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The Alpha and Omega of Creation
Genesis 1:1-5 ; Revelation 21:1-6
1. Genesis and Revelation contrasted. The Book of Genesis is commonly known as the Book of beginnings. It is there that everything takes its form, and comes into being. The Book of Revelation has been called Palin-genesis, that is, the beginning again. Revelation gives us the finality of everything that was created and made.
Genesis is creation; Revelation is the re-creation, or, the consummation of creation. Over Genesis one, two, and three we may write our word Alpha; over Revelation twenty-one and twenty-two we may write Omega, applying these two words, for the time, to God's creation. We understand, of course, that God, the Holy Trinity, lay back of creation in the eternal ages past; and that He also lies beyond creation, in the eternal ages to come. The story of Genesis is merely a story of beginnings, and not of completions.
If one would learn the whole story of anything which has its beginning in Genesis, he must read everything that lies between Genesis and Revelation. Genesis gives the foundation, Revelation gives the capstone of a great building; the rest of the Bible gives the detailed structure of the building itself.
2. The parallelisms between Genesis and Revelation, a marvelous mark of inspiration. The inspiration of the Scriptures stands forth in glowing colors, when one grasps the significance of the first Book of the Bible, as the complement of the Bible's last Book, The Bible is formed of sixty-six Books, and yet the Bible is but one great whole. With the loss of any part of the Bible, the message of the Bible would remain forever incomplete. With any man-made addition to the Bible, the message would become unseemly, and overstated. There is a unity in the Bible which becomes more and more striking as its continuity is grasped.
All that we have just said is magnified by the marvelous manner in which the early statements of Scripture dove-tail with its final statements. Revelation, in its final chapters, is so plainly the counterpart and the culmination of Genesis, in its early chapters, that one stands amazed as he views their correlation.
The glory of this correlation, and its deeper meaning, will grip us the more as we develop the themes as given in the following diagram:
Follow this diagram with care:
a. The first creation. Genesis 1:1 .
b. The earth despoiled.Genesis 1:2; Genesis 1:2 .
c. The earth renewed and blessed Genesis 1:2 , l.c.
d. Light before the sun. Genesis 1:3 .
e. The tree of life. Genesis 2:9 .
f. The Edenic river. Genesis 2:10 .
g. Gold and precious stones.Genesis 2:11; Genesis 2:11 , Genesis 2:12 .
h. The bride Adam's wife Genesis 2:21 , Genesis 2:22 .
i. Satan enters in.Genesis 3:1; Genesis 3:1 .
j. Man driven out.Genesis 3:24; Genesis 3:24 .
k. Sorrow, suffering, death enters in.Genesis 3:16-19; Genesis 3:16-19 .
k. Sorrow, suffering, death forever pass away.Revelation 21:4; Revelation 21:4 .
j. Man enters in.Revelation 22:14; Revelation 22:14 .
i. Satan cast out.Revelation 20:1-3; Revelation 20:1-3 , Revelation 20:10 .
h. The Bride Christ's wife. Revelation 21:2 .
g. Gold and precious stones. Revelation 21:18-21 .
f. The river of Water of Life. Revelation 22:1 , Revelation 22:2 .
e. The Tree of Life. Revelation 22:14 , f.c.
d. Light before the sun. Revelation 21:23-25 .
c. The earth renewed and blessed. Revelation 21:24 .
b. The earth despoiled it passes away. Revelation 20:11 .
a. The last creation. Revelation 21:1 .
I. THE TWO CREATIONS COMPARED (Read the Scriptures as to Diagram)
We have been assigned the a, b, and c of the diagram. This covers that part referring to the physical earth.
1. The first creation compared with the last creation. Genesis 1:1 tells us that, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." In Revelation 21:1 we read, "I saw a new heaven and a new earth." There has been quite a discussion as to whether the new heaven and the new earth is the same as the first heaven and the first earth. We may get some light upon this subject by following our chart.
2. The two earths despoiled. There must be an indeterminable lapse of time between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 , We do not know when the "beginning" was, in which God created the heaven and the earth. It may have been millions of years past. In the Bible it is spoken of only as "In the beginning." Of this, however, we may assure ourselves that when God created the heaven and the earth, it was not created as it Is described in the second verse of the Bible. A cataclysmic and catastrophic judgment must have taken place between the "creation" of Genesis 1:1 and the "waste and void" of Genesis 2:2 .
In Revelation 20:11 , we find that the earth is once more despoiled. It passes away. Peter tells us that it is melted with fervent heat. This despoiling of the earth reminds us of that which took place far back in the eternity of God concerning the first heaven and earth.
3. The earth renewed and blessed, as it is contrasted in Genesis and Revelation. Genesis describes the renewal, under these words, "And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." The words which follow detail how God in six days made the earth and the heaven a fit place for the habitation of man.
In contrast with this, we find in Revelation 21:24 , the new heaven and the new earth renewed and blessed. The nations of them who are saved, will inhabit the earth, and its kings will bring their glory and honor into the new and Heavenly Jerusalem.
The physical earth of the first creation, is the same physical earth that was despoiled, and made waste and void. The same earth was, afterward, renewed and blessed, It is that earth, upon which we now live. It may be that the second despoiling of the earth, when it passes away with a great noise; and when it melts with fervent heat, will be the same earth which God will renew and bless, and call, "A new heaven and a new earth." This is immaterial to us. We do know, however, that there will be a new heaven and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
II. THE LIGHT CONTRASTED (Genesis 1:3 ; Revelation 21:23-25 )
1. The third verse of the Bible carries a significant statement concerning light. "And God said, Let there be light: and there was light." Light came on the first day, while the creation of the sun, and the moon, and the stars, followed on the fourth day. There are some who use this fact as an argument against the accuracy of Scripture. Such an argument, is utterly foolish. God, Himself is Light, and the very fact that God's Spirit moved upon the face of the waters is sufficient to know that light was about to break through the darkness.
Along this line it is interesting to note that the sun and the moon and the stars were set in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night; to divide the light from the darkness. If it were not for these heavenly bodies, there would be no division between light and darkness. It would either be all dark through the absence of God's personal presence, or all light through His continued presence.
It is very vital to observe the Scriptures in reference to the new heaven and the new earth as set forth in Revelation 21:23-25 . Nor is that all, for the very nations themselves, who dwell upon the new earth, walk in the effulgence of the light of the city.
If God can get along throughout a long eternity without the sun or the moon to give light upon the new earth, He could certainly have managed to give light to the first heaven and the first earth during the three days prior to the placing of the sun and the moon in the firmament of heaven. There will be no night there.
2. The fourth verse, of Genesis 1:1-31 , carries this statement concerning light and darkness. "And God divided the light from the darkness." There is a tremendous message set forth in the quotation above. It is the message of "separation." God has said, "What communion hath light with darkness? * * or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?" The call of God which begins in Genesis 1:4 continues throughout the Bible, until we come into Revelation 21:23-24 , inasmuch as in the new heaven and the new earth there will be no night, and no darkness. There will, likewise, be no sin, and no sinners, from which saints must separate themselves.
III. THE TREE OF LIFE AND THE EDENIC RIVER OF GENESIS CONTRASTED WITH THOSE OF REVELATION (Genesis 2:9-10 , with Revelation 22:1-2 ; Revelation 22:14 )
1. The Tree of Life. We do not know very much about these trees, but we know that they were the central trees, positionally, in the Garden of Eden. Every tree that grew was pleasant to the sight, and good for food, and of them our first parents had the right to eat freely; "But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the Garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall, ye touch it, lest ye die."
After Eve, and Adam with her, had sinned and had eaten of the tree, God drove them out from the garden (Genesis 3:24 ).
How glorious, then, is the promise that redeemed man, according to Revelation 22:14 , shall have right to the Tree of Life.
The Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden was debarred to man. The Tree of Life in the New Jerusalem is reserved for man.
2. The two rivers. The Bible story of this first river is very striking. One division of the river compassed the land of Havilah, where there is gold, and Bdellium and the onyx stone. The second division of the river was Gihon. The third was Hiddekel, and the fourth Euphrates.
