GENESIS IN TIME AND SPACE
Hello to you all!
I pray that you will all be blessed by my discussion post. My view of the book of Genesis and creation is that God created the heavens and earth in time and space in six literal, 24 hour days. I believe that the entire book of Genesis should not be looked at allegorically or metaphorically, but as history. There are several reasons why I believe Genesis describes true stories and events that actually occurred. Primarily, I will start with the internal evidence found in other books of the Bible, and then move on to external, or archaeological evidence. Then I will discuss the moral implications of Genesis and how the Garden of Eden accurately depicts fallen human nature. Many people are surprised to discover that both the OT and NT refer to situations in Genesis as historical facts. We will begin with other references to Eden, Adam and creation found in the Tanakh, or Old Testament. Disclaimer: *All of my biblical references will be taken from the English Standard Version Bible (ESV).*
OLD TESTAMENT REFERENCES TO GENESIS
The prophet Hosea refers to Adam (Hosea 6:7). In the 6th chapter of his book, the prophet Hosea describes the love of Ephraim and Judah as a morning cloud, and as the morning dew that goes away early in verse 4. Then the prophet Hosea likens the people of Ephraim and Judah to Adam, in that they have transgressed God’s covenant. There is nothing in this passage that would allude to Adam being mythical figure. So the prophets assumed that Adam was one of their ancestors. To be honest, I actually thought there would be more references to Adam in the Old Testament. But upon further investigation, there are still many references to the Garden of Eden and creation. Both Isaiah and Ezekiel refer to the Garden of Eden (Is 51:3, Ezk 28:13). The psalmist David describes God as laying the foundations of the earth in ancient times (Ps 102:25) in reference to creation. Other OT passages refer to creation as well (Ps 148:5, Is 42:5, Eccl 21:1, Is 40:28). So in ancient Israel, in the midst of Babylonian, Hittite, Moabite and Egyptian creation myths, the God of Israel and his creation of the world stands unique. Each continent of the world has ancient stories about a world-wide flood. Also, Job makes reference to the flood (Job 22:15-17). As we move forward to the time of the New Testament, we see a sharp contrast between Greek mythology, Jewish thought and early Christian thinking on the creation of the world. As interesting as I’ve found the Old Testament passages about Genesis to be, what’s even more intriguing is the Apostle’s Paul’s description of Adam as a prototype of Christ in the New Testament. So what exactly did Peter, Paul and the Lord have to say about Genesis?
JESUS, PAUL AND PETER ON GENESIS
It would appear that Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, and Peter had much to say about Genesis, Adam, creation, and the flood. Beginning with the words of the Lord, we see that Jesus referred to events in Genesis as though they truly occurred in time and space. In reference Genesis, Jesus reinforces the idea that God created everything throughout much of the four Gospels (Mk 10:6, Mt 19:4, Mk 13:19). The apostle Paul had much to say on creation as well, as the words “creation, created, and “creator” appear in many of his epistles, and in other NT writings (Rom 8:19, Col 1:15, Rv 3:14, Rom 1:25, Col 3:10, 1 Pt. 4:19). Not only does the Apostle Paul mention Adam, but he actually describes how Adam
The Apostle Paul also mentions Adam several times in his epistles. Paul actually formulates a “theology of Adam,” and goes in depth on Christ being the last Adam (Romans 5:12, 5:14, 1 Cor 15:22, 15:45, 1 Timothy 2:13-14). Also, Jude makes reference to Adam (Jude 1:14).
Jesus mentions the flood and says that the world will be much like it was during the time of Noah when he returns (Matthew 24:38-39, Luke 17:27). The Apostle Peter also assumes that the flood was a historical event (2 Peter 2:4-6). All of the quotes and passages that I have mentioned conclude the internal evidence for the events in Genesis, or basically other portions of the Bible that support Genesis. Is there any archaeological or historical evidence for the events of Genesis 1-11? I believe there is some evidence. I have been told that archaeology is basically a study of what people left behind, and it is often the things they threw away. As I think of Adam and Eve, I often wonder what their spring cleaning would’ve looked like. I mean, what kinds of things would they throw away? Or if Adam and Eve had a garage sale, what would they sell? Would they sell dinosaur bones? Would they sell arrowheads made from saber tooth teeth? Of course I’m imagining things a little bit, but oftentimes this is what happens in archaeology. Modern people find the refuse of ancient cultures. I guess one man’s trash is truly another man’s treasure, as we certainly treasure everything from the ancient world.
