BSF Genesis: Week 2, Lecture

We established at our beginning of the study of Genesis that the bible is God’s Word put in place as the means that God reveals Himself to us so that we can have a right relationship with Him, one of love, respect, worship and praise, comfort, peace and joy, eternally.

One of the things I thought about this week, that our teaching leader mentioned in his lecture, was the point that the development of my relationship with God is different than developing any other relationship on this earth.  Normally, when we are entering into a new relationship, whether work, friend, neighbor, romantic, or casual, there is an gradual revealing that occurs as each party learns about the other and each party opens up to tell about themselves.  But with God, He already knows everything there is to know about us and He has put everything about Him down in writing.  The depth of my relationship with God is directly tied to my dedication in increasing my knowledge of Him and moving closer to His unmoving rock of salvation.

In Genesis 1, we see this.  Last week we looked at this chapter and focused on better understanding “who” God is.  This week our focus shifts to “what” God did: He created everything.

So, again, let’s start at the beginning where God is in the beginning.  God’s first action into his new creation is to speak.  He said let there be light and there was light.  We could camp out right here and discuss the awesome power of God’s word.  We could talk about this intrinsic and everlasting light that goes on like a ray coming from the Trinity to shine for ever more.  And, with the richness of Genesis, if you are ever struggling for something to ponder and pray, pick any one verse in Genesis 1 and use it to see God’s glory and power.

God first divides the waters below and above and then He gathers the sea.  I love this visual image of how God’s voice could stretch out like arms across a table and draw in the waters of the sea to make dry ground.  And then God brings life to the planet.

He brings vegetation, plants, trees, to grow and bear fruit, each according to their kind.  And it was good.

He then speaks the sun, moon and stars into existence.  These are the vessels that hold the light that He created on day 1.

When I think of all of this, it reminds me of how parents-to-be prepare the nursery and their home for an expectant baby to arrive.  They paint the room, they prepare the furniture and bedding, they even put in a night light.  How much more so our heavenly Father, and the moon is a pretty amazing nightlight!

In your language about the nursery God prepared for us, do your comments express gratefulness or do they convey an attitude of a whiny child complaining about the heat or cold?  Do you reach out to your heavenly Father for comfort and joy or are you busy throwing a temper tantrum?

But let’s go a little deeper in looking at some of the days of creation in this chapter.  God didn’t just create these things but He actually gave them purpose.  Look at vs 11 and 12.  God didn’t just make plants, but he made plants to bear seeds and fruit.  In 14 and 15 He didn’t just make the lights in the sky, but He made them to be signs to mark sacred times and days and years.  In 20-23 He made creatures of the sea and sky and specifically blessed them and commanded them to be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth, each according to its kind.  Same for the land animals, each according to its kind.

God created not only objects, but He endowed them with both purpose and order.  That word “according” is an interesting one.  It reminds me of “a chord”, a musical harmony.  When man thinks of nature, particularly its origins, our minds see chaos and battle, survival of the fittest, struggle for life.  But in God’s design there is harmony, order and purpose.

In your day, are you striving to find God’s harmony, order and purpose or are you viewing it as a fight, dog-eat-dog battle?  How does your approach influence your outcome?  If all creation is a harmonious melody that sings praise to Him, are you putting in practice time for the musical every day?  As a challenge, look at the ways that God uses animals throughout the scriptures to reveal Himself to mankind (colt for palm sunday, dove, the fish for the multitudes, Jonah’s whale, Balaam’s donkey, just to name a few.)  They are more prevalent than we realize when we look for them.

Then, the 6th day.  God, the trinity, made man in His image, in His likeness.  God made us male and female.  He provided for us with food to eat and He gave us purpose and direction, one to preserve and maintain order.  He delegated rule to us as only a ruler could do.  He gave plants and fruit to us as only the owner of the fields of harvest could do.

Interesting that God gives us two specific tasks.  The first shows our kinship with all other living creatures of the earth, to be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth.  The second shows our kinship with the Almighty, to subdue the earth and rule over every living creature.  And, as we will study in the weeks to come, how we have done pretty good at the first directive, but almost immediately failed in the second when we let the ways of the earth and the temptations present rule over us instead of the other way around.

