The first chapter of Genesis is one of the most God-centered chapters in the Bible. God is mentioned by name thirty-two times in thirty-one verses. Add to that the use of personal pronouns, and He is mentioned no less than forty-three times. Thus on the very first page of Scripture the Holy Spirit brings us into the presence of God and keeps us there. No wonder Satan hates that chapter! No wonder he has brought up his heavy artillery to discredit it in the minds of men.
Abandon Genesis 1-as unfactual and unreliable, as mere mythology, as a doctored-up copy of the Babylonian creation epic, as totally unacceptable to modern science-and Satan has won. If the Holy Spirit cannot be trusted when He tells of creation, how can He be trusted when He tells of salvation? If what He says about earth in Genesis 1 can be questioned, then what He says about heaven in Revelation 22 can be questioned. If the Holy Spirit cannot be trusted in Genesis 1, how can He be trusted in John 3:16?
The importance of Genesis 1 is emphasized by the constant use of a significant figure of speech, the polysyndeton, which always shows up in the King James Version by the multiple use of the word and. Count up the "ands" in Genesis 1-there are almost one hundred of them. In ordinary writing, of course, it is usually considered improper to have more than one conjunction in a sentence. Not so in the Bible! The polysyndenton is used to slow us down and draw our attention to each phrase or word thus joined together. In Genesis 1, then, the Holy Spirit would have us weigh each word and phrase, for He is writing with great precision.
1) The Introduction (1:1)
Harold Fortescue, a budding newspaper reporter, was sent to cover a local social function. It was his first assignment. He expanded himself and submitted to his editor two dozen pages of Typewritten oratory. The editor did not even glance at it, but handed it right back with the words, "Cut it in half." Crestfallen, Fortescue complied. Again the editor handed it back with the dry comment, "Cut it in half again." Grumbling under his breath the youthful reporter did as he was told. When he handed in the finished article the editor handed it back once more. "Now reduce it to a single page," he said. The horrified reporter ventured a protest. His boss cut him off. "Young man," he said, "you have evidently overlooked the fact that when the Creator of the universe gives His account of Creation, He does so in ten words-'In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.' "
There it stands in all its naked force; the opening statement of Scripture. No attempt is made to water it down, to apologize to a skeptical age, even to prove that God is. The Holy Spirit simply deems certain truths to be self-evident, the first and foremost, that God is. In one sublime statement He sweeps aside atheism by asserting His existence, polytheism by declaring Himself to be one, and pantheism by separating Himself from matter.
No statement is made as to when God created the universe, apart from the fact that He did so "in the beginning." The earth is now estimated by some scientists to be over two billion years old, with three quarters of geological time gone before geologists find the first adequate record of life in the Cambrian rocks. Picture a man walking down an avenue into the past, covering one thousand years with each step. His first step brings him to William the Conqueror, his second to the birth of Christ, his third to Helen of Troy, his fourth to Abraham. After another 130 steps he sees Heidelberg Man. Another quarter of a mile, at a thousand years a step, brings him to the oldest stone implements in Europe (according to some geologists and anthropologists, anyway). He would go on for 250 miles before he came to the earliest fossil organisms! Genesis 1 does not argue with the claim that the earth is very old. It simply states that God created it "in the beginning."
Attempts have been made to reconcile Genesis with geology. One theory is the day-age theory. The "days" of Genesis 1 are viewed, not as literal days of twenty-four hours, but as epochs, or ages, or vast periods of time. Elaborate charts have been drawn up to thus reconcile Genesis with geology. Certainly there is a remarkable similarity between the two.
Another theory is the gap theory. Genesis 1:1 records the account of the original creation. Between the first and second verses of Genesis, theorists postulate a gap of countless ages. In that gap they insert all the ages demanded by geologists, ending with the Glacial age said to be described in Genesis 1:2. The remainder of the chapter is the not an account of the original creation, but of the rehabilitation of the earth as an abode for man.
Another theory is that the days of Genesis 1 are not days of creation but days of revelation: the revelation theory. The days of Genesis 1 are literal days of twenty-four hours, but they are days in the life of Moses. In six days God revealed to Moses the truths concerning creation, and on each of those days Moses recorder the revelation that was given to him. The revelation theory satisfies the Hebraist who says that the Hebrew of Genesis 1 demands literal twenty-four hour days, and it satisfies the scientist who demands long periods of time for the formation of the earth.
Certainly the first chapter of Genesis is remarkable as a statement of fact, no matter how it is viewed. Moses did not write Genesis 1 according to theories of creation current in the schools of his day, even though he was "learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians" (Acts 7:22). Egyptian myth postulated a primeval ocean upon which appeared an egg. From the egg was born the sun god, and the sun god has four children: Geb, Shu, Tefnut and Nut. From the rivalries of those god-born children of the sun the creation took place. What a blessing Genesis 1 does not begin like that!
