Genesis 1:2 – Jesus the True & Faithful Israel

Genesis 1:2 says, “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”

The phrase “…without form and void…” is the Hebrew phrase ‘tohu vabowhoo.’ I know a seminary professor who teaches Hebrew who used to look out over his students lamenting their lack of ability to retain the Hebrew language and say about them ‘tohu vabowhoo.’

But back to the point, in Genesis 1:2 we’re introduced to the Person of the Holy Spirit, and are told that He is hovering over the dark and deep waters. The word for Spirit in Hebrew is ‘ruach’ which could also be translated as ‘wind’ or ‘breath.’ Question: where else do we see the Holy Spirit hovering over water in the Bible?

I’ll give you five occurrences. We see it 1) Genesis 7:15 when it says the ‘breath of life’ entered the ark safely, 2) Genesis 7:22 when the ‘breath of all life’ on the dry land died because of the flood, 3) Genesis 8:1 when a ‘strong wind’ blew the flood waters back and caused the flood to recede, 4) Exodus 14:21 where another ‘strong wind’ blew the waters of the red sea to drive them back making way for God’s people to safely go through, and 5) Matthew 3:16-17 when the Spirit of God hovered over the Son of God at His baptism in the Jordan.

All these uses exist to show us a pattern which God purposely uses to prepare His people for the coming of the Messiah. Meaning, that as we see the act of creation in Genesis 1:2 where the Spirit hovers over the water, we see the same thing when the Holy Spirit brings the people of God to safety during Noah’s flood and the parting of the Red Sea. It is not a coincidence that we find all of this same Genesis 1:2 activity when we see the Son of God Jesus Christ at His baptism.

Matthew 3:16-4:1 says, “And when Jesus was baptized, immediately He went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on Him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.’ Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” Note that just as the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters in Genesis 1:2, the same Spirit of God is blew back the waters of the flood, the waters of the Red Sea, and hovered over the Son of God as He was in the waters of baptism. We’ve already seen new creation in the pairing of Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1, but here in Genesis 1:2 we see more of the new creation theme presenting itself in the Holy Spirit’s activity. Hovering over the waters of Genesis 1:2 and blowing back the waters of the flood shows creation, seeing the Spirit hover over the water’s of Jesus’ baptism shows new creation.

Within this theme we also find something we haven’t mentioned yet. Where did Israel go after they passed through the Red Sea on dry ground? Into the wilderness. Where did Jesus go after His baptism? Into the wilderness, led by the Spirit. Is it a coincidence that we see the almost the exact same Holy Spirit activity at work in the Exodus and Jesus’ baptism? What is this to teach us? The coming of Christ not only brings new creation, it brings a new and greater exodus as well, where God will once again save His people from Satan, sin and death, the greater pharaoh, taking them ultimately to a new and greater promised land in glory. This shows us that Jesus at the beginning of His ministry in Matthew 3 and 4 is re-telling the story of Israel. You see Israel was tempted in the wilderness and almost the whole time they grumbled and complained. Jesus was tempted in the wilderness by the devil himself and remained faithful to God. Lesson? In Exodus 4:22 God calls Israel ‘My firstborn son’ – Jesus is showing that He is the true and faithful Israel (or Son) of God. Because of this He will lead the new and greater exodus in the power of the Holy Spirit.

I am glad to see this, because I know my own sin. The Spirit hovers over deep and dark waters, and we see God by the power of the His Word order and bring life to the darkness. The same was true in the flood, the same was true at the Red Sea, and the same is true in our salvation – God, by the power of His Spirit, brings life and light where there was only death and darkness before.

Rejoice Church, there are no aspects of creation, including those of disorder and wickedness, over which God is not ultimately bringing a redemptive order.

3 Grand Realities in Genesis 1:1

Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Note the following:

First, notice the difference between the way Moses begins Genesis and the way a common fairy tale begins. Moses says, “In the beginning…”, how do fairy tales begin? “Once upon a time…” This is meant to teach us that the events of Genesis are a real historical account. Creation, fall, and the promise of redemption, the flood, and the tower of Babel are all real occurrences. Adam and Eve, Noah, and Abraham’s family are all real people.

It is popular in our generation to believe that Adam and Eve, the garden, the serpent, Noah, the flood, and basically the events of Genesis 1-11 are nothing more than mere myth, given to us in Scripture to teach us lessons, not to tell us real history. The reality lost in believing chapters 1-11 are filled with myth and real historical people who encountered real historical events is that we lose the greatest thing that could ever be given to us, the gospel itself. I am not overstating my case here. If we don’t believe Adam and Eve were real people what do we believe the fall was? A metaphor meant to teach us a greater lesson? That the fall of man is a figurative dilemma and not a realistic death? If that’s the case, do we really need a Savior to come and die for sinners if sin is merely a metaphor and not reality? Adam foreshadowed Christ, in that just as sin passed to all men through Adam, so too in Jesus, righteousness passes to all who believe.  If Adam and Eve weren’t real people, if they didn’t really exist, there is no need for salvation because no fall would have taken place, and sin would have not entered the world.  If sin never entered the world, there is no need for salvation, and if there is no need for salvation there is no need for Christ, and where there is no need for Christ there is no life to be found at all.