But, we will also learn that the game isn’t over.  Like a reset button in a video game, those of us who have accepted the saving work of Jesus Christ have the ability to start over.  When we confess our sins, God is faithful and just and He will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.  Just like a reset button, we get a “do over” button through confession to God that lets us start executing our order, harmony and purpose all over again.  And each time we stumble and fall, His spirit helps move in us and with us, transforming us back into His image and likeness until the day we stand before Him for all eternity in the harmony and unity of heaven.

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BSF Genesis: Week 2, Day 5

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

10.

  • God spoke to Himself, the trinity: Make man in our image and likeness
  • Rule over the fish, birds, livestock wild animals, all creatures
  • God create us male and female
  • God blessed us and spoke to us – fill earth and subdue it,
  • God gave us rule over every living creature

11. a.  Increase in number, fill and subdue earth, rule over living creatures, all plants with seeds for food (bummed about navel oranges and seedless watermelons)

b.  bible, church, teachers, knowledge, love of family, food, shelter, and so much more at every level

12. We are made in God’s image, made to rule (as He is sovereign) God knows everything about us, even while we are still in the womb, even all the days of our lives. God made all the nations, all boundaries and appointed all times of history so that… we would seek Him and reach out for Him and find Him. We are His offspring.

My Daily Journal

Again I am drawn back to the “in” word.  We are made in God’s image.  Not like God’s image, not from His image, not a representation of His image, but IN the image of God.  We are also made unto this world.  Interesting then that the two commands we are given are to (1) be fruitful and increase in number – the same command given to the other living creatures of this world and (2) to rule over the other living creatures as is the nature of God in whose image we are made.

Continuing, it is all the more interesting that of those two commands, we did pretty good at the first one, and failed at the second – we allowed the temptation presented by the earth to rule over us. In Adam and Eve’s desire to be “like God” they gave up the sovereignty that had been a gift given exclusively to them which made them the most like God.

And, to save us from that fall (and what a fitting word that is once you think about it), God’s Son had to step down, becoming lower than the angels, to lift us back up into the position we were originally created into, the offspring (the family) of the King of Kings.

BSF Genesis: Week 2, Day 4

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

8. a. God said, lvng creatures in water, let birds fly, accdng kinds, blessed them and said be fruitful, incrs in #, fill / land wild/lvstock

b. According to its kind. Created sea creatures then flying then land animals. Not sea which changed into land changed into flying, Each created uniquely.

9. a. The light of salvation and the spirit, the spring of living water. What I try to fill it with too often though is busy work and stress.

b. Drawn to the beauty and depth of His word to the truth that it contains and to the peace that comes from trusting and relying on Him. Also that all creation is good as God desires it to be, it is our sinful perceptions which turn it dark.

c. Increased prayer, reduced stress, increased trust, reduced calculation, increased view of God’s power, reduced view of worry for times of trial and tribulation either in my life or others. I’m sad they are going through it but no doubt of God’s strength.

My Daily Journal:

I like the discussion of the fulness of God.  Life is this incredible gift from God given to His creation.  It amazes how it obedient the creation has been in fulfilling His blessing and command.  There are few places on the planet where life does not exist.

I think it is also important to understand that God created each according to their kind.  This scripture has been misused to justify discrimination and racism.  I like to look at it more from the beauty that it communicates.  When I see all the different forms of life on this planet, in the sea, in the air, on the land, including humans, I can recognize that none are an accident, none a mistake, none better or worse than any other because all of each kind are of the same kind.

BSF Genesis: Week 2, Day 3

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

5.
1st day: intrinsic light – light that will never end. 4th day: the vessels that deliver light to the earth: sun, moon and stars – Psalm 147:4, He knows the number of stars and calls them all by name

6. a. Separate day from night, signs to mark sacred times, give light on earth – Give testament to God’s glory (Ps 148:3)
b.

