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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary
New American Standard Version
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Nave's Topical Bible - Adam; Birds; Creeping Things; Eve; God; Image; Jesus Continued; Man; Trinity; Scofield Reference Index - Creation; Kingdom; Man; Soul; Spirit; Woman; Thompson Chain Reference - Adam; Animals; Beasts; Birds; Creator; Creeping Things; Divine; Dominion; Exaltation; God; Image, Divine; Man; Man's; The Topic Concordance - Creation; Earth; Man; Torrey's Topical Textbook - Beasts; Birds; Earth, the; Fishes; Holy Spirit, the, Is God; Man; Reptiles;
Verse Genesis 1:26. And God said, Let us make man — It is evident that God intends to impress the mind of man with a sense of something extraordinary in the formation of his body and soul, when he introduces the account of his creation thus; Let US make man. The word אדם Adam, which we translate man, is intended to designate the species of animal, as חיתו chaitho, marks the wild beasts that live in general a solitary life; בהמה behemah, domestic or gregarious animals; and רמש remes, all kinds of reptiles, from the largest snake to the microscopic eel. Though the same kind of organization may be found in man as appears in the lower animals, yet there is a variety and complication in the parts, a delicacy of structure, a nice arrangement, a judicious adaptation of the different members to their great offices and functions, a dignity of mien, and a perfection of the whole, which are sought for in vain in all other creatures. See Genesis 3:22.
In our image, after our likeness — What is said above refers only to the body of man, what is here said refers to his soul. This was made in the image and likeness of God. Now, as the Divine Being is infinite, he is neither limited by parts, nor definable by passions; therefore he can have no corporeal image after which he made the body of man. The image and likeness must necessarily be intellectual; his mind, his soul, must have been formed after the nature and perfections of his God. The human mind is still endowed with most extraordinary capacities; it was more so when issuing out of the hands of its Creator. God was now producing a spirit, and a spirit, too, formed after the perfections of his own nature. God is the fountain whence this spirit issued, hence the stream must resemble the spring which produced it. God is holy, just, wise, good, and perfect; so must the soul be that sprang from him: there could be in it nothing impure, unjust, ignorant, evil, low, base, mean, or vile. It was created after the image of God; and that image, St. Paul tells us, consisted in righteousness, true holiness, and knowledge, Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10. Hence man was wise in his mind, holy in his heart, and righteous in his actions. Were even the word of God silent on this subject, we could not infer less from the lights held out to us by reason and common sense. The text tells us he was the work of ELOHIM, the Divine Plurality, marked here more distinctly by the plural pronouns US and OUR; and to show that he was the masterpiece of God's creation, all the persons in the Godhead are represented as united in counsel and effort to produce this astonishing creature.
Gregory Nyssen has very properly observed that the superiority of man to all other parts of creation is seen in this, that all other creatures are represented as the effect of God's word, but man is represented as the work of God, according to plan and consideration: Let US make MAN in our IMAGE, after our LIKENESS. See his Works, vol. i., p. 52, c. 3.
And let them have dominion — Hence we see that the dominion was not the image. God created man capable of governing the world, and when fitted for the office, he fixed him in it. We see God's tender care and parental solicitude for the comfort and well-being of this masterpiece of his workmanship, in creating the world previously to the creation of man. He prepared every thing for his subsistence, convenience, and pleasure, before he brought him into being; so that, comparing little with great things, the house was built, furnished, and amply stored, by the time the destined tenant was ready to occupy it.
It has been supposed by some that God speaks here to the angels, when he says, Let us make man; but to make this a likely interpretation these persons must prove, 1. That angels were then created. 2. That angels could assist in a work of creation. 3. That angels were themselves made in the image and likeness of God. If they were not, it could not be said, in OUR image, and it does not appear from any part in the sacred writings that any creature but man was made in the image of God. Psalms 8:5.
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Genesis 1:26". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/genesis-1.html. 1832.
THE STORY OF CREATION
The Bible and science
Modern science has revealed so much about the wonders and the size of the physical universe that human beings may seem almost to be nothing. The Bible takes a different view. Human beings are its main concern, for they alone are made in God’s image. The story of creation is but an introduction to the story of God’s dealings with the human race. The Bible demonstrates this order of importance from the outset by fitting the story of creation into a mere week, into the opening page of a 1,000-page Bible.
The Bible was never intended to be a scientific textbook. It is not concerned with the sort of investigation that modern science is concerned with. If its language were that of modern science, people in former ages would not have understood it, and people in future ages would find it out of date. The purpose of the Genesis account of creation was not to teach scientific theories, but to give a short simple account of the beginning of things in language that people of any age would understand.
Language of the Bible
As with the rest of the Bible, the book of Genesis was written in the everyday language of the people of the time. For example, the Bible speaks of the four corners of the earth (Isaiah 11:12) and of the pillars, bases and cornerstone of the earth (Job 9:6; Job 38:4-6); but if people use those statements to deny that the earth is a globe, they misuse the Bible. They show a misunderstanding of the nature of the Bible’s language.
Yet such misunderstandings occur. Centuries ago people thought that the sun moved round the earth, but when one scientist suggested that the earth moved round the sun, he was condemned for not believing the Bible. The argument his accusers used was that the Bible says the earth remains still and the sun rises and sets upon it (1 Chronicles 16:30; Ecclesiastes 1:5).
The Bible speaks of the heavens and the earth as ordinary people see them from their standpoint on earth. The scientist may speak of the sun as the centre of the solar system, with the earth a minor planet of the sun, and the moon a small satellite of the earth. But to people of ancient times, and even to us today, the earth where people live is the centre of their world. The sun is merely the ‘greater light to rule the day’, and the moon the ‘lesser light to rule the night’.
In reading the Bible we must understand not only what the Bible says but also what it means. When it says that God ‘sits above the circle of the earth’ (Isaiah 40:22), it does not mean that he sits in space somewhere above the horizon, but that he is the sovereign Lord of the universe. Likewise when it says that God ‘made man from the dust of the earth’ (Genesis 2:7), it does not mean that he took in his hands a ball of clay and formed it into a human shape as a baker makes a gingerbread man, but that he made man out of common chemicals. Even we ourselves, who came by natural processes of birth, are said to be formed out of clay and made from the dust of the earth (Job 10:9; Ecclesiastes 3:20).
The Creator at work
God is pleased when people study his creation and learn its wonders (Psalms 111:2). The Bible tells us that God is the Creator, and it reveals something of his purposes in creation, but if people want to find out how the physical creation functions, they must do so by hard work as God has appointed (Genesis 3:19). God does not give such knowledge by direct revelation. How the various organs of the human body function, for example, is a problem for medical science to solve, not the Bible. The same principle applies in other fields of science.
Science may tell us more about God’s creation, but it does so from a viewpoint that is different from that of the Bible. The Bible tells us that God is the one who did these things, and the scientist tells how he might have done them.
When the Bible says ‘God did this’ or ‘God created that’, it does not mean that he must have done so instantaneously or ‘magically’. We pray, ‘Give us this day our daily bread’ (Matthew 6:11), but we do not expect God to work instantaneously and drop food from heaven on to our plates. We expect him to work through the normal processes of nature in producing the crops from which we get our food by hard work. Yet we still thank God, for we know that he is the provider of all things. Believers and unbelievers might agree on how nature provides humankind with food, but believers add something extra, because they see God working through nature. The ‘laws of nature’ are God’s laws. Science may investigate the physical world and suggest how something happened, but it cannot say who made it happen. Believers can, for ‘by faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God’ (Hebrews 11:3).
Believers may therefore hesitate to dismiss a scientific theory simply by saying, ‘But I believe God did it’, because the theory may have been the way God has done it. When the scientist tells us how rains falls or how grass grows, we do not contradict him by saying, ‘But the Bible says God makes the rain fall, God makes the grass grow’ (Matthew 5:45; Matthew 6:30). We accept both as true.
Plan of the Genesis account
As we might have expected, the Genesis account of creation is from the viewpoint of the ordinary person. The story is recorded as if someone were describing creation, not from somewhere in outer space, but from his dwelling place on earth. The earth is only a very small part of God’s creation, but the creation story in the Bible is concerned mainly with the earth and mentions other features only in relation to the earth.
The Genesis account is concerned with showing that God made everything out of nothing, that he worked from the formless to the formed, from the simple to the complex. It outlines how he brought the universe through various stages till his creative activity reached its climax in Adam and Eve. Its basic design is to divide the creation story into two groups of three days each. The first group shows how God created the basic spheres of operation (light and dark; sea and sky; fertile land), the second how he created the features within each of those spheres (lights of day and night; creatures of sea and sky; creatures of the land).
This simple creation story, though not intended to be a scientific account, is not in conflict with science. The following notes suggest one way in which scientific knowledge, far from causing us to doubt the Genesis creation story, may in fact give us a more meaningful view of it.
The creation (1:1-2:3)
Countless years ago God, by his sovereign power and will, created the universe. At first the earth was featureless and in darkness because of the mass of surrounding water, but as the thick clouds of water vapour began to lose their density, a hazy light came by day from the invisible sun (1:1-5; first day). As they lost further density, the surrounding clouds of vapour gradually rose from the earth, producing a clear distinction between the ocean’s surface below and the ceiling of heavy cloud overhead (6-8; second day). Meanwhile the earth was drying and land became visible. Simpler forms of life then began to appear. Various kinds of soils and climatic conditions produced various kinds of plants, which were so created as to continue producing further plants of their own kind (9-13; third day).
The heavy cloud overhead, which had been becoming thinner and thinner, finally broke. The sun, moon and stars, previously hidden, now became clearly visible. Their effect upon the earth helped to produce a variety of weather and a pattern of annual seasons (14-19; fourth day).
As God’s creative activity moved on, animal life began to appear, with creatures in the sea and creatures in the air, all of them suited to their environment (20-23; fifth day). The land also experienced this development of animal life, till it too became full of all kinds of creatures. Finally came the first human couple, who together represented the peak of God’s creation. Like the other animals, they were so made that they could feed themselves from what grew on the earth and reproduce their own kind. But they were different from all other animals and were given power over them; for they alone, of all God’s creatures, were made in God’s image (24-31; sixth day). (See ‘The image of God’ below.)
God’s rest after the creation of the first human couple signified not that he had become tired or inactive (for he continues to care for what he has created), but that he had brought his work to its goal. Having prepared the natural creation for human life, God now desired humankind to enjoy that creation with him (2:1-3; seventh day).
The image of God
Being made in God’s image, human beings are unique in God’s creation. Somehow they are like God in a way that nothing else is. This does not mean simply that certain ‘parts’ of human beings such as their spiritual, moral or mental capacities reflect the divine nature. The whole person is in God’s image. Because of this expression of God within them, men and women are in a sense God’s representatives upon earth. He has appointed them rulers over the earthly creation (see 1:27-28).
Without the image of God within them, people would not (according to the biblical definition) be human. Even if they had the physical appearance of human beings, they would be no more than creatures of the animal world.
An animal’s ‘animality’ is in itself; a person’s humanity is not. It depends for its existence upon God. That is why human beings, in spite of the dignity and status given them by God, cannot exist independently of God. They may want to, and may bring disaster upon themselves as a result (as seen in the story of their original disobedience; see notes on 2:8-17, 3:1-24 below), but they cannot destroy the image of God. The image of God within them is what makes them human.
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Genesis 1:26". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bbc/genesis-1.html. 2005.
"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heaven, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over everything that creepeth upon the earth. And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them: and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the heavens, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth."
"And God said, Let us ..." The plural word [~'Elohiym] is used here; and the most logical understanding of it is that of seeing in it a foreshadowing of the doctrine of the Trinity revealed ages afterward in the N.T. Such views as making it like an editorial "we," or the majesterial plural, or as an inclusion of angelic hosts or other heavenly beings are totally inadequate. It cannot be believed that God discussed the creation with the angels and included them as participants in His decision to create man. John 1:1, which affirms that the Word was God, and in the beginning with God, and that without Him there was nothing made that hath been made, supports the thought that both Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit (revealed in Genesis 1:2 as active in the creation) should be understood as included in "us" and "our" here. Thus, it appears from the very beginning that God is represented as a compound unity.
"Let us make man in our image, after our likeness ..." It is the kinship of humanity to God Himself that shines in this, a conception that is launched here and is never diminished until the God-Man Himself, "The Lamb standing as though it had been slain" (Revelation 5:6), is seen in the very midst of the throne of God! The great Christian doctrines of the Incarnation and the Virgin Birth are part and parcel of this.
As to the manner in which God made man in His image, it is significant that man himself is a trinity - having mind, spirit, and body. Three classes of institutions are required in human societies to deal with human disease or failure in these three specific areas: penal institutions for gross spiritual failures, hospitals for the diseases or injuries of bones and joints, and psychiatric wards for the mentally deficient. Other phases of human likeness to God are seen in such things as freedom of will, moral responsibility, intellectual achievement, and creativity. Needless to say, the divine image has been grossly eroded in many of Adam's rebellious and sinful children. Nevertheless, even in his fallen state, man retains something of the image of God, for every human being is potentially the beneficiary of the blood of Christ and an heir of everlasting life.
"And let them have dominion ..." This is another quality of man's kinship with the Eternal. The intention of Almighty God in the creation of man is revealed to have been the placement of man over the earth and all that is in it, an intention frustrated in part by man's rebellion in Eden, but finally realized despite all hindrances and delays in the era of the "new heavens and the new earth." "Thou madest him (man) a little lower than the angels; Thou crownest him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of thy hands" (Hebrews 2:5-7). This passage, of course, refers to the humiliation of Christ, whose being made "a little lower" than angels actually means "made lower for a little while," in the matter of his passion and death; for the same passage indicates that man, as he was created, ranked higher than angels, for, "Not unto angels did he subject the world to come," an honor reserved for man. See more on this in my commentary on Hebrews 2. As Christ came into our world without sin, his true rank therefore was that of Adam, as God had created Adam, and before the Fall. Following Christ's humiliation for a brief time in the passion and death, he ascended to the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens; and thus, in the person of Christ, man has already achieved the dominion mentioned here, a dominion to be more completely realized in the final resurrection.
"In the image of God ... male and female created he them ..." This means that woman also is made in the image of God.
"And God blessed them, and said ... Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth ..." The procreation and nurture of the continuing generations of mankind upon earth is a God-ordained privilege and commandment.
"Replenish the earth ..." This does not envision a re-population of the earth, but the spread of mankind throughout all the world. There is no record of previous populations that sometimes are alleged from what is written here to have existed prior to humanity. The passage should be translated, "Fill the earth and subdue it."
Coffman's Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Genesis 1:26". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/genesis-1.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
Here we have the general review and approval of everything God had made, at the close of the six days’ work of creation. Man, as well as other things, was very good when he came from his Maker’s hand; but good as yet untried, and therefore good in capacity rather than in victory over temptation. It remains yet to be seen whether he will be good in act and habit.
This completes, then, the restoration of that order and fullness the absence of which is described in the second verse. The account of the six days’ work, therefore, is the counterpart of that verse. The six days fall into two threes, corresponding to each other in the course of events. The first and fourth days refer principally to the darkness on the face of the deep; the second and fifth to the disorder and emptiness of the aerial and aqueous elements; and the third and sixth to the similar condition of the land. Again, the first three days refer to a lower, the second three to a higher order of things. On the first the darkness on the face of the earth is removed; on the fourth that on the face of the sky. On the second the water is distributed above and below the expanse; on the fifth the living natives of these regions are called into being. On the third the plants rooted in the soil are made; on the sixth the animals that move freely over it are brought into existence.
This chapter shows the folly and sin of the worship of light, of sun, moon, or star, of air or water, of plant, of fish or fowl, of earth, of cattle, creeping thing or wild beast, or, finally, of man himself; as all these are but the creatures of the one Eternal Spirit, who, as the Creator of all, is alone to be worshipped by his intelligent creatures.
This chapter is also to be read with wonder and adoration by man; as he finds himself to be constituted lord of the earth, next in rank under the Creator of all, formed in the image of his Maker, and therefore capable not only of studying the works of nature, but of contemplating and reverently communing with the Author of nature.
