One of our men sent me an interesting article after last Sunday’s message. Christianity from College Station to Cambridge by Lauren Spohn. She had gone from A&M to Harvard and found instead of facing Atheistic pushback, there was an Agnostic sense of “whatever you believe is fine with us.” She wrote: It is only in taking the position as an Agnostic institution, “can Harvard embrace all religious faiths as equally valid. Only by denying Truth with a capital “T” can our college community—as a faculty speaker mentioned at Freshman Convocation—pursue its “varying standards of truth.” Harvard is agnostic not because it flatly denies the existence of Veritas, but because it insists Veritas exists everywhere—and thus nowhere at all. Living in this community, it is no more difficult to be a Christian than it is to be a Muslim, or an atheist, or a Hindu, or an agnostic, or anything else. Everyone has a right to his or her own truth.”
The Agnostic has no need for God. And without God, it doesn’t matter what you believe. Creation is as good as a Big Bang with asteroids bringing life to our planet or Alien intervention. Unfortunately, even Christians can take on Agnostic tendencies, whenever we try to take God out of any area of life. When we ignore Him or reject His involvement, we have invited in a godless hopelessness.
That’s why the creation account establishes God’s preeminent importance right up front: Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Because of that statement, we have to pay close attention to all that follows. From Genesis to the end of the Book of the Revelation, the Bible is telling of the incredible work of God in our world and His worth in our lives. Let’s continue the story, picking up at Genesis 1:24.
Gen 1:24-2:4 Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth living creatures after their kind: cattle and creeping things and beasts of the earth after their kind"; and it was so. God made the beasts of the earth after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind; and God saw that it was good. Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth." Then God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you; and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the sky and to everything that moves on the earth which has life, I have given every green plant for food"; and it was so. God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
Gen 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made. This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven.
We spent a lot of time last week making sure it was clear: the most important fact about creation is the God who created. We found out that God created with purpose, design and a plan. Knowing that, is vital to understanding the rest of the Bible. Knowing that, gives us a foundation upon which we can build our lives. Knowing that, gives us the assurance God will accomplish His purposes in our lives today.
You can see His purposes in the design of each thing God created. It was specific to its genre. It reproduced after its kind. It developed according to what it was. Amoebas reproduced amoebas, horses reproduced horses, dinosaurs reproduced dinosaurs, humans reproduced humans.
When DNA was discovered it opened a new window into the inner-workings of creation and better explained what after its own kind really meant.
Why is DNA important? It is important because DNA is the programming of creation. For me, it’s the fingerprint of God on His creation. It’s another proof of a Creator simply because programming requires a Programmer. DNA reveals what the Mind of creation desired. It told creation what it was, how it would develop and what it would become. A child’s lifetime is wrapped up in the DNA produced at conception. It’s hair color, height, bone structure, physical attributes, personality characteristics, even conditions it will inherit from its parents. And though we are also affected by our environment, our education, our upbringing and experiences, most of who we are as humans is genetically predetermined.
DNA is in every living organism. In simplest terms, it is the instruction needed for organisms to develop, grow, survive, and reproduce. Parents who are confused about their child’s gender need a simply DNA test. The mystery of gender is not a mystery. It’s in the DNA.
In animals, people will describe unique features as adaptations. If there was a change at some point in their development, it is because God programmed that change into their DNA, not that they decided they needed to adapt a new feature to help them survive, as Darwin says.
So put all of this back into the original statement: Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. This includes everything within it, and how everything within it works. All that was created was created with all it needed to serve the purpose for which it was created.
God made the Earth. He invented the eco-system for its operation and then filled the earth with creatures of all kinds. Then He brought mankind into the picture.
Physical mankind was the last to be created. The world was established and had developed into a habitat that made human life possible. Because of DNA, the uniqueness of the races, tribes and nations were included in God making mankind. DNA determined color of skin, physical distinctions, suitability to location.