Instead we have a narrative that rises like the Himalayan peaks, far above all human creation epics. The Babylonian epic is the story of plot and counterplot amongst the gods, the story of banquets and rivalry and war. The Greek pictured a mythical giant named Atlas standing at the borders of the earth upholding the wide heavens on tireless head and arms. The Hindus thought the world rested on the backs of three elephants, which in turn stood on the back of a giant tortoise, which swam around in a cosmic sea. Genesis 1 avoids all such gross ideas and gives such a remarkable statement of fact that it is the only document coming to us from antiquity that is seriously considered when the origin of the universe is discussed.
Peter Stoner, a mathematician, lists thirteen steps of creation in Genesis1. He tabulates those as the creation of the universe (v. 1), light (v. 3), darkness dispelled from the earth (v. 4), the atmosphere established (v. 6), the seas appointed their boundaries (v. 9), the continents raised (v. 10), plant life formed, namely, grasses, herbs and fruit trees (v. 11), the sun, the moon and stars appointed to function (v. 14), marine life created (v. 20), fowls created (v. 21), the age of the monsters decreed (v. 21), the creation of land vertebrates and "creeping things" (v. 24), and man created (v. 26). Those things are not only correctly named and listed in their proper order, but also Moses' chances of writing Genesis 1 in that way by accident would amount to one chance in 31 sextillion (31 followed by 21 zeros).
Dr. Stoner gives an illustration. He postulates a raffle with that number of tickets. To print them would call for eight million printing presses each capable of producing two thousand tickets a minute, running day and night without stopping for five million years! One of the tickets is marked. Our chance of drawing that one ticket on the first try would be the same as Moses' chance of writing Genesis 1 by accident. Because Moses did not write the facts recorded here by accident and because he had no means of writing Genesis 1 as a result of human reasoning (he wrote contrary to all the accepted learning of his day), he must have written it by divine revelation.
Three Hebrew words are used in Genesis 1 to describe the process. The word bara occurs about fifty-five times in the Old Testament and carries the idea of instantaneous, miraculous creation. Some years ago researchers announced they had been able to create artificial protein in the laboratory. Protein is the basic building block of life, so the achievement took the scientific world by storm. Saturday Evening Post interviewed a number of notables to get their reactions. Dr Vincent Allfrey of the Rockefeller Institute declared: "This is the biggest story of the century." A famous biochemist said: "This century will go down in history as the century when life ceased to be a mystery. Life is only chemistry." A British scientist was confident that in a few more decades one would see scientists creating life. He confidently asserted, "I no longer find it necessary to believe in God." The Post then interviewed some churchmen, including Monsignor George A. Kelly, spokesman for Cardinal Spellman of the Archdiocese of New York. He was unimpressed by the boasting of the scientists. "When a biochemist is able to create matter and energy out of nothing," he said, "then I would like to talk to him." That is what the word bara implies-"In the beginning God created (bara) the heaven and the earth."
Of the three words used of creation in the total narrative, as Wilbur M. Smith says, bara is the one that contains most nearly the idea of creation by miracle or divine fiat, even though the word itself does not, perhaps, contain the exclusive notion of creating ex nihilo. The word is reserved in Scripture for the distinctive work of God. Men can "make" things (asah) and "form" things (yatsa), but only God can create.
Genesis 1 is a statement of origins, and science knows nothing of origins. Science is concerned with how things go on and has nothing to say as to how they begin. Science can measure the laws that now govern in the material universe, but those laws do not explain how the whole process was started. A man can measure the swing of a clock's pendulum and come up with an equation that will state exactly where the pendulum bob will be at any future moment. By changing certain factors in his equation he can probe into the past. For a while his answers will make sense, but there will come a point at which his equation will give him ridiculous information. If he goes back too far, the equation will tell him that the pendulum was swinging in wider and wider arcs until, at last, it was swinging in two directions at the same time! Two conclusions will emerge. First, the laws that now govern the swing of the pendulum do not explain how the pendulum first began to swing. Second, something quite different from what is now happening must have taken place in the beginning to get the pendulum started. The observer at that point is driven to mere theory because he cannot state positively when and how the pendulum first began to swing. The only way he could state with confidence, "This is how the pendulum began to swing," would be if someone who was there when it happened were to tell him. In other words, that kind of information is not to be obtained by reasoning, but by revelation. That, of course, is exactly how Moses derived the information for the writing of Genesis 1.
2) The Narration (1:2-31)
Men today would rather believe Darwin than Moses. They forget that the science of Kepler, Copernicus and Sir Isaac Newton is obsolete today and that the theories of today's scientists will be just as archaic in ten or twenty years. Scientists have what they call "a five year half-life." That is, in five years half of what is "known" to be fact will be proved false and will be replaced by new theory. Our knowledge of the universe is in such a state of flux, we should challenge anyone who claims that Genesis 1 is "unscientific." Here we have God's own statement concerning origins. Humility and reverence should be our guides in exploring what that amazing chapter has to say.