In closing the interpretation of this chapter, it is proper to refer to certain first principles of hermeneutical science. First, that interpretation only is valid which is true to the meaning of the author. The very first rule on which the interpreter is bound to proceed is to assign to each word the meaning it commonly bore in the time of the writer. This is the prime key to the works of every ancient author, if we can only discover it. The next is to give a consistent meaning to the whole of that which was composed at one time or in one place by the author. The presumption is that there was a reasonable consistency of thought in his mind during one effort of composition. A third rule is to employ faithfully and discreetly whatever we can learn concerning the time, place, and other circumstances of the author to the elucidation of his meaning.
And, in the second place, the interpretation now given claims acceptance on the ground of its internal and external consistency with truth. First, It exhibits the consistency of the whole narrative in itself. It acknowledges the narrative character of the first verse. It assigns an essential significance to the words, “the heavens,” in that verse. It attributes to the second verse a prominent place and function in the arrangement of the record. It places the special creative work of the six days in due subordination to the absolute creation recorded in the first verse. It gathers information from the primitive meanings of the names that are given to certain objects, and notices the subsequent development of these meanings. It accounts for the manifestation of light on the first day, and of the luminaries of heaven on the fourth, and traces the orderly steps of a majestic climax throughout the narrative. It is in harmony with the usage of speech as far as it can be known to us at the present day. It assigns to the words “heavens,” “earth,” “expanse,” “day,” no greater latitude of meaning than was then customary. It allows for the diversity of phraseology employed in describing the acts of creative power. It sedulously refrains from importing modern notions into the narrative.
Second, the narrative thus interpreted is in striking harmony with the dictates of reason and the axioms of philosophy concerning the essence of God and the nature of man. On this it is unnecessary to dwell.
Third, it is equally consistent with human science. It substantially accords with the present state of astronomical science. It recognizes, as far as can be expected, the relative importance of the heavens and the earth, the existence of the heavenly bodies from the beginning of time, the total and then the partial absence of light from the face of the deep, as the local result of physical causes. It allows, also, if it were necessary, between the original creation, recorded in the first verse, and the state of things described in the second, the interval of time required for the light of the most distant discoverable star to reach the earth. No such interval, however, could be absolutely necessary, as the Creator could as easily establish the luminous connection of the different orbs of heaven as summon into being the element of light itself.
Fourth, it is also in harmony with the elementary facts of geological knowledge. The land, as understood by the ancient author, may be limited to that portion of the earth’s surface which was known to antediluvian man. The elevation of an extensive tract of land, the subsidence of the overlying waters into the comparative hollows, the clarifying of the atmosphere, the creation of a fresh supply of plants and animals on the newly-formed continent, compose a series of changes which meet the geologist again and again in prosecuting his researches into the bowels of the earth. What part of the land was submerged when the new soil emerged from the waters, how far the shock of the plutonic or volcanic forces may have been felt, whether the alteration of level extended to the whole solid crust of the earth, or only to a certain region surrounding the cradle of mankind, the record before us does not determine. It merely describes in a few graphic touches, that are strikingly true to nature, the last of those geologic changes which our globe has undergone.
Fifth, it is in keeping, as far as it goes, with the facts of botany, zoology, and ethnology.
Sixth, it agrees with the cosmogonies of all nations, so far as these are founded upon a genuine tradition and not upon the mere conjectures of a lively fancy.
Finally, it has the singular and superlative merit of drawing the diurnal scenes of that creation to which our race owes its origin in the simple language of common life, and presenting each transcendent change as it would appear to an ordinary spectator standing on the earth. It was thus sufficiently intelligible to primeval man, and remains to this day intelligible to us, as soon as we divest ourselves of the narrowing preconceptions of our modern civilization.
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Genesis 1:26". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/genesis-1.html. 1870.
26.Let us make man (83) Although the tense here used is the future, all must acknowledge that this is the language of one apparently deliberating. Hitherto God has been introduced simply as commanding; now, when he approaches the most excellent of all his works, he enters into consultation. God certainly might here command by his bare word what he wished to be done: but he chose to give this tribute to the excellency of man, that he would, in a manner, enter into consultation concerning his creation. This is the highest honor with which he has dignified us; to a due regard for which, Moses, by this mode of speaking would excite our minds. For God is not now first beginning to consider what form he will give to man, and with what endowments it would be fitting to adorn him, nor is he pausing as over a work of difficulty: but, just as we have before observed, that the creation of the world was distributed over six days, for our sake, to the end that our minds might the more easily be retained in the meditation of God’s works: so now, for the purpose of commending to our attention the dignity of our nature, he, in taking counsel concerning the creation of man, testifies that he is about to undertake something great and wonderful. Truly there are many things in this corrupted nature which may induce contempt; but if you rightly weigh all circumstances, man is, among other creatures a certain preeminent specimen of Divine wisdom, justice, and goodness, so that he is deservedly called by the ancients
In our image, etc Interpreters do not agree concerning the meaning of these words. The greater part, and nearly all, conceive that the word image is to be distinguished from likeness. And the common distinction is, that image exists in the substance, likeness in the accidents of anything. They who would define the subject briefly, say that in the image are contained those endowments which God has conferred on human nature at large, while they expound likeness to mean gratuitous gifts. (86) But Augustine, beyond all others, speculates with excessive refinement, for the purpose of fabricating a Trinity in man. For in laying hold of the three faculties of the soul enumerated by Aristotle, the intellect, the memory, and the will, he afterwards out of one Trinity derives many. If any reader, having leisure, wishes to enjoy such speculations, let him read the tenth and fourteenth books on the Trinity, also the eleventh book of the “City of God.” I acknowledge, indeed, that there is something in man which refers to the Fathers and the Son, and the Spirit: and I have no difficulty in admitting the above distinction of the faculties of the soul: although the simpler division into two parts, which is more used in Scripture, is better adapted to the sound doctrine of piety; but a definition of the image of God ought to rest on a firmer basis than such subtleties. As for myself, before I define the image of God, I would deny that it differs from his likeness. For when Moses afterwards repeats the same things he passes over the likeness, and contents himself with mentioning the image. Should any one take the exception, that he was merely studying brevity; I answer, (87) that where he twice uses the word image, he makes no mention of the likeness. We also know that it was customary with the Hebrews to repeat the same thing in different words. besides, the phrase itself shows that the second term was added for the sake of explanation, ‘Let us make,’ he says, ‘man in our image, according to our likeness,’ that is, that he may be like God, or may represent the image of God. Lastly, in the fifth chapter, without making any mention of image, he puts likeness in its place, (Genesis 5:1.) Although we have set aside all difference between the two words we have not yet ascertained what this image or likeness is. The Anthropomorphites were too gross in seeking this resemblance in the human body; let that reverie therefore remain entombed. Others proceed with a little more subtlety, who, though they do not imagine God to be corporeal, yet maintain that the image of God is in the body of man, because his admirable workmanship there shines brightly; but this opinion, as we shall see, is by no means consonant with Scripture. The exposition of Chrysostom is not more correct, who refers to the dominion which was given to man in order that he might, in a certain sense, act as God’s vicegerent in the government of the world. This truly is some portion, though very small, of the image of God. Since the image of God had been destroyed in us by the fall, we may judge from its restoration what it originally had been. Paul says that we are transformed into the image of God by the gospel. And, according to him, spiritual regeneration is nothing else than the restoration of the same image. (Colossians 3:10, and Ephesians 4:23.) That he made this image to consist in righteousness and true holiness, is by the figure synecdochee; (88) for though this is the chief part, it is not the whole of God’s image. Therefore by this word the perfection of our whole nature is designated, as it appeared when Adam was endued with a right judgment, had affections in harmony with reason, had all his senses sound and well-regulated, and truly excelled in everything good. Thus the chief seat of the Divine image was in his mind and heart, where it was eminent: yet was there no part of him in which some scintillations of it did not shine forth. For there was an attempering in the several parts of the soul, which corresponded with their various offices. (89) In the mind perfect intelligence flourished and reigned, uprightness attended as its companion, and all the senses were prepared and moulded for due obedience to reason; and in the body there was a suitable correspondence with this internal order. But now, although some obscure lineaments of that image are found remaining in us; yet are they so vitiated and maimed, that they may truly be said to be destroyed. For besides the deformity which everywhere appears unsightly, this evil also is added, that no part is free from the infection of sin.
In our image, after our likeness I do not scrupulously insist upon the particles
And let them have dominion (92) Here he commemorates that part of dignity with which he decreed to honor man, namely, that he should have authority over all living creatures. He appointed man, it is true, lord of the world; but he expressly subjects the animals to him, because they having an inclination or instinct of their own, (93) seem to be less under authority from without. The use of the plural number intimates that this authority was not given to Adam only, but to all his posterity as well as to him. And hence we infer what was the end for which all things were created; namely, that none of the conveniences and necessaries of life might be wanting to men. In the very order of the creation the paternal solicitude of God for man is conspicuous, because he furnished the world with all things needful, and even with an immense profusion of wealth, before he formed man. Thus man was rich before he was born. But if God had such care for us before we existed, he will by no means leave us destitute of food and of other necessaries of life, now that we are placed in the world. Yet, that he often keeps his hand as if closed is to be imputed to our sins.
(84) For the various opinions of Jewish writers on this subject, see Poole’s Synopsis in loco. See also Bishop Patrick’s Commentary on this verse. — Ed.
(86) Some here distinguish, and say the image is in what is natural, the likeness in what is gratuitous. — Lyra. Others blend them together, and say there is an Hendiadys, that is, according to the image most like us. — Tirinus. — See Poole’s Synopsis. — Ed.
(87) “I answer,” is not in the original, but is taken from the French translation. — Ed.
(88) Synecdoche is the figure which puts a part for the whole, or the whole for a part. — Ed.
(90) The two prefixes to the Hebrew words signifying image and likeness; the former of which is translated in, the latter after, or still more correctly, according to. This sentence is not translated either in the French or Old English version. — Ed.
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Genesis 1:26". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/genesis-1.html. 1840-57.
Now on the third day,
God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters he called the Seas: and God saw that it was good. And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, and herb yielding seed, and fruit trees yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so (Gen 1:9-11).
Now the key here is the grass and the vegetables and the trees yielding seed after their kind. We've never been able to disprove this. Men have been planting grains of wheat for millenniums and he has yet to plant a grain of wheat and have a corn stalk grow out of it. They are "herb-yielding seed after their kind," each has its own little code within it that reproduces after its kind; very fascinating indeed.
Also, here we begin to see some of the inventive genius of God, creating seeds to produce after their own kind. But it would be necessary for those seeds to propagate themselves into other areas. And so I am always fascinated with the various kinds of ways that God designed for the seeds to propagate themselves.
There are some little seeds that grow in the pinecones. Now, if they would drop straight down under the pine tree, they would probably never survive very long because the mother pine would be taking too much of the nutrients from the soil. There wouldn't be room for it to grow, there wouldn't be enough light, and so the seed needs to get out away from the mother pine a bit. So what did God do? He designed a little wing on that seed. And when the pinecone dries, it begins to pop open, and the little seed falls free. But with that wing, it begins to spin almost like a helicopter rotor and it spins on out far enough away from the pine tree so that when it lands, it can fine a suitable place to grow up into a new pine. Marvelous accident! I wonder how long the pine tree could have existed before it decided, "I need to get my seeds out further" and it developed the little wing on the seed.
There are other seeds that when the pod dries out they explode. They pop and the seed shoots out, exploding kind of a seed. Then there are other seeds that put a little hook on the end of the seed, and you or an animal walks by, and that little seed hooks on to your pants and it gets a free ride or it hooks in to your socks. And so you get the feeling, an irritation in your ankle, and you reach down and pull that seed out and throw it down. Oh, you helped it propagate itself.
There are other seeds that develop a quick-drying glue. The minute it touches you, it glues itself to you. But then, pretty soon, as the glue dries completely, it falls off and it has propagated itself. Other seeds surround themselves with a luscious tasting juice and all, and a little bit of meaty stuff, and so you eat, or the bear eats the berries, then later on he propagates the seeds in other areas.
The way that seeds are designed to propagate themselves are fascinating indeed. There are some seeds that build a little parachute. They sprout out a little parachute on top of the seed and they just wait for the wind to come along, and the wind comes and lifts the seed. And you see it floating through the air, its heading somewhere to propagate itself wherever the wind will let it drop and then it will burrow in and begin to grow.
The coconut seed is a fascinating seed; it's conquered the South Pacific. It put a waterproof husk around itself. And thus, when the hurricane would blow, the coconut would fall off and fall into the water, and it would be carried because of the waterproof husk. It would be carried across the ocean and be thrown up on a beach somewhere. And the surf would sort of cover it with sand, and it had enough water inside to support the roots until they could get deep enough to get their own water source. And of course a little coconut tree would come up and then he would begin to propagate across the South Pacific islands.
Fruit bearing seeds, vegetable-bearing seeds, grass bearing seeds, after their kind. Oh, what a testimony of the inventive genius of God in creation. As the Bible says, "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the earth sheweth forth his handiwork. And day unto day they utter their speech; night unto night their voice goeth forth. There is not a speech nor a language" (Psa 19:1-3).
And you just look around, God'll speak to you through the grass, through the vegetables, through the flowers, through the trees. Through His creation, as you look at the wisdom, as you study it, as God has designed the leaves to take and turn the sunrays into energy and, and all, and the photosynthesis processes by which the sun is turned into energy to feed the tree and all. Marvelous are His ways. Marvelous is His creative genius as you really look at the various life forms.
And the earth brought forth grass, and [vegetable or] herb-yielding seed after his kind, and tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the third day. And God said, Let there be light in the firmament in the heaven (Gen 1:12-14)
Now, the word light here is "meor". The word light in Hebrew is "or". The word "meor" is a light holder. So let there be the "light holders" in the heavens
to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and for years (Gen 1:14):
And so our time is calculated by the sun and the moon, and it is generally thought that the Earth's rotation around the sun was a three hundred and sixty-day year. That is what the Babylonian calendar was predicated upon, and there is a lot of evidence to show that also the Mayan, Incan, Chinese calendars where all predicated on a three hundred and sixty-day year. Somehow, the earth's orbit was changed around the sun, and now it is three hundred and sixty-five years, nine hours, fifty-six minutes, nine and four-hundredths of a second. What caused the change? We don't know for sure.
Emmanuel Vilikovski again in his book, "Worlds in Collision" as you get into the book, we'll find out that his theory that the introduction of the planet Venus into our solar system that caused the change of the Earth's orbit around the sun. Now, I don't know, it's very possible. He presents very interesting arguments. But yet, our year is measured by the time it takes our Earth to make its rotation around the sun. And the months were originally lunar months, the time it takes the moon to go through its full cycle, as it orbits around the Earth. So that, they are for signs, for times, for seasons and so forth; and so this becomes very interesting.
Now, if this is a process of "re-creation," then it would mean that on the fourth day, actually God did not create the sun and the moon on the fourth day, but He had now allowed them to be in their present, current positions in their relationship to the Earth, and he removed the shroud of fog, and all, from the Earth so that you can finally see the sun and the moon.
Now, we have evening and mornings, where we don't see the sun, cloudy days, cloudy all day long. I still know it's daytime, because there's light, but yet I don't see the sun. I know it's night because it's dark, but I don't see the moon, because there is a cloud cover that prohibits me seeing the moon or prohibits my seeing the sun.
Now, this fog, cloud cover could have been removed on the fourth day, so that the "light holder" becomes visible. It is difficult to explain how they could have an evening and morning without the rotation of the earth on its axis if the sun wasn't in position from verse one, and it wasn't created until the fourth day. How could you've evening and morning in the first three days? So, that seems to lend credence to the "gap theory" that the heavens and the earth were created in verse one, this is an account of re-creation.
