Yom Shishi, 28 Shevat 5777 — יוֹם שִׁשִּׁי כח שְׁבָט ה' תשעז Friday, 24 February 2017
Genesis 1 & 2 (Part 1)

Introduction

Since my earliest days as a believer, I have been fascinated with and wrestled with Genesis 1.

As a young believer I was going to debate a biology teacher, in high school, on evolution. It never happened, but I dug in and studied extensively the issues; always coming back to Gen 1 and asking, "How am I supposed to understand this? What is being communicated to me?"

I have read many viewpoints and I found myself coming back to the same perspective. This fall, I took a class on the Pentateuch and read a number of books on Genesis; it really clarified my thinking.

Pre-suppositions

- As I approach the text, there are certain things I believe about the Bible that affect the way I begin to interpret this text. People with other approaches will come up with different conclusions.

1) Word of God -

• all true, from God to man

• what we need to know and understand, not all there is to know

• selective and pointed

• life of Abraham - Gen 21, Isaac is born, then in 22 he is being sacrificed, we don't know if Isaac is 3, 13 or 30, we have no information about those year or his upbringing.

2) Unity of word of God and Torah in particular

• Gen 1 not an independent section, with no relation

• We often treat it like that, like it is completely different

• God who redeemed us, is the God who created us, written to people taken out of Egypt.

• Parting of the red sea

• Cloud over tabernacle

• God speaking out of cloud

3) Therefore does not have much to say about Evolution

• Not addressing the issue of When or How the earth was created

• Traditional Jewish Date - combining Chronologies

• Purpose of Chronology is not to establish length of time, but connection, authority etc - will discuss more later when we get there in Genesis.

• Why Gen 2 is so different than Gen 1; neither is wrong, different purposes, neither is trying to explain specifically how the Earth was made.

• Earth could have been created in a completely mature form, as we see it 6000 years ago, or it could have been done over billions of year, through slow process, I don't think the Bible speaks to it.

4) What is the problem with Evolution?

It's not the when, issue, but the mechanism or how, by random and purposeless processes. God is not necessary, things just organize themselves. All this tremendous complexity that leaves us stunned. The making of a child, a seed which falls to the ground and makes a great tree. Just by chance? Just a product of randomness? That is in conflict with the Bible.

5) Theistic Evolution.

God made the first cells, so that they would self-organize. They think they have terrific place from which to argue the existence of God.

6) Theory of Evolution.

I don't believe the theory of evolution is correct, but not because I think God could not have used a long time, or used a process by which simple things became more complex, He could have.

• I just am skeptical of the scientific evidence, and I think it is driven by a philosophy which desperately wants to avoid accountability to God. But I am not a scientist, so I am not going to make claims about how the Earth was created.

7) How could you describe creation of earth in 1 page anyway?

• Earlier tonight, Mike described to us how a company is audited.

• Recognize we are not accountants, and do it in 1 page.

• What should Mike do? He should probably ask, what is the most important to communicate, and then use some sort of device by which to communicate it so that we can best understand it. Never an attempt to really get into the details, more the main point of what he needs to communicate. So it is with Gen 1 and 2.

Therefore - I don't think Genesis 1 and 2 are describing how the Earth was created or when it was created.

8) Our question - what is trying to be communicated?

I am going to be controversial. There are a number of ways people have looked at these verses. I am not saying with absolute certainty this is the way you should look at it. But this is what I think. Let me just throw it at you for your consideration.

While you may not agree with it, I think it will at least make you think.

Look at text:

Literary Framework

So what is happening here. What many scholars believe, and I agree with, is that Gen 1 is a Literary Framework. Days 1, 2, & 3 relate and correspond to days 4, 5 and 6. (See the following chart)

Day 1
Light and Darkness
(Day and Night)
 
 
 
 
 

What do we see in common in Days 1, 2, and 3 and then days 4, 5 and 6?

Looking at Day 1 in Verse 3, we see He made light and darkness which he called day and night on day 1.

