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Well now, the Bible is not one book, but many. The word Bible comes from the plural word
biblia which means library and the Bible is not one book but 66 books and together these
books form a history book, the history of our universe. But the Bible begins earlier,
and it ends later than any other history book because it begins with the very beginning
of our universe. It goes right through to the end of our universe and even beyond. But
it's history written from God's point of view. Therefore, he selects what is important
for him; that makes it quite different from a political history or a physical history
of our universe, or a cultural history of our society. God selects very carefully the
things that matter to him; the events which affected him most deeply. Therefore again,
it's quite different from every other history. Now there are two themes in the Bible. Number
1 - what has gone wrong with our world? And Number 2 how can it be put right? I think
everybody agrees our world is not a good place to live in. Something has gone terribly wrong
with it and the book of Genesis tells us exactly what. But the rest of the Bible tells us how
it's going to be put right, or rather how God himself will put it right. Only God could
solve a problem the size of our world and he's going to do it by rescuing the human
race from itself. For that's what we need to be rescued from - ourselves. That's what
the word redemption actually means, to be rescued; and we need to be rescued from ourselves.
So all 66 books form part of one great drama which I'm going to call the Drama of Redemption
and the book of Genesis introduces us to the stage, the cast and the plot of this great
drama, and without the first few chapters of Genesis, the rest of the Bible would really
not make any sense. The Hebrew title for this book is simply In
the Beginning, that's because the Hebrew scriptures were in the form of scrolls all
rolled up and they would simply give each scroll the name of the first word or phrase
in it so that just unwrapping the first bit of the scroll, they could identify which book
of their scriptures it was. So they simply call it In the Beginning. When the Hebrew
Old Testament was translated into Greek about 250 years before Jesus was born, they changed
the name to Genesis, which means 'origin' or 'beginning' and that's a very appropriate
title because here we have the origin of our universe - of the sun and the moon and the
stars, of planet earth on which we live. Here we have the origin of plants, birds, fish,
animals, humans. Here we have the origin of sex, of marriage and of family life. We have
the origin of civilisation, of government, of culture, both arts and sciences. We have
here the origin of sin and death and murder and war. We even have here in this book the
origin of sacrifice, both animal and human. So, it's a remarkable book, just one small
book - 50 chapters - and yet it covers the origin of all that. And it deals with ultimate
questions like Where did our universe come from? Why are we here? And even more personal,
Why does each of us have to die? - something we rebel against, something we don't talk
about or think about, something we dress up like a horticultural show to try and disguise
the horror of it. But we all have to die. Why? Now these are ultimate questions of life
and we need answers to them or else we just drown these questions in busyness and forget
them. But they can't be answered by any human being. The historians can't answer
these questions, they can't tell us how it all began because no historian was there
either to observe or record how it happened. Scientists can't tell us about the beginning
of our universe. They can go back to the beginning, but they can't go beyond that. They can't
observe anything beyond that. So they can't tell us how it began and therefore much more,
they cannot tell us why it began. Science cannot find a purpose for this universe coming
into being. They can tell us some details of how it came about, but certainly not why.
Philosophers can't answer these ultimate questions, they can only guess. It is speculation
when philosophers try and tell us for example the answer to the question that occupies most
of them, the problem of evil. Where did evil come from, why is there so much evil in the
world? Philosophers have strained their brains to try and give us an answer, but it is all
guesswork, nobody really knows. There is only one person who could really answer these questions
for us and that is God himself. So when you open the book of Genesis you are immediately
faced with a question. Are you reading the results of human imagination or divine inspiration?
Does the book of Genesis just give us another series of guesses from human speculation about
these things? Or does it actually tell us the answer, give us the answer from the only
person who was there when it all began, and indeed the person responsible for it?
There are other accounts of creation in the world. There's one widely known one called
the Babylonian Epic. It's far more complicated and far less credible than what you have in
Genesis but it's only one of other sagas which are supposed to tell us how it all began.
