Genesis 1

An engineer looked back on his life and gave this interesting description: “In 1961, President John Kennedy set a national goal for the United States to land a man on the moon before the decade was over, and in the summer of 1969 Neil Armstrong made his famous 'giant leap for mankind' onto the lunar soil. . . . This milieu was the incubator for many careers in science and engineering, and so it was for that of the author.  Public education introduced the sciences of the space program, but also proclaimed as fact the 4.5 billion-year age of the earth and that life had gradually evolved over millions of years from a single-cell organism, supposedly formed by chance in a primeval ocean.  Students were compelled to accept the evolutionary model of earth history, as is the case for most people educated in this century.  The ancient writings of Genesis were relegated as outdated and allegorical, and most Christian students reconciled an immature faith in God and the Bible with a casually contrived version of the 'day-age' interpretation of the creation account. The days of Genesis were assumed to somehow represent the ages or stages of cosmic development that the scientists were now beginning to understand and describe more fully in our modern world.  For multitudes today, the story is the same. The implicit authority of the classroom combines with modern technological achievements to validate the 'scientific' models of origins and the [supposed] great antiquity of the universe.  Genesis is viewed as myth, if not fairy tale, and our concept of truth is limited to the empirically derived [or what is discovered through our five senses] ...” (J. Walter

That's a lengthy quotation, but it gets us right into our topic for today—the importance of the account of creation in Genesis 1.  Were you taught origins by evolution when you were in High School?  Some of you old-timers may not have been, but your children and your grandchildren have certainly heard it.  And if you weren't taught it in school, certainly the mass media has trumpeted the origin of the universe through evolution long and loud.  We see how our engineer friend said that many of the tenets of the evolution model were taught as fact: an old earth of 4.5 billion years, life gradually developing over millions of years from a single-cell organism, all of this by chance from a primeval ocean; truth limited to the senses, and the account in Genesis was viewed as outdated, allegorical, myth, or even a fairy tale.  The evolution model is greatly challenged by the creation model for its tenets are very different: “the universe and all that is in it came into being through the design, purpose, and deliberate acts of a supernatural Creator, the processes He used are not continuing as natural processes today,” and all of this over a short period of time (Thompson).  So, here are our two options concerning the origins of the universe and life.  Another brother observed: “. . . the choice is between matter only or more than matter,

. . .  between the evolution model of time, chance, and inherent properties of matter or the creation model of design, [purpose], and the irreducible properties of organization” (Ibid).  Now we can see why evolutionists want to discredit the Genesis account of creation as much as possible; it is the option they want to keep out of the public educational system at all costs.  In fact, they have an interesting strategy described by an insider who knows the score: “The National Center for Science Education tells school boards that 'evolution isn't scientifically controversial,' so 'arguments against evolution' are 'code words for an attempt to bring non-scientific, religious views into the curriculum.’  Since U.S. courts have declared it unconstitutional to teach religion in pubic schools, this amounts to a warning that the school board is contemplating something illegal.  If [this] warning doesn't work, the NCSE will call on the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for backup, and the ACLU sends a letter to school board threatening an expensive lawsuit.  Since every school district in the country is already struggling to make ends meet, this bullying by the NCSE and the ACLU has been quite successful in blocking overt criticism of Darwinian evolution in public school classrooms (Wells).”  So let's look more closely at the account of creation in Genesis.   Let's examine three question?  Is the account of creation in Genesis mythical or historical?  Is the account given in Genesis really presenting two creations or just one creation?  Is the account in Genesis showing a development over several ages or over several days?