Now the fog cloud's removed and the sun and the moon becoming visible and are now used to mark off years and days and months; used as time indicators and the greater light to rule the day, the lesser light holder to rule the night. Now, the moon we know has no light of itself, it isn't in conflict with the scripture. It's just called a light holder. A mirror can be in a sense a light holder, such as is the moon. It would fit with the Hebrew word "meor". It doesn't necessarily mean a source of light.
let them be for lights in the firmament in the heavens to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: [and] he made the stars also. And God set them in the heavens [the firmament, in the limitless space of heaven, the rachowq of heaven] to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the fourth day. And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and the fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created the great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let the fowl multiply in the earth. And the evening and the morning were the fifth day (Gen 1:15-23).
Now as we get into the creation of the animal-type of life in the fifth day, first of all, the life forms in the water, "Let the waters bring forth abundantly," and my, the teeming life forms in the water! And again the design, and the variety! I love to go snorkeling over in Hawaii. The tremendous variety of life forms that I can see. Now, there are a lot of life forms that I can't even see, the waters are teeming with life forms. But I often wonder why God made such weird-looking fish, in such variety, and then the fabulous colors! It's just to me exciting, that God is not limited to just one design.
If you'd look around tonight you'd see that God isn't limited to just one design. Yet, we all possess the basic same, you know, the basic same features. We all have a nose, we all have eyes, we all have eyebrows, we all have---well, we, most of us, have you know, some hair at least. And you know, teeth, and mouth, chin, cheeks and so forth. And yet, look at the variety! You've got same, basically the same features, and yet we don't look alike at all! It just testifies to God's neat, inventive genius, and being able to take same basic features and just creates an infinite number of varieties.
God evidently likes variety. He makes every snowflake different. Every one of them is a perfect geometrical pattern, but no two snowflakes alike. Of the trillions of snowflakes that fall every year, God just likes variety so much. He doesn't make any two of them alike. And yet, they are so exquisitely beautiful when you look at them under a microscope. The geometric patterns and design.
And so, of all of the millions of people, there may be some who look somewhat alike, and yet, you know, when you get to know twins, you'll be able to tell them apart at sight, because there's just enough difference between everybody. Though the twins may have come from the same cell, divided and thus, they have the same chromosome content and gene content as each other, yet the variations that develop, I just am amazed at creation. I just love to see the different life forms.
I love to see these crazy, little tiny bugs and I don't even know what they are, or where they're going, and I wonder if they know where they're going, but they know how to fly. Now, they fly in erratic patterns, and sometimes they can be pesky, but, they'll land sometimes, I'll read my Bible and they'll land on my Bible, and I'll just look and study them. And I'll think, you marvelous little creature, you, you can fly! You've got something over me. So designed, so constructed, that you can fly off of that page, and just the wide variety! A fly, you hate them, but yet what fabulous design! Swept back wing design, and their ability to just hover, and then almost to fly backwards. I mean, you know, when you see them they just, they can dart in several directions, and then they can land on the ceiling and walk. And I've often wondered how close does he get to the ceiling before he flips over so he can land on his feet. That's gonna worry you, isn't it?
But, oh, how marvelous is our God! How infinite His wisdom! How great His creative genius in all of the life forms that we see. Now we have the basic life forms, the plant life forms, on the third day. Here on the fifth day, now, we have the more complex life forms. The plant forms of course, are necessarily rooted. The roots themselves are marvelous. They are able to go down and each little root is a chemical laboratory. And it is able to take out of the soil just the necessary chemicals to support that particular plant; able to tell the difference between the chemicals, knows just the chemicals that it needs out of the soil to feed the particular plant that it's coming from, to bring the moisture up out of the soil and all. Marvelous, absolutely marvelous!
But we get the more complex life forms that sort of are a little independent. They're not rooted, they're not grounded, they are mobile, and the various cycles that God has created, the whole process is just so marvelous indeed. The water, teeming with life, and then the air, and the many, many kinds of birds and the variety of birds that God has created. And those instinctive abilities in the birds!
I'm always fascinated by that little bird in Hawaii that goes up into the Aleutian chain in order to mate. During the summer, they take off from Hawaii and they fly all the way up into Alaska where they mate. They build their nests, they lay the eggs, they hatch their young. And then with the coming of winter, they don't want to spend winter in Alaska -- and who can blame them. And you have to almost envy them, spending their winters in Hawaii. They take off over the thousands of miles without suitcases, without spare gas tanks, without compasses or navigational equipment. And they come and fly right into Hawaii, sometimes they get into severe storms, one-hundred, two-hundred mile an hour winds that blow them off course, but somehow they find their way right in. You say, "oh, they remember the way they flew out."
How do they reckon? Some think they have some kind of device that tunes on the magnetic field of the earth. I don't know. But, really, they're not following the same path, so that argument's sort of shot down, because, really, the parents decide to leave for Hawaii before the kids are able to fly that far. So, the parents fly off to Hawaii, leaving their kids in Alaska! But, it doesn't seem to matter, cause a couple of weeks later, their kids take off and they fly right to Hawaii. Never been there before, yet somehow, God has built into this little bird that kind of instinct; and that's a bird brain. And it's not a very big kind of a computer. Talk about microsystems!
Oh, the wisdom of God, the wisdom of God. How thrilling to be able to see the design in nature, all testifying of the wisdom of the God that I serve. I'm so glad that I serve Him. I'm so glad that I know Him. Such a glorious God, so wise; all of these created life forms. Now, He created also the mammals, the great whales. He created the animals, the domesticated-type animals, all after their own kind.
And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and the cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and it was good. And God said, Let us make man in our image, and after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. And God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them (Gen 1:24-27).
So we find, now, the crowning act of God's creation. Having created the world with its many life forms, He now wants one to rule over these life forms. So God said, "let us make man in our image, after our likeness."
The tri-unity of God is found in the first verse of the Bible, "in the beginning God," the word in Hebrew is "Elohim". Elohim is a plural word. Other places in the Old Testament it is translated Gods. "El" is God in Hebrew, singular. In Hebrew there is a dual tense, two, and the Hebrew "Elah" is God in a dual tense. But "Elohim" is the plural tense for God. And so, even the tri-unity of God is expressed in the first verse, "in the beginning God," Elohim. Not "El", but "Elohim" created the heavens and the earth.
And the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, moved over the face of the waters. "And God said". The moment God spoke, you have the Word of God. "And in the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, the Word was God. And the same was in the beginning with God, and all things were made by Him"(Joh 1:1).
Now you have God saying "let us make man in our image after our likeness". Who was God talking to? God after the counsel of His own will, in the triunity of the Godhead which we, in our feeble, finite minds cannot comprehend. But in that trinity of His nature, He said "let us make man after our image" and thus he made man after His image, a trinity of nature. So God is a superior trinity. Man, made in the image of God is an inferior trinity. The superior trinity being Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the inferior trinity of man being body, soul and spirit.
"After His likeness". The chief governing characteristic of God is His self-determination, His will, His ability to choose and to determine His own destiny or His own mind. Man, being created in the image of God was created a self-determinant being. Being created after the image of God, God created me with a capacity to choose. I have the power of self-determination. I can choose what I want. I have that power, that capacity. I'm made in the image of God, who is a self-determinant being.
Now, if God created me with a capacity of choice, it would be totally meaningless unless He gave me a choice. What value would it be for me to have the capacity to choose if there was nothing to choose? Not only giving me the capacity of choice, He also respects the choice that I make. Again, what value would it be for God to give me the freedom of choice but then not respect the choice? I say, "well I want to do this". He says bloop, "you can't do that." Then that isn't' free choice. He has, He does not respect my choice, and thus it isn't really the freedom of choice. So having given me the capacity of choice, making me in His image, He has to then offer me an alternative, give me a choice to make; but then, He has to respect that choice that I have made.
Part of the intricacy of self-determination; that image of God in which man was created. That is why, when God created man and He created the garden for man to dwell in, that He put in that Garden a tree of knowledge of good and evil and said to man, "Don't eat that". Therein is the choice that man was given, because having been created with the capacity of choice, it is no value unless there is something to choose.
But again, in honoring and respecting my choice, if I choose that I don't want to know God, I don't want to serve God, I don't want to love God, then it would be manifestly wrong for Him to force me to go to heaven where I would have to love Him, and have to be with Him, and have to serve Him. "I don't want God in my life! I don't want God around me! I don't, I want God to leave me alone!" All right, if He then doesn't leave me alone, He's not respecting my choice. What value is it then for me to have a choice if He doesn't respect it? It is an awesome thing to realize that God does respect my choice.
Now, He does speak to influence my choice because He loves me, and He knows what is best for me. And knowing me and loving me, and knowing what is best, He seeks to influence my choice and to direct my choice, but I always have the right to say, "bug off, God, I don't want to follow you." And He will not force His choice upon me, because that would not be free choice.
The chief emotional attribute of God is love. God making me in His image has made me with this beautiful capacity to love. I am capable of loving, of giving and receiving love, and to know the meaningfulness of giving and receiving love, because I am created in the image of God and that's His chief emotional characteristic; is to love. Now God is honored when I follow Him, and I love as He loves. But I don't have to, again I have a choice, and I can choose to hate if I want. But I have the capacity to love.
So man was made in the image of God and in the likeness of God. Now, that does not necessarily mean a physical likeness of God. What God looks like; none of us know. God constantly refused that man should make any kind of a likeness of Him. Thus, as God appeared to man in the Old Testament, there was no form, so that man would not think of God in the terms of a form and try to carve out a form that would represent God.
The likeness of God we see in Jesus Christ; the fullness of the Godhead bodily dwells in Christ. Now, when God created our bodies, He created ears so that we could hear, designed them so that they would pick up sound vibrations that would bounce or vibrate the little incus stapes, and bones in there and send these vibrations into the brain that my brain would interpret as words and sounds and make it intelligible to me. So, I think of my ears when I think of hearing.
Now, I know that God can hear, but it doesn't necessarily follow that God has ears. I need ears to hear, but God wouldn't necessarily need ears to hear. I make sounds by the use of the throat and the tongue and the teeth, and the roof of the mouth and so forth. I form the sounds by the expelling of air and the movement of all of these things in coordination, so that the sounds come forth in a way, that because we have agreed that particular sounds mean particular things, I'm able to communicate intelligibly to you through sounds that I can form in my mouth. I can speak to you.
Now, when God speaks, He doesn't necessarily need all the vocal apparatus that I have; a voice box, a larynx and a tongue and all of this. I have this little system in my eyes with the vitreous jelly on the backside that is taking these little pictures at the rate of about eighteen per second and transmitting the vibrations on into the brain by which my eyes are interpreting the world around me and making it understandable as the vibrations are coming into my brain, and all of it's unscrambling and interpretation as these little flash vibrations are bounced in at eighteen per second. And I am able to recognize you and say "oh yeah that's" and the color of clothes that you're wearing and the, you know, the whole thing. Your eyes are picking it all up and sending all those messages into the brain. No wonder you get tired at the end of the day.
And thus, I know that God can see, but it doesn't follow that God has to have eyes to see. But because I relate seeing to eyes, and when I talk to God about seeing, I would say, well, the eyes of the Lord go to and fro throughout the entire earth, but it doesn't necessarily follow that God has eyes, because eyes aren't necessarily essential for seeing.
So what does God look like? We don't know. He doesn't want you to know, because we'd just be dumb enough to carve out of a little stick God, and hang Him around our neck, and you know, we'd begin to think of God as a little piece of wood, this thing carved out and is strung around my neck. He is certainly too vast, too infinite, to be confined to a form that could be hung around your neck or worn around your wrist. The infinite God, who created this universe and all the life forms within it remains unformed in our own mind. For God is a Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth, and God is seeking such to worship Him.
So the very first commandment that God gave was "Thou shalt have no other Gods before me." And then He said, "Thou shalt not make unto thyself any graven image or any likeness of God to bow down and to worship it". He wants to remain totally formless in your mind.
To this extent, I really don't care for pictures of Christ, because there is an attempt to define Him in a form. And we really don't know what He looked like. And if you're expecting to see Him with shoulder-length hair and a beard, and all, you may be, you may not even recognize Him. You may be, as Isaiah said, astonished, when you see Him. The recognizable part of Christ will be the prints of the nails in His hands and the print of the sword in His side. And as we suggested last Thursday night, it is possible that He'll be the only handicapped person in there. We'll all be in our new bodies, perfected bodies that will know no handicaps at all. We'll know no weakness, no pain, no suffering. But He will still be bearing the marks of His cross, and may be the only malformed body in heaven.
So, "God making man in His own image and after His own likeness" is speaking of that spiritual nature and those capacities of God: self-determination, love, those capacities that He has given to me.
And God blessed them, and he said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth over the earth (Gen 1:28).
So God placed the earth under man's control and authority. He made man the master over the earth. That he should be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth, to subdue it, and have dominion over the other created beings of God.
And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb-yielding seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. [It's your food.] And to every beast of earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so (Gen 1:29-30).
So all of the animals at that point lived off of the grasses and vegetation. There were no carnivorous animals in the beginning. The world was living in harmony with God, and thus in harmony with each other.
And God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day (Gen 1:31).
Now the first three verses of chapter two belong to chapter one.
Thus were the heavens of the earth were finished, and all [of] the host of them (Gen 2:1).
Which would include the angels, for the angels are called the hosts of heaven.
And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made (Gen 2:2).
It doesn't mean that God was now exhausted, but it means that the creative works were completed. He rested just from His creation. He had created everything that was needed at this point, and so that was the end of His creative act. He ceased His creative act on the seventh day. All of the things were created or reformed within this six-day period. And so God rested from His creative acts, as it points out here, He rested from His creation, all the work which He had made.
And God blessed the seventh day (Gen 2:3)
And He set it apart. The word "sanctified" actually means to be set apart because that in it, He had rested from all of His work, which God had created, made. Now what did He set the seventh day apart for? He set it apart for man's acknowledging of God. The seventh day was to be the day that we acknowledge God and give unto God, and we do it by resting. A day in which we acknowledge the Creator; it's set apart for the recognition of the Creator, as He has so left such ample evidence of Himself in His creation.
Now later on, as God calls a nation of people, a separate people to Himself, we will be, we will find Him giving them a law for the seventh day; a covenant between God and Israel forever. And on six days, they are to do their labors, the seventh day they are to rest. Six years they are to plant their fields, the seventh year they are to let their fields rest. Six years they may go into slavery, the seventh year they are set free. And this pattern of six and one, will be established by God throughout the history of His people, and interwoven into their whole culture.
So we find everything is beautiful. The world, the universe has been created. The world has been established now. The environmental conditions have been placed here for man, the trees, the vegetables have been placed here for his food. The atmosphere has been created to sustain his life. The water systems are all there, the animals, and now man to rule over it. It's done. And God rested on the seventh day from His work of creation.
Now as we get into chapter two, we find a recapitulation that will emphasize the creation of man, because of this recapitulation we have now, because man is being emphasized. The name of God, not just being "Elohim" as it is in chapter one, but more personal because we are dealing with more the creation of man, and we are being given details of the creation of man in chapter two. And thus, because we are now relating God to man, we are coming into that mysterious name of God, "Jehovah", "Elohim". Jehovah, meaning "the becoming one" as God relates to man and man's needs, and He becomes to man whatever man may need.
Now it has caused some of the critics of the Bible to see Genesis not as the work of one Author, but the work of many authors. And chapter one was written by the "Elohistic"; chapter two by the "Jehovistic." And then you get into the priestly version of it. And so you have the "EPJ" or the "JEP" concepts of how many authors of Genesis, and somebody's even thrown in an "I" somewhere there. And these stupid, foolish, nonsensical arguments which are of no value and of no profit to anybody.
That's why I didn't even get into them. I don't intend to get into them. They are a waste of your time and my time. It isn't who wrote it, it was the Holy Spirit that inspired the writing. And rather than trying to figure out who wrote it, it's better to find out what it says. And so we'll just go through finding out what it says and we'll leave the puny, little intellects to their discussions and arguments that are without profit or value to us. What is important for us to know is what did God say. Not how did He say it, or to whom did He say it, but what did He say. For all scripture was given by inspiration of God. So the Holy Spirit, basically, is the author of all the scripture and who He was inspiring is of no import to us.
