Genesis 1:1-13 Post Tenebras Lux
Sunday, March 16, 2008- Here is the first third of today’s Sunday School Lesson. In class I actually covered 2/3 of the material. Unfortunately I do not have the last 2/3 of the material on my computer since I preached the early chapters of Genesis in my clay tablet days (before a friend gave me the computer and dragged me kicking and screaming into the later 20th century- thanks Donnie!) So this material is the exegesis notes for Gen. 1:1-13 and abbreviated notes at that. This took up the first half of the class and the last half of the class I used my sermon notes from January of 1999 on Gen. 1:1-5 “The Lights Came On, Are You Still In The Dark?”.
Genesis: Finding Answers to Life’s Crucial QuestionsSemester One: Genesis 1-11 “Beginnings”
Read 1Peter 2:9,10; Pray
Introduction: What is darkness?________________ Technically speaking, darkness is not a something, it is the absence of a something isn’t it? What was the darkest night or darkest place you have ever experienced?_______________ For me it was as a small 7-8 year old at Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico. You go down a couple of hundred feet under the earth and they turn out the lights. I have heard that they no longer do that little trick because somebody got all upset and sued them. Too bad. It is an interesting and educational thing to experience the absence of light. When I was a kid my dad was the Sunday School teacher for my age group or the age group just a bit older than me. And when I was about 10 he took his SS class of boys to Alabaster Caverns State Park in Oklahoma. We took the tour of the famous caverns, and again they turned out the lights and we got to experience total darkness. But after the tour we got to explore the park, and there were other caverns in the park that were not on the official tours. So my dad took a SS class of boys spelunking and this one cave we explored finally got to the point where we were all crawling on our bellies. Then we could go no further and my dad had us turn our flashlights off. Again, total darkness. (the things my dad did with young pre-teen boys’ SS….!! You could get sued for that stuff today! But oh what fun and adventure we had! The class was good Bible instruction as well, but I am sure that every kid my dad ever taught remembers those class trips.)
Have you ever been lost in the dark, alone?____ One night, when I was an Infantry Platoon Leader in the Army, at Yakima Firing Range in central Washington State, my platoon was set up on Yakima Ridge and I had to go to the Company Commander’s tent for a night meeting to discuss the next day’s training. After the couple of hours for the meeting, I exited the brightly lit tent and entered a very dark, foggy night. It had not been foggy when I came to the meeting, but it was dark. In trying to get back to my platoon I got disoriented and lost in the night fog. I stumbled around in the dark for 2 more hours before I found my platoon. Not my idea of a good time.
In what other ways do we use the terms Light and Darkness?_______________________
We use the terms in emotional, moral and spiritual ways don’t we? Have you ever had what you could call your “darkest hour” emotionally or spiritually? Some of you know what it is like to live in moral darkness or to try to minister in an area of great spiritual darkness.
One of the great mottos of the Reformation is Post Tenebras Lux, engraved in the Reformation Wall of Geneva and used by Calvin as a kind of motto. After Darkness, Light. The Reformation brought the Light of the Gospel back to the people of Europe after centuries of corruption in the church and her doctrine.
Now, what does all of this have to do with Genesis? In our study this morning we will look at Gen. 1:1-13 and the first 3 days of creation, with a concentration on the themes of Light and Darkness as shown throughout Scripture. The first 2 months of this class has been a study of some of the critical areas of how to understand and interpret Genesis; now we are moving into the exposition of the text. In today’s lesson I want you to let the light of the Gospel shine in and through your life so that as you enter a dark world tomorrow, you will be the light of the world that Christ has called you to be.
Read Genesis 1:1-13 I. Verse 1 In the Beginning God Created the Heavens and the Earth
We have already covered this verse but just a brief review will be of some help. I interpret this to mean that God created the universe by divine fiat at some point in the distant past and that there is a long gap between vs.1 and vs.2 or that the days of creation are long periods of time representing the creative work of God in a way that makes sense to us. It could be that the days are literal 24 hour days when God creates the promised land for Adam and Eve. This creation eliminates the pagan views in vogue in Moses’ day where creation was involving multiple gods fighting and procreating in order to create the world. I believe that modern science ultimately does not contradict the Scriptures in the creation account.
II. Verse 2 The Earth Was Without Form and Void
Notice that before God’s day one activity of speaking light into existence, the earth did exist, but it was formless and void. The sense of these words is that the land was disorganized and uninhabitable. Kent Hughes writes (p.21 of Genesis: Beginning and Blessing) “the Hebrew of ‘without form and void’ is rhythmic (tohu wabohu) and served as a common expression for a place that is disordered and empty and therefore uninhabitable and uninhabited- the very opposite of what the earth would be after the 6 days of creation.”