This is the format for the days:

1) his creative word, Then God said, "let there be light"

2) the report of it's effect, "and there was light"

3) the evaluation, "it was good" which for some reason does not happen on day 2 or 5.

4) the occasional naming, "God called the light day, and the darkness he called night"

5) numbering of the day, Evening and morning, the first day.

Then on Day 2, He made the heavens, which here refers to the skies, which the word Shamayim often refers to, and here Birds are going to be it's inhabitants. And the waters.

Then on Day 3 he makes dry land appear and then there is a second section on day three where vegetation appears.

Then on Day 4, we have lights in the heavens to divide day and night, for signs, seasons, for days and years. To give light on the earth.Then God made two great lights, the sun and the moon. The greater light or the sun to rule the day, and the lesser light, or the moon to rule the night.

Then on Day 5, let the waters abound with living creatures, and the heavens or skies be filled with birds. God says be fruitful and multiply. Fill the waters, and let the birds multiply over the earth.

Day 6 in verse 24, "Let the land bring forth animals. Then day 6 has a second section. God said, let us make man, in our image, and he will rule over the rest.

We are going to talk about verses 26-31 next week, the creation of man.

That man is here to rule is sufficient for our study tonight.

So what do we see in Days 1-3?

Realms, unmovables, kingdoms, habitations.

And in Days 4-6

The inhabitors, or the rulers, that which occupies days 1-3.

Day 4 uses the term rule, or govern 3 times. Day 4 governs day 1.

Chronological vs. Logical

I don't believe it is a Chronological sequence, but rather a logical sequence. I don't think it is explaining the chronological order in which everything appeared, but rather putting it in a logical framework.

That is why it does not matter that lights in the firmament, to divide day and night are only created on Day 4. Well, how could you calculate days 1 to 3. If we could not count days until day 4. That is not important, its not the point. It's not being chronological.

It's like Matthew and Luke. Luke is chronological while Matthew is more by subject. Matthew groups many of the teachings in the sermon on the mount chapters 5-7, then the miracles, one after another in chapters 8 and 9. Parables, one after another in Chapter 13. Jesus didn't teach, teach, teach, miracle, miracle, miracle, parable, parable, parable. It is a framework, he is not organizing it chronologically.

The Bible is literature, and uses literary devices. Think about all kinds of books, poetry, movies, they tell their stories in all kinds of ways, not just in order of how the events occurred. And why do they do in other ways, because they think it communicates more effectively. I think that is what Genesis 1 is doing here.

The whole 7 days - man's work week, 6 days and then the Sabbath, it is how Man is supposed to work.

• Giant anthropomorphism. Putting God's work in Man's terms so we can understand it. It is all over the text.

1) God saying things,

2) God thinking that it is good. God seeing things and evaluating them.

3) God calling things names

• It is the way Man acts.

4) So it is irrelevant and un-real - no. Very real and true. When Jesus says he is a door. He is literally a door. Not a piece of wood opening a room, but a true and literal pathway or door to something else. You must go through him. He said he is both the shepherd and the gate.

5) Days - not long periods of time, but real literal days. It is just that it is all a giant anthropomorphism, putting all of creation into a way man can understand it. It's real days, but days of God's creative activity, heavenly days.

That is why Gen 2, can be different in the way it sees creation and portrays it. It doesn't use the days, and the order is a little different because it is trying to communicate something else about creation. It is using a different framework.

Genesis 1:1-2

For me, the first 2 verses of Genesis 1 really seal the deal.

We don't have time to go into the gap theory, the fall of Satan, etc. And, besides, I just don't think that is what is being communicated here.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, or as many translators say, In the beginning of God's creating of the heaven and the earth, the earth was formless and void and there was a darkness over the deep.

I don't think it is trying to communicate chaos. If you understand Genesis as a set up for God's covenant with Israel. Describing God's preparations of the conditions.

Here is his preparation of the Land.

Originally, it was without form, and void, or nothing in it. Many would say, the idea, is that it is uninhabited, no one is there, and it is uninhabitable, the land is itself without form. You see the same use of the word Tohu in Is 45:18

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, [But] formed it to be inhabited), "I am the LORD, and there is none else.