  • The size and majesty of God compared to man
  • Declare the glory of God
  • To tell the appointed seasons, the requirements of the Lord
  • Saw a star, come to worship the king of the Jews
  • Mark the end times, 1/3rd turn dark

7. a. He gathers the waters. He reveals it in the plants. He marks it from the sky: seasons, lights and patterns that sing His praise.

b.  In the areas that are out of balance. More time praying and trusting in Him and seeking His direction.  I would be far more efficient if I simply accepted His word as fact up-front rather than the circuitous route that I take to get back to it.

My Daily Journal:

I am delayed this week, in part because I spent too much time digging into the challenge question/discussion about Day 4 of creation.  This is such a stumbling block to so many and one I felt I needed to wrestle with to fully understand.

The quandary is that on the 4th day God creates the sun and moon and stars; after He creates the earth and even after He creates plant life.  Commonly accepted scientific theory/evidence is that the stars date back far before the earth and even far before our own sun.  Science says that the universe is vast and the earth is a relatively insignificant spec in the cosmos.  The bible account says the universe is vast, but it exists for the significant souls that God places on the earth.  But, how do we reconcile the timing.  Which came first, the stars or earth?  Which came first, the sun or the earth?  What do we do when the “scientific evidence” doesn’t match the biblical account?

Very noted biblical scholars take varies approaches in answering this question.  Some profess that what Genesis is really saying isn’t that God created the stars on the 4th day, but that there was a cloud or haze that blocked them from the earth (separated the waters below and above) so that their light only became visible on the earth on the 4th day.  Some profess that, because there isn’t clear distinction in the Hebrew words used between past and past perfect tense that it may be saying that God created them on day one but is just referencing them on Day 4.  Some argue that the days are not meant consecutively, but that they just reference distinct phases or periods of time and not necessarily order.

Could these be right?  I don’t know.  But I’m not comfortable with any of these approaches.  To me, they seem a little too loose in bending the words of the bible to match commonly held belief.  They seem a very slippery slope in flexible interpretation, one that naturally lends itself to a re-writing or at least a re-interpretation of any part of scripture that doesn’t match commonly held understandings.

I studied economics in college and my professors drilled into us that in any economic theory it is absolutely critical to always remember what the assumptions are that the theory is based upon.  I think the same applies to any scientific theory since all theories accept some things, whether stated or implied, as given assumptions.

In my understanding of current day scientific theory on the age of stars in comparison to the age of the earth or the sun, three of the key assumptions are:

  1. The “earth” was then (at formation) essentially what we define as the “earth” today (i.e., the third planet from the sun, similar in shape, mass, atmosphere, etc to what it is today)
  2. The stars, sun and moon were, at their formation, essentially the same as what we would define as stars, sun, moon today.
  3. We have sufficient information to reliably predict and test our assumptions.

Where I am going with this is that I believe we (mankind) draw boxes in our mind of how we understand things and then try to make God fit into those boxes.  For example, when Genesis 1 says the earth, is it talking about this ball of mass that we call home?  Yes, I believe it is.  Is it specifying that ball of mass has all of the exact properties that it does today?  Clearly not.  How could it if it was without form?  How could it if the sun and moon did not yet exist?  The same goes for assumption 2 in regard to the sun, moon and stars.

However, I think the most critical, and obviously most arrogant on the part of man, is the assumption that we have sufficient information to treat our theories as fact.  Within the past couple of decades science is just discovering that all of what we know, everything about matter and mass and energy that we understand across the universe, accounts for less than 4% of what is out there.  We are now finding that 96% of the universe is “other” (dark matter/dark energy) that we barely have any understanding of at all.  (see The 4% Universe by Richard Panek).

Call me whatever name you like, but I’m sticking with God’s account of creation as it is written.  I trust in God and I trust in His word.

By the way, if any others may be under the assumption that this is a new argument or that belief in the bible is “out-dated” based on our advanced scientific knowledge, it is important to observe this writing by Theophilus of Antioch in 181 A.D.

“On the fourth day the luminaries came into existence. Since God has foreknowledge, he understood the nonsense of the foolish philosophers who were going to say that the things produced on earth come from the stars, so that they might set God aside. In order therefore that the truth might be demonstrated, plants and seeds came into existence before the stars. For what comes into existence later cannot cause what is prior to it” (To Autolycus 2:15 [A.D. 181]).