And Darkness was Over the Face of the Deep
Darkness is the absence of light. It could be due to cloud cover, lack of the sun, etc. but the darkness is not explained, just as the deep is not explained and neither is the origin of Satan explained. In other ancient literature the chaos of the deep, of the sea, is a given as well. But with Scripture notice that in Rev.21:1,25 the sea will be no more and there will be no darkness. The Bible opens with God and darkness and the abyss, and in the end God is triumphant and the deep and darkness are no more. Other ancient cosmogonies mention darkness and its power, but here we find God rules over the darkness and his Spirit penetrates the darkness to hover over the abyss. Darkness is named here, and naming means God has authority over it. God does not fear the darkness for even it is a part of his creation. Isa. 45:7 “I form the light and create darkness…”
The primordial waters have a big role to play in the cosmogonies of Babylon and Egypt. In the Enuma Elish the goddess Tiamet represents the sea, the watery abyss, and her death is used to bring forth the earth using her carcass. In Egypt the creator-god Atum is on a hill that arises out of the deep. But in the Genesis account the deep is not personified, God Is not threatened by the deep like Tiamet threatened Marduk, the creator god of Babylon. And keep in mind the greater purpose of Moses in writing to the people of Israel who were delivered by the Lord opening up a land through the sea for their escape from Egypt, and how the Lord closed up the sea on the Egyptian army. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
Here we see the third member of the Trinity mentioned, though, as we have said before, the Genesis account may support our NT understanding of the Trinity, but it does not teach the doctrine here. But the concept of the Spirit of God hovering is one that Moses uses again later using the same words in Deut.32:11 “Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that flutters over its young, spreading out its wings, catching them”. Kenneth Mathews in NAC Gen.1:11:26 writes, “Deut.32:10-11 is probably a deliberate echo of Gen.1:2. Moses’ song is describing God’s care and provision for his people during their desert sojourn, where apart from God they could not have survived. Tohu wabohu has the same sense in Gen.1, characterizing the earth as uninhabitable and inhospitable to human life. Despite the threatening desert, God protects and matures Israel during its troubled times. God hovers over his creation, and over you today, like an eagle tending her young. Read Psalm 104:24-30.
In Jer. 4:23 we find “I looked on the earth, and behold, it was without form and void; and to the heavens, and they had no light.” Here we find the prophet using Gen.1:2 in a reversed way to speak a word of judgment upon Israel. In essence he is saying that the land will become uninhabitable and empty just like it was before God created it.
Notice also that the Spirit of God was doing something, showing signs of life over an otherwise lifeless earth. But the word for Spirit is ruah and can be legitimately translated as wind. But again we look to Moses and Israel and we see that it was a strong east wind that drove the sea back so that Israel could pass through safely. Whether it is wind or Spirit, it is still God sovereignly affecting the earth for his will and pleasure.
III. Verse 3-5 The First DayAnd God said, “Let there be light”
When taken literally we see that for the first three days the earth was illuminated by a light other than the sun, and when we look to the end of the Bible, we see Rev.21:1 and again there is no need for the sun. The rhythm of evening and morning begin here on the first day because the darkness of evening was already present when God said Let there be light. This is the beginning of the motif or theme of darkness and light in Scripture.
Here we see the power of God’s spoken Word, another theme throughout Scripture. Whether it is the words of Creation here in Gen1 or the word of the Lord that comes to the prophets, or the written word, or Jesus the Word, the word of God is powerful. It is this doctrine of the Word that is at the root of the high literacy rate amongst the Jews and later amongst the Protestants as compared with all other people around the world. Look at John 1:1-5 and count the similarities with Gen.
Notice that there is a separation that occurs in vs.4 and this is the first of 3 separations (v.6-7, 9-10) or divisions that occur in the creation story. Again, a theme is seen in Scripture of separating or dividing. Abraham is called to leave his family and home, Israel is called out of Egypt, the tribe of Levi is separated out from their brethren to serve the Lord. Jesus says there will be sheep and goats, those who will follow him and those who will not, those who go to heaven and those who go to hell. We are called to be separate from the world, in the world but not of it.
Notice also that God saw that the light was good. God is pleased with his creation. Light is such an amazing thing. It is both a wave and a particle, it has so many different parts to its spectrum from ultraviolate to infra-red, from X-rays to gamma rays. Light illuminates, it warms, it guides. Light has certain healing and restorative powers too. For years doctors said to cover up and don’t get much direct sunlight because of skin cancers. Now doctors are saying that we all need at least 20 minutes of direct sunlight a day in order to activate our vitamin D in our body that fights more common and deadly cancers than the skin cancers. But when God says the light is good, he is now acting as Judge over his creation, evaluating it, giving it meaning and value.
Therefore, the created universe has a moral value attached to it by its Creator. There is the Law of God right along side of the physical laws. Beauty, goodness, as well as functionality are all a part of God’s creation. The moral laws are just as inescapable as the laws of physics. You cannot divorce the moral factor from the physical.
IV. The Second Day
The expanse is the sky or the separation of the waters of the seas from the waters of the clouds. But we see here another jab at the false gods of the day.
Mathews writes (p.150-151) “The theological significance of God’s creation of the skies is the clarification that God alone rules the powers of the heavens. Divine rule of the skies was particularly important for Sumerian religion, which gave prominent place to the heavens in its pantheon of gods. It was Anu the sky god and Enlil god of the atmosphere, who established and deposed the kings of the Sumerian city-states. Baal in the Ugaritic pantheon is identified as the Rider of the Clouds. He was god of storm and rain. Israel’s faith declares that Yahweh is the source of heaven’s powers. The passage therefore asserts that the heavens and their celestial inhabitants are merely instruments to serve God and his earthly creatures; they are not autonomous authorities.”
V. The Third Day
On the 3d day God separates the land from the waters and brings forth vegetation upon the land. Day 3 is somewhat different from the first 2 days because God has two separate acts of creation. He brings forth the land and then he also brings forth the vegetation. The earth is now productive.
QQ: What is the difference in how the vegetation is created than in what else has been created up to this point?_________________ God still speaks, but he commands the land to produce the vegetation. Why did God do it this way? Or more specifically, why did Moses write it this way? Keep in mind that this is a polemical piece, what is Moses writing against here? The concept of mother earth and all the fertility cults that used sexual practices like temple prostitution and annual spring festivals with orgies is what Moses is combating here. The fruit of the land is not the result of various divinities copulating. It is the result of God’s creative powers.
Vss 11-12 use the word “seed”, thus introducing another Bible theme that we could study.
The use of the phrase “according to their kinds” is one of the ways we can fight the idea of macro evolution. Plants stay within their kinds, like the animals. More on this later.