You should read some of them just to compare them with the sheer simplicity and convincing
nature of Genesis 1. But you must decide when you read Genesis - are you reading the product
of a human imagination or a divine inspiration? So, you've got to take a step of faith before
you open the book. But actually, science is based on steps of faith. I've got a science
degree and I know that in science you produce a hypothesis, a working theory and then you
test it to see if it fits the facts. That's how science progresses. It's built on such
leaps of faith, so you leap in faith into a theory and then you test it with the facts.
And therefore I believe that the approach of faith is scientific from that point of
view and I say, take a step of faith in Genesis, assume it is God's answer to these questions
and then see if it fits the facts, And there are two big facts that stare me in the face
which are perfectly explained by the answer in Genesis. Fact number 1, what a wonderful
world we live in. Isn't it incredible? The universe is amazing, but this planet is the
most interesting thing in the universe. It's got more variety in it. Well, it's got life
in it. We live in a wonderful world and the more you watch nature programmes on television
the more wonderful it appears to be and the wonders of modern photography are revealing
so much to us. Do you like watching those programmes? What a wonderful world we are
in and the other fact is this. It's been ruined by those who live in it.
Now these are two facts we all have to live with and we're becoming more and more conscious
of the environment and what we are doing to it. 100 different species are becoming extinct
every day. We're destroying the world we live in. Now these two facts are extraordinary.
What a wonderful world we live in; and why are we destroying it? Well I believe that
the facts fit Genesis perfectly and I believe it's a scientific approach.
Now let's look at the place of Genesis in the Bible. It's not just the first book
in the Bible it's the foundational book for the whole Bible. Most, if not all, biblical
truths are here in the book of Genesis in essence, that's why it's been called the
seed plot of the Bible. The seeds of Genesis come to fruition later in the Bible, but they
are all there in embryo. This book is in fact the key that unlocks the rest of the Bible.
Have you ever wondered what the Bible would be like if it began with Exodus instead of
Genesis? Supposing this book was missing. I think as soon as you began to read the Bible
without it you'd say, well I'm not interested in a bunch of Jewish slaves in Egypt. Why
should I study their history and religion? Only if you had a particular academic interest
in it would you read any further. But because Genesis is there, you're reading about yourself,
about your life. You understand what makes you tick and why you can't be a better person
and the person you wish to be in your best moments. Have you ever wondered why life is
such a moral struggle? Most people want to be better than they are but fail, why? Well
Exodus wouldn't help you to understand that; Genesis does, because you are reading about
your ancestor, a man called Adam and when you read about him it's like looking in
a mirror and seeing yourself. The Old Testament is built on the book of Genesis, there are
many references all the way through the Old Testament to people like Adam and Noah and
Abraham and Jacob who changed his name to Israel. The whole of the Old Testament builds
on the book of Genesis. But it's the New Testament that builds on it even more. Surprisingly,
Genesis is more quoted in the New than in the Old Testament, would you believe it. All
the first six chapters - one, two, three, four, five, six - are all quoted in detail
in the New Testament. All the major writers of the New Testament, eight of them, all refer
to the book of Genesis and Jesus himself did of course.
For Christians, Jesus' attitude to Genesis settles all questions. Because if we follow
Jesus then we trust him, we believe he spoke the truth and it's interesting that Jesus
regarded all the characters of Genesis as real historical figures, not legends. He regarded
Noah and the flood as an historical event and if Jesus did then I do, whatever other
difficulties there may be, and we'll look at them as we go along. Nevertheless, if Noah
was real for Jesus then he is real for me. Not only that, but Jesus claimed to be on
personal acquaintance terms with Abraham. And he said, before Abraham was born I Am
and he was glad to meet me, and the Jews listened to Jesus saying this and said, you're not
50 years old and you claim to know Abraham. But Jesus is saying I was there, I was there.
