Dr. S. Lewis Johnson gives a concise exposition on God's created order. Dr. Johnson discusses the Genesis phrases which describe the state of the earth before the divine work.
[Prayer] Let’s begin with a word of prayer. Heavenly Father, we thank Thee again for this privilege of looking into the inspired word of God. We thank Thee too Lord for the promise of the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit. We thank Thee that he takes the things of Christ and shows them unto us. And so we pray that in this hour, as we look in the beginning of the revelation which thou hast given us in the word, that he may take of the things of Christ and show them to us. Guide our discussion, guide the messenger, guide our thoughts to the end that through this study we may come to know Thee better. In Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent. For we ask it in his name. Amen.
[Message] Now, we have been discussing revelation, inspiration, illumination, three theological words. And then we have also discussed the Trinity. Looking back into eternity past and seeing that God has existed in the form, and that is not a good word to say, “form”, because that is really not the correct theological statement of the Trinity. But God existed in three persons, Father, Son and Spirit; one God, who existed or subsisted, in three persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Now, we are tonight looking at the opening chapters of the Bible, the book of Genesis. We have also pointed out, and I should have mentioned this, that sin did not begin with men. Sin began with Satan. The first sin was not committed on earth. The first sin was committed in heaven.
So, with this as a background we turn to Genesis chapter one, and verse one. Genesis has been called the sea plot of the Bible. In Genesis we have the account of the beginning of everything but God. Arthur T. Pierson, and I have put this quotation in the notes, spoke of Genesis as “the stately portal to the superb structure of holy Scripture.” As the acorn is to the oak tree, and as the spring is to the oceans, so is Genesis to the Bible. One of the outstanding Bible expositors of our day has said that in Genesis we have every doctrine of the Bible. I’m not sure that this is necessarily correct in all of its detail because it does seem to be something of an exaggeration. But nevertheless, it is remarkable how, that in Genesis, we do have so many of the doctrines of the word of God in their beginnings. We do not have the full statement of them. But it is an interesting and certainly a significant thing, how many of the great truths that will be expanded in the word of God, in the sixty-five books, have their germ right here in the book of Genesis.
This is one of the most important books of all the Bible. In Genesis 1, verse 1 Moses writes, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” As I said in one of the other lessons, this opening statement denies the eternity of matter or materialism. It denies atheism, the fool hath said in his heart there is no God, the psalmist says. It denies polytheism, for God in these opening chapters, while he is spoken of as a plurality, he is also spoken of as a unity. It denies pantheism, God is not in everything, but he has created the heaven and the earth. It denies agnosticism, because with an open mind coming to God’s wonderful creation, we would certainly arrive at a designer behind this wonderful design manifested in God’s creation. It is a denial of fatalism, that these things just happened by chance. And it is a denial of evolution, that there has been an infinite becoming. “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth”.
Now, the Bible you will notice in these opening statements does not really say anything about when the creation took place. “In the beginning,” is the simple statement that Moses makes. In most of our Bibles we have the chronology of an Irish clergyman by the name of Ussher. And so if you have, for example the Scofield Edition of the King James Version, you will notice that it says, “B.C. four thousand and four.” Now I think it’s important for us to notice this because the Bible is frequently criticized on the basis of Ussher’s chronology. Now of course Ussher’s chronology has nothing to do with the Scripture. This is something that is arrived at by one man, who taking the genealogies as he thought, arrived at this particular date as the date of creation. And so, it is often said that the Bible says that the heavens and the earth were created in four thousand and four B.C. This of course is not true. The Bible does not say anything about when the universe was created. This is the date of a certain man.
I remember a rather amusing story of a scientist who was lecturing on the fact that the universe was running down. He said that the universe was like a vast clock. And throughout the millions of years of its existence, it has been on the down grade. And soon the sun may burn out. Or ever at the end of this process the sun will burn out, the earth will grow cold and dark and uninhabited with temperatures many degrees below zero. A man jumped up in the audience, obviously greatly excited and said, “How soon did you say that would happen?” And the scientist said, “Well according to our best information it will be in about seventeen billion years.” And the man sat back down with a sigh and said, “My, I’m certainly relieved. I thought you said seventeen million years.” [Laughter]
This accents the fact that when we talk about creation, we’re talking about scientific information. We’re not talking about the Bible, because the Bible does not say anything about when the universe was created. I think this is very important too because we also are faced today with a so-called conflict between the Bible and science. I don’t know whether you’ve heard people speak of the Bible as being contradicted by science or not, but I frequently do. I hear people saying that science, the latest discoveries of modern science, run contrary to the teaching of the word of God.
