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Genesis 1:1-2:3; God Creates Our World, Part 2
by Karl Kemp
7/11/2014 / Bible Studies
We continue with the Introduction of this verse-by-verse study of Gen. 1:1-2:3 here in Part 2.
SOME APPARENT INTENDED PURPOSES FOR GENESIS CHAPTERS 1-3, WITH THE EMPHASIS ON THE CREATION ACCOUNT OF GENESIS 1:1-2:3. I am taking the liberty here to incorporate some information and confirmation gained from other parts of the Bible; God never intended that we would be able to fully or adequately understand Genesis chapters 1-3 in isolation from the rest of the Bible.
One of the most important purposes for the creation account of Gen. 1:1-2:3 was to teach that God is the Creator of all that exists, including every being; He and He alone is God (which includes His being Judge), and He alone is to be worshipped. One reason this revelation was so important in the ancient world was that all of the peoples that Israel interacted with believed in and worshipped many gods, including the sun, moon, and stars, etc. that were thought to be gods. Genesis 1:1-2:3 showed that the sun, moon, and stars, etc. were created by God; we must worship the Creator, not the beings and things created by Him.
The people of ancient Israel were tempted to worship the gods of the nations, and all too often many of them did. In our day, in our part of the world, most people don't believe in literal gods, but the end result is similar because people (in pride and unbelief) worship the "gods" of our age, for example, false religion and the occult, false science (science that denies God), money, sex, intellect, fame, sports, and hobbies. Satan and his evil kingdom of darkness (which includes the fallen angels and demons) was/is behind the false "gods" of the nations of the ancient world and of our modern world.
Another important purpose for Gen. 1:1-2:3 was to teach that our world was designed and created (recreated) especially for man and that man, who was created in the image of God, was created to rule on the earth, under God, and in faithfulness to Him. It was of crucial importance for God to reveal to all who had/have ears to hear about His work of creating, about the existence and work of Satan and his evil kingdom of darkness and death, about the fall of Adam and Eve and the consequences of the fall, about salvation and what God requires of man, and some insight regarding His plans to eternally save those who submit to Him in faith and to totally remove Satan and all who continue to follow him in rebellion against God.
I have already spoken of the importance of seeing that the creation account of Gen. 1:1-2:3 started with the earth being in a chaotic, desolate state, a state of darkness and death that had resulted from God's judgment of a rebellion led by Satan that involved the earth. This is important information, very important information! For one thing, it helps us understand Satan and his evil kingdom of sin, darkness, and spiritual death. ((I had a two-paragraph footnote: Bible-believing Christians who reject the idea that Gen. 1: 2 has anything to do with the fall and judgment of Satan must at least agree that Satan exists; that he was an evil, fallen being who hated God and man BEFORE he tempted Eve in Genesis chapter 3; that he was created good, but that he rebelled against God through pride and was judged (judged in a preliminary sense; his final judgment will not take place until the end of this age when God casts him into the lake of fire); and that he heads up an evil kingdom of sin, darkness, and spiritual death on the earth (not that his presence and activities are limited to the earth; he and his angels have access to heavenly places).
The rebellion and judgment of an earlier (before Gen. 1:1) kingdom on the earth offers the best explanation I know of for the existence of the large number of demons on the earth: Apparently they are the disembodied spirits of beings (not human beings) that were involved with Satan in that earlier rebellion and judgment. I will include some excerpts from G. H. Pember from Extended Note C that deal with this topic at the end of this Introduction.)) Genesis chapters 1-3 demonstrate that after the rebellion and fall of Satan and the rebellion and fall of man, God is still God; He is in sovereign control of the universe; He limits what He permits the devil and evil people to do. He permits Satan to tempt His people, but He always provides grace sufficient for them to be victorious over temptation. There was/is no excuse for the sin of Adam and Eve, or for the sin of Christians.
