Finding Jesus in Genesis: Lesson 2
© C. O. Bishop 2012, (revisited and revised 2018)
Last time, we saw the Creation of the earth, up to the establishment of the dry land, as a single, fairly flat continent, surrounded by a single body of water. We learned something about God’s authority and His triune nature, and his spiritual character. We learned something about God as the source of all light. We will move on from there, today.
The Plants (Genesis 1:11-13)
I love this particular passage, not because I love botany, but because I see that there was still no sun, to “create life” as naturalists insist is necessary. God created the plant life before creating the Sun. The other thing we see is an underscored pattern of order, here: He says that each plant “has its seed in itself…bringing forth seed after his kind.” “After his kind!” There is no changing of species, here. I plant wheat, and do not expect a field of pumpkins springing up. (This does not exclude the plants which propagate without seeds…they still obey the same principle.)
This is the Law of the Harvest: the law of sowing and reaping: “Like begets like.” This is an eternal principle, and it applies in all spheres. Also, Spiritually speaking, “like begets like:” God’s Holy Spirit, allowed free rein in our lives, reproduces the likeness of God in our lives. Any other spirit, allowed to rule, produces a different likeness: Anger begets anger; sin begets sin, but righteousness begets righteousness. You reap what you sow. This principle is repeated in the New Testament, and reiterated throughout scripture.
What does this do to the theory of evolution? Well, at the very least, it calls it into question, as we can see the truth of the law of the harvest, borne out in the whole of the natural world. But we are still expected to believe that there is a giant exception to this rule, which only works when no one is looking. That, somehow, the various species don’t breed true, and that this anomaly is so common that, in spite of the fact that we can’t ever see it happening, the entire biosphere evolved from a single original one-celled life-form. (Hmm… Seems like a bad guess, to me.) But the real question is, “What do I believe about God and His Word?” If I reject Him and His Word, then I have to choose all my world-view from the options that are left. And, from that perspective, evolution may seem possible at first glance… and, if you don’t look too closely.
The Heavenly Luminaries (Genesis 1:14-19)
God placed the heavenly luminaries for a list of seven specific purposes:
- To divide the day from the night (they became the light-holders.)
- For signs (God has used them at various times to get people’s attention.)
- For seasons (we still recognize the seasons, by where we are in relation to the sun.
- For days (obviously)
- For years (we still count our years by the revolutions around the sun.)
- To be lights in the firmament (lights in the sky…for navigational purposes?)
- To give light upon the earth (so we can see clearly, as well as providing energy for life.)
We still use them for all those things. But notice that reasons 3-5 say that they are a time-piece for us: a celestial clock. When time ends, they will also lose that importance, as God will again be the only source of light, and His light will again permeate the universe. This is hard for us to imagine, because we are created entirely within the limits of time and space. Time and space (as we know them) were both created before humans, but we will outlast them. That seems very strange, from the perspective of one who knows his earthly days are numbered. But God exists independent of time and space, having created both, and has only temporarily limited His light.
The Animals (Genesis 1:20-25)
The marine and avian life were created first, and God again reiterated the law of the harvest: “Like begets like.” He said that each animal, whether fish, bird, or whatever kind, reproduced “after his kind.”
Then he continued the pattern with the land-creatures. This included all the creatures we are familiar with, and all those that are now extinct. (Incidentally, over in the book of Job, we will see that God claimed credit for the creation of a couple of specific animals that humans in this age have never seen…and which may, in fact, be types of what we might call dinosaurs. We won’t address that right now, but it is interesting that it is God, talking to a human about those animals, not a man waxing poetic about something imaginary.)
But all animal life was said to reproduce “after his kind.” It is interesting to me that He uses this phrase, “after his kind” ten times, before creating Man. It seems He may be trying to teach a spiritual truth, in order to prepare us for what comes next:
Man (Genesis 1:26-30; 2:20-25)
“And God said, let us make Man in our image, after our likeness…” Do you think it was accidental? God has used the phrase, “after his kind,” ten times, and culminates in the statement that humans (male and female) are created in the likeness of God. That “Man, Incorporated” is, in some way, created in the likeness of God. It can’t be just physical appearance, as there are myriad differences in appearance, between most individuals, so much so that artificial intelligence has been developed only to a point where a computer can nearly recognize an individual human face, out of thousands of possibilities. But the differences are so subtle (in some cases) that a computer fails where virtually any human could unfailingly make the correct identification. Yet we are collectively said to be made “in the image” (singular) of God.
