[The Classic Christian Network] WEDNESDAY is WORD DAY: "Genesis 1 Bible …

Posted: April 6, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

 

 

 

“BIBLE STUDY GUIDES”

12 Bible Study Guides Weekly

(currently)

-David Guzik-

 

David Guzik
Study Guide for Genesis 1

GENESIS 1 – THE ACCOUNT OF GOD’S CREATION

A. Thoughts to begin with as we study the Bible: how do we approach the Bible?

1. We come to the Bible knowing there is a God.

a. The Bible does not make elaborate arguments for the existence of God. However, it does tell us how we can know God exists.

b. The Bible tells us we can know God exists because of what we see in creation.

i. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. (Psalm 19:1-4)

ii. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse. (Romans 1:20)

c. Though many seek to deny the effectiveness of theteleological argument for the existence of God (the understanding that there must be a purposeful intelligence Who created this world), it still remains unanswered by the atheist or the agnostic.

2. We come to the Bible believing it is the place where God has spoken to man, perfectly and comprehensively.

a. We believe 2 Timothy 3:16-17: All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

i. We can study God, but we can’t put Him under a microscope. We can only confidently know about Him what He chooses to reveal to us. What He chooses to tell us is profitable and useful for us.

b. We believe the Bible must be understood literally, that is, as straightforward and true according to its literary context.

i. The Bible is much more than a book; it is a library of books, and books written in different literary forms. Some portions of the Bible give a historical account, others are poetic, and some are prophetic.

ii. We must understand the Bible literally according to its literary context. For example, when David wrote in Psalm 6:6“All night I make my bed swim; I drench my couch with my tears,” he used a poetic literary form. We understand he didn’t literally mean he cried so much that he flooded his room and set his bed afloat.

iii. But when the Bible speaks in a historical narrative, we understand it as literal history, not as make-believe fables and myths meant only to tell a spiritual story.

iv. If we don’t approach the Bible this way, then how will we approach it? Then it is all up to how anyone “feels” about the text. Though the teachings of Scripture may have infinite applications, they only have one true interpretation.

v. “The only proper way to interpret Genesis 1 is not to ‘interpret’ it at all. That is, we accept the fact that it was meant to say exactly what it says.” (Morris)

c. We believe the Bible is not a book of science; yet where it touches science, it speaks the truth. After all, if the Bible is false in regard to science or other things that we can prove, then we cannot regard it as reliable in regard to spiritual matters that we cannot prove.

3. We come to the Bible knowing the copies we have in our hands are reliable duplicates (though not perfect duplicates) of the exact writings, which God perfectly inspired.

a. We can know this about the Old Testament by seeing the incredible care and reliability of the ancient Jewish scribes, demonstrated by the Dead Sea Scroll discoveries.

b. We can know this about the New Testament by knowing that because of earlier manuscripts, and a greater number of ancient manuscripts, the New Testament is by far the most reliable and exhaustively crosschecked ancient document we possess. Really, no more than one one-thousandth of the New Testament text is in question.

4. We come to the Bible knowing the unique importance of the Book of Genesis.

a. The Bible would be incomplete and perhaps incomprehensible without the Book of Genesis. It sets the stage for the entire drama of redemption, which unfolds in the rest of the book.

b. Almost all important doctrines and teachings have their foundation in the Book of Genesis: the doctrines of sin, redemption, justification, Jesus Christ, the personality and personhood of God, the kingdom of God, the fall, Israel, the promise of the Messiah, and more.

i. Genesis shows us the origins of the universe, order and complexity, the solar system, the atmosphere and hydrosphere, the origin of life, man, marriage, evil, language, government, culture, nations, religion. It is precisely because people have abandoned the truth of Genesis that society is in such disarray.

c. Genesis is important to the New Testament. There are at least 165 passages in Genesis either directly quoted or clearly referred to in the New Testament; many of these are quoted more than once, so there are at least 200 quotations or allusions to Genesis in the New Testament.

i. Jesus declared the importance of believing what Moses wrote: “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:46-47) We can’t say we believe in Jesus if we don’t believe in the Book of Genesis.

d. “I beg and faithfully warn every pious Christian not to stumble at the simplicity of the language and stories that will often meet him there [in Genesis]. He should not doubt that, however simple they may seem, these are the very words, works, judgments, and deeds of the high majesty, power, and wisdom of God.” (Luther, cited in Boice)

5. According to the New Testament, Moses wrote the Book of Genesis (Luke 24:27Luke 24:44). We can surmise that he did this with help from actual written records from the past God had preserved. There are indicators of where these records begin and end. Note the phrasing of Genesis 2:45:16:910:111:10;11:2725:1225:1936:136:937:2.