I have also mentioned the importance of seeing the strong symbolic/spiritual component for the "light" and "darkness" in this creation account (Gen. 1:1-2:3) and for the strong emphasis on the need to separate, and to keep separate, the light from the darkness. The darkness symbolizes Satan and his kingdom of evil that exists in the background (cf., e.g., Col. 1:13). The darkness mentioned in Gen. 1:2 already existed when God's creative work spoken of in Gen. 1:1-2:3 began; it was not part of that creative work, which was all pronounced good. As I mentioned, God's first act of creation mentioned in Genesis chapter 1 was His calling forth light (Gen. 1:3), and that light was not at all limited to physical light.
I don't believe God purposed in the creation account of Gen. 1:1-2:3 to reveal the time that expired from Gen. 1:3 to the end of the sixth day. (And, much more importantly, He has not revealed to us how long before the recreation of the earth the angelic kingdom was created or the earth was created, or when Satan and his followers fell. The Scriptures don't tell us when the universe or the earth were created, but the most common scientific viewpoint is that the universe started about 14 billion years ago, and the earth about 4.6 billion years ago.) For one thing, as I mentioned, it doesn't seem that God intended the seven days of creation to be understood as literal twenty-four hour days.
Even if Gen. 1:1 did speak of God's initial creation of everything out of nothing and the first six days were twenty-four hour days and you reject the gap view of creation, there still would be an unknown gap of time between the creation of Gen. 1:1 and the time the first day began when God said "Let there be light" in Gen. 1:3. ((I had a three-paragraph footnote: For those who believe that Gen. 1:1 speaks of the absolute beginning of God's creation (I'm quite sure that it doesn't), there still remains a gap of time between Gen. 1:1 and Gen. 1:3, since the morning of the first day of creation begins with the light that came when God said, "Let there be light." The time that expired from Gen. 1:1 to the end of the sixth day would, therefore, be more that six literal twenty-four hour days, even if you took the days as literal twenty-four hour days, which I wouldn't.
I'll give an example of an early Christian writer, Caedmon, who saw a substantial gap between Gen. 1:1, 2 and Gen. 1:3. He was a Christian poet in England in the middle of the seventh century. I learned about him from Arthur C. Custance and Weston W. Fields, who are both quoted in Extended Note A in the Appendix. I obtained the book that contains the relevant writings of Caedmon through the Inter-Library Loan ("Genesis A," translated from the Old English by L. Mason, Vol. XLVIII of the Yale Studies in English series, A. S. Cook, editor, pages 1-3).
In Caedmon's view God had created the heavenly kingdom (Gen. 1:1, 2), which included the angels and the earth, but the earth remained desolate, dark, idle, and useless for a lengthy period, until God had need of it. I'll quote part of what he says regarding the angelic hosts. "These angelic hosts were wont to feel joy and rapture, transcendent bliss, in the presence of their Creator: their beatitude was measureless. Glorious ministers magnified their Lord, spoke his praise with zeal, lauded the Master of their being, and were excellently happy in the majesty of God. They had no knowledge of working evil or wickedness, but dwelt in innocence forever with their Lord: from the beginning [from the time of their creation] they wrought in heaven nothing but righteousness and truth, until a Prince of angels through pride strayed into sin...(page 1). Caedmon goes on to speak of God's banishing the rebels from heaven and of His preparing the earth for man and creating man (as pictured in Gen. 1:3-2:3) with the purpose of (ultimately) letting man occupy the "noble seats and glory-crowned abodes which the haughty rebels had left vacant, high in heaven" (page 3).))
Here's a very important point: I don't believe God purposed to reveal much scientific information in the creation account of Gen. 1:1-2:3. ((I had a footnote: He did reveal some "scientific" details, the fact that HE created our universe, for example, and that HE created man (male and female) in His image, but such information is more theological than scientific. True science cannot ignore the truth. I'm not suggesting, of course, that God doesn't care about getting science right; He is the God of truth; but scientific details are far less important than issues like eternal salvation and eternal damnation.)) As we will discuss in some detail in this paper, it seems that God accommodated the scientific details of this account to the scientific viewpoints of the ancient world. ((I had a footnote: See under Genesis chapter 1 and see Extended Note H, "The Bible and Science." I am including some excerpts from Extended Note H in this paper. Extended Note G is also quite relevant to this topic, "Galileo's Condemnation and the Interpretation of Scripture."))