Like begets like! In what way can it be said that all humans are “made in the image of God?” What do we alone possess, among all the animal life on earth? What sets us apart?
One thing may be that we are the only ones regarding whom God says that we are “a living soul.” (Hebrew word, “nephesh”) Animals apparently do have a spirit of some sort, (Hebrew word, “ruach”,) as in Ecclesiastes 3:21. But there is a difference, as no animals are invited into a living relationship with the Living God. God also says that we have more value to Him than do the animals. Jesus told his disciples, “fear not…ye are worth more than many sparrows.”
Perhaps it is a certain “God-consciousness”…so that we are capable of having fellowship with God, in an intelligent relationship, whereas the animals can only be what they have been created to be. Beyond that, I can’t say.
Whatever the practical or Spiritual differences, humans alone are said to be created in the likeness of God, and Jesus reflected upon this truth, when his detractors had challenged him about whether they should pay taxes to Rome: He referred to a Roman coin, and asked, “Whose image is this, and whose inscription?” The people said, “Caesar’s!” Jesus responded, “Then, render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and render unto God that which is God’s!”
The implication is crystal clear: the Jews, to whom He was speaking, knew that they were made in the image of God. They also knew that the Word of God was supposed to be inscribed upon their hearts, their hands, and their minds. They, personally (individually, and as a nation) belonged to God and were accountable to Him. We—all humans—are made in His image, and we are supposed to be like Him.
The Sabbath (Genesis 2:2, 3)
So: the stage was set. All the players were in place, and God called a holiday—a “holy day”—the Sabbath. (The Hebrew word is “Shabbat”, meaning a rest; a pause; or “taking a break.”) God established it as a holiday, calling it holy, forever; though to most of us it has been lost for millennia. Thousands of years later, God reestablished the Sabbath with Israel, but not simply as a great day of joy and commemoration; rather as a legal requirement, regarding which the people of Israel had no choice, and they frequently saw it as a burden, rather than a blessing.
Knowing, then, that God blessed this day, and sanctified it, and that there was no sin in the world, so that no one would see such a day as burdensome, I believe it gives us a clue as to how much time may have elapsed between the end of chapter two, after the creation of mankind, and the beginning of chapter three, where we find the fall of mankind into sin:
There is no record of God celebrating the Sabbath with his people…so, I conclude that, in less than one week from the Creation of Man, the enemy struck, and the entire human race was plunged into spiritual darkness. Could I be mistaken? Certainly, I could. But, especially in light of the fact that, in the New Testament (Hebrews chapter 4), we discover that Jesus is our Sabbath…our Rest; I think it is fitting that only in Him does any member of the human race approach God and enjoy the rest He offers.
The Garden, and the Law (Genesis 2:8-17)
The creation of Man is revisited in chapter two, and God makes it clear that Man was created with a purpose. We don’t see the real purpose until much later, but at the very beginning, God gave the man a job to do, with a responsibility attached. We have a physical description of the land, with its unusual river—a single source splitting into four major rivers—three of which are still in existence today, and a fourth we don’t know about. We see Ethiopia called out as a nation, thousands of years before it existed, in the description of the river that waters it.
Finally, it says that God established a garden, in a place called Eden, and put the man there to dress and keep the garden. He had only one Law: he was not to eat of the one specific tree, the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil. This is the origin of law, and, specifically, “the Law of Sin and Death.” He was told, “In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.”
The Woman (Genesis 1:26-30; 2:20-25)
God says that the Woman was formed afterward, and as a part of Man. The Man and Woman, together were “Man, Incorporated.” God says (1:27) “So God created Man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; Male and Female created He them.” The whole human race is created in the image of God, and subdivided into male and female. It is important to note that the woman cane from the man, as it explains what happened in chapter 3. The man was given the authority to make a decision that affected everyone who proceeded from him; including his mate.