The word waste place there is the same word. God did create it to be a waste place of formless but rather to be inhabited. In Jeremiah 4, these same words are used, and analogous to a wilderness with nothing there.

(JER. 4:23-26 - Uses same words Toho ve Bofu. Formless and void. But talking how there are no more inhabitants.)

Then I think in our following verses, God then provides habitations in verses 1 to 3, and then inhabitors in verses 4 -6, so now the earth is no longer formless and void. God has prepared the land.

And how was it prepared? There at the end of verse 2. The Spirit of God was hovering over the deep.

Why the Spirit - breath, wind, life? Spirit gives life. Spirit of God creates. Breathes into creation.

• In Ezekiel 37, God says to Ezekiel, breathe on these bones, and they come to life.

• John said Y'shua breathed on the disciples, receive my spirit.

God speaking out of it an obvious picture for Israelites. Here is the manifestation of God hovering over the waters. You can imagine the Israelite audience. They are seeing God hovering over the tabernacle, a cloud by day or a fire by night. Or seeing God on top of the mountain, God's voice coming forth. God bringing forth the Law.

So now the Spirit of God hovering over the waters, this darkness, formless and void, and out of that cloud, comes the voice of God, Then God said.

And his creation is filled with life, the earth becomes formed, and it is filled. God has prepared his land, and given its inhabitants.

You can see again the later illusion to God's words to the Israelites. Here is the good land I have prepared for you, flowing with milk and honey. God has Israel to now inhabit that Land.

God who redeemed is God who created you. -speaking out of a cloud, who redeemed you out of Egypt by a mighty hand and outstretched arm, who gave you the law, It is he who created the world.

On day 3, it says gathered the waters and the dry land appeared, sounds just like the parting of the Red Sea, when God sent a Wind or Ruach, same word as Spirit, across the waters, and dry land appeared upon which the Israelites crossed.

Deuteronomy 32 uses identical words to describe the creation of the world and the redemption of Israel bouncing back and forth. The God who redeemed us has created us.

10 "He found him in a desert land, And in the howling waste of a wilderness; He encircled him, He cared for him, He guarded him as the pupil of His eye. 11 "Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, That hovers over its young, He spread His wings and caught them, He carried them on His pinions.

Same wording as the first 2 verses of Genesis. He found you in a waste, the earth formless and void, like and eagle hovering over is the same word for the way the spirit was over the waters. God who redeemed you is the God who created you.

So what?

You can completely disagree with me as to what is happening in Genesis 1. You may be right, and I may be wrong, but I think there are some things we can agree upon.

But so what? It should never be mere intellectual education that God made everything. There are some things you need to always understand about God from Genesis 1.

Firstly, This means everything is God's. He owns it, he is sovereign over it.

John 1:1-4

You see a beautiful illusion to this passage in John 1:1-4. - and you see also the main point - that is what we are to understand.

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

• All things came into being through him, out of nothing. He is the source of Life,

• The life is the light of men, and it shines in the darkness.

• He is the all sovereign Creator, Redeemer

• God made us and we are his. And He can do whatever he wants with all that he is made. As the Lord said in Jeremiah

Jer 18:6 "Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter [does]?" declares the LORD. "Behold, like the clay in the potter's hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.

• The potter can do what he wants with the clay.

Also think what this meant to a people coming out of a polytheistic culture, with little gods for everything. One god over the seas, one for the sun, one for the river, the frog gbod, the harvest, rains etc. Gen 1 teaches clearly, one God, only one God, and He made everything. It is only Him to whom we give honor, praise and glory. Worship of any other is false.

Secondly, what do we learn, from the use of anthropomorphisms? God saw, he spoke, he made, he did in a week, the same way you and I work? God wants us to understand him. The God who is so far beyond our comprehension in his being, power and understanding, wants his creation to know him, to understand him, to relate to him. God wants us to know it is he who made us, he has provided for us, who has made a dwelling for us.