So next week, we'll continue with chapter two. And at this rate, I'm sure the Lord will come before we get through the Bible. And I wouldn't mind the final chapter being written up there anyhow. "Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus". If you're not saying that already, you'll be saying it before you sit in too many gas lines. As the crisis hour is approaching, the saying of which we've been warning, as man has carelessly lived as though there was no tomorrow, we're coming soon to the day when they'll be no tomorrow. We see the clock winding out. "Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus". Exciting days, we'll have a lot of things to share with you soon, as soon as we get all of our information packets put together. But needless to say, Jesus is coming soon.
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Genesis 1:26". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/csc/genesis-1.html. 2014.
3. The six days of creation 1:3-31
Cosmic order consists of clearly demarcating the various elements of the universe. God divided light and darkness, waters and dry land, the world above from the world below. Likewise people should maintain the other divisions in the universe. [Note: See Mathews, p. 124.] In three "days" God made the uninhabitable earth productive, and in three more "days" He filled the uninhabited earth with life. The process of creation, as Moses described it, typically follows this pattern for each day of creation: announcement, commandment, separation, report, naming, evaluation, and chronological framework. [Note: Waltke, Genesis, p. 56.]
One writer sought to retain six literal days of creation and to harmonize them with an old age earth model, allowing a long period of time (possibly billions of years) between Genesis 1:2-3. [Note: Gorman Gray, The Age of the Universe: What Are the Biblical Limits?] However, this explanation does violence to the Hebrew text. [Note: For a critique of this book, see Douglas C. Bozzung, "An Evaluation of the Biosphere Model of Genesis 1," Bibliotheca Sacra 162:648 (October-December 2005):406-23.]
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The sixth day 1:24-31
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"Us" is probably a plural of intensification (see my comment on Genesis 1:1 above), though some regard it as a plural of self-deliberation (cf. Genesis 11:7; Psalms 2:3). [Note: E.g., Claus Westermann, Genesis 1-11 : A Commentary, p. 145.] Others believe that God was addressing His heavenly court (cf. Isaiah 6:8). [Note: The NET Bible note on 1:26.] This word involves "in germ" the doctrine of the Trinity. However, we should not use it as a formal proof of the Trinity since this reference by itself does not prove that one God exists in three persons. [Note: See Ross, Creation and . . ., p. 112; Wenham, pp. 27-27; Oswald Allis, God Spake by Moses, p. 13.]
"Although the Christian Trinity cannot be derived solely from the use of the plural, a plurality within the unity of the Godhead may be derived from the passage." [Note: Mathews, p. 163.]
The theological controversy in Moses’ day was not between trinitarianism and unitarianism but between one self-existent, sovereign, good God and many limited, capricious, often wicked gods. [Note: Hamilton, p. 133.]
"First, God’s deliberation shows that he has decided to create man differently from any of the other creatures-in his image and likeness. God and man share a likeness that is not shared by other creatures. This apparently means that a relationship of close fellowship can exist between God and man that is unlike the relationship of God with the rest of his creation. What more important fact about God and man would be necessary if the covenant at Sinai were, in fact, to be a real relationship? Remove this and the covenant is unthinkable.
"Secondly, in Genesis 1, man, the image bearer, is the object of God’s blessing. According to the account of creation in Genesis 1, the chief purpose of God in creating man is to bless him. The impact of this point on the remainder of the Pentateuch and the author’s view of Sinai is clear: through Abraham, Israel and the covenant this blessing is to be restored to all mankind." [Note: Sailhamer, "Exegetical Notes . . .," p. 80.]
"Man" refers to mankind, not Adam individually (Genesis 1:27). "Them" indicates this generic significance. God created (cf. Genesis 1:1-2) mankind male and female; they did not evolve from a lower form of life (cf. Matthew 19:4; Mark 10:6). Adam was not androgynous (i.e., two individuals joined physically like Siamese twins) or bisexual (i.e., one individual possessing both male and female sexual organs). There is no basis for these bizarre ideas in the text. God formed Eve from Adam’s rib, not from half of his body or from his genitals.
"The image is found in the type of relationship that was designed to exist between male and female human beings, a relationship where the characteristics of each sex are valued and used to form a oneness in their identity and purpose. When God created human beings as male and female he formed them to exhibit a oneness in their relationship that would resemble the relationship of God and his heavenly court.
"By ruling as one, male and female fulfill the purpose of God for which they were created. United as one humanity, male and female are one with God and his heavenly court. And it is this unity between male and female, and between humanity and God, that is destroyed in the Fall described in Genesis 3." [Note: Henry F. Lazenby, "The Image of God: Masculine, Feminine, or Neuter?" Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 30:1 (March 1987):67, 66.]
As a husband and wife demonstrate oneness in their marriage they reflect the unity of the Godhead. Oneness involves being in agreement with God’s will and purposes. Oneness is essential for an orchestra, an athletic team, and a construction crew, as well as a family, to achieve a common purpose. Oneness in marriage is essential if husband and wife are to fulfill God’s purposes for humankind. (Generally speaking, women feel a marriage is working if they talk about it, but men feel it is working if they do not talk about it.)
God created man male and female as an expression of His own plurality: "Let us make man . . ." God’s plurality anticipated man’s plurality. The human relationship between man and woman thus reflects God’s own relationship with Himself. [Note: Sailhamer, "Genesis," p. 38.]
"Image" and "likeness" are essentially synonymous terms. Both indicate personality, moral, and spiritual qualities that God and man share (i.e., self-consciousness, God-consciousness, freedom, responsibility, speech, moral discernment, etc.) These distinguish humans from the animals, which have no God-consciousness even though they have conscious life (cf. Genesis 1:24). Some writers have called the image of God man’s "spiritual personality." [Note: E.g., Keil and Delitzsch, 1:63. See Wenham, pp. 27-28; Charles Feinberg, "The Image of God," Bibliotheca Sacra 129:515 (July-September 1972):235-246, esp. p. 237; Boice, 1:77-79; Mathews, pp. 164-72.] In another sense man is the image of God (e.g., he rules and creates [procreates] as God does, thus reflecting God). [Note: See James Jordan, "Rebellion, Tyranny, and Dominion in the Book of Genesis," Christianity and Civilization 3 (Summer 1983):38-80. See also Merrill, pp. 14-16.] The Fall obscured but did not obliterate the image of God in man. [Note: See John F. Kilner, "Humanity in God’s Image: Is the Image Really Damaged?" Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 53:3 (September 2010):601-17.]
Does the image of God in man include his body?
"Most theologians have recognized that that [sic] we cannot interpret it [i.e., the phrase ’the image of God’] literally-that is, that man’s physical being is in the image of God. Such an interpretation should be rejected for at least four reasons. In the first place, we are told elsewhere that God is a spirit (John 4:24; Isaiah 31:3) and that he is ubiquitous (1 Kings 8:27). In the second place, a literal interpretation would leave us with all sorts of bizarre questions. If man’s physical being is in the image of God we would immediately wonder what, if any organs, God possesses. Does he have sexual organs, and if so, which? Does he have the form of a man, or of a woman, or both? The very absurdity that God is a sexual being renders this interpretation highly unlikely. Thirdly, it seems unlikely that man’s dignity above the rest of the animals (Genesis 9:5 f.; James 3:7-9) is due to his slight physiological differences from them. Is it credible that animals may be killed but that man may not be killed because his stature is slightly different? Finally, a literal interpretation seems not only contradictory to the rest of Scripture, and unlikely, but also inappropriate, Gardener aptly observed: ’But our anatomy and physiology is demanded by our terrestrial habitat, and quite inappropriate to the one who inhabits eternity.’ For these reasons, theologians have concluded that the statement in Genesis 1:26-28 must be metaphorical of man’s spiritual or immaterial nature." [Note: Bruce K. Waltke, "Reflections from the Old Testament on Abortion," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 19:1 (Winter 1976):8. His quotation is from R. F. R. Gardener, Abortion: The Personal Dilemma. See also Waltke’s helpful discussion of image and likeness in Genesis, p. 65-66. For the view that the image of God includes the body, see Jonathan F. Henry, "Man in God’s Image: What Does it Mean?" Journal of Dispensational Theology 12:37 (December 2008):5-24.]
Genesis 1:27 may be the first poem in the Bible. If so, the shift to poetry may emphasize human beings as God’s image bearers. There is some disagreement among Old Testament scholars regarding what distinguishes biblical poetry from biblical prose. [Note: See Tremper Longman III, Song of Songs, pp. 9-54, for a discussion of the subject.]
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And God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness,.... These words are directed not to the earth, out of which man was made, as consulting with it, and to be assisting in the formation of man, as Moses Gerundensis, and other Jewish writers f, which is wretchedly stupid; nor to the angels, as the Targum of Jonathan, Jarchi, and others, who are not of God's privy council, nor were concerned in any part of the creation, and much less in the more noble part of it: nor are the words spoken after the manner of kings, as Saadiah, using the plural number as expressive of honour and majesty; since such a way of speaking did not obtain very early, not even till the close of the Old Testament: but they are spoken by God the Father to the Son and Holy Ghost, who were each of them concerned in the creation of all things, and particularly of man: hence we read of divine Creators and Makers in the plural number, Job 35:10 and Philo the Jew acknowledges that these words declare a plurality, and are expressive of others, being co-workers with God in creation g: and man being the principal part of the creation, and for the sake of whom the world, and all things in it were made, and which being finished, he is introduced into it as into an house ready prepared and furnished for him; a consultation is held among the divine Persons about the formation of him; not because of any difficulty attending it, but as expressive of his honour and dignity; it being proposed he should be made not in the likeness of any of the creatures already made, but as near as could be in the likeness and image of God. The Jews sometimes say, that Adam and Eve were created in the likeness of the holy blessed God, and his Shechinah h; and they also speak i of Adam Kadmon the ancient Adam, as the cause of causes, of whom it is said, "I was as one brought up with him (or an artificer with him), Proverbs 8:30 and to this ancient Adam he said, "let us make man in our image, after our likeness": and again, "let us make man"; to whom did he say this? the cause of causes said to "`jod', he, `vau', he"; that is, to Jehovah, which is in the midst of the ten numerations. What are the ten numerations? "`aleph', he, `jod', he", that is, אהיה, "I am that I am, Exodus 3:14 and he that says let us make, is Jehovah; I am the first, and I am the last, and beside me there is no God: and three jods ייי testify concerning him, that there is none above him, nor any below him, but he is in the middle:
and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air; that is, to catch them, and eat them; though in the after grant of food to man, no mention as yet is made of any other meat than the herbs and fruits of the earth; yet what can this dominion over fish and fowl signify, unless it be a power to feed upon them? It may be observed, that the plural number is used, "let them", which shows that the name "man" is general in the preceding clause, and includes male and female, as we find by the following verse man was created:
and over the cattle, and over all the earth; over the tame creatures, either for food, or clothing, or carriage, or for all of them, some of them for one thing, and some for another; and over all the wild beasts of the earth, which seem to be meant by the phrase, "over all the earth"; that is, over all the beasts of the earth, as appears by comparing it with Genesis 1:24 so as to keep them in awe, and keep them off from doing them any damage:
and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth; to make use of it as should seem convenient for them.
f Vet. Nizzachon, p. 5. Lipman. Carmen Memorial. p. 108. apud Wagenseil. Tela ignea, vol. 1. g De confusione Ling. p. 344. De Profugis, p. 460. De Opificio, p. 16. h Tikkune Zohar, correct. 64. fol. 98. 2. i Ibid. correct. 70. fol. 119. 1.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rights Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Gill, John. "Commentary on Genesis 1:26". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/genesis-1.html. 1999.
|The Creation.||B. C. 4004.|
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
We have here the second part of the sixth day's work, the creation of man, which we are, in a special manner, concerned to take notice of, that we may know ourselves. Observe,
I. That man was made last of all the creatures, that it might not be suspected that he had been, any way, a helper to God in the creation of the world: that question must be for ever humbling and mortifying to him, Where wast thou, or any of thy kind, when I laid the foundations of the earth?Job 38:4. Yet it was both an honour and a favour to him that he was made last: an honour, for the method of the creation was to advance from that which was less perfect to that which was more so; and a favour, for it was not fit he should be lodged in the palace designed for him till it was completely fitted up and furnished for his reception. Man, as soon as he was made, had the whole visible creation before him, both to contemplate and to take the comfort of. Man was made the same day that the beasts were, because his body was made of the same earth with theirs; and, while he is in the body, he inhabits the same earth with them. God forbid that by indulging the body and the desires of it we should make ourselves like the beasts that perish!
II. That man's creation was a more signal and immediate act of divine wisdom and power than that of the other creatures. The narrative of it is introduced with something of solemnity, and a manifest distinction from the rest. Hitherto, it had been said, "Let there be light," and "Let there be a firmament," and "Let the earth, or waters, bring forth" such a thing; but now the word of command is turned into a word of consultation, "Let us make man, for whose sake the rest of the creatures were made: this is a work we must take into our own hands." In the former he speaks as one having authority, in this as one having affection; for his delights were with the sons of men,Proverbs 8:31. It should seem as if this were the work which he longed to be at; as if he had said, "Having at last settled the preliminaries, let us now apply ourselves to the business, Let us make man." Man was to be a creature different from all that had been hitherto made. Flesh and spirit, heaven and earth, must be put together in him, and he must be allied to both worlds. And therefore God himself not only undertakes to make him, but is pleased so to express himself as if he called a council to consider of the making of him: Let us make man. The three persons of the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, consult about it and concur in it, because man, when he was made, was to be dedicated and devoted to Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Into that great name we are, with good reason, baptized, for to that great name we owe our being. Let him rule man who said, Let us make man.
III. That man was made in God's image and after his likeness, two words to express the same thing and making each other the more expressive; image and likeness denote the likest image, the nearest resemblance of any of the visible creatures. Man was not made in the likeness of any creature that went before him, but in the likeness of his Creator; yet still between God and man there is an infinite distance. Christ only is the express image of God's person, as the Son of his Father, having the same nature. It is only some of God's honour that is put upon man, who is God's image only as the shadow in the glass, or the king's impress upon the coin. God's image upon man consists in these three things:-- 1. In his nature and constitution, not those of his body (for God has not a body), but those of his soul. This honour indeed God has put upon the body of man, that the Word was made flesh, the Son of God was clothed with a body like ours and will shortly clothe ours with a glory like that of his. And this we may safely say, That he by whom God made the worlds, not only the great world, but man the little world, formed the human body, at the first, according to the platform he designed for himself in the fulness of time. But it is the soul, the great soul, of man, that does especially bear God's image. The soul is a spirit, an intelligent immortal spirit, an influencing active spirit, herein resembling God, the Father of Spirits, and the soul of the world. The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord. The soul of man, considered in its three noble faculties, understanding, will, and active power, is perhaps the brightest clearest looking-glass in nature, wherein to see God. 2. In his place and authority: Let us make man in our image, and let him have dominion. As he has the government of the inferior creatures, he is, as it were, God's representative, or viceroy, upon earth; they are not capable of fearing and serving God, therefore God has appointed them to fear and serve man. Yet his government of himself by the freedom of his will has in it more of God's image than his government of the creatures. 3. In his purity and rectitude. God's image upon man consists in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, Ephesians 4:24; Colossians 3:10. He was upright, Ecclesiastes 7:29. He had an habitual conformity of all his natural powers to the whole will of God. His understanding saw divine things clearly and truly, and there were no errors nor mistakes in his knowledge. His will complied readily and universally with the will of God, without reluctancy or resistance. His affections were all regular, and he had no inordinate appetites or passions. His thoughts were easily brought and fixed to the best subjects, and there was no vanity nor ungovernableness in them. All the inferior powers were subject to the dictates and directions of the superior, without any mutiny or rebellion. Thus holy, thus happy, were our first parents, in having the image of God upon them. And this honour, put upon man at first, is a good reason why we should not speak ill one of another (James 3:9), nor do ill one to another (Genesis 9:6), and a good reason why we should not debase ourselves to the service of sin, and why we should devote ourselves to God's service. But how art thou fallen, O son of the morning! How is this image of God upon man defaced! How small are the remains of it, and how great the ruins of it! The Lord renew it upon our souls by his sanctifying grace!