We must see the necessary implication on the gospel if we deny the existence of Adam and Eve.  To love the gospel is to love the historical reality of our first parents. So bound up with the reality of the first Adam is the grander reality of the Second Adam. If we lose the first, we lose the Second. Do not be fooled, this is a slippery slope. If we see Adam and Eve as myth, what’s next? Noah? The flood? The Exodus? The Cross? As soon as we give way to the false notion that Genesis 1-11 are myth, it is really only a matter of time before we begin to believe the entire Bible is just a grand legend someone made up.

Second, notice the phrase “In the beginning…” What other Bible book begins with the exact same phrase? The Gospel of John begins like this in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Both the beginning of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament start in the exact same place, in the exact same manner. Seeing this repetition we should ask the question: why? I think the answer is simple: Moses through Genesis means to introduce the work of the Creator in Creation while John in his Gospel means to introduce the work of the Creator in New Creation. Moving from the Creator’s in creation to the Creator’s work in new creation is in line with how the New Testament fulfills the Old Testament.

Third, notice that in the phrase “In the beginning…God…created…” we are introduced to the main character of the Genesis narrative, God. We learn much in this introduction. We learn God exists, we learn God is not silent, we learn God is eternal, we learn God is fully independent, and we learn God is powerful and strong. That Moses begins the creation account with the person of God we can conclude that Genesis is more concerned with God the Creator than with the time or details of God’s creation. God, the author of the great play, has walked on the scene. He is about to make the stage on which the drama of redemption will be acted out. This God has made the heavens and the earth.

The Purpose Moses Wrote Genesis

It is largely debated in scholarly circles, and largely believed in popular circles that the first five books of the Bible were written by a group of unknown scholars. This theory is called the Documentary Hypothesis. Because it is not our purpose here to debunk such a view (it’s already been debunked here) I’ll simply state that the Church historical has always held the Documentary Hypothesis to be wrong, and to stand within the historic orthodox Christian position means one sees Moses as the author of the first five books of the Bible.

Now that we’ve accepted Mosaic authorship of the first five books of the Bible, two questions come to us concerning Genesis. When and why did Moses write Genesis?

Moses wrote Genesis sometime during the Israelite Exodus from Egypt or the Israelite wandering in the wilderness. As for why Moses wrote it we again need to remember what we’ve already said. Rather than analyzing Genesis with a view to 21st century scientific questions, we should analyze Genesis within the religious and theological context of the Israelite Exodus and wilderness wandering. If seen in that light we then understand a different meaning behind both the creation account and the book as a whole.

Israel had left Egypt, a land given over to idolatry and paganism. They were preparing to enter into the promise land, a land currently occupied by idolaters and pagans. Genesis would have been a great encouragement to Israel because Genesis begins with God’s people (Adam and Eve) being safe in Eden while Genesis ends with God’s people (Israel) safe in Egypt. Even though Genesis 3-49 is a horrid, wicked, and a sinful family history, God is still leading His people to where He wants them to be. This would’ve comforted the wandering Israelites as they were headed into the unknown promise land.

This also serves to be a great encouragement for the Church, because as Israel was wandering throughout the wilderness toward a promised land, so too the Church is sojourning as aliens in this present world, waiting for God to come and fully usher in the age to come when we will cross the greater ‘Jordan river’ and enter into the greater ‘Canaan.’ Just as God brought Israel to the promised land, so too will He bring the Church to glory.

…Genesis 1:1 tomorrow

Genesis 1-3 = The Entry Point for the Person and Work of Christ

So we’ve come to our first question: if we’re going to reject the two majority viewpoints or interpretations of Genesis, how then should we interpret the creation account in Genesis 1-3 and the rest of Genesis?

To answer that question we must ask another, and upon answering this other question we find our answer to the first. This other question is this: what is the purpose of Genesis? Is its purpose scientific? Is its purpose historical? Or is it something else? I think the correct answer is not a scientific approach, or a completely overly literalistic historical approach. Rather, we should see Genesis as having a theological purpose. Don’t misunderstand me, of course Genesis is intended to convey information, but it’s meant to convey theological information not scientific information. And of course Genesis is intended to convey historical information, but we should see its history not as general history about the earth or its age, we should see it as redemptive history. So since we should see Genesis as having a theological purpose, conveying redemptive history to its readers, our purpose comes closer into view.

