Tag Archives: history

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.

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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)

General and Special Revelation

Studies in Genesis 1

And it was so. (Genesis 1:30 ESV)

God makes Himself known to those seeking to know Him. We must look at the evidence of God’s work in creation. More importantly, we must listen to what He says in Scripture.

God shows Himself in general and in special revelation. Revelation is an act of God where He partially shows Himself to those given the ability to see Him and to know, both intellectually and intimately, truth. However, He has hidden Himself because of sin, covering Himself in mystery. Yet all people, created in His image, are given the tools needed to know God. Sin does not destroy the given image of God but does corrupt the vessel containing the image. Man is corrupted, unwilling and unable to know Him but still having the image of God which drives them toward Him.

General revelation is God showing Himself through nature, history and the individual’s conscience. God’s creation shows His work and the intricacy and intelligence of His mind and heart. History shows the direction of God’s continued involvement in the lives of those He created in His image. Conscience directs the attention of the individual toward Him and His moral law. Yet, sin has corrupted Man’s desire to see God in nature, history and especially in conscience. We hate Him therefore we want to not see Him in anything.

In special revelation God speaks specific truths about Himself none could or would know unless He decides to tell. He reveals Himself and His eternal characteristics we could not otherwise know. He tells us about Himself though Scripture. Yet, there are many statements in Scripture which are not about Him but about creation, history and the individuals created in His image.

Genesis chapter one is special revelation. Had He said nothing we could surmise, from studying creation, God’s existence. God tells us creation operates according to the laws of nature He devised and put in place. Creation works the way He wants it to work. Our place is to study creation to know Him. We do not get to ignore the evidence of general revelation simply because it does not fit our idea of special revelation. Nor do we get to ignore special revelation because it does not seem to fit general revelation.

An illustration, even an imperfect illustration, is in order. An event happened in the mid-20th century known as the Holocaust. There is substantial evidence the Holocaust occurred and those who deny it happened are not viewed as having all their reasoning abilities in place. I lived in Europe in the 1960’s when I was a child, yet old enough to see and remember the evidence of what had happened 20 years earlier. I was not part of it but saw the evidence. I stood on the concrete slabs and peered into the ovens. I saw the pictures and read the words. You could say I was exposed to the general revelation of the Holocaust.

I know a man who, when he was a child, lived in the Lodz ghetto, went in a cattle car with a hundred others to Auschwitz where he and his father were separated and sent to Dachau. They were liberated and he came to the United States. He was there. I have helped him publish six books on the Holocaust. He and thousands of other survivors give first-hand accounts, special revelation, about the Holocaust. Will their first-hand accounts cease to have value or tell the truth after they are dead?

God does not die so His special revelation is of eternal consequence. God tells us about Himself because He only knows Himself. God tells us what happened in Genesis 1 because He only was there. We must carefully and prayerfully study His words and study creation. More important is our desire to know God intimately.

Intelligence

Studies in Genesis 1

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

Creation is not haphazard or random, but detailed, complicated and purposeful. There are reasons why the term Intelligent Design is taking hold of the scientific and philosophical academic worlds. As we become more technologically advanced it becomes harder to ignore the evidence of intelligence behind the design of nature.

Considering the suggested age of the universe, the age of the Earth, the fossil record of the Earth and the huge variety of animal and plant life, the probability such diverse life occurring by mere chance is absurdly miniscule. All life arising from the primordial soup is close to impossible because of the presence of innumerable variations of DNA. Each life form has its own computer program, called DNA, written by an Intelligent Designer, not by random, uncontrolled mishaps of nature.

Man is intelligent. Intelligence is a marker of the image of God. Intelligence is the ability to comprehend ideas or concepts perceived through observation of the immediate world and the ability to communicate those ideas and concepts to others. It is thinking, understanding, knowledge, comprehension of every facet of life encountered. Limited intelligence is found in the lower animals through instinct and learned behavior. However, the ability to comprehend and think through the ramifications of a new experience is not an ability given any other Earth-bound creature.

With intelligence comes the ability to ascertain truth and believe what the evidence suggests or advocates as truth. Since Man is not omniscient, but limited by space and time, we must examine the evidence of history or the past to determine what truly happened. We do not have all of the evidence. We do not have the option of manufacturing evidence. We do have the limitation of possibly misinterpreting the evidence until more evidence is discovered which may demand we change our understanding. Truth is not constrained by the evidence, changing with each person or each interpretation. Truth is never changed by perception.

Thus, Man is given the ability to know God intellectually though examination of himself and of Creation. Man also has the ability to understand and know that which God reveals about Himself. Given this ability means Man is designed, as part of the physical function and eternal essence, to discover more and more about the universe, the Earth, himself and the God who created everything.

Time

Studies in Genesis 1

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the heavens to give light upon the earth.” And it was so. (Genesis 1:14-15 ESV) And God made the two great lights — the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night — and the stars. And God set them in the expanse of the heavens to give light on the earth, to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness.(Genesis 1:16-18 ESV)

God created time when He created the universe. Time is not a thing. It has no material substance, no form and no shape. You cannot touch time. Yet, time is as real as anything we can touch. Our imaginations suggest time can bend or, in some way, be manipulated. These notions are theories, philosophical science fictions, considered possible, because we think anything we conceive is possible.

God placed lights in the heavens for us, to help us measure time. He tells us twice that on the fourth day He placed lights in the sky so we can know the seasons, days and years. These lights give light to the earth. They also separate darkness from light.

We often associate light with speed and think, in some cases believe, moving fast will allow us to move back in time, or forward in time faster.

God governs time, just as He governs all of creation. He has set time as a boundary, a natural law which cannot be broken. This does not mean we should not study to understand time or experiment with time to grow our understanding. It does mean we should take care to never remove God from the equation of our studies and experiments.

Since God transcends the universe He exists outside of time. When He looks at us He perceives all of time at once, knows all which occurs in time perfectly, sees the beginning and the ending of time. Existing outside of time does not mean He is uninvolved. God created and sustains the universe and all which exists for as long as He has determined it will exist.

God governs all which exists, including time.