IV. That man was made male and female, and blessed with the blessing of fruitfulness and increase. God said, Let us make man, and immediately it follows, So God created man; he performed what he resolved. With us saying and doing are two things; but they are not so with God. He created him male and female, Adam and Eve--Adam first, out of earth, and Eve out of his side, Genesis 2:21-23; Genesis 2:21-23. It should seem that of the rest of the creatures God made many couples, but of man did not he make one? (Malachi 2:15), though he had the residue of the Spirit, whence Christ gathers an argument against divorce, Matthew 19:4; Matthew 19:5. Our first father, Adam, was confined to one wife; and, if he had put her away, there was no other for him to marry, which plainly intimated that the bond of marriage was not to be dissolved at pleasure. Angels were not made male and female, for they were not to propagate their kind (Luke 20:34-36); but man was made so, that the nature might be propagated and the race continued. Fires and candles, the luminaries of this lower world, because they waste, and go out, have a power to light more; but it is not so with the lights of heaven: stars do not kindle stars. God made but one male and one female, that all the nations of men might know themselves to be made of one blood, descendants from one common stock, and might thereby be induced to love one another. God, having made them capable of transmitting the nature they had received, said to them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. Here he gave them, 1. A large inheritance: Replenish the earth; it is this that is bestowed upon the children of men. They were made to dwell upon the face of all the earth,Acts 17:26. This is the place in which God has set man to be the servant of his providence in the government of the inferior creatures, and, as it were, the intelligence of this orb; to be the receiver of God's bounty, which other creatures live upon, but do not know it; to be likewise the collector of his praises in this lower world, and to pay them into the exchequer above (Psalms 145:10); and, lastly, to be a probationer for a better state. 2. A numerous lasting family, to enjoy this inheritance, pronouncing a blessing upon them, in virtue of which their posterity should extend to the utmost corners of the earth and continue to the utmost period of time. Fruitfulness and increase depend upon the blessing of God: Obed-edom had eight sons, for God blessed him,1 Chronicles 26:5. It is owing to this blessing, which God commanded at first, that the race of mankind is still in being, and that as one generation passeth away another cometh.
V. That God gave to man, when he had made him, a dominion over the inferior creatures, over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the air. Though man provides for neither, he has power over both, much more over every living thing that moveth upon the earth, which are more under his care and within his reach. God designed hereby to put an honour upon man, that he might find himself the more strongly obliged to bring honour to his Maker. This dominion is very much diminished and lost by the fall; yet God's providence continues so much of it to the children of men as is necessary to the safety and support of their lives, and God's grace has given to the saints a new and better title to the creature than that which was forfeited by sin; for all is ours if we are Christ's, 1 Corinthians 3:22.
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Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Genesis 1:26". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mhm/genesis-1.html. 1706.
There is one characteristic of divine revelation to which attention may be profitably called as a starting point. We have to do with facts. The Bible alone is a revelation of facts, and, we can add (not from the Old Testament, but from the New), of a person. This is of immense importance. In all pretended revelations it is not so. They give you notions ideas; they can furnish nothing better, and very often nothing worse. But they cannot produce facts, for they have none. They may indulge in speculations of the mind, or visions of the imagination a substitute for what is real, and a cheat of the enemy. God, and God alone, can communicate the truth. Thus it is that whether it be the Old Testament or New, one half (speaking now in a general way) consists of history. Undoubtedly there is teaching of the Spirit of God founded on the facts of revelation. In the New Testament these unfoldings have the profoundest character, but everywhere they are divine; for there is no difference, whether it be the Old or the New, in the absolutely divine character of the written word. But still it is well to take note that we have thus a grand basis of things as they really are a divine communication to us of facts of the utmost moment, and, at the same time, of the deepest interest to the children of God. In this too God's own glory is brought before us, and so much the more because there is not the smallest effort. The simple statement of the facts is that which is worthy of God.
Take, for instance, the way in which the book of Genesis opens. If man had been writing it, if he had attempted to give that which pretended to be a revelation, we could understand a flourish of trumpets, pompous prolegomena, some elaborate means or other of setting forth who and what God is, an attempt by fancy to project His image out of man's mind, or by subtle à priori reasoning to justify all that might follow. The highest, the holiest, the only suitable way, once it is laid before us, evidently is what God Himself has employed in His word. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." Not only is the method the most worthy, but the truth with which the book opens is one that nobody ever did really discover before it was revealed. You cannot, as a rule, anticipate facts; you cannot discern the truth beforehand. You may form opinions; but for the truth, and even for such facts as the world's history before man had an existence in it facts as to which there can be no testimony from the creature on the earth, we find the need of His word who knew and wrought all from the beginning. But God does communicate in such a way as at once meets the heart, and mind, and conscience. Man feels that this is exactly what is appropriate to God.
So here God states the great truth of creation; for what is more important, short of redemption, always excepting the manifestation of the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God? Creation and redemption bear witness to His glory, instead of communicating aught of His own dignity. But short of Christ's person and work, there is nothing more characteristic of God than creation. And in the manner in which creation is here presented what unspeakable grandeur! all the more because of the chaste simplicity of the style and words. How suited to the true God, who perfectly knew the truth and would make it known to man!
"In the beginning God created." In the beginning matter did not co-exist with God. I warn every person solemnly against a notion found in both ancient and modern times, that there was in the beginning a quantity of what may be called crude matter for God to work on. Another notion still more general, and only less gross, though certainly not so serious in what it involves, is that God created matter in the beginning according to verse 2, in a state of confusion or "chaos," as men say. But this is not the meaning of verses 1 and 2. I have no hesitation in saying that it is a mistaken interpretation, however prevalent. Nor indeed is such dealing according to the revealed nature of God. Where is anything like it in all the known ways of God? That either matter existed crude or God created it in disorder has not, I believe, the smallest foundation in the word of God. What scripture gives here or elsewhere seems to me altogether at variance with such a thought. The introductory declarations of Genesis are altogether in unison with the glory of God Himself, and with His character; more than that, they are in perfect harmony with itself. There is no statement, from beginning to end of scripture, as far as I am aware, which in the smallest degree modifies or takes away from the force of the words with which the Bible opens "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth."
Some have found a difficulty (which I simply touch on in passing) from the conjunction with which verse 2 commences. They have conceived that, coupling the second verse with the first, it suggests the notion that when God created the earth it was in the state described in the second verse. Now not only is it not too strong to deny that there is the least ground for such an inference, but one may go farther and affirm that the simplest and surest means of guarding against it, according to the style of the writer, and indeed propriety of language, was afforded by here inserting the word "and." In short, if the word had not been here, it might have been supposed that the writer meant us to conclude that the original condition of the earth was the shapeless mass of confusion which verse 2 describes with such terse and graphic brevity. But, as it is, scripture means nothing of the sort. We have first the great announcement that in the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. There is next the associated fact of an utter desolation which befell not the heavens, but the earth. The insertion of the substantive verb, as has been remarked, expresses no doubt a condition past as compared with what follows, but pointedly not said to be contemporaneous with what preceded, as would have been implied in its omission; but what interval lay between, or why such a desolation ensued, is not stated. For God passes rapidly over the early account and history of the globe I might almost say, hastening to that condition of the earth in which it was to be made the habitation of mankind; whereon also God was to display His moral dealings, and finally His own Son, with the fruitful consequences of that stupendous event, whether in rejection or in redemption.
Had the copulative not been here, the first verse might have been regarded as a kind of summary of the chapter. Its insertion forbids the thought, and to speak plainly, convicts those who so understand it either of ignorance, or at the least of inattention. Not only the Hebrew idiom forbids it, but our own, and no doubt every other language. The first verse is not a summary. When a compendious statement of what follows is intended, the "and" is never put. This you can, if you will, verify in various occasions where scripture furnishes examples of the summary; as, for instance, in the beginning of Genesis 5:1-32, "This is the book of the generations of Adam." There it is plain that the writer gives a summary. But there is no word coupling the introductory statement of verse 1 with what follows. "This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man." It is not "And in the day." The copulative would render it improper, and impossible to bear the character of a general introduction. For a summary gives in a few words that which is opened out afterwards; whereas the conjunction "and" introduced in the second verse excludes necessarily all notion of a summary here. It is another statement added to what had just preceded, and by the Hebrew idiom not connected with it in time.
First of all there was the creation by God both of the heavens and of the earth. Then we have the further fact stated of the state into which the earth was plunged to which it was reduced. Why this was, how it was, God has not here explained. It was not necessary nor wise to reveal it by Moses. If man can discover such facts by other means, be it so. They have no small interest; but men are apt to be hasty and short-sighted. I advise none to embark too confidently in the pursuit of such studies. Those who enter on them had better be cautious, and well weigh alleged facts, and above all their own conclusions, or those of other men. But the perfectness of scripture is, I am bold to say, unimpeachable. The truth affirmed by Moses remains in all its majesty and simplicity withal.
In the beginning God created everything the heavens and the earth. Then the earth is described as void and waste, and (not as succeeding, but accompanying it) darkness upon the face of the deep, contemporaneously with which the Spirit of God broods upon the face of the waters. All this is an added account. The real and only force of the "and" is another fact; not at all as if it implied that the first and second verses spoke of the same time, any more than they decide the question of the length of the interval. The phraseology employed perfectly agrees with and confirms the analogy of revelation, that the first verse speaks of an original condition which God was pleased to bring into being; the second, of a desolation afterwards brought in; but how long the first lasted what changes may have intervened, when or by what means the ruin came to pass, is not the subject-matter of the inspired record, but open to the ways and means of human research, if indeed man has sufficient facts on which to ground a sure conclusion. It is false that scripture does not leave room for his investigation.
We saw at the close of verse 2 the introduction of the Spirit of God on the scene. "The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." He appears most consistently and in season, when man's earth is about to be brought before us. In the previous description, which had not to do with man, there was silence about the Spirit of God; but, as the divine wisdom is shown inProverbs 8:1-36; Proverbs 8:1-36 to rejoice in the habitable parts of the earth, so the Spirit of God is always brought before us as the immediate agent in the Deity whenever man is to be introduced. Hence, therefore, as closing all the previous state of things, where man was not spoken of, preparing the way for the Adamic earth, the Spirit of God is seen brooding upon the face of the waters.
Now comes the first mention of evening and morning, and of days. Let me particularly ask those who have not duly considered the matter to weigh God's word. The first and second verses make allusion to these well-known measures of time. They leave room consequently for a state or states of the earth long before either man or time, as man measures it. The days that follow I see no ground for interpreting save in their simple and natural import. Undoubtedly "day" may be used, as it often is, in a figurative sense. No solid reason whatever appears why it should be so used here. There is not the slightest necessity for it. The strict import of the term is that which to my mind is most suitable to the context; the week in which God made the heaven and earth for man seems alone appropriate in introducing the revelation of God. I can understand, when all is clear, a word used figuratively; but nothing would be so likely to let elements of difficulty into the subject, as at once giving us in tropical language what elsewhere is put in the simplest possible forms.
Hence we may see how fitting it is that, as man is about to be introduced on the earth for the first time, as the previous state had nothing whatever to do with his being here below, and indeed was altogether unfit for his dwelling on it, besides the fact that he was not yet created, days should appear only when it was a question of making the heavens and the earth as they are. It will be found, if scripture be searched, that there is the most careful guard on this subject. If the Holy Spirit, as in Exodus 20:11, refers to heaven and earth made in six days, it always avoids the expression "creation." God made heaven and earth in six days: it is never said He created heaven and earth in six days. When it is no question of these, creating, making, and forming may be freely used, as in Isaiah 45:18. The reason is plain when we look at Genesis 1:1-31. He created the heaven and earth at the beginning. Then another state of things is mentioned in verse 2, not for the heaven, but for the earth. "The earth was without form and void." The heavens were in no such state of chaos: the earth was. As to how, when, and why it was, there is silence. Others have spoken spoken rashly and wrongly. The wisdom of the inspired writer's silence will be evident to a spiritual mind, and the more, the more it is reflected on. On the six days which follow I shall not dwell: the subject was before many of us not long ago.
But we have on the first day light, and a most remarkable fact it is (I may in passing just say) that the inspired historian should have named it. No one would have done so naturally. It is plain, had Moses merely formed a probable opinion as men do, that no one would have introduced the mention of light, apart from, and before all distinct notice of, the heavenly orbs. The sun, moon, and stars, would certainly have been first introduced, had man simply pursued the workings of his own mind, or those of observation and experience. The Spirit of God has acted quite otherwise. He, knowing the truth, could afford to state the truth as it is, leaving men to find out at another day the certainty of all` He has said, and leaving them, alas! to their unbelief if they choose to despise or resist the word of God meanwhile. We might with interest pass through the account of the various days, and mark the wisdom of God in each; but I forbear to dwell on such details now, saying a word here and there on the goodness of God apparent throughout.
First of all (verse 3) light is caused to be or act. Next the day is reckoned from "the evening and the morning" a statement of great importance for other parts of scripture, never forgotten by the Spirit of God, but almost invariably let slip by moderns; which forgetfulness has been a great source of the difficulties that have encumbered harmonies of the Gospels. It may be well to glance at it just to show the importance of heeding the word of God, and all His word. The reason why persons have found such perplexities, for instance) in relation to our Lord's, as compared with the Jews taking the passover and with the crucifixion, is owing to their forgetting that the evening and the morning were the first day, the second day, or any other. Even scholars bring in their western notions from the familiar habit of counting the day from the morning to the evening It is the same thing with the account of the resurrection. The difficulty could never arise had they seen and remembered what is stated in the very first chapter of Genesis, and the indelible habit graven thereby on the Jew.
We find then light caused to be a remarkable expression, and, be assured, profoundly true. But what man would have thought it, or said it, if he had not been inspired? For it is much more exactly true than any expression that has been invented by the most scientific of men; yet there is no science in it. It is the beauty and the blessedness of scripture that it is as much above man's science as above his ignorance. It is the truth, and in such a form and depth as man himself could not have discerned. Being the truth, whatever man discovers that is true will never clash with it.
On the first day light is. Next a firmament is separated in the midst of the waters to divide the waters from the waters. Thirdly the dry land appears, and the earth bringing forth grass, and herb, and fruit-tree. There is the provision of God, not merely for the need of man, but for His own glory; and this in the smallest things as in the greatest. On the fourth day we hear of lights in the firmament. The utmost possible care appears in the statement. They are not said to be created then; but God made two great lights (it is no question of their mass, but of their capacity as light bearers,) for the Adamic earth the stars also. Then we find the waters caused to bring forth abundantly "the moving creature that hath life." Vegetable life was before, animal life now a very weighty truth, and of the greatest moment too. Life is not the matter out of which animals were formed; nor is it true that matter produces life. God produces life, whether it be for the fish that people the sea, for the birds of the air, or for the beasts, cattle, or reptiles, on the dry land. It is God that does all, whether it be for the earth, the air, or the waters. And here in a secondary sense of the word is the propriety of the phrase "created" in verse 21; and we shall see it also when a new action comes before us in imparting not animal life but a rational soul. (Verse 27.) For as we have on the sixth day the lower creation for the earth, so finally man himself the crown of all.
But here comes a striking difference. God speaks with the peculiar appropriateness which suits the new occasion, in contradistinction from what we have seen elsewhere. "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." It is man as the head of creation. It is not man placed in his moral relationships, but man the head of this kingdom of creation, as they say; but still even so with remarkable dignity. "Let us make man in our image." He was to represent God here below; besides this he was to be like God. There was to be a mind in him, a spirit capable of the knowledge of God with the absence of all evil. Such was the condition in which man was formed. "And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon earth." God created man in His own image: in the image of God created He him. In conclusion, the Sabbath day, which God* sanctified, closes the great week of God's forming the earth for man, the lord of it. (Genesis 2:1-3)
*Jehovah here, rather than Elohim, would have spoilt the beauty of the divine account. No doubt afterwards God did as the Jehovah of Israel impose the remembrance of the Sabbath every seventh day of the week on His people. But it was important to show its ground in the facts of creation, apart from special relationship, and that made Elohim alone appropriate in this place.