a. “Thus it is probable that the Book of Genesis was written originally by actual eyewitnesses of the events reported therein. Probably the original narratives were recorded on tables of stone or clay, in common practice of early times, and then handed down from father to son, finally coming into the possession of Moses. Moses perhaps selected the appropriate sections for compilation, inserted his own editorial additions and comments, and provided smooth transitions from one document to the next, with the final result being the Book of Genesis as we have received it.” (Morris)

B. The first five days of creation.

1. The philosophical importance of knowing God as creator.

a. The philosopher Jean-Paul Sarte stated the essential problem of philosophy: there is something, instead of nothing. Why?Everything else in our life flows from the answer to this question.

i. If everything around us, including ourselves, is the result of random, meaningless occurrences apart from the work of a creating God, then it says something about who I am, and where I, and the whole universe, are going. Then the only dignity or honor we bestow upon men is pure sentimentality, because I don’t have any more significance than an amoebae; then there is no greater law in the universe than survival of the fittest.

b. Some 100 years ago, there was a great German philosopher named Arthur Schopenhauer. By habit, he usually dressed like a vagrant, and one day he sat on a park bench in Berlin, deep in thought. His appearance made a policeman suspicious, so the policeman asked the philosopher “Who are you?” Schopenhauer answered, “I would to God I knew.”

i. And the only way we can ever really find out who we are is from God. The best place to find out begins in Genesis.

c. There are many possible answers to the question of how everything came into being. Some say, once there was absolutely nothing, and now there is something. Others (including the Bible) say before there was anything created, there was a Personal Being.

d. One day, students in one of Albert Einstein’s classes were saying they had decided there was no God. Einstein asked them how much of all the knowledge in the world they had among themselves collectively, as a class. The students discussed it for a while and decided they had 5% of all human knowledge among themselves. Einstein thought their estimate was a little generous, but he replied: “Is it possible God exists in the 95% you don’t know?”

2. (1) A simple factual statement regarding God work as creator.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

a. God created: This summary statement will be detailed in the following verses, but the Bible simply and straightforwardly declares the world did not create itself or come about by chance. It was created by God, who, by definition, is eternal and has always been.

i. “It is no accident that God is the subject of the first sentence of the Bible, for this word dominates the whole chapter and catches the eye at every point of the page: it is used some thirty-five times in as many verses of the story.” (Kidner)

ii. If you believe Genesis 1:1, you really have no problem believing the rest of the Bible.

b. God: This is the ancient Hebrew word Elohim. Grammatically it is a plural word used as if it were singular. The verbs and pronouns used with Elohim should be in the plural, but whenElohim refers to the Lord God the verbs and pronouns are in the singular.

i. Rabbi Simeon ben Joachi, commenting on the wordElohim: “Come and see the mystery of the word Elohim; there are three degrees, and each degree by itself alone, and yet notwithstanding they are all one, and joined togetherin one, and are not divided from each other.” Clarke adds: “He must be strangely prejudiced indeed who cannot see that the doctrine of a Trinity, and of a Trinity in unity, is expressed in the above words.”

ii. Leupold quoting Luther on Elohim: “But we have clear testimony that Moses aimed to indicate the Trinity or the three persons in the one divine nature.”

c. God created the heavens: The simple fact of God’s creation is even more amazing when we consider the greatness of God’s universe.

i. A typical galaxy contains billions of individual stars; our galaxy alone (the Milky Way) contains 200 billion stars. Our galaxy is shaped like a giant spiral, rotating in space, with arms reaching out like a pinwheel, and our sun is one star on one arm of the pinwheel. It would take 250 million years for the pinwheel to make one full rotation. But this is only our galaxy; there are many other galaxies with many other shapes, including spirals, spherical clusters, and flat pancakes. The average distance between one galaxy and another is about 20 million trillion miles. Our closest galaxy is the Andromeda Galaxy, about 12 million trillion miles away.

ii. For every patch of sky the size of the moon, if you could look very deep, you would see about a million galaxies.

iii. But God did all this Himself: “Indeed My hand has laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand has stretched out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand up together.” (Isaiah 48:13)

iv. But God is bigger and greater than all His creation: Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, measured heaven with a span and calculated the dust of the earth in a measure? (Isaiah 40:12)

d. God created the heavens and the earth: If God created the heavens and the earth, then we must forever put away the idea that anything happens by chance. “Chance” merely describes the statistical probability of something happening. Chance itself can “do” nothing.

i. People who are otherwise intelligent often fall into this delusion. Jacques Monod, a biochemist, wrote: “Chancealone is at the source of every innovation, of all creation in the biosphere. Pure chance, absolutely free but blind, at the very root of the stupendous edifice of evolution.”

ii. But assigning such power to “chance” is crazy. Chance has no power. For example, when a coin is flipped, the chance it will land “heads” is 50%; however, “chance” does not make it land heads. Whether or not it lands heads or tails is due to the strength with which the coin is flipped, the strength of air currents and air pressure as it flies through the air, where it is caught, and if it is flipped over once it is caught. Chance doesn’t “do” anything but describe a probability.

