This session was taught at the Christ Church Manchester School of Theology on Saturday 17th February 2018.
In this session we will look at how God created the universe. Was it in six literal days or billions of years? We will examine these differing views as well as looking at what God’s creation teaches us about him.
Speaker: Andy Johnston
Andy is one of the leaders at Kings Community Church Southampton and head of the Catalyst Leadership Training Program.
Prehistory (Genesis 1-11)
Although we are dealing with this as a separate section. It is very much an integral part of the whole story of Genesis – e.g. the “seed” is promised as early as Genesis 3:15.
These is pattern and order in the Creation narrative – Forming and Filling
Context: Forming & Filling
When the universe was created, the earth was …Tohu (= formless, shapeless, chaotic, ugly) & Bohu (=desolate, empty, lifeless, void)
Creation days relating to space 1 – God forms by separating light from darkness 4 – God fills space, creating the sun, moon and stars
Creation days relating to the sky 2 – God forms by separating the waters above from waters below 5 – God fills the sea and sky, creating fish and birds
Creation days relating to the land 3 – God forms by gathering the waters together into one place, and creating plants 6 – God fills the land, by creating animals and finally humans, in his image, to complete the task
Commission to mankind – “Subdue and have dominion” (= form: bring order, structure, beauty) “Be fruitful and multiply” (= fill: bring life, and the image of God)
Description in Genesis 2 – 2:4-17 – work, stewardship, leadership – 2:18-25 – family, sex, marriage, relationship
Primary agent (in Genesis 2-3) – Man – Woman
Curse in Genesis 3 – To man, on his primary role: earth will be chaotic (3:17-19) – To woman, on her primary role: producing life will be painful (3:16)
Creation vs. Evolution
6 literal days?
Key issues: –
1) High view of Scripture. We should not “ditch” the Creation story simply because it seems incompatible with modern science.
2) The Bible does not seek to provide a scientific explanation of the origins of the universe but a theological one. It is not anti-science but rather pre-science.
3) A straightforward literal reading of Genesis 1 is not unproblematic – light before the sun and moon (v3 and 14)
4) A theistic evolutionary approach also presents problems since it challenged the important Biblical truth (v27) that human beings are made in the image of God.
5) What should we make of Tim Keller’s approach?
Genesis 1 is exalted prose bordering on the poetic. Genesis 2 is a narrative of the same event.
He cites Judges 4 and 5 and Exodus 15 and 15 as doing similar things. Is this helpful or simply a fudge/compromise of Biblical truth?
What does it mean to be made in the image of God?
1) Representing God. Kings in the ancient world established statues to demark their land and ancient religions established statues of deities in temples. Eden – the first Temple.
2) Resembling God – God is a Spirit, but when He appears in physical form he looks like a man (see Ezekiel 1, Daniel 7, Joshua 5 and the Incarnation)
3) Ruling for God – v26 and 28
4) Relating like God in beautiful harmony like the Trinity
5) Reproducing for God – filling the Earth with people bearing His image and glory – v28
6) Reasoning like God – Genesis 3:1-5
7) Resting like God – rest is unique to human beings. The principle of Sabbath was before the institution of the Ten Commandments (see Exodus 16)
Genesis 1 is a demonstration that Yahweh is the One True God
1) God is sovereign – He speaks things into existence. The phrase “and it was so”, which keeps repeating, demonstrates His power.
2) God creates both the land and the sea. In other ancient civilisations evil gods/demons controlled the sea – not so with Yahweh.
3) Many Mediterranean religions had the sun, moon and stars as gods. But Yahweh created them all (v14-18). “And the stars” (v16) is almost a throwaway line.
4) Because the sea was not controlled by benevolent forces sea creatures were also feared enemies. But Yahweh created them on Day 5.
5) A king would often be in the image of gods of the Near East. However, in the Biblical picture it is not one great person but all of humanity that bears the image of Yahweh.
Creation of Humanity
1) Work is good and precedes the Fall (Genesis 1:26 and 2:15). Rule, authority, tending, watching and caring for creation are part of God’s original design for human begins to flourish.
2) Marriage is created as a picture of Christ and the Church (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:4-6 and Ephesians 5:22-23). This is primarily why so much of 21st century redefinition of marriage and relationships between men and women is so flawed.
The Garden of Eden as a Temple
The whole Cosmos
1) Adam acted like a priest – serving and guarding the dwelling place of God (Numbers 3:7-8)
2) Cherubim guarded God’s presence – cf. Ark of Covenant
3) The Tree of Life parallels the lampstand in the tabernacle and temple (Exodus 25:31-40)
4) Eden is the source of four rivers – parallels the river flowing from the Temple/Throne (Ezekiel 47 and Revelation 21)
5) Like the Temple, the entrance to the garden faces East
6) In Ezekiel 28 the Garden is depicted as a Temple (see especially v18)
7) God’s purposes for humanity – to fill creation with His presence (see Revelation 21)
The Origin of Evil in the World
What is Genesis 3 saying to us? Sin involved all of the following: –
1) Relational betrayal – like the man who heard his wife talking to her lover on the phone
2) Cosmic consequences – we are all like the children of Chernobyl
3) God wants willing agreement not simply blind obedience. Like the difference between what we expect of a 2-year-old child and an 18-year-old.
4) “The line between good and evil runs through every human heart” (Alexander Solzhenitsyn)
5) Genesis 2:17 is not arbitrary. God is not saying “Don’t walk on the grass” but rather “Don’t feed the bears”.
6) Human beings prefer independence to happiness!
7) Nakedness is mentioned quite a bit! (Genesis 2:25, 3:7, 3:10 and 3:21). What does this say about vulnerability, insecurity and shame?
The Consequences of Sin
1) Satan is judged and his ultimate fate is sealed – Genesis 3:15 and Romans 16:20
2) Woman – pain and subjugation
3) Man – work becomes difficult and mortality is clear (Genesis 3:19)
4) Death – sin pounces (Genesis 4:7)
5) Curse on Cain – exile, separation, wandering and being killed. Even with Cain, Yahweh shows grace – Genesis 4:15.
6) Hope in the seed – through Seth (Genesis 3:15 and 4:25)
7) Worship – Genesis 4:26
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