At The Blue Point Bible Church we have recently begun an intense journey through the Scriptures (what we are referring to as “Thinking Thru the Scriptures”). In this blog, I want to outline our last 3 sermons, which dealt with Genesis chapters 1-3. This is properly referred to as the “Genesis Creation Account”. Also, you can listen to the podcasted sermons at the following link, https://www.buzzsprout.com/11630
(I look forward to the possibility in the near future of publishing these outlines and more through the entire Bible, with commentary).
Genesis 1 – 2:3: An Ancient Near Eastern “Temple Text”
Genesis 1:1-2 – God’s creative act begins with establishing “heavens and earth” (this term is used throughout the Scriptures to speak of the relationship (covenant) Israel had with God (see, Deuteronomy 31:28; 32:1; 1 Chronicles 16:31; Isaiah 1:2; 13:13; Jeremiah 4:22, 28; Hosea 2:21; Joel 3:16; and Haggai 2:21). Also, the use of the Hebrew word “bara” which means to fatten or fill, rather than “asah” which means creating something from nothing is very telling about the purpose of this text. The mention of “tohu vavohu” (formless and void) highlights disorder, chaos, and meaningless existence (in our case this speaks to the rampant idolatry of the Ancient Near East). The “spirit hovering” over the waters demonstrates that God was at work. Similar texts to reference would be Isaiah 34:11; Isaiah 45:18; Job 26:7; Jeremiah 4:23; Deuteronomy 32:10; and Psalm 104:30).
Genesis 1:3 -5 – Day One – God brings forth light. This “light” is not the light from the sun, moon, and stars (they are created on Day Four), rather, this light is the light of God that brings clarity and order (cf. Job 3:20; 2 Samuel 22:29; Isaiah 45:18-19; Isaiah 60:1-3, 19-20; John 1:4-5; 2 Corinthians 4:6; and 1 Thessalonians 5:4-7).
• The mention of “evening and morning” here is rather telling. There is no sun, moon, and stars at this point, so we note this text is not speaking of what we understanding “evening and morning”, or the completion of a 24-hour day.
Genesis 1:6 – 8 – Day Two – God creates the firmament/ or the “vault in the sky” to separate the land and the skies. Simply put, this is ANE cosmology, and spoke to the order of the heavens and earth as they understood it. Instead of trying to wrap our minds around the order of the universe, or even the physical planet Earth, this text is simply demonstrating that the God who is being defied through this “temple text” has rule over the heavens and the earth and everything within them.
Genesis 1:9 – 13 – Day Three – God begins to create land and seas and vegetation. In the prophetic language found through the Old Testament, this language speaks to all of creation, however more specifically it highlights the distinction between the “land” (Israel) and the “seas” (Gentiles). See, Isaiah 1:1-3; chapters 24-27; Jeremiah 5:24-25; Psalm 65:7; Isaiah 17:12; Jeremiah 46:7-8; Daniel 9:26; and Revelation 17:15).
Genesis 1:14 – 19 – Day Four – The sun, moon, and stars, are not only responsible for marking out days, seasons, and years (which were of great importance to the ancients, especially Israel under the Old Covenant), but also, represent rulers and kingdoms in prophetic language. The mention of night and day is not so much physical and what we understand as night and day (24 hours), but carry a theological tone we read of in Romans 13:11-12; 1 Thessalonians chapter 5; and Revelation 21:25; 22:5).
Genesis 1:20 – 23 – Day Five – The Biblical text says that God let the waters bring forth birds, land creatures, and sea creatures. Obviously that doesn’t speak to the physical creation, but rather in prophetic language these creatures represent the nations outside of Israel. Maybe this is motivation to study out the various uses of land creatures, birds, and sea creatures throughout the Bible? Also of significance is the usage of “be fruitful and multiply” (which is a covenant term used throughout the OT).
Genesis 1:24 – 31 – Day Six – God creates man in His image. There is much that can be studied out in reference to the plurality of the term “elohymn” and the use of “us” in Genesis 1 (I would venture to say this study would solidify the “Trinity”). Also, it is of importance to consider how images of the gods functioned in the Ancient Near Eastern setting. The image was where the power and authority of the God could be found. The Genesis account’s exalted view of humanity surely contrasts the other ANE “creation accounts/ myths”, which usually debase humanity and leave them in subjection to every other created thing.