ADAM AND EVE’S GARAGE SALE
There is an excellent site that I recently discovered called Biblical Archaeology (www.biblicalarchaeology.org). The site covers artifacts, biblical cities and current dig sites. There are many places in the Middle East and Near East that are verifiable biblical sites which you can visit today. I can also personally attest to at least one site. Abraham was from Ur of the Chaldeans, in southern Mesopotamia (southern Iraq). The modern site is right next to the city of Nasiriyah, the city where one of the first major battles of Operation Iraqi Freedom took place in 2003. This is also the city where Private Jessica Lynch was captured after her convoy was ambushed. I was deployed there from August to December 2003. During that time I was able to visit Ur while I was on duty performing physical security details. The ancient ziggurat is still there, and I saw a small brick house where Abraham was born. I was also able to go inside the tomb of the king of Ur at that time. Regrettably, I do not have any more of my own pictures, but I will try to get in contact with a friend that was also deployed with me at that time. So we have both internal and external evidence that support the book of Genesis. Finally, I think the most poignant and provocative proof of Genesis being a truly historical book is that the Garden of Eden describes the beginning of mankind’s epic fall and progressive decline into depravity. Genesis describes the human condition more adequately than any other book, in my opinion.
If the Garden of Eden was a mythical place, and Adam and Eve were mythical beings, how do we account for modern human behavior? Without original sin, how do we account for the wars, genocide, infanticide, homicide and weapons of mass destruction found in the modern world?
If evolution is designed to make the natural order more efficient, why is society getting worse and worse? And also, how do we account for natural disasters? They don’t improve the world or its efficiency at all? What about the cosmos? Phenomena such as comets, falling stars and meteors have all collided with our planet, with devastating ramifications. John 3:16 is a familiar passage to most, but the Greek word for world is “cosmos,” meaning the entire universe. So in saying this, Christ died to redeem the entire created order, because all of creation is buckling and groaning under the weight of corporate sin (Romans 8).
We are chasing paradise, thinking that better technology, better education, and more advanced sciences are the keys to creating a utopian society. It’s the same age old deception that plagued humanity from the time of Adam and Eve, to the time of the tower of Babel and beyond. Modern people often think that God was cruel to forbid Adam and Eve from eating the fruit, and that he was cruel for scattering the people groups who were trying to build Babel. But was he cruel? Human beings invented the wheel, which revolutionized travel. Then what did they do? They build chariots with those wheels, which revolutionized warfare!! Much of our medicine, transportation and communications technologies are advanced because of the needs of our armies. The same human brain that created the iPad has also created the nuclear bomb. Did God foursee all of this? I’m sure he did. Maybe God had his own timing in which to allow Adam and Eve to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God wasn’t being cruel, he was just protecting us from ourselves. Many people think that Christians are anti-science, and anti-intellectual. This is not the case. The issue is the condition of the human heart. It’s not a matter of whether we will be able to eventually clone humans. The issue is whether or not we should clone each other!!! This is why the Bible will always be relevant. As long as human beings sin, the Bible will still be necessary. Out of all creation, God only gave mankind one rule at the beginning. Now look at the mess we’re in. Thoughts from others?
Crossway. 2008. The English standard version study bible. Wheaton, ILL: Good News Publishers.
Perschbacher, Wesley J. 1990. The new analytical Greek lexicon. Peabody, MT: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.
Strong, James, LL. D., S.T.D. 2001. The Strong’s strongest concordance. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing.
Biblical Archaeology Staff. March 27, 2012. Italian dig in iraq discovers bronze age “tomb of the prince.” retrieved on march 29, 2012 from http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/news/italian-dig-in-iraq-discovers-bronze-age-%e2%80%9ctomb-of-the-prince%e2%80%9d/.
Walton, John H. 2001. The niv application commentary: genesis. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing.
Schaeffer, Francis. 1972. Genesis in time and space. Downers Grove, ILL: Intervarsity Press.
Longman, Tremper III. 2005. How to read Genesis. Downers Grove, ILL: Intervarsity Press.