the First Week of Advent
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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary
New American Standard Version
Bible Study Resources
Nave's Topical Bible - Angel (a Spirit); God; Heaven; Scofield Reference Index - Deity; The Topic Concordance - Sabbath; Sanctification;
Verse Genesis 2:1. And all the host of them —. The word host signifies literally an army, composed of a number of companies of soldiers under their respective leaders; and seems here elegantly applied to the various celestial bodies in our system, placed by the Divine wisdom under the influence of the sun. From the original word צבא tsaba, a host, some suppose the Sabeans had their name, because of their paying Divine honours to the heavenly bodies. From the Septuagint version of this place, πας ὁ κοσμος αυτων, all their ornaments, we learn the true meaning of the word κοσμος, commonly translated world, which signifies a decorated or adorned whole or system. And this refers to the beautiful order, harmony, and regularity which subsist among the various parts of creation. This translation must impress the reader with a very favourable opinion of these ancient Greek translators; had they not examined the works of God with a philosophic eye, they never could have given this turn to the original.
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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Genesis 2:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​acc/​genesis-2.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that of modern science, people in former ages would not have understood it, and people in future ages would find it out of date.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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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Genesis 2:1". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​bbc/​genesis-2.html. 2005.
"And the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them."
Here is a summary of the first chapter, suggesting the beginning of another epoch about to be related. We simply find it incredibly naive and stupid to believe that Moses would then immediately have moved to incorporate into this narrative a contradictory account of what was just related. Nor does the critical speculation that some editor, redactor, or other such imaginable agent, could intelligently have done such a thing, be received as possible.
Coffman's Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Genesis 2:1". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​bcc/​genesis-2.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
Thirdly, he blessed the seventh day. Blessing results in the bestowment of some good on the object blessed. The only good that can be bestowed on a portion of time is to dedicate it to a noble use, a special and pleasing enjoyment. Accordingly, in the forth place, he hallowed it or set it apart to a holy rest. This consecration is the blessing conferred on the seventh day. It is devoted to the rest that followed, when God’s work was done, to the satisfaction and delight arising from the consciousness of having achieved his end, and from the contemplation of the good he has realized. Our joy on such occasions is expressed by mutual visitation, congratulation, and hospitality. None of these outward demonstrations is mentioned here, and would be, so far as the Supreme Being is concerned, altogether out of place. But our celebration of the Sabbath naturally includes the holy convocation or solemn meeting together in joyful mood Leviticus 23:3, the singing of songs of thanksgiving in commemoration of our existence and our salvation (Exodus 20:11 (Exodus 20:10; Deuteronomy 5:15), the opening of our mouths to God in prayer, and the opening of God’s mouth to us in the reading and preaching of the Word. The sacred rest which characterizes the day precludes the labor and bustle of hospitable entertainment. But the Lord at set times spreads for us his table laden with the touching emblems of that spiritual fare which gives eternal life.
The solemn act of blessing and hallowing is the institution of a perpetual order of seventh-day rest: in the same manner as the blessing of the animals denoted a perpetuity of self-multiplication, and the blessing of man indicated further a perpetuity of dominion over the earth and its products. The present record is a sufficient proof that the original institution was never forgotten by man. If it had ceased to be observed by mankind, the intervening event of the fall would have been sufficient to account for its discontinuance. It is not, indeed, the manner of Scripture, especially in a record that often deals with centuries of time, to note the ordinary recurrence of a seventh-day rest, or any other periodical festival, even though it may have taken firm hold among the hereditary customs of social life. Yet incidental traces of the keeping of the Sabbath are found in the record of the deluge, when the sacred writer has occasion to notice short intervals of time. The measurement of time by weeks then appears Genesis 8:10, Genesis 8:12. The same division of time again comes up in the history of Jacob Genesis 29:27-28. This unit of measure is traceable to nothing but the institution of the seventh-day rest.
This institution is a new evidence that we have arrived at the stage of rational creatures. The number of days employed in the work of creation shows that we are come to the times of man. The distinction of times would have no meaning to the irrational world. But apart from this consideration, the seventh-day rest is not an ordinance of nature. It makes no mark in the succession of physical things. It has no palpable effect on the merely animal world. The sun rises, the moon and the stars pursue their course; the plants grow, the flowers blow, the fruit ripens; the brute animal seeks its food and provides for its young on this as on other days. The Sabbath, therefore, is founded, not in nature, but in history. Its periodical return is marked by the numeration of seven days. It appeals not to instinct, but to memory, to intelligence. A reason is assigned for its observance; and this itself is a step above mere sense, an indication that the era of man has begun. The reason is thus expressed: “Because in it he had rested from all his work.” This reason is found in the procedure of God; and God himself, as well as all his ways, man alone is competent in any measure to apprehend.
It is consonant with our ideas of the wisdom and righteousness of God to believe that the seventh-day rest is adjusted to the physical nature of man and of the animals which he domesticates as beasts of labor. But this is subordinate to its original end, the commemoration of the completion of God’s creative work by a sacred rest, which has a direct bearing, as we learn from the record of its institution, on metaphysical and moral distinctions.