So, laying my cards on the table for you to see, I think (and clearly I believe you should think as well) that the book of Genesis should be approached and interpreted Christologically, that is, through the lens of the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. If we embrace this idea we then see that Genesis, and specifically Genesis 1-3, isn’t the science book of the Bible, but “the entry point to the Person and Work of Christ.” (J.V. Fesko)

Alister McGrath agrees and says, “…before setting out the concepts of creation found in the Old Testament, it is important to establish a fundamental point of interpretation. For Christians, the Old Testament is to be read in the light of the New Testament, and especially in the light of Christ.” E.J. Young also agrees and says the Bible “…always places creation in the light of the central fact of redemption, Christ Jesus. When we examine the first chapter of Genesis in the light of other parts of Scripture, it becomes clear that the intention is not to give a survey of the process of creation, but to permit us to see the creative activity of God in the light of His saving acts…”

I believe this is how we should approach and interpret Genesis and I believe this is how we approach every other book in the Bible, because this is how the Bible itself states we should interpret it.

For example: Romans 5:14 says, “Adam, was a type of the One who was to come.” 1 Cor. 15:45-49 makes a strong connection and contrast between the work of Adam and the work of Jesus, going so far as calling Jesus the ‘last Adam.’ Also Luke 24:27 says, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, Jesus interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” We learn from these verses (and many more we’ll study in a moment) that in the person and failed work of the first man Adam we get a preview or foreshadow of the Person and successful Work of the ‘last Adam’ the God-Man Jesus Christ. In other words, Adam was a type of Christ and in reading the Genesis account we should see that typological (foreshadowing) theme presenting itself to us.

This is the aim of redemptive history. It shows us that a true understanding of mankind can only be gained in an understanding of the true Man Jesus Christ. It shows us that the work of the first Adam prepares the way for the greater work of the second Adam. In this manner the work of the two Adams are inseparably connected, so much so that one cannot read truly Genesis rightly without giving attention to the work the two Adams. This was how Jesus preached. He Himself proclaimed from all of Scripture, how all of Scripture found its consummation in Him.

Therefore, we have our exercise before us. Searching through Genesis to see how it lays the groundwork, prepares us, and foreshadows Jesus Christ through types and shadows giving us the entry point to His Person and Work. To that exercise we now turn.

…more tomorrow

How Should We Interpret Genesis 1-3?

Martin Luther once wrote the following about Genesis, “The first chapter is written in the simplest language; yet it contains matters of the utmost importance and very difficult to understand. It was for this reason, as St. Jerome asserts, that among the Hebrews it was forbidden for anyone under thirty to read the chapter or to expound it to others.”

Dr. Steven Lawson once said, “Tell me what you believe about Genesis 1-3 and I will tell you what you believe about the rest of the Bible.”

These two quotes have been proven true again and again simply because throughout Church history there have been many interpretations of Genesis, especially of the first three chapters. Drawing the attention of both Christians and non-Christians alike, and the peculiar thing about Genesis is that most everyone thinks they know what Genesis teaches. Ask anyone in the western world what the book of Genesis teaches and you’ll probably hear something like, “Genesis teaches how God made the world,” “Genesis is about what Christians believe about the planet’s origin,” “Genesis shows how God created everything.” To a degree these answers are correct. But, though Genesis does speak of God’s creative action in making all things I think there is much more to Genesis than merely how God created the world. In fact, I would say the rest of the Bible gives us a framework as to how we should not only think about Genesis, but interpret Genesis as well.

But before we can dig into the text of Genesis itself, we must do some groundwork first not only to see what the controversies are, but also to see the Christ-centered approach we’re to take today. Much of the controversy surrounding Genesis as a whole and Genesis 1-3 is directly related to two things: science and the length of the creation days. These two things are obviously related. If one believes in evolution you’ll be prone to see the days of creation as long periods of time if you see creation as a work of God at all. So too, if one rejects the theory of evolution you’ll most likely be prone to see the days of creation shorter periods of time detailing the acts of God in creating the world. There has been and still is today two main viewpoints the Church takes on the Genesis account.

1) Old Princeton:

B.B. Warfield and Charles Hodge were and perhaps still are the largest voices of this viewpoint. They taught the evolutionary theories of Charles Darwin and Moses’ account in Genesis 1-3 were in harmony with one another. They believed God created everything ex nihilo (out of nothing), but once all was made in that initial creation everything else, including man’s body, developed in an evolutionary fashion. Or you could say it like this: God was the first cause while evolution was the secondary cause. Many people believe the reason they believed and taught these things was the apparent contradiction between the Genesis account of creation in 6 days and the evidence of geology, which tries to show that the earth is much older. In an effort to reconcile these two positions Warfield and Hodge believed the word ‘day’ in Genesis 1 refers to indefinite periods of time rather than 6 24-hour periods. Others in more modern times (i.e. Hugh Ross) have rehashed this view labeling it the ‘Day-Age view’ which you can probably deduce from the name, refers to the idea that a day could have lasted an entire age in Genesis 1.

