Monthly Archives: February 2016

Food

Studies in Genesis 1

And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. (Genesis 1:29-30 ESV)

God is the Creator of life and everything created. God is the Sustainer of life. God governs and gives purpose to life. He created light on the first day and the sun, moon and stars on the fourth. He created a habitable planet on the second day and plant life on the third. His universe is orderly and operates under specific laws determined and emplaced by Him.

On the fifth day God created the sea creatures and the birds of the air. On the sixth day He created the land dwelling creatures. He created Man in His image. Man stands apart from all other created life on Earth.

God gave Man food. Every “plant yielding seed” and “every tree with seed in its fruit” was food for Man. Nothing God designated as food was poisonous or would hurt Man. Man was to rule over and govern life, the sea creatures, the birds of the air and all animal life dwelling on dry land. Man was originally created as an herbivore, not a carnivore.

God also says “everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” Does this mean all life capable of eating ate only vegetation? It wasn’t until the sixth day God designated food for the animals created on the fifth day. Did they not eat until the sixth day?

It is my opinion a “day” in God’s calendar of the first week is a period of time but is not a literal 24 hours. Though He created time when He created space He did not set the Sun and Moon and the days and seasons until the fourth day. Though God certainly could have created everything in a literal 144 hours I do not believe He did. The physical evidence, including the speed of light, suggests He created all over an unimaginably long period of time. God is not constrained by time. He was there and tells us what He did but does not give us blow by blow details. We are given, by God, the faculty to observe and examine and draw reasonable conclusions about what He did based upon both general and special revelation. We can make reasonable assumptions. But we cannot tell God what He did and do not have the right to put words in His mouth.

Based on the evidence of my study of Scripture, observations and my own thoughts I believe we are in the sixth day. We are looking forward to His seventh day rest. In my opinion.

 

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The Simplicity of the Obvious

Studies in Genesis 1

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:27-28 ESV)

Man is similar yet different than all else God has created. Man is like all other life created on Earth. Yet, Man is not like all other life on Earth.

God uses three words to describe physical humanity. Adam means Man and is used as the proper name for the first man, Adam. A masculine noun, adam means ruddy, which means red and implies a creature which is mostly hairless, having exposed skin. Adam means human and is used 393 times in the Hebrew Scripture. In Genesis, Adam, the first human, is the representative of all humans.

God then delineates between male and female. Zakkar is the male of the species (either human or animal), a masculine noun, and neqebah is the female of the species (either human or animal), a feminine noun. So, Man is the human race, both male and female. Male is used 82 times throughout the Hebrew Scripture. Female is used 18 times in the Hebrew Scripture, one time in Jeremiah 31:22 and the rest in the Pentateuch. Many other nouns are used to describe people’s gender. In Genesis chapter one these are the only nouns used.

God identifies animals according to their species and makes each species a male and a female so they can “be fruitful and multiply” and fill the earth. This is the blessing of God for the animals of the earth. Every animal from the sea creatures and birds of the air to Man are blessed with the ability to procreate. Actually, every living thing is given the blessing of procreation. In the physical universe, on the physical planet called Earth, every living thing can reproduce. On Earth, and by extension throughout creation, procreation demands the species be male and female.

God is neither male nor female. In the Genesis story God never identifies as either male or female. He is God. Even though the grammar and syntax of the Hebrew language classifies Elohem as a masculine noun He is not male. God identifies Man with Himself, not He with Man.

God separates out Man from all of the rest of creation. Man is the same stuff as all the animals, with similar physical characteristics. But Man is different in his given authority over all other created things on the Earth because of the image of God.

Blessed

Studies in Genesis 1

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-28 ESV)

God blessed those He created in His image. This is the second of three times the word “blessed” is used in the Creation story. God blessed the sea creatures and the birds of the air in Genesis 1:22, telling them to be fruitful and multiply. God blessed the seventh day “and made it holy because on it God rested from all the work He had done in creation” in Genesis 2:3.

God blesses Man, who is created in His image. Man is male and female.