The rest here, it is to be remembered, is God’s rest. The refreshment is God’s refreshment, which arises rather from the joy of achievement than from the relief of fatigue. Yet the work in which God was engaged was the creation of man and the previous adaptation of the world to be his home. Man’s rest, therefore, on this day is not only an act of communion with God in the satisfaction of resting after his work was done, but, at the same time, a thankful commemoration of that auspicious event in which the Almighty gave a noble origin and a happy existence to the human race. It is this which, even apart from its divine institution, at once raises the Sabbath above all human commemorative festivals, and imparts to it, to its joys and to its modes of expressing them, a height of sacredness and a force of obligation which cannot belong to any mere human arrangement.
In order to enter upon the observance of this day with intelligence, therefore, it was necessary that the human pair should have been acquainted with the events recorded in the preceding chapter. They must have been informed of the original creation of all things, and therefore of the eternal existence of the Creator. Further, they must have been instructed in the order and purpose of the six days’ creation, by which the land and sky were prepared for the residence of man. They must in consequence have learned that they themselves were created in the image of God, and intended to have dominion over all the animal world. This information would fill their pure and infantile minds with thoughts of wonder, gratitude, and complacential delight, and prepare them for entering upon the celebration of the seventh-day rest with the understanding and the heart. It is scarcely needful to add that this was the first full day of the newly-created pair in their terrestrial home. This would add a new historical interest to this day above all others. We cannot say how much time it would take to make the parents of our race aware of the meaning of all these wondrous events. But there can be no reasonable doubt that he who made them in his image could convey into their minds such simple and elementary conceptions of the origin of themselves and the creatures around them as would enable them to keep even the first Sabbath with propriety. And these conceptions would rise into more enlarged, distinct, and adequate notions of the reality of things along with the general development of their mental faculties. This implies, we perceive, an oral revelation to the very first man. But it is premature to pursue this matter any further at present.
The recital of the resting of God on this day is not closed with the usual formula, “and evening was, and morning was, day seventh.” The reason of this is obvious. In the former days the occupation of the Eternal Being was definitely concluded in the period of the one day. On the seventh day, however, the rest of the Creator was only commenced, has thence continued to the present hour, and will not be fully completed till the human race has run out its course. When the last man has been born and has arrived at the crisis of his destiny, then may we expect a new creation, another putting forth of the divine energy, to prepare the skies above and the earth beneath for a new stage of man’s history, in which he will appear as a race no longer in process of development, but completed in number, confirmed in moral character, transformed in physical constitution, and so adapted for a new scene of existence. Meanwhile, the interval between the creation now recorded and that prognosticated in subsequent revelations from heaven Isa 65:17; 2 Peter 3:13; Revelation 21:1 is the long Sabbath of the Almighty, so far as this world is concerned, in which he serenely contemplates from the throne of his providence the strange workings and strivings of that intellectual and moral race he has called into being, the ebbings and flowings of ethical and physical good in their checkered history, and the final destiny to which each individual in the unfettered exercise of his moral freedom is incessantly advancing.
Hence, we gather some important lessons concerning the primeval design of the Sabbath. It was intended, not for God himself, whose Sabbath does not end until the consummation of all things, but for man, whose origin it commemorates and whose end it foreshadows Mark 2:27. It not obscurely hints that work is to be the main business of man in the present stage of his existence. This work may be either an exhilerating exercise of those mental and corporeal faculties with which he is endowed, or a toilsome labor, a constant struggle for the means of life, according to the use he may make of his inborn liberty.
But between the sixfold periods of work is interposed the day of rest, a free breathing time for man, in which he may recall his origin from and meditate on his relationship to God. It lifts him out of the routine of mechanical or even intellectual labor into the sphere of conscious leisure and occasional participation with his Maker in his perpetual rest. It is also a type of something higher. It whispers into his soul an audible presentiment of a time when his probationary career will be over, his faculties will be matured by the experience and the education of time, and he will be transformed and translated to a higher stage of being, where he will hold uninterrupted fellowship with his Creator in the perpetual leisure and liberty of the children of God. This paragraph completes the first of the eleven documents into which Genesis is separable, and the first grand stage in the narrative of the ways of God with man. It is the keystone of the arch in the history of that primeval creation to which we belong. The document which it closes is distinguished from those that succeed in several important respects:
First, it is a diary; while the others are usually arranged in generations or life-periods.
Secondly, it is a complete drama, consisting of seven acts with a prologue. These seven stages contain two triads of action, which match each other in all respects, and a seventh constituting a sort of epilogue or completion of the whole.
Though the Scripture takes no notice of any significance or sacredness inherent in particular numbers, yet we cannot avoid associating them with the objects to which they are prominently applied. The number one is especially applicable to the unity of God. Two, the number of repetition, is expressive of emphasis or confirmation, as the two witnesses. Three marks the three persons or hypostases in God. Four notes the four quarters of the world, and therefore reminds us of the physical system of things, or the cosmos. Five is the haIf of ten, the whole, and the basis of our decimal numeration. Seven, being composed of twice three and one, is especially suited for sacred uses; being the sum of three and four, it points to the communion of God with man. It is, therefore, the number of sacred fellowship. Twelve is the product of three and four, and points to the reconciliation of God and man: it is therefore the number of the church. Twenty-two and eleven, being the whole and the half of the Hebrew alphabet, have somewhat the same relation as ten and five. Twenty-four points to the New Testament, or completed church.
The other documents do not exhibit the sevenfold structure, though they display the same general laws of composition. They are arranged according to a plan of their own, and are all remarkable for their simplicity, order, and perspicuity.