There will be a wonderful river during the reign of Christ upon the earth. This river will issue from the throne of Christ which will be set up in Jerusalem, and it will press its way toward the east, Whithersoever the river flows it will carry blessing. It will issue out toward the east country and go down into the desert, and into the sea. Whithersoever the river flows there shall be multitudes of fishes, and on either side of the river shall all trees grow for meat. The leaves of the trees shall not fade, neither shall the fruit be consumed.
There is a third river described in Revelation 22:1 , Revelation 22:2 . This river is a pure river of Water of Life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. It is on the banks of the river that the Tree of Life will grow. It will bear twelve manner of fruit, and yield her fruit every month, and the leaves of the tree will be for the health of the nations.
IV. THE BRIDE OF ADAM AND OF CHRIST CONTRASTED (Genesis 2:21-22 , with Revelation 21:2 )
1. The bride of Adam. After God had finished the creation of the physical earth, and had filled it full with all things necessary for the sustenance and pleasures of life, He created man. Before this man, whom God had created in His own image, God brought every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air, to see what Adam would call them.
It must have been a memorable hour, as Adam tamed all the living creatures, and God found among them no helpmeet for Adam. Then God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and God took one of Adam's ribs, "And closed up the flesh instead thereof. And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man."
When Adam beheld his wife, he said, "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man."
2. The Bride of Christ. It is not until we get over into the fifth chapter of Ephesians that the full beauty of this marriage is Scripturally revealed. It is there that God quotes from the words which Adam spoke in the Garden of Eden, saying, "For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh."
This was a great mystery, but God was speaking of Christ and the Church. He speaks of the wife as the man's own flesh, and of the Church as the Lord's own Body. He speaks of the presentation of the Church to Christ as a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but as being holy and without blemish.
In the Book of Revelation, the culminating picture is given concerning the Bride of Christ. First of all the marriage is described as taking place. In chapter Revelation 19:7 we read. "Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His Wife hath made Herself ready." In Revelation 21:9-10 we have the picture of the Bride, the Lamb's Wife, and of the delightful Home in which she dwells. John beheld the great City, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of Heaven from God, having the glory of God. This was the Spirit's vision of the Lamb's Wife.
V. SATAN AND HIS WRECKAGE CONTRASTED WITH CHRIST AND HIS REDEMPTION (Genesis 3:1 ; Revelation 20:1-3 ; Revelation 20:10 )
1. Satan's entrance and exit. The whole history of Satan we may not now detail. Suffice it to say that the devil entered Eden intent upon the fall and subjugation of the happy pair to whom God had placed in charge the "keeping" and the "guarding" of the Garden. The success of the devil's deadly intent we all well know, inasmuch, as we. ourselves, have been drawn, by line of descent from Adam, into the bane of Adam's fall.
Unto this hour Satan is the "god of this world," the prince of the power of the air. Satan, however, will not always be left in control of the world and its peoples. First of all, at the Lord's Second Coming, Satan will be chained and cast into the pit of the abyss, where he will be held during the thousand year reign of Christ; finally Satan will be cast into the Lake of Fire, where the beast and the false prophet are.
2. Sorrow, suffering and death; their entrance and exit. In Genesis the curse is pronounced against Adam and Eve; against the devil, and against the serpent. The literalness and fierceness of the results of that curse we all well know. We, ourselves, have all felt the pain and the bane of our sins. The physical earth is still under the throes of its subjection to vanity. Shall these things ever be thus? Thank God, no.
Satan has no promised redemption. For man there is offered redemption from sin now, upon the basis of Christ's atoning work. However, man's full fruition of redemption awaits the advent of the new Heaven and the new earth. It is only when man reaches that blest estate, that the very presence of sin and of its wreckage will have forever passed from view. In the New Jerusalem there will be no more sorrow, nor pain, nor crying, nor death, for the former things will have passed away.
The animal world and the physical creation will enter into their deliverance, after Satan is bound and Christ returns to reign. The Millennium will find the earth restored to much of its Edenic glory; but the perfection of bliss and beauty must await, as we have suggested, the day of the new Heaven and the new earth.
3. Man's exit and entrance. In Genesis we see man driven out of the Garden, and out from the Tree of Life. In Revelation we see man entering into the glory of God. with full access and right to the Tree of Life. Bless God, the former things will pass away, and God will make all things new.
"Some things about Heaven have been made reasonably plain, but a full knowledge of what we shall be has not been made manifest but 'We shall be like Him.' We shall be free from all environments and limitations of our earthly bodies. It matters not what becomes of them. There will be moral activity in Heaven. One-third of the human family die before reaching the age of moral accountability. Gladstone, the grandest man of his time, lived to a ripe old age. Perfection is not attained at the gate of Heaven; this is not God's way. There will be progress in Heaven. All life is a growth an unfolding, a development. Life in Heaven will be no exception. There will be service there; 'Therefore are they before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His Temple.' Service will not be labor; it will be the highest pleasure, the source of unspeakable joy. Heaven will be a social place. I cannot explain the Trinity the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. But where there is a father and a son there will be social enjoyment. Heaven is a real Home , beautiful, lovely, a most delightful place to live in not eternally the same, but ever growing more beautiful, more lovely. Heaven is a place prepared for those who are prepared for it. " W. C. Bitting, D.D.
In The Beginning God
In these days of humanizing God, we need to give more time to the study of God's eternity. The Bible opens with the expression, "In the beginning God." Let us consider three things.
1. God's solitariness. God was before all things because He was in the beginning. He was the Creator, and was, therefore, before anything was created. The human mind cannot grasp this marvel, God existed alone in His triune personality before ever anything came into being. He existed in illimitable space, in uninhabited immensity. AH things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that is made. The Creator preceded the creation.
2. God's rightful place. If all things were made by Him and for Him, and if, in Him all things consist, then He certainly is greater than all things, and should hold the primacy in all things.
The first verse of the Bible places God first, thus giving Him the pre-eminence. Let us keep Him first, giving Him the adoration and the worship which is due His Name.
We need to know the God our fathers knew a Living, Loving, Life-giving God. The God who makes His way in the whirlwind and in the storm; the God who makes the clouds the dust of His feet. We need to worship a God who is both omnipotent and omniscient, possessing all power and filled with all wisdom. We need to worship a God who created all things, and who upholds all things by the word of His power.
Let the loftiness of man be bowed down, and the haughtiness of man be made low. Let every one that is proud and lofty, every one that is high and lifted up, fall down and fear the Lord and worship Him for the glory of His Majesty. Let the Lord alone be exalted, for He is God. Praise ye the Lord! Magnify His Name forever.
3. God first in all things. We want to suggest that God is first in creation, and therefore, all things should do Him obeisance, and bend the knee before Him. However, God is not only first in creation, but He is also first in regeneration. He is the Author of our second birth, as well as our first birth. There is a little verse which says: "The new man" where "Christ is All, and in all."
Paul said, "For to me to live is Christ." The verse suggests that Christ was the Author of life, the Sustainer of life, the Inspiration of life, and the Goal of life. It is in Him that we live, and move, and have our being. How can we do else than crown Him Lord of all?
I. THE PRIMEVAL EARTH (Genesis 1:1 )
1. The earth was created. It did not evolve; it did not happen; it did not develop; it came into existence under the command of the Eternal. The word "created" carries with it the thought of something made out of nothing. It pre-supposes the miraculous. We may make many things, but we make them out of things which lie at hand. God created the heavens and the earth.
2. When was the earth created? The Bible says, "In the beginning God created." The creation of man is another matter. The renewing of the earth is also another matter. These will be discussed in their proper place. Of the prehistoric earth, we know but little; however, we know that in that period called "the beginning," it was created.
3. How was the earth created? There is one thing we know the earth was created in Divine perfectness. Let us read a verse in Isaiah 45:18 , "For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God Himself that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited: I am the Lord; and there is none else."
The word "in vain," in the Scripture just quoted, is the same as the word "without form and void" in the second verse of the Bible. We take it, therefore, that when God created the heavens and the earth it was not created a ( tohu ) without form and void.
