Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Creation - Genesis 1 vs. 1 – Genesis 2 vs. 3

This blog is later than what I thought it would be but I have been reading the references mentioned in my first blog along with some internet bible study notes.

I read on an online bible study at crivoice.org that “there are a lot of issues that could be covered, in The Creation Story, however rather than trying to cover all ranges of possibility for interpretation and try to define what is or isn’t right or wrong with all the possible perspectives, we should rather listen to what the text itself is actually saying in relation to the Community of Faith.”

I fully agree with this statement and I will be covering Genesis in this manner by mostly focusing on pulling the meaning of the scripture from each sentence.

With this in mind let’s begin at the beginning and then work our way through sentence by sentence. Before you begin this next section I’d suggest you read the creation story all the way through if you have not done so already and then read it again after the Bible study.  Going forward it is best to employ this technique as it helps gain perspective, knowledge and understanding.

GEN 1:1… In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

The Bible begins with God.  The word God actually appears 35 times in the creation story.  It immediately draws our attention to the most important part of our existence.  Thus being said, the creation story is not mainly about creation but about God. 

It also clarifies that God was there before creation took place. No one created God - God just is. He was, He is and He is to come.

Now read the verse again and think about it a bit more.  What did God do? He created –right? Now look around you, just simply look at His creation.  What does it tell you about God? Isn’t God just so creative?

Before we carry on I just want to touch on an important question that comes to mind at this point.  Why did God create us? I’m not talking about the purpose He gave us.  I’m talking about why did God create - well, all this?  Genesis 1 doesn’t directly tell us but the Bible does give clue’s into who God is and one of the things God is, is love… God did not need to create the universe.  He chose to create it for His purpose.  Love is best expressed toward someone or something.  So God created the world because He loves us and we are valuable in His eyes.

GEN 1:2… Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.

In the verses that follow this we will be told how creation took place. Therefore considering this, this verse gives a very strong contrast with what is to come.  Very soon after this verse the darkness was dispelled and the earth took form. 

Another important part of this verse is that it tells us that God’s Spirit (part of the trinity) was actively involved in creation.  Let’s look at the word ‘hover’ for a second. Hovering can be a noun or a verb.  The verb ‘to hover’ means to hang fluttering or suspended in the air but it also means to linger watchfully about and be near at hand.  The Holy Spirit was near at hand during the creation of the universe and He remains near at hand today to help us.  As a noun however it can mean a cover or a shelter or a protection. So it’s as if the Spirit of God was hovering protectively over the earth and waiting nearby to assist in any way.

GEN 1:3-5…  And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.  God saw that the light was good and He separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light, “day,” and the darkness He called, “night.” And there was evening and there was morning – the first day.

Day 1 – LIGHT.  Let’s briefly discuss the light.  This was probably not normal light like that from the sun, moon and stars as these had not yet been created.  But it could have probably been a cosmic light which flashed at God’s command.  Then evening and morning came.  Isn’t it majestic that time began before the sun was created to mark time?

GEN 1:6-8…  And God said, “Let there be an expanse between the waters to separate the water from water.” So God made the expanse and separated the water under the expanse from the water above it.  And it was so.  God called the expanse, “sky.” And there was evening and there was morning – the second day.

Day 2 – SKY. The expanse between the waters was the separation between the sea and the mists of the sky (i.e. space)

GEN 1: 9 – 13…  And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.”  And it was so.  God called the dry ground, “land,” and the gathered waters He called, “seas.”  And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so.  The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.  And there was evening and there was morning – the third day.

Day 3 – LAND, SEA, VEGETATION. Yes vegetation was created before the sun but remember there was light, which was created on the first day.  In terms of the order of creation, most scientists agree with the order set aside in Genesis 1 which was written eons before science even existed.  Even though the sun, moon and stars don’t appear in the sky until Day 4, scientists still agree that it only appears afterwards as the vegetation would have started to help clear the mists (thick cloud) in the sky.  So science does agree with the order of creation, but in my opinion does it really matter? 

GEN 1:14-19…  And God said, “let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times (seasons) and days and years, and let them be lights in the expanse of the sky to give light on the earth.”  And it was so.  God made two great lights – the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night.  He also made the stars.  God set them in the expanse of the sky to give light to the earth, to govern the day and the night and to separate light from darkness.  And God saw that it was good.  And there was evening and there was morning the fourth day.