Thirdly, the matter of the first differs from that of the others. The first is a record of creation; the others of development. This is sufficient to account for the diversity of style and plan. Each piece is admirably adapted to the topic of which it treats.
Fourthly, the first document is distinguished from the second by the use of the term אלהים ‛Elohiym only for the Supreme Being. This name is here appropriate, as the Everlasting One here steps forth from the inscrutable secrecy of his immutable perfection to crown the latest stage of our planet’s history with a new creation adapted to its present conditions. Before all creation he was the Everduring, the Unchangeable, and therefore the blessed and only Potentate, dwelling with himself in the unapproachable light of his own essential glory 1 Timothy 6:15. From that ineffable source of all being came forth the free fiat of creation. After that transcendent event, He who was from everlasting to everlasting may receive new names expressive of the various relations in which he stands to the universe of created being. But before this relation was established these names could have no existence or significance.
Neither this last nor any of the former distinctions affords any argument for diversity of authorship. They arise naturally out of the diversity of matter, and are such as may proceed from an intelligent author judiciously adapting his style and plan to the variety of his topics. At the same time, identity of authorship is not essential to the historical validity or the divine authority of the elementary parts that are incorporated by Moses into the book of Genesis. It is only unnecessary to multiply authorship without a cause.
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Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Genesis 2:1". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​bnb/​genesis-2.html. 1870.
1.Thus the heavens and the earth were finished (100) Moses summarily repeats that in six days the fabric of the heaven and the earth was completed. The general division of the world is made into these two parts, as has been stated at the commencement of the first chapter. But he now adds, all the host of them, by which he signifies that the world was furnished with all its garniture. This epilogue, moreover, with sufficient clearness entirely refutes the error of those who imagine that the world was formed in a moment; for it declares that all end was only at length put to the work on the sixth day. Instead of host we might not improperly render the term abundance; (101) for Moses declares that this world was in every sense completed, as if the whole house were well supplied and filled with its furniture. The heavens without the sun, and moon, and stars, would be an empty and dismantled palace: if the earth were destitute of animals, trees, and plants, that barren waste would have the appearance of a poor and deserted house. God, therefore, did not cease from the work of the creation of the world till he had completed it in every part, so that nothing should be wanting to its suitable abundance.
(100) The three verses at the commencement of this chapter evidently belong to the first, being a summing up of the preceding history of the creation, and an account of the sabbatical institution on the seventh day. The remark of Dathe is, “
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Calvin, John. "Commentary on Genesis 2:1". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​cal/​genesis-2.html. 1840-57.
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 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. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made (Gen 2:1-3).
So we find the creation of the earth in chapter one; the placing of man upon the earth, and then the declaration that on the seventh day God rested. Not that He was tired, because of all of the energy that had been expended in the creating of the earth because God is omnipotent—that means He can't get tired—but He had finished His work, and so He just rested from His work.
In other words, there's nothing more to create. It's all been created. If God really took the day off and just kicked back and did nothing, the earth would go to pieces, because the Bible says not only was all things, were all things created by Him, but by Him all things are held together. And so God rested from His creative works, all that have been created. All that is to be created was created in that span. Nothing new is now being created. We're now in sort of a closed-in system. Nothing new is being created.
There has been since that day a gradually, a gradual deterioration of everything; the second law of thermodynamics. Everything is now gradually wearing down and slowing down and in the process of decay. Sir Jean said that the universe is like a giant clock that was wound up and is slowly running down. And so God ceased from His creative forces and from the creation of anything new. Now God rested and from creation, so He sanctified or set apart that seventh day as a day of rest.
And God established with Israel a covenant that they should keep that Sabbath day through all their generations. Someone said, "Well when did the church start worshipping on Sunday?" And those of the church who still enjoy worshipping on Saturday try to blame Constantine for the change to Sunday worship. But there are indications; even in the book of Acts that they were gathering together on the first day of the week to break bread. Also in the letter to the Corinthians, Paul talks about when they gathered together on the first day of the week, to bring their offerings in so that there'll be no collections taken while he was there. Tertulian, one of the early church fathers, who antedates the Constantine and the whole development under Constantine, said that there were many Christians in that day who felt that the only day, really in which they should take communion was the first day of the week because that was the day that marked the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Now it is interesting that the number of Jesus, in a numeric sense is the number eight, which is the number of new beginning. Seven is the number of completeness. Six is the number of man, imperfection. But when you hit the full cycle of seven, you have seven notes to the scale, seven basic colors, seven is a, seven days in the week and it's a number that speaks and has a connotation of completeness in a Biblical sense. So when you have finished the seven, you start a new cycle. Number eight then is the number of new beginning. It's starting over anew. So that in numeric structures and all, the number of Jesus is eight and all of the names for Jesus in Greek are divisible by eight, the number of new beginning.
And so it seemed like the early church met many of them on the first day of the week which would be the eighth day, the day that is the number for Christ. But there really shouldn't be any hang-up on it because Paul said in Romans fourteen, "One man esteems one day above another: another man esteems every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind" (Rom 14:5). In Colossians chapter two he said, "Don't let any man judge you in respect to holy days, new moons, Sabbath days: Which are all a shadow of things to come; for the substance is of Christ" (Col 2:16-17).