iii. When Carl Sagan petitioned the federal government for a grant to search for intelligent life in outer space, how did he hope to find it? By using a super sensitive instrument to pick up radio signals from distant space. When he received those radio signals, he looked for order and pattern, which would demonstrate the signals were transmitted by intelligent life. In the same way, the order and pattern of the whole universe demonstrates that it was fashioned by intelligent life, not by “chance.” Scientists detect “chance” in the radio signals constantly (in the form of unpatterned static), but it tells them nothing.

iv. Therefore, when someone says the universe or anything else came about by chance, they are extremely ignorant, superstitious, or just repeating a line they have heard before and have unthinkingly accepted.

e. God created: Inherent in the idea of God is that He is anintelligent designer. Only an intelligent designer could create a just-right universe, not “chance.” Our universe is a just-right universe.

i. The universe has a just-right gravitational force.

  • If it were larger, the stars would be too hot and would burn up too quickly and too unevenly to support life
  • If it were smaller, the stars would remain so cool, nuclear fusion would never ignite, and there would be no heat and light

ii. The universe has a just-right speed of light.

  • If it were larger, stars would send out too much light
  • If it were smaller, stars would not send out enough light

iii. The universe has a just-right average distance between the stars.

  • If it were larger, the heavy element density would be too thin for rocky planets to form, and there would only be gaseous planets
  • If it were smaller, planetary orbits would become destabilized because of the gravitational pull from other stars

iv. The universe has a just-right polarity of the water molecule.

  • If it were greater, the heat of fusion and vaporization would be too great for life to exist
  • If it were smaller, the heat of fusion and vaporization would be too small for life’s existence, liquid water would become too inferior a solvent for life chemistry to proceed, ice would not float, leading to a runaway freeze-up

v. We could conclude that there is no chance that such a universe could create itself, apart from an intelligent designer.

f. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth: This tells us that God used no pre-existing material to create the earth. The ancient Hebrew word bara (created) is specific. It means to create out of nothing, showing that that God created the world out of nothing, not out of Himself. God is separate from His creation. Unlike Eastern and pantheistic perceptions of god, the Bible teaches the universe could perish yet He would remain.

i. Men cannot “create” in the sense the term is used inGenesis 1:1. We can only “fashion” or “form” things out of existing material. The closest we come to creating is in reproducing ourselves sexually. This is perhaps one reason why Satan wants to pervert and destroy God’s plan and standard for sexuality; it is deeply connected to our being made in the image of God.

ii. Ginzberg has a fascinating legend on how the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet all wanted to begin the Bible, but in the end, the letter “bet” was allowed, because he said, “O Lord of the world! May it be Thy will to create Thy world through me, seeing that all the dwellers of the world give praise daily unto Thee through me, as it is said, Blessed be the Lord forever. Amen, and Amen.” So, the Hebrew Book of Genesis begins, “Bereshit God created the heaven and the earth.”

3. The Bible’s clear teaching of God’s creation and the uncertainty of modern science.

a. Some scientists often act certain in their knowledge about the origin of the universe, but their constant “revolutionary discoveries” prove they are really just groping in the dark. Honest scientists, those not puffed up with a proud arrogance, will admit this.

b. Some scientists may be arrogant when it comes to what can be known of the universe, but we do not have to accept such arrogance. The constantly changing scene of science is illustrated in a sidebar to a science article in the Los Angeles Times titled, “The Big Bang and What Followed It”:

In the beginning, there was light – but also quarks and electrons. The Big Bang spewed out energy that condensed into radiation and particles. The quarks joined into protons and careened wildly about in a hot, dense, glowing goop as opaque as a star.

Time (300,000 years or so) passed. Space expanded. Matter cooled. The electrons and protons, electrically irresistible to each other, merged into neutral hydrogen, and from this marriage, the first atoms were born. Space between atoms became as transparent as crystal – pretty much the way it looks today.

The rest, as they say, is history. Atoms merged to form dust clouds, which grew into stars and galaxies and clusters. Stars used up their nuclear fuel, collapsed and exploded in recurring cycles, fusing elements in the process.