2) Creation Science:

Opposed to that first view is the view called ‘Creation Science’ put forth by Henry Morris. Morris says ‘the only way to interpret Genesis 1 is to not interpret it at all, but rather, simply accept it as it is.’ 6 literal 24-hour days in which God made all things. He goes further. Morris also believes Genesis 1 stands alone as credible scientific data, giving us everything that constitutes our physical universe. I want you to see that what Morris is doing is far more subtle than simply trying to reconcile science and the Bible. Morris is teaching that the most prominent purpose of Genesis is to be the science book of the Bible, giving us all the scientific data we need to know about the creation of the world. Morris once said, “The Bible believing Christian goes to the Bible for his basic orientation in all departments of truth. The Bible is his textbook of science as well as his guide to spiritual truth.”

Now, you should know that I disagree with both of these views, and I think you should reject them also because at root of both is the belief that Scripture must be either reconciled with science or Scripture must be saying something scientific in order to have relevant meaning for us today.

We ought to reject as error any view of the Bible that makes the Bible bow to another agenda other than its own, even if the entire world seems to be going the other direction. Warfield and Hodge saw the evolutionary and geological evidence in nature and were pushed to redefine Biblical terms in Genesis 1. Henry Morris saw the evolutionary and geological evidence in nature and was pushed to see the Bible as his own science book. The world around these men drastically impacted how they interpreted Scripture.

We need to be reminded that Scripture and Scripture alone interprets Scripture. Or as the Westminster Confession 1.9 says, “The infallible rule of interpretation of Scripture is the Scripture itself: and therefore, when there is a question about the true and full sense of any Scripture, it must be searched and known by other places in Scripture that speak more clearly.” This is our goal as Bible readers: interpreting the text as Jesus intends us to. Doing this does not mean we try to make Jesus appear in every verse, but to show where every verse properly fits into redemptive history. Jesus is the Chief and culminating figure on this stage. This stage is set for Him, and all that transpires on the stage relates to Him.

Therefore we do not fully understand any passage of Scripture until we’ve identified its relation to Him.

…more tomorrow.

Moving Too Much? Or Not Moving Enough?

In Genesis 3:16 God tells the woman that her “...desire will be for her husband.”

The original Hebrew carries a weight to this word “for” that is not always present in the english.  It could very well mean,“…your desire will be against your husband.”  Against?  Yes.  Prior to this point in history, the woman was Adam’s helpmate, submitting to him for the sake of spreading God’s image throughout the world.  Now, it is not so.  Sin has come, and has radically impacted and reversed the roles of men and women.

Where men originally were leaders, they now follow Adam and shrink away from doing what they were made to do, leading.  Where women originally were followers, they now follow Eve and move forward too much toward taking Adam’s role as her own.  In both cases, it is sin to act out of our natural roles.  Men are too quick to hide and be passive, and don’t act like men.  Rather than encouraging men to do what they were made to do, women too quickly take over the reigns, and don’t act like women.

Don’t hear me as a woman-hater or a man lover, but as Biblical.

There are massive truths that manhood portrays about God, like His justice, and His faithfulness to always show up in time of need.  Also, there are massive truths that womanhood portrays about God, like His mercy, grace, love, and tenderness.  Manhood cannot show certain things about God that womanhood gloriously does, and visa-versa.  Larry Crabb has seen this as well and made a comment I agree with, “There is something in Biblical manhood that needs to start moving and there is something in Biblical womanhood that needs to stop moving.”

So I ask you, are you not moving enough, or moving too much?

How Involved Is God in the Details of Your Life?

How Involved Is God in the Details of Your Life?

From Jon Bloom over at the Desiring God Blog, this is worth your time.

Why does God give us more details about Joseph’s life than any other individual in Genesis?

Genesis has an interesting structure. It zooms over the creation account like a rocket (about 3% of the book), soars over the millennia between Adam and Abraham like a jet (about 15% — dropping speed and altitude over Noah), and cruises over Abraham (21%), Isaac (8%), and Jacob (23%) like a helicopter, hovering here and there. Then it sort of drives down the road of Joseph’s life, devoting to it nearly 30% of its content.

God is always intentional in his proportionality. More does not necessarily equal more important in God’s word economy. The epistle to the Ephesians is much shorter than the narrative of Joseph’s life, but it is not less important. However, more does imply take note. There are crucial things God wants us to see.

God has many reasons to drive us through Joseph’s life, some more obvious than others. Let’s look at one perhaps lesser obvious reason.