Do you trust Jesus? Then that's the truth. So Jesus was constantly endorsing the book
of Genesis. When he was asked about divorce and remarriage, what did he do? He took them
right back to Genesis chapter 2 and said, you'll find the answer right there. So you
can see that the book of Genesis really underlies the whole Bible, provides the key to the rest.
Without it, the rest would not make sense. To give you just one example, you will not
understand the cross without the book of Genesis, would you believe it? Because Paul says this
is what happened at the Cross: just as one man's disobedience brought death to the
human race, one man's obedience brings life. Now that's the heart of the cross. But he's
talking about Genesis chapter 3. So I think I have established my case. Therefore, if
you don't believe the book of Genesis you can't rely on the rest of the Bible. If
Genesis is proved mistaken, then the rest of the Bible is shaken. If Genesis is not
true, then chance is our creator. And the brute beasts are our ancestors if Genesis
is not true. And therefore, it is not surprising that this book has been more under attack
than any other book in the entire Bible. There are two prongs to the attack. One is scientific
and we're all aware of some of the problems there. I'm not going to have time to deal
with them all in full, but we will refer to them and there are other tapes that have been
made and videos that deal with them more fully. But we have to be aware of them, especially
young people are aware of what they've been told in school, biology classes, and they
come with that background to read Genesis and they have real problems. And we must be
honest about them. For example, science has questioned the order of creation, the speed
of creation and the method of creation. Science has questioned the age of the earth, the origin
of man, the extent of the flood, the age of people who lived before the flood and many
other things. But behind that attack, I believe there is a satanic attack. The devil hates
two books in the Bible, Genesis and Revelation. And he hates the first chapters of Genesis
and the last chapters of Revelation, particularly because the one describes his entrance into
our world and the other describes his undignified exit from our world and so he likes to keep
people out of the early chapters of Genesis and the later chapters of Revelation. He wants
to persuade you that Genesis is myth and Revelation is mystery, so that you leave them alone.
Because he knows perfectly well that if you can destroy people's faith in Genesis then
you have, in fact, destroyed the foundation of the whole Bible. So it is not surprising
that there's been such a lot of argument about Genesis. If you distrust this book,
you tend to discard the rest. Now how did Genesis come to be written? It's
one of five books which form a unit, not so much in our Bible but in Jewish scripture
most certainly. These five books form together the Pentateuch, 'penta' means five, there's
a big five-sided building in Washington DC called the Pentagon, well it's the same
word – Pentateuch - the five books. And they are often called by Jews the Torah, which
means 'instruction' and they believe that these five books together form the Maker's
instructions. And it is very wise - since the Maker gave us these instructions to get
the most out of life - to become familiar with them. So the Jews read through the first
five books of the Bible every year, on a lectionary. Every week they read a bit more, so they get
round it in a year like painting the Forth Bridge - when they get to the other end of
it they start again at the beginning -and it is their weekly lectionary.
Now Jews, Christians and even pagan historians believe that Moses wrote these five books
and that's been the long tradition. I see no reason to doubt it. By the time of Moses,
the alphabet had replaced the picture language that prevailed in Egypt, and still in China
and Japan today. But that had been replaced by an alphabet, and remember that Moses was
university educated. If ever you see Cleopatra's Needle on the Thames Embankment, that's
one of two columns - the other is in Rome - which stood at the entrance to the Egyptian
university and may well be two columns which Moses looked at every morning he went as a
student. So he had the education and the knowledge to compile these five books and I believe
that that tradition is right, though none of the books has a name in them. There are
however, two problems if Moses wrote these five books. The first problem is quite minor
and that is that at the end of Deuteronomy, Moses' death is carefully recorded. And
I assume you would agree with me that that's a little unlikely that he wrote that. Joshua
probably added a note to that effect at the end of the five books to round off the story.
But the major problem is this. The book of Genesis ends 300 years before Moses was born.
