This study was originally presented over a five day period in July 1996 as a series of radio talks by Pastor Keith Graham.
The book of Genesis is the book of beginnings or origins. It answers our basic human need to know where we and our world came from. It tells us how those aspects of human life which are universal to all peoples came to be.
This overview of the basics of creation and origins is broken down as follows: In the first session we considered in a general way what the Bible says about the beginning of the universe and all its contents. In the second session the focus was narrowed down to the origin of humanity. Now we will deal with the origin of death and of human wickedness and misery. In the final session, the origin of God's wonderful plan of redemption - the earliest unfolding of the Divine purpose to save the world from death, misery, and wickedness - will be looked into.
A story is told of the great Protestant Reformation leader Martin Luther involving his pet dog. One day while sitting at table eating a meal with family and friends, Luther noticed that the dog's attention was riveted upon him. Like a toy clockwork figure, the animal's head moved slowly and deliberately back and forth, back and forth. The hungry beast was keeping its eyes fastened upon each forkful of food as it went from the plate to Martin's mouth. The former monk reflected and made an analogy to spiritual life. "O that I could wait upon God as that dog waits upon me for a morsel of meat", he said. Let us then wait upon God as we hear His Word. Please carefully read GENESIS 3.
The chapter you have just read is one of the most crucial portions of Scripture. Theologians call what it describes the "Fall of Man". This passage clearly teaches us that man has not ascended to greatness, but fell from a greatness he once had.
The evolutionist maintains that our earliest ancestors were animals who in turn begot grunting ape-men who in turn begot Man as he is today. In their view, human history has been a steady climb up from monkey-dom to modern magnificence, with morals made meaningless in the meantime! In sharp contrast, the Bible teaches that our very first ancestors were perfect specimens of humanity - a holy, upright, rational, and noble pair under God their Supreme King.
But something went radically wrong.
That Supreme King had given them one prohibition, as we read in Genesis 2:16,17: "...the Lord God commanded the man, saying, `from any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.'"
As we have just read, Man did eat from that tree, and God kept His promise: Adam and Eve died. Now obviously, they did not drop dead physically at that very moment. In fact, they went on to beget sons and daughters. In Adam's case we know that his physical life went on for almost a millenium, and it was probably the same for Eve. But they did die spiritually at that very moment. That is, they lost their life giving and blessed communion with the living God, the Giver of all life. Loss of their delightful and loving communion with eachother, corruption of their entire beings, and physical death eventually and inevitably followed. Although they remained God's image bearers, that image was blemished, and its once unmistakeable glory faded away.
Let's skip ahead from the account of what happened on that dark day in the garden of Eden, to the present day. We see that no one is exempt from the grim reaper. Death is ever present with us, it comes to the small and the great, the rich and the poor. Although we often tend to go about our lives as though we expect them to continue forever, deep inside we all know that final appointment awaits us. These evident realities about death cause us to easily slip into thinking that it is simply "natural".
But if we go back now in our mind's eyes to Adam and Eve and the day they ate the forbidden fruit, we see that we do not die simply because "death is natural"! Death is fundamentally unnatural! As we have learned in this study, the Bible presents a cosmos and a human race that were pronounced "very good" by the Maker as they were created. Before this fall of man - this fall into sin, death did not exist at all. Nor did all the other human misery which exists ultimately because of sin.
The account of Cain and Abel in the next chapter of Genesis, and the history of the human race until the great Flood which God sent (as a judgment) in Noah's time, demonstrate the importance of the truth of the fall of man for understanding ourselves. The Fall of Man should perhaps be called the PLUNGE of Man! The apostle Paul said this at Romans 5:12: "....through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned." In other words, when Adam sinned, he carried all of his and Eve's descendants with him into an abyss of death, wickedness, violence, and pain. So we see that the Scriptural view of death is that it is NOT simply part of the cycle of life, but is an intrusion. It is God's drastic judgment on the sinners who defiled the very good world He had made.
God's judgment included not only death and misery for Adam, Eve and their descendants, but a curse on the lower creation. Remember that the Bible presents Man as the ruler of the earth under God. God judged man and cursed the theatre of man's activity. The curse introduced major physical changes in the created order, along with spiritual devastation for man. The predator versus the prey, thorns and thistles, deformities, disease, hatred, and warfare are all results of man's sin and God's just punishment.
Thanks be to God, He now offers a free gift that is not like Adam's transgression. By the transgression of that one person many people died. But much more did the grace of God and the gift of forgiveness and eternal salvation abound to many by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ! For since by a man came death, by a Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.
* * * The third radio talk ended here * * *
Again, the book of Genesis is the book of beginnings or origins. It answers our basic human need to know where we and our world came from. It tells us how those aspects of human life which are universal to all peoples came to be.
A summary of what has been covered thus far would be appropriat. The matter of the first session was what the Bible says about the beginning of the universe itself and all its contents. The second session narrowed down the focus to the origin of humanity. The third dealt with the origin of death and of human misery and wickedness. In this final session the origin of God's wonderful plan of redemption will be considered - the earliest unfolding of the Divine purpose to save the world from death, misery, and wickedness which sin introduced.
Perhaps redemption should first be defined, and the reason for its necessity articulated again. To redeem means to buy back, to pay a ransom to rescue something or someone. When you park in a tow-away zone and your car is impounded, you must redeem it - get it back - by paying the fine for the illegal parking. How does this apply to God's world? Why does God need to redeem it?
Let's go back to Genesis 1 again, and see what God says about His world as He created it. Five times, in vss. 4, 10, 12, 18, and 21, God declares what He made to be good. Finally in vs. 31, we read: "Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good..."