The chapter divides into two major sections, one climaxing with the establishment of life on earth (1:2-13) and one climaxing with the establishment of law on the earth (1:14-31) The parallelism between the two sections may be clearly seen.
A. How life was established on earth (1:2-13)
1) Prevailing chaos described (1:2)
Some believe verse 2 describes the primitive state of matter when it was first created. Others (including Franz Delitzsch, that greatest of all Hebrew scholars) believe the verse describes a later catastrophe that overtook the original creation. The word was can be translated "became"-"the land had become waste and void." Support for that view is seen in Isaiah 45:18 where it is stated that God did not make the earth waste and void.
Paul seems to make an interesting use of the creation story. He says, "God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness hath shined in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 4:6) We can see in Genesis 1 a picture of fallen man, ruined by Satan, his intellect, emotions and will all in a state of chaos, his conscience darkened, his body doomed to the dust. But the Spirit of God moves upon that darkness and begins a process of regeneration so that there emerges out of the chaos a new man, created in the image and likeness of the Son of God. Unquestionably many passages of Scripture have depths of meaning that can be only faintly seen on the surface.
2) Prevailing chaos dispelled (1:3-12)
There were three stages in the process. God dealt first with the darkness (1:3). The statement "And God said" occurs ten times in Genesis 1. It introduces God's first set of commandments, not one of which has ever been broken. They stand in contrast with God's second set of commandments (Exodus 20), not one of which has ever been kept, except by God's incarnate Son.
The statement that dispelled the darkness is compelling. God said, "Light be," and light was. Nobody, even today, can tell us what light is.. We know what light does, but not what light is. It is one of the most mysterious entities in the universe. In physics it has become the new absolute. As such, it is at the heart of the famous equation E=mc2 (energy equals mass multiplied by the speed of light squared) which, in turn, ushered in the atomic age.
And God said, Light be, and light was! In other words, God's words are not only legislative, they are executive. When God speaks, it is done. That Jesus was, indeed, God manifest in flesh is evident from His words, which had the same quality about them. When sleeping in a boat, for instance, He was awakened by the frightened disciples. The storm that has sprung up threatened to sink them all. He arose and addressed the howling wind and heaving waves. "Peace," He said, "be still!" And immediately there was a great calm (Mark 4:39). His words were not only legislative but also executive. He stood before the tomb of Lazarus, a man who had been dead four days and whose body was already decomposing. "He cried ... Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth" (John 11:43-44). His words were executive. A leper came ti Him, riddled through and through with that foul and fatal disease. "Lord," he said, "if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean." "I will," Jesus said, "be thou clean" (Luke 5:13). It was the same almighty word that chaos and darkness heard, and took their flight in the early dawn of time.
God dealt next with the disorder. He began by raising the clouds (1:6-8). In terms of sheer mechanical engineering, the work of the second day of creation is astounding. The amount of vapor continually suspended in the air above us is estimated at 54 trillion, 460 billion tons! Water is 773 times the weight of air, so that gives some idea of the power required to separate the waters from the waters. The annual precipitation, in the form of rain and snow, that falls upon the earth is the equivalent of 186,000 cubic miles-enough to cover the entire earth to a depth of three feet. The supply of water above the earth is maintained by evaporation-the constant lifting of water from the earth into the atmosphere by the power of the sun. We take all of that for granted!
Next He raised the continents (1:9-10). It would be difficult to find anywhere in print a more sublime or more simple statement of fact than what we have in verse 9 and 10. Between verses 9 and 13 there are about 126 words in our English text, and of those over one hundred are words of a single syllable! Only supernatural wisdom could compress such mighty deeds into such simple language.
Moses declared that God gathered the waters together "unto one place." The critics once declared Moses to be a simpleton for making such a statement. They said that since Moses had seen but one sea he imagined it to be the only one there was. Certainly he had never seen the mighty Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, but Moses was making no ignorant statement. We now know that, although the continents are divided, the seas occupy one bed!
So God set to the sea its bounds. A thousand years ago King Canute ruled England, Denmark and Norway. He was so wise and able a king that his subjects wished to worship him. Canute refused the adoration of his subjects. To teach them the lesson of his own mortality he had them carry his throne to the seashore and place it below the level of the high tide mark. There he sat enthroned, watching the incoming waves. Presently they began to swirl about his feet and lap his throne. The king arose, waved his scepter over the sea and cried, "Stand back, stand back, ye ocean tides." But the proud waves rolled on. "We know you not, O little man," they seemed to say. "Our limits are decreed by a greater King than thou."
Twice every day, since the dawn of creation's third day, the tides of the earth have owned the sovereignty of God. In the deathless words of Sir Robert Grants:
The earth with its shore of wonders untold,
Almighty! Thy power hath founded of old
Hath 'stablished it fast by a changeless decree
And round it hath cast like a mantle, the sea.