You don’t get Chinese characteristics from a Middle Eastern DNA strain. Neither do you get African characteristics, or Mayan, or Native American, or Scandinavian, or Asian, or European. When God created mankind, He did so with the diversity we see today woven into His design, programmed at creation.
Now the question hangs out there: what about time? The scientific community says the earth has taken 4.54 billion years to evolve. The Bible doesn’t. It says six days. In fact, from Jewish tradition and Young Earth proponents, the earth is only 6000 years old. Those are pretty far apart extremes. Each says they are right and ridicules the other for being so wrong. What if we can’t accept either? One is too long, the other too brief. What are we to believe?
I had to work through whether it was okay to ask: Is it essential we follow the time schedule of Genesis 1 or is there room to believe God was giving us a framework for believing? The outline Moses gives moves us quickly through the what of creation to get us to the story of the why.
By giving Moses only one chapter to cover something as complex as creation, it’s clear God didn’t want us to know all there was to know about how He created, only that He created. For me, it’s not vital to believe in six-24hr-days or six millennials. It doesn’t change the fact that In the beginning God created…,
2Pet 3:8 But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.
Ps 90:1-4 Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were born or You gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God. You turn man back into dust and say, "Return, O children of men." For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it passes by, or as a watch in the night.
Moses is saying: God is eternal. He is infinite in either direction. He operates beyond time and space. So, give Him time to work His plan. He is not limited by the rules of science and therefore can do whatever it takes to accomplish His purpose.
Can Almighty God create in six-24hr-days? Of course. Nothing is impossible to a God in whom nothing is impossible. Is it required to believe six days? Not as long as I don’t place anything other than God as the Creator and Sustainer of His creation.
But now, let’s consider the creation of mankind and the forming of Adam and Eve.
Gen 1:26 Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth." God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Two words catch our attention: man and created.
The word for man used here, in Hebrew, is Adom. The Adam we will learn about later is simply the name man turned into a proper name. But in this section, it means man in general, not a specific man. There is no article defining “the man” or “a man.” It’s the same when we talk about man and really mean all of mankind and not just the male.
God created mankind in His own image and made mankind both male and female. And opened up to them the world He had created, giving them freedom to take charge of this world (subdue it) because everything they would need to survive on the earth has been provided. Live, enjoy and reproduce.
There is no similarity between the position of mankind evolving from other creatures and mankind being created by God. One is a sequence of mindless changes to make the most complex of all creation from the gene pool of other creatures. Compare that with the magnificence of God’s design of mankind as the height of His creation. After each other segment He said, “It is good.” But after He created mankind, He said, “It is very good.”
That means to God, each person born is a “very good” creation. Regardless of the circumstances behind how that person comes into existence, that person comes bearing the image of God. That’s why abortion is so radically opposed in Scripture. It denies the purpose behind every birth. Abortion says life is meaningless. God says no, it isn’t.
Ps 139:13-17 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
All of mankind fits into the picture of creation as that which reflects the image of God. It doesn’t make them a child of God but it does lift them above everything else in all of creation and makes them a target for His love.
This is where Adam and Eve come into the picture. If you’ll permit me, and hang on with me, Adam and Eve were unique and specific creations, separate from the creation of mankind, unique to God’s grand scheme. God introduced mankind to the earth as physical creatures and let them multiply and subdue. But mankind was comprised of men and women connected by image yet separated from relationship with God. Adam and Eve enjoyed both image and relationship with God in the Garden.
The Bible calls mankind natural men. People caught between their creation and the fulfillment for why they were created. They were created to know God, yet: 1Cor 2:14 a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.
Though the natural man struggles to grasp any sense of a spiritual connection in life, there remains a tug toward the God he cannot reach by his own efforts. Every society throughout history has had some type of religion blended into their culture. As extreme as many of those religions were, they were, at their basis, an attempt to find God.
Rom 1:19-20 that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
Created with a desire for a God but separated from Him, they would never be able to personally know God until the way to God was made possible.
