SS Lesson for 09/09/2018
Devotional Scripture: Ps 136:1-9
The lesson teaches us that God displays His glory through the creation, especially through His Creation in Sky, Sea, and Land. The study's aim is to acknowledge that God is the Creator of all light and life. The study's application is to show that we as Christians can see how the nature of God is reflected in all His creation.
(Adapted from the Bible Expositor and Illuminator Commentary)
Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also.
God’s first creative word produced light. The elegance and majesty of Creation by decree is a refreshing contrast with the bizarre creation stories of the pagans. Here is demonstrated the power of God’s word. It was this word that motivated Israel to trust and obey Him. The light was natural, physical light. Its creation was an immediate victory because it dispelled darkness. Light and darkness in the Bible are also symbolic of good and evil. Here began God’s work which will culminate in the age to come when there will be no darkness (Rev. 22:5). Israel would know that God is Light—and that the Truth and the Way are with Him. In the darkness of Egypt (Ex. 10:21-24) they had light; and in the deliverance they followed His light (Ex. 13:21).
1:6-8. On the second day God separated the atmospheric waters from the terrestrial waters by an arching expanse, the sky. This suggests that previously there had been a dense moisture enshrouding the earth. God’s work involves making divisions and distinctions.
1:9-13. Dry land with its vegetation was formed on the third day. Vegetation is part of the ordered universe of the true God. There is no cyclical, seasonal myth to explain it. God started it, once and for all. Moreover, while pagans believed in deities of the deep as forces to be reckoned with, this account shows that God controls the boundaries of the seas (cf. Job 38:8-11).
1:14-19. Day four included the sun to rule (govern, v. 16) the day and the moon and the stars to rule the night. Either these were created with apparent age, or they had been previously created and were then made visible on the earth on days one and two when God separated light from darkness and waters above from water below. These heavenly bodies were to serve as signs for seasons and days and years (v. 14). These terms, as well as “day” and “night” in verse 5, are meaningless without the existence of the sun and the rotation of the planets. In astrology unbelievers use stars and planets for guidance, but the Bible says they merely display the handiwork of God (Ps. 19:1). What folly to follow astrological charts of the Babylonians or worship the sun god in Egypt; rather, one should trust the One who made these objects in the heavens. However, many humans repeatedly reject the Creator to worship the Creation (Rom. 1:25).
1:20-23. The great creatures of the sea and the air were created on the fifth day. In this section (v. 21) is the second use of bārāʾ (“created”; cf. v. 1). Great creatures of the deep, worshiped as dragons and monsters in the ancient world, were nothing more than creations by Almighty God. Moreover, fertility of life comes from the blessing of the true God (v. 22).
1:24-31. Day six was Creation’s climax for it included mankind. Though man was the last creature mentioned in the account, he did not evolve; he was created. Human life was created in (lit., “as,” meaning “in essence as”) the image of God (v. 27). This image was imparted only to humans (2:7). “Image” (ṣelem) is used figuratively here, for God does not have a human form. Being in God’s image means that humans share, though imperfectly and finitely, in God’s nature, that is, in His communicable attributes (life, personality, truth, wisdom, love, holiness, justice), and so have the capacity for spiritual fellowship with Him. God’s purpose in creating human life in His image was functional: man is to rule or have dominion (1:26, 28). God’s dominion was presented by a “representative.” (Egyptian kings later, in idolatry, did a similar kind of thing: they represented their rule or dominion by making representative statues of themselves.) However, because of sin all things are not under man’s dominion (Heb. 2:8). But Jesus Christ will establish dominion over all the earth (Heb. 2:5-8) at His second coming. God pronounced His blessing on the male and the female: they were to be fruitful and increase in number. In Genesis, to be blessed was to be enriched and fertile. Such marvelous decrees of God would be significant for Israel, that was God’s representative on earth. She would enter the land of promise and would expect God’s continued blessing.