Now I do not believe that this is true. I do not believe that it is possible for genuine science to be opposed to the revelation of God. Because I believe that ultimately all knowledge comes from God. And if this be true then we could expect that all genuine scientific knowledge will thoroughly agree with the revelation of God. Frequently what we are faced with when we have contradiction is this: we have on the one hand the interpretations of men when we go to the Bible. And we must remember this, that even the finest Bible expositor is giving interpretation when he strays beyond the text of Scripture. He may be right, he may be wrong. You may notice as you listen to various men that they seem to be right most of the time, or some men they seem to be wrong most of the time. But we need to remember even with the poor interpreters of Scripture and the better interpreters of Scripture that we still have interpretation.
Now it is possible for interpretation of Scripture to agree to disagree with genuine scientific knowledge. And we must remember on the other hand too, not only do we have interpretations of Scripture from men, but we also have scientific theories from men. And scientific theories may be right or they may be wrong. Many of our theories which we thought were right for many years we’ve now discovered to be wrong. Who would’ve thought, for example, around one thousand A.D. that the Copernican view of the universe was the correct one? Many hundreds of years, men labored under the view that this surely was wrong and that the Ptolemy view point was the correct one. And we all, if we remember much about history, remember the tremendous effect, the tremendous conflicts, that took place over this change in our view of the universe. Many hundreds of years men were committed to a certain scientific theory, which we think we know today to be definitely wrong. So it’s obvious that if we’re dealing with scientific theory that is wrong, we may have conflict with Scripture, on the one hand. Or on the other hand if we have human interpretation of Scripture which may be wrong, we may have conflict between that and genuine scientific information.
So, we need to bear these things in mind when we come to Scripture, not get upset when we open up the newspaper and we read in the newspaper something that seems to contradict what we have thought about holy Scripture. We must ask ourselves, “Are we right in our interpretation of holy Scripture?” And then we must also be sure to ask ourselves, “Is this simply scientific theory or is this a demonstrable fact of the physical universe?”
So, when we go to the Bible and we read, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” we notice that he does not say, “He created the heavens and the earth in four thousand four B.C.” As a matter of fact, not a whole lot is told us in the Bible about the how of creation. There is some indication of the fact that evolution is definitely contrary to the statements made here, for we read, “In the beginning God created.” Evolution claims a natural transition from one form of life to another. The Bible definitely, I think, is opposed to evolution. You will notice in the book of Genesis chapter 1, and I hope you’ve been reading your assignments. In Genesis chapter one the word “create” occurs in three places. Notice verse one, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Now the Hebrew word used here is the word bara. Reshith bara Elohim, the Bible begins. “In the beginning God created,” bara. Now bara is a very interesting word. It is never used in the Old Testament with an accusative of the matter. In other words, never in the Old Testament do you read, “God or anyone else bara’d something out of something.” It is never used with the accusative of the matter. It is a word that emphasizes divine origin and the formation of something new.
And this word is used in verse 1, as if to suggest that this is the beginning of everything. “In the beginning God created,” he did not form. We have a word used in these opening chapters of Genesis, the Hebrew word yatzar, which means “to form”. It is used, it would be used, for example, of a sculptor who would take marble, for example, and form a statue out of it. That’s yatzar, not bara. And we have another word asah, which means “to make”. It occurs frequently in the opening chapters here. It simply speaks of something as a product. But bara occurs three times, verse 1, when “God created the heaven and the earth,” a new beginning. Then it occurs in verse 21, “and God created great whales.” There is no transition from nothing to inorganic matter, verse 1. There is no transition from inorganic to organic life, verse 21, and “God created great whales.” For here we have organic life and again this word, bara occurs, which signifies the divine origin of something as a new thing. Then in verse 27 we read in connection with man, “so God created man in his own image” the third time, so that there is no transition from inorganic to organic life, verse 21 no transition from organic life to man, verse 27.