Now he lived during the days covered by Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy; those
four clearly come from his lifetime. There's no problem with Moses writing those. But Genesis
ends 3-400 years before Moses was born. So how could he have got his material for the
book of Genesis? One of the things we know about early society is that people who don't
write have phenomenal memories. To this day, tribes that have no writing can tell you the
history of the tribe; they pass it on around the camp fire at night from father to son.
And this aural tradition, as we call it, is very strong in primitive communities, and
would be among the Hebrews. Especially when they became slaves in Egypt, they would want
their children to know who they were, where they'd come from.
Now there are two things that are normally passed down in this memory form. One is genealogies,
family trees, to give people their identity and sure enough, Genesis is full of genealogies,
full of family trees. And there is one phrase that comes ten times in the book of Genesis
and it is, 'these are the generations of', scattered through the book. If you have read
it you must have noticed that phrase, 'these are the generations of'. That is exactly
the kind of thing that would be passed on from memory to memory. The other thing that
gets passed on are sagas, I mean hero stories of great things that your ancestors have done.
And so tribal memories composed of these two things, generation or genealogies and sagas,
the things our ancestors did that were exciting, and these are told over the camp fire. Now
most of Genesis is composed of these two things. Stories about great heroes interspersed with
family trees. So it is obviously a collection, a compilation of memories that Moses picked
up from the slaves in Egypt and put together. And I'm sure you can see how clearly that
was done. Except for one passage. There is one part of Genesis he couldn't possibly
have picked up that way - the first chapter. Or rather since the chapter divisions, as
so often in the Bible - God never inspired them - are in quite the wrong place, chapter
1 verse 1 through to chapter 2 verse 3 is a section that Moses couldn't possibly have
got from any human being. That section he must have got from God himself. It is one
of those parts of the Bible that must have been directly dictated by God and taken down
by man. Most of the Bible did not come that way. We mustn't think of the writers of
the Bible as word processors, as typewriters on which God typed out his word, because God
inspired the writers to use their own temperament and memory and insight and outlook to shape
his word, but so overruled by the inspiration of his Spirit that what resulted was what
he wanted written. So that other parts of the Bible have the stamp of the writer on
them. The rest of Genesis has the same stamp on it as Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
You can detect Moses' style and hand in it, but Genesis 1:1 to 2:3 is totally different
and has all the marks of God's speech. We shall see in a moment that it's mathematically
perfect. When God speaks, his speech is perfect mathematics. You see the Hebrew language doesn't
have figures, they just had letters and each letter stood for a figure, so Aleph or A was
1 and B was 2 and C was 3 and so on. That's a common way of counting and when you turn
the letters of Genesis 1 into figures, it is astonishing. I've been in Jerusalem talking
to Rabbis who have actually worked out all the mathematics of every verse and they spend
days discussing it because it's mathematically perfect. The very first sentence, “In the
beginning God created the heavens and the earth” is a sentence of seven words. That's
just one of the figures; we'll be looking at this later. But in many ways, Genesis 1
is a unique piece of literature, quite unique, and has all the hallmarks of having come directly
from God. So I can imagine Moses collecting all the memories of the people, the genealogies
and the sagas, putting them together and then God saying, Now I'm going to write the introduction,
so take this down. Interesting that at the other end of the Bible
the same thing happens. The book of Revelation was not composed by John, he was simply shown
visions and given words and told, now write this down, write this down, write this down.
And of course, at both ends of the Bible you have got things that man couldn't possibly
think up because they're both beyond the reach of his imagination. So God had to dictate,
as it were, the beginning and the end of his Word.
Psalm 103 says, “God made known his ways to Moses.” I believe in handling Genesis
1, I almost feel like taking my shoes off, you really are on holy ground, you are listening
exactly to God's Word, making known his ways to Moses. I have one proof that Moses wrote
Genesis 1 down, and that it was not known before the time of Moses and it's this.