Then, fromGenesis 2:4; Genesis 2:4, we have the subject from another point of view, not a repetition of the account of creation, but what was even more necessary to be brought here before us, the place of relationship in which God set the creation He had formed, not mutually alone, but above all, in reference to Himself. Hence it is here that Eden is first spoken of. We should not have known anything of paradise from the first chapter. The reason is evident. Eden was to be the scene of the moral trial of man.
From the fourth verse of Genesis 2:1-25, therefore, we first meet with a new title of God. To the end of the third verse of that chapter it was always God (Elohim) as such. It was the name of the divine nature, as such, in contrast with man or the creature; not the special manner in which God may reveal Himself at a particular time, or deal in exceptional ways, but the general and what you may call historical name of God, "God" as such.
For this, as for other reasons, it is manifest that Genesis 2:1-25 ought to begin with the verse which stands fourth in the common English Bible. God is here styled Jehovah-Elohim; and so uniformly to the end of the chapter.
I must be permitted here to say a word on a subject which, if it has called out enormous discussion, betrays in its course, I am sorry to say, no small amount of evident infidelity. It has been gathered from the varying names of God, etc., by speculative minds that there must have been different documents joined together in this book. Now there is not really the very least ground for such an assumption. On the contrary, supposing there was but one writer of the book of Genesis, as I am persuaded is the truth of the case, it would not have borne the stamp of a divine communication if he had used either the name of Jehovah-Elohim in 1-2: 3, or the name of "Elohim" only in Genesis 2:4-25. The change of designation springs from distinct truths, not from different fabulists and a sorry compiler who could not even assimilate them. Accepting the whole as an inspired writing, I maintain that the same writer must have used this distinctive way of speaking of God in Genesis 1:1-31; Genesis 2:1-25, and that the notion of there being two or three writers is merely a want of real intelligence in scripture. If it were the same writer, and he an inspired one, it was proper in the highest degree to use the simple term "Elohim" in chapters 1, 2: 3, then the compound "Jehovah-Elohim" from verse 4 and onward through Genesis 2:1-25. A mere historian, like Josephus of old a mere commentator, like Ewald now might have used either the one or the other without sensible loss to his readers through both chapters. An inspired author could not have expressed himself differently from Moses without impairing the perfect beauty and accuracy of the truth.* If the book were in each of these different subjects written according to that most perfect keeping which pervades scripture, and which only God is capable of producing by His chosen instruments, I am convinced that, as Elohim simply in Genesis 2:1-25, so "Jehovah-Elohim" in Genesis 1:1-31, would have been wholly out of place with their respective positions in 1 and 2. As they stand, they are in exact harmony. The first chapter does not speak of special relationships, does not treat of any peculiar dealings of God with the creature. It is the Creator originating what is around us; consequently it is God, Elohim, who alone could be spoken of as such in ch. Genesis 2:1-3; Genesis 2:1-3, taking the Sabbath as the necessary complement of the week, and therefore going on with the preceding six days, not with what follows. But inGenesis 2:1-25; Genesis 2:1-25, beginning with verse 4, where we have special position and moral responsibility coming to view for the first time, the compound term which expresses the Supreme putting Himself in relation with man, and morally dealing with him here below, is first used, and with the most striking appropriateness.
*We may judge how little the LXX. can claim credit for accuracy from their inattention to this difference in the Greek version. Holmes and Parsons show, however, the omission of κύριος supplied in not a few MSS., whether by the translators or by their copyists may be a question.
So far is the book of Genesis, therefore, from indicating a mere clumsy compiler, who strung together documents which had neither cohesion nor distinctive propriety, instead of there being merely two or three sets of traditions edited by another party, there is really the perfect statement of the truth of God, the expression of one mind, as is found in no writings outside the Bible. The difference in the divine titles is due to a distinctness of object, not of authorship; and it runs through the Psalms and the Prophets as well as the Law, so as to convict of ignorance and temerity the learned men who vaunt so loudly of the document hypothesis as applied to the Pentateuch.
Here accordingly we find in Genesis 2:1-25, with a fulness and precision given nowhere else, God's entering into relationship with man, and man's relation to Eden, to the animal realm, and to woman specially. Hence, when notice is here taken of man's formation, it is described (as all else is) in a manner quite distinct from that of Genesis 1:1-31; but that distinctiveness self-evidently is because of the moral relationship which the Spirit of God is here bringing before the reader. Every subject that comes before us is dealt with in a new point of view suitably to the new name given to God the name of God as a moral governor, no longer simply as a creator. Could any person have conceived such wisdom beforehand? On the contrary, we have all read these chapters in the Bible, and we may have read them as believers too, without seeing their immense scope and profound accuracy all at once. But when God's word is humbly and prayerfully studied, the evidence will not be long withheld by the Spirit of God, that there is a divine depth in that word which no mere man put into it. Then what confirmation of one's faith! What joy and delight in the Scriptures! If men, and men too of ability and learning, have tortured the signs of its very perfection into proofs of defective and clashing documents, ridiculously combined by a man who did not perceive that he was editing not fables only but inconsistent fables, what can believers do but wonder at human blindness, and adore divine grace ' For themselves, with glowing gratitude they receive it as the precious word of God, where His love and goodness and truth shine in a way beyond all comparison, and yet meeting the mind and heart in the least, no less than in the most serious, wants that each day brings here below. In every way it proves itself the word not of men, but as it is in truth of God, which effectually works in them that believe.
In this new section accordingly it is written, "These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created [going up to the first], in the day* [here the writer comes down] that Jehovah-Elohim made the earth and the heavens." It is not in this connection "created," it will be observed, but "made" them. The language is invariably used in the most perfect manner. "And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew; for Jehovah-Elohim had not caused it to rain upon the earth; and there was not a man to till the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.** And Jehovah-Elohim formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul."
*Is it not the more captiousness of criticism to set the general phrase "the day," etc., against the precision of the six days in the previous section? It is unfounded to say that in the second narrative the present world is supposed to be brought forth at once. The history is in Genesis 1:2-3 from verse 4 to the end ofGenesis 2:1-25; Genesis 2:1-25 is not so much a history of creation as a statement of the relations of creation, and especially of man, its centre and head. Genesis 2:1-25. assumes Genesis 1:1-31, but adds moral elements of the utmost importance and interest.
*It seems almost too trivial to notice what Dr. Davidson and Bishop Colenso (or their German sources) say of Genesis 2:5-6, as if inconsistent with Genesis 1:9-10. If divine power separated the earth from the waters, why should it remain saturated? InGenesis 1:1-31; Genesis 1:1-31 it is said that "the dry land" was called earth; in the others, that though no rain yet fell, a mist went up. What can be more consistent?
Here we learn that man did not become a living soul in the way that every other animal did. The others were caused to live by the simple fact that God organized them according to His own will; but in man's case there was this essential difference, that he alone became a living soul by the inbreathing of Jehovah-Elohim. Man alone therefore has what is commonly called an immortal soul. His body only is ever said to be mortal. Man alone, as deriving that which gave him the breath of life not from his body but from the breath of Jehovah-Elohim, gives an account to God. Man will rise and live again. Not merely with the elements of his body will he reappear, which is quite true, but besides he will reappear bodily in connection with a soul that never died. It is the soul which gives the unity, and which accounts for the personal identity. All other ways of explaining it are feeble, if not mere trash. But this divine statement, in connection with man's moral relationship with God, here calmly and clearly stated, is the true key. When men reason instead of receiving the revealed light of the Bible, I care not who or what they may be, they only mistake God and even man. They speculate; they give you ideas and very foolish ideas they often are. The word of God presents to the simplest Christian the perfect account of the matter.
This elementary truth is of immense importance at the present moment. For it is a day when all things are in question, even the surest. It is not as if it were a new thing for man to deny the immortality of his own soul. At first it sounds strange that a day of human self-exaltation should be equally characterised by as strong a desire to deny the special breath of God for his soul, and degrade him to the pedigree of an ape! But it is an old story in this world, though a new thing for professing members and ministers of Christ, to take pride in putting scorn on divine revelation. Infidelity takes increasingly an apostate form, and those that used to revere both Old Testament and New are abandoning the truth of God for the dreamy but mischievous romances of so-called modern science. Never was there a moment when man was verging more evidently towards apostacy from the truth, and that not merely as to redemption, but even as to creation, as to himself, and above all as to his relationship with God. Give up the immortality of the soul, and you deny the ground of that relationship, man's special moral responsibility to God.
But there is more than this, though this be of exceeding interest; because we see with equal certainty and clearness why Jehovah-Elohim is introduced not before but here, and why man's becoming a living soul by the inbreathing of God was said here and not in the first chapter. Neither would have suited the chapter; both are perfectly in season in Genesis 2:1-25. Further, we now hear of the garden that was planted by Jehovah-Elohim eastward in Eden, where He put the man whom He had formed. And here we find the solemn truth, that not only did Jehovah-Elohim cause to grow every tree that is pleasant and good for food, but "the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil."
I call your attention for a moment to this. It is often a difficulty with souls that God should have made the moral history of the world to turn on touching that tree or eating of that fruit. The mere. mind of man thinks it a mighty difficulty that what appears to be so small a matter should be pregnant with such awful results. Do you not understand that this was the very essence of the trial? It was the essential feature that the trial should be simply a question of God's authority in prohibition, not one of grave moral evil. There was the whole matter. When God made man, when Jehovah-Elohim breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, man had no knowledge of things as right or wrong in themselves. This was acquired (have you never known, or have you forgotten, the solemn fact?) by the fall. An innocent man could not have had the knowledge of good and evil; it pertains necessarily to a fallen one. He who is innocent a man absolutely without any evil either in himself or in that which was around him, where all was from God (and this is the revealed account of things), how could he have a knowledge of evil? How possibly have that discrimination which decides morally between what is good and what is evil? How perfect therefore is the intimation of scripture! Yet none did or could anticipate it.
The condition of man was altogether different then from what it became immediately after. All is consistent in revelation, and nowhere else. Men, the wisest those of whom the world has most boasted, never had even the least adequate thought of such a state of things; yet enough of tradition remained even among heathens to witness to the truth. Nay, more, now that it is clearly revealed, they have no competency to appreciate it never take in its force; and for this simple reason, that man invariably judges from himself and from his own experience, instead of submitting to God and His word. It is only faith that really accepts what comes from God; and faith alone gives the clue to what is around us now, but then it guides us through all present entanglements by believing God whether as to what He once made or what He will yet do. Philosophy believes neither, in a vain effort to account for all by what is, or rather appears; for it knows nothing, not even the present, as it ought to know. Consequently the attempt of man's mind by what is now to judge of what was then always ends in the merest confusion and total failure. In truth only God is competent to pronounce; and this He has done.
Hence the believer finds not the slightest difficulty. He may not be able perhaps to meet objections. That is another matter, and by ho means of such consequence as many suppose. The great point, my brethren, is to hold fast the truth. It is all well, and a desirable service of love, if a Christian can happily and with God-given wisdom meet the difficulties of others; but hold you the truth yourselves. Such is the power and simplicity of faith. Adversaries may no doubt try to embarrass you: if they will, let them do so. Do not be troubled if you cannot answer their questions and dispose of their cavils; you may regret it in charity for injured or misled souls. But, after all, it is the positive truth of God which it is the all-important business to hold, and this God has put in the heart of the simplest child who believes in Jesus.
I affirm then that, when God thus made man, when He put him in Eden, the actual test was the interdict not of a thing which was in itself evil, but simply and prescriptively wrong for man because God had forbidden it. Such is the very essence of a test for an innocent man. In fact any other thought (such as the law) is not only contrary to scripture, but when you closely and seriously think of it as a believer, it will be seen to be an impossible state of things then. Consequently a moral test such as the wise and prudent would introduce here, and count a worthier reason why there should be so vast a ruin for the world ensuing, is out of the question. No, it was the simple question whether God was really Jehovah-Elohim, whether He was a moral governor or not, whether man was to be independent of God or not. This was decided not by some grave and mighty matter, of which man could reason and see the consequences, but simply by doing or not doing the will of God. Thus we see how the simple truth is after all the deepest wisdom.
It is of great interest and importance to observe that God distinguished from the first between responsibility on the one hand, and life-giving on the other, in the two trees (verse 9). Even for Adam, innocent as he was, life did not depend on abstinence from eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Death followed if he disobeyed God in eating of this tree (verse 17); but, walking in obedience, he was free to eat of the tree of life. He fell in partaking of the forbidden fruit; and God took care that he should not eat of the tree of life. But the two trees, representing the two principles, which man is ever confounding or obliterating one for the other, are in the scripture as in truth wholly distinct.
Observe another thing too. We have the description of the garden of Eden. I do not consider that its locality is so very difficult to ascertain in a general way as has been often imagined. Scripture describes it, and mentions two rivers which unquestionably exist at the present day. There can be no doubt that the Euphrates and the Tigris or Hiddekel, here named, are the same two rivers similarly called to this moment. It appears to me beyond reasonable doubt that the other two rivers are by no means impossible to trace; and it is remarkable, as showing that the Spirit of God takes an interest, and furnishes a thread to help us in the fact, that the two less notorious rivers are described more fully than the rivers which are so commonly known.* We are therefore warranted in supposing that they are described just because they might have been less easily discerned. It is said that the name of the first river is the Pison, and of the other the Gihon. Now without wishing to press my individual judgment of such a matter, I may state the conviction that the Pison and the Gihon, here described, are two rivers on the north of the site of Eden, one running into the Black Sea, the other into the Caspian. I believe that they are what are called, or used to be called in ancient times at any rate, the Phasis and the Aras or Araxes.
* This, not to speak of other reasons, appears conclusive against the claim of the Pison to be the Ganges! set up by Josephus and a crowd of Greek and Latin fathers, the Nile according to Jarchi and other Rabbis, the Indus of late reasserted by Ewald, more than one of the fathers considering it to be the Danube! Caesarius and Epiphanius held it to be the Danube, the Ganges, and the Indus, and that after an extraordinary course in the south it joined the ocean near Cadiz! Those who made the Pison to be the Ganges regarded the Gihon as the Nile. Those who embrace the theory that Eden lay on the Shat-el-Arab consider the Pison and the Gihon as mere branches of the stream formed by the blending of the Euphrates and the Tigris (or Hiddekel). But this seems to me indefensible, though there may be difficulty in reconciling what I regard as the truth with an unusual force of one or two words.
However this is merely by the way, for it is evidently a matter of no great importance in itself, save that we should hold the entire account of Paradise to be historical in the strictest and fullest sense. And, more than that, the position of these rivers seems to me to explain what has often been a difficulty to many the account that is given us here, that "a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from thence it was parted and became into four heads;" because if the garden of Eden lay in that quarter (that is to say in Armenia), in the part of it where are found the springs or watershed of these rivers, they would be all within a certain circumscribed quarter, as surrounding this garden. It is however possible that God may have allowed a certain change as to the distribution of these waters around the garden. I do not venture on any opinion as to this. Scripture does not say more, and we must hold to scripture. But these remarks are merely thrown out to show that there seems to be no insuperable difficulty in the way of arriving at a satisfactory solution of this vexed question. As for the transfer of the site of the garden lower down in the plain of Shinar, it appears to me altogether untenable. It is impossible thus to connect Eden with the fountainhead or sources of these rivers. It is not hard to conceive both that they had a common source before they parted, and that the garden of Eden may have been of considerable extent. Let this suffice: I do not wish to speculate about the matter.
The grand question to be tried we have afterwards. "Jehovah-Elohim took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it." Not a word of this is in the first chapter. "And Jehovah-Elohim commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day," etc. Not a word of this again occurs in the previous chapter. Why? Because moral responsibility in relationship to Jehovah-Elohim comes in exactly where it should. Had it been spoken of in the first chapter, there might have been grave exception taken whether such an account could have been inspired; but, coming in as it does, it is exactly as it ought to be.