II. THE EARTH DESPOILED (Genesis 1:2 )
1. The fact. Our verse says, "The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep." Since God did not create the earth in this manner, some cataclysm must have fallen upon it. Darkness suggests sin. To the wicked is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. The ungodly love darkness rather than light.
God, Himself, is Light and is the Author of light. In Him there is no darkness at all. We read that in the New Jerusalem where God is supreme, there will be no night there. We thus conclude that the earth became waste and void; and darkness hovered over it, because sin had entered in.
2. The cause. Who was it, in those pre-Edenic days, who had sinned? Whose iniquity caused the curse to fall? We may not be too dogmatic, but there are certain Scriptures which lead us to think that Satan himself, and many of the angelic hosts were connected with the cause of the earth's overthrow.
Satan has brought the present earth into its fallen estate. He is the one who has made the world a wilderness, and destroyed the cities thereof.
Before ever Satan entered the Garden of Eden to tempt Eve, God had cast him as profane out of the mountain of God. Satan had "sealed up the sum, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty"; every precious stone was his covering. They were prepared in the day that he was created. He was God's anointed cherub that covereth. He was "perfect in all of his ways till iniquity was found in him." His heart was "lifted up because of his beauty, and he was corrupted by reason of his brightness." Thus was he cast down and the earth which, no. doubt, was his Eden, was destroyed, and became waste and void.
III. THE EARTH RESTORED AND BLESSED (Genesis 1:2 , l.c., 1:3)
1. The Spirit's brooding. Our text says, "The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." In passing, let us observe that the Holy Spirit, Himself, came upon the scene God sent forth His Spirit, and the heavens and earth were created. Now God sends forth the Spirit, that the earth may be renewed and blessed.
The Spirit "moving" upon the face of the waters, carries with it the thought of "brooding" or "hovering" over the waters. There was darkness; then, as the Spirit of God brooded, there was light. Our minds immediately think of the Spirit descending at the baptism of Christ in the form of a brooding dove. We, also, think of Gabriel's expression to Mary, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that Holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God."
Above all, just now, we think of how the Spirit brooded over us in the day of our darkness and sin, and how God gave us new life and light. We were born from above.
2. God's fiat. "And God said, Let there be light: and there was light." How wonderful it all was! How long the earth had been without form and void, with the darkness upon it, we may not know; we do know that God said, "Let there be light: and there was light." That marvelous creation of light which scattered the darkness from the pre-Adamic earth, was no more wonderful than that glorious light which shone into our hearts, when God dispelled our darkness and the light of salvation shone in.
IV. GOD'S FIRST MESSAGE ON SEPARATION (Genesis 1:4 )
We will pause long enough to study the spiritual significance of God's dividing the light from the darkness.
1. The spiritual significance of darkness. "Men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." "Darkness" in the Word of God always stands for sin and its shadows. In God there is no darkness at all, because God is holy, and in Him there is no sin at all.
The age in which we are now living is an age of darkness; it is an age in which the whole world lies in the lap of the wicked one. Whenever Satan and sin rule a life, that life is beclouded.
2. The spiritual significance of light. Light stands for everything that is holy and righteous and pure. Jesus Christ was the Light of men, John came to bear witness of the Light, that all men through Him might believe. John, himself, was not that Light, but he came to bear witness of that Light. "That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." In Heaven there will be no darkness, because there will be no sin, no sorrow, no pain, no tears.
3. Light and darkness cannot fellowship together. This is the word the Spirit spoke when He said, "Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" God's eternal call to all believers, therefore, is: "Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord."
V. DAY AND NIGHT CONTRASTED (Genesis 1:5 )
Day stands for joy, and night stands for sorrow. Of course, light stands for righteousness. Day is the result of light, and joy is the result of day. On the other hand, darkness stands for sin, and sin is the author of sorrow. Therefore, darkness is the author of night and night means sadness and sighing and everything that bespeaks the anguish of the soul.
As the Lord Jesus hung upon the Cross, bearing the sins and sorrows of the lost, there was darkness over the face of the land. When Jesus Christ came forth from the tomb, it was morning to the saints, and Christ, meeting His disciples, said, "All joy."
When the Children of Israel wandered away into sin, darkness fell upon them. They wept as they hung their harps upon the willow trees. They waited for the Lord, more than they that wait for the morning.
When Paul was driven upon the Mediterranean by the Euroclydon, it was dark. For fourteen days they saw neither sun, nor moon, nor stars. Thus it was that when all hope that they should be saved was gone, they cast out four anchors from the ship and waited for the day.
God has placed in the Church a memorial known as the Lord's Supper. It is called supper because the Church is dwelling in the night. The truth is that when Christ died, the sun went down. In this age of darkness, we who are saints are said to be shining as luminaries which shine in the night.
The Return of our Lord for the Church will be heralded by the bright and the morning star, and Christ's Coming to the earth and to the Jews, will be as the sun, rising with healing in its wings.
If this age is called darkness and night, the next age will be morning followed by a long and blessed day. The Shulamite was called by her shepherd lover to arise and come away, for the winter was past and the rain was over and gone; the flowers appeared on the earth and the time of the singing of the birds had come. Then said the Shulamite, "Until the day break and the shadows flee away."
VI. THE FIRMAMENT (Genesis 1:6-8 )
1. The dividing of the waters. We know of the waters upon the earth, but we know nothing of the waters above the earth. As we read our Scripture, therefore, we will discover something of conditions which, no doubt, preceded the flood.
(1) A mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground. You have entered a hothouse and you noticed somewhat of this effect. There was a moisture that filled the air. Under such a condition plants grow rapidly and luxuriantly. Thus before the flood, there must have been a marvelous growth both of vegetable and animal life. Scientific research verifies this.
(2) Longevity belonged to man. The life of man in those days and up to the flood reached almost to the thousand year mark. After the flood the age limit steadily decreased.
(3) At the flood it rained for forty days and forty nights. This seems to us to be abundant proof that the waters which were above the earth fell.
(4) The fact that the sun and the moon are spoken of as a greater and lesser light, carries with it the thought that these lights may have radiated by reason of the waters above the earth, and, accordingly, did not cast a direct but a reflected and mellowed glow, upon the earth, eliminating, in part, the intensity of heat and cold which marks our present day, and the severity of the seasons.
2. The firmament. The firmament was the great space which lay between the waters, above the earth, and the waters upon the earth. This firmament was called heaven. The firmament is one of the three heavens in Scripture, You remember that Paul spoke of being caught up into the third Heaven.
VII. THE SEAS AND THE DRY LAND (Genesis 1:9-10 )
1. The seas. At the first the waters covered the whole earth. Then God said, "Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place." Thus the seas were caused, and thus did the dry land appear.
(1) The seas stand for separation. There are five great continents, and numerous islands, divided from one another by large stretches of water. These divisions keep peoples apart from each other. However, as the ages have worn on, man has found himself able, more and more, to span the distances which divide between the nations. And each people become more and more affiliated with all other peoples. The steamboats, the cables, the radio, and the airships, all tend to break down "separation," and to make possible the dream of many The United States of Nations, under one supreme head, even the antichrist.
(2) The seas stand for mystery. What marvelous secrets has the mighty deep enfolded! It has been for the most part an unexplored region. Its depths have been too great for the diver, and the eye cannot scan its hidden treasures.
2. The dry land.
(1) When we think of the earth we think of solidity, stableness. Thus we think of the assurance of our hope in God. Our homes are builded upon land, and not upon water. We walk upon land, and not upon the sea.
(2) When we think of the land we think of fruitfulness. The earth is the sphere of man's husbandry. It is there we plant, as well as build. The cattle graze upon the hills and dales. The fields wave with ripened grain.
Thus it is that all that God has made carries with it great lessons of spiritual significance. The Lord found it easy to speak of many things in nature and from them to draw lessons of spiritual value. He said, "A sower went forth to sow." Then He mentioned the wayside, the thorns, the stony places, the birds, the sun, the tares, the good seed, the harvest, the leaven, the mustard tree, the pearls, the drag net, the reapers, etc. And around these things He clustered seven wonderful parables, found in one chapter, with lessons that scope the whole age and operation of the Church.
