The Seed Bed of God's Word
10 Sep 2005, Dr Barry Wright
(Barry is Thornleigh's Church Pastor)
THE SEED BED OF GOD'S WORD
Millions of people in the world today are earnestly searching and calling out for a reliable voice of crystalline authority. They want to hear some sovereign voice that will shed light, not only on the issues of human nature, human suffering and the problems confronting the nations of the world, but one that will clearly reveal the way to God (Mears, 1983: 7).
I would like to suggest to you today that the only authoritative voice that they will find in this confused, disconnected and disjointed world, is to be found in the inspired words of Scripture.
The message of the Bible to those genuine seekers of truth is the message of Jesus Christ who said in John 14: 6 that, 'I am the way, the truth and the life.' It is in these words that we find the story of salvation; the story of your redemption and mine through Him; the story of life, of peace and of eternity (Ibid).
However, today there are many competing elements openly challenging the Scriptures in an attempt to persuade us that truth lies elsewhere - that the story outlined in its sacred pages of the great battle between good and evil is only part of the myths and legends of history.
The greatest challenge to face Christianity in modern times was to evolve around the mid 18th century in the form of a higher criticism of the Bible. This spirit of enquiry was to lead men of a critical nature to challenge the credibility and reliability of the Word of God.
If there is one book that has been singled out and subjected to a faultfinding examination in this secular age it is the book of Genesis.
If this is true, then we need to know why?
How important is this book to our understanding of the Plan of Salvation?
How important is this book to the remaining part of the sacred canon of Scripture?
I would like you to open its pages with me this morning.
This is a unique book, in that it covers the first 2000 years of world history. It is not entirely a history, but is a spiritual interpretation of those times.
In just two short chapters, God, in Genesis 1 & 2, flashes up on the screen of life an account of the creation of the world and of man. In its following chapters we see the unfolding of the story of redemption as God endeavours to bring lost man back to Himself (Ibid: 30).
This is a book that portrays Jesus Christ as our Creator God.
It is also a book that outlines a history of man's failure. However, in spite of this, we find a God there who meets his every need.
What does Roman's 5: 20 tell us? 'Where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.'
Genesis could be said to be the seed bed of the Word of God because everything else in the sacred Scriptures is based on the information given here. The rest of sacred history grows out of what we learn in these inspired writings about God's wonderful promises of salvation for sinful man.
It is no wonder that the Devil hates this book of beginnings with a vengeance, and has poured out his most determined and destructive attacks upon it. This book not only exposes him as the enemy of God and the deceiver of the human race, but also foretells his own destruction and depicts his gloom (Ibid; 29).
What does Genesis 3: 15 tell us? Let's Read
'I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.'
This verse tells us that the Lord Jesus Christ would come to destroy the works of the Devil. However, we know that our Saviour was not to emerge from this Battle unscathed. The nail prints in His hands and feet and the scar in His side would eventually testify to that fact. However, we are told that the lost rulership of this world would be regained.
As already noted, the Devil has good reason to centre his attacks on the credibility of this Book. If he can cause people to see it as nothing more than myths and legends then the rest of Scripture falls like a pack of dominos. '…The rest of the Bible would be incomprehensible. Henry Morris, a leading creation scientist says that 'It would be like a building without a ground floor' (Morris, 1979: 17). 'A believing understanding of the Book of Genesis, he says, is therefore [a] prerequisite to an understanding of God and His meaning to man' (Ibid: 18).
What then has been the focus of Satan's attacks through this area of higher criticism?
There are three areas that quickly come to notice:
First, there has been a challenge to the authorship of Moses. Many attempts have been made to relegate some of these writings to the myths and legends of the ancient Babylonians. The rest of the material has been seen as being compiled and documented by a variety of unknown writers and editors.
Secondly, there have been challenges to its scientific accuracy.
Thirdly, there have been challenges to its literal testimony of human sin being deliberate disobedience to God
This morning I would like to briefly examine this very special book of beginnings. A book that is believed by most Christian writers today to have been written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Most conservative scholars believe that Moses wrote the book of Genesis about 1500 years before Christ and at a time while the Hebrews were still in bondage in Egypt. It is also significant to note that many of the Old and New Testament books are dependant on its writings. In the New Testament alone, we find more than 100 references to Genesis 1-11 and it is in John 5: 46-47, Luke 24: 27 and Mark 12: 26 that Jesus himself alludes to the books of Moses and, by doing so, sets His seal on them. Let's read what he says in these verses.
In John 5: 46-47 Jesus says 'If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?'
Luke 24: 27 'And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He (Jesus) explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning Himself.'
Mark 12: 26 '…have you not read in the book of Moses, in the account of the burning bush, how God said to him, 'I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob?'