To bless means to kneel before, but not as one subservient to another. There are two images which may help us understand the use of the word. First, think of a father kneeling before a child to give the child a gift. Secondly, imagine one serving another by kneeling before them to deliver a service. In both instances, the one kneeling is not subservient but greater. With the father and child analogy, the father is greater than the child and is giving a gift the child needs but may not understand. In the second illustration the servant, or better, the one serving, is offering an act of mercy and compassion. In both instances the idea of blessing by kneeling strongly implies the greatest love of one for the other.

Part of the image of God is the desire to serve God and people and in doing so love them. Jesus tells us the greatest commandment is twofold.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40 ESV)

God declares His eternal love for people when He kneels before them as a Father giving the greatest gift needed through the greatest act of service imaginable. He gave His image. Then, He gave His Son.

Authority

Studies in Genesis 1

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26 ESV)

Dominion does not mean ownership. God created all things, which means God is the owner of all things created. This includes Man. Though created in His image, no person created has absolute, autonomous ownership of themselves. Ignoring God and acting like He is not there will not dissolve the connection any has with their Creator.

God tells us what it is over which people have dominion, control, responsibility and privilege. His list follows the days of creation, beginning with the sea creatures and the birds of the air. He then states in verse 26 that people have dominion over the “livestock” and every “creeping things” which includes reptiles and snakes. God repeats His direction of authority given people in verse 28 when He includes everything that lives. It is not that God forgot to include all living creatures then remembered in His next declaration. His second declaration of authority given people is an affirmation, a statement for us that tells us He is not going to change His mind. It is a sure thing. Throughout Scripture God will make a statement two or three times telling us His mind and will are set.

People are given authority over the Earth as God’s physical representative. With His image we speak and act and judge for Him. This does not mean He is not present, distant or completely absent. He is everywhere. This does mean when we speak and act based upon the moral standard embedded in the image of God we uphold and reinforce His purpose and intent. God views our speech, acts and moral decisions as if He Himself was speaking and acting based on His moral attributes and will uphold and stand by our speech, acts and moral decisions.

Again, I do not want people to misunderstand. Those given the image of God are given all they need to fulfill His purpose by functioning as He designed. There is no thought of rebellion built into the image of God. His eternal knowledge of the coming rebellion, knowing sin will happen, does not change God’s purpose and intent for people, nor their place in God’s created order. Sin affects how people relate to God and to Creation but does not change God.

All God is doing in these verses happens in eternity but before sin and rebellion in the space-time universe. Sin and rebellion change Man’s position and authority before God. We are seeing Man the way God intended.

 

Responsibility

Studies in Genesis 1

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26 ESV)

Creativity is one of the eternal characteristics of God. Since God exists outside of space-time His creativity is not something begun and finished, as space-time has a beginning and will have an ending. That which He creates may have a beginning and an ending if placed in the space-time universe. However, we cannot use “time” words with Him. God creates. Each creation is unique coming from His infinite mind and will.

Man is unique, more so than the rest of God’s creation. Given the image of God, Man is created for a specific function and purpose. God gave people dominion over that which He created to live and prosper on the Earth. Every living creature, from fish to birds to livestock and all animals, are Man’s responsibility.

Following God’s lead, dominion for Man is not oppressive and malevolent, but benevolent and gentle. Man is to govern with meekness. Scriptural meekness is strength under control. Jesus teaches, in the Sermon on the Mount, “blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5 ESV). Jesus uses a word for meekness which means gentle and mild. Yet it is used, not of the weak but the strong. It means God’s strength in the person under God’s control. Dominion, as part of the image of God, is a reflection of God’s eternal character of absolute power.

I have to jump ahead of the study at this point. I do not want any to misunderstand that, because of sin, misunderstanding and misinterpreting God’s words is part and parcel to the corrupted nature of Man.