Finally God dealt with the deadness of the planet (1:11-13). Grass herb-yielding seed and fruit trees rose up and covered the earth. The text employs three Hebrew words to describe the phase of creation. They are deshe, translated "grass," eseb, translated "herb," and peri, translated "fruit." In the first plant, the seed is not particularly noted because it is not obvious to the eye. In the second, the seed is the marked feature. In the third the characteristic mark is the fruit "in which is its seed." Thus Moses catalogued the earth's vegetation by a simple natural division, using as his guide the structure of plants and their seed.
Life appeared on the earth; not in some struggling, fragile, lonely form, but in a variety and with a prodigality that staggers the imagination. It is estimated that there are more than one hundred thousands species of plant life on the globe, and that there are more than five thousands forms of grass alone.
The basic command for all living things was that each reproduce "after its kind." The expression occurs ten times in Genesis 1. It is the rock upon which the whole theory of evolution perishes. God has decreed that there be no change from one kind to another kind. There may be mutation and change within any given kind, but no kind is changed into another kind. The principles of genetics have firmly established the fact that inherited life characteristics are implanted in the genes. A person who goes to Florida in the summertime may come back with tanned skin and bleached hair, but those changes are not passed on to his children. Environmental influences are not inherited, they are temporary. Only the physical changes that are due to the genes are inherited. A wide range of variations are possible so long as they lie latent in the genes, but no visible variation can occur outside the combination of existing genes within a given kind.
Man, of course, has tinkered, in recent years, with the genetic structure of various organisms in the hope of producing artificial evolution. Nearly all the mutations thus produced have proved harmful, lethal or useless to the original organism. After spending billions of dollars in research, enlisting the skills of thousands of scientists, investing countless hours in laborious testing, the verdict remains the same: "After its kind."
B. How Law Was Established on Earth (1:14-31)
1. The Heavenly Bodies Commanded To Rule (1:14-19)
Whole libraries have been filled with books relating t man's studies of the stars. The Bible is not a handbook of astronomy or of any other science. However, each time the Spirit of God refers to a subject that can be scientifically investigated, He does so with unerring precision.
Moses, for example, declares, "God made two great lights, the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night" (1:16). How did Moses know that the sun was bigger than the moon? Ordinary observation would lead to the opposite conclusion. We have all seen the giant harvest moon, seemingly eight feet in diameter, hovering over the skyline, dominating the evening sky. We have never seen the sun look as large as that. Ancient peoples thought the moon was far greater than the sun and accounted for its lack of light and heat, as compared with the sun, by assuming it was very much farther away from the earth than the sun. Moses did not make that mistake. He said that the sun was bigger than the moon. We know, of course, that it is so much bigger that it could contain six million moons.
But Moses could have easily made the opposite mistake and said that God appointed "the greatest light" to rule the day. Many ancient people worshipped the sun as the greatest object in the heavens. But what a terrible blunder it would have been had the first page of our Bible declared the sun to be the greatest object in the sky! The star Antares, for example, is so large that it could swallow up to 64 million suns the size of ours. And in the Auriga constellation the star Epsilon is so vast that its diameter is 3,000 times that of our sun and its volume some 27 billion times our sun's.
With what astonishing brevity, too, God dismisses the creation of all the stars of space. He employs just five words-"He made the stars also." What a perspective of truth. The Bible takes some fifty chapters to discuss the construction and significance of the Tabernacle. Yet it was only a very temporary sanctuary. Fifty chapters about the Tabernacle, five words about the stars. Truly the Bible looks at things from quite a different perspective from ours. The Bible is a handbook of redemption, that is why. It was nothing for God to create; He had only to speak. But to redeem, He had to suffer. That is the perspective of the Bible.
Had man written the Bible apart from the controlling inspiration of the Spirit of God, it would have been quite a different book. Chapters would have been written about the stars-the billion stars in our galaxy, the one hundred million other galaxies in known space, the postulation that known space is only one billionth of theoretical space. Sir James Jeans tells us there are more stars in space that there are grains of sand on all the seashores of all the world. God dismisses it all as of little account. "He made the stars also." God is more interested in people than He is in planets, more interested in souls than in stars.
2. The Human Being Created To Rule (1:20-31)
a. Man's Domains Prepared For Him (1:20-25)
Moses begins by showing how man's domains were prepared for him (1:20-25). The seas were filled with fish and the skies were filled with fowl-an interesting combination. Fish and fowl have much in common. Both have streamlined forms to enable them to move swiftly through their native habitats, both are covered with shinglelike layers of protective fins or feathers, both have hollow, light bones, both lay eggs and both have migratory instincts.