In other words, the Sabbath days were just a shadow of things to come. They aren't the substance. A shadow is not substance. Substance creates a shadow. The substance is Jesus. The shadow that Jesus cast on the Old Testament was the Sabbath day, the day of rest. So that Jesus has become our Sabbath as Christians.
He is our rest. We have ceased from our labors; we enter into His rest. And so Christ is our Sabbath. He is our rest. And the Sabbath days of the Old Testament were all looking forward to Jesus Christ who would bring rest. No longer is there a righteousness of works or of the law, but the righteousness now is by faith resting in Jesus Christ. And the one mark about those people who make such a big deal over a particular day to worship is they really don't have any rest. They're still seeking to achieve a righteousness before God by keeping the law. And they have not entered into the substance, into Christ and into that rest that is in Jesus Christ.
The Sabbath law was given according to Exodus chapter twenty-two to the nation Israel and to those who would proselytize into the nation becoming Jews as a proselyte. Then they were forced to keep the Sabbath day or to the strangers that were in Israel. They also were forced to keep the Sabbath day, but the Sabbath day was never a regulation that was laid upon the Gentile church.
In fact, in the book of Acts when certain brethren came to the Gentile church of Antioch and began to trouble the brethren saying that you cannot be saved except you keep the law of Moses and be circumcised, Paul and Barnabas came down to the church in Jerusalem in order to settle the issue once and for all. Peter testified of his call unto the Gentiles by God and of that initial work of the Holy Spirit when he went to them. But then Peter suggested that we not put on them a yoke of bondage, referring to the law, that neither we nor our fathers were able to keep.
Paul and Barnabas testified of the marvelous work of the Holy Spirit among the Gentiles throughout the world where they were not keeping the law. And finally, James said, "Well I suggest that we not put on them any greater burden than to write to them and give them Christian greetings and tell them to keep themselves from things that are strangled, from fornication, and if they do this, they do well". And so they wrote the letter to the church at Antioch saying, "Greetings unto you, and we just suggest that you keep yourselves from idols, from things strangled, and from fornication. And if you do this, you do well, the Lord be with you and bless you." But there was never any reference to the Gentile church of the Sabbath day or any of the rest of the law and the ordinances.
Now even that business of keeping yourself from things strangled and things offered to idols, Paul even modified that when he wrote to the Corinthians. He said, Now when you are buying your meat in the butcher shop, don't ask him if it's been offered to an idol. Just buy it and go home and eat it. Give God thanks for it. For all things are to be received with thanksgiving. And if you don't ask, then you'll have no problems. But if you ask him, "Was this offered to as a sacrifice to an idol?" And he says yes, then you're liable to have a hang up with your conscience when you eat it.
So for conscience sake, just don't ask any questions. When you're invited out to eat at somebody's house, don't say, "Was this meat offered to an idol?" He said just eat what's set before you asking no questions. That is for your conscience sake. For we know that all things are to be "received with thanksgiving" (1Ti 4:3). There's nothing unclean in itself. So Paul had a glorious liberty in Christ Jesus and he said, "Happy is the man whose heart condemns him not in the things that he alloweth" (Rom 14:22). So I imagine Paul ate pork chops and had great freedom in these things though he was a Pharisee of the Pharisees at one time.
So God having rested established, sanctified the seventh day and made it as a covenant with the nation Israel. But God also established a pattern. "Six days shall thou labor and do thy work and the seventh day you're to rest, a day unto the Lord" (Exo 35:2). Now it would be extremely healthy for all of us if we would take one day a week off and just kick back and do nothing. The Sabbath was made for man because man needs one day off out of seven. The reason why we have so much mental strain, the reason why we have so many heart attacks and all, is because people haven't been following God's law of the seventh day. We keep going all the time. We don't stop to take a day off, and my wife says, "Yeah, you don't and I've been telling you to do it". But it would be healthy. It wouldn't make you any more spiritual, it'd just be good for you. You'll live longer if that's your goal.
So now as we enter into verse four, we are going to enter in now to a sort of a recapitulation of certain aspects of creation as we now amplify some of the aspects of creation. As we enter into this next section beginning with verse four, we're going to find that God is not referred to as just "Elohim" as in chapter one; but now He is "Jehovah" or "Yahweh Elohim", because now we are going to see God relating to man. And whenever God begins to relate to man, He relates to man through this marvelous name of "Yahweh" or "Jehovah". As God seeks to become to man what man needs.
And it is because of this now being an amplification of the creation of man and all, there are some people who see it as a second account and see it foolishly as contradictory to the first account, and they call the first chapter the "Elohistic" and then they call this the "Jehovahistic" and then we get into a further account they call the "priestly". And so you have the "J.E.P." theories of whether or not it was the Jehovahistic or the Elohistic or the priestly writings and they get things so confused; that we're going to leave them with their confusion and just go on and study what God has to say.
Now these are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens (Gen 2:4),
So now the LORD God, and whenever you find LORD in all capital letters as it is in this case, that means that it is that name for God that the Jews revered so highly, revered so highly, that they would not pronounce it. They would not write the vowels but only the consonants in the manuscripts. JHVH; try and pronounce that. You can't, you know, it's unpronounceable. So we don't know what vowels were there. So the general consensus of opinion is that the name was to be pronounced "Yahweh". But somewhere along the line the pronunciation of Jehovah came along or Jehovah and it has become more popular. But Yahweh is probably the correct pronunciation though we do not know for sure.