"Our fathers did eat manna in the desert. In February, 1931, our district was reduced to a state of famine, and there was yet another month to wheat harvest. We had helped many, but one day when the Christians came for help we had to tell them we had nothing left. I told them that God was a prayer-hearing and prayer-answering God. They proposed to come and join in prayer each afternoon. On the fourth day of intercession I was called out of the meeting to see what was happening. Away in the north was a dark cloud approaching, and as we watched it crossed our district and rained heavily. It was not an ordinary rain, but a deluge of little black seeds in such abundance they could be shoveled up. They asked, 'What is it?' reminding us of the Children of Israel in the wilderness who asked a similar question. The seeds proved edible and the supply so great it sustained the people until harvest We learned later that the storm had risen in Mongolia and wrecked the place where this grain (called Kao Liang) was stored. The seed was carried fifteen hundred miles to drop on the district where prayer was being answered." Abbreviated from an article in "The Evangelical Christian."
The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament
We have a very interesting study to set before you today. Most of us realize how vital a part the Holy Spirit plays in our own experiences, both in life and in service, We need, however, to remember that the Holy Spirit, from the very beginning, held a prominent and indisputable place in the relationships of Deity toward men.
There is a special sense in which the Holy Spirit is the representative of the Trinity among saints during this age. There is a verse in John which reads thus: "(But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because Jesus was not yet glorified)." This verse is found in John 7:39 and it concedes that there is a special ministry of the Holy Ghost for us which was not given in the olden days.
The Holy Spirit in Genesis 1:1-18 , was the Spirit of creation. This is the theme upon which we wish to speak as the leader of the lesson. There are several things to be considered.
1. The Original Creation. The first verse of the Bible says: "In the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth." When that beginning was we do not know. We only know there was a beginning, and therefore, there was a time in which there was no Heaven and no earth. In Isaiah we read these words: "For thus saith the Lord that created the heavens; God Himself that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited" (Isaiah 45:18 ).
This verse shows that the original earth was not created void.
2. The earth waste and void. The second verse of the Bible tells us that the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. As we understand it, there must have been a preadamic judgment that fell upon the earth. That it had something to do with Satan and with his fall we feel sure.
3. The Spirit of God moving upon the face of the water. The second clause of Genesis 1:2 and Genesis 1:3 says: "And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light." We now come to the majestic movements of the Spirit of God. There is a verse in Psalms 104:30 , which reads: "Thou sendest forth Thy Spirit, they are created: and Thou re-newest the face of the earth."
When we think of the Spirit of God moving upon the face of the waters, we cannot but remember how the angel said to Mary, "The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that Holy Thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God,"
In this connection, we are led to suggest that upon every unregenerate heart the Spirit of God also comes. He broods over the newly trusting soul, and begets in them the new life in Christ Jesus.
Let us, however, not forget our chief thought in Genesis 1:1-31 , that the heavens and the earth were brought out of their darkness and into their present form by the Spirit of God.
When we ask, Who created all things? we are quick to reply, that God the Father so did. Yet, we are just as ready to state that God the Son so did. Is it not written of Jesus Christ, "For by Him were all things created, that are in Heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, * * all things were created by Him, and for Him: and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist"?
We are, however, also correct in saying that God the Spirit created all things. In the 1st chapter of Genesis, therefore, the Triune God stands forth in marvelous light. This suggestion is summed up in the statement of Genesis 1:26 , "And God said, Let Us make man."
I. THE HOLY SPIRIT STRIVING WITH MEN (Genesis 6:3 )
1. A world corrupted by Satan. From the day that God in the Garden said of the Seed of the woman, "It shall bruise thy head," Satan occupied himself in debasing the Seed of the woman, and in bringing the earth under the sway of corruption, ignominy, and shame. It was then that God looked down from Heaven and saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth. Those were dark days. They were days when sin and Satan seemed to reign with unbroken sway.
2. The Spirit's striving. From Adam to Noah the Spirit of God was striving with men. He was meeting every strategy of Satan with His might and power. God's grace and mercy was thrown over against the villainy and tyranny of men.
Not until we are in Heaven itself, will we ever know the full sweep of the Spirit's work. We do know that in the midst of that period lying between Adam and Noah there must have been many godly men, and that among them was Enoch, the man who walked with God, and was not, for God took him.
3. God's limit to the Spirit's work. Our text says: "And the Lord said, My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh." God was about to destroy man from off the earth. He determined that in the future man's life should be shortened to one hundred and twenty years. Prior to the flood the age of man easily reached nine hundred and more years. During all of this period, the Spirit of God would strive with man.
Following the flood, God limited the years of man's sojourn in order that He might limit the years of His Spirit's striving. Man had become accustomed to tramping the love of God beneath his feet, and to walking in the vain imaginations of the thoughts of his heart until God said, "It is enough."
4. A present-day application. We do not hesitate to affirm that in this day the Spirit of God cuts down the age of many a man and woman because of their sin.
II. THE SPIRIT STRIVING WITH ISRAEL (Hebrews 3:7-11 )
Hebrews 3:1-19 and Hebrews 4:1-16 carry a marvelous tale of forty years during which the Children of Israel wandered in the wilderness. The Holy Spirit Himself bore witness that the fathers tempted Him, and proved Him, and saw His works forty years. Then the Holy Spirit added: "I was grieved with that generation, and said. They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known My ways."
1. The ways of the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament days, the Spirit wrought in behalf of His people, but they did not know Him. He went in a cloud before them by day, and in a pillar of fire by night. He fed them with the Heavenly manna, He gave them water from the flinty rock. Yet, for all this they knew Him not, and limited the Holy One of Israel.
How striking are the words: They "saw My works forty years." It would take volumes to tell of all the mighty works of the Holy Ghost in behalf of the fathers in that time. He spread abroad His wings as the wings of an eagle. He carried them, and bore them in His own matchless power.
2. The ways of Israel. They tempted the Spirit. They grieved Him. They erred alway in their hearts. They knew Him not. He was with them, but they saw Him not. He spake to them, but they heard not His voice. He undertook in their behalf, but they hardened their hearts.
We cannot but ask, Is not this same thing being enacted day by day among many of our young people? Some at least have never so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost; some have heard, but have refused to listen. They choose their own path, walk in their own ways. They grieve the Spirit, when He would conform them like unto their Master; they quench Him, when He would empower them for service and send them forth to the harvest fields.
3. The Spirit's wrath. There are several things we read here concerning the Holy Spirit in the days of Israel's journeyings.
First, They grieved Him. Then, secondly, They caused Him to sware in His wrath, "There shall not one of this evil generation enter into that land."
"Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into His rest, any of you should seem to come short of it"
III. THE SPIRIT SPEAKING THROUGH BALAAM (Numbers 24:2 )
1. A peculiar chain of circumstances. Balak and the Moabites dwelt on the hill. Down in the valley a wonderful people had pitched their tents and were encamped. Balak was afraid of them. He knew that their God was with them. For this cause, Balak sent for Balaam to come and utter his curse against the people of God.
At first Balaam refused to go, although he entertained the embassage sent by Balak. Balak sent unto Balaam men more honorable and gifts of greater value, still urging Balaam to come unto him that he might curse Israel. This time Balaam provoked the Lord by wishing to go, and God told him to go. On the way, however, God met him with a drawn sword, rebuking the madness of the prophet. Balaam, however, went on to Balak because he loved the wages of unrighteousness.
2. A stirring scene. After seven altars had been builded, and seven oxen, and seven rams had been prepared for sacrifice, Balaam stood with his hand upon the burnt offering, and lifted up his voice to curse Israel. However, God changed his cursings into blessings. Thus we read: "And Balaam lifted up his eyes, and he saw Israel abiding in his tents according to their tribes; and the Spirit of God came upon him. And he took up his parable, and said."
3. The majesty of the Spirit's message. We do not speak of Balaam's message, because Balaam spoke not his own words, but the words of the Spirit of God. We are interested, therefore, not only to notice in the Old Testament days that the Spirit of God spake, we are interested also to know what He spake.