The first question: Is the account of creation in Genesis mythical or historical?  Although there are many denominations and theologians that see this account as mythical, there are at least four good reasons for seeing the account in Genesis as historical: the unity of the book of Genesis, the style of the book, the references in the New Testament to it, and the importance of preserving the line of the Messiah and the salvation offered by Christ.  Let’s examine each of these reasons.  First of all, the account is historical because of the unity of the book.  There is an interesting phrase that ties the unity of the book together; it is the expression “this is the genealogy of”.  It comes at least 10 times in the book; we'll look at four in just a moment.  Now here's something else interesting.  If Moses wrote this book in sections on tablets of clay rather than upon papyrus and followed the custom of his day, the writer would put a brief explanation of what was on the tablet at the bottom of it (just the opposite of us, we put a title at the top, but they put it at the bottom).  This means that when we read this expression “this is the genealogy of” it refers back to the material that comes before it.  Now look at Genesis 10:1: “Now this is the genealogy of the sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.”  So if we want to find out about their ancestry and history, we read what comes before this verse.  Now look at 6:9: “This is the genealogy of Noah.”  So we read what comes before this to discover his ancestors and history.  Now look at 5:1: “This is the book of the genealogy of Adam.”  And we look at the previous verses.  Now notice one more at 2:4: “This is the history [its the exact same word as in the previous passages] of the heavens and the earth when they were created.”  All previous references in Genesis using this expression referred to historical people and events.  So, we have absolutely no need to switch gears in Genesis 1.  It is also referring to historical people and events.  The second reason that the account is historical is because of the style of the book.  Most biblical scholars divide Genesis into two parts: chapters 1-11 explain the origin of the world and various cultures while chapters 12-50 explain the origin of the Jewish nation and its eventual relocation in Egypt.  In both parts of Genesis, there are similarities in the style of writing because all parts are told in the literary form known as historical narrative.  As one scholar noted: “The style of these chapters [i.e. 12-50,] as indeed of the whole book of Genesis, is strictly historical and betrays no vestige whatever of allegorical or figurative description” (Thompson quoting Horne).  The third reason that the account is historical is that Jesus and the apostles confirm its events and characters.  Jesus referred several times to the events in Genesis 1-11: He spoke of a historical command given to Adam and Eve (Mark 10:6-7 and Genesis 2:4); He spoke of Satan as the father of lies (John 8:44 and Genesis 3:4); He spoke of Abel as a real person (Matthew 24:37 and Genesis 4:8).  The apostle Paul labeled Adam as the first man and said that Eve was made from him (1 Corinthians 15:45; 1 Timothy 2:13).  All the books of NT quote from Genesis with the exception of Philemon and 2-3 John.  You see, “Denying the historical validity of the Creation account also undermines the authority of the New Testament and Christ Himself” (Thompson quoting Morris).  The fourth reason that the Genesis account is historical is the importance of preserving the line of the Messiah and the salvation offered by Christ.  Another brother has made this good observation: “If the Genesis account of our origin and fall is viewed as mythical, then mankind cannot be viewed as fallen and in need of salvation.  What then would be the need for God to preserve the Messianic seed-line from Adam through his descendants, Noah, Abraham, David, etc., as the Bible says He did? . . . Any view of these chapters in Genesis other than authentic history will necessarily regard the genealogies and the tracing of the Messianic seed-line as unhistoric and unimportant.  This will eat away at trust in God's Word and cause faith's fire to go out” (Wharton).  “Blessed be Your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise!  You alone are the Lord; You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and everything on it, the seas and all that is in them.  And You preserve them all” (Nehemiah 9:5-6)!

Now let's look at the second question:  Is the account given in Genesis really presenting two creations or just one creation?  What do I mean by two creations?  An evolutionist once made this affirmation: “Time is in fact the hero of the plot. ... Given so much time, the 'impossible' becomes the possible, the possible probable, and the probable virtually certain.  One has only to wait: time itself performs the miracles” (Wald as quoted by Dickson). The two creations interpretation began with Dr. Thomas Chalmers of Edinburgh University in 1814.  He felt that his interpretation could make room for the vast expanse of time which the geologists of his day were demanding, and at the same time maintain a literal interpretation of the creation account (Whitcomb quoted by Thompson).  This interpretation “states that the primeval creation of a perfect world by God as recorded in Genesis 1 may have taken place billions of years ago.  This creation is represented by the words of Genesis 1:1: ‘In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.’ This [interpretation] then states that between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 a vast 'gap' of time intervened, and that during this 'gap' there lived successive generations of plants, animals, and even pre-Adamic men.  This 'perfect creation' was then made imperfect through the rebellion of Satan.  God cast him from heaven with his followers.  As a result of Satan's war with God, a cataclysm followed, and God destroyed the original creation, leaving the earth in a state of darkness and death, described in Genesis 1:2 as “formless and void”.  This interpretation often translates 1:2: “The earth became formless and void.”  So, in Genesis 1:3ff, the 'creation days' are actually a 're-creation' or a second creation of the earth and all its inhabitants” (Thompson).  You see, by seeing two creations in Genesis 1, some believers could harmonize the time of evolutionary geological ages which demanded millions of years and the problem of evil which demanded a malevolent opposition to God by pigeonholing both of them in this supposed “gap” between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.  It may sound ingenious at first, but there are at least four reasons why this interpretation must be rejected: it contradicts Exodus 20:11; it contradicts Romans 5:15-16; it places doubt on God's credibility, and it misreads Hebrew vocabulary.  Let’s quickly look at these reasons.  Exodus 20:11 affirms: “For in six days, the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day.”  Notice,  now if everything in heaven, earth, and the sea was made in six days, then nothing was created prior to those six days (Thompson)!  Romans 5:15-16 declares: “But the free gift is not like the offense.  For if by the one man’s offense many died [and that “one man” refers to Adam], much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many.  And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned [again referring to Adam].  For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.”  The point, based on this passage, is that death and condemnation came with Adam’s sin and not prior to Adam as a two creations interpretation proposes (Ibid)!  If there are two creations, one might logically ask, “Has God been deceiving us by letting us believe that Genesis 1 was the initial creation of all things?  Has He misinformed us since all emphasis in the rest of the Bible concerning creation goes back to the six days of creation in Genesis 1 and not to any time before that?”  Those who promote the two creations interpretation like to say there is a distinction between two Hebrew words: bara means to create and asah means to make.  In this way, they can argue that God created the first creation, but He made the second one.  But such a distinction will not stand.  In Genesis 1:21, we read that God created (bara) great sea creatures, and in verse 25, we then read that God made (asah) the beasts of the earth.  In Gen. 1:26, we read: “And God said, ‘Let us make man (asah) in our likeness . . .”  Now drop down to the next verse: “So God created (bara) man in His own image . . .”  All these passage from Genesis 1 itself show that both terms are synonyms and are describing the exact same action!  Genesis 1 tells us about only one creation.  Jeremiah 10:12 affirms several actions in that one creation: “God has made the earth by His power, He has established the world by His wisdom and has stretched out the heavens at His discretion!”