But it is the name by which God has sought to relate to man as it is the name that speaks of God's desire to become to you all that you may need. So whenever you find this all capitals LORD, it stands for that name of God. You will also find capital L, small -o-r-d, and that means that it's the translation of the Hebrew Adonai, which means Lord as a title. But the all capitals means that it's a translation of the Yahweh, Lord as a name, the name of God, the Yahweh.
So here is the first use of it in the Bible, "in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens."
And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God 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 (Gen 2:5-6).
Now it would seem that there was not a rain until the time of Noah. Prior to that in the evening, a mist would arise out of the ground and the earth would be watered with this dew or with this mist. Now it is interesting that even though there was not rain, there were rivers, four rivers that proceeded out from the Garden of Eden. How could you have rivers without rain? Creates an interesting problem that you can speculate on.
But it is very possible that there were subterranean caverns of, with tremendous volcanic heat and forces and water coming in from the sea through the subterranean caverns into this steam generator, so to speak, the volcano. The steam going up, and of course, then condensing and flowing as water, and you could have a water supply that way. You could have had at that point a lot of subterranean water. And of course, with this tremendous moisture blanket around the atmosphere, it could have provided a humidity, and of course, at night the mist going up, the earth was watered by this way prior to the flood.
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and he breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul (Gen 2:7).
And so we are told that God in chapter one said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness"(Gen 1:26). "And God formed man out of the dust of the ground, and he breathed into man's nostrils; and man became a living soul", created in the likeness of God with the ability to worship God and the ability to fellowship with God.
And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden (Gen 2:8);
So eastward would have been east of where He had created Adam. There is no way to really know directions. We don't know where the Garden of Eden was. There is no way of finding out where the Garden of Eden was because since that time, there have been several cataclysmic changes of the earth's geography which have changed the courses of rivers and mountains and the whole thing.
There's a very interesting book by Emmanuel Villakoski, entitled "Earth's in Upheaval", in which he shows that the Himalayas and the Andes have both been formed in actually very recent years. There are indications that Lake Titicaca, that there were civilizations around the lake when the lake was at a much lower altitude down about seven thousand feet or so. But in the last five thousand years, there has been a thrust upwards of the Andes, and thus the lake now being at around a ten thousand-foot elevation. But the book is quite interesting and quite challenging mentally. But all it is basically declaring is that there have been many changes of the earth's surface during the time of man's history. The flood, no doubt, altered the whole geographical face of the earth.
And there is one interesting little scripture that we know very little about but there's just sort of a side comment concerning the time of Peleg, that it was in his time that the earth was divided. Now there are—some of the latest theories are concerning the continental drifts, that at once everything was connected together but the continents have drifted and they are still drifting. If that theory is correct, it would be very interesting, this little sidelight, When did that happen? How long ago? What happened at the time of Peleg, and it's just—it really just sort of thrown in there just as a little grabber, and something to create an area for people to speculate about.
God doesn't say anymore about the earth being divided, except that one little remark and we'll get to it in awhile here in Genesis as it gives the genealogies, as it gives his genealogy it just gives that little addition to it. "And it was in his days that the earth was divided" (Gen 10:25).
So "the LORD planted a garden eastward in Eden;"
and there he put the man whom he had formed (Gen 2:8).
And so God made really a special place for Adam. He formed this garden or He planted this garden. And then He placed man in it.
And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:9).
So here was a beautiful garden, blossoming trees and fruit bearing trees. All there for man to just enjoy. It must have been absolutely, fabulously beautiful. God planted a garden, put in it all these beautiful flowering trees and fruit bearing trees. And in the middle of the garden, there were two trees: one, the tree of life; and the other, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it was parted, and became into four rivers. The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold (Gen 2:10-11);
Now if you can only figure out where that is, you could go prospecting. Havilah, where is it? I don't know. But as I say, the whole structure of the earth has been so changed that there's no way of knowing really.
The gold that is of that land is good: there is also bdellium and onyx stone. And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia (Gen 2:12-13).
But no doubt a different location than where it is today. Some believe that this perhaps is the reference to the Nile River but there is really very little relation between the Nile and the Tigris and Euphrates which the next two rivers,
a third river the Hiddekel [is actually the Tigris river]: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates (Gen 2:14).
So two of the rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates and some believe that these other two rivers were actually sort of channels that connected the Tigris and the Euphrates there in the Babylonian plain. And they have, most of them, tried to locate the Garden of Eden somewhere there in the Babylonian plain between the Tigris and the Euphrates River. They say that that is the cradle of civilization.
And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it (Gen 2:15).
Now notice it wasn't that man didn't have anything to do. God put him there to dress the garden and to keep it. Some people picture heaven as, you know, sitting on a cloud and playing a harp and twiddling your thumbs in between numbers. Like you know, there's going to be nothing to do. Not so. God placed man in the garden to dress it and to keep it. Life would be awfully boring if there were nothing to do.
But the labor that man expended in the garden wasn't sweating kind of labor. That didn't come until after his sin that he was going to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow. Up to then it was just a matter of taking care of it, a caretaker and dressing it and keeping it. Far from the concept that the modern ecologists are trying to throw a guilt onto the Bible, saying that the man's raping of nature comes from the Bible because God said to have dominion over the earth, and thus man just feels that he can just do anything he wants and destroy it. And thus, the Bible is to blame for all of the ecological damage in the world. Oh how stupid can people get!