Day 4 – SUN, MOON, STARS.  While this explains why these lights were created, it would also have shown the ancients that the sun, moon and stars were not gods but created by the one true God.

GEN 1:20-25…  And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the sky.” So God created creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind.  And God saw that it was good.  God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.”  And there was evening and there was morning – the fifth day.  And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground and the wild animals, each according to their kinds.”  And it was so.  God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds.  And God saw that it was good.

Day 5 – SEA CREATURES + BIRDS and Day 6 – ANIMALS (Part 1) + HUMANS (Part 2).  In day 1-4 we saw the creation of the environment take place.  By day 5 and 6 God started to fill the environment He created.

Before we move on to the rest of Day 6, when mankind was created, lets first look at another of God’s characteristics.  God created the world in an orderly fashion like creating light before plants.  It’s interesting that science agrees with the order to creation as set in Genesis thousands of years ago but we should not be looking at it this way, as the most important thing is faith and we should not rely on science to prove or disprove the Bible.  God created the world exactly how He wanted it.

GEN 1:26…  Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness so that they may rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

This verse stresses the close relationship between animals and humans who were created on the same day.  However, we were also created as unique beings capable of communication with God. 

Look closely at verse 26 again, God uses plural form. This isn’t just the usual royal form; this is reference to the Trinity.  We already know the Spirit of God is present at creation.  Later in the Bible we find reference to the fact that Jesus – the Son of God and part of the trinity – was also present at creation.

We further see in this verse that we are created in God’s image.  What ways do you think we are and are not made in God’s image?

·         God is not a physical body and is everywhere at once so we are not physically alike
·         We will never be exactly like God, He is our supreme creator
·         But we do have the ability to reflect His character (i.e. love etc.) 

As we progress along in our adventure, we will discover more about God’s character and how we as Christians should be.

Because we are made in God’s image we can feel positive about ourselves. So criticizing or degrading ourselves is criticizing what God made and the abilities He has given us.

GEN 1:27 … So God created mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them, male and female He created them.

God made both man and women in His image. Neither man nor woman is made more in the image of God.  From the beginning God placed both man and woman at the pinnacle of His creation. Neither sex is more important.  They are equal in the eyes of the Lord.  We will talk later however on the different purpose he gave each of us. But first I need you to understand that we are equal and to keep that in mind as we go forward.

GEN 1:28…  God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.

In this verse we are given 5 collective commands to do as mankind:
·         Be fruitful
·         Increase in number
·         Fill the earth
·         Subdue the earth
·         Rule over certain parts of creation

Let’s touch quickly on the term “rule over.”  This is one of the reasons God made us.  We are to care for His creation.  God gave us authority and control over it. Remember however that God has the absolute authority and control which He exercises with loving care and we should therefore do the same.  Man’s dominion was to be caring and peaceful.  It is sad that over the centuries this does not happened – look at animals that are endangered to become extinct, look at the animals that have become extinct already and look around you at the pollution and as a result global warming.  It was not meant to be like this. We must not be careless or wasteful. So God delegated some of His authority to the human race and He expects us to take responsibility. 

Let’s just take note however that there are certain parts of creation that God did not give us authority over.  Such as: (1) The Heavens (2) Light (3) Darkness (4) Sky (5) Land (6) Sea (7) Sun (8) Moon (9) Stars.

GEN 1: 29… Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it.  They will be yours for food.  And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground – everything that has the breath of life in it – I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

Is that not interesting?  Have you ever read this verse and taken in its full meaning?  Before the fall, before sin entered the world, nothing ate meat just vegetation.  My research has shown that this was probably right up till the time of Noah as man’s dominion was in actual fact meant to be peaceful.

GEN 1:31 – GEN 2:1 … God saw what He had made, and it was very good.  And there was evening and there was morning – the sixth day.  Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.

‘Very good’ …. Yes read that again ‘very good.’  We are part of God’s creation and He is very pleased He made us.  Therefore any time you feel worthless – Don’t!  Think of how much God loves you.  God made you for a reason.  Everything up till the creation of mankind had been good but we made God’s creation very good, we are special. To sum this up however, God was pleased with His good work.  Are you proud of your accomplishments?  What are you doing that pleases both you and God?

GEN 2:2 … By the Seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work.

