Tag Archives: Genesis

Genesis 1-11: Its Foundational Nature, Context, and Special Relevance for Israel

Genesis 1-11 is the introduction to the rest of the Bible.  In its original context, when it was first given in the Book of the Law, Genesis 1-11 introduced the nation Israel to their place in the world.

When Moses received the Law, he substantially had the materials we know as Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.  Advocates of the “documentary hypothesis of the Pentateuch” notwithstanding, Scripture, including the very words of Jesus, attributes authorship of the first five books of the Bible to Moses (Matt 8:4, 19:7-8; Mark 7:10, 12:26; Luke 24:27, 44; John 5:46-47, 7:19; Acts 6:14, 13:39, 15:5; 1 Cor 9:9; 2 Cor 3:15; Heb 10:28).

The exodus of Israel from Egypt marked a huge turning point in their history (chronicled in the book of Exodus).  They began as a people because of a miraculous fulfilled promise of a son to Abraham and Sarah.  They multiplied to become a large number of people.   God rescued them from slavery in Egypt, and would bring them to the land he promised Abraham.

When God raised up Moses, his chosen prophet and leader, He gave Moses instructions to pass on to the nation.  They needed to know their history and background in order to prepare for the challenges of going in to a new land.  When one reads Genesis 1-11 with the knowledge of Moses’ authorship and the timing of Israel receiving the book, it helps one see some particular angles of relevance.

Israel was coming from Egypt and heading into Canaan.  Both places were inhabited by people with polytheistic religions with many immoral and wicked practices.  Genesis presents the creation of the world by ONE sovereign, almighty, all-wise God, who is before and who reigns over all of the things He created, and who sets the standards by which we live and the grounds on which we approach Him.

Genesis is an inspired history that, among other things:

  • presents one God, not many gods (chapter 1).
  • shows us the character of God.  He is active; omnipotent; wise; good; merciful; involved; authoritative; righteous; patient, and more.
  • presents man as the special creation of God, made in His image, to carry out His commands (1:26-28).
  • reveals God as the Creator and rightful Definer of the parameters of marriage and sexual activity (2:24-25).
  • gives man a pattern for a work week with a day of rest, recognized in the Ten Commandments (cf. chapter 1 with Exod 20:11).
  • shows the origin and effects of sin, which is disobedience to God that resulted in much human suffering and in death itself (chapter 3).
  • shows that failure to live in submission to God’s rule results in banishment (chapter 3).  It happened to Adam and Eve (placed in and then expelled from a garden they didn’t make) and it would happen to Israel if they did not keep God’s commands as they went to Canaan (Deut 28).
  • reveals the inability of man to cover his own sin and the need for a God who takes initiative, promises to defeat our enemy, promises a Savior, and who covers our sin through the death of an innocent victim (all in chapter 3, and ultimately fulfilled in Jesus).
  • shows God is pleased by faith in Him (Chapter 4).
  • shows the blessing of walking with God and calling on Him (Chapter 4-5).
  • demonstrates the propensity of mankind to forget the true God (Chapter 5).
  • reveals mankind is universally sinful and deserves universal judgment (the Flood, chapters 6-9).
  • shows Canaan was cursed (chapter 9).  Good for them to know that as they’re going into Canaan land to conquer!
  • shows nations and languages originated from God’s judgment on man’s pride at Babel (chapters 10-11).
  • shows that Abram (Abraham) had a definite historical connection that could be traced back to the first man, Adam. (Genealogies in chapter 5, 11).
  • demonstrates that Israel and all other nations and people came from the same human background, as far as Adam/Eve and Noah/his wife were concerned, but Noah’s descendants became the ancestors of more specific people groups.  Yet all these are made in God’s image.

These points were especially pertinent to the nation as they were about to conquer a culture that distorted and perverted many of these ideas.  The content of Genesis 1-11 (the history of the world up to the time of Abraham) calls into question those who claim Genesis was written far later than the days of Moses.  The truth of Genesis was truth the people needed to know and heed as they obeyed God’s commands and took the Promised Land.

This article was originally posted at Gazing at Glory.

Book Review: Why Genesis Matters

why-genesis-matters-external-cover.225x225-75Jason Lisle, Why Genesis Matters: Christian Doctrine and the Creation Account (Dallas, TX: The Institute for Creation Research, 2012), 54pp.; also available for Amazon Kindle

Reviewed by Doug Smith

Astrophysicist Jason Lisle (Ph.D, University of Colorado; Director of Research at the Institute for Creation Research) has written an extremely helpful work in Why Genesis Matters: Christian Doctrine and the Creation Account.  The book is a short, clear introduction to Genesis as the foundation for what Christ taught and what Christians should believe.

SUMMARY

Lisle begins by showing how marriage, the sanctity of human life, clothing, laws, a seven-day week, and the Gospel itself is founded in Genesis.  To remove the historical foundation of these practices and doctrines is devastating.  For example, if Genesis is not historically true, why should we be bound by what God decreed concerning who can marry?