God didn't say to Adam, Just go and you know, mess it all up. Destroy it. Cut down the trees. He said, No, "dress it and keep it". Really I believe that only a child of God has a true appreciation of nature, a far greater appreciation of nature than a humanist. They are the ones who through greed have not cared for the world that God created and have so destroyed it by greed, but not by a Christian or Biblical principle at all. That's so much foolishness. But there are people who like to blame God and blame Christians for any problems, for in doing that they are pointing attention from themselves and their own guilt. God said, "Dress it, keep it".
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die (Gen 2:16-17).
So here is man placed in an ideal environment, under ideal conditions. Couldn't ask for it any nicer, any better, placed in this beautiful garden that God had planted, all kinds of fruit trees, all kinds of luscious fruits to eat of. And man is given only one restriction, that tree that is in the midst of the garden, you're not to eat of it. And then as though God knew that he was going to, He said, "For in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." Literally dying, "thou shalt surely die." In other words, death processes will begin the day you eat of that fruit.
Now it was really a twofold death; it was a spiritual death but it was the beginning of physical death for man. It doesn't really seem that God's requirements were too stringent. But why would God put that tree there anyhow? Of all the trees that God planted in the garden, why would He plant that tree? Just think. Had He not planted that tree we wouldn't have all of the problems that we have in the world today. And if God knew that man was going to eat of it, why would He put it there? And surely God did know if He indeed is omniscient, which I am confident that He is.
God created man after His image and God, being self-determinate, created man also self-determinate, giving to man a free will. One of the most awesome things that you have is the power of choice. You can choose your own destiny. You can choose whether or not you want God to have a part in your life. You can choose to obey God or disobey God. You can choose to love God or hate God. You can choose to serve God or serve your own flesh. God has given to you the capacity of choice.
Now it is interesting to me wherever the Christian gospel has gone, there has been a very high respect for the power of choice, freedom, the freedom to choose. And whenever there is a waning of the gospel in any area, what is the consequence? A slavery of man. The loss of freedoms. Look at those nations ruled by Communism today. How they have taken away the freedoms of choice and made them very restricted and very restrictive. And as we see in this country, more and more governmental controls we realize that with each new law there comes a confining of the freedom of choice. But always where the Christian gospel has gone, it has taken with it a respect for the freedom of choice because God gave to us the freedom of choice. And we respect it as a God-given capacity.
But what value would it be to have a freedom of choice if there was nothing to choose. It would be totally meaningless that God gave to me the power to choose, but I don't have anything to choose. It's all there. It's all laid out. There is no law, there is no restriction, there is nothing; therefore, I have no choice to make, therefore my power of choice is really meaningless. So in order that the power of choice be meaningful, God had to give a choice. God had to make a restriction. In order that man's obedience to God might be meaningful, God had to give the opportunity to disobey and the choice to disobey.
The power of choice is the thing that makes man something other than a robot. God could have made us all robots with no choices, every decision coming from a superior mind that is controlling every action, every decision of my whole life and my body and everything else. But God didn't want a bunch of robots, because you could never receive meaningful love or meaningful fellowship from a robot. For love to be meaningful, the power of choice must be there. For obedience to be meaningful, the power of choice must be there. And so that my worship of God, my love for God might be fully meaningful to God, He gave to me the capacity of choice. I don't have to worship Him. I don't have to love Him. I can choose to do it or not to do it; that's my choice.
But when I choose to love God, then my love for God becomes meaningful unto God because it's a choice. I'm not a robot, I'm not just responding in a preset condition that God has built into my mental apparatus where He pushes a button in heaven and there are certain little flashes that go across my brain and my body responds automatically to these impulses from God and I say, "I love You, God". It doesn't turn anybody on. God wants our love to be meaningful. He gave us power of choice, but then He had to give us something to choose.
But in order that the power of choice be meaningful, not only must there be something to choose but then God must respect the choice that I make. In other words, He can't force me to choose. It isn't an arm-twisting God that has you in a hammer hold and says, "Say, Praise the Lord! Say, Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!" If He forced me to choose, than it's no longer meaningful. So He respects the choice that I make.
If I make a choice and oh no, you can't do that, than what's the value of having a choice? So God has given me the free will, the power to exercise that free will and then He respects the choices that I have made. Woo, that's awesome! For that means that I have the capacity to choose my own destiny, to be with God or not to be with God. And when I make my choice, God respects the choice that I make. And if I choose not to be with God, He honors that choice.
Now this is why it is so ridiculous to say, well, how can a God of love send a man to hell? He doesn't. He never did, He never will. Man goes there by his own choice, which God respects and honors. If you choose to go to hell, God will respect your choice; otherwise, giving you the power of choice would be meaningless. And then so it's very awesome to realize that capacity of God, that God-like capacity that I have of choosing, choosing my destiny. Now God calls upon us to make a choice and God does seek to influence our choices. But when you come to the bottom line, the choice is yours.
Satan is also seeking to influence your choice. But the bottom line is that neither God nor Satan makes the choice for you. You make the choice for yourself. Every man is responsible for his own destiny. God has created us that way. And so He placed the tree. He gave the warning. And then He left man for his own choice.
And the LORD God said, It is not good that man should be alone (Gen 2:18);
Now that is God's recognition of man's basic incompleteness by himself. God when He looked at man said,
It is not good that man should be alone (Gen 2:18);
Man is incomplete by himself. God said,
I will make a help meet for him. Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and he brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof (Gen 2:18-19).
