Summary: Genesis 1:1-5. The doctrine of Creation ex nihilo is explained and applied.
IN THE BEGINNING
GENESIS PART 1 – ANTEDILUVIAN HISTORY
THE DOCTRINE OF CREATION: EX NIHILO
- In our modern age of scientific discoveries and breakthroughs, the miracles recorded in Scripture are often set aside as fairy tales in favor of more naturally plausible explanations for the events the Bible tells us about. This is done because science, by its very definition, is limited to natural, observable, repeatable, testable processes. The miracles in Scripture are not observable, repeatable, or testable; and they are defined as miracles because they are supernatural. There is nothing natural about them. So often times the honest student of Scripture is faced with a decision that our modern knowledge makes difficult: am I to believe these stories at face value?
- I would suggest that it is wise for all Christians to remember that when all the facts are known, true science and a proper interpretation of Scripture harmonize perfectly. Since, however, we don’t yet know all the facts about everything in our world, we are left with hard, but invigorating challenges as we read God’s word to mankind. One of those great challenges is the question of the origin of the universe. I prefer to call it the miracle of creation. Science has come a long way in explaining certain things about our universe, but there is one question it fails to satisfactorily answer: where did this universe come from?
- As we begin our look at Genesis we are going to answer some intriguing questions. And yet, you will find that some of your questions will remain unanswered. We are going to take a glimpse into the beginning of the world and cosmos we see around us. We’re going to attempt to tackle difficult issues to the best of our Scriptural ability. And we’re going to seek to make sense of the Genesis account of the creation of the world.
- In doing so we are going to be making some assumptions that many modern scientists would not make. We make these assumptions because they are scriptural, and some modern intellectuals reject them for the same reason. The first assumption is that the natural world is not all that exists. There exists a spiritual realm that we cannot see but are often influenced and affected by. The second is that this spiritual realm includes the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient God. The third is that this God is the Creator and Sustainer of our universe.
- So keep those things in mind as we work our way through the text. But before we start with the very first verse of the Bible, let’s get some background information on the book of Genesis:
INTRODUCTION TO GENESIS
- Probably the most important thing to remember about the book of Genesis is that it is a part of a larger body of work. This body of work is known as the Pentateuch. The word Pentateuch means “five books or scrolls” and describes the first five books of the Hebrew Bible – our Old Testament. This is vital because in order to understand the author’s purposes in Genesis we must understand his overall purposes in the Pentateuch. Themes such as land, blessing, law, and covenant that are important in the other four books are important in Genesis as well. I will highlight these themes as we encounter them.
- Speaking of the author, Moses is the generally recognized writer of these five books. Recently some textual critics have suggested that Moses did not write some or any of these works. The arguments put forth for such a claim go beyond our scope this morning, and there are good reasons to believe that Moses did in fact write the Pentateuch as tradition tells us he did. So we are going to hold to Mosaic authorship as we study this book. If your interest is peaked and you would like to study further, do some research on the Documentary Hypothesis. We will largely assume Mosaic authorship, not because I am unaware of the other theories, but rather because I am convinced they are incorrect and Moses is the primary author of these texts.
- Our English title Genesis comes from the LXX or Septuagint, which is a valuable Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. The original Hebrew title is בְּרֵאשִׁ֖ית which is actually the first word of the text and is translated “In the beginning”. So Genesis, as its name implies, is about beginnings. It tells of the beginning of the universe. It tells of the beginning of mankind. And it tells of the beginning of the formation of the nation of Israel, God’s elect.
- This book of beginnings can be outlined in several ways. Throughout our look at it I will make reference to these various methods of outlining. One way is to divide the book into antediluvian and postdiluvian history. In other words, the events that took place before and after Noah’s flood. Another way is to separate the book into primeval and patriarchal history. Primeval history includes all of the events up to Abraham, who was the first patriarch (or father or male head of the Jewish nation). From then on, of course, the books tells of patriarchal history.