Let us suggest for your consideration some things spoken by the Spirit concerning Israel, We will not have time to do more than jot them down. The speaker may develop them as he feels led.
1. "How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and thy tabernacles, O Israel."
2. "His seed shall be in many waters, * * and His Kingdom shall be exalted."
3. "He shall eat up the nations His enemies."
4. "There shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab."
5. "Out of Jacob shall come He that shall have dominion."
6. "Who shall live when God doeth this?"
IV. THE SPIRIT COMING UPON SAUL (1 Samuel 10:10 ; 1 Samuel 11:6 )
In the Old Testament days there is no Scripture to lead us to think that the Holy Spirit filled all saints or empowered all saints, in the sense that He does in our day. He did, however, come upon certain men to fulfill God's purposes and plans when they were called into special service.
1. Saul himself may not be reckoned as spiritual although the Spirit of God came upon him. We know a great deal about Saul's carnality and self-centered pride. However, the Spirit of God used him for a definite purpose.
2. The first instance in which the Spirit came upon Saul. Samuel, the Prophet, had revealed unto Saul that God had ordered him anointed as king. Saul was instructed to go to the hill of God, where there was a garrison of the Philistines. Then Samuel said: "When thou art come thither to the city, thou shalt meet a company of prophets * * and the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man."
We read: "And when they came thither to the hill, behold, a company of prophets met him; and the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them."
Would that Saul had ever lived and walked in the power of the Spirit of God, who came upon him in the day that he was anointed king. For a while he ran well, who did hinder him?
Let the young people observe particularly the expression, "The Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt * * be turned into another man." Is it not true to this very hour that when the Spirit of God rests upon His people they are different? Was not Peter changed, when the Spirit came upon him? Changed from a cringing denying disciple, trembling before a maid, into the stalwart preacher of Pentecost? So will it be with us.
3. The second instance in which the Spirit came upon Saul. Some of God's people were in great danger because of Nahash the Ammonite. When Saul heard it the Spirit of God came upon him, and his anger was kindled against the enemy. Then it was that Saul went down and the Lord that day wrought salvation in Israel.
V. THE SPIRIT FILLING JOSEPH (Genesis 41:38 )
We are going back in the pages of history to Joseph. However, we are going forward in the manifestation of the Old Testament work of the Spirit.
1. Joseph and his checkered experiences. We all remember of Joseph's dreams. We also remember how his brothers hated him, and upon their first opportunity they sold him to the Ishmaelites and caused Jacob, his father, to think of him as destroyed by wild beasts.
We also remember that, in Egypt, Joseph became servant to Potiphar, and was falsely accused by his master's wife and cast into prison.
We remember afterward how Joseph was lifted out of prison and exalted to Pharaoh's right hand.
In the course of events, Pharaoh dreamed two dreams. It was then that we find that Joseph told unto Pharaoh his dreams, interpreted their meaning unto him, and advised him as to the course he should pursue. Then Pharaoh said unto his servants, "Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is?"
2. Pharaoh's correct conclusion. God did not say that Joseph was indwelt of the Spirit, but Pharaoh said it. We accept Pharaoh's conclusion because we believe Joseph was filled with the Spirit. It was the Spirit of God who gave Joseph the power to interpret dreams; it was the Spirit of God who gave Joseph the skill and the wisdom to advise Pharaoh's course of action. Do you marvel then that Pharaoh, against the natural inclination of his own heart (for he was a heathen), said unto Joseph, "God shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art"?
3. God's message to us. The God who was with Joseph will also be with us, if we will hear His voice and walk in His ways. The Spirit of God who was in Joseph, is in us if we are children of God; and He will cause us to know the mind of God, to understand the Word and the will of God. He will also make us wise above our fellows. He will lead us into the place of a victorious service, even as He led Joseph.
VI. THE SPIRIT FILLING BEZALEEL (Exodus 31:1-3 )
As we look into the Word of God in the Old Testament Scriptures, we are so happy to discover that God filled a man with the Spirit and with wisdom and with understanding and knowledge in all manner of workmanship.
1. The individuals in whom the Spirit dwells. Too many of us imagine that the Spirit of God is given exclusively to preachers. We find, however, in today's lesson that the Spirit of God filled Bezaleel, a stonecutter, and a worker in silver and brass and gold.
Shall we, then, isolate the Holy Spirit to operating merely through the pulpit? May we not recognize Him in the men of the pew?
There are some who will include with the preacher, the deacons, and perhaps other administrators in church life. Thinkest thou that the preacher and the deacons, and the officers of the church, alone need the Spirit's filling? What we wish to emphasize just now is that all men, everywhere, in every phase of life, in every activity, need to be filled with the Spirit if they are going to serve the Lord.
We desire also to emphasize that men should seek to glorify God in every walk of life. Whatever we do, we should do it as unto the Lord.
2. The work which the Spirit accomplishes. Those who would seek to limit the Spirit in His infilling to preachers and the like, would also seek to limit the Spirit in His ministrations, to spiritual service.
Bezaleel, however, was filled with the Spirit of God in all manner of workmanship. He was filled with the Spirit to devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, and in cutting of stone, and in carving of timber.
Have you never thought of the Spirit of God as being interested in our daily round, our work in the factory, or the shop, or in our particular trade? Why should He not be? Does He not want to make every child of God capable and faithful in his daily round and trivial task, in order that the Name of God may thereby be glorified? Cannot the world see Christ in us in our toil, as well as in our preachment?
VII. THE SPIRIT INSPIRING THE PROPHETS (2 Peter 1:21 )
Our verse reads: "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
1. The Prophets afford a marvelous insight into the workings of the Holy Spirit in Old Testament days. The context of our key text assures us that the word of prophecy is a sure word because holy men spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. The context of our key text tells us that prophecy is not of any private interpretation, because holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. The context of our key text tells us that we would do well to take heed to the "Word of God, because holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
2. The Prophets themselves searched their own writings. In Peter's First Epistle we read that the Prophets of old inquired and searched diligently relative to the things they prophesied, Here is a remarkable proof that they were not writing the dictations of their own brains, or else they would not have needed to search the meaning of their own words.
3. David wrote by the Holy Ghost. In Acts 1:16 we read: "This Scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas."
We read of a minister who said that he would accept nothing as inspired which was written by the pen of David. Alas, alas, upon that basis the whole Bible must be cast aside.
4. All the Prophets wrote by the Holy Ghost. In addition to our key text we call your attention to the words of the Apostle Paul, as he gave this, the confession of his faith; "But this I confess unto thee, * * so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets." He believed all things written in the Law and the Prophets, because he wrote, "All Scripture is given by the inspiration of God."
As we close, we ask you to give deep and due consideration to the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit in the days before Christ, and as you think of that work, consider how the same Spirit still works.
S. D. Gordon thus illustrates the meaning of Comforter and His method:
"Here is a boy in school, head down, puzzling over a 'sum.' It won't 'come out.' He figures away, and his brow is all knotted up, and a worried look is coining into his face, for he is a conscientious little fellow. But he cannot seem to get it right and the clouds gather thicker. By and by the teacher comes and sits down by his side. It awes him a little to have her quite so close. But her kindness of manner mellows the awe. 'How are you getting along?' 'Won't come out right,' in a very despondent tone. 'Let me see did you subtract that ?' 'Oh-h! I forgot that,' and a little light seems to break, as he scratches away for a few moments; then pauses, 'And this figure here, should it be ?' 'Oh-h-h, I see.' More scratching, and a soft sigh of relief, and the knitting brows unravel, and the face brightens. The teacher did not do the problem for him. She did better. She let him feel her kindly interest, first of all, and gave just the light, experienced touch that showed him the way out, and yet allowed him the peculiar pleasure of getting through himself. That is what 'Comforter' means."
Genesis 1:11-31 ; Genesis 2:1-2
In Genesis 1:11 and Genesis 1:12 , we find the story of God's command to the earth to bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit. In all of this there is a wonderful depth of meaning affecting our spiritual lives.
1. The call of God to us is for fruitfulness. Whether it be in the natural earth or in the lives of saints, the great heart of God desires fruit.