Sightings of Sovereignty in the Life of Joseph

On this drive, if we’re paying attention to the scenery out the windows, we see a startling and unnerving level of God’s providential involvement in the details of Joseph’s life. Here are some of the scenes (warning: some of these scenes you may find disturbing).

  • Joseph’s place in the Patriarchal birth order was part of God’s plan (Genesis 30:22–24).
  • This means Rachel’s agonizing struggle with infertility was part of God’s plan (Genesis 30:1–2).
  • Jacob’s romantic preference of Rachel and therefore his (probably paternally insensitive) favoritism shown to Joseph was part of God’s plan (Genesis 29:30, 37:3).
  • Joseph’s prophetic dreams were (obviously) part of God’s plan (Genesis 37:5–11).
  • His brothers’ jealously (note: sibling rivalry and family conflict) was part of God’s plan Genesis 37:8).
  • His brothers’ evil, murderous, greedy betrayal of him, and Judah’s part in it, was part of God’s plan (Genesis 37:18–28, 50:20).
  • His brothers’ 20-plus year deception of Jacob regarding Joseph was part of God’s plan.
  • The existence of an evil slave trade at the time was part of God’s plan (Genesis 37:26–27).
  • Potiphar’s complicity with the slave trade and his position in Egypt was part of God’s plan (Genesis 37:36).
  • Joseph’s extraordinary administrative gifting was part of God’s plan (Genesis 39:2–4).
  • Joseph’s favor with Potiphar was part of God’s plan (Genesis 39:4–6).
  • Potiphar’s wife’s being given over to sexual immorality was part of God’s plan (Genesis 39:8–12, Romans 1:24).
  • Potiphar’s wife’s dishonesty was part of God’s plan (Genesis 39:14–18).
  • Potiphar’s unjust judgment of Joseph was part of God’s plan (Genesis 39:19–20).
  • The particular prison Joseph was sent to — the one that would receive the cupbearer and the baker — was part of God’s plan (Genesis 39:20).
  • Joseph’s favor with the prison warden was part of God’s plan (Genesis 39:21–23).
  • The high-level conspiracy and its exposure resulting in the imprisonment of Pharaoh’s cupbearer and baker was part of God’s plan (Genesis 40:1–3).
  • Joseph being appointed to care for them was part of God’s plan (Genesis 40:4).
  • The dreams the cupbearer and baker had were (obviously) part of God’s plan (Genesis 40:5).
  • Joseph’s compassionate care for their troubled hearts was part of God’s plan (Genesis 40:6–7).
  • Their trusting Joseph’s integrity enough to confide their dreams in him was part of God’s plan (Genesis 40:8–20).
  • Joseph discerning the meaning of their dreams was part of God’s plan (Genesis 40:12–13, 18–19)
  • The Egyptian judicial processes that exonerated the cupbearer and condemned the baker were part of God’s plan (Genesis 40:20–22).
  • The cupbearer failing to remember Joseph for two years was part of God’s plan (Genesis 41:23–41:1).
  • The timing of Pharaoh’s dreams was part of God’s plan (Genesis 41:1–7).
  • The inability of Pharaoh’s counselors to discern his dreams was part of God’s plan (Genesis 41:8).
  • The cupbearer remembering Joseph and having the courage to remind Pharaoh of a potentially suspicious event was part of God’s plan (Genesis 41:9–13).
  • Pharaoh’s being desperate enough to listen to a Hebrew prisoner was part of God’s plan (Genesis 41:14–15).
  • Joseph having discernment of Pharaoh’s dreams was part of God’s plan (Genesis 40:25–32).
  • The miraculous amount of immediate trust that Pharaoh placed in Joseph’s interpretation and counsel was part of God’s plan (Genesis 41:37–40).
  • Joseph being given Asenath (an Egyptian) for a wife was part of God’s plan (Genesis 41:45).
  • Joseph’s two sons by Asenath, Manasseh and Ephraim, were part of God’s plan (Genesis 41:50–52, 48:5).
  • The complex confluence of natural phenomena that caused the extraordinarily fruitful years followed by the extraordinarily desolate years, with all the resulting human prosperity and suffering, and the consolidation of Egyptian wealth and power in Pharaoh’s hands were part of God’s plan (Genesis 41:53–57; 47:13–26).
  • The threat of starvation that caused terrible fear and moved Jacob to send his sons to Egypt for grain was part of God’s plan (Genesis 42:1–2).
  • The brothers’ safe journey to Egypt and Benjamin’s non-participation was part of God’s plan (Genesis 42:3–4).
  • The brothers’ bowing to Joseph in unwitting fulfillment of the dreams they hated was part of God’s plan (Genesis 42:6).
  • Joseph’s whole scheme to test his brothers was part of God’s plan (Genesis 42:9–44:34).
  • Simeon’s being chosen to remain in Egypt was part of God’s plan (Genesis 42:24). Jacob’s refusal to release Benjamin to return to Egypt causing the delay of the brothers’ return and Simeon’s bewildering experience in custody was part of God’s plan (Genesis 42:38).
  • The relentless threat of starvation that prompted Judah to make his personal guarantee of Benjamin’s safe return and forced Jacob to finally allow Benjamin go to Egypt was part of God’s plan (Genesis 43:8–14).
  • The success with which Joseph was able to continue to conceal his identity and pull off the framing of Benjamin for thievery and all the anguish the brothers experienced as a result was part of God’s plan (Genesis 43:15–44:17).
  • Judah’s willingness to exchange his life for Benjamin’s out of love for his father, and thus initiating his own sale into slavery like he initiated Joseph’s sale into slavery, was part of God’s plan (Genesis 44:18–34).
  • Joseph’s timing in revealing himself to his brothers was part of God’s plan (Genesis 45:1–14).
  • Jacob being told by his sons of Joseph’s survival and position in Egypt (and the exposure of his sons’ 20-plus-year deceit with all the accompanying pain) was part of God’s plan (Genesis 45:25-28).
  • God directing Jacob to move to Egypt was (obviously) part of God’s plan (Genesis 46:2–4).
  • The relocation of the entire clan of Israel to Egypt, where they would reside and grow for 430 years and eventually become horribly enslaved, thus fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham in Genesis 15:13–-14, was part of God’s plan (Genesis 46:5–47:12).