God rested so you should also rest.  Rest recharges and refreshes you for times of service.  Note to self – have less late nights and get more rest - LOL

GEN 2:3…  The God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done.

If Moses wrote the creation story with God’s inspiration then it is a good assessment to note that this information about the seventh being holy was not observed until then as it would only have been revealed to the Israelites in Moses’ time - perhaps during the writing of the 10 commandments? In the books I have been reading it seems to suggest this that the Sabbath was only disclosed to the people of Israel at Mount Sinai.  This day of worship was to provide all the other days with meaning.

There are things we do not, should not and cannot know about God, for they are too majestic for Human understanding.  But there are other things we must know for they are too significant for us not to understand them. So let’s wrap this up.  With all this knowledge behind you, read the creation story again.  Amazing isn’t it? So what does it reveal about God?

·         God is the sole creator
·         God is creative
·         God is powerful
·         God was not created
·         God is orderly
·         God is 3–in–1
·         God is like us
·         God is unlike us (there is more to God)
·         God cares about us and loves us
·         God is the judge of all He creates

What more do you see about God just from the creation story? Your comments would be appreciated.

In summary though creation is the ‘what’ and the creator is the ‘who.’  We know the creator is there because we see His fingerprints and footprints everywhere.  It is impossible to have fingerprints and footprints without someone to make them.  We are thankful for the ‘who’ as well as the ‘what’ but we worship only the creator and not His creation.

If you want here are some Palms of creation that you can read:

·         Psalm 8 vs. 3 – 9
·         Psalm 19 vs. 1 – 4
·         Psalm 33 vs. 6 – 7
·         Psalm 104 vs.  1 – 4
·         Psalm 104 vs. 24 – 30

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Time Before Time

Have you ever wondered what God was doing through the long expanse of time before He created our universe? What was He thinking ... what was He planning? How long did it take Him? The bible starts with the creation story but it must have taken time to plan each integrate part of creation.

Each snowflake is different and there are multi-billions in one acre of snowfall. Multiply those billions by all the snow in the world for one day ... or one winter ... or thousands of winters.  Yet no snowflake is alike!

Let's think about sunrises and sunsets.  One is happening in the world somewhere at every moment.  The sun is always rising and always setting, painting literally billions of sunrise and sunset pictures each day.  Multiply that times thousands of years.  God is quite an artist isn't he?

Think of other parts of creation ... The planning of each leaf, billions of flowers, trees, stars, planets and galaxies.  I was sitting in the car the other day with my mom just passing some time before we had to be somewhere.  As I sat there I was looking at the trees and was marvelling how each trunk and branch layout is different.  It’s not like an oak has 5 branches sticking out at 35 degree angles or the trunk is straight with no lumps.  Each tree is different and all the information to grow is built inside one little seed.

What about every animal, insect (no matter how creepy some can be) and seashell. Was God planning all this marvellous stuff for eons before He said "Let it now happen.”?

 Then we come to the most complex creation - us! Each highly complex body with miles of nerves and blood vessels and DNA (a life map for each of us), each fingerprint - everything...... WOW!!!!

We sometimes wonder how our world came to be. How long it took to form? Was it 7 days or 7000 years? Was there a big bang? Was it evolution over billions of years? Either way, God created it!!! He planned it.  This is where Genesis starts.... It starts with God.  God created earth and everything in or around it and although we don't know the exact method He used to create it ... one thing is clear - God created all life!!

Intro to Genesis

The word Genesis means 'beginning' or 'origin' and it unfolds the beginning of the universe, the world, of human beings, civilization, sin, the Jewish nation and of salvation.  It is also the story of God's purpose and plan for His creation.  It is the record of God's creation of the world and His desire to have a people set apart to worship Him.

It is believed that Moses was the author of Genesis and he probably wrote it during the time of the wilderness wanderings.  He wrote it from a number of stories passed on to him through preceding generations but the chapter on creation was probably direct inspiration from God.

What is the main point of Genesis? God created and sustains everything.  Though sin damaged God's creation and His relationship with humanity, God is at work in the world restoring both.

Let's spend the next few months reading Genesis together and be encouraged as there is hope.  No matter how dark the world seems, God has a plan. And God wants to use ALL of us in His plan.

Thank You Lord, for your Word and the joy of discovering its treasures.
Treasures of intelligence, knowledge and love.
Please be with us through this adventure we are undertaking dear God,
and keep our hearts ready to hear Your word
and show us how You want us to apply each scripture to our daily lives.