The Fall (Genesis 3:1-7)
Much has been made of the fact that Eve first ate the fruit. I would like to point out that, when the command was given, forbidding the consumption of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil, Eve had not yet been created. Adam evidently told her of the command, and, either he added to it, saying “don’t touch”, or she, being extra cautious, added that phrase herself. At any rate, she was not clear on the concept, and, most importantly, she was not the one given the responsibility. Adam alone received the command, and Adam alone could violate the command. Nothing happened when Eve ate. When Adam ate, the eyes of both of them were opened, and both of them were separated from fellowship with God. They were both spiritually dead, the moment he ate the fruit of that tree. This is reiterated in the New Testament, in Romans 5:12, where it says “…through one man, sin entered into the world, and death by sin…”
There are some important truths, here, that we should not miss: Their first response, when they saw their own nakedness and guilt, was to sew together aprons of fig leaves, to cover themselves. Our response to guilt, as humans, is to attempt to cover our sins with our own “good works.” We either deny our guilt, pointing to our good works, or, we claim that our good works should, in some way, make up for our sin. That seems logical, and it appeals to our flesh; our sin nature. But, look what happened the moment God stepped into the picture: They fled and hid! Why? They said, “Because we were naked!” Their works did nothing to cover their sins before God. Their works served fairly well, as a covering between themselves and other humans, but not at all, when God stepped into the picture. (Here is another eternal principle: our good works cannot take away or cover our sins. Only God can do that.)
The Serpent (Genesis 3:1-7, 14, 15) And the Curse
Yes, it was a physical snake, but, yes, also, Satan used the serpent, and it had permanent results on both Satan and the snake. The curse on the serpent involved how it moved and what it ate. But the curse on Satan involved his ultimate defeat at the Cross. This is not allegory. This is history. This is not myth. This is fact. Jesus treated it as fact, and so did the apostles. It is history, and a key point in the specific history that the Bible contains.
The Coming Redeemer (Genesis 3:15-19)
Remember: The Bible is not “the history of God.” The “history of God” would be impossible to encapsulate in a book, as He is Eternal. It is not the history of Man, as it leaves out the majority of human history. It is historical, but in a very limited sense. In Genesis we see one specific aspect of the beginning of earth’s history: the Bible is the history of God’s redemptive work toward the fallen human race. It tells us how we began, how we became sinners, and what God has chosen to do about it. We find, as we read through the Old Testament, that Jesus is “Plan A”, and there is no “Plan B”. We can see God’s wisdom and his saving Grace, from the beginning.
When Man fell into sin, in Genesis three, we see the first prediction of the person who would be the Savior. In this passage He is referred to as the “Seed of the Woman”. The masculine gender is applied, and the singular personal pronoun is applied—it is not a group of people that are called the Seed of Woman, but one male Child. And only one such child in history could accurately claim that title, because all the rest had a human father—they were NOT the Seed of the Woman, but the seed of a man and a woman. This is the first Prophecy of the Christ, and it predicted the destruction of Satan, and the reinstatement of fallen man.
Adam placed his trust in that promise (Genesis 3:20, 21) and God clothed him and his wife in the skins of slain animals: the first blood sacrifice, and the covering of sin by means of that sacrifice. God’s chosen sacrifice for sin in the Old Testament was invariably blood, and it resulted in the “atonement” (Heb. “Kophar”, or covering) for sins. Every single one of the blood sacrifices in the Old Testament looked forward, by faith, to the one sacrifice that would be offered at the Cross. Revelation refers to Jesus as the Lamb slain from the Foundation of the earth…and, indeed, the Apostle saw him on the throne (Revelation 5:6) as a Lamb, having been slain. We look back to that one sacrifice, when we take communion. We are not asking that he die again, nor does that wine become blood. His sacrifice was once for all time, to take away sin, but his death was pre-figured, or pictured, countless times throughout the Old Testament, in animal sacrifices that could only cover sin.
Consider this, as well: Who was it that came walking in the Garden, in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8)? Who was the Judge, listening quietly to the plea of each of his guilty human subjects, who then dispensed Justice and Mercy and Grace? Who is the “Judge of all the earth?” These are just some things to consider. We will find answers as we move through Genesis.
We will review these passages in greater detail, next time, but this introduction is the foundation for the rest of our study.
Lord Jesus, use your Word to correct our thinking: teach us to think your thoughts, and believe you in all things. Make us able workmen, rightly dividing your Word, and sharing it without fear.