So, I think that from the standpoint of the study of the Hebrew text of Genesis chapter 1, remember this is an interpretation of men. I think from the standpoint of this that we can say that Genesis is opposed to evolution. You might be interested in some of the things that scientists are saying about evolution. I’ve culled a few quotations from various places. This is a statement made a few years ago by a professor, Edward McCrady of the University of the South, which we know most of us who lived over in the southeast as Sewanee. He says this, “The biblical story of creation has new and striking evidence on its side. Modern study indicates that all known elements in the universe came into existence practically at one time, within half an hour or so. Before that time there could have been no chemical elements at all.” This is a statement of a geologist which was made in 1953. “If I were, in forty lines, to sum up the most authentic acquisitions of geology I would copy the text of Genesis, the history of the creation of the world as seen by Moses.” This is a professor a few years ago, “The more one studies paleontology, the more certain he becomes that evolution is based on faith. The only alternative” now this is a non-believer, now notice how he states this, “The only alternative is special creation, which may be true, but is unreasonable.”
In other words, what shall we choose, to believe God, or to believe the theory of evolution? This is based on faith. Ultimately we all have to make a faith choice. This is professor D.M.S. Watson, “Evolutions is accepted by zoologists, not because it has been observed to occur, or can be proved by logically coherent evidence. But because the only alternative is creation, which is clearly incredible.” Now what kind of a scientist is this? A scientist, who not having the evidence to investigate such a thing as this, is making miracular pronouncements. This is very, very unscientific. The scientist should say, “At this point, we do not have any materials upon which to make an investigation. We must say we cannot know.” This would be scientific. This is professor Harrison Brown, who is a geochemist of the Californian’s Computer Technology. I read you a statement a few times back from another professor of Cal Tech, but this is what he has to say, “Latest research seems to indicate that the known universe is all of one piece, created all at one time, as indicated in the book of Genesis. It may also be admitted that other satellites of our sun would not be suitable home sites for human beings. We would freeze, burn or suffocate in most instances.” We can do that on our own planet, can we not?
Now then, “In the beginning,” is all that Moses says. He does not say when creation took place. He does not say how God created. Except to indicate by the word bara, that this is divinely originated, the creation. And that it is something new. The creation is not formed out of existing material. But Genesis agrees with many scientists that the earth came into existence at a point in time. Why creation took place is not stated in Genesis either. But as we go through the Bible, we learn that the creation took place ultimately to glorify God. Let’s just read the passage, which I have in the notes by the way, in Revelation chapter 4, verse 11. Revelation chapter 4, verse 11. Revelation, that’s the last book of the Bible remember. Revelation chapter 4, verse 11, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure,” for Thy good pleasure. This word is a word that indicates not only just a feeling of self-satisfaction, but a feeling of self-satisfaction derived through the accomplishment of ones will. And so, “for Thy pleasure they are and were created.” For the glory of God, for the fulfillment of his purposes. This is why creation took place. So, reshith bara Elohim, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”
Now the second statement, the second verse of Genesis, is a battle ground of Bible interpreters, “And the earth was without form and void.” Now let me stop for just a moment and say a word about this word, “was”. “And the earth was without form and void.” The word “was” is a word that comes from the Hebrew word hayah. Now hayah, these are the consonants above and these little marks below are the vowels of the Hebrew. These were supplied in about, oh the eighth to tenth century, by men whom we call the Masorites. They were Jews who studied the Scriptures and they wanted to preserve the way in which the Scriptures were read in early days. And so they invented this system of vowels in order to preserve the change. The Hebrews never used vowels. Today if you were to pick up a newspaper from Tel Aviv or Jerusalem written in Hebrew you would not find any vowels noted, only the consonants. It’s not hard to read without the vowels. Most men could read this. I can read unpointed Hebrew, it’s not hard if you know the point in particularly if you start out soon you know what to supply this means occasionally you may get a little doubt depending on the context. But at any rate, this word means “to be”.
Now in Hebrew there is no separate word for “to become”. In English we have the word to be, we have the word to become. To be means to exist, to become means to come into being, to come into being, to become. In Greek we have two words. We have the word eimi, which means “to be”, and we also have ginomai, which means “to become”. But in Hebrew there was only the one word, hayah, so that this word did a double duty. It meant to be, it meant to become. Now the way you determine its meaning is to look at the context. Most of the time in the Old Testament it meant to simply “to be”. This would be natural because it would be no more normal for the word to be used in this type of context. But turn over to chapter 19 and verse 26 of the book of Genesis, chapter 19, verse 26. Now here we have a description of what happened to Lot’s wife because she talked back to him. [Light Laughter] I see some of you are not awake. I just said that to see if you were awake.