Genesis 2:1-3 – Day Seven – In ANE “temple texts” and “temple dedications”, sovereignty of God was established, the rest of God was celebrated when the 7 day structure was completed. The 7th day would come to demonstrate the sovereignty of God over His people (which is a prominent theme found all throughout the Old Testament). Also worthy of note is the mention of “ki tov” (it is good) that is found throughout Genesis chapter 1. Ki Tov is an exclamation and praise, also highlighting the distinction of Israel’s God and his valuing and celebrating the physical elements, rather than debasing them to something evil (which is common in ancient pagan beliefs and “creation accounts”.
“Placing Genesis 1 in it’s Ancient Near Eastern setting strongly suggests that it was written as a self-defining document, as a means of declaring the distinctiveness of Israel’s own beliefs from those of surrounding nations. In other words, Genesis 1 is an argument, a polemic, declaring how Israel’s God is different from the mythical gods, and therefore how Israel is to be different from all other nations”. – Scholar Pete Enns (paraphrased)
** Of importance is also to make mention of the liturgical temple/tabernacle features that are found throughout Genesis 1:1-2:4. Consider the following correlations:
Genesis 1:31 cf. Exodus 39:43
Genesis 2:1 cf. Exodus 39:32
Genesis 2:2 cf. Exodus 40:33
Genesis 2:3 cf. Exodus 39:43
Genesis 2:3 cf. Exodus 40:9
Genesis 2:4 – 3:24 – The Generations of the Heaven and Earth
Moving into Genesis chapter 2 forward, we begin the accounting of the generations, or more simply put, we are beginning the lineage of Adam that would compose this covenant people.
Genesis 2:4 – This can be noted by the use of the Hebrew “toledot”, which is always used to speak of people and lineages.
Genesis 2:5-6 – The imagery of uncultivated land demonstrates no offering or glory for God. In that ancient time, before the establishment of the image of God (Adam), idolatry was rampant because God had yet to set up His image. We see similar talk of this idolatrous time wherein men relished in idolatry in Jeremiah 3:13 and 1 John 2:16.
Genesis 2:7 – God sets up his image by use of “dust” and the “breathe of life”. Both of these terms carry theological meanings, and speak from nothingness to truly alive nature of God’s image.
Genesis 2:8-14 – God places His image in the garden. The garden (Gan ben’Eden) represents God’s order and goodness as present with His people (see, Genesis 13:10; Joel 2:3; Isaiah 51:3; Ezekiel 31:9, 16, 18; Ezekiel 36:35). Surely understanding the imagery found in the garden as God’s presence leads us to see much similarities between the Garden of Eden scene and the Temple scene (essentially the place of God’s presence). See, 1 Kings 6:29 for an example. Also, the mention of the rivers gives us a geographical location of where these details come to us from (the Ancient Near East).
Genesis 2:15 – It is interesting to note that the terms used here for the role of the image, are a bit different than those used in Genesis 1:26. Genesis 1 uses “rulership” terms, declaring Adam’s lineage “heaven and earth” to be ruling over the nations. Genesis 2 uses “priestly” terms, making the point that Genesis 2-3 speak of temple details, the cultivation of God’s presence. These 2 roles of the image highlight the exclusivity Israel had with God under the Old Covenant. See, Numbers 3:7-8, 25-26; 8:5-6; 1 Chronicles 23:32).
Genesis 2:16-17 – The two trees in the garden represent 2 realities. The prophetic use of trees is found throughout the Scriptures and was very common to the Ancient Near Eastern worldview. God’s image was free to eat from all trees, except that which God told man to stay away from – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The contrast between the trees is used to highlight the pure knowledge of God that gives life against the mixed knowledge of carnality. Unfortunately, as the story will tell, man, even when given the very best of God (“the garden scene”), will choose carnality, sin, and death. This is what is being highlighted by the use of these trees and ultimately becomes the identity story of Israel (cf. Deuteronomy 30:15; Ezekiel 47: Revelation 2:7 and Revelation chapter 22). God always declares that eating of the tree of knowledge of God and evil will surely result in the death of God’s image (man).
Genesis 2:18 – God creates a “ey’zer kenegedo” for Adam. The Hebrew literally conveys the meaning of a helper that is opposite, as would be the mirror image of being face to face (this is the correlation the Apostle Paul is using in 1 Corinthians 11:9). God’s image is made complete by way of male and female .