It seems that in our day when most Christians (including both young-earth and old-earth creationists) discuss Genesis chapter 1 they spend most of their time and energy arguing (and sometimes arguing on a very intense level; some young earth creationists even question whether you can be a genuine Christian and deny the young-earth viewpoint) about scientific details, details that God supposedly revealed in this chapter, details that must perfectly correlate with our modern scientific viewpoints, at least where the modern scientific viewpoints are (in their opinion) accurate. ((I had a footnote: The old-earth creationists (I'm speaking of Bible-believing Christians) tend to think modern science is right in most of what it says relevant to Genesis chapter 1 (excluding, for one super-important thing, the modern scientific views regarding the origin of life and evolution of man). The young-earth creationists think modern science is mostly wrong in what it says relevant to Genesis chapter 1, very much including the age of the universe and earth.)) This widespread viewpoint regarding the scientific content of Gen. 1:1-2:3 is leading to much confusion and intense strife in the body of Christ. I believe most of this effort amounts to trying to find revelation of scientific details that God didn't include in this creation account.
The prime example of God's accommodating scientific details to the ancient viewpoint is the earth-centered viewpoint reflected in Genesis chapter 1 and throughout the Bible. The earth is pictured (spoken of as) being unmovable, with the sun, moon, and stars rotating about it on a daily basis. Genesis chapter 1 also speaks of the sun, moon, and stars being created after the earth. ((I had a footnote: Some argue that Genesis chapter 1 doesn't speak of the sun, moon, and stars being created after the earth, but (as we discuss in this paper) I believe they are wrong. Few scientists would agree that the earth was created before the sun or before most of the other stars. Scientists can be wrong, but I believe they are right when they say that the earth was not here before the sun and (most of the) stars.))
Another apparent example of God's accommodating scientific details to the ancient viewpoint is the solid firmament spoken of several times in Genesis chapter 1, which God created on the second day of creation, above which He placed the large amounts of excess water that He removed from the earth on the second day (see Gen. 1:2, 6, 7). Many don't agree that Genesis chapter 1 speaks of a solid firmament, but (as we discuss in some detail in this paper) I believe they are wrong.
If God's revelation through Moses (or other spokesmen) would have challenged universally held scientific viewpoints (like the earth-centered viewpoint), it would have been terribly confusing to those who read/heard it, and it would have seriously detracted from His purpose(s) for this creation account. From the days of Moses, about thirty-four hundred years ago (and in the days before Moses), until a few hundred years ago, almost all people (Jews, Christians, and the rest of mankind) have held the earth-centered viewpoint, and they would not have been able to identify at all with a sun-centered viewpoint, where the earth not only rotates around the sun on a yearly basis but also rotates daily on its axis. God's purposes for this creation account were far more important (infinitely more important) than for God to correct ancient scientific ideas about our world that were wrong.
Some insist that God did not accommodate these scientific details to the ancient viewpoint and that such accommodation would constitute error in the Bible. I don't believe that this accommodation constitutes error, but I agree that the idea of accommodation can be a slippery slope and that we must make it a top priority to rightly divide God's Word. (These things are discussed in this paper, especially in Extended Note H in the Appendix, "The Bible and Science.")
WHEN WAS ADAM CREATED? The genealogies of Genesis chapter 5 (which go from the creation of Adam to the birth of the sons of Noah) and of Genesis chapter 11 (which go from Shem's, a son of Noah, giving birth to Arpachshad two years after the flood to the birth of Abraham and his two brothers) show that (if there were no gaps in these genealogies) there were about two thousand years from the creation of Adam to the birth of Abraham (more exactly 1,946 years). We know that Abraham was born about 2000 BC. These numbers would date the creation of Adam about 4000 BC (about six thousand years ago), and they would date Noah's flood at about 2300 BC, that is if there were no gaps in the genealogies of Genesis 5 and/or 11.