Now, have you found it? Genesis 19, verse 26. You can strike that from the tape if you would like. [Laughter] “But his wife looked back from behind him and she became,” now notice that, “she became a pillar of salt.” The Hebrew text says, “she hayah,” a pillar of salt. Now it’s obvious it means “became”. But it is simply the word which normally means “to be”. So it is not uncommon in the Old Testament for the word hayah to mean, “to become”. Now that is of interest because when we look at Genesis chapter 1, verse 2 we could translate this in two ways. We could translate it as the English text here has it, “And the earth was without form and void,” or on the other hand, we might translate it, “And the earth became without form and void”.
In the one case, we would mean that God created it without form and void. This was the product of his created act. The formlessness and the chaotic state of the creation would be indicated as it came from God’s hands, it was a chaos. Something like the gaseous chaotic state of creation which modern science suggests was the beginning of things, formless gas. On the other hand, if we translate it, “And the earth became without form and void,” we mean that somewhere, or sometime after the creation, a change took place in the product of God’s creation the heaven and the earth. The earth, and the earth became formless, might suggest, for example, a judgment of some kind upon it.
Now, I’m not going to be dogmatic tonight. There are many ways in which we might understand Genesis chapter 1 and not be in conflict with modern science. We should not approach the word of God in order to make it agree with modern science. For example, there may be times when it is necessary for us to believe what God says in spite of what the scientists say. Ultimately, the scientists will have to say, “We were wrong in this.” Or else we will say, “We were wrong in our interpretation. We see now we did not interpret it properly.” But there are different ways to interpret verse 2. And I emphasize this because I’m not going to be dogmatic. I believe very much Paul’s words when he says in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 and verse 12, I think it is, “For we know in part,” and to be dogmatic about the creation I think is very, very unscientific and also foolish, for human beings who know so little, to be. It is possible that these chapters are to be understood in a little different way.
Many theories have been given. Some have said that we have in Genesis, and evolutionary theism. I disagree with that. I do not think that God created material and then allowed the processes of evolution to issue in man as we know him. I think that is wrong. Some have interpreted Genesis, the six days of creation, as representing ages. And so we have the day-age theory. That is, the first day was not twenty-four hours, but was an entire age. And we have to admit that the word “day” in the Bible is used in that sense in some cases. We have, “in the day of Adam’s creation,” or better, as a better illustration, we have, “The day of the Lord,” referred to. Which we know from Scripture is a long period of time. We use it in the same sense in English. Almost every language does. We say, “In Roosevelt’s day things were very bad then, Roosevelt’s day.” And we don’t mean twenty-four hours, we mean the age in which Roosevelt was in authority. Emphasize authority too. [Laughter] Roosevelt’s day.
And so some coming to Genesis say in the six days of creation we have indeterminate ages, and thus we have harmony between science and Scripture. Since the Bible does not say that creation took place four thousand years ago, these day or ages, these day-ages could be thousands of years, even millions of years. And if the earth is geologically two billion years old, it’s not in contradiction with Genesis if we understand the days to be entire ages of many, many years. That may be right. I’m not wise enough to say that that is wrong. I was not there when God created. I do know this though, that in the Bible, never does the word “day” occur with a numeral and in that case mean more than twenty-four hours. For example, in Genesis we read in verse 3, let’s see, verse 5, I should say, “And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.” Or as the Hebrew text puts it “day one”.
Now I know this, that never in the Old Testament do you have the word yom which means day. Never do you have that with a numeral, and meaning in that case, more than a twenty-four hour period of time. So that from the standpoint of the interpretation of the Bible, to say that these days are ages produces a problem. It may be, but it seems to contradict the rest of the Old Testament. I may be wrong in my interpretation, but I think that the evidence is pretty strong that a day in this case with a numeral means twenty-four hours. Now of course we do have, and it was morning and it was evening. Now it is possible to understand an age as having a morning and an evening, but I think it is unnatural. So while I’m not ruling out this theory, I say that it has some difficulties.