If we wished, there are more sightings we could include from this drive. But these give us a lot to chew on.

Joseph’s Life and Yours

Joseph had a unique role to play in redemptive history. But God’s intricate involvement in Joseph’s life is not unique to yours. One of the many reasons God gives us a close-up of Joseph’s life is to show us how active he is, how he never leaves us or forsakes us all along the way, in both the good and the evil things we experience (Hebrews 13:5).

Joseph knew God’s nearness when he woke from his prophetic dreams and probably when he experienced remarkable favor. But how near did God feel to Joseph in the pit of his brothers’ betrayal, or shackled in the Ishmaelite caravan, or when falsely accused of attempted rape, or stuck for years in the king’s prison, forgotten? Yet we see that God was there all the time working all things together for good for Joseph and millions of others (Romans 8:28).

Yes, God was even working the evil, heinous things people did to Joseph for good. We can say that because that’s precisely what Joseph himself said to his brothers about their betrayal of him, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20).

The detailed narrative of Joseph’s life, among many other things, is a loving letter from your Good Shepherd (John 10:11) — the same Good Shepherd who guided Joseph through green pastures and the valley of the shadow of death, pursuing him with good all the days of his life (Psalm 23) — to remind you that no matter what you are experiencing, sweet or bitter, good or evil, no matter how long it’s lasting, he has not left you alone (John 14:8). He is with you (Psalm 23:4), he is working all things together for good (Romans 8:28), and he will be with you to the end (Matthew 28:20).

Abraham, Moses, Paul, and Jesus – Unified Entirety

A Brief Description Denoting the Intricate Relationship, Comparison, and Connection of the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants in Direct Relation to their Application to the Letter of Paul to the Church in Galatia, particularly 3:15-18

Galatians 3:15-18

“To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified.  Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ.  This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void.  For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.”

Definitions

1) Abrahamic Covenant: Where God promised: 1) To make of Abraham a great nation and bless Abraham and make his name great so that he will be a blessing, to bless those who bless him and curse him who curses him. All peoples on earth will be blessed through Abraham. 2) To give Abraham’s descendants all the promised land. 3) To make Abraham the father of many nations and of many descendants and give “the whole land of Canaan” to his descendants. (See Genesis 12-17) Circumcision is to be the permanent sign of this everlasting covenant with Abraham and his male descendants.

2) Mosaic Covenant: Where God promises to make the Israelites His treasured possession among all people and to make them a kingdom of priests and a holy nation if they follow God’s commandments (Exodus 19-24).

The Relation of the Covenants to Galatians 3:15-18

God made a covenant promise to Abraham and this promise will stand forever. Because God made another covenant promise with His people through Moses at Sinai does not mean the former covenant made to Abraham is void and no longer needed. The two covenants, though different in content and application for the people of God, find their the fulfillment in Jesus. The Abrahamic Covenant is fulfilled in Jesus, because He is the one Descendant who’ll bless all the families of the earth (Genesis 12:3). The Mosaic Covenant is fulfilled in Jesus, because He is only One who can keep the Law of God, which points out our need for Christ (Galatians 3:24) and reveals the righteousness provided to us through His Law-keeping (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Bottom line? When God interacts with His people He does so through covenant. All of the covenants (Covenant of Works, Covenant of Grace, Noahic Covenant, Abrahamic Covenant, Mosaic Covenant, Davidic Covenant, and the New Covenant) contain requirements of the people of God, and more so exist to point to Jesus, find their fulfillment in Jesus, and reveal glorious things about Jesus.