Water is preeminently the seat of life. There is not a bay or creek, not a shelf or a sound on the face of the earth that does not teem with life. Even a drop of ditch water can hold 500 million microscopic creatures so small that a teaspoonful of water would be to them what the Atlantic is to us. Only a God who is infinite could have worked on such a majestic scale as we see in the skies and on such a microscopic scale as we see in the seas. There is no such thing as smallness to a God who is infinite.
On the sixth day, just prior to the creation of man, God made His final preparation of the earth as man's domain. He created the vertebrates and the "creeping things." Moses gives a threefold classification. Hr refers to bhemah ("cattle"), four footed domestic animals. He refers to remes ("creeping things"), creatures that move along the ground. The word means "to move" or "to swarm." He refers to chaiyah ("beasts"), the wild animals. Scientists have classified millions of different species of animals, including more than 800,000 different kinds of insects, 30,000 kinds of fish, 9,000 kinds of birds, 6,000 kinds of reptiles, 3,000 kinds of amphibians and 5,000 kinds of mammals. God is truly a God of variety.
One can perhaps sympathize with the person who pictures life struggling to emerge upon the planet and, at last, succeeding as a lonely, isolated form. But where did the bewildering variety of life forms come from? The same God who with fantastic prodigality tossed out into intangible space countless stars and their satellites-and who keeps them whirling and plunging on their journeys through space at inconceivable velocities, yet with such mathematical precision that we can tell the occasion of am eclipse or the visit of a comet in advance-the same God who did that, with equal boundless prodigality selected a single planet and filled it with a bewildering number of forms of life. If Genesis 1 were a Psalm, it would have doubtless concluded with a resounding "Selah"-There. What do you think of that!"
b. Man's Domains Presented To Him (1:26-31)
Having described how man's domains were prepared for him, Moses concludes the narrative section of the creation story by telling how God created Adam (1:26-27) The Holy Spirit does not say that man was created in the image and likeness of the beasts. God said, "let us make man in our image, and after our likeness." In his nature, person and personality, in his moral and spiritual capacities, in his emotions, intellect, conscience and will, man stands apart from the brute creation. God does not begin with man's body and relate man to the beasts. He begins with man's moral and spiritual nature and relates man to God. Indeed, reference to the creation of man's body is relegated to a footnote at the end of the creation story (2:7).
Man is in no way related to the beasts. What animal can transmit accumulated achievements from one generation to another? What animal experiences a true sense of guilt when it does wrong or has a developed consciousness of judgment to come? What animal shows any desire to worship? What animal has hope of immortality beyond the grave? What beast can exercise abstract moral judgment or show appreciation of the beauties of nature? (When did we ever see a dog admiring a sunset or a horse standing breathless before the rugged grandeur of a mountain range?) What animal ever learned to read and write, to act with deliberate purpose and set goals and achieve long-range objectives? What animal ever learned to cook its food, to cut cloth and make clothes, or invent elaborate tools? What animal ever enjoyed a hearty laugh? What animal has the gift of speech? Even the most primitive human tribe possesses linguistics of a subtle, complex and eloquent nature. Man stand alone. Physically, he alone of all the creatures on the globe, walks upright; mentally, he alone has the ability to communicate in a sophisticated manner; spiritually, he alone has the capacity to know the mind and will of God.
Thus God created Adam. Then God crowned Adam (1:28-31). He crowned him in three ways; first by bestowing upon him a posterity-"Be fruitful and multiply" (1:28a). From Adam and Eve the whole human race was to spring. Adam is consistently seen in the Bible as the federal head of the human race. The doctrine of evolution, by striking at the story of Adam and Eve, launches a critical attack upon the Word of God at a strategic point. Cut Genesis 1 from the Bible and you must also tear out Romans 5. God sums the whole human race up in Adam and traces all the sin and sorrow in the world back to him. If there were no Adam, then the Bible is false, Roman 5 is built on myth and we have no salvation. If there were no Adam, Jesus was mistaken (Matthew 19:4-6), in which case He was not the Son of God, the Bible is based on a myth and we have no salvation. God begins with Adam and declares that the human race sprang from him.
God crowned Adam with a position (1:28b) giving him dominion over the fishes of the sea, over the fowl of the air and over every living thing. Every scientific and technological advance, every feet of engineering, every new scrap of knowledge about the nature and functions of the universe is an outworking of that dominion. Despite the impairment of man's potential by the Fall, man has nevertheless been a mover of mountains, a builder of dams, a digger of mines, a conqueror of the planet. He has subdued the earth.
The writer of Hebrews had an interesting comment on that aspect of man's dominion. He said concerning man, "Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour and didst set him over the works of thy hands. Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet ... But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus ... " (Hebrews 2_7-9). Adam, of course, surrendered his sovereignties to Satan. But when Jesus came, as the Last Adam, He manifested that absolute sovereignties over nature that God had intended Adam to display.