We remember how Christ said on one occasion, "I am the True Vine, and My Father is the Husbandman." Then He said that every branch that did not bear fruit was taken away, and that every branch that bore fruit He purged it that it might bring forth more fruit. For this cause the Lord invites us to abide in Him, that we may become fruit-bearers; lest, otherwise we be cast forth as a branch, and be withered. Our Lord does not only want fruit, and more fruit, but He wants much fruit. It is herein that His Father is glorified.
When we think of the fruitful Christian we are liable to think of the Christian who is active in the varied "branches of Christian service. Fruit-bearing, however, carries with it a deeper significance. Preeminently, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, etc. These are the things which bring glory to our Lord.
2. The deeper meaning of "after its kind." God said, "The herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind." Later on when God created the fish and the fowl and the beast of the earth, in each instance, they were commanded to bring forth after their kind. This was God's command, and it has been an irrevocable law, since God spake.
Every effort of man to change God's creative fiat has utterly failed. Species may be developed, and correlated species may be merged, but distinctive species cannot be altered. Seed sown, always brings forth the same kind of herb, or fruit, as the plant from which the seed is grown. The same thing is true in animal life kind begets its kind. How foolish of men to lift themselves up against God, and to imagine that they can undo or make void His eternal decree!
3. The deeper meaning of "Whose seed is in itself." Here is another irrevocable law a law that establishes the omnisciency of God. God only hath inherent life. Life only can beget life, and as we have already said, God placed in each variety of life which He created, the power to beget a life after its own kind.
How wonderful that in every grain of wheat there lies hidden a power to beget other grains of wheat! Nobody can dissect the wheat and point out the life-giving germ, and yet it is there. Men of the world may fabricate something that imitates, to the human eye, a grain of wheat, or of corn, or a portion of fruit, but all the scholarship of earth, and all the scientific minds of the ages, have never been able to implant into anything the power to propagate itself.
I. THE TWO GREAT LIGHTS (Genesis 1:14-18 )
God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven." God was not at all dependent upon the sun and the moon and the stars to give light to the earth, for when God's Spirit moved upon the face of the waters, God said, "Let there be light: and there was light." However, the placing of lights in the firmament of heaven was for the dividing of day, from night; and also for signs, and for seasons; for days, and for years. Herein is the wisdom of God marvelously manifested.
1. The objective of the two great lights. We might imagine that the sun and the moon were exclusively for light, and heat, but not so. The heavenly bodies are for signs by which man may guide his course by day and by night. They are for seasons, Summer, and Autumn, and Fall, and Winter. These were arranged by the sun moving to the north, or to the south of the equator. They were for days, because the sun rises each morning and sets each night. They were for years, both solar and lunar.
In all of the above, we see the eternal accuracy of the Almighty. The sun, and the moon, and the stars, all move with such minute exactness that we can truly say, "With God there is not a shadow of a turning."
2. The spiritual significance of the two great lights. The greater light was to give light by day, the lesser light was to rule the night. Jesus Christ Himself is the greater light. Our God is a sun. When He came to earth He was a light that shone in the darkness. How striking are the words, "The people that sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up."
When Christ died, darkness was upon the face of the earth. The Sun of Righteousness had gone down. The age in which we are now living is Scripturally called the age of this darkness. It is night. The world, however, is not left in total eclipse. There is the lesser light which rules the night; that lesser light is the Church. We are luminaries shining in the night.
It is said that the moonlight is a reflected light. We know that the light of the Church is reflected. It is He who shines into our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
II. THE FISH AND BIRDS AND BEASTS (Genesis 1:24-25 )
When we consider the earth bringing forth the living creature after its kind, cattle, creeping thing, and the beast of the earth, we think, perhaps, of two things.
1. The heart of God providing for man's need. Over this animal kingdom, God placed man in authority, giving him dominion. All created animal life was given to serve man, and all created vegetable life was given man for meat.
Until this good hour, God provides for every human necessity. Did not Christ say, "Take no thought * * what ye shall eat"? God has known that we had need of these things, and He has provided for us.
2. The heart of God providing for the beasts and the fowls. None of these can sow, nor reap, nor gather into barns. Yet, God has provided for them. To every living creature upon the earth, God gave the green herb for meat. Likewise, gave He to every fowl of the air. Not this alone, but God hath beautifully clothed the grass of the field, and the lily of the valley.
God is thoughtful of all things which He created. To Jonah, He said, "Should I not spare Nineveh, that great city?" and then He gave as His plea, not only the "little ones" who were there, but also, the "much cattle."
It was God who sent out the wild ass free, and loosed its bands. It was He who made the wilderness his dwelling and the range of the mountains his pasture.
The Lord loves nature, loves it as it was before it was made subject to the curse for man's sake; loves it as it is in its present groanings and travailings; and, thank God, the time is soon coming when under Divine deliverance the earth shall be restored and blest and all nature, putting on its new dress, shall shout for joy.
III. THE CREATION OF MAN (Genesis 1:26-30 )
1. God's supreme creation. When God created man, He created him in His own image. Man was made in God's image in various senses. We believe that he was also made physically in the image that Christ was destined to bear, when He came forth from the Father, made of a woman. There is a verse which says, "As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the Heavenly." When Christ comes again, and the saints are raised and raptured God will change these mortal and corruptible bodies into the likeness of Christ's resurrection body. Thus, twice shall we be made like Him, once as He was in His natural body, and yet again as He is in His Heavenly body.
In Heaven, we shall be like Him in a marvelous manner. We shall know as we are known; we shall be heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ. We shall be made higher than the angels.
2. God's preparation for His creation of man. Observe that it was after God had created all things for man's provision and comfort that He afterward created man. Man opened his eyes upon an earth fully equipped for his every temporal need. Nothing was lacking. It was a wonderful Garden of Eden which man beheld when he first lifted up his eyes.
No fond mother ever made such preparation for the expected advent of an offspring, as God made for the coming of Adam and Eve. God crammed earth with every conceivable blessing, all for man's happiness and contentment.
3. Man's dominion. God placed all things in subjection to man. Man was therefore the climax of creation. Supreme in his position and dominion, even as he was superior in the personality, with which he was Divinely endowed.
When sin entered the world, man lost his full dominion. He holds no more than a semblance of, his former glory. However, all that was lost in the sin of the first Adam, will be more than regained in the full and complete redemptive work of the Last Adam.
We see not yet all things put under His feet, but we see Christ exalted to the Father's right hand, and we soon shall see His supremacy fully established, and all thing's made subject to Him.
IV. THE COMPLETED TASK AND REST (Genesis 2:1-2 )
The seventh day marked God's rest. As the six days passed, God, in review of each day's work could say, "It is good." With the creation completed, God rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had created and made.
1. That day of rest was soon broken by the advent of sin. Jesus Christ said, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work." When Satan entered in, the world which was so glorious and perfect was spoiled. God at once set about to recover man's lost estate. Not in a day was this to be accomplished. However, in the Garden when God pronounced the curse, He also pronounced the cure. He proclaimed that the Seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head. When Christ died upon the Cross, He cried, "It is finished," So did He complete the task that the Father had given Him to do.
With His work accomplished Christ went up to the Father's right hand and sat down. The far-reaching results of Christ's substitutionary sacrifice remains to be told, and to be seen, in the ages to come when Christ shall have put down all things under His feet, having redeemed all men who come to the Father through Him.
2. That first day of rest was prophetic of future rest. When Israel was saved out of Egypt God made known unto them His holy Sabbath Day, because they had obtained rest from their enemies, the Egyptians, The Sabbath, therefore, was given unto Israel for a sign between God and them, throughout all of their generations. Both they and the stranger that was in their gates were commanded to keep His Sabbath.
The Sabbath Day, however, had more than a backward look for Israel. The time is coming when Israel shall no longer, say, The Lord liveth who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, but, The Lord liveth who brought us out of all lands whither He hath driven them. Out of the land of the North, out of Russia, and Russian Poland, shall they come back home once more. They shall also come from the South, and from the East, and from the West, and from all nations whither they have been scattered. In that day shall Israel keep her Sabbaths, for "There remaineth therefore a rest (Sabbath keeping) to the people of God."