Now imagine that. What a mind God must have given to Adam. As He brought to Adam all of the animals and everything and he said, "That's cow, that's a horse, that's a dog, that's a cat".
And he named all of the animals, and all of the birds; but in all of the animal kingdom there wasn't found [a companion or] a help meet for Adam. And so the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and as he slept: he took one of his ribs (Gen 2:20-21),
Now just, He opened up his side and He took—and a rib is not probably quite correct here. There is another Hebrew word for rib and just what this particular Hebrew word means is ambiguous. We can't be sure, but God took something out of Adam, perhaps even a blood transfusion or maybe a cell, maybe God cloned him. Who knows?
Interesting concept this cloning bit, realizing that the cell is far more complex than we originally thought, that there is the design pattern for the whole body in just a cell in your arm. So where this particular passage used to create a lot of problems to some of the problemed people, all of a sudden it looks like something out of science fiction that man has just about come to the place where we can clone, they think. And they're talking a lot today, in fact there is quite an interesting book that's created quite a controversy on cloning.
When God took out of Adam's side, and we'll say ribs just because we don't know what it is.
and he closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man (Gen 2:21-22).
Now as I said, this has caused a lot of problems. People say, well, they don't believe the Bible can be the Word of God because man has the same number of ribs that a woman has. Well, that sure isn't very logical thinking by the person who presents that kind of an argument; is it? Because say if you lost your arm in an accident, it doesn't mean your child is going to be born without an arm; does it? Or you've chopped a finger off, it doesn't mean if you have a little boy he's going to be missing his index finger. So if God took a rib out of Adam, it wouldn't mean that his child would be minus that rib. You'd have to go find Adam's skeleton someplace to see if there was a missing rib. You couldn't, you know, look at man today and say, well man has the same number and all because that would not follow. We know better than that.
But there is that deep intimate relationship between man and woman. So deep that,
Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: and she shall be called ishshah, because she was taken out of iysh. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed (Gen 2:23-25).
So now we have God establishing the basic relationship between a man and a woman in marriage. "Therefore a man shall leave his mother and father, and cleave unto his wife: and the two become one flesh." That's God's basic establishment of marriage. The two become one. The deepest, the most intimate bond, the two becoming one in marriage. The man cleaving to his wife. This is basic, this is the beginning of things, this is how God started it, this is how God intended it to be.
Now man had difficulty living up to God's plan and to God's intentions. When Jesus came, He sought to bring man to God's basic design and purpose; and thus, Jesus was teaching the sacredness of the marriage vows and the endurance of the marriage vows. And the Pharisees, recognizing now a difference between what Jesus was saying and what the law of Moses said, were seeking to trap Jesus, showing that He was teaching other than the law of Moses.
And so they said to Him, "Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for any cause?" And Jesus said, "If a man puts away his wife and marries another, except it be for fornication, he causes her to commit adultery and whoso marries her commits adultery". Oh ho ho, trap is shut. "How is it then that Moses said, Let him give her a writing of a bill of divorcement". We caught You! You're saying something contrary to Moses' law. We know that God gave the law to Moses. There's no question about that. We've trapped You. We've caught You. You're contrary to Moses' law.
What did Jesus do? He went back and antedated Moses' law. Jesus said, "In the beginning it wasn't so. For in the beginning, God made them male and female, and for this cause shall a man leave his mother and father and shall cleave to his wife and they two become one flesh. And it was because of the hardness of your hearts that Moses said, Let him give her a writing of divorcement". Because man's heart was hard and would not come to God's divine ideal, the law of divorce was established but that was never God's original plan.
In the beginning it was not so. We've come back now to the beginning, that which Jesus came back to, the basic purposes of God in marriage. That once for life, a man leaving his mother and father cleaving to his wife and the two of them becoming one flesh. And because of the hardness of man's hearts, his inability to obtain or to obey God's best, we look at our society and our world today and we see the multitude of problems that have arisen out of the hardness of our hearts, leaving the basic beginning purposes of God in marriage.
There's something wrong today with our whole concept of love. I get so tired of hearing a husband or a wife say, "Well I never really loved them. I don't think I loved them. I don't think I ever loved them". Listen, if you don't love, don't get married. Where is your head? What are you thinking about? That's a terrible thing to say to your mate, "Well, I don't think I ever really loved you". It's tragic.
So there is—there's a basic problem in our whole dating system. And one of the basic problems of the whole dating system is the couples are getting deeply involved physically without even knowing each other emotionally. That is, in the true deep sense, the relationship is predicated too much upon the physical aspects and there's not enough just getting acquainted and knowing. You see, one of the characteristics of true love is that it is patient and it will wait for that God-ordained time.
And any guy that tries to hustle you along into bed before you're married doesn't really love you with the kind of love that you want your husband to love you. Get rid of him. That's the whole problem, you see. Couples are getting married without really knowing each other or without really loving each other because too much emphasis has been on the physical aspects which is not true love. True love will wait.
Beautiful openness in marriage, there should be. They were both naked, they weren't ashamed. They shouldn't be. The two are one flesh.
Copyright © 2014, Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, Ca.
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Genesis 2:1". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​csc/​genesis-2.html. 2014.