There is no trace of the Sabbath until the time of Moses. There is no trace of Adam or
Noah or Abraham or Isaac or Jacob taking a day off every week. Indeed, there is no trace
of the week. Everything is in months, by the moon, and years by the sun. Now because we
have Genesis 1 at the beginning of our Bible we assume - quite wrongly - that Adam knew
it and that Adam observed the Sabbath and everybody else did after that. No! There's
no trace. Adam was given a seven-day week as far as Genesis 2 and 3 go, he looked after
the Garden of Eden every day. Had a bit of time with the Lord in the evening, in the
cool of the evening. But every day he was working. He had a seven-day week and Abraham,
Isaac and Jacob were herdsmen, and cows don't take a Sabbath. I know that; I used to get
up at 4 every morning to milk 90 cows and I'd wish they did take a Sabbath, but they
didn't. The Sabbath is unknown in nature. It was through Moses that God revealed that
he'd made the world in six days and taken a day off on the seventh. It is from then
on, that the Sabbath becomes a feature of life, and indeed when Moses gave the commandment
to remember the Sabbath day, he added the explanation - because God created the world
- as if this is new knowledge to them, as if he had just told them. So that is a proof
that Genesis 1 was dictated to Moses and was not known before his day. There are one or
two other indications of that as well. So we turn, at last, to the book itself and
to this amazing chapter with which it opens. We're going to spend quite a lot of time
in the chapter, and I just want to spend the rest of this talk on the first four words
– “In the beginning God”. Genesis is full of beginnings, the beginning of everything
else - except God! God doesn't begin here and that's a very important point. God is
already there when the Bible opens. He was already there when the universe came to be.
He has always been there. You see, there has to be an eternal something or an eternal someone
who was always there in order to bring our universe into being. Because 'nothing'
never turns into 'something' by itself. Am I stretching you a bit? It's a bit of
philosophy for you, a bit of homespun philosophy, but nothing ever becomes something by itself.
There has to be a cause and that cause is either an eternal something or an eternal
someone and the Bible begins by saying it was an eternal Someone and therefore the schoolboy's
question 'who made God' is nonsense. That's like asking, can you have a square circle?
Or, can you fry ice? It's nonsense because it's asking an incompatible question. God
never was made, he made everything else, he was always there. Now you must either say
he was always there, an eternal someone, or, like Aristotle, you must say it was always
there, an eternal something. But that's the choice and you've got to choose one
or the other, and the Bible clearly chooses an eternal Someone. It's the fundamental
assumption of the Bible that God exists eternally, that he's always been there, that he always
will be there and that he's the God who is. His very name is a participle of the verb
to be, being. Some years ago, I was praying and I said, Lord, please give me an English
word to correspond to the Hebrew Yahweh that would give me the feel of its meaning and
excite me, and immediately into my mind came this word 'Always'. That's very close
to God's name, Always, he's always there. He is Always, that's the nearest I can get
in English to the Hebrew Yahweh. In other words, the Bible never tries to prove
the existence of God. It's a waste of time as far as the Bible is concerned, he's there
and he has always been there, and you assume that. To try and prove his existence, as I've
said, is a waste of time. He's just there. He doesn't have to be explained. What has
to be explained is the existence of everything else. Now this is the very opposite of modern
thinking; modern thinking says everything else was always there, now you've got to
prove to me the existence of God. But no, the Bible says God was always there and we
have to explain now why anything else is there, and that's how the book of Genesis approaches
this huge question. By the time of Moses of course, everybody knew that God existed. He
had rescued them out of Egypt, he'd divided the Red Sea, he'd drowned the Egyptian army.
They knew that God was real. When you've been through an experience like that you don't
need proofs for the existence of God. But I'm afraid modern man does, because he hasn't
experienced these things and he wants proofs. When you read Hebrews chapter 11, you read
two things about creation. Number 1, you read this, “By faith we understand that the universe
was formed at God's command so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”
And then a little later the same chapter says this: “Whoever wants to find God must first
believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” In other
words, the Bible says assume he's there, assume that he wants you to find him and to
know him and to love him and to serve him, and then see what happens, but start by accepting
that 'In the beginning God' was already there.
