Monthly Archives: June 2016

Out of Dust

Studies in Genesis 2

Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. (Genesis 2:7 ESV)

God shaped the first Man out of the same stuff from which the earth is made. “Dust” is loose earth, clay or ore. “Ground” is a plot of land, the substance of the earth, soil. The dust of the earth is loose soil, which lies on top of the ground, easily gathered into your hand and tossed or moved about. God gathered up a pile of loose dirt and changed that pile into a Man.

“Formed” means to shape or mold, to squeeze into a shape, to manipulate. God formed the Man from the dust of the ground. He took a substance He had already made and from it He changed that substance into something completely different. He took something which was designed to sustain life and from it created that which is alive. Only God can do this.

But God didn’t just fashion the likeness of a Man and make him alive. He breathed into him the “breath of life.” God blew into the Man’s nostrils a puff of breath and Man came to life. God tells us what He has done singling out Man for special treatment. He sets Man apart from the rest of His creation. We assume God created every creature from the material on hand. We assume God gives breath to every creature. Yet, He is not telling us about every creature. He is telling us about ourselves.

A Scriptural illustration may help us understand what God has done. “But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand” (Isaiah 64:8 ESV). The potter takes a lump of clay and prepares it, then fashions it according to his will and design. The clay has nothing to say about what is being done. “Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?” (Romans 9:21 ESV).

Some have suggested that because Paul uses the words for “honorable” and “dishonorable” use, God creating some people of more value and importance than others. Yet, God gives Man a dignity and place in creation He gives no other creature. He intimately knows each person yet places them in different circumstances and directs them in different ways but never makes one more valuable than another. All are created in God’s image and given a specific purpose. God’s purpose fits His character and all are created eternally valuable. There is no lesser or greater.

Then the word of the LORD came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. (Jeremiah 18:5-6 ESV)

Adam and Eve were created to fulfill the purpose of God and given a nature for that end. Every person is given the same purpose and nature.

God, The Ultimate Authority

Studies in Genesis 2

These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens. (Genesis 2:4 ESV)

From Genesis 2:4 though the end of Scripture God tells the history of Man created in His image.

When God speaks of the “generations” of His creation He is not talking about seasons and years and specific times and rhythms of nature. He established these rhythms on the fourth day of creation when He set the sun, moon and stars in the heavens. He is talking about the successive “generations” of people, who live and breathe and reproduce and then die. “Generations” means descent, family, or family history and genealogy, is a noun and plural and feminine and is used 39 times in the Hebrew Scripture to give an historical account of a family’s history. Genesis 2:4 is the first time the word is used (see also Genesis 5:1 and 6:9). “Generation” is a name for a group and the related successive groups in their entirety. As a feminine noun, it denotes a successive line of people born through the natural reproductive cycle.

God uses the phrase “heavens and earth” and then reverses it to the “earth and the heavens” to denote, not the totality of creation but the created space-time reality of those people that live, breathe, reproduce and die. God’s heavens and earth, as non-living, material stuff, exists from a beginning, brought into existence by Him, until an ending, through an expanse of time beyond comprehension. The material of the heavens and earth does not live, breathe or reproduce, and as such, cannot die. Heaven and earth will cease to exist, but that which does not live cannot die.

“Created” is the same word used throughout Genesis 1. God spoke and brought into existence all material stuff, ex nihilo, out of nothing. He then took that stuff and began forming, or creating, all which now exists, including that which has life and that which is not alive. God also uses the same word for “day” here that He uses throughout Genesis 1-2:3. Here the word “day” cannot mean a literal 24 hours, for He includes all He created on days three through six in this one day.

Finally, God gives Himself a more complete name. He is “LORD God.” LORD is the Hebrew word YHVH. The Hebrew language does did not have vowels. Scholars have added the vowels to the word, using the vowels from adonai, and transliterated it “Jehovah,” a word so ingrained in the modern Western evangelical mind people believe that is how it has always been written and pronounced. Yet, Hebrew writers considered God, and His name, so holy, they would not pronounce it, but would instead say adonai or “LORD.”

Yehova eloheem means God, the self-existent One. He is responsible for all of creation, having brought all into existent through divine fiat, for His purpose, according to His will, with His design and function. He names Himself. Eternity does not have a dimension as we could know or comprehend. Nor can those who are finite know or comprehend God, the Eternal. We can know what He reveals to us about Himself because we are in His image. From the beginning of the history of Man, to its end and into eternity, God reveals Himself to those who are His as the ultimate and only authority.