We do not have the right to judge God according to or against our corrupted nature. He has not given anyone the right to sin or rebel against Him. Sin corrupts our understanding of everything, including ourselves, not just our view of God. We must, therefore, be careful to not put words or ideas into our thinking and moral understanding, which God has not clearly shown and revealed. We must adhere to God’s idea of meekness and dominion, not man’s misinterpretation. This is a constant struggle, but doable in the strength, guidance and wisdom of the Holy Spirit. Still, many will hold a corrupted idol of God and teach others to attribute to God their false ideas.

Dominion is the God-given authority and control over the Earth done with meekness and humility, seeking to act responsibly according to the direction and purpose of God. Dominion is not unfettered, arbitrary control. Dominion is part of the image of God embedded in Man.

Dominion

Studies in Genesis 1

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26 ESV)

God gave Man dominion. No other creature has dominion. Only God has absolute dominion because He is the Creator.

Man is a replica of God, created in His image, embedded with specific characteristics and qualities inherently God’s. Every person born has these characteristics. God’s image is not an exact duplication of His characteristics but working facsimiles, limited but true.

Man is created in physical space and time and is given a spiritual nature so that, once the physical ceases to exist, the spiritual will continue to live. God is spiritual and uncreated, living fully in eternity, able to enter His creation but unconstrained by anything created.

Some of the characteristics of God given Man include intelligence, the ability to be consciously aware and rationally understand the truth of creation. Yet, Man’s understanding does not come all at once but grows gradually in knowledge as each person examines and studies both God and nature.

People have a moral compass or standard, which includes intimately and emotionally knowing what is good, righteous and just. Conversely, people are able to differentiate that which is not good, righteous and just. God’s moral standard is interpreted for Man through the emotions. Morality and emotions are implied through God’s declaration of “good” when He finished creating a specific thing. What He creates is not only excellent but pleases Him.

People are also given a will to act upon that which they think and know is morally good. Man, like God, works and builds and makes and is pleased with what is accomplished.

God embeds another defining characteristic of Himself in Man which, to this point in creation, only He owns. He gives Man “dominion” which means to tread down or subjugate, prevail against, reign or rule over. Man is given ownership and responsibility over the Earth and everything on and in it. God has absolute control and ownership. He delegates to Man the power and authority over this piece of creation, not over all creation. There is no other created thing or being we know of from Scripture given dominion.

Volition, or, Our Will

Studies in Genesis 1

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. (Genesis 1:26 ESV)

Man is conscious and rational, intellectually aware and able to understand truth. Man has a moral compass, knowing the difference between right and wrong. Combining these pieces of the image of God given with the will gives Man the ability to act in a manner consistent with his function and purpose. Just as God acted upon His determined will so Man is able to put his creative abilities into action and do that which he determines. This is another part of the image of God given Man.

God creates everything with a designed purpose and intellectually precise function. God’s works all have moral excellence and goodness. God acts according to His eternal being which includes perfect intelligence guided by justified and righteous morality.

Through each of the six days of creation, God worked, building a universe specifically designed to show His greatness to Man. We can know only what God has told us about the universe and Man’s place in creation. But, that He created the universe and built the environment of the Earth to sustain and encourage life to prosper, shows willful intent.

God made light. On the Earth, He separated the elements making an environment. He made water, rain, oceans, lakes and rivers. He made vegetation, grasses, trees and plants which needs light and water and an environment to grow. He made the Sun and Moon and determined the days and nights and seasons, showing the progression of time. He made sea creatures and the birds of the air. He made animals. Finally, he made Man.

Man is not an accident of nature.

Giving people a will means they have freedom to act according to the determination of their intelligence and guidance of their moral compass. With the image of God comes the freedom to exercise that image according to the purpose and function of the Great Designer.

Many great people have made deliberate statements about freedom, from Augustine to Peter Marshall. They all talk about doing what is right, not deciding to do that which is wrong. Freedom is not the ability to choose between what is right and what is wrong. Freedom is the predisposition to always choose what is right. We are free to fulfill the purpose and function for which we are designed. Divorcing our wills from our created purpose and function will never give more freedom. For those created by God there is no such thing as more freedom. Our actions are determined by what we think and our understanding of morality.