Sunday, August 4, 2013

Genesis 2:4-7 Zeroing In, Not Doing Over

"This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.

When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens --
and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth
and no plant of the field had yet sprung up,
for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth
and there was no man to work the ground,
but streams came up from the earth
and watered the whole surface of the ground --
the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground
and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life,
and the man became a living being."

Genesis 2:4-7  (NIV)

Our first reaction to this part of Genesis may be to wonder why it seems that the book is starting over again.  After all, didn't we just get through Genesis 1:1-Genesis 2:3, which dealt with the six days of creation, and the creation of mankind?  Why now does it seem that the author is beginning to repeat himself?

Critics are quick to point this out with the attitude of  "Aha...see, Genesis is just an assemblage of myths about creation."  Others see this as an indication of  what I will call a "do-over" -- that is, that God created mankind and then there was some kind of gap of time between the two accounts, in which there was a second creation of mankind.  Some have thought that perhaps this allows for evolution and accounts for the supposed branches of mankind (i.e., Neanderthal, etc.).

I don't believe that they have that correct.  There is a much simpler explanation of what appears to be two accounts.  This can be summed up in two words:  literary device.  Instead of Genesis being just a collection of several accounts of man's history, it seems instead that God is just a very skillful Author.  [Which makes sense, because if Someone is God, you would think that He would be quite skilled at, well, everything.]

In this case, the first section of Genesis (1:1- 2:3) covers an account of the story of creation in general (which obviously includes the creation of mankind).  What appears to be a "different" account of  the creation of mankind (Genesis 2:4 and following) is simply a zeroing in upon the history of mankind specifically.  In others of the ten 'accounts' which we find in Genesis, this "zeroing in" continues.  We read accounts of Adam, Noah, Shem, Terah, and Abraham, with whom God made a covenant.  Further Scriptures in other books of the Bible will continue to point ever more specifically to the One who had been promised to Adam and Eve after they had fallen into sin -- the Redeemer who would deliver them, the Messiah.  We will read of Abraham's son Isaac, Isaac's son Jacob, and Jacob's twelve sons who form the nation of Israel.  Judah, one of these sons, has further descendants which lead to King David.  As you probably already know, the Messiah is prophesied to come through the line of David.  Eventually, Jesus Christ comes from this very line.  I will discuss these things in far greater detail eventually, but here I am just trying to give you a quick overview.

It may seem that I have spoiled the story by going all the way to the end where Jesus is revealed to be the Messiah. However, there are countless beautiful and intricate things and events which God has built into His Word which will lead to that conclusion, and I want you to see them.

Just as one example, there are Old Testament scriptures which point to the coming of the Messiah to the temple in Jerusalem.  Remember that account in the Bible [Matthew 21] where Jesus rides into Jerusalem on a donkey, and people are waving palm branches and shouting "Hosanna!"?  Well, other OT Scriptures had predicted in greater detail both the precise time period and the way that this event was to take place.  For this was no ordinary ride into Jerusalem.  This was the Messiah coming unto His own people.  [Which is also why, when the authorities told Jesus to silence the crowds and the children who were proclaiming him as Messiah, He replied that if they were silenced, the very stones would cry out. (Luke 19:28-44)]

Some might say, that Jesus just purposely 'fulfilled' this prophecy by choosing to ride into Jerusalem on a donkey, as prophesied.  However, there is more background to this story.  Do you know about the prophecy in Daniel which indicates that the Messiah would come prior to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple?  If Daniel was a true prophet, then the Messiah would have had to come by the time the destruction took place -- in 70 AD.  There is no other person who both fulfilled the Messianic requirements and arrived before that time, besides Jesus of Nazareth.  I will write a post about these things in greater detail.  Yet I want us to remember that Daniel is respected as a prophet, and that the succession of four major world powers was revealed to him way back in his own time when Babylon was the superpower.

It was revealed to Daniel that Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece and then Rome would fill that position of dominance -- which is exactly what happened.  The test of a true prophet was that their predictions always came to pass.  Daniel had a flawless track record in this regard.  Imagine yourself trying to figure out which nation will be the next superpower.  Then think of how Daniel was able to predict four such superpowers.  Not to mention that he included such detailed descriptions of certain events that critics automatically assumed that the predictions had to have been written after the events, for otherwise they could not understand how such knowledge could be possible.

I believe that Jesus is the only One who could have fulfilled that prophecy about the Messiah coming before the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple.  I know of no one else whose name has been submitted instead for that position and who perfectly fulfilled all the prophecies about himself, including ones which a person could not fake, like those about their ancestry [It's pretty difficult to arrange one's own ancestors!], the time and place of one's own birth and the precise manner and details of one's death.  As I wrote before, other posts will be needed to flesh out these prophecies and the way Jesus fulfilled them, but if one is willing to look, the evidence is graciously, wonderfully, and quite specifically there. 

OK, now back to the passage (Genesis 2:4-7).  Some observations:

  • Man was made by God, who formed man's body from the dust and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.
  • At that point, it seems that rain had not yet occurred.  Instead, the plants and trees were watered by streams which watered the surface of the ground.

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