The Grace of This Catches Us Off Guard

As I was reading the other day a footnote from Genesis 48:1-22 caught me off guard, and I was encouraged in the grace of God over my life.  The footnote is on page 69 of the Gospel Transformation Bible, which is by the best study Bible I’ve ever owned.  Here it is:

“We also see once more, as we have seen throughout Genesis, a reiteration of Genesis 1:28, the mandate to be fruitful and multiply.  Yet throughout Genesis the divine mandate, originally given to Adam and Eve, gradually becomes transferred to the Lord Himself – it is God who will cause His people to be fruitful and multiply.  The grace of this catches us off guard – what God has called His people to do, He undertakes to fulfill Himself.  What He demands of us, He does for us.  Such is the way, of course, that God’s gospel works.  All that He demands of us – not only multiplying but the entire keeping of the law – He Himself undertakes for us in His Son Jesus.”

 

 

Fantastical Non-Fiction

Chris Robins:

Genesis 3:22-24
Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.  He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.
I know that we are uncomfortable with the metaphysics implied here, that there was thus and such mystical tree and that its fruit could be eaten in some literal and plain sense that would give you eternal life.  But there you have it.  It sits in the craw of modern sensibility, and so it should.  Let everyone know: such a tree really stands, and not merely in some allegorical or symbolic sense.  Why insist on it?  The story is no fable, and our prejudice against the fabulous is wrong.  Genesis is fantastical, yes.  Fantastical non fiction.  But the story is the thing.  It’s a historical sort of report – there is no “once upon a time” cue to tell us we are reading fairy tales.   So we insist on the tree on its own terms.  Scientific, historic, realistic, and mystic.  But more than that, it has always had to be this real.  All of salvation and eternal life is real.  Real in a tangible, tastable, and biteable sense.   The tree of life is as physical a piece of wood as the cross.  Why?  Because our rescue had to be real, for we were real sinners. What if the tree has an allegorical and symbolic truth? Good! That kind of truth does not reject physical truth.  In the same way we eat communion and believe the molecular mass of bread and wine holds the eternal ineffable truth of God’s love.  The tree stands. No scientific doubt could chop it down.  And so does the cherubim with his flaming sword.  Or perhaps he sheathed it the day our Savior died.  These are the physics of faith.  And as real as Einstein’s math.  And because that tree had bark, and the snake had words that bite – we have a Savior that bled and died on timber – and rose again from death.  Fantastical non fiction indeed.  We live and pray and walk with fabulous truths: a God stoops and hears all we say.

X: Ex-Nihilo Matters for Holiness

I know “ex-nihilo” does not officially begin with an X, but I couldn’t think of a topic beginning with an X (if you can, let me know!), so I figured this was just as good.

So what does ex-nihilo mean? Ex-nihilo, or “out of nothing” refers to how God created the world in Genesis 1. Why does that matter? Because this shows us that God created something out of nothing. The world was formless and void, and God took what was void and made it into something useful, where people can live. This applies to Israel and to us in different ways. To Israel, this meant that what God did at creation (creating something out of nothing) He can do again now with them. You see Israel was a sinful, rebellious people, wandering through a “formless waste” called the wilderness (Deut. 32:10). They would have read Genesis 1 and been encouraged that God could bring them, who were wandering through a formless land, into a land flowing with milk and honey. God would take Israel from being nothing to something. Genesis 1 therefore prepared Israel to enter into the promise land.

To us, it means something similar but different. We are living in a world that is in a sense “formless and void” because we live among people who disregard God and His commands. We, like Israel, are looking forward to the day when we are brought into a land better and greater than the land we now inhabit. But there’s more. We are sinful, rebellious people like Israel. Because of this, we are formless and void in our souls. BUT, the moment we trust in Jesus God does in us what He did at creation – turned nothing into something. Paul draws on this in 2 Corinthians 4:6 when he says:

For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

You see how Paul brings Genesis 1 into our own salvation? God said “Let there be light” back at creation turning the empty void into a fruitful paradise. BUT MORE, God said, “Let there be light” in our hearts when we believed in Jesus giving us a taste for the glory of God in the face of Jesus. God, in us, has made nothing into something. Our hearts used to be barren, rocky, empty, and void, but now our hearts are an oasis of fruitful paradise. Where does holiness come into this? It is out of this new garden paradise in our hearts, that holy living flows.

God created holiness in us in an ex-nihilo manner.

Moving Too Little? Moving Too Much?