When Israel went into apostasy, the nation, wearied of the bondage of Sabbath keeping, said, "When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell corn? and the Sabbath, that we may set forth wheat?" It was gone in the day that the sun went down at noon, and the earth was darkened even in the clear day (Amos 8:5 , Amos 8:9 ).
V. SHOULD CHRISTIANS KEEP THE SEVENTH DAY? (Colossians 2:16-17 )
1. There is a need for one day of rest in seven. The Sabbath was made for man, because man needs rest. This is also true of land and beast all need one day's rest.
2. The Jewish Sabbath was the seventh day. It was given to Israel as a command, and is grouped among the Ten Commandments. All of those Commandments were given to Israel and not to the nations round and about. A casual reading of Exodus 20:1-17 will show this. Under Grace, and to the Church, all of the Ten Commandments in one form or another (with the exception of the fourth) is restated. The fourth never is given to the Church.
3. The Epistles plainly state this: "One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind" (Romans 14:5-6 ).
The Epistles also say, "How turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you" (Galatians 4:9-11 ).
The Sabbath Day was never changed to the first day of the week. The Sabbath was given to Israel as a memorial. The First Day of the week was early set aside as a memorial day of the Lord's resurrection. It was then that the saints came together to break bread; it was then that they laid by them in store as the Lord had prospered them.
How wonderful is God in His creation!
"When God would reveal to man the perfection of the minutest detail of His creation not even visible to the naked eye, He furnished him with ability to produce the microscope. With this the silky substance on the wing of the butterfly was found in reality to be beautiful feathers. Nothing new had taken place so far as the butterfly was concerned but an almost unbelievable fact was revealed to humanity concerning God's creation.
"When God would reveal His infinite power in the creation of things so vast as to baffle man with their immensity, He gave him wisdom to put on the market the telescope; and things never before dreamed of in human history were revealed. As we consider the vast dimensions of the sun, and its course of travel, how our little earth fades away into nothingness. Yet no change took place in the universe with the discovery of the telescope, rather another of His secrets was revealed.
"Excavations have been made in every land by all men of all ages, but when God found it necessary to prove the Divine authority of His Word to those who would not accept the Bible as final, without further evidence, things began to be unearthed that had escaped all the pick-axes and spades throughout the centuries. What priceless treasures have been discovered through archæological research! And yet there they lay buried deeply in the ground for thousands of years. One only wonders why men are not all on their faces before Him who is infinite in power, wisdom, and majesty. It seems at every fresh manifestation we would sink to our knees in deep humiliation mingled with adoration, acknowledging Him as the One who alone is worthy to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing."
The Beginning and the Beginning Again
Genesis 1:26-31 ; Genesis 2:1-10
The word Genesis means the "beginning." It is the first Book of the Bible, and in its opening chapters we have the story of the beginning of the original creation, of the earth renewed and blessed, of the creation of man and of woman, of the vision of the Garden of Eden, of the entrance of sin and Satan, of the pronunciation of the curse, etc.
The Book of Revelation is the Book of the "new beginning." We find in its last few chapters the great consummation of everything which began in Genesis. The curse passes out, and the new life enters in.
A key to all of these things is found in the statement: "Behold, I make all things new."
In Genesis we have a flower in the bud; in Revelation we have the same flower in the bloom, with all of its radiant glory and aroma filling the new heavens and the new earth.
1. The original earth. Perhaps, we should have said the original Heaven and earth. The first verse of Genesis says: "In the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth." Revelation 21:1 says: "I saw a new Heaven and a new earth: for the first Heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea."
Between the statement of Genesis 1:1 , and that of Revelation 21:1 , we have the whole story of the physical earth.
(1) There is the earth as God created it. It was not created waste and void.
(2) We have the earth without form and void, with darkness upon the face of the deep.
(3) We have the Spirit of God moving upon the face of the waters, and God saying, "Let there be light."
(4) There follows the story of the earth renewed and blessed as described in Genesis 1:1-31 . The dry land appears, the earth brings forth grass, the herb, and the fruit tree. The sun and the moon are placed in the heaven to rule the day and the night. The waters are made to bring forth, the moving creature that has life. In the firmament above, the fowl and birds are made to fly.
2. The earth's great cataclysmic judgment. In Genesis 6:1-22 there begins the story of man's wickedness and of God's determination to destroy man from off the face of the earth. There follows the history of the ark and of the preservation of Noah and his family. Then the earth is destroyed by water. Every living thing is swept away before the wrath of God. The waters in the heavens above fall upon the earth beneath. Finally, the ark rests upon Mount Ararat; the earth is once more renewed and blest, and God places His bow in the cloud for a token of a covenant between Him and the peoples of the earth.
3. The earth's next cataclysmic judgment. This judgment will fall upon the earth during the time of the great tribulation. As we see it, we are now hastening toward that very hour. During that day of judgment, God will not forget the pledge of His rainbow; and the waters will not destroy man from off the earth. The judgments will be of a different order. The earth will tremble and will be moved exceedingly. The peoples of the earth will cry unto the rocks and mountains to fall upon them. There will be a great earthquake, and thunders, and lightnings, and voices.
4. After this cataclysmic judgment has abated God will once more renew and bless the earth. Every mountain shall be brought low and every valley exalted. Unprecedented fertility will be given to the soil. Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree. The wilderness will bloom and blossom as a rose.
5. The earth's final cataclysmic judgment. At the end of the thousand years of millennial blessings, we read of the great white throne from which the heavens and the earth fled away. Peter speaking of this hour says in the Spirit "The heavens and the earth, which are now, * * are kept in store, reserved unto fire." He also said: "The heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up."
In the Book of Hebrews there is this statement, "Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also Heaven."
6. The new Heaven and the new earth. We now come to the close of the Bible message concerning the Heaven and the earth. The former things have passed away, the new Heaven and the new earth appear upon the scene, and God's City, the New Jerusalem, is seen descending, and resting upon, the new earth.
Thus we have scoped the history of the earth.
I. A CONTRAST BETWEEN PHYSICAL CONDITIONS IN THE ORIGINAL AND THE NEW HEAVEN AND EARTH (Genesis 1:3-4 ; Genesis 1:14-16 )
1. The period when God said, "Let there be light." At this time there was not yet any sun or moon to lighten the earth, but God was the light thereof. In Revelation there is described, in chapter 21, a similar period. We read: "And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof." The nations of the new earth will walk in the light of that wonderful City, which will radiate its glory to the uttermost ends of the earth.
The period when God divided the day from the night. From that day until this we have had the rising of the sun and the setting thereof. We have had light by day and darkness by night. In the new heavens and the new earth, we find this expression, "There shall be no night there." Night and darkness passes with the passing of the first heaven and earth, and with the passing of the light of the sun and the moon.
2. The contrast between the seas of the first and second earth. In Genesis 1:1-31 , we read that God gathered the waters unto heaven unto one place and He said, "Let the dry land appear." The dry land He called earth and the waters called He seas. In the new Heaven and the new earth of Revelation 21:1-27 we read: "And there was no more sea."
3. The contrast between the fruit tree of the original and final earth. The story is written of the Garden of Eden, "Out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that Is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil."
In the New Jerusalem, we read: There "was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month."
In Genesis we read of man being shut out lest they should eat of the tree of life and live. In Revelation we read, "Blessed are they that do His Commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city."
4. The contrast in the rivers of the original and final earth. In Genesis 2:10 , it is written, "And a river went out of Eden to water the Garden." In Revelation 22:1 we read: "And He shewed me a pure river of Water of Life, clear as crystal proceeding out of the Throne of God and of the Lamb."
II. A CONTRAST BETWEEN MAN AND HIS DOMINION IN THE ORIGINAL AND THE NEW HEAVEN AND EARTH (Genesis 1:26 )
1. Man given dominion. Our text tells us of how God said: "Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the fowl of the air," etc.