2:1-3. The seventh day was the day of rest, the Sabbath. The structure of verses 2 and 3 in the Hebrew is well ordered in its clauses with parallel emphases on the adjective seventh. The number “seven” often represents the covenant (the verb “swear” is related etymologically); thus it is no surprise that the Sabbath became the sign of God’s covenant at Sinai (Ex. 31:13, 17). God blessed the seventh day and made it holy (sanctified it) because it commemorated the completion or cessation of His creative work. God’s Sabbath rest became a predominant motif of Scripture. Here before the Fall it represented the perfect Creation, sanctified and at rest. After the Fall this rest became a goal to be sought. The establishment of theocratic rest in the land, whether by Moses or by Joshua at the Conquest, demanded faith and obedience. Today believers enter into that Sabbath rest spiritually (Heb. 4:8-10) and will certainly share in its full restoration. The account of Creation, seen through the eyes of the new nation of Israel in Moses’ day, had great theological significance. Out of the chaos and darkness of the pagan world God brought His people, teaching them the truth, guaranteeing them victory over all powers in heaven and earth, commissioning them to be His representatives, and promising them theocratic rest. So too it would encourage believers of all ages.
I used to love leading night hikes at camp. It was one of my camp duties that I truly enjoyed. There was nothing like having thirty campers walking behind me as I took them on a tour of the natural world in the nocturnal hours. I would point out constellations, teach them how bats found their way using sonar, and do activities that were not possible in the daylight hours. The best part for me, however, had nothing to do with the night activities. It had to do with the campers' reactions. When I conducted a night hike, the girls I led usually started out with some measure of fear. They would timidly shuffle along, uncertain of the world at night and my ability to lead them safely in the darkness. By the end, they were walking behind me with complete confidence, even pleasure. There have been times in my life when I have felt as though I were walking in darkness. Like the girls on the night hike, I found myself stumbling along in fear, hesitating to take a step in any direction. I yearned to turn back to safety, to the familiar. When we are walking in the darkness, we may forget that daybreak is merely hours away. When the sun appears, we see our world clearly and walk unafraid (cf. John 11:9). Most of us do not even have to think about how we are placing our feet—we simply go forward. It is when we find ourselves in crisis that we falter. We are lingering in spiritual darkness, afraid to move. We call out in fear, asking God to lift us out of the darkness. What we need to acknowledge is that God is with us in that spiritual night (Ps. 139:11-12). What is our recurring problem? We have failed to trust God. When our way is clear and bright, trust is easy. In darkness, however, He sometimes asks us to do things that make little or no sense. We begin to question His ability to lead us safely through the night of our fears. We become paralyzed and stop moving. The good news is that we can completely trust Him. Scripture tells us that Jesus is the Light of the World (John 8:12). He illuminates our path. As we keep our eyes on Him, we are surrounded by His light. He sees our paths, so He knows which step we should take next and where He is leading. Because of this, we can follow His lead confidently every day. Are you facing darkness in some area of your life? Have you struggled and stumbled around, trying to stay on the path? We do not see things clearly (1 Cor. 13:12), and we cannot trust our own wisdom. We get tired and are tempted to give up, to just stay right there in the darkness. When we do that, we miss out on what He wants to show us. If this sounds familiar, I would encourage you today to give up your stubbornness. Fall back into place behind the Lord and follow. After all, His vision is so much better than ours. His plans for us are always good (cf. Jer. 29:11), and He will not allow us to stumble as we walk with Him. Meanwhile, He has things there for you, even in the darkness. So what are you waiting for? Trust Him, and let Him guide you safely through.
Almost all cultures attempt to answer the question above. But as we saw in last week’s lesson, every proposed answer ultimately takes one of two positions: we trace our origins either (1) to eternally existing impersonal matter or (2) to an eternally existing personal being. Explanations that fall into the latter category are often labeled “myths,” a term that injects an air of untruth into the story. If an explanation is mythical, it can be consigned (some think) to the area of religion and therefore marginalized. Secular culture tells us to keep our religious views separated from the larger issues of our culture. Today this is seen in the apparent conflict between those who adopt a scientific viewpoint that disallows supernatural explanations and those who accept the Bible as God’s revealed Word. Where did we come from? We want to know, and competing explanations are set in opposition. One side explains origins through a theory of a spontaneous “big bang” and billions of years of development. While this theory draws on certain facts derived from scientific investigation, it cannot explain where the matter for a so-called big bang came from. It cannot explain why there are laws of nature that allow this bang and subsequent development. Can there be laws of physics without a lawgiver? The other side listens to the account given in Genesis plus other Bible texts that speak of creation by a Creator. These accounts will not answer every question a scientist might want to ask, but that is not their intent. The biblical account of origins reveals an orderly plan for the creation of the heavens and the earth.