Finally, God crowned Adam with a possession (1:29-31). He gave him paradise to enjoy. It is impossible for us to imagine what the world must have been like in the down of time, pristine and unspoiled, it sprang from the hand of God. Each day must have been a day of exciting discovery for Adam. What marvelous new sounds and scents and sensations he must have experienced every day as he explored the vast, wide world that had been entrusted to him to develop and rule.
The narrative ends with the statement that the work of creation was "very good." The phrase is repeated again and again in the chapter. The next chapter records God's statement: "It is no good ..." and goes on to describe the creation of woman as the crowning act of creation.
3) The Conclusion (2:2-7)
A. God Resting
The opening verses of Genesis 2 seem to be a footnote to the story of creation. The rest of God is a wonderful thing-not of course that god ever grows tired! The more we understand the nature of the physical universe, the more we see that the material universe is merely an expression of the boundless energy of God. Each material object in the universe is composed of atoms, bundles of pure energy-energy passing into motion, motion passing into phenomena. Obviously the God who can create more universes than man can count and who can lock up within the tiny breast of the atom enough energy to obliterate an island, cannot possibly grow tired.
The rest of God tells us that the creation was complete (2:1). "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished and all the host of them." "It is finished!" The words rang out at the close of creation as, on the cross, they rang out again at the close of redemption. There is great satisfaction in surveying a finished work. God stood back, as it were, to cast an admiring, contented eye over the finished work of His hands.
The rest of God tells us, moreover, that the Creator was content (2:2-3). On the seventh day God, having ended His work, rested and then He "blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it." Thus was instituted the Sabbath. Ten times in verse 2 and 3 God is mentioned by name as though to emphasize the fact that it was God's Sabbath. Later on He extended it to Israel as part of His covenant with that people (Exodus 20). But, as with anything else with which man has to do, the Sabbath was distorted and destroyed. Instead of being a day of rest, the Jews, with their genius for religious minutia, encrusted the day with such enormous coverings of tradition that the day became an intolerable burden.
God's Sabbath rest was soon to be broken by sin. When the Jews accused Christ of breaking the Sabbath, He replied, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work" (John 5:17). That work took Him to the cross, where it was finished to the satisfaction of God. Today we rest not on a special day but in a Person. Ours is not a ritual rest but a real rest. We rest where God rests-in Christ and His finished work.
B. God Reviewing (2:4-7)
"These," wrote Moses, "are the generations of the heavens and of the earth." The phrase "these are the generations" occurs fourteen times in Genesis. It underlines one of the basic movements of the book-generation, degeneration, regeneration. The word generation means "family history." In Genesis we have the family history of Adam Noah, the sons of Noah, Terah, Ishmael, isaac, Esau, the sons of Esau and Jacob.. But first we have the "family history" of the old creation, a family history that ranon until everything was ruined by the Fall. Adam is linked, in that family history, with the creation over which he ruled. He shared the same unique pedigree. He was of the same generation.
Matthew's gospel introduces us to a new family history, a new pedigree, to "the book of the generation of Jesus Christ." We move from the old to the new, from an old family history, wrecked by sin, to a new family history from which sin is forever banished. We move from an old pedigree to a new pedigree, from creation to redemption, from "generations" in the plural to "generation" in the singular, from repeated failure to complete fulfillment. We belong to the generation of Jesus Christ. Our names are written in that book, in that family history.
1. Astronomy Reviewed (2:4)
There are three closing statements, the first of which relates to astronomy (2:4). "These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens." In Genesis1 it was Elohim who acted-a name ever linked with God as Creator. It is a plural word, one that hides within its depths the fact that God is a triune God. It occurs some 27,000 times in the Bible. That plural noun is nearly always used with a singular verb or adjective, signifying the essential oneness of the Godhead.
Here, in the closing review of creation, the name Elohim is connected with the name Jehovah (LORD). Jehovah is the same God only viewed as being in covenant relation with those He has created. The first appearance of the name Jehovah follows the creation of man, for preeminently it is God's redemptive name. As Elohim, He tossed the worlds into space; as Jehovah, He planned man's redemption before ever He fashioned Adam's clay. In Genesis1 it is said that God created "the heavens and the earth"; here it is said that God made "the earth and the heavens." The earth comes first here for, as Redeemer, God's interest is centered on our little planet. The earth became the focal center of the universe, the spot where the whole mystery of iniquity was to be settled.
2. Agronomy Reviewed (2_5-6)
Next comes a footnote relating to agronomy (2:5-6). The statement here has given rise to much speculation. What was the planet like in the distant dawn of time? Why did people live to such great ages as did the antediluvian patriarchs? What is meant by the statement that in Adam's day the earth was watered by a mist and not by rain? Probably those questions can never be satisfactorily answered. One theory is that once the earth was completely covered by a canopy of ice. Thus ensphered, it enjoyed a uniform greenhouse temperature, light was diffused, the harmful rays of the sun were screened out, energy consumption was less and the earth was watered by a dewlike mist. According to that theory the Flood was caused by the collapse of the canopy.