Then the various species of land animals and birds are brought forward to see what Adam would call them; not when Eve was formed, but before. The beautiful type of creation belonging to Christ is thus admirably preserved.* Creation does not in the first instance belong to the church at all, whose place is purely one of grace. The Heir of all things is the Second man, and not the bride. If she possesses all along with Him, it is because of her union with Him, not intrinsically. This, it is observable, is kept up strikingly here, for Adam has these creatures brought before him by Jehovah- Elohim, and gives names to them all, showing clearly not alone his title as lord, but the power of appropriate language imparted by God from the first. The notion that intelligible speech is a mere growth from the gradual putting together of elements is a dream of ingenious speculation, which may exercise men's wits, but has no foundation whatever. Adam on the very first day of his life, even before Eve was formed, gave the animals their names, and God Himself sanctioned what their head uttered. Such was his relation to the creature; he was put in that place by God.
*This moral and typical bearing is the true key to the record in Genesis 2:4-25, and truly accounts for the differences from 1 - 2: 3, which ignorance and unbelief pervert into the discrepancies of two separate and inconsistent writers. It is not the fact that Genesis 2:7; Genesis 2:19, represents man as created first of all living creatures before the birds and beasts; any more than that man created in God's image (Genesis 1:27) contradicts the statement ofGenesis 2:7; Genesis 2:7, that he was formed of the dust of the ground. It is not said in Genesis 1:27 that man and woman were created together; or that the woman was created directly, and not formed out of one of the man's ribs.
But this made the want so much the more evident, of which Jehovah-Elohim takes notice, of a partner for Adam's affections and life, one that might be before him, as it is said: "And Jehovah-Elohim caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam.'' The creation of the woman apart from the man (as no doubt every other male and female were made separately) would have been a sterile and unimpressive fact. As it is, God reserves the striking detail for the scene of moral relationship. And may I not put it to the conscience of every soul whether such an event is not exactly where it should be, according to the internal and distinctive features ofGenesis 1:1-31; Genesis 1:1-31; Genesis 2:1-25? We all know how apt man has been to forget the truth how often might takes advantage of right! God at least was pleased to form woman, as well as to reveal her formation in a way that ought to make ashamed him who recognises her as his own flesh and bone, yet slights or misuses a relationship so intimate. "And he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; and the rib which Jehovah-Elohim had taken from man made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam 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. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife, and they shall be one flesh."
The primitive condition is described too. "They were both naked the man and his wife, and were not ashamed." It was a state altogether different from that of man fallen; however suitable then, it was such as man as he is could never have conceived of with propriety. Yet we cannot but feel how suitable it was for innocence, in which condition God made man and woman. Could He have made them otherwise consistently with His own character? Could they so made have carried themselves otherwise than is here described? Man's present experience would have suggested neither; yet his heart and conscience, unless rebellious, feel how right and becoming all is in such a state of things none other so good.
The next chapter (Genesis 3:1-24) shows us the result of the test which we have seen laid down by Jehovah-Elohim. It was soon brought to issue. And here is another fact that I desire to bring before you. We see introduced, without more delay upon the scene, one too well and yet too little known, the active, audacious, most subtle adversary of God and man, the serpent from whom sin and misery result, as the Bible witnesses from the beginning to the end who is here first brought in a few quiet words before us. Who would have done this but God? In any other book, in a book written by mere man, (need one hesitate to say?) we should have had a long introduction, and a full history of his origin and his designs and his doings. God could introduce him, and could leave the heart to feel the rightness of saying no more about him than was necessary. The fact declares itself. If in the first chapter the true God shows Himself in creative power and glory, and in the perfect beneficence which marks too that which He had made; if in the second special relations display yet more His moral way and will, so the serpent does not fail to manifest his actual condition and aim not of course the condition in which he was made, but that to which sin had reduced him. "The serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which Jehovah-Elohim had made."
The third chapter is indeed a continuation of the second properly enough made into a separate chapter, but still its sequel simply. It is the issue of that probationary trial which was proposed there. And here the effort of the enemy was first to breathe suspicion on the goodness of God as well as on His truth, in short, on God Himself. Human lusts and passions were not yet in question, but they soon followed the desire of having what God had forbidden. First, however, it was an insinuation infused and allowed against the true God. All evil is due to this as its spring; it begins with God as the object attacked or undermined. "And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God* said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 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. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil" So it was that the serpent envenomed morally the heart of the woman first, and then of the man. I need not dwell on the sad history which we all know more or less. She listened, she looked, she took of the fruit; she ate, and was fallen. And man eat too, not deceived, but with open eyes, and therefore so much the more guilty swayed, no doubt, by his affections; bold, however, in yielding to them, for he ought rather to have been her guard and guide, certainly not to have followed her, even if he had failed to keep her safely in the path of good. Alas! he followed her, as he has often since, into the broad way of evil. Adam did not preserve the place in which God had set him.
*Some have wondered why the serpent and Eve should be represented as saying Elohim ("God") in the temptation, seeing that everywhere else in the section the name employed is Jehovah-Elohim. Now, not only may it be the simple fact that Elohim alone was used, but, further, on account of it, the historian would not introduce here the name of special relationship which the enemy was above all anxious to have if possible forgotten, and which the woman in fact did soon forget when she allowed one to work on her mind whose first aim was to sow distrust of God. To me it appears that all is in perfect keeping; and that the omission of Jehovah here is equally natural on the part of the serpent and Eve, as it is appropriate to the inspired history of the transaction.
Both fallen, they were both ashamed. "They knew that they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons." And they heard the voice of Jehovah-Elohim walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves. The victims of sin knew shame, now fear. Departed from God, they hid themselves, and He had but to utter those solemn and searching words to Adam, "Where art thou?" He was gone from God. Forced to discover himself, Adam tells the humiliating tale: "I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself." The evil is traced home at last to its source, and the serpent is brought fully out. Each severally the man, the woman, the serpent stand evidently convicted by the presence of Jehovah-Elohim. Yet, wonderful to say, in the very announcement of judgment on the serpent, God, who had by the light of His presence compelled the guilty pair to come forth out of the darkness in which they had hid, or rather sought to hide God held out the first bright light of mercy, but mercy in the judgment of him who was the root of the evil. May one not say again who beforehand would have thought of ways so truly and self-evidently divine? But it is the word of God, and nothing can be more suitable to God, gracious to man, or just to the enemy.
Believers have constantly called it a "promise;" but it is not uninstructive to see that scripture never does. There was a revelation of an infinite blessing for man unquestionably, but hardly what is called a promise. It was addressed to the serpent. If a promise to any, it was to the woman's Seed, the last Adam, not to the first, who was just sentenced with Eve. Abraham, not Adam, is the depository of promise: so speaks scripture, as far as I know, invariably. We see why that ought to be. Was it a time for a promise? Was it a state for a promise? Was it a person for a promise? one that had ruined the glory of God, as far as it rested upon him. No, but in judging the serpent there comes out the revealed purpose of God, not a promise to Adam in sin, but the revelation of One who would crush the serpent's head the first sinner and too successful tempter to sin. The Second man, not the first, is the object of promise. This indeed is the invariable truth of scripture, and runs through it to the last.
Observe, in the beginning of the word of God, the sources of all things. As we saw God Himself the Creator and the moral Governor, so further we find the enemy of God and of man in exact accordance with the latest word that God speaks. Again, let us note the confronting of the serpent, not with man, who always falls under Satan's power, but with Christ, who always conquers. Such is the way in which God puts His truth, and this in the earliest part of His word. No later revelation in the smallest degree corrects the very first. Scripture is divine from first to last. But along with this we find no haste to reveal: all is in season. Not a word is heard about eternal life yet that must wait for His appearing who was such with the Father; not a word yet about the exhaustless riches of grace which were afterwards to abound. A person is held out the Seed of the woman; for the manner most expressly bespeaks the tender mercy of God. If the woman was the one first of all to yield, she is the destined mother of Him that would defeat the devil and deliver man. But what came in immediately, and what is traced throughout the Bible, it may be noted, is the present consequence in the government of God.* Consequently we find that as man had hearkened to the voice of the siren, and had eaten of the tree of which he was commanded not to eat, the ground was cursed for him. It is the present result. So again the woman has her portion, of which we need not say more than to point out what a clue it is to her lot in the history of the race. Both unite in this, that, as they were made of dust, to the dust they must return.
*How this agrees with the dispensational dealings of God with Israel needs no argument. They were chosen to be the public vessel of divine government on the earth. We have had their failure under law; we look for their stability under Messiah and the new covenant. But it is and will be of the deepest interest to trace these ways of God in earthly government from the first.
Notwithstanding in the midst of the scene of desolation we hear Adam calling his wife's name "Eve" (ver. Genesis 3:20; Genesis 3:20). To me it is perfectly clear how speedy was the fall after the creation of man. He had not before given his wife this her full and proper name. He had described what she was rather than who; it was only when sin had come in, and when others, had there been any, would have called her naturally the parent of death, that Adam (by what seems to be the guidance of God in faith) calls her rather the mother of the living. His soul, I cannot doubt, laid hold of the word that God had pronounced in judging the devil. And God here too beautifully marks His feeling. For (ver. Genesis 3:21) we are told, that "to Adam also and to his wife did Jehovah-Elohim make coats of skins and clothed them." The insufficiency of their resources had been proved. Now comes in the shadow of what God would do fully another day.
Nevertheless present consequences take their course, and in a certain sense mercy too is mingled with them, as is the case habitually, I think, in the government of God; for man as he is is just so much the less happy as he knows not what it is to labour in such a world as this. It is not only what he is doomed to, but the wisely ordered place for fallen man here below. There is no one more miserable than the man who has no object before him. I grant that in an unfallen condition there was another state of things. Where all was bright and good around man in innocency the scope for labour would not have its place. I only speak of what is good for man out of Paradise, and how God meets with and ministers to his state in His infinite grace. On this however we need not say more than that He "drove out the man," lest he should perpetuate the condition of ruin into which he had passed.*
*It is deplorable but wholesome to see how superstition and rationalism agree in the grossest ignorance of man's condition before the fall and through it. The doctrine in systematic theology is that God's image within became corrupted and defiled; yet that even then he was not altogether forsaken; and that the course of his history declares by what means it has pleased God to renew, in some measure, His lost image, etc. Another divine, but an infidel, regards the knowledge of good and evil as the image of God by creation. This last is often misunderstood. Scripture is plain and profoundly true: "And Jehovah-Elohim said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: therefore Jehovah- Elohim sent him forth from the garden of Eden to till the ground whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life."
In his original estate man was created in God's image, but he had not the knowledge of good and evil. This he acquired by the fall. After this he could estimate and know things himself as good or evil; whilst innocent this could not be. A holy being might and does so know, i.e., a being who, while knowing, has an intrinsic nature that repels the evil and cleaves to the good. But this was not Adam's state, but simply made upright, with absence and ignorance of evil. When fallen he acquired the internal capacity of knowing right from wrong, apart from a law to inform or forbid; and in this respect became like God at the very time when he lost God and intercourse with Him as an innocent creature. We thus learn the compatibility of these two things, which in fact were true of man a fall from the relationship of innocence, in which he was originally set with God, and a rise in moral capacity, which, without faith, entails immense misery, but which is of the utmost value when one is brought to God by our Lord Jesus.
Then (Genesis 4:1-26) we have a new scene, which opens with a change in the name of God. It is no longer the test of creation, as God made it, and this accordingly is marked here. He is called "Jehovah;" He is not designated by the former mingled or compound term "Jehovah-Elohim," but by "Jehovah" simply; and this is found afterwards, either "Elohim" alone or "Jehovah in the other names of special character, as we shall see," until the call of Israel, when we have an appropriate modification in the expression of His name. But Adam now becomes a father, not innocent, but fallen before he became the head of the race. Cain was born, and the fallen mother gave the name: but, oh, what a mistake! I am sure, not that she was exactly entitled to give the name, but that it can be proved that she gave a singularly inappropriate one. She thought her first-born a great gain, for such is the meaning of the name "Cain." Alas! what disappointment and grief, both of the most poignant kind, followed ere long For Abel too was born; and in process of time it came to pass that they brought their offerings unto "Jehovah" a term, I may observe, that is here in admirable keeping. It was not barely as He who had created all, but the God that was in special relationship with man Jehovah. This is the force of it. Cain looked at Him in the place merely of a Creator, and there was his wrong. Sin needed more. Cain brought what might have sufficed in an unfallen world what might have suited an innocent worshipper of One who was simply known as Elohim. It was impossible that such a ground could be rightly taken longer; but so Cain did not feel. He makes a religion from his own mind, and brings of the fruit of the ground now under the curse; whilst Abel by faith offers the firstlings of the flock, and of the fat thereof. And Jehovah had respect unto Abel, and to his offering. It is the great truth of sacrifice, of which Abel's faith laid hold, realising and confessing in his slain lamb that there was no other way in a ruined world for a holy relationship, and for the confession of the truth too, as between God and man. He offers of the firstlings of his flock that which passed under death to Jehovah.
"And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell." And Jehovah speaks to him thus "Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted?" The principles of God's nature are immutable. Whether people are believers or not, whether they receive the truth or not, God holds to that which belongs to His own moral being. That any one is capable of meeting the character of God in an unfallen state is another matter. It is the same principle inGenesis 4:1-26; Genesis 4:1-26, which we find more explicitly stated in Romans 2:1-29, where God shows His sure judgment of evil on the one hand, and His approval of that which is good, holy, and true on the other. So with Cain here "and if thou doest not well;" and such was the fact. His condition was that of a sinner, and he looked not out of himself to God. But what characterises this scene is not the state in which man as such was this we had in Genesis 3:1-24 but what man did in that fallen state, and more especially what he did in presence of God and faith. Certainly he did not well. "And if thou doest not well," it is said, "sin lieth at the door." Evil conduct is that which makes manifest an evil state, and flows from it.
I do not think that the expression means a sin-offering, as is sometimes supposed; for it does not appear that there is ground for inferring that the truth of a sin-offering was understood in the slightest degree till long afterwards. "By the law is the knowledge of sin," and until the law was brought in there was, as far as scripture tells us, no such discrimination, if any, between the offerings. They were all merged in one; and hence it is that we find that Job's friends, though guilty in the Lord's sight, yet alike with him offer burnt-offerings. When Noah brings his sacrifice, it is evidently of that nature also. Would there not have been a sin-offering on these occasions had the law been then in force? Most wisely all such details awaited the unfolding of another day. I merely use these scriptural facts to shew what seems to me the truth that "sin" here does not refer to the specific offering for it, but rather to that which was proved by evil conduct.
Notwithstanding God maintained the place that belonged to the elder brother. But nothing softened the roused and irritated spirit of Cain. There is nothing which more maddens man than mortified religious pride; and so it is here proved, for he rose up against his brother and slew him. And Jehovah speaks to him once more. It was sin not as such against God in leaving Him, like Adam's, but against man, his brother accepted of God. "Where is Abel thy brother?" To God's appeal he answers with no less hardness and audacity than falsehood, "I know not." There is no real courage with a bad conscience, and guile will soon be apparent where God brings His own light and makes guilt manifest. Let us not forget the deceitfulness of sin. "What hast thou done?" said Jehovah. "The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground." Justly now we have him self-cursed from the face of the earth, pronounced a fugitive and vagabond. But the will of man pits itself invariably against the known will of God, and the very man who was doomed to be a fugitive sets to work that he may settle himself here below. Cain, as it is said, went out from His presence, and dwelt in the land of Nod; a son is born in due time who builds a city called after his name. Such is the birth of civil life in the family of Cain, where we find the discovery and advance of the delights of man; but, along with the progress of art and science, the introduction of polygamy. The rebellious spirit of the forefather shows itself in the descendant Lamech.
But the chapter does not close until we find Seth, whom God* substituted (for this is the meaning of the name), or "appointed," as it is said, "instead of Abel, whom Cain slew." And so Seth, to him also there was born a son, and he called his name Enos. Then began men to call upon the name of Jehovah.
*As Eve at the birth of Cain seems to have been unduly excited, and expecting I think a deliverer in the child whom she named as gotten from Jehovah, so she seems to me to express a sobered if not desponding sentiment in saying at Seth's birth, "Elohim hath appointed me another seed," etc. In the latter she only saw a child given of God naturally. Both appear to me natural and purposed.