Since God’s ultimate plan, predetermined before the foundation of the world: that we would be holy and blameless before Him, required the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. But to get to that moment, God needed a family through whom He would make that happen. That family would originate in Adam and Eve. They were the beginning of the spiritual fulfillment of God’s plan.
The Bible gives two lineages specific to Jesus. One is through Joseph for documentation and legitimacy. It starts with Abraham, which gave Him his Jewish connection. The other is through Mary. It traces her lineage backwards to Adam, which connected Jesus with the plan God set before the foundation of the world. That’s why I see Adam with a specific beginning, separate from mankind, uniquely specific to God’s plan. God created Natural Mankind first then the Spiritual man, Adam, producing the distinction between the sons of men and the Family of God.
The Bible is the story of that Family of God living within the world of natural men, yet following a specific trail that requires them to live by faith and will culminate in Jesus.
The distinction of Adam from the rest of mankind comes in the word associated with God making mankind: create. It is the same word used in Gen 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. It is creation that results from God speaking something into existence.
Gen 1:27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
But the word changes for the specific creation of Adam: Gen 2:7 Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
The new word is formed. It means fashioned from available material. God formed Adam of dust from the ground.
Little boy heard the pastor explaining the dust aspect of life. Adam came from dust and we will return to dust after we die. He yelled at his mom to come into his bedroom. “Mom, look under my bed. There’s either somebody coming or going under here.”
This word formed required a different process than the spoken creation of mankind. It is the specific, unique forming of a man and by extension his family line through which eventually will come the Messiah and Savior of the World.
You get the same perspective with Eve: Gen 2:21-22 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.
And she has been a pain in his side ever since. No. Matthew Henry says: “She was not made out of his head to surpass him, nor from his feet to be trampled on by him, but from his side to be equal to him, and near his heart to be dear to him.”
Formed and fashioned are different from create. God is doing something more specific.
So, Adam wasn’t the first human created? What about 1Cor 15:45 So also it is written, "The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL." The word Paul used for first doesn’t mean first in counting order, but first in significance – the prototype, the first of his unique kind from which others will follow.
When we place Adam’s formation in with Mankind’s creation we run into problems. One will be the timeline; another is DNA which explains the diversity of mankind. But the greatest problem is the distinction between the physical aspect of populating the earth and the spiritual aspect of God’s ultimate plan.
For mankind, God gave no commands, only instructions for living within a physical world. Instructions are guidelines for life. But for Adam, God gave a command: don’t eat from the Tree of Good and Evil. A command is a specific law with spiritual implications.
To see this more clearly, we need both the OT and NT. Because of the NT, we can understand difficult sections of the OT. We also need the OT to make certain parts of the NT clearer. Both give clarity and understanding to the other. We learn things later in the NT that don’t even show up in the text of the Old but by using both, we gain the bigger picture of what God was doing. The story of Adam is one of those stories it takes both the OT and NT to understand.
For example, we don’t find out the real problem Adam and Eve’s disobedience caused until Paul explains it in the NT. The OT doesn’t mention sin but reveals consequences. There was clearly a different standard God placed on Adam that He didn’t place on the rest of mankind. Why? He was shaping and defining a specific family through which He would accomplish His ultimate plan. This family would experience God’s personal involvement in their live. Sin and consequences would become crucial in God dealing with His people.
Gen 2:7-8 Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed.
Adam was a specific formation of God. He had a different beginning – formed from the dust from the ground instead of being spoken into existence. He also had a different place to live – God put him in the Garden. He had a command instead of instructions – don’t eat from the Tree. And he had a different purpose – not just populate the earth but live in relationship with God. All of that made Adam unique and separate from the rest of mankind. He was a one-of-a-kind, a one-and-only man, specific to God fulling His purpose for which He created the heavens and the earth in the first place.
- It is essential we give God time to accomplish His purposes. Regardless of when He created, He still took 4000 years to present the Savior to the world.
- One of the hardest disciplines to develop is giving God time to accomplish His purposes in our lives.
- A God in whom nothing was impossible at the beginning can still do the impossible.