-2 

Hear what Carl Sagan says about the universe: “The cosmos is all there is or was or ever shall be.” Now this: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Rev. 1:8 Those statements are mutually exclusive, cannot both be true. Might think is a matter of faith to believe what the Lord says but not Carl Sagan.

Really not a question of presence or absence of faith, or faith vs. reason. Regardless of particular worldview you hold, including position on origins, real question is “what is the object of your faith?” Who or what is your authority? Some try to claim God and his word the Bible as authority in “matters of faith” or religion, a different authority for other things. E.g., scientists or scholars or philosophers.

But here’s the rub: which authority takes precedence when two or more speak to the same thing? Bible and philosophers both talk about ultimate reality. Bible and social scientists both talk about relationships. Bible and political scientists both talk about laws and governmental authority. Bible and paleontologists and archaeologists all talk about ancient history. Who, then, sets the agenda, establishes the framework into which the others fit and find their proper place? And btw, all of these represent acts of faith – faith that the various other authorities get everything right.

For the Christian, the #1 uncompromised authority must be God who has spoken to us through his word the Bible. Does not mean we disregard what gifted individuals discover, the ideas they develop. Does mean that those discoveries are valid only to the extent they conform to the order God has established and communicated.

One last point on science and origins. Sound science relies on direct observation of what is being studied. It is impossible for any scientist to observe the beginning, regardless of when you think it was or what happened. Therefore, science cannot speak with accuracy and authority about origins. The only one who can is the One who was there…

A. when – “In the beginning”

an endpoint

doesn’t specify exactly when in relation to other things, but makes plain that history is linear, not circular – not on an endless wheel of life that just keeps going around

was a point at which someone or something already existing apart from the cosmos did something that resulted in what we observe today

that is consistent with what we know of how matter behaves – object at rest…; if point of singularity, no outside force, no change

an order

simply having a beginning imposes some kind of order, at least on basic level, of what happened next

time as we know and measure it did not always exist – for one thing, no way to measure it when only God around!

was the one who acted in the beginning who set the clock in motion, would later put divisions on the dial

B. who – “God”

one, not many 

countless civilizations have somewhere in their traditions a story of origins – something that tries to explain / give answers to ultimate questions

most, including Egyptian version, involve some kind of contest between various gods, competing to make different things happen

Genesis makes abundantly clear those stories are wrong – was one God who by sovereign power and authority created

will be that same God who brings further order out of chaos of original cosmos without help from any other

existence assumed, not proven

numerous “proofs” for existence of God – questionable whether they really count as proofs or rather rational arguments why reasonable to believe God exists

apparently God, Moses, Jesus and others didn’t think proof necessary – treat it as a given that he does

Paul went so far as to declare everybody knows God exists anyway: Rom. 1:20-21 “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

don’t need to prove to people that God exists… need, along with work of Holy Spirit, to persuade them to worship and obey him

C. how – “created”

brought into existence

no detailed explanation of how God did this except that by his sovereign power he made something exist where had not before

Hebrews 11:3 “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.”

know from our text both Father and Spirit present and active in creation – know from 4th Gospel that the Word who also was present in beginning had his part too:

John 1:3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

subsequently brought order out of chaos

if God could create anything from nothing, could certainly have created it in completed form… but he didn’t do that

day by day with further creative acts will give form and content to formless and empty earth; will add other celestial bodies

will even “get his hands dirty”, if we can say that, on day 6 when he “formed man from dust of the ground” and then built up a woman from rib of man

do not get far into story of the beginning before is obvious God is both Ruler over created order and in Relationship with it

is also clear self-existent God cares about his creation – how it was (all very good), how it is (under the curse because of sin), how it will be (delivered from corruption)

D. what – “the heavens and the earth”

everything else

God was there, His Spirit was there, the Word was there, everything else that exists the result of Triune God’s creative acts, making “all things out of nothing in the space of six days, and all very good”

the universe

contrary to Carl Sagan’s declaration, is the God who revealed himself in his word the Bible who always was, always will be

was that God alone who created the cosmos out of nothing, gave order to it, continues to sustain it by his powerful word

since God we see in the Bible created it all, is expected that he rules / governs it all according to his good pleasure

Not a surprise, given all of this, that ancient creed begins with “I believe in God, the Father, Maker of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son.” And then it continues: “conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary”.

Don’t have to try to find significance somewhere in what has been created, certainly should not try to find hope in what we can make of the world. Is not our job to save the planet – we didn’t make it, we can’t fix it. Is our job to direct others to the one who can fix it… and who will someday. Given where people’s understanding is, need to go all the way back, to the beginning. Help them understand who made all things, what happened, why the one the angels announced is really important, how they can have a relationship with him.

Genesis Introduction – The Basics

Genesis 1:1

 Have for past number of months been considering story of Hebrew children, deliverance from slavery in Egypt, constituting as nation with laws governing both religious and civil affairs. Completed construction / assembly of portable worship center, begun their second year as distinct people. If looked ahead at record of next 39 years, would see continuation of something that started on shore of Red Sea:

Exod. 14:11 Then they said to Moses, “…Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt?”

Kept on complaining and asking “why?”

“Why did we ever come up out of Egypt?” (Num. 11:20) “Why have you brought up the assembly of the LORD into this wilderness, that we and our animals should die here? And why have you made us come up out of Egypt, to bring us to this evil place?” (Num. 20:4-5) “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?” (Num. 21:5)

Think about how much has changed here in our nation since 1960, not quite 60 years. All kinds of statistics measure the change, don’t need numbers to see it and feel it. Hebrew children had been fully immersed in a pagan polytheistic culture for nearly 400 years.