Christians look to Genesis to explain God’s orderly creation of the universe, and this it certainly does. We should not forget, however, that Genesis is also a part of a five-volume set: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. This collection of books, sometimes called the Pentateuch, is associated with Moses. He is the great hero of ancient Israel, and he is the primary character in the books beginning with Exodus (see Luke 24:44). These books answer the question of human origins from the perspective of the nation of Israel. As these books relate the origin and history of Israel, the early chapters of Genesis go all the way back to the origins of humanity as a whole, because the people of Israel have common ancestors with all other peoples. Genesis gives an account of the origins of the world and the universe that surrounds us.
Last week’s lesson took us through the third day of creation. To summarize: day one related the creation of light and its separation from darkness. Day two told of the creation of a vault, a barrier that separates the water above it from the water below it. And day three described the emergence of dry land and the furnishing of this land with vegetation.
14 Then God said, "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years;
15 and let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth"; and it was so.
16 Then God made two great lights: the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night. He made the stars also.
17 God set them in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth,
18 and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.
19 So the evening and the morning were the fourth day.
12 Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.
22 "As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease."
1 The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven. 2 He replied, "When evening comes, you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,' 3 and in the morning, 'Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.' You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.
19 "What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside?
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
16 The day is yours, and yours also the night; you established the sun and moon.
24 This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
5 One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.
26 if I have regarded the sun in its radiance or the moon moving in splendor,
19 And when you look up to the sky and see the sun, the moon and the stars — all the heavenly array — do not be enticed into bowing down to them and worshiping things the Lord your God has apportioned to all the nations under heaven.
3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
29 "Immediately after the distress of those days "'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.'
41 The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.
20 Then God said, "Let the waters abound with an abundance of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the face of the firmament of the heavens."
21 So God created great sea creatures and every living thing that moves, with which the waters abounded, according to their kind, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
22 And God blessed them, saying, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth."
23 So the evening and the morning were the fifth day.
7 "But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; 8 or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. 9 Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? 10 In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.
But no one says, 'Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night, 11 who teaches more to us than to the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds of the air?'
10 for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. 11 I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine. 12 If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it.
6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: 7 all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, 8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.
39 All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another.
24 Then God said, "Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind: cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth, each according to its kind"; and it was so.
25 And God made the beast of the earth according to its kind, cattle according to its kind, and everything that creeps on the earth according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
They had with them every wild animal according to its kind, all livestock according to their kinds, every creature that moves along the ground according to its kind and every bird according to its kind, everything with wings.
37 When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. 38 But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. 39 All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another.
24 How many are your works, O LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. 25 There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number-- living things both large and small.
10 In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind.
19 All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds — everything that moves on the earth — came out of the ark, one kind after another.
I want to be especially careful as we approach this first chapter of the book of Genesis. This past week I read an account of a man who attempted to quote Scripture from our passage as a proof text for smoking pot. Here is the account as given by Christianity Today a couple of years ago:
Arrested in Olathe, Kansas, for possession of the drug, Herb Overton based his defense on Genesis l:29: “and God said, … I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of the earth …”
Judge Earl Jones doubted Overton’s hermeneutics, however. According to a Chicago Tribune account, the judge told the Bible-quoting defendant: “As a mere mortal, I’m going to find you guilty of possession of marijuana. If you want to appeal to a higher authority, that’s fine with me.”
We can all read of such an event and laugh about it. While Herb Overton’s error is comical, there may be a less obvious error of which many Christians may be guilty—and it is not a laughing matter.