There are other types of theories. Some say the days of Genesis chapter 1 are days of, or let’s put it this way, are revelatory days. They are accounts of how God in one day revealed what took place over a long period of time. So the days of revelation were twenty-four hours. But the events themselves took a much longer period of time. So that the six days have reference simply to God’s revelation of what happened. He revealed in twenty-four hours that this took place and then the next twenty-four hour period of time he revealed that this took place, but they took place over a long period of time. These are attempts, as you can possibly see, to make science and Scripture harmonize.
Now I’m going to present another theory. And I present it as a theory. I think that it has some good support. But nevertheless it is a theory. And we must not say, “This is Scripture.” I know some of you are going to jump on me for not being dogmatic, some people like for you to be dogmatic. You know why? Because they like for you to do their thinking for them, that’s why. This is often why dogmatic teaching of Scripture is popular, because people naturally like others to do their thinking for them. Do you know why? Because we don’t like to think ourselves. It’s a little tiresome to think, you know? Have you ever had that experience? I have, I’d love for somebody to just tell me something, “This is it.” Now I don’t have to worry about it, you know, that’s it. This is why we have great masses of people that will follow the thinking of one church, because the church will do their thinking for them, dogmatically. And so they’re happy. They’re glad to turn it over to someone else, because they have to think a little.
Now in Genesis chapter 1 we have creation. Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created.” There are some things that, from the standpoint of the Bible, that indicate that something happened between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2.
I remember reading a story of an easterner who was going to travel in the southwest. And so he got out his map and he put it out on his card table like this. And he plotted his itinerary. And he had a friend who was acquainted with the southwest and so when he finished his itinerary he brought his friend in and he said, “Take a look at the trip we’re going to take and criticize it.” And so the man looked at it as he went out in the west and he noticed that he wanted to see the Grand Canyon and so he watched it. He went on up, he drove up, he was going to drive right up to the south rim of the canyon at El Tovar. And then the man was startled to discover that on the itinerary the man had planned to cross right over the canyon to Bright Angel on the north and go on up into Utah.
Now he had looked at the map, and of course on the map, not seeing any difference between the south and the North Rim of the canyon. And so the man who knew the southwest had to say, “Wait just a minute now, just a minute.” said, “That as so happens that there is about fifteen miles between these places. But this is the deepest chasm of tortured earth that you’ve ever seen in your life. You’re going to have to put another day in your itinerary. Because when you go to the south rim at El Tovar, you’re going to have to come back and then go all the way back, cross the river, go up through House Rock Valley, then down Kaibab Forest on to the North Rim.” The man was somewhat chagrin, but it was true. Looking at the map, you cannot see the gap. In the same way, many Bible teachers feel that between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2, there is a gap. Not the same kind of gap as exists between the south and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, but a similar gap. And the evidence is something along this line.
I want you to take your Bibles now, and turn to Isaiah chapter 45 and verse 18. In Isaiah 45 and verse 18, Isaiah speaks of the creation. And this is what he says, now that’s the Old Testament, remember? Page seven fifty-four in the Scofield Edition of the King James Version. Have you all got it? Have ya’ll got it? [Laughter] Alright, verse 18, “For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, (now notice that word, “He created it not in vain,” that is the Hebrew word, tohu. Now it so happens that back in Genesis, the word translated “without form” is also tohu. “And the earth was without form,” tohu wabohu, without form and void. And yet, here Isaiah seems to be saying he created it not tohu, he created it not in vain.) he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.” So there seems to something of a contradiction. If the second verse describes God’s creation, the result of his creation, how can we say then, that he did not create it tohu, if the earth was tohu.
Now if we say the earth became tohu then that harmonizes. He did not create it, you see. Tohu, it became tohu as a result of some divine visitation. So, this is some evidence to the effect that verse 2 does not refer to the creation as it came from God’s hands. Furthermore, this expression, tohu wabohu, and the earth was without form and void, tohu wabohu. These two words, one meaning without form, the other void, both having the idea of chaos. They occur together in only two other places, Isaiah chapter 34 and verse11 and Jeremiah chapter 4, verse 23. Now for the sake of time, let’s just look at the Jeremiah passage. Jeremiah 4, verse 23, so turn on from Isaiah to Jeremiah. Jeremiah 4:23 says this, “I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void;” (lo it was tohu wabohu) and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly.”