A large number of Christian scholars (including some young-earth creationists) are convinced that these genealogies must be incomplete. There are several compelling reasons for believing that Adam must have been created thousands of years before 4000 BC and that Noah's flood must have taken place thousands of years before 2300 BC. ((I had a two-paragraph footnote: See Extended Note I in the Appendix, "When Was Adam Created? Some young-earth creationists believe there are gaps in the genealogies of Genesis 5 and 11. Other young-earth creationists admit the possibility of gaps in the genealogies of Genesis chapters 5 and 11. Henry Morris, for example, a leader among the young-earth creationists, acknowledges the possibility that gaps in the genealogies could push the date for the creation as far back as 10,000 BC (twelve thousand years ago) at the max ("The Genesis Record" [Baker, 1976], page 45). John J. Davis, who is a young-earth creationist, opts for a date ten thousand to tens of thousands of years before 10,000 BC for the creation of Adam. (I quoted from him in Extended Note I.)
Most of the young-earth creationists that I know about argue for the creation of the universe, earth, and of Adam about 6,000 years ago. They are basing this opinion (typically they are taking a dogmatic stand for this interpretation of the Bible) on three assumptions, all of which are wrong, in my opinion. (It is significant that if they are wrong in even one of these three assumptions their date of 6,000 years is wrong. And, as I said, I believe they are wrong on all three assumptions.) They are assuming that there were no substantial gaps between the time God began to create the universe and the time the first day of Genesis chapter 1 began; they are assuming that the days of Genesis 1:1-2:3 are literal twenty-four hour days; and they are assuming that there are no gaps in the genealogies of Genesis chapter 5 or 11. The first two assumptions have nothing to do with dating the creation of Adam, but they have everything to do with dating when God began to create the universe.)) I don't have all the answers, but I believe the creation of Adam was at least ten thousand years ago, and it could have been twenty or thirty thousand years ago, or even forty to sixty thousand years ago.
WHEN WERE THE UNIVERSE AND EARTH CREATED? (See the footnote in the last two paragraphs for a start.) Strong controversy erupts here. Many (or most) young-earth creationists insist that God initiated His creation of the universe five twenty-four hour days before He created Adam on the sixth day. ((I had a two-paragraph footnote: Henry Morris, for example ("Genesis Record," page 45) says, "As far as the creation of the universe is concerned, this took place five days earlier than the creation of man. That these were literal days, not ages of indefinite duration corresponding to the supposed geological ages, will be shown in the next chapter. That there is no gap in time of any significance before the six days of creation will be shown in the next section of this chapter." Morris deals with, and rejects, the "gap theory" in his following section.
Some young-earth creationists acknowledge that a very small amount of time could have passed between the time God began His work of creation and the time the first day of Genesis chapter 1 began. As I have mentioned, I believe God began His work of creating long before Gen. 1:1.)) They are basing this viewpoint on Genesis chapter 1. I VERY MUCH APPRECIATE THE FACT THAT YOUNG-EARTH CREATIONISTS ARE TRYING TO BE FAITHFUL TO GOD AND THE BIBLE AND THE FACT THAT THEY HAVE TAKEN A VERY STRONG STAND AGAINST THE GODLESS EVOLUTION THAT REIGNS IN SO MUCH OF THE WORLD OF OUR DAY; for one place, it reigns in our schools (grades 1-12 and the universities).
Based on what I have read and heard, I have to agree with those who say the young-earth creationists are unintentionally proving to be a major ally of those who want to see evolution (to the exclusion of creationism) taught in our schools. By insisting that we must believe that God created the universe and earth six thousand years ago (or close to that), they tend to close the ears of many who desperately need to hear the important things they are saying (centering in the fact that God, the God of the Bible, is the Creator of our world and of man - we didn't get here by evolution - and He is the only Savior and Judge, before whom all people will ultimately stand). I am not suggesting that if the young-earth creationists stopped insisting that the earth is young all ears would pop open to the truth, but I believe it would be an important step in the right direction and that some ears would pop open.