When man was driven out of the Garden of Eden that dominion was lost in park
2. The prophecy of a restored dominion. In Psalms 8:4-6 we read these words: "What is man, that Thou art mindful of him? and the Son of Man, that Thou visitest Him? for Thou hast made Him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned Him with glory and honour. Thou madest Him to have dominion over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under His feet."
3. The prophecy of a restored dominion is to be fulfilled in Christ. It is in the Book of Hebrews we read: "But now we see not yet all thing's put under Him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour."
Our Lord Jesus Christ shall subdue all things. He must reign until He has put all things under His feet.
In all of this conquest, the Lord Jesus Christ is the Captain of our salvation. Where the Captain goes, the soldiers follow. His victory is theirs. They share every conquest with Him. He leads them in the train of His triumph.
4. The prophecy of the new Heavens and the new earth. In that Heavenly made City, and upon that earth will be established the Throne of God and of the Lamb. All dominion and authority will be invested in the One who conquered death and hell, and we in Him shall reign forevermore.
III. A CONTRAST IN SATAN'S POWER AND DOMINION (Genesis 3:1 )
1. Satan enters in. Into the Garden of Eden Satan came seeking, if possible, to frustrate the plan of God, and to cast man down from his high estate. We are aware of the results. Eve and Adam both fell under Satan's strategies and deceptions. The result was that the curse was pronounced upon the woman, then upon the man. In the curse upon the man, the physical earth was involved and made subject to vanity for man's sake.
2. Satan proclaimed god of this world. With the authority of God broken, Satan himself assumed headship. The result was that the enemy became known as "the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience," Christ said of Satan, "The prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me." In the Epistle of John we read of the world lying in the lap of the wicked one. In Corinthians we read, "The god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not."
In the wilderness temptation Satan offered unto Christ the kingdoms of the world and the glories of them, if He would accept Satan's sovereignty and headship.
3. Satan's last stand. In the Book of Revelation we find where Satan, the old dragon and serpent, is cast out of Heaven, onto the earth. The devilish trinity consisting of the devil, the antichrist, and the false prophet, will at that time fill the earth with violence a violence equaled only by that which swayed man in the days of Noah. Satan will realize his time is short, and with one great final effort he will seek to rule God out of the earth, and to expel Christ from the thoughts of the hearts of men.
4. Satan cast into the pit of the abyss, and then into the lake of fire. In Revelation 20:1-15 we read of Satan being chained and cast into the pit. He will not be allowed, during the Millennial Kingdom of Christ, to tempt the world and to rule it.
Finally, he who entered into the world scene, in Genesis 3:1-24 , will find his last abode in the lake of fire, where the beast and the false prophet are.
IV. A CONTRAST BETWEEN MAN'S SIN AND HIS FINAL SALVATION (Genesis 3:9-12 )
1. How sin entered in. It was in the Garden of Eden that Satan cast his vile snare. He entered the Garden with one thought, the dethronement of God in the lives of the first man and woman. Not only that, but he entered with the express purpose of tempting man to enthrone himself as God. Incidentally, of course, Satan sought to take the place of authority over man.
Until this day sin may be summed up in one word, even this; "We have turned every one to his own way."
2. How sin is passed from man to man. There is a Scripture which says: "In sin did my mother conceive me." This heart of sin, therefore, which everyone of us possess in birth is passed down from father to son, throughout all generations. It passes after the Law which God Himself established in the creation, when He said, "Kind * * after his kind." The evolutionary theory would deny this eternal Law, and seek to establish the transmutation of species.
All flesh is sinful. "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."
3. How God met the issue of man's redemption from sin. The 5th chapter of Romans tells the story of how grace superabounded over sin and its sway.
By one man sin entered into the world; by Another, life entered. By one man sin entered into the world and death by sin; by Another salvation came, and death passed out, as life reigned.
This change was not wrought by any transmutation of species. It was wrought as follows:
(1) Christ in His death satisfied the offended Law, sustained its majesty, bore its penalty, and suffered the Just for the unjust.
(2) Christ by His life and by virtue of His death, through His Spirit, begat within the believing soul a new life. We were born not of the will of the flesh, nor of blood, nor of the will of man, but of God.
4. How sin and its results will pass into salvation and its glory. In Revelation we find the following wonderful statements:
"And there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."
Because of sin came death. Because of salvation came life forevermore. Sin separated from God, salvation brings us back to God.
V. THE CURSE ENTERING AND THE CURSE PASSING AWAY (Genesis 3:16-19 )
1. The curse upon the woman. Unto the woman, God said: "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception." We believe that as God spoke the words of this curse that there came back, as it were, an echo from the Cross of Calvary saying, "A Man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." To the woman God also said, "In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children." Back from the Cross again, we catch an echo: "He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied."
The sorrow of the woman in childbirth, anticipated the sorrow of the Son of God as upon the Cross He saw the travail of His soul, and was satisfied.
Every time a child is born by physical birth through the travail of his mother, we cannot but anticipate the fact that he is born the second time, through the travail of the Saviour. The Prophet asked: "Who shall declare His generation?" the answer given by the Spirit was: "He shall see His seed, * * and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand."
2. The curse upon the physical earth. Unto Adam, God said: "Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field."
The physical earth and every tiling related thereto the fruit of the ground, the beasts, the fishes, the fowls, all are brought under the effect of sin. All are made subject to vanity for men's sake. Therefore in Romans we read: "[The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now."
Let us catch, if we can, from Calvary God's echo to this curse. We read: "They had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon His head." Thus, when Jesus Christ died for. men that they might be saved, He included in. that redemptive work the deliverance of the creation, which was made subject to vanity. We say this because the creation itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption, into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
When man sinned the creation came under the curse. When Christ comes and the world accepts His reign, the creation shall also be delivered from its bondage of corruption. "Instead of the thorns shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree."
3. The curse upon the man. Unto Adam God also said: "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."
Once more we catch an. echo from the Garden of Eden, as Christ approached the Cross. We read of Christ and He sweat "as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground."
As we look further on into the glories of eternity, we read, "And there shall be no more curse." We also read: "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."
How wonderful is the far sweeping vision of the Cross of Christ, in its answer to the curse pronounced in Eden.
VI. THE COATS OF SKINS (Genesis 3:21 )
1. Adam and Eve and their fig leaf aprons. In Genesis 3:7 it is written: "They sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons." To us this passage of Scripture stands for everything that sinful man has done, or attempted to do, in order to cover his sin. From the time that Adam and Eve first sinned until this very hour the unregenerate world has sought in vain to cover their own sinful hearts.
We think of Cain and Abel, and of how Cain offered up the fruits of his field. In this, Cain made no confession of sin, and accepted no sacrificial deliverance from his sins. There was no blood and no suggestion of blood in the products of the ground. They may have appeared beautiful, and, ethically, they may have seemed more to be desired than the blood sacrifice of Abel. However, Cain's offering stank in the nostrils of God.
Unto this hour men are seeking to climb up some other way, than by the way of the Cross. They vainly imagine that they can be saved without the Blood of the Lamb.
2. God and the coats of skins. In Genesis 3:21 we read: "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them."
(1) What we cover, God uncovers. Have we not read of how it is written, "He that covereth his sins shall not prosper"? Have you not also read: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness"?
(2) What we uncover, God covers. By this statement we mean, that if we are ready to acknowledge the sinfulness of our heart; and, if we are willing to give up hope of hiding our sins from God; God stands ready, through the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, to clothe us in His righteousness.
How wonderful is the phrase: "These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb."
HEAVEN ENGAGED AHEAD
"We have * * an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens" (2 Corinthians 5:1 ). Some friends lately in traveling arrived at an English hotel, but found that it had been full for days. They were turning away to seek accommodation elsewhere, when a lady of the party bade the others adieu, and expressed her intention of remaining. "How can that be," they asked, "when you hear the hotel is full?" "Oh!" she replied, "I telegraphed on ahead a number of days ago, and my room is secured," My friend, send on your name ahead, and the door of Heaven can never be shut against you. Be sure it is a wise precaution. Then everything will be ready for you. And when the journey of life is over, you will mount up as with angel wings, and inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. Moody's Addresses.
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Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Genesis 1". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12