Without spending a lot of time on interpreting this passage, it seems evident that we can say this. That this expression which Jeremiah uses, “I beheld the earth and lo it was without form and void,” is designed to represent the result of a judgment in the future which shall come to pass upon our earth. So that this expression, tohu wabohu, is used and also in the Isaiah passage, it is used to represent that which is the product of judgment. In each of the other occurrences where the words are found together it refers to that which is the product of judgment. Now that would indicate then that when we read in Genesis 1:2, “And the earth was without form and void,” that there must have been some judgment between Genesis 1 and Genesis 1:2.
Furthermore, look at Genesis 1:1 and 2 again. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” and we do not read, “And the heaven and the earth were without form and void,” but simply the earth was without form and void. As if to say, now something has happened to the earth. Nothing happened to the heavens, it was not created without form and void. But the earth became without form and void. If it be true then, that there is a great length of space or time between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2, and if it be true that the word hayah should be rendered “became”, then what we have in Genesis 1:2 is a description of the earth after some pre-human judgment took place upon it.
Now we have studied the fall of Satan. We remember that Satan, it is said of Lucifer that he was in the garden of God. And it is just possible that God created the heavens and the earth, placed Satan the angelic creation there, and then as a result of the sin of Satan it was necessary for God to blast the original creation, the earth particularly. And so Genesis 1:2 then, represents the result of divine judgment because of Satan’s original sin. Now if that be true, then from Genesis 1:3 through Genesis 2:25, we have not the creation but the restitution, or restoration, of the universe which was originally created. And if that be true, then all of the geological ages which scientists have discovered may be put between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2. Many feel, and thus we have harmony between science, with its seeming evidence of the age of the earth, and at the same time we have harmony with the rather recent origin of man upon the universe. So this is presented to you as a theory. It is not presented to you as dogmatic fact. This is simply an interpretation. And you may take it for what it is worth from the standpoint of Scripture. It is not an important doctrine in the Bible.
So let’s go on. The renovation of the earth then, verse 2 through chapter 2, verse 3. Now you have been reading this I hope, so I’m just going to read quickly through it tonight, beginning at verse 2, make just a few comments as we go,
“And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. (You’ll notice that the Spirit is brooding over this mass of chaos and as a result of the action of the Spirit of God, new creative material will come) And God said, Let there be light:”
You’ll notice that things come from God’s word, now in the New Testament we read, “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and word was God. The word became flesh and dwelt among us.” The word is John’s expression for Jesus Christ. In the second verse of John 1 he says, “All things” or rather the third verse, “All things were made by him, the word, and without him was not anything made that was made.” Now when we read, “And God said,” God spoke the word. Creation comes into existence by means of Jesus Christ. He is the instrumentality of creation. This is the testimony not only of John but also of Paul.
“God said let there be light, and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day, (day one) And God said, (notice) God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters that were under the firmament from the waters that were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day. And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: (that’s where Texas came) [Laughter] and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. (now you can notice from these opening chapters of Genesis how there seems to be a limit, defined by God, with reference to the species) And evening and the morning were day three. And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years: And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: and he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven to give light upon the earth. And to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.”