But something spoiled it. As we saw in our third session, Adam fell into sin. If you or I had been in Adam's place, we would have done as he did. As humanity's representative and first parent, he plunged all his descendants and God's very good world into a state of ruin. Where there had been life and bliss there was now only death and corruption. The world came under the just wrath of God, and remains there to this day. Apart from Christ, each human being is in this condition..."dead in trespasses and sins".
But the same God Who created all things is also loving and merciful. From the beginning, He had a plan to redeem His world. As people who live on the threshold of the 21st century since Christ's first appearance, we know that the plan came to its glorious fruition in Him. What we want to see today is how the plan began in Genesis. Paul said that when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, and born under the Law. Where was the germination that eventually resulted in the arrival of that moment of the fulness of time?
To truly find the origin of God's wonderful plan of redemption, we would need to go where the finite mind of sinful man cannot go; that is into the secret counsels of the eternal God. The apostle Peter says of Jesus Christ, the One Who IS the way of redemption, that He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but appeared in these last times for the sake of believers. The apostle Paul tells the Ephesian Christians that God chose believers in Christ before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.
Not surprisingly then, right at the dawn of history when redemption becomes necessary because of the Fall, God begins to reveal His plan. We find that revelation in Genesis 3:15. In the midst of pronouncing His judgments on the guilty parties in the garden of Eden, God remembers mercy. Speaking to the serpent and to the deceiving, evil spirit called Satan who is behind the serpent, God says: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel." Here is the first promise of a Redeemer. The Redeemer shall suffer a temporal bruise, but the Redeemer will inflict on Satan and on his spiritual offspring a fatal blow.
If we were to look closely at what has been revealed to us about Noah, the pre-Flood patriarchs Enoch, Seth, and Abel - and even Adam and Eve themselves - we would see evidence of a patient looking to God in faith for the coming of the promised Redeemer. Godly men and women who lived before the Flood probably did not have much more detail than Genesis 3:15 gives us, but by faith they looked ahead to His coming.
After the Flood, more of God's plan is revealed as God makes a covenant with Noah and his descendants and with all the earth...He will never again destroy all living things as He did. His rainbow is the sign of this covenant. God is telling us that His ultimate plan is to save the world, not to destroy it. As their forefathers did before the Flood, those who seek after God on this side of the Flood trust in God's promises - they look forward in faith to redemption.
The nations of the world had their origin at the Tower of Babel. (This is discussed in a paper available on this web site, Explanatory Tower.) There was one nation which had a vastly different origin than all the others. God begins that nation with one man, Abraham. With Abraham, God's plan of redemption really begins to take form. Listen to the word of God as we have it in GENESIS 12:1-3:
Now the LORD had said to Abram: "Get out of your country, from your family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you.I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."
The form that God's plan of redemption takes is that of a covenant wherein specific blessings are promised. Henceforth God will relate to man in terms of His covenant. This teaches us also that God deals with mankind on the national as well as personal level. We are living in an age which has lost sight of this. But notice what God says to Abraham at the end of verse 3: "In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."
What God is planning is that the covenant of promise that He makes with Abraham will, in His time, become open to all the nations of the earth. They will become heirs of the blessing of Abraham as Paul writes in Galatians 3:13, 14: "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us - for it is written, `Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree' - in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."
And those last two words, THROUGH FAITH, explain how one shares in God's covenant blessings, whether at the origin of the covenant or now, thousands of years after Abraham. In Genesis 15:6, we read that Abraham "believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness." That is, Abraham had faith in God's promises, and God accepted him.
The requirement for participating in the covenant is that one believes God as Abraham did. Abraham did not earn his spiritual blessings, he received them by relying and trusting on the One Who made the promises. God was pleased that Abraham recognized his inability to save himself and that he regarded himself as utterly dependant upon God. This faith of his resulted in Abraham's JUSTIFICATION before God, because the God in whom he had faith was going to do a work of redemption whereby man could be cleared of guilt, washed clean of corruption, set free from bondage, and restored to communion with God!
Self-justification, especially before God, is our natural bent. We see this in Luke 10 Where Jesus encounters a lawyer who wants to justify himself. When Jesus tells him to love his neighbor as he loves himself, he says to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
In Luke 16 Jesus judges the scoffing Pharisees by saying to them, "You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men..."
As we have seen in this study, man who was once the noble and pure citizen of God's Eden has become guilty and corrupt. The Bible assumes our guilt and lack of righteousness. What can justify us before God? Keeping His Law is impossible for sinners, so what happens?
Through faith in Christ, in Whom all the Divine promises meet, God provides the perfect righteousness of the Law for those who are utterly unrighteous! God's plan of redemption provides One Who pays the penalty due to sinners. It also gives those sinners Christ's own righteousness, and makes it possible for God to be just and loving in doing this.
Thus through this broad overview, we see that at the dawn of history, God reveals His plan of redemption, and that it continually unfolds as history goes on. All along, in every age, faith in the One True God and His magnificent promises is the way to partake of the redemption. We are living in the days when the there is no more unfolding to come. The covenant is here in its fulness in Jesus Christ. The question before each of us is: am I trusting in Him alone for my justification before God, and eternal life? Am I one of the redeemed?
In Revelation 7:9 the apostle John speaks of the new, redeemed humanity this way: "After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands...".
Nevertheless, the fact that God has a plan to redeem the world does not necessarily mean that He is going to redeem every human soul.
The Bible clearly teaches that some will go to eternal torment in the lake of fire as punishment for their sins. But today God is saying: "...let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost." There is a genuine offer by God of FREE salvation to whosoever will! Praise His name!
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."
Go to The Basics of Biblical Creationism - Part One
Go to 2 Timothy 2:15 Dept.
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