Because Jesus confirms Moses as the author of the book of Exodus in Mark 12: 26, it is believed that he must also have been the author of Genesis. This is because this second set of writings is seen as a continuation of the first and, as such, they manifest the same spirit and intention (Nichol, 1953: 203).
Genesis provides for its readers a brief sketch of this world's remote history. However, it is difficult to place the early chapters into a historical setting because we have no history of the antediluvian world except for that which Moses has written. There are no archaeological records, only the mute and obscure testimony of the fossils (Nichol, 1953: 203-4).
The word genesis means 'origin' and as such, many biblical scholars believe that this book gives the only true and reliable account of the beginning of all the basic entities of the universe and of life (Ibid).
What then are some of the origin accounts that we discover in this book of beginnings?
In Gen 1: 1-25 we learn about The beginning of the world involving a progressive creation of matter, space and time, the atmosphere, hydrosphere and the development of all living systems. God called all things into being by the power of His command. (Heb 11:3). This was the origin of our physical world.
In Gen 1: 26- 2: 25 we find the beginning of the human race involving God's gift of two very special Institutions:
First, the sanctity of the universal and stable institution of marriage characterised by a monogamous relationship leading to the establishment of the home and secondly, the seventh-day Sabbath that was designed as a day of rest and worship for man. It is believed that the erosion of both these institutions have contributed directly to the present disintegration of law, order, society and the family.
In Gen 3: 1-7 we are told about the beginning of sin in the world.
In Gen 3: 8-24 we read about the beginning of God's promise of Salvation. These verses teach us that man is a free moral agent, the possessor of a free will and that the transgression of God's law is the source of all human pain and all human suffering.
In Gen 4: 1-15 we find the beginning of family life with the birth of Cain and Abel. It is also a time that we see a division taking place between the sons of God - those who love and follow his commands and the sons of men - those who were to follow their own desires. It was from this second group that we find Cain eventually becoming the world's first murderer.
In Gen 4: 16 - 9: 29 we see the beginning of a man-made civilization when Cain when out and built a city in defiance of God naming it after his son Enoch.
It is interesting to note that many scholars confirm that the urban way of life is thought to have originated in the early riverine civilizations of the Middle East some 5,500-6000 years ago (Barlow and Newton, 1971: 311,312).
We also read about the origin of a culture associated with civilisation involving such areas as music, metallurgy, agriculture, writing, education, textiles and ceramics.
In between these origin accounts we have the very plain and straightforward history of a worldwide flood in chapters 6-9. This remarkable story tells us about the degeneracy of the antediluvian race as the sons of God, descending from the line of Seth, intermarried with the daughters of men, the Godless descendants of Cain. These unholy alliances, which were also believed to involve polygamous relationships, were held largely responsible for the rapid increase in the general wickedness of God's people prior to this worldwide catastrophe (Nichol, 1953: 250).
The story of the flood is told, not because of its startling or interesting nature, but because it is a major incident in the history of God's working for man through the Plan of Redemption. If the world had been allowed to continue longer in its evil state, the image of God in man would have been nigh obliterated. Genesis 6: 5 tells us that '…God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.'
God needed to separate the righteous from the wicked.
This remedial, but horrific event was God's first step towards establishing a chosen nation. However, before this took place, Genesis Ch. 9: 1-6 tells us how God was to establish the first form of human government with the survivors of this fearful judgement. This was the beginning of an organised system of governance, with man now becoming responsible, not only for his own actions, but for the maintenance of an orderly social structure through systems of laws and punishments (Mears, 1983: 37, 38; Morris, 1979: 20).
Genesis Ch. 10, 11 tell us about the beginning of the nations of the world. It would seem that only the book of Genesis can give an answer to this perplexing problem of history where distinct nations and races were to develop from one original race and language. The confusion of tongues and the dispersion of people abroad resulted from their building of the huge tower of Babel. This colossal engineering feat was built as an act of defiance in order to become independent from God. Genesis 10: 8 says that '…the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of the earth.' All available evidence would suggest that the civilizations of China, India, Egypt, Palestine, Syria and elsewhere developed rapidly within a comparatively short period of time after this notable event (Nichols, 1953: 286).
It was from this point that we read of the beginning of the Hebrew race in Genesis Ch. 9-50.
The enigma or mystery of the Israelites was seen in the fact that they were a nation without a homeland for nineteen hundred years.
They were a nation that gave to the world the Bible and the knowledge of the true God.
They were a nation giving birth to Christianity and yet rejecting it.
They were to be a nation contributing signally to the world's art, music, science, finance, and other products of the human mind.
And yet, there has never been a more despised race of people throughout history.