Occasionally, a stable planet condensed around a second-generation star, where carbon-based life forms grew into, among other things, cosmologists, the better to contemplate it all.

c. In 1913, an astronomer in Arizona discovered stars appeared to be moving away from the earth at tremendous speeds, up to two million miles an hour. In 1919, another American astronomer named Edwin Hubble used this information to develop a theory of an expanding universe, which is the foundation of the “Big Bang” idea. Early on, other scientists discovered background radiation from all parts of the universe, which they suppose is the leftover “noise” from the first great explosion. But scientists are really not much closer at all to knowing anything about this instant beginning to the universe.

d. In fact, the more they find out, the more they discover how much they don’t know. Astrophysicists are faced with another challenge: trying to figure out what “dark matter” is. Dark matter is a term scientists use to explain an enormous apparent excess of gravity in the universe. Dark matter may make up 99.9% of everything in the universe, but no one knows what it is. Though suggestions are offered, they are only suggestions. David O. Caldwell of the University of California at Santa Barbara says, “When it comes to dark matter, the only thing that we are convinced of at the moment is that it’s there.” But actually, scientists cannot even agree on that! Michael S. Turner, an astrophysics professor at the University of Chicago, said: “It’s very humbling. The origin, composition, energy and mass of the most common matter in the entire universe is unknown.”

e. This uncertainty is shown in a March 6, 1995, front-page article in the Los Angeles Times headlined, “Rethinking Cosmic Questions”:

Ever since people first stood up amid the tall grasses and looked about the world in wonder, religion, mythology and science all have struggled to explain how the world came to be. But when it comes to creation stories, few can hold a candle to the tale cooked up by modern cosmologists.

Dialing back the cosmic clock about 15 billion years, they depict a time before time, a place before space existed. Out of nothing and nowhere, all the energy and matter in the universe exploded into existence in an event that came to be called . . . the Big Bang.

While masterfully spinning ideas out of faith and equations, cosmologists were pitifully short on data. They could not see or measure the phenomena they were trying to explain. “Twenty-five years ago, cosmology was very close to religion,” said physicist Roberto Peccei of UCLA.

Experimental cosmologist Chris Stubbs of the University of Washington, “You’ve got these things that are ridiculously far away and ridiculously faint, and . . . you’ve got to make sense out of it.”

“At times, I miss the old days when I could just work in my office and not worry that someone would disprove my theory in a few weeks” said Rocky Kold of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Illinois.

“Many of us who have worked in this field for decades still worry that the whole house of cards is going to collapse,” said Princeton cosmologist David Wilkinson.

Recent observations, for example, suggest that the universe is younger than its oldest stars – an enigma that has astronomers scrambling for explanations.

The biggest mystery, however, strikes even scientists as so astonishing as to be absurd: 99% of the universe, according to some estimates, is made of totally unfamiliar stuff. Commonly known as dark matter, it is actually mostly transparent; it neither shines nor casts a shadow. Whatever it is, it is not like us . . . According to some theories, it also is the glue that holds the universe together, and keeps it from expanding forever into endless space.

f. “The study of human origins seems to be a field in which each discovery raises the debate to a more sophisticated level of uncertainty.” (Christopher Stringer of the Natural Museum of London)

4. One may doubt the ability of many modern scientists to answer the question of origins. But that does not automatically give us confidence to the answer in found in the Book of Genesis. Some believe that Genesis only records a “creation myth,” meant only to show the greatness of God in poetic grandeur. Though there are poetic elements to the account, we believe it was still written to record a historical reality. Other Scriptures, in their approach toGenesis 1, demonstrate this.

a. Psalm 136 connects the Genesis account of creation with the rest of Israel’s history in a seamless fabric. The creation account is not put in a category of “historical fiction.”

b. Jesus quoted Genesis as if it were a purely historical record (Matthew 19:4-6 and 23:35).

c. C.S. Lewis wrote that when he heard a Biblical scholar say the Genesis creation account was a myth, he didn’t want to know about the man’s credentials as a Biblical scholar. He wanted to know how many myths the man had read. Myths were Lewis’ business as a literary scholar, and he could see the Biblical account of creation was unlike mythical accounts.

d. It is true that Genesis was not written primarily as a scientific document. But if God gave us a truly scientific, detailed account of creation, written in scientific language, there would be no one who could understand it and no end to the length of such an account. Even if it were written in simple, 20th-century scientific language, it would have made no sense to all previous generations and no sense to future generations either.

e. It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter (Proverbs 25:2). Scientific inquiry is the glory of man; yet it must all be done with utmost humility, realizing God conceals these matters for man to search out.

5. God did all this in the beginning, yet there was much before thebeginning.

a. God Himself was before the beginning: Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting (Psalm 93:2). Some are troubled by the questions, “Where did God come from?” and “Who created God?” The answer is found in the definition of God – that God is the uncreated Being, eternal, and without beginning or end.

i. This is demonstrated in several passages of Scripture.Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. (Psalm 90:1-2)

ii. J. Edwin Orr used a memorable definition of God, which was thoroughly Biblical: God is the only infinite, eternal, and unchangable spirit, the perfect being in whom all things begin, and continue, and end.

b. God was in three Persons before the beginning, and the Persons shared a relationship of love and fellowship: “Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. . . for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17:5;&n

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