This week my attention was arrested by a brief article in Eternity magazine entitled, “Evangelicalism’s Six Flaws.” Most of the article has me still scratching my head, but I was particularly troubled by this statement:
We have treated creation as a static occurrence—arguing whether or not God has created it in seven days, thus missing the point of the religious meaning of creation and the ongoing activity of God in history.
As I have considered Robert Webber’s accusation, it seems to me that we evangelicals have made five major errors in the way we have handled Genesis over the past few years. Most of these errors are in part a reaction to the three-fold attack of atheistic evolution, comparative religion and literary criticism.
(1) We have dealt with the creation account according to a scientific grid. Some recent theories and conclusions of scientists have challenged the traditional interpretation of the biblical creation accounts. In a conscientious effort to prove the Bible to be scientifically accurate, we have approached the first chapters of Genesis from a scientific point of view. The problem is that these chapters were not intended to give us an account of the creation that would answer all of the scientific problems and phenomenon.
Dr. B. B. Warfield has stated the problem well:
A glass window stands before us. We raise our eyes and see the glass; we note its quality, and observe its defects; we speculate on its composition. Or we look straight through it on the great prospect of land and sea and sky beyond. So there are two ways of looking at the world. We may see the world and absorb ourselves in the wonders of nature. That is the scientific way. Or we may look right through the world and see God behind it. That is the religious way.
The scientific way of looking at the world is not wrong any more than the glass-manufacturer’s way of looking at the window. This way of looking at things has its very important uses. Nevertheless the window was placed there not to be looked at but to be looked through; and the world has failed of its purpose unless it too is looked through and the eye rests not on it but on its God.
The author of Genesis has not written the creation account for the glass maker. Rather he urges us to look through the glass of his account to the Creator behind it all.
(2) We have used the creation account of Genesis as an apologetic, when its primary purpose is not apologetic. The apologetic use of the early chapters of Genesis, while of value, is not in keeping with the author’s purpose for writing. Genesis was written to the people of God, not unbelievers. Men who refuse to believe in creationism do not do so for lack of facts or proof (cf. Rom 1:18ff), or due to their greater knowledge (Psalm 14:1), but due to a lack of faith (Hebrews 11:3). Genesis is much more of a declaration than a defense.
(3) We have attempted to find in Genesis one the answers to mysteries which may or may not be explained elsewhere. We may wish to learn, for example, just where Satan’s fall and judgment fit into the creation account, but may not be given such information because it was not the purpose of the author to answer such questions.
(4) We have failed to study Genesis one in its historical context. I suppose that it is easy to commit such an error here. We may doubt that there is any historical background. Or we may conclude that this is precisely the purpose of the chapter—to give us a historical account of creation.
The background which is vital to our grasp of the meaning and message of creation is that of those who first received this book. Assuming Moses to be the author of Genesis, the book most likely would have been written sometime after the Exodus and before the entrance to the land of Canaan. What was the situation at the time of the writing of this creation account? Who received this revelation and what needs were to be met by it? This is crucial to rightly interpreting and applying the message of the creation.
(5) We have often failed to apply the first chapter of Genesis one in any way that is relevant to our own spiritual lives. As one of my friends put it, “We come to a message on Genesis chapter one expecting nothing more than to have our apologetic batteries recharged again.”
The creation account becomes a prominent theme throughout the Old and New Testaments. Here, as elsewhere, we cannot do wrong by allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture. When the creation theme occurs in Scripture, it calls forth a response from men. We have frequently failed to call for any such response as we have taught Genesis chapter one.