This enigma or mystery can only be answered in terms of the unique origin of Israel as set forth in the book of Genesis.
The story of Israel was to begin in Genesis Ch 12 with God calling out an individual by the name of Abraham who ultimately becomes the father of the Hebrew nation. This patriarchal period was to eventually provide the groundwork and the basis of all history.
It was also at this time that God made a covenant with Abraham and we can find this outlined in Genesis 12: 1-3.
What was this agreement all about?
In it God made clear to Abraham that he would become the father of a great nation and through him all the nations of the earth would be blessed. This covenant was then repeated to Abraham's son, Isaac and then again to his grandson, Jacob. It is interesting to note that God repeated it to no one else.
With all his faults, Jacob remained enthusiastic about God's plan of founding a great nation and in Gen 32: 28 we find his name being changed to Israel - a name that would later be used to refer to the Jewish nation.
The last part of Genesis is devoted to the story of Joseph and it is here in Genesis Chapters 37-48 that we see Jacob's family transplanted into Egypt. Sold as a slave at seventeen and ruler of Egypt at the age of thirty, Joseph's life is one of the most perfect illustrations in the Bible of God's overruling providence. Ten years later Jacob enters Egypt and it is here that God is able to develop the Israelite nation in a way that could never have taken place in their original Canaanite home. In the land of Goshen they were able to grow in number, wealth and influence.
Why has so much space been given to the story of Joseph? - A story that takes up approximately one third of the entire manuscript.
We need to recognise the link between these first two books of Moses. Joseph's life is seen to provide the link or transition between the families of God epitomised by Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and that of the nation of Israel as found in the book of Exodus.
It is also important to recognise that the life of Joseph, while not without fault, paralleled the life of Jesus. God greatly honoured him for his faithfulness and we find at least 130 parallels reflected in the life of the Saviour of mankind. Here was a patriarch who was seen as a type of Christ.
However, the last words of the book of Genesis in Chapter 50: 26 would almost seem to indicate it was finishing on a note of failure. Lets read.
'So Joseph died at the age of a hundred and ten. And after they embalmed him, he was placed in a coffin in Egypt.' Death was to mark the end of his life, reminding us again in the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 6: 23 that 'the wages of sin is death'. Dear friends, we all need a Saviour and I thank God this morning that we can have that wonderful assurance. The patriarchs did not die in despair but died full of faith and hope. Beyond both Egypt and the grave they anticipated a better land.
In Jacob's dying words to his twelve sons in Genesis Chapter 49 we see the promise given to Judah of a descendant who would be the Messiah to come. We are told in Rev 5: 5 that this will be the Christ who is called the Lion of the tribe of Judah.
In all of the events found in Genesis the face of Jesus Christ can be clearly seen as this early history is interwoven with types and prophecies leading us to understand more fully God's plan to redeem mankind.
The Bible is centred on Jesus. He can be seen somewhere on every page if we are prepared to search for Him. We see Him in the seed of the woman in Gen 3: 15, the story of Jacob's ladder in Gen 28: 12, Judah's sceptre in Gen 49: 10, entry into the ark of safety in Gen 17: 1,7, the offering of Isaac in Gen 22: 1-24 and the life of Joseph in Gen 37: 28; 41: 41-44.
All these references in the Book of Genesis give us a clear picture of a Creator God who loves and cares about His creation.
While giving us a history of man's origins this book also gives us a picture of man's future and therefore it should be taken no less literally than the final book of the Holy Scriptures. Paradise lost in Genesis becomes Paradise regained in Revelation.
It needs to be recognised that without the book of Genesis we lose a divine creator, a divine creation, a divinely promised redeemer, and a divinely inspired Bible. Therefore, it is essential to see this book as one that has God's seal of approval and we must oppose every effort to place it within the realm of myths and legends. It was written as sober history, a divinely inspired account of the origin of all things. Without it our knowledge of a creator God would be pitifully limited and we could never hope to attain a true and full understanding of our true beginnings and the wonderful plan of redemption laid before the foundation of the world.
The book of Genesis can definitely be seen as the spiritual seed bed of God's Word. I commend it to you this morning for your prayerful consideration as the blessings promised in this book can be yours right now and also for eternity.
Barlow, M. H. & Newton, R. G. (1974) Patterns and Processes in Man's Economic Environment. Sydney: McGraw-Hill Book Company (Australia) Pty Ltd
Mears, H. C. (1983) What the Bible is all About. Ventura, California, USA: Regal Books.
Morris, H. M. (1979) The Genesis Record. A Scientific and Devotional Commentary on the Book of Beginnings. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House
Nichol, F.D. (Ed) (1953) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, Vol 1. Washington DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association.
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