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Chapter Two from "Talking About God . . ."
by Christopher Randolph
12/08/2009 / Bible Studies
"In the Beginning"
Bob: The Bible tells us that in the
beginning God created the heavens and the earth and that the earth was a formless void. The Holy Spirit was hovering over the waters. How am I doing so far?
Chris: That sounds like the first bit of Genesis alright.
Bob: Watch what God does next.
Bob: God begins separating things. He creates light then separates the light form the dark; creating Day and Night. Next God separates the waters from the waters with the sky. And then He separates the waters on the earth from the land. He gets plants growing on the land and then puts lights in the sky toguess what?
Chris: To separate the day from the light! That's cool!
Bob: Right on both counts. Separating one thing from another is part of God's creative process. It's a primary force, as a matter of fact. It's there at the beginning and continues as a major theme for the rest of the Bible.
Chris: Why is that important?
Bob: It's important because it helps us understand the purpose of many of God's movements from the beginning of time through Biblical history and even helps us understand what God expects of us as believers within the Church.
Chris: Are you serious?
Bob: Oh yes. You'll see what I'm talking about more clearly as we continue, but before we get to the next big separation that really sets the tone for humanity and the Church, we need to continue our quick look at the first chapter of Genesis.
After creating the earth, God created "swarms of living creatures" in the waters and birds in the air. Next He created out of the earth "livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds." Are you still with me?
Chris: So far so good, Bob.
Bob: That's excellent. Now, does it sound like there are all kinds of animals and creatures all over the earth to you?
Chris: Well, yes, now that you mention it. There are "swarms" of creatures in the waters and birds in the air and all sorts of animals on the earth. It sounds like God is filling the earth with life.
Bob: That's how it seems to me too. God even tells the birds and sea creatures to "be fruitful and multiply. . ." filling the waters and multiplying on earth. Do recall what God does next?
Chris: Yes, God creates man.
Bob: Exactly. As you'll remember, the Hebrew there is "adham" which means "mankind". It continues, "And let them have dominion over [all the other creatures on earth]". Then God blessed them. Them, them, them, the text says. It's plural.
Chris: God created a male and a female. That's what we're taught that that means. Don't you think that's all there is to it?
Bob: You're right. That's the traditionally held interpretation of that passage. But look. God created swarms of other creatures and fills the earth with life, but we're to believe that after filling the earth and the waters and the skies with all those other living creatures, God created only two human beings even though the verbiage concerning their creation is plural? That doesn't make sense in the context of the passage. It better fits God's pattern, not to mention the text itself, to believe that God created a swarm of humanity from the get go in order to bring His order to the world He had just created. There is absolutely no reason to believe otherwise given these passages of Scripture that we've been discussing. What we see in the text itself is that God has created the world and filled it with all kinds of life, both plants and animals and other creatures and that humankind has been charged with being in control over everything. It's simple.
Bob: Exactly. Wow. That's a little different than what we normally hear, isn't it?
Chris: Yea, it's very different. But, it makes sense once you mention it.
Bob: I'm no super genius, either. I'm just reading what the text of Genesis actually says and letting God's Word inform me. This was a huge eye opener for me when I first saw this. I read this over and over again, thinking that I had missed something or misread something. But I hadn't. There they were: a planet of people. Then I continued reading and I realized that this explained who Cain married and why he was so afraid when God exiled him in Chapter Three.
Chris: He didn't just marry his sister, then?
Bob: What sister? If there are no "others" at that time, then the only humans on the planet are Adam, Eve, then Cain and Abel. Seth isn't even born until the end of Chapter Four, and the text explicitly tells us that he replaces Abel. There are no other people mentioned in the text itself except the plurality of people created in Chapter One. If you read exactly what the text says and only what the text says, you have to come to this conclusion. To come up with any other conclusion, you have to add to the text.
Chris: But, doesn't the Bible teach us that all humans descend from Adam? If there were other people around, then isn't the Bible contradicting itself?
Bob: Yea, Noah. He's descended from Adam and the Bible teaches that we are all descended from Noah.
Chris: So, since we all descend from Noah, who is descended from Adam, we all descend from Adam through him.
Bob: Yep. You see? Nothing has changed as far as that goes. Adam is still the father of us all.
Chris: So, why do you insist on other people, then? They're all destroyed in the flood, right? Why do they matter?
Bob: They matter because God created them, firstly.
Chris: OK. There is that.
Bob: That's no little thing.
Chris: Well, no. It's not a little thing at all.
Bob: But they also allow Adam to demonstrate God's separation principle in creation and for him to be elevated from being just God's screw-up gardener to the precursor of Christ that God intends Him to be.
Chris: Wait. . . What? Adam is a precursor of Christ? What do you mean by that?
Christopher Randolph holds a Master of Divinity degree from the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa. He currently lives with his family in Colorado.
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