Now the subject of Genesis 1 is not creation but the Creator. That's the first mistake
we make. It's not about how our world came to be primarily, it's about who made it
come to be. And in fact, in just 31 verses, the word 'God' comes 35 times, almost
as if it's saying God, God, God, God this is about God! It's not so much the story
of creation, it's a picture of a creator. And when you ask, what does Genesis 1 tell
us about God, you find yourself with a long list and I've just made a list here for
you. Number one - I find out that God is personal.
He has a heart that feels. He has a mind that thinks and can speak his thoughts. He has
a will and makes decisions and sticks to them. All this is a personality. God is not an 'it',
God is a he. He's a full person with feelings, thoughts and motives like we have. Secondly,
God is powerful. When our late daughter was a little girl, I remember reading Genesis
1 to her from a children's Bible and when I'd finished, she just sat there quietly
and then she said, 'no sooner said than done', and that was her summary, a good
summary; what power! What power just to say a thing and it happens. What authority! You've
got to be pretty high up to do that sort of thing. And the first ten commandments in the
Bible are all in Genesis 1. Did you know there were ten commandments there? Count them up.
Later he would give ten commandments to us, but the first ten commandments were given
to our universe. Next - he is uncreated, he's already there,
he always was there. He is being, he is always, but how creative he is when you learn that
there are six thousand varieties of beetle. What an artist, what imagination, no two blades
of grass the same, no two snowflakes the same, no two grains of sand the same, what imagination,
how creative. We can produce seven million Volkswagen Beetles all the same. But he has
this creative mind; the imagination gives great variety. There are no two of us the
same, look at us, what variety. He is an orderly God; the symmetry and the mathematics of the
universe are such that a Jew could find out that e = MC2 and that this applies to the
whole universe. It's mathematically so ordered; we will see more of that later.
He is a singular God because all the verbs are in the singular. “In the beginning God
created” - the word 'created' there is singular. But he is also plural because
the word 'God' is not in the singular, it's in the plural and it's not just a
simple plural. Here would be the three words, Eloha means one God, Eloheim means two, but
Elohim means three or more and the word used here is three or more. So, in the first sentence
we have in the beginning a God who is three created, but he must be one. Isn't that
astonishing? He's a three-in-one in the very first sentence and it takes the rest
of the Bible to explain what that means. But fancy using a triple word for God with singular
verbs all the way through Genesis 1. Above all, Genesis 1 says he's a good God. Sometimes
when I have to choose a subject six months before a meeting, I can never think that far
ahead, so I just say 'Good God', and I said that covers everything I ever want to
say. And twice now posters have appeared with a horrible picture of me on them and then
Good God above and meetings have been packed. But God is good and therefore everything he
makes is good because he is good. That's the message of Genesis. Be under no mistake
about this - evil is not God's creation. He is a loving God and wants to bless those he
makes. He's a living God who is active in this world, speaking in this world, doing
things in this world. He is a speaking God who communicates to us and wants to relate.
He's a God who is like us - if we are made in his image, he must be like us as well as
we must be like him. And yet he's a God who's unlike us because the one thing we
can't do is create. We can make things out of something else, but we can't create things
from nothing. We cannot speak and there it is. So he's unlike us.
Well, finally I want to finish this talk by pointing out that God is never identified
with his creation. There is a distinction between Creator and creation from the beginning
of the Bible and we must never get those confused. The New Age is confusing them now. The Creator
is separate from his creation. He can take a day off and be quite apart from all that
he has made. We must never identify him with what he has made. To worship his creation
is idolatry. To worship the Creator is the truth and in the next talk, we'll look at
some of the other implications of this amazing first chapter of Genesis 1.
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Unlocking the Old Testament Part 2 - Genesis 1

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阿明 2018 年 12 月 16 日 に公開
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