Moses probably meant everything that existed above the earth and on the earth when he wrote "their hosts." The "host" of heaven usually refers to the stars in the Old Testament (e.g., Deuteronomy 4:19) more than the angels (e.g., 1 Kings 22:19), so the sun, moon, and stars are probably in view here.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Genesis 2:1". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​dcc/​genesis-2.html. 2012.
4. The seventh day 2:1-3
"Genesis 2:1-3 echoes Genesis 1:1 by introducing the same phrases but in reverse order: ’he created,’ ’God,’ ’heavens and earth’ reappear as ’heavens and earth’ (Genesis 2:1) ’God’ (Genesis 2:2), ’created’ (Genesis 2:3). This chiastic pattern brings the section to a neat close which is reinforced by the inclusion ’God created’ linking Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 2:3." [Note: Wenham, p. 5.]
The mood of the narrative also returns to what it was in Genesis 1:1-2. Silence and calm prevail again. [Note: Michael Fishbane, Text and Texture, p. 9.]
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Genesis 2:1". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​dcc/​genesis-2.html. 2012.
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished,.... Perfected and completed in the space of six days, gradually, successively, in the manner before related; by the word and power of God they were on the first day created out of nothing, but they were not perfected, beautified, and adorned, and filled, until all the creatures in the were made:
and all the host them, of the heavens and the earth; the host of heavens are the sun, moon, and stars, often so called in Scripture, and also the angels; see Luke 2:13 wherefore this may be considered as a proof of their creation within the above space of time, probably on the first day, though the Jews commonly say on the second; for if all the host of heaven were made at this time, and angels are at least a part of that host, then they must be then made, or otherwise all the host of heaven were not then and there made, as here affirmed: and the host of the earth, or terraqueous globe, are the plants, herbs, and trees, the fowls, fishes, animals, and man; and these are like hosts or armies, very numerous, and at the command of God, and are marshalled and kept in order by him; even some of the smallest of creatures are his army, which are at his beck, and he can make use of to the annoyance of others, as particularly the locusts are called, Joel 2:11.
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 2:1". "Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​geb/​genesis-2.html. 1999.
|The Creation.||B. C. 4004.|
1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 2 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. 3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.
We have here, I. The settlement of the kingdom of nature, in God's resting from the work of creation, Genesis 2:1; Genesis 2:2. Here observe, 1. The creatures made both in heaven and earth are the hosts or armies of them, which denotes them to be numerous, but marshalled, disciplined, and under command. How great is the sum of them! And yet every one knows and keeps his place. God uses them as his hosts for the defence of his people and the destruction of his enemies; for he is the Lord of hosts, of all these hosts, Daniel 4:35. 2. The heavens and the earth are finished pieces, and so are all the creatures in them. So perfect is God's work that nothing can be added to it nor taken from it, Ecclesiastes 3:14. God that began to build showed himself well able to finish. 3. After the end of the first six days God ceased from all works of creation. He has so ended his work as that though, in his providence, he worketh hitherto (John 5:17), preserving and governing all the creatures, and particularly forming the spirit of man within him, yet he does not make any new species of creatures. In miracles, he has controlled and overruled nature, but never changed its settled course, nor repealed nor added to any of its establishments. 4. The eternal God, though infinitely happy in the enjoyment of himself, yet took a satisfaction in the work of his own hands. He did not rest, as one weary, but as one well-pleased with the instances of his own goodness and the manifestations of his own glory.
II. The commencement of the kingdom of grace, in the sanctification of the sabbath day, Genesis 2:3; Genesis 2:3. He rested on that day, and took a complacency in his creatures, and then sanctified it, and appointed us, on that day, to rest and take a complacency in the Creator; and his rest is, in the fourth commandment, made a reason for ours, after six days' labour. Observe, 1. The solemn observance of one day in seven, as a day of holy rest and holy work, to God's honour, is the indispensable duty of all those to whom God has revealed his holy sabbaths. 2. The way of sabbath-sanctification is the good old way, Jeremiah 6:16. Sabbaths are as ancient as the world; and I see no reason to doubt that the sabbath, being now instituted in innocency, was religiously observed by the people of God throughout the patriarchal age. 3. The sabbath of the Lord is truly honourable, and we have reason to honour it--honour it for the sake of its antiquity, its great Author, the sanctification of the first sabbath by the holy God himself, and by our first parents in innocency, in obedience to him. 4. The sabbath day is a blessed day, for God blessed it, and that which he blesses is blessed indeed. God has put an honour upon it, has appointed us, on that day, to bless him, and has promised, on that day, to meet us and bless us. 5. The sabbath day is a holy day, for God has sanctified it. He has separated and distinguished it from the rest of the days of the week, and he has consecrated it and set it apart to himself and his own service and honour. Though it is commonly taken for granted that the Christian sabbath we observe, reckoning from the creation, is not the seventh but the first day of the week, yet being a seventh day, and we in it, celebrating the rest of God the Son, and the finishing of the work of our redemption, we may and ought to act faith upon this original institution of the sabbath day, and to commemorate the work of creation, to the honour of the great Creator, who is therefore worthy to receive, on that day, blessing, and honour, and praise, from all religious assemblies.
These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
Henry, Matthew. "Complete Commentary on Genesis 2:1". "Henry's Complete Commentary on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​mhm/​genesis-2.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 2:1". Kelly Commentary on Books of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/​commentaries/​wkc/​genesis-2.html. 1860-1890.