If the young-earth creationists were right about the universe and earth's being created six thousand years ago, or so (if that is what God really intended to teach in Genesis chapters 1, 5, and 11), then Christians would have to hold that viewpoint, even if it is considered clearly wrong (many say it's ridiculous) by most scientists (including many Christian scientists) and many Christian scholars (including many evangelicals). The major problem with their position, from my point of view, is that there is very little chance (essentially no chance) that they are right about the age of the universe and the earth. It seems to me that the scientific evidence against their viewpoint is overwhelming already (I discussed this topic to some extent in Extended Note J in the original 273 page paper on Genesis chapters 1-3), and I assume it will continue to get stronger as the evidence keeps coming in through scientific research.
The Roman Catholic Church had a much stronger scriptural basis to deny the sun-centered viewpoint of Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo and to condemn Galileo for teaching views contrary to what the Bible teaches than the young-earth creationists have for insisting that the universe and earth were created six thousand years ago, or so. See Extended Note G in the Appendix, "Galileo's Condemnation and the Interpretation of Scripture." As the scientific evidence for the sun-centered viewpoint continued to build it eventually became obvious that the Roman Catholic Church was wrong in the interpretation of the Bible they were so sure of when they condemned Galileo. It is also significant that the Roman Catholic Church was defending the viewpoint that the scientific, secular/pagan, and Christian world had always believed. Most of the scientists of that day agreed with the Roman Catholic Church, against Galileo, and some of them stirred up opposition in the Roman Catholic Church against him. By contrast, most of the scientists of our day (including many Christians) strongly disagree with the young-earth creationists on the age of our universe and earth.
It is true, of course, that if the young-earth creationists could prove that the earth is only six thousand years old (or close to that), that fact, in itself, would destroy the false theory of godless evolution (which they desperately and rightly want to destroy), but if the earth is older (I assume that it is billions of years old) that fact doesn't begin to validate godless evolution, not at all! Man would not have evolved on the earth even if the earth had existed hundreds of billions of years, or more. The more scientists learn, for example, about living cells and how complicated those cells and the molecules that make up those cells are (including DNA), with all of the complicated things that have to interact in just the right way for the cell to function (cells are complicated like a city; they even have factories to produce the required proteins - think about that!), the more it seems obvious that such cells would not have evolved in multiplied hundreds of billions of years, much less monkeys, or people (who are on a totally different level than monkeys in that we have been created in the image of God). See Extended Note K in the Appendix, "Intelligent Design, Not Evolution." That lengthy Extended Note, forty-three pages, consists mostly of excerpts from leaders of the Intelligent Design movement. That movement is having some success refuting godless evolution on a scientific basis, and it looks like they will have a lot more success in the near future. Refuting godless evolution is a far different thing though than helping men see their need to submit to God and His Word.
A LISTING OF THE EXCERPTS INCLUDED IN EXTENDED NOTE K, "INTELLIGENT DESIGN, NOT EVOLUTION" (43 pages) AND SOME EXCERPTS TAKEN FROM THOSE EXTENSIVE EXCERPTS FOR THIS PAPER ((My paper with the Appendix that includes Extended Note K was published in 2003. Quite a few books that deal with this topic have been published since then, but most of the information included in Extended Note K is quite relevant for today. You could, of course, skip this section, which is about fifteen pages, and go on with the other information included in the Introduction of this paper, but this information is quite relevant to Gen. 1:1-3, which deals with God's creation of our world. If evolution is true (the way it is being taught in our world today, very much including the schools), God did not create our world or the things in it; the Bible isn't true, and the God of the Bible doesn't exist. However, evolution (the way it is being taught in our world today, very much including the schools) isn't true! The Bible is true! God is the Creator!)):
EXCERPTS FROM "DARWIN'S BLACK BOX: THE BIOCHEMICAL CHALLENGE TO EVOLUTION," BY MICHAEL J. BEHE (Simon and Schuster, 1996). ((I had a two-paragraph footnote: I believe all of the scholars involved in the Intelligent Design movement are Christians; some are evangelical Christians, but not all of them. By design the Intelligent Design movement doesn't argue from the Bible. Their primary reason for this is that they want to be heard and taken seriously by the academic community, the media, the public schools, etc. I'm not sure that God fully endorses that method. Perhaps He does lead some Christians that way, but we must be careful with that method.