3. Anthropology Reviewed (2:7)
The final footnote to the creation story relates to anthropology (2:7). "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." The Bible declares that man's body was a distinct and separate creation of God, making untenable the theory of evolution, which teaches the opposite. The word for "formed" is used of a potter's shaping clay, and implies that God became directly involved in the shaping and fashioning of man's physical frame. From beginning to end in the creation story, everything is ascribed to direct acts of God no less than forty-six times. In that footnote the creation of the human body is especially stated to be the product of God's direct activity.
Suppose we were going to make a human body. We would need 58 pounds of oxygen and 50 quarts of water, 2 ounces of salt, 3 pounds of calcium, 24 pounds of carbon and some chlorine, phosphorous, fat, iron, sulphur and glycerin. We bring the items home-so much dust and some water. There it is, our do-it-yourself kit for making a human body. The only problem is with the instructions. The human body is so complex an entity that no scientist can comprehend more than a fraction of its composition and functions. A mere piece of skin the size of a postage stamp requires three million cells; a yard of blood vessels, four yards of nerves; one hundred sweat glands, fifteen oil glands, and twenty-five nerve endings! Yet the evolutionist would ask us to believe that the blind forces of chance produced our bodies. It would be simpler to believe that Webster's Unabridged Dictionary resulted from an explosion in a print plant.
The Bible gives us a better explanation. It says: "The LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." With omniscient genius God took that dust, that water, those odds and ends of things, and formed and fashioned them into a man. The human body, marvelous and intricate as it is, eloquently testifies to the wisdom and power of God. The evolutionist preys upon our gullibility. The Bible leads us to worship.
4) The Consummation (2:8-25)
Some years ago I was having some meetings in a large northern city. My host was a policeman. One day we were driving past some high-rise apartments that had been erected by public funds for low income families. The building were new, having been up for a couple of years. My friend said: "See those buildings? They're slums. The people have kicked holes in the walls, they have torn the fixtures out and sold them, they use the bathtubs for storing junk, they fling their garbage out the windows. It wouldn't be safe for you to go in there. It wouldn't even be safe for me." The authorities had made one simple mistake. They had changed the homes but not the hearts of slum dwellers.
It is a common error. The theory is that if we change a person's environment we will change the person. Not so. The human race began its history in the most perfect environment the planet has ever known. Adam lived in paradise. The environmental theory has already been tested under the most favorable conditions imaginable. It is the theme of the passage before us here.
A. Adam's Home (2:8-17)
1 - Somewhere Ideal to Dwell
Man's first home was a garden; his final home will be a city. When Adam first opened his eyes to the light of day he looked out upon a scene of matchless beauty and tranquillity. The fields were emerald green, the hedgerows ablaze with blossoms, the atmosphere laden with the fragrance of flowers, the forests ringing with joyous song. Strolling through his vast estates, Adam could pause to see a wolf play tag with a lamb, could stop to romp with a jungle lion or to inhale the perfume of the most perfect rose that ever gladdened the eyes of man. He could pause to pick a plum, to prop a burdened wine, to plant a peach tree, to gaze with awe and wonder at the tree of life-the first tree ever to become extinct upon the earth. He might wander by way of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil standing silent, mysterious, alone-the only tree forbidden to him in all his boundless domains. "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it." He would remember the divine decree.
He would continue on his way, happy that he could demonstrate his love for the living God by refraining from tampering with that tree. At last he would come to the river, for "a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads" (2:10). Whether Adam ever explored those rivers we do not know. Certainly he lived long enough to follow each of them to their mighty mouths. Nobody knows much about them. The first is thought to have flowed toward India, the second toward Arabia or perhaps the Caspian Sea. The third, the river HIddekel, is the Tigris as we call it now and the fourth is the great river Euphrates, which assumes such a large part upon the prophetic page of later-revealed truth.
What went wrong through Adam's mind as he followed the great river of Eden to the place where it divided into four? Did he perhaps stand at the great divide and wonder about those four rivers that ran away from Eden? He could have known nothing about the later histories that would be written along the banks of those rivers.
2 - Something Ideal to Do
He was given a specific task (2:15). "And the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it." He was to be both a gardener and a guardian. God gave him a sense of responsibility, a congenial, challenging occupation, something meaningful and worthwhile to do. Nothing can be worse than idleness. God saw to it that Adam had work to do, but what delightful work it was! God's yoke is always easy and His burden always light.
He was given a sacred trust (2:16-17). "And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat" (the trust was stated as pleasantly as possible), "but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shatl not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (the trust was stated as plainly as possible). There was superabundant prodigality on the one hand, and a single prohibition on the other hand.