In Genesis 3:16 God tells the woman that her “...desire will be for her husband.” The original Hebrew carries a weight to this word “for” that is not always present in the English.  It could very well mean, “…your desire will be against your husband.”  Against?  Yes.  Prior to this point in history, the woman was Adam’s helpmate, submitting to him for the sake of spreading God’s image throughout the world.  Now, it is not so.  Sin has come, and has radically impacted and reversed the roles of men and women.

Where men originally were leaders, they now follow Adam and shrink away from doing what they were made to do, leading.  Where women originally were followers, they now follow Eve and move forward too much toward taking Adam’s role as her own.  In both cases, it is sin to act outside of our natural roles.  Men are too quick to hide, and not act like men.  Rather than encouraging men to do what they were made to do, women too quickly take over the reigns, and not act like women.

Don’t hear me as a woman-hater or a man lover, but as Biblical.  There are massive truths that manhood portrays about God, like His justice, and His faithfulness to always show up in time of need.  Also, there are massive truths that womanhood portrays about God, like His mercy, grace, love, and tenderness.  Manhood cannot show certain things about God that womanhood gloriously does, and visa-versa.  Larry Crabb has seen this as well and made a comment I agree with, “There is something in Biblical manhood that needs to start moving and there is something in Biblical womanhood that needs to stop moving.”

So I ask you, are you not moving enough, or moving too much?

Inside Abraham’s Head: DO YOU KNOW?

The other week I was listening to a radio/podcast program called Radiolab.  I’m sure many of you have heard about it, its quite a good program.  The program for that particular day was called “In Silence”.  One of the main guys that talks everyday on the show was re-telling the story of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac from Genesis 22, and MAN was it it good!  He is Jewish of course, so he really did a good job bringing out all the things he thought were in the story but not really out front for us to see.  He really tried to press inside Abraham’s head during the journey to Moriah and as he was about to kill Isaac to find out what he could have been thinking.  But after doing such a marvelous job of re-telling the story, the speaker simply did not know what the story meant, or what it was supposed to be telling us or teaching us.  He is Jewish after all, so he would not see the connections to Jesus being our sacrifice, the Lamb that God provided for us.  This made me think, what does the NT further reveal about what Abraham was thinking on the journey and as he was about to kill his son?  We can go to two places:

Romans 4:19-21, “Without becoming weak in faith he contemplated his own body, now as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old, and the deadness of Sarah’s womb; yet, with respect to the promise of God, he did not waver in unbelief but grew strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform.” This of course is referring to the time when God told Abraham and Sarah that Isaac would be born one day.  ”The promised child would come” Abraham thought, even though he and his wife were “as good as dead”.  Imagine Abraham journeying to kill this promised son of his.  ”Why?” was probably the biggest word on his mind that day.  But there’s more than why.

Hebrews 11:17-19, “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; it was he to whom it was said, “IN ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS SHALL BE CALLED.”  He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.” There was more than asking “why?” that day.  Abraham knew that God’s promise was bigger than death itself, so he knew that if God had to raise Isaac from the dead, He would do it to keep His promise.

Death cannot stop God’s promise, that is one of the lessons we learn from Genesis 22.  I think God did this to show us that when He killed His own begotten Son one day, that death could not even hold the promise down.  The Radiolab guy didn’t know this, do you know it?

The Purpose of Genesis May be Different Than You Think

What is the purpose of Genesis? If I asked you this what would you tell me? I recently asked a friend about this and this was his response, “The story of our beginning, of creation.” I responded and said that he was not wrong, creation is in there for sure, but I did say that he was missing something in the grand picture of Genesis.

The grand purpose of Genesis can be seen when we notice that it was Moses who wrote the book. This matters because what else did Moses write? He wrote the entire Torah as well. Most people will say that Moses wrote Exodus through Deuteronomy to prepare the people of Israel to enter the promise land, but always exclude Genesis from this purpose believing it to be written to describe the story of creation alone. This should not be done.

I think Genesis should be included with the rest of the Torah as regards to its purpose as a whole. Therefore this means Genesis was written to prepare the people of Israel to enter into the promise land along with the other books in the Torah. How? Genesis begins with Gods people dwelling safely in Eden, is then filled with all sorts of sin, and ends with Gods people dwelling in safety in Egypt.

What then was Israel supposed to learn from Genesis? That God is still with them, that God really does keep His promises, and that God really means to encourage them as they enter the land He’s giving them. No matter what sin happens to them, around them, or even from them, God will still take them exactly where He wants them to be.

How are we to be encouraged today from the book of Genesis? Rather than merely focusing on Genesis as a scientific argument for creation over evolution, we ought to be encouraged in a somewhat similar manner to Israel. God is still with us, that God really does keep His promises, and that God really means to encourage us as we live out our lives under His gracious sovereign hand. No matter what sin happens to you, around you, or even from you, God will still take you exactly where He wants you to be. His people always dwell securely and we never need fear over anything that happens in our lives.

This is the God intended purpose of Genesis.