(Adapted from URL:https://bible.org/seriespage/2-creation-heavens-and-earth-genesis-11-23)
The old hymn “For the Beauty of the Earth” was a favorite in years past. This hymn spoke to me when I was a child growing up in remote, mountainous Idaho. We can see God’s power, wisdom, and intellect in the lofty mountains, the sparkling streams, the lush forests, the soaring fir trees, the tranquil lakes, the majestic deer, the glorious eagles, and many other features of our earth. The second line of the hymn is “for the glory of the skies.” This is one of the lessons of Genesis 1 that God’s glory is shown in his creation of the heavens as well as the earth. More recent worship songs such as “God of Wonders” continue this tradition of celebrating God as Creator of a universe filled with endless marvels for human observers. Science, rather than being the enemy of faith, has shown us the wonders of the heavens in breathtaking pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope. Going the other direction, advanced microscopic technology of “inner space” has shown the intricate designs of God on the tiniest levels. The Genesis account of creation is brief and beautiful (unlike scientific treatises of our day). It gives us a hint of the wonder and awe that ancient men and women experienced when they contemplated the world they inhabited. They were convinced that this ordered and beautiful universe came into being through the acts of a Creator (Job 9:9; Psalm 8:3; Proverbs 3:19; Isaiah 40:26; etc.). The marvels of creation were not only the visible, tangible things, but also the systems of days, months, and years that followed patterns that could be analyzed and then predicted. It was for later observers to understand that the angle of the earth’s axis, its period of daily rotations, and its yearly circumnavigation of the sun were all essential to sustaining the ecosystems that permit life. There would be no life without God’s plan and provision. Genesis, however, teaches us that life did not arise on our planet as random adaptations to existing conditions, but that the earth was created to sustain the life that God intended and designed. That includes us human beings, the topic of next week’s lesson.
This week's lesson gives us a glimpse of the mighty works of God. We have an opportunity to reflect on who God is and on His awesome power. God is truly omnipotent. Studying this lesson should inspire God's people to praise Him for His wondrous working power.
God is the Creator of the universe. The earth and all of its contents belong to Him (cf. Ps. 24:1). At one time the earth was filled with darkness. It was without shape or form. Our sovereign God, in all His splendor and glory, strategically organized the universe. Everything in the earth was properly put in place by Him. There are many builders and many inventors, but there is only one Creator. "Thou hast created all things" (Rev. 4:11). God is majestic! Many generations have passed, and the universe still exists. Our existence and sustenance are made possible by the mighty works of God. The Lord has the ability to sustain everything that He has created. He is worthy to be praised.
As God began the process of creation, darkness covered everything. But that was not to remain so. The powerful spoken words of God caused light to come into existence. Light dispels darkness. Daylight is an important part of the universe. We are able to see because of light. Most people are more comfortable with light than with darkness. Light is associated with joy, while darkness is associated with evil. God masterfully created many things each day for six days. He created light on the first day. God is omnipotent! We should express our gratitude by praising Him for His unlimited power.
The true and living God created the "firmament" (vs. 6), which God called "Heaven," or sky (vs. 8). The firmament is the expanse in which the sun, moon, and stars were placed. The sun provides a greater light, and the moon and stars provide a lesser light. God also created dry land, which He called "Earth" (Gen. 1:10). The earth had been filled with water and darkness. Dry land came into existence by the mighty creative power of God. Dry land came to contain many forms of life: plants, animals, and humans.
God, in His infinite wisdom, caused the earth to grow grass, trees, and other plants. He miraculously made them with the capability to reproduce. All that God created was good. Most would agree that God was mindful of those to come when He so majestically created the various forms of plant life. "Thou are clothed with honour and majesty" (Ps. 104:1). God was very thorough in His creation. He left out nothing that was necessary for His final creation—mankind. The earth and sky and the plants and animals allowed humans to live, but the beauty also allowed people to enjoy God's creation.
God caused the waters to bring forth an abundance of live creatures. He caused the earth to bring forth living creatures such as cattle, beasts, and creeping things. It is amazing to ponder the abundance of things God created. He is worthy to be praised!
1. In creation, God demonstrates His mastery over time and space (Gen. 1:14)
2. When God has spoken, it is so. We can stand on His Word (vs. 15)
3. God designs all things to declare His glory and power (vss. 15-16)
4. We have no cause for fear when we know God watches day and night (vss. 17-19)
5. What God creates, He fills. God does not leave a void (vss. 20-21)
6. God sustains all life in all its variety, according to His perfect plan (vss. 22-23)
7. In God's control and perfect plan, His creation is still good (vss. 24-25)