Adam was given all things richly to enjoy. One thing and only one was reserved for God. A choice was placed before Adam, a necessary choice; for Adam could not have been a moral, accountable being without such power to choose. Without it he would have been a mere automaton, a puppet on a string. But God did not make a mechanical man; He made a moral man. Once the right to decide was invested in Adam, he became a moral being, but with that right there was always the possibility that his power of choice would be used amiss. So God set the alternatives before His creature, making the issues clear and plain.
B. Adam's Helpmeet (2:18-25)
The story of the creation of woman is full of interest. It must confront the theistic evolutionist with a serious headache. It is all very well to see God at work producing the human body by evolutionary means. A shaky alliance might be forged perhaps between the evolutionist and the biblicist when it comes to Adam. But what about Eve? The formation of the woman's body from Adam's rib must surely strike a blow at compromise. Either the Bible is true or it is false. Either Eve was taken from Adam's side and separately formed as a unique creature or she was not. If that is mere mythology, Jesus was deceived, for He certainly looked upon the incident recorded here as being historical and factual (Matthew 19:3-6).
1 - Adam's Desire Foreseen by God (2:18)
"And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone, I will make him an help meet for him." Before Adam was aware of this incompleteness without a wife, God anticipated his need and planned for it. God set out to create a partner for Adam, one exactly suited for him. Adam's wife was in the mind of God long before she was ever in the arms of Adam.
Marriage is ordained of God. The whole idea originated with Him. He knows the heart's needs of every one of his children. He plans to meet those needs. Nothing can be worse than an unhappy marriage, a marriage resulting from self-will and courtship divorced from the mind and will of God. Can we not trust God to bring into our lives the one He has made just for us? C.S. Lewis puts some potent words into one of the letters Screwtape sent to Wormwood. Screwtape, of course, was a senior devil, Wormwood a junior devil being given instructions in the art of temptation. Wormwood's patient, the particular human being he was supposed to be conducting safely to hell, had become a Christian. Seeking to make the best of that deplorable situation, Screwtape, among other things, advised what he called "a desirable marriage." Admitting that marriage was God's idea, Screwtape explained to Wormwood that marriage has its uses even for the cause of Satan. He advised Wormwood to seek out some woman in the neighborhood, marriage with whom would make his patient's Christian life extremely difficult."
"It is not good that the man should be alone." God's plan for us is described as "that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Romans 12:2). Surely God knows best what kind of person we should marry.
2 - Adam's Desire Fostered by God (2:19-20)
"And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them ... and Adam gave names to all cattle ... but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him" (2:19-20). The Lord, it would seem, not only wanted to exercise Adam intellectually, but also wanted to energize him emotionally. As Adam named the beasts he made the simple observation that each creature had its mate. He had none. God deliberately awakened in Adam a sense of need, an awareness that he hungered for human companionship and above all that he needed and wanted a wife.
God never awakens a desire that He cannot and will not satisfy in His own good time and way. Our problem is that we are so impatient and impulsive. We are living in a sex-inflamed world. Passions and desires are aroused and fanned into raging flames before their time. It is difficult for a young person, in today's world to remain pure and to be patient and wait for God to make His will plain in the matter of marriage. Our whole culture militates against the divine ideal. Happy are the man and woman, however, who will let God lead and rule in that area of life.
3 - Adam's Desire Fulfilled by God (2:21-25)
a) The Making of the Woman for Adam (2:21-22a)
Matthew Henry quaintly says that the woman was taken from Adam's side-not from his head to rule over him, not from his feet to be trampled on, but from his side to be equal with him, from under his arm to be protected, from close to his heart to be loved. It is well said. We do not see Adam running frantically all over Eden looking for a helpmeet. We do not see him sulking under a tree because his desire for a wife was not instantly gratified. On the contrary, God put Adam to sleep, took out of Adam what he needed and quietly fashioned the ideal helpmeet for him. In other words, Adam went to sleep in the will of God so far as that whole area of life was concerned. Such a process may seem impossible to us today, but it certainly seems to be the divine ideal. While Adam quietly left matters in God's hands, the living God went to work to satisfy Adam's heart's desires.
b) The Marriage of the Woman to Adam (2:22b-25)
Adam opened his eyes at last to gaze into the face of the woman God had created especially for him (his marriage vision). "And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." That was Adam's marriage vow. It was followed by a declaration of marriage virtue: "And they were both naked, the man and his wife and were not ashamed." The thought seems to be that of chastity and moral purity. From beginning to end God has demanded purity in the relationship between the sexes. It is only within the marriage bond that sexual desires can be legitimately satisfied.
Thus the Bible describes the world's earliest wedding. It took place in paradise. It was planned by God. It embodied the highest and holiest of ideals. It set forth the absolute so far as courtship and marriage are concerned. If its ideals seem too high for us, it is surely because we have strayed so far, as a race, from Adam's garden home.