You know, the very fact that the Bible describes creation, or renovation, in this simple way, without any embellishment, is an evidence of the inspiration of this text, for if men alone had authored the Bible, we no doubt would have such things as we do have in the Babylonian epics, when they described creation as the result of the war between Marduk, for example, and we would not have the simple, plain, clear, and yet not complete statement, the kind of thing that in itself gives evidence of its divine origin. Verse 20,
“And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created (this is the second, remember, use of bara, and God created) great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. And the evening and the morning were the fifth day. And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good. (now we come to the creation of man, this is of course the climax of God’s creative activity) And 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 fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. (domination) So God created (this is the third time, created) man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”
Let me stop right here. Man, you can see, is the crown of God’s creation. He is the culmination of the creative process. In chapter 2 we will also have a few statements about man’s creation. The difference between the two is quite simple. In the first chapter we are dealing with the fact of man’s creation. In chapter 2 God gives some of the details adding, a fact or two about the process of man’s creation. Man is the crown of creation in chapter 1. He is the starting point of human history in chapter 2. Now if you are going to college today and you were taking a religion course, they would tell you something like this, “Genesis has two accounts of creation. It is obvious that the author of Genesis has some how or another laid his hand upon one account of creation and he has laid his hand upon another account of creation, and these have been brought together in the account of creation. But these two accounts are basically contradictory, one to the other. And then the students would be exposed to this kind of interpretation of the facts. The facts are quite different. It is very obvious why, in the first chapter, we should have man’s creation described as it is for Moses is describing the events of each particular day. But in chapter 2 and verse 4 and following, he will begin his account of man’s existence on the earth and the purposes and plans which God has for him as a man. So it is very natural that he should say something about the process in more detail in chapter 2, because man becomes the starting point of history, divine history. As the German’s like to say, Heilsgeschichte that is, salvation history. And so another special word is given with regard to man’s origin in Genesis chapter 2. There is no contradiction whatsoever between the account in Genesis 1 and the account in Genesis 2, and I defy anyone to prove any distinction by way of contradiction between them. They are complimentary, they are not contradictory.
“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, (he has never reneged on this command, you know. When husband and wife marry, they are to be fruitful and multiply) and replenish the earth,(fill the earth the Hebrew text says) and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”
I’ll tell you just of a personal word with reference to this. I have a daughter who is the result of this. I’ve never told her this, but I have a very good friend who was a very fine Bible teacher. After my first son was born we adopted a dog. He came to visit me. He said, “What’s this dog doing here?” I said, “Well we thought we’d like to have a dog, for Sam.” And he said, “Well that’s alright,” said, “we’ll name the dog Shama, because the Hebrew word Shamar means “to keep. And this dog will be the keeper.” And so we had a little dog named Shama. But he said, “Why do you have this dog here? Why is there not another member of the family?” And then he proceeded to exhort me, I was just a brand new Christian, exhort me, on the basis of Genesis chapter 1, that our responsibility as husband and wife is to have a family. And so I looked at the word [Laughter] and my daughter Grace is with us. And I’m so thankful that he did too, by the way, stir me up. Children are an heritage of the Lord, not dogs. No, the British love the dogs, the dogs are everywhere in Britain. Someone has said if dogs had a pope, the Vatican would be in London. [Laughter] Now verse 29,
“And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.”
So man is created, in the image of God, what does this mean? That God is a person such as we are having flesh and bones? No. God is spirit, and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth. God does not have flesh. But it does say that we are created in the image and likeness of God. Wherein does this likeness consist? It most likely consists not only in the fact that he is a person as we are persons, but also in the fact that he is a rational, moral, spiritual being. And so we are rational, moral, spiritual beings. So that the likeness of God, the image of God, is an expression that refers to the fact that we have intellect, we have emotions, and we have will, such as God has.
Now man in Genesis chapter 2, we must run briefly over this. Man in Genesis chapter 2 is placed in the garden, the Garden of Eden. And he is given a simple little test. The test is in the latter part of chapter 2, verse 15,
“And the Lord God took the man and put him into the Garden of Eden, to dress it and to keep it. These were the good works that he was to perform. And the Lord God commanded the man saying, (now this is very important, these verses) Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, every tree, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
Man’s testing is given in these three verses. He may eat of all of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden he is not to eat of that. And he is told that if he eats of that, he shall surely die. This was a necessary test because man was neither holy nor was he sinful. He was placed in the Garden of Eden, innocent. By the exercise of his will he would either advance or he would retrograde, fall. Just as we test a bridge, by placing weight upon it, as we test a student by giving him examinations, as we test a soldier by putting him in conflict, in battles, as we test metal by fire, so man’s integrity is to be tested by this one prohibition. The tree which was the symbol of divine law was not a provocation. God is not to be blamed for this. Actually man had great freedom. He was allowed the maximum of freedom and privilege, and the minimum of that which was forbidden. The issues are to be spiritual life or spiritual death. If he were to obey, he would become more and more that which God desired for him to become by the exercise of right choice. If he chooses to disobey, he falls. Ultimately he must die.