If everyone in the world were won over to the Intelligent Design viewpoint and acknowledged that there must be some kind of Designer behind our world, we wouldn't have accomplished much if they don't submit in faith to God and His Word (the Bible). And that's a big if that can't just be taken for granted. Throughout the history of man, large numbers of peoples have believed in the existence of God, but they have not really submitted to Him and His Word. I'm much more comfortable with the Bible, gospel-centered approach of Hugh Ross than with the Intelligent Design approach, but that doesn't mean that much that is happening in the Intelligent Design movement is not of God; I believe much, or most, of it is.))
I have heard quite a bit about the Intelligent Design movement the past few years (written in 2003); this book is often mentioned. This book is the first one I purchased to study this topic for this paper. About all I knew of the Intelligent Design movement was that it was having some success showing that the evolutionary viewpoint, that traces back to Darwin, that all life on the earth, including monkeys and men, evolved (it was not created by God) is wrong. From a Christian point of view, this viewpoint constitutes godless heresy!
I knew that the Intelligent Design movement was arguing that the more recent scientific data regarding living cells effectively demonstrates that life is so complex and shows so many characteristics of being carefully designed by a very competent Designer that the evolutionists cannot reasonably continue to dogmatically insist that life evolved without a designer. Extended Note K deals with some other powerful examples too (along with the cell), very much including the extreme complexity, and the fine-tuning of the creation of the universe, that were/are required for us to have life on the earth.
The author "is professor of Biochemistry at Lehigh University. He lives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania." He informs us that he is a Roman Catholic (page 239) and that he has "no reason to doubt that the universe is the billions of years old that physicists say it is" (page 5). With his next sentence on that page, he shows that he still leaves much room for evolutionary ideas (if I understand what he is saying, he leaves a lot more room than I could accept), "Further, I find the idea of common descent (that all organisms share a common ancestor) fairly convincing, and have no particular reason to doubt it." He doesn't deal with "the idea of common descent" in this book.
This book is packed with detailed scientific information to demonstrate and back up the author's points; I typically found that information to be persuasive and interesting.... (I quoted 5 pages from this book in Extended Note K.)
Excerpts from the Preface, Under the Heading "A Molecular Phenomenon."
"... Shortly after 1950 science advanced to the point where it could determine the shapes and properties of a few of the molecules that make up living organisms. Slowly, painstakingly, the structures of more and more biological molecules were elucidated, and the way they work inferred from countless experiments. The cumulative results show with piercing clarity that life is based on machines - machines made up of molecules! Molecular machines haul cargo from one place in the cell to another along 'highways' made of other molecules, while still others act as cables, ropes, and pulleys to hold the cell in shape. Machines turn cellular switches on and off, sometimes killing the cell or causing it to grow. Solar-powered machines capture the energy of photons and store it in chemicals. Electrical machines allow current to flow through nerves. Manufacturing machines build other molecular machines, as well as themselves. Cells swim using machines, copy themselves with machinery, ingest food with machinery. In short, highly sophisticated molecular machines control every cellular process. Thus the details of life are finely calibrated, and the machinery of life enormously complex. ... [[I'll give a little information from the Wikipedia article titled "10 Micrometers" to give the approximate size of human cells. (A micrometer is one millionth of a meter; it equals .0000397 inches.) The article gives the "typical length of a human liver cell, an average sized body cell" as 50 micrometers (.0019 inches) and 10 micrometers as the "mean longest dimension of a human red blood cell" (.000397 inches). For comparison, the minimum width of a strand of human hair is 17 micrometers (.00067 inches). Another article on the internet mentions that an "average size bacterium" is about 2 micrometers long (.000079 inches) and 0.5 micrometers in diameter (.0000198 inches). It's amazing all the living complexity that God put in such a small space.]]
... It was once expected that the basis of life would be exceedingly simple. That expectation has been smashed. Vision, motion, and other biological functions have proven to be no less sophisticated than television cameras and automobiles. ...".
I'll include a few more brief excerpts from "Darwin's Black Box" in Part 3.
Copyright by Karl Kemp
http://www.karlkempteachingministries.com Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.
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