The Old Testament

The Latin word 'biblia' translated as 'bible' literally means "books."  The Bible is God's truth about Himself and how we should relate to Him, set in the context of history. 

God has given us 66 books. The 39 Old Testament books cover 2000 years and were written by a variety of authors.

Many have an insufficient understanding of the background to the Bible, which is why I first want to touch on a bit of an overview before each book so that we can apply the correct context.  It will be brief and won't delve too deep into it the way the books I have been reading do, but will cover the basics we need.

The setting is the region currently known as the Middle East.  Israel was at the crossroads of the world with trade routes arriving from all directions.  Israel's unique position however was no accident.  This location has spiritual significance. God was planting a people at a crossroads where they could be a model for the world and that the whole world could see the blessing that came to people living under God's rule and the consequences that came when they disobeyed.

As previously mentioned, the Old Testament covers over 2000 years of history before the time of Christ.  This period of time can be divided into four parts of roughly 500 years each.  Each period has a key event, a prominent person and a type of leadership.

In the first period, the patriarchs led Israel: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph.  In the second period Israel was led by prophets from Moses to Samuel.  In the third period they were led by kings from Saul to Zedekiah.  The fourth period saw priests take the lead, from Joshua to Calaphas in the time of Christ.

None of the leader types were ideal though and each individual brought his own flaws to the task.  The nation needed a leader who was a prophet, priest and a king and they found Him in Jesus.  Each stage, therefore, was a foreshadowing of the ideal leader who was to come.

There are essentially two main themes in the Bible:

· What has gone wrong with our world
· How it can be put right

The book of Genesis tells us exactly what the problem is while the rest of the Bible tells us how God is going to put it right by rescuing sinful humanity from itself.

Why I began this blog?

God has really been at work in my life.  Though I was brought up a Christian, I have had some rocky times in my Faith but God has brought me through it and our relationship is stronger than ever. Maybe as we go along in our discoveries I'll share some of my testimony with you.

One of the reasons I started this blog is more of a commitment between God and me that I will daily seek to learn more about Him and put all my discoveries and thoughts down. No matter what they are or what season I am in at the point I reach that scripture.  Who knows, maybe it will reach someone out there or maybe it's to get me away from online RPG's (i.e. Role Playing Games) where I write other much less insignificant stuff - I've recently discovered I love writing.  Well I don't know the reason but all I do know is God’s in control and taking me on a journey so here I am.

I have been thinking and praying about where to begin and my mind keeps travelling back to two years ago when I undertook to study the Bible from start to finish.  But then I started seeping into depression and I never even finished Genesis so where else better to begin my blog, than at the beginning.

I pray this becomes an interactive blog where people around the world can chat about each scripture and share their thoughts.  That way we can all learn more.

I'm not sure how long this adventure will take.  I have previously read the Bible from start to finish many times but never undertook a full on Bible Study on each verse.  I plan to work through the Bible chapter by chapter and verse for verse stopping now and again to do character assessments on important people in the Bible.  Some of it will be my thoughts but it will also be a study so I will be using certain books at my disposal to help explain things and help with context and stuff:

· The NIV - Life Application Study Bible
· What everyone Should Know About the Bible by V Gilbert Beers
· Unlocking the Bible by David Pawson
· The Complete Guide to the Bible by Stephen M. Miller
· Mysteries of the Bible by Readers Digest

Should I start to employ more books along the way I'll update the list.  

I thought I'd start out with this poem that I found in one of the books listed above... 

Yes I thought I knew my Bible
Reading piecemeal, hit or miss
Now a part of John or Matthew
Then a bit of Genesis

Certain chapters of Isaiah
Certain Psalms, the twenty-third
First of Proverbs, twelfth of Romans
Yes, I thought I knew the Word

But I found that thorough reading
Was a different thing to do
And the way was unfamiliar
When I read my Bible through.

You who like to play at Bible
Dip and dabble here and there
Just before you kneel all weary
Yawning through a hurried prayer.

You who treat this crown of writings
As you treat no other book
Just a paragraph disjointed
Just a crude impatient look.

Try a worthier procedure
Try a broad and steady view;
You will kneel in awesome wonder
When you read the Bible through

~author unknown ~