Now I want you to, and I’m going to take just about two minutes over time tonight because this is important. I want you to notice that the character of sin in the Garden of Eden is almost diametrically opposed to the average man’s idea of what sin is. Now if you were to speak to men today and ask them the question, “What is sin?” What would most of them say? Well, most of them would say, “Sin is immorality, murder, uncleanness, adultery, injustice. These are the types of things that we call sin.” Now that is biblical, but that is only the beginning. Sin in the Bible is not immorality. Immorality is sin. Sin is not immorality. Sin is unbelief. Unbelief is sin. And sin is unbelief, distrust. The Lord Jesus said the Holy Spirit will come and when he comes he will convict the world of sin. Why? Because men are adulterers? Because men are murderers? Because men are thieves? What did the Lord Jesus say? He said the Spirit will convict the world of sin because they believe not on me. That’s why. Sin is basically distrust, distrust of God.
Now notice this command. Was there anything wrong in eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in itself? No, nothing wrong. We don’t know that it was an apple, by the way. But let’s just assume it was an apple. Is there anything wrong in eating an apple? Nothing wrong. Nothing wrong in eating from this tree, except God said thou shalt not eat of it. Now when Eve and Adam ate of that tree, they disobeyed God. They were not plunged into immorality. They did not commit adultery. They did not commit thievery. They disobeyed God. They did not trust his word.
Now that lead, that lead, unbelief, or distrust, this lead to rebellion, rebellion. Which in turn lead to immorality. When you see a man commit adultery, you are seeing only the issue of his sinful heart. When you see a man commit murder, you are seeing a man do that which comes from distrust of God. He does not believe that when he sins he will be punished. He thinks that he can get away with it. Now this is why in the Bible when you see catalogs of sin, you discover that amid the greatest of sins, murder, adultery, fornication, lasciviousness, uncleanness, covetousness, covetousness. Covetousness? What’s wrong with saying, “I wish I had his Cadillac.” You see, in God’s sight these are just effects of this.
Now this comes all down very simply to this important thing. God says, Jesus Christ came he was the God man. He went to the cross at Calvary and he died for our sin. And if you come and believe in him your sins may be forgiven. Now there are many people who say, “I do not see why I have any need for Jesus Christ because I’m not a murderer, I’m not an adulterer, I have never committed fornication, I’ve never stolen I certainly am not a burglar. I’m an upright, honorable citizen in my community. I have not broken the laws. I have not even cheated on my income tax. And so they say, “What need have I of Jesus Christ?” But have you loved the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul? Has Jesus Christ been Lord of every activity of your life from the time that you have been born as a creature? A foolish Dr. Johnson, who’d ever even say such a thing as that, of course not. Then you’re a black sinner in the sight of God. True, your sin may not have manifested itself in this, thank God for his restraint of the effects of sin in your life. But down in the heart, you are just as guilty as the man who is in death row. In his case, his sin has not been restrained and it has manifested itself. We would be there were it not for the grace of God and the restraint of sin which the Holy Spirit has brought about. And deep down in our hearts we know that this is right. When Jesus Christ died on the cross, he did not die just for immorality, he died for rebellion. The attitude that even when I say something like this, says, “I don’t want to believe it. I don’t want to believe it.” He died for rebellion and he died for distrust, unbelief. So everybody needs a savior. Everybody needs Christ.
And in this revelation of the basic character of sin, that it is unbelief, that it is distrust, we have one of the most important revelations in all of the Bible. Sin is not immorality. And this first test reveals that just as plain as day. It’s a question of will you believe God or will you disbelieve God? Woman is formed in the end of the chapter. She is formed form man’s side. Someone has said woman has been formed from man’s side. She was taken out of man’s side and she’s been trying to get back ever since. [Laughter] I wish that were true. But woman is a derived being.
Now this has a lot of importance in later biblical revelation. Now you ladies may not like for me to say this, but this basically is why through the rest of the Bible you will have statements like this, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church. Wives, be in subjection to your own husbands as unto the Lord.” They are derived from men, they are to be in subjection to their husbands. But husbands, in turn, are to love them as Christ loved the church. And marriage is instituted at the end of chapter 2. It is instituted by God. It is divinely instituted. This is very important, because if this be true, that marriage is a divine institution, it is a very solemn engagement into which man and woman enter. If it is a divine institution it is sacred and holy, as a relationship. And husband and wife who are in the Lord will not divorce. This is the divine ideal from the beginning.
[RECORDING ENDS ABRUPTLY]