In Genesis 5:1-32 we have the generations of Adam. Upon this I would not now dwell farther than to draw attention to the commencing words, "In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam in the day when they were created." But "Adam," it is said, "begat a son in his own likeness, after his image." It was no longer in the likeness of God, but in the image of God always. For man, now as ever, fallen or not, is in the image of God; but the likeness of God was lost through sin. Seth therefore was begotten in Adam's own likeness, not in God's. He was like Adam fallen, not his representative only. And this is what is referred to inJames 3:1-18; James 3:1-18, where he speaks of our having been made in the likeness of God. But it is the more important because, when it is a question of the guilt of taking man's life, the ground is that he was made in God's image. This, it is plain, was never lost; it abides, whatever man's state. Had the crime depended on man's retaining the likeness of God, murder might have been denied or justified, because if a man were not like God the unlikeness might be urged in extenuation of killing him. But it is a crime against man made in the image of God, and as this abides, whether he be fallen or not, the guilt of murder is unimpeachable and evident. This accordingly is the ground taken, to which I refer as an instance of the perfectness of scripture, but at the same time of the profound and practical power of the truth of God.
In the remarkable list, which is pursued down to Noah, we have another great truth set forth in the most simple and beautiful way the power of life which exempts from the reign of death, and not only that, but the witness to heaven as a place for man. Enoch brings both these lessons before us. I have no doubt that, besides this, Enoch is the type of the portion of those who look to be with the Lord above, just as Noah shows us (as is too well known to call for a delay upon it) those who pass through the judicial dealings of God, and nevertheless are preserved. In short Enoch is the witness of the heavenly family, as Noah is of the earthly people of God.
But in Genesis 6:1-22 we have a very solemn statement the apostacy of the ancient world. The sons of God chose the daughters of men. The true key to this account is supplied in the Epistle of Jude. It is hardly so common-place and ordinary a matter as many suppose. When understood, it is really awful in itself and its results. But the Holy Spirit has veiled such a fact in the only manner that became God and was proper for man. Here indeed the principle of reserve does apply, not in withholding from man's soul the deepest blessing of grace for his deepest wants, but in furnishing no more than that which was suitable for man to learn about the matter. He has said enough; but any one who will take the trouble to refer to Jude in connection with this chapter will gather more than appears on the surface. It is not needful to say more now. God Himself has touched it but curtly. This only may be remarked in addition, that "the sons of God," in my judgment, mean the same beings in Genesis as they do in Job. This point will suffice to indicate their chief guilt in thus traversing the boundaries which God had appointed for His creatures. No wonder that total ruin speedily ensues. It is really the basis of fact for not a few tales of mythology which men have made up. Any one who is acquainted with the chief writings of the old idolatrous world, of the Greeks and Romans especially, will see that what God has veiled in this brief statement, which passes calmly over that of which more had better not be spoken, is what they have amplified into the Titans and the giants and their greater deities. I do not of course enter into details, but here is the inspired account, which shines in the midst of the horrors of that dark scene which fabulists portrayed. But there is enough in man's amplification to point to what is stated here in a few simple words of truth.
The flood ensues. In the statement given by Moses every minute point beautifully exemplifies the propriety of the word of God. Men have fancied contradictions; they have fallen back on the old resource of opposed documents put together. There is not the slightest reason for suspicion. It is the same inspired historian who presents the subject in more than one point of view, but always consistently, and with a divine purpose which governs all. Every great writer, as far as he can go, illustrates this plan indeed everybody, we may say. If you are speaking in the intimacies of the family, you do not adopt the same language towards your parents, wife, child, or servant, still less towards a stranger outside. Is there then any contradiction to be surmised? Both may be perfectly right, and both absolutely true; but there is a difference of manner and phraseology, because of a difference of object before you. It is no otherwise with God's word, save that all illustrations fail to measure the depth of the differences in it.
Thus in Genesis 6:1-22 it is said that "the earth was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence." It is not "Jehovah" now but "God." "And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth." What does He do then? He directs the ark to be made. For what end? The preservation of the creatures which required the ark. Hence He orders that two of every kind should be taken into the ark. We can easily see the propriety of this. It is very simply a measure for perpetuating the creature by God the Creator, in spite of imminent judgment. It has nothing to do with moral relationships. God the Creator would preserve such of the creatures as required the shelter of the ark. Here then we only hear of pairs which enter.
In Genesis 7:1-24 we have another order of facts. It opens thus: "And Jehovah said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark." Is this merely the conserving of the creature? Not so. It is the language of One who has special relationships with Noah and with his family. "Come thou into the ark," says He; "for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation." "Righteous" is this a question of creation as such? It is not, but rather of moral relationship. "For thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation. Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female. Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth." Certainly this is not mere creation in view, but special dealings of a moral sort. Almost every word gives evidence of it. "Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens .... and of beasts that are not clean by two." It is God providing not for the perpetuation of the creature merely, but with marked completeness for sacrifice. Consequently we have this perfect care over the maintenance of His rights and place as One that governed morally. "And Noah did according unto all that Jehovah commanded."
Thus in relation to His place as creator God preserved two of every sort; in relation to His own moral government He would have seven taken into the ark seven animals of each clean sort; of the unclean just enough would be there to preserve what He had made. It is evident therefore that in the one case we have that which was generally necessary, in the other case that which was special and due to the relationship in which man was placed with Jehovah. Thus it is seen at once that, instead of these wonderful communications being merely earlier and later legends put together by a still more modern editor, who tried to make something complete by stringing together what did not aptly fit, on the contrary, it is the Spirit of God who gives us various sides of the truth, each falling under the title and style suitable to God, according to that which was in hand. Put them out of their order, and all becomes confused; receive them as God has written them, and there is perfection in the measure in which you understand them.
So we find what shows the folly of this yet more in what follows: "And they that went in went in male and female of all flesh, as God commanded him; and Jehovah shut him in." The two terms occur in the very same verse; yet is there not an evident propriety in each case? Unquestionably. They went in male and female. What is the idea? Moral relationship? Not at all. "Male and female" has to do in itself with the constitution of the creature, nothing whatever necessarily with moral relationship. In male and female God acts according to His rights and wisdom in creation; and consequently there it is said, "as Elohim commanded him." But when all this is done with, who was it that shut Noah in? "Jehovah." There we have delight in the man who had found grace in His eyes. No doubt the mere act could have been effected in other ways. Noah might have been enabled to shut himself in; but how much more blessed that Jehovah should do it! There was no fear then. Had it been merely said that Elohim shut him in, it would have simply suggested the Creator's care of every creature; but Jehovah's shutting him in points to special relationship, and the interest taken in that righteous man. What can be more beautiful in its season?
Thus a peculiarity in scripture, when understood, is pregnant with truth, having its source in God's wisdom, not in human infirmity. If we did not see it at once, this was merely because of our dullness. When we begin to enter into its real meaning, and hold fast that which is clearly the intended truth, the theory of Elohistic and Jehovistic annalists, with their redaction, vanishes into its own nothingness. I confess human my own ignorance; but not that there is a single instance where God has not employed the terms in all respects the best. No language could express so well the truth as that which God has employed as a matter of fact.
The next chapter (Genesis 8:1-22) shows God's remembrance of Noah and every living thing. Here it would not have served His purpose to say, "Jehovah remembered every living thing," because every living thing was not in moral relationship with God. Noah was undoubtedly; but it is not always, nor here, the aim to draw attention to what was special.
In due time the ark rests upon Ararat, and then follows the strikingly beautiful incident of the raven and the dove, which has been often before us, and from which therefore we may pass on. Afterwards God tells Noah to come forth he and all the other creatures.
"And Noah," it is written in verse Genesis 8:20, "builded an altar." Unto whom? Unto God? Most appropriately it is to Jehovah now. Without loss, these two things could not be transposed. He took then, it is said, "of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl." Yes, Jehovah is in question. It is the relationship of Noah which appears here. It is the special place in which he stood that was witnessed by the sacrifice thereon offered. And there Jehovah, accepting the sweet savour, declares that He "will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake. For the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth."
Here again how observable is the transparent and self-consistent truth of scripture. The Statement before us may look at first unaccountable; but when carefully weighed and reflected on, the propriety of it becomes manifest. That man's being evil was a ground for sending the flood we can all see; but what depth of grace in the declaration that God knew perfectly the ruined condition of man at the very time when He pledges His word that there shall come no more flood on the earth! This is brought before us here.
Here then we enter on an entirely new state of things, and a truth of capital importance for everybody to consider who has not already made it his own. What was the ground of God's delays in the previous time? Absence of evil in earth; innocence in man; it was a sinless, unfallen world. What is the ground of God's dealings now? Man is fallen, and the creature made subject to vanity. All the delays of God now proceed on the fact that the first man is in sin. Leave out the fall; fail to keep it before you and test all with that in mind, and you will be wrong about every result. Next to Christ Himself, and what we have by and in Him, there is nothing of greater importance than the confession of the truth, both that God created, and that His creation is in ruins. Your judgment alike of God and man will be falsified; your estimate of the past and your expectations of the future will all be vain, unless you steadily remember that God now in all His dealings with man acts on the solemn fact of sin original and universal sin. Will it be so always? By no means. There is a day coming when the ground of God's action will be neither innocence nor sin, but righteousness. But for that day we must wait, the day of eternity of "the new heavens and the new earth." It is a real joy to know that it is coming; but until that day God always has before Him, as the theatre and material where He acts, a world ruined ruined by sinful man.
Thanks be to God, One has come who is before Him in unfailing sweet savour, so that if sin be in the background, there cannot but be also what He introduces of His own free grace. If His servant bids others behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world, how much more does God Himself behold Christ and His sacrifice! Need it be said that as far as its efficacy is concerned, and God's delight in it, He doers not wait for the new heavens and the new earth, either to enjoy it Himself or make known its value to us? In short, Christ has intervened, and this most weighty consequence is connected with it that, although everything manifests evil and ruin increasingly, God has triumphed in grace and in faith after the fall and before "the new heavens and the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness." God, having introduced His own Son, has won the victory, the fruits of which He gives to us by faith before our possession is displayed by and-by.
Let it suffice to refer to the great principle, remembering that the theatre of the ages or dispensations of God is the world since the flood. It is a mistake to include the world before that event in the time of dispensations. There was no dispensation, properly so called, before it. What dispensation could there be? What does it mean? When man in Paradise was forbidden to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, he broke the command immediately as far as appears, the first day. Not that one could say positively that so it was; but certainly it is to be supposed that little time could have passed after receiving the woman, his wife. And the patent fact lies before us, that to join his wife in the sad sin is his first recorded act. What dispensation or age was there here? And what followed after it? There was no longer trial in Paradise, because man was turned out. By what formal test was he proved outside? By none whatever. Man, the race, became simply outcasts morally nothing else from that day till after the flood. Not but that God wrought in His grace with individuals. Abel, Enoch, Noah, we have already seen. There was also a wonderful type of deliverance through Christ in the ark happily so familiar to most. But it is evident that dispensation, in the true sense of the word, there was none. There was a trial of man in Eden, and he fell immediately: after that there was none whatever in the antediluvian world. The history supposes man thenceforward allowed to act without external law or government to control though God did not fail to work in His merciful goodness in His own sovereignty.
But after the flood we find a covenant is made with the earth (Genesis 9:1-29): the principle of government is set up. Then we enter on the theatre and times of dispensations. One sees the reason why man before this had not been punished by the judge; whereas after the flood there was government and judicial proceeding. In the post-diluvian earth God establishes principles which hold their course throughout the whole scene till Jesus came, or rather till He not only come and affirm by His own power and personal reign all the ways in which God has been testing and trying man, but deliver up the kingdom to the Father, that God may be all in all, when He shall have put down all rule, and all authority and power.
This then may suffice. As a notice of God's covenant with the earth, I may just refer, in passing, to the establishment of the bow in the cloud as the sign of the mercy of Elohim (verses Genesis 9:12-17).
The end of this chapter shows that the man in whose person the principle of human government was set up could not govern himself. It is the old familiar story, man tried and found wanting as always. This gives occasion to the manifestation of a great difference among Noah's sons, and to the solemn words which the father uttered in the spirit of prophecy. "Cursed be Canaan" was of deep interest, especially to an Israelite, but in truth to anyone who values the revelation of God. We can see afterwards how verified the curse was, as it will be yet more. The sin began with utter disrespect to a father. Not to speak of the destroyed cities of the plain, they had in Joshua's day sunk into the most shameless of sinners that ever disgraced God and defiled the earth. The believer can readily understand how Noah was divinely led to pronounce a just malediction on Canaan.* "Cursed [be] Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be." So always it is. A man who despises him whom he is bound to honour, not to speak of the special distinction which God had shown him, must come to shame and degradation, must be not merely a servant but "a servant of servants." The most vaulting pride always has the deepest fall. On the other hand, "Blessed be Jehovah the God" for God does not dwell upon the curse, but soon turns to the blessing "Blessed be Jehovah the God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant." And Elohim, it is said, "shall enlarge Japhet, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem." How remarkably this has been made good in the providential history of the world I need not stay to prove, how Jehovah God connected His name with Shem, to the humiliation of Canaan, and how Elohim enlarged Japhet, who would spread himself not merely in his own destined lot, but even dwell in the tents of Shem, and Canaan humbled there too. How true of the energetic Japhetic race that pushed westward, and not content with the east, pushes round again to the west anywhere and everywhere. Thus God declares Himself in every word He utters. A little key to the world's history is contained in those few words of Noah.
* If Canaan drew his father into the shameful exposure of Noah, all can see how just the sentence was. In any case it was mercy to confine the curse certainly earned by Ham within the narrowest limits, instead of extending it to all his posterity. In judgment as in grace God is always wise.
Then we find the generations of the sons of Shem. Without pretending to enter into particulars, this I may remark that in the Bible there is not a more important chapter thanGenesis 10:1-32; Genesis 10:1-32 as regards the providential arrangement of tongues, families, and nations Here alone is given the rise of different races, with their sources. Who else could have told us how and when the earth was thus divided? For this was a new state of things, not only not at all in the world before the flood, but not for some considerable time after it, and their distribution in their lands. This is the divine ethnology. Here man is at sea; but where he does arrive at conclusions, this at least is the common consent, as far as I know, of all who have given their minds to the study, that there are three, and only three, divisions into which nations properly diverge. So it is here. The word of God is before them. More than that: it is the conviction of all men, and men worthy to be listened to, that not more surely are they divided into three grand lines than that these three lines had a common origin. That there was only one such root is the statement of the scriptures. The word of God is always right. The details are of the highest interest, more especially when compared with the predicted results in the latter day, where we see the same countries and nations re-appear for judgment in the day of Jehovah. But into the proof of this we cannot now pause to enter.
Genesis 11:1-32 opens with the sin of man, which led to the division described in the preceding chapter, the moral reason of that fact, new then, but still in its substance going on, whatever the superficial changes among men in their lands, and tongues, and political distribution. Hitherto they had been of one lip; but combining to make a name to themselves, lest they should be scattered, not to exalt God nor confide in Him, they had their language confounded, and themselves dispersed. "So Jehovah scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because Jehovah did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth" (versesGenesis 11:8-9; Genesis 11:8-9).
The genealogy of Shem, with gradually decreasing age among his seed, follows down to Abram, the remainder of the chapter being thus the link of transition from the history of the world as it then was, and in its principle still is. We come at length to him in whom God brings in wholly new principles in His own grace to meet a new and monstrous evil idolatry. This daring evil against God, we know from Joshua 24:1-33 was then spread far and wide, even among the Shemitic race, although never heard of in scripture, whatever man's lawlessness in other ways, before the deluge. But here I stop for the present.
May we confide not only in scripture, but in Him who gave it! May we seek to be taught more and more His truth, leaning on His grace! He will withhold no good from those who walk uprightly; and there is no other way than Jesus Christ our Lord.
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Kelly, William. "Commentary on Genesis 1:26". Kelly Commentary on Books of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wkc/genesis-1.html. 1860-1890.
the Third Week after Epiphany