BSF Genesis: Week 2, Day 2

Today’s Scriptures

Questions:

3.

  • Said let there be light and there was, Light was good, sep’d from darkness, called “day” and “night”
  • Keep my lamp burning, turn darkness into light
  • With you is fountain of life, in your life we see light
  • Word is lamp to feet and light to path, unfolding of words give light; understanding to simpleminded
  • In him: life; light of all, shines in darkness, not overcome. JTB came to testify re: the light, JTB witness to it (JTB=John the Baptist)
  • Light has come into world but people loved darkness (evil) evildoers hate light, exposed, truth->light
  • Jesus is the light of the world, followers will never walk in darkness, but will have light of life
  • Unbelievers blinded, not see gospel light=glory of Christ/image of God, light shine 2 know God
  • Chosen people, royal priest, God’s possession, called out of darkness into His wonderful light
  • Walk in Light=fellowship and purification for sin, if confess sin, He is faithful/just & will forgive

4 a. GREED: the eye is lamp of body, healthy (generous) eyes fill body with light, stingy eyes with dark; IDOLATRY: Light cannot have fellowship w/ evil; DEEDS: Live as children of light, expose deeds of darkness, shameful what disobedient do in the dark; FAULTLESS: shine like stars; FORGIVEN: walk in light, if say in Christ but walk in darkness you lie; ETERNAL: God’s glory is the light of heaven.

4 b. To help me be a better witness in and with my emotions. The worry and stress I carry and that I, at times, allow others to see does not convey the trust that I have that God is in control. I find my mind and emotions at times in a dark place despite knowing that God’s light will overcome all darkness and worry.

My Daily Journal:

On opening night of BSF we discussed that the bible as a whole is the method God has chosen to reveal Himself to His creation.  That is true for it as a whole and for each part or element of it.  Everything in the bible is suitable to teaching and learning about God.

In week 1 of BSF we focused on the big question: Who is God?  Specifically as revealed in the first chapter of Genesis.

This week we look deeper into: What can we learn about God from what He did? Again, with a focus on Gen 1.

So, after going from eternal nothingness to creating ALL of the heavens and the earth (all mass, matter and laws that govern it), God wasn’t ready to call it a day.  No, he said, “let there be light and there was light.”  Then He separates the light from darkness, calling the light day and darkness night.

We can go a lot of directions with this.  Light is just light and it is also not just light.  Light is the shekina glory of God that was a pillar of fire in the desert.  Light is justice and mercy of God shining on all.  Light exposes darkness.  Light is a word that encompasses all of glory and goodness and power and energy.  Jesus is the light of life and the light of salvation. Scientifically, light is unique.  According to Einstein’s theory of relativity, light is the only constant.  We won’t even get into the Particle / Wave Duality of Light and Matter & Quantum Entanglement discussion.  But, let’s just say that light is a much bigger thing than most of us recognize as we live our daily lives.  There is nowhere anywhere that does not contain some light either in a visible or invisible spectrum.

And what of darkness?  We learn in these first few verses that God allowed choice far before He created anyone capable of making that choice.  His light, His glory is capable of penetrating everything.  As we peer deeper and deeper into space, it is impossible to find any space where there is not light.  Scientist are even now making discovers through analyzing light bending around galaxies.  But God allowed there to be darkness, for there to be a place where people can choose to not be in His light (even though that is an illusion because the waves of light always penetrate the darkness).

We can follow lots of discussion and dissect the Hebrew words used for light and darkness, but what strikes me is something for more simple and one that we almost always miss in reading God’s story of creation.  Look at Gen 1:5b, “And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.”  When I think about the end of a day, I might think about midnight.  I might call it a day when the sun sets.  But look at what God did.  And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.

See, the important message is that from the very beginning God never left His creation in the dark.  He never called it a day until it was morning and the light shined again.  He didn’t leave his people in the darkness of sin, His Son Rose from the darkness on Easter morning.  He will not leave His creation and His children in our current state, but take us up to the new heaven for all eternity, to live forever in His perfect light without darkness and without night.  Now that’s a good day!