Genesis 2:19-24 – This male/female image is given dominion over the garden. It is interesting to note that the Old Covenant Israel was under was only possible through birth, therefore showing a similarity of what God was doing in the creation story and ultimate how that would come to bear upon Israel’s story (this seems to be the way Jesus Christ uses these details in Matthew 19:5). Woman, or Eve, is created out of the rib of man, which in ancient culture symbolized life. The prophetic details and how this relates to Christ giving his life for the Church (His bride and help-meet) are astounding and urge us toward seeing the prophetic within the text. The details of naming give rise to the role of authority God’s image has in the world.
Genesis 2:25 – The nakedness (a’ru’mim) and no shame (we’lo shush shun) that Adam and Eve possess points to uncovered or naïve beginning as well as a freedom in thought. Fear of being naked/uncovered as well as a culture of shame will follow the “creation narrative”, and ultimately becomes Israel’s identity under the Old Covenant. The fear of being “uncovered” is mentioned by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:3, and studying God’s truth, as well as the judgement that was to come at the “coming of the Lord”, demonstrate the change of mind, or the unashamed reality being spoken of in this text (see, 2 Timothy 2:15 and 1 Corinthians 15:51).
Genesis 3:1 – The mention of the “serpent” and “trees” should give us a theological picture. Serpent is a term used for false spirituality/ teachers throughout the Scriptures, as well as other Ancient Near Eastern writings (see, Ezekiel 32:2; Isaiah 27:1; Revelation chapters 12 and 20; to name a few). Of course, the serpent challenges the wisdom/law of God and tries to use deceit in this historical account.
Genesis 3:2 – 6 – The garden deception highlights the propensity of humanity, which is and was demonstrated through the fleshly lineage of Adam (which makes sense because this is their “creation account”). The carnality that plagues the people of God is highlighted here (regardless to the various theories of Eve’s failure to have regard for God’s instruction, or Adam’s failure to rely the details and guard his wife), and this picture is used to convey the “lusts of the flesh” in 1 Timothy 2:13-14, as well as 1 John 2:16.
Genesis 3:7 – The opening of their eyes and a seeing, or realizing of their nakedness, represents a maturity. The covering of themselves represents shame, and the use of fig leaves demonstrates their feeble attempts at covering up their error.
Genesis 3:8 – This text yet again highlights the “temple imagery”. “Cool of the day” is a term used for the time when the evening breeze swept through that region. Also, interestingly enough this would be the time of the evening sacrifice – when the presence of God would be made known (cf. 1 Kings 18:36; 2 Chronicles 20:39). Who shall stand in the presence of God comes to mind. Imagine that, God placed them in the garden, but in their sin they hide from him. It’s important to note that God’s calling out to Adam is not an actual wondering of where he is, but rather a rhetorical question to cause Adam to question why he is hiding.
Genesis 3:9 -13 – We read of a sort of inquisition between Adam and God, which results in a sort of “blame game”. Oh how we seek to defer our bad judgements on to other people or situations.
Genesis 3:14-19 – In this matured state, naked and now ashamed, God brings forth curses upon His image and the serpent. In Genesis 3:15 we read the very beginning of the Gospel promise. The childbirth curse and the toil through thorns and thistles, as well as the return to dust, are all covenantal curses that come to be demonstrated through Israel’s Old Covenant with God. Isaiah chapter 65, as well as Revelation chapters 21-22 speak to the reversal of these curses in and through Jesus Christ and the New Covenant.
Genesis 3:20 – Eve’s pronouncement as the “mother of all living” seems to have more of a theological connotation (mother of those under the covenant of God), rather than physical origins.
Genesis 3:21-24 – In the closing portion of the “Genesis creation account”, God provides animal skins as coverings for His image (oddly similar to the need for atonement (covering) through the blood shed by animals under the Old Covenant – which has caused many to compare the story of the Garden with Israel under the Old Covenant. See, Hosea 6:7). God’s image, now knowing “good and evil”, is then banished from the “garden scene” and not allowed to eat of the Tree of Life. This seems to represent and provide early reasons for why Israel was subjected to the Old Covenant (see, Romans 8:20-21). Adam, as an early representative of God’s covenant line, is seen as one who had the privilege of son, but gave it up and experienced “death”, and thus was given the “covering” of being a servant in the Father’s house. This is the early beginnings (Genesis) of Israel, otherwise known as “heaven and earth”.
*** Prayerfully this outline will provide clarity in your coming to understanding the “Genesis Creation Account, and stimulate you to study these details further. Another worthy part of studying these details out, is to see how these passages are utilized and referenced in the New Testament. Here is a link that will help you with those correlations, www.creationstudies.org/Education/quotations.html