Now to the third question: Is the account in Genesis showing a development over several ages or over several days?  Why is this question even raised?  Again, the evolution model is the answer.  A former editor of the Gospel Advocate put it this way, “The day-age theory is a consequence of the evolutionary theory.  But for the speculative view, such a hypothesis would never have been advanced” (Woods quoted by Thompson).  Another brother gave a similar reply: “In an effort to harmonize the six days of the creation account with the length of time required for evolution, many have said that the six days of creation of Genesis 1 were actually long periods of time and not six literal 24-hour days” (Dickson).  Here are five good reasons to accept the word “day” in Genesis as meaning a 24-hour time period: God defines the term in Genesis 1; whenever the word “day” is preceded by a number in the Old Testament, it always stands for a 24-hour day; there’s a botanical problem; there’s the seventh day difficulty; there’s a contradiction with Exodus 20:9-11 again.  Let’s again look quickly at each of these ideas.  God defined “’day’ in Genesis 1:5 as the light period in the regular succession of light and darkness, which, as the earth rotates on its axis, has continued ever since.  This definition obviously [prevents] any possible interpretation of a geological age” (Morris quoted by Thompson).  We see the terms in Genesis: first day, second day, third day, etc.  In every other passage in the Old Testament where a number comes before the word “day,” it always refers to a 24-hour period!  People only make Genesis 1 the exception in order to harmonize it with evolutionary theory.  Here’s the botanical problem: The plants were made on the third day, but the sun was made on the fourth day and insects needed for cross-pollination of those plants were created on the sixth day.  If we accept the day-age theory, how will plants survive for millions of years without sunlight and with no insects to help in their reproduction?  The seventh day difficulty is this: if the first six days are to be interpreted as ages, then why must the seventh then be interpreted as literal?  Answer: Because if we didn’t get back to literal days, then Adam’s age would be millions of years old and God would continue to be resting right now (what’s 6000-7000 years compared to a 1 million year age?)!  In Exodus, a pattern is established for the Jews’ week; according to 20:9-11, they were to work six days and rest on the seventh day (these were all 24-hour periods, and their work and rest was based on the precedent of God’s work and rest found in Genesis 1).  A geneticist once had problems with the six days of creation in Genesis 1, but as he read through Genesis, he came to this conclusion: “I then realized that had God wanted to say a billion years rather than six days, He could have said it, very simply, in the way He spoke to Abraham: “I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted.”  In the same way, He could have said, ‘I took as many years as there are particles of dust on the earth to create the heavens, the earth, the seas, and all that is in them,’ and it would have sounded very impressive, but He said six days.  Would He have said this if it were of no concern?  I now believe that God means literally what He says and writes, and that there is no reason to look for symbolism. The word ‘day’ is used so often and with such a clear implication of being a normal 24-hour period that to interpret it otherwise requires, to my mind, an unbelievable stretch of the imagination” (J. Allen).

Genesis 1 is historical, describing only one creation, that took place during six 24-hour days.  I know that this lesson does not address all the issues of the evolution model, but, hopefully, it can serve as a start.  God willing, some future lessons will address further issues.  A chemist once observed: “Since creation requires a supernatural, omnipotent Creator, and the Bible is the only convincing source of who this creator God actually is, then the biblical account of creation must be accurate in every detail, including six 24-hour days for completion from beginning to end.”  Let’s close this morning by reading the last verses of Genesis 1, beginning with verse 26: “The God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, 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.  Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’  And God said, ‘See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food.  Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food’; and it was so.  Then God saw everything that He had made, and it was very good.  So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.  Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished.  And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.  Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.  This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created.”  Our God is an awesome god, our Savior is a benevolent king, and our Comforter is a Holy Guide who leads us in the paths of righteousness!  Believe God’s Word because the truth will free you from Satan, from sin, and from the wicked world’s ways!  Won’t you believe His Word and obey it, and show others your seriousness about living a holy life?