Were not concerned with 21st-century scientific presuppositions and models… they needed to know who Yahweh is, how they fit into his eternal plan. They had identity questions: who are we; where did we come from; why are we here; where are we going; how do we get there; how do we know all this?

Without question, Moses wrote under inspiration of Holy Spirit, assumed to be author by Jesus, his contemporaries, and apostles. But at same time is reasonable to believe were some practical reasons for starting where he did in Genesis. Immediately after death of Aaron, few months before death of Moses and entrance into Canaan, were still asking “why?”

Moses knew time of wandering nearly over (Num. 14:34); also knew he would be separated from people at that time, would have new leader (Num. 20:12). That meant all older generation except for Caleb and Joshua would be gone. What could they rely on to effectively answer those ultimate questions, give correct worldview, help them see their part in context of God’s plan of redemption? Genesis in part the answer to that need.

A. authorship and interpretation

how did contemporaries view it (e.g. Ex. 20:8-11; Job 38-39)

factual – not a surprise, not hard for Hebrew children to understand the idea of a sabbath when compared to days of Creation

when God challenged Job relating to works of creation and providence, Job didn’t say “but I thought…; wasn’t it all a folk tale?”

even Rahab got it right: we heard what your God did there at the Red Sea… and did not think that beyond God’s ability, of course he could do all recorded in Genesis

later OT figures (e.g. Ps. 8:3-6; 33:6-9; Jer. 31:35-36)

historical – real history about real people who were part of their heritage and human history… all the way back to Creation

significant – was God himself who established and regulates time, order in the family,

took the promises given to “the fathers” as real, safe to be counted on, reliable foundations of faith

Jesus himself (e.g. Matt. 19:4-6)

accepted creation account, establishment of marriage, laws of Moses without question, hesitation, or debate

used plain sense of OT scriptures as reliable and accepted elements in his teaching – synagogue in own town, Isaiah prophecy, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled” (Luke 4:21)

cohesive with all of scripture – post-resurrection instruction, “beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded to them in all the scriptures” – all the Bible including all of Genesis tell one story

other NT writers (e.g. John 3:16; 1 Cor. 15:22; 1 Tim. 2:13-14)

essential to redemption in numerous ways – God’s love for his own good handiwork factor in his purpose to send his Son to be “Savior of the world”

because one man and one woman sinned, one God-man must be sent to redeem them from their hopelessly lost condition

since consistent position presented in all of Bible from cover to cover is to treat Genesis as foundational accurate history to be taken at face value, we will do the same

B. structure


like all good literature, has numerous layers to story, stories within stories, plots and sub-plots – can use some of those layers to structure study / understanding of Genesis

certainly can be helpful aid to exploring richness of the book but… don’t allow any of that to obscure what Jesus said to disciples:

Luk 24.27 “And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.”

covenant: Adam — Noah — Abraham

covenants make plain how God intended to deal with his people, how he wanted them to relate to him

for a people who had mostly experienced God in way that terrified them, Hebrew children needed explanation/clarification… they needed the back story

genealogy: Adam — Noah — Shem — Terah — Ishmael — Isaac — Esau — Jacob

each of eight genealogies play their part – Hebrew children probably knew some about their roots, but…

Genesis makes clear roots go all the way back… to the beginning – our individual family trees in reality small branches of one tree with roots in the Garden of Eden

events: creation — fall — flood — scattering

these the things that help answer important questions – are also those points where course of human affairs radically changed

and… are those things that shaped Hebrew children (and us) into people they were and would become

C. relevance

for them

remember those identity questions they had? Genesis provided the answers to those and many more… beginning with “who is God?”, question Pharaoh asked

established a foundation for them as individuals, in the family, in the community and in the church

pointed them in proper direction for the future – if promised Seed has not come, they should be looking for him

for us

first, we need sound answers to those same questions – we are blessed with NT commentary on OT – NT though focused more on application, OT on declaration of principles

if are to be effective ambassadors for Christ, we need answers to who/what/when/where/why/how questions

for the world

world in general, our culture in particular nearly as destitute of truth as ancient Egyptian society, needs are just as great

We all know dozens of people struggling with all kinds of “issues” – God’s word the Bible has the answers to all of their needs. Since Bible has been stripped out of our culture, we who have it and know it must be bridges between God’s word and our neighbors. Does not mean memorizing it so we can quote it to them. Does mean knowing what it says and how it applies in everyday life and to the next life… then engage them in conversation.

Best thing of all we can tell them:

Now ye need not fear the grave: Peace! Peace! Jesus Christ was born to save! Calls you one and calls you all, to gain His everlasting hall. Christ was born to save! Christ was born to save!”

Good Christian Men, Rejoice


The story is told by James A. Baker, the late president’s longtime friend, campaign manager, and secretary of state, who arrived at Bush’s bedside just hours before his death. The president’s eyes opened when he heard Baker’s voice.

“Where’re we going, Bake?” he asked.

“We’re going to heaven,” Mr. Baker replied.

“That’s where I want to go,” Bush said, and closed his eyes again.

This was not pious deathbed banter, much less a sudden burst of faith on the part of the 94-year-old Mr. Bush. This was straight talk between two old friends who had accomplished much and who also shared an abiding religious understanding of life. They knew that the arc of one man’s life, whatever his success, was inscribed in the larger arc of God’s eternal purposes and grace.

A Grateful Christian, Kenneth L. Woodward (https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2018/12/a-grateful-christian)