God, The Center

Studies in Genesis 2

These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens. (Genesis 2:4 ESV)

One of the questions puzzling theologians and lay persons for as long as there has been theologians and lay persons is “why did God give Genesis 1-2:3 in the way He has given?” He has not given a scientific account of creation. There are too many anomalies and not nearly enough precision. Yet, all of the scientific evidence gathered since Man was created in the image of God shows a God who is precise to the atomic level and smaller. God created in such a way, giving Man such a mind, His work is scientifically discoverable and knowable. We want to know.

Nor is Genesis 1-2:3 an historical account. There are too many gaps, not enough detail scattered throughout huge chunks of time. Yet, Man, or at least many men, strive to discover and document history. We cannot know exactly what happened in the past, because we were not there, but we can examine the evidence and draw conclusions of what did happen. Though the future is not knowable knowing history helps make decisions about the future. We want to know.

Some have suggested Moses wrote these words as an answer or rebuttal to Egyptian mythology. But, God does not react to people, nations and cultures. He acts according to His determined personality and will. He does not excuse the misinterpretation of the facts by any individual, conceding and overlooking their idolatrous conclusions. He is God and will not be ignored or overlooked.

Where Genesis 1-2:3 points directly toward God, as does all of creation and Scripture, Genesis 2:4 begins placing Man at the focus of God’s work. Man was created in God’s image for relationship with Him. Man’s purpose is found only in God’s eternal will, exercised first in the temporary space-time universe then carried into eternity. Genesis 2:4 through the rest of Scripture is the description of what God has done and is doing to strengthen Man’s purpose and relationship with Him. Yet, Scripture is a history of Man’s struggle to do and be something other than God’s declared intention.

We want to know exactly what happened in Genesis 1-2:3 not because we are curious but so we can have control. Nowhere in Scripture does God cede His control over creation, all creation, to a creature. Our understanding of God begins, not with ourselves but with Him who created us in His image. Our theology must never be anthropocentric but theopocentric.

Jesus Christ, completely God and completely a Servant born into humanity in the likeness of Man, is the Creator of the universe and the Author of Scripture. Though Moses wrote the first five books of Scripture, Jesus is the Author. We do not need to know Moses’ reason for writing but God’s intent. We must take care to not add to what He has written our own assumptions and desires.

Those compelled to study Scripture, to write and teach Scripture, carry a fear. Fear of God, in the true sense of fearing God. Fear of unrighteousness, that what is learned, written about and taught may lead astray. Fear of self and the tendency to point to self and not Jesus, God who created all and authored Scripture. Such fear does not incapacitate but does slow down and allow God the authority to direct and lead. As we continue studying Genesis my God direct and lead our thoughts and learning always to His Son.

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. (James 3:1 ESV)

God Blesses and Makes Holy

Studies in Genesis 2

So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. (Genesis 2:2-3 ESV)

This is now the third time God uses the word “blessed.” On the fifth day, when God created the sea creatures and the birds of the air He blessed them, saying they were to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:22 ESV) and fill the earth. Then, on the sixth day God “blessed” Adam, Man, to not only fill the earth but to have dominion over all earthly living creatures. “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 1:28 ESV). I think it of no consequence that God refrained from blessing the wild and domesticated animals and those creatures that creep. His blessing is to all earthly living things, that they are fruitful and multiply, according to their kind, and fill the earth.

“Blessing” means to kneel before and give that which cannot be had otherwise. Where God blessed living creatures during creation, here He blesses, not a period of time but the totality of the end result of His work of creation. If we read the first six days as periods of time with definitive beginnings and endings, then God’s seventh “day” has a beginning but no end. Or, the seventh day is the end of creation where all is accomplished according to God’s eternal purpose and He will do nothing else. God is eternal, unconstrained by time. For us to view Him in time helps us understand Him in a limited, space-time manner, but ultimately our understanding of Him will never define Him.

God uses His eternal character to define His blessing of the seventh day. He declares it “holy.” He set apart the seventh day from all the rest. He sanctified it and dedicated it to Himself. Holiness carries all of the eternal attributes of God for His use and according to His design and for His direction ad purpose. Nothing holy is defiled or corrupted, bent or broken, unable to fulfill its purpose and design because of a flaw. Nothing God creates is flawed or broken or unable to fulfill the purpose for which it was created. Holiness is integral to God. It does not surround Him, or direct Him or force Him to conform to its purpose. Holiness is God. All which God does is holy.

God’s Sabbath is holy and all created by God are designed to recognize Him as such. Holiness cannot be ignored. Man, created in the image of God for intimate relationship with Him was given an immediate and eternal disposition to love God and enjoy Him in peace and rest. Now, God tells Man to view and treat Him as holy and to keep, as a reminder and promise, the Sabbath set apart for intimate relationship with Him.