In his chapter entitled, “Commonsense Bible Interpretation,” Lisle discusses some of the various literary genres included in Scripture, including poetry, parables, and history, and shows how Jesus and the apostles interpreted Genesis as what it plainly appears to be:  history, not non-historical poetry.

The author goes on to support his view that the Bible teaches a recent creation of the earth, examining the day-age position (which allows for long periods of time rather than something analogous to a normal 24-hour day) and refuting it by looking at the context of the word “day” in Genesis 1 and the way God bases our work week on the days of creation in Exodus 20:11.

Lisle affirms that it is faith in Christ that is necessary for salvation, not a specific belief concerning the timing of creation.  Nonetheless, one’s view of creation will affect how one views and communicates the authority of the Bible.  Rejecting a historical view of Genesis undermines doctrines such as the origin of sin and its consequences of death, disease, and suffering.  If these doctrines are attacked, so is the need for one to rescue us from our fallen condition.

As the book closes, we are warned not to neglect the root problem of all the sinful issues in our society.  Our culture lacks the foundation of truth that the nation of Israel had.  When the apostles preached to the Jews, they assume that their hearers shared a solid foundation on creation.  When Paul went to the Greeks, he found that was not true.  And it is not true for us today.  It is not enough to simply combat the “bad things” in the world, nor is it enough to tell people of their need of Jesus.  We must also teach the truth of creation, the truth of Genesis, the foundation of the Bible, which gives us a basis for the gospel of Christ, which changes lives.

EVALUATION

Dr. Lisle writes in a clear, concise, straightforward style.  As a scientist and student of the Word, he brings his knowledge of both to the table in a balanced format that presents the Word of God as the ultimate authority and absolute truth.  This book is easy to complete in about two hours, but deserves return visits for pondering its arguments and implications.

The arguments in the book are clear and make sense.  I do not know how one can walk away from the case Lisle makes and say that evolution or long ages of time are consistent beliefs with what the Bible clearly teaches.  For example:

The Bible teaches that death was the result of Adam’s sin.  Sin entered the world through Adam, and death entered through that sin (Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:21).  This fact is foundational to the gospel.  Because “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) , it was necessary for Christ to die on the cross to pay for our sins.  But if the world already had death in it, then how can death be the wages of sin?  Would it make sense to say “by man came death” (1 Corinthians 15:21) if death were already in the world millions of years before man?  How could death be the penalty for sin if it preceded sin by millions of years?  And if death is not the penalty for sin, then how could we make sense of the gospel? (page 42)

This book is suitable for middle schoolers (maybe a bit of a challenge, but worthwhile for a diligent student) and up and is useful for personal study, or teaching a class in Sunday school or a Christian school.  (We are currently using it with a CAPS class on Genesis, in conjunction with studying Genesis chapters 1-11.)  It would be a great resource for someone studying in a Christian college, especially if the Bible department at their school teaches that Genesis 1-11 is not literal history, that Adam and Eve were not historical persons, no literal fall, no global flood, etc. (I faced a situation like this and resources like this are just what the doctor ordered).

I highly recommend Why Genesis Matters.  You can get the Kindle version here for $2.99.

You can watch the author deliver a 40 minute message on the topic of his book here:

and here’s a longer presentation with some live Q & A:

New Hermeneutics Class to Focus on Genesis 1-11

A new six-session, monthly class on hermeneutics (Bible study methods) is scheduled to begin on Saturday, February 23, at Fellowship Chapel, 201 Crockett Street, Bristol, Virginia.  Tri-Cities Area CAPS representative, Doug Smith, will lead the classes in a hands-on Bible study of Genesis 1-11.  This class is suitable for those who have never taken a class in Bible study or hermeneutics, as well as those who have experience and education in this area and would like a refresher or chance to look closer at this foundational portion of Scripture with a group.

The cost for the class is $12, which includes a notebook, handouts, and Why Genesis Matters by Dr. Jason Lisle of the Institute for Creation Research.  Materials may be pre-ordered no later than Friday, February 15 to prepare them for the first class.

The class will meet the fourth Saturday of the month (Feb 23, Mar 23, Apr 27, May 25, June 22, July 27) with the following schedule:

8:00 a.m. Breakfast (optional; bring your own for a time of fellowship and conversation before class)

9:00 a.m. Teaching Session, first part

10:10-10:15 short break

10:15 a.m. Teaching Session, second part

11:30 a.m. conclusion of teaching session; optional dismissal or questions/fellowship until noon

At the conclusion of these classes, we hope to offer a new preaching class for those interested in publicly teaching and preaching God’s Word.  However, this class is strictly a Bible study class designed to be useful for both personal edification and those wishing to share with others.

Please click here to contact us if interested (please include “Genesis class” in the message) or to request a pre-registration form.  You may also download the form by clicking here.