Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Genesis 1:1 comments: the beginning

As we study the text of the Bible there are two things we must be aware of. As educator and author, E.D. Hirsch wrote, the meaning of any text is what it literally says. Anything you add to it or take from it beyond that may be its significance to you or mean something different to you but it says what it says. Another way of looking at this is the old saw, “a text without a context is a pretext.” (1) Don’t use the Bible, the foundation of your convictions, in a way that attacks that foundation to suit an agenda you have; political, economic, social, or just personal.

Additionally, as we study the text of the Bible there are two questions which pose themselves that we, at some point, have to consider. As a scholar of Ancient Greece, Stephen Todd, said about what a historian must consider when approaching an ancient text, we must ask ourselves why it was written and then, why it was preserved. (2)

These two sets of considerations will be very important in our study of the Bible.

(1) E.D. Hirsch, Validity in Interpretation (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1967).

(2) Stephen Todd, “The Use and Abuse of Attic Orators,” Greece & Rome, Second Series, Vol. 37, No. 2 (Oct., 1990), 164. (From a paper delivered at Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1988.)

Genesis 1:1 ¶  In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

The testimony of the Bible is abundantly clear that the universe did not come into being by itself and there is no evidence that there are alternate universes. The universe is also not eternally preexistent as a time is given here, in the beginning, and an action by God as in God created.

It is impossible to believe the Bible and, at the same time, believe in the Big Bang theory where all matter and energy comes from the primordial explosion of the singularity, the size of a period in a sentence. Nor is it possible to believe in its antecedent belief, the Kabala’s mustard seed that explodes into the universe, or the Hindu’s cosmic egg that explodes into the universe, and believe in the God of the Bible. The physical universe is a production of God as all matter, energy, and time can be attributed directly to Him. He has no beginning and no end and is beyond our ability to finitely reason.

God is not the subject of science because He cannot be experimented on or called into an equation. Science can only study what they can see or measure and all unseen theoretical entities are simply modern myths even if a scientist defines seeing in a different way than a non-scientist does. Saying that they have faith that one day they will prove something they cannot prove merely moves that scientist’s faith into the realm of religion. Faith is not science and science is not faith. Science has limits. Faith is only limited by God’s will for that person having the faith.

God’s creation of the universe is not only confirmed by Moses, writing Genesis under the inspiration of God, but also Isaiah.

Isaiah 42:5  Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:

Isaiah 45:18  For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else.

And the Lord Jesus Christ Himself.

Makr 13:19  For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.

Science requires that if you put forth a proposition, a statement of presumed fact, that you should be able to make certain predictions from it. This verse says that God created. So, one could logically assume that since an intelligent entity created everything that a certain degree of design and order must be present in it as in our experience order does not come from disorder without intelligent guidance. This is, indeed, the case. Physicists are looking for a unifying “theory of everything.” Well, it is right here in front of us. He is the God of the Bible. His existence explains everything from how the universe is held together to the moral sense of human beings as you will see in the following study.

Who is God? He is the uncreated person and entity who created all that is. He simply is, as He said Himself, I AM THAT I AM.

Exodus 3:13  And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? 14  And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

It is a nonsensical question to ask who created God. Such a question is a philosophical absurdity. It is like asking; could God create a rock so heavy He could not lift it? Such questions are the pure gibberish of the skeptic whose mind is blinded by the god of this world, Satan.

God is the source of all reality; seen and unseen. In Job God states that everything from dust forming into a clod of dirt in a farmer’s field to lions catching their prey, with the movements of distant galaxies to rain happening in places on earth where there is no man are all direct results of His direct actions. Read Job, chapter 38. God is not a watchmaker winding up the clock and walking away or standing to admire His work. He makes the hands move and the tick-tock sound is part of His second-by-second control of all events. So, scientific thought, even with Christians since Isaac Newton, by reducing God to the ultimate first cause without an active role in every moment of our existence, is just simply one of the things that is in error about modern thinking. Nothing happens by itself without direction, meaningless and pointless, a result of blind chance. Absolutely nothing.

The question always arises. Why does calamity and disaster happen if God is good? We will be forced to discuss that later.

Heaven is one of those words like evil that doesn’t need an ‘s’ on the end to be thought of as plural although there is nothing particularly wrong with saying heavens or evils. It’s just awkward sometimes. We says skies as in the old advertising phrase, “Fly the Friendly Skies,” when there is only one sky. William Rosenau, in his early 20th century work entitled Hebraisms in the Authorized Version of the Bible reported that in the Hebrew grammars he studied the use of the word heaven or heavens, as for other plurals, is the difference between referring to something as a number of individual separate objects or as a singular to denote them collectively. So, contrary to the skeptics who insist that writing heaven for heavens is wrong, especially those skeptics sitting under Authorized Version preaching, it is not wrong, you are.(3)

 In the following passages we see the description of the creation of two heavens; one what we call atmosphere and the other we call outer space.

Genesis 2:1  Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.

(3) William Rosenau, Hebraisms in the Authorized Version of the Bible (Baltimore: The Lord Baltimore Press, 1902), 111.

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