Noah as a Second Adam: Eight Evidences

covenantIn his short study on biblical covenants, Covenant and God’s Purpose for the World, Tom Schreiner provides a helpful comparison between Adam and Noah. As our men’s Bible study looks at this section of Scripture today, I share Schreiner’s eight evidences for seeing textual connections between Adam and Noah. Clearly, Moses wrote Genesis 1–11 to show how Noah is a Second Adam.

Here are his eight observations. I’ve added the italicizes to highlight the observations.

First, God’s work of ordering and shaping the creation occurred when the earth was covered with water and chaos (Gen. 1: 2). So too, after the flood the earth was inundated with water, and a new beginning took place when the water receded.

Second, God created the birds, creeping things, and animals to flourish and multiply on earth (Gen. 1: 20–21, 24–25). After the flood, the birds, creeping things, and animals again began to propagate on the earth (8:17–19). Continue reading

The Perfect Knowledge of God

jeremy-thomas-98201.jpgOmniscience is a word that describes the reality that God knows everything—everything past, present, and future; everything in heaven or on earth; everything real and everything potential. Everything. But more than just having an encyclopedic knowledge of his creation—which God does—Scripture shows how God’s universal knowledge brings particular blessing and judgment to the world, to those people whom he knows particularly as his own.

One place where God’s knowledge is seen is an instance in Genesis 18, where the Lord reveals his future plans to Abraham. The key verses are Genesis 18:16–21:

Then the men set out from there, and they looked down toward Sodom. And Abraham went with them to set them on their way. 17 The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, 18 seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 19 For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.” 20 Then the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, 21 I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.”

From these six verses, we learn four truths about God’s perfect knowledge and how the Lord who knows everything relates to his creation. Continue reading

Somewhere Between History and Fantasy: Read(ing) Genesis 1–11 Theologically

greg-rakozy-38802Few places in Scripture are more important, more debated, or more theologically-rich than Genesis 1–11. As to their importance, they introduce the Bible to God and his purposes in the world; as to debate, they were polemical from the start, as Moses wrote these chapters to combat other creation stories in the ancient Near East; and as to theology, these eleven chapters introduce nearly every doctrine found in the rest of Scripture.

It is to this last point, the theological message of Genesis 1–11, that I want to address. Affirming the historicity of God’s direct creation of mankind on the sixth day, it seems the best way to read these chapters is as a poetical—dare I say, fantastical—introduction of Israel to the God of Creation, who happens to be their covenant Lord.

Thus, as Craig Bartholomew and Michael Goheen rightly assess, citing the earlier observation of Gerhard von Rad (Genesis: A Commentary, 46): “The creation story is so rich in meaning that ‘it cannot be easily over-interpreted theologically'” (The Drama of Scripture28). Indeed, from the creation of the world to its subsequent recreation after the Flood, the first eleven chapters of Genesis are seminal ground for all that will grow up in the rest of Scripture. For the careful biblical theologian, these chapters are worth a life-long study, and what follows are simply seed-thoughts that can and should be traced back to the beginning.  Continue reading

From Genesis to Exodus to Jesus: What Biblical Typology Might Say about Modern Day Israel

rob-bye-103200I have often read and taught on the temple-imagery in Genesis 1–2, where the Garden of Eden is portrayed by Moses as the prototypical tabernacle. I have also read and taught how the tabernacle in Exodus and the temple in 1 Kings are meant to re-present the original garden sanctuary. Still, there are many who wonder if this is a fanciful connection made up by creative interpreters, or if it is truly in the text. Interestingly, these are often the same people who often make up fanciful connections between Scripture and modern day Israel.

In what follows, I want to share a helpful summary of why we should read Genesis and Exodus together, how those chapters are designed to lead us to Christ, and how a right understanding of the biblical narrative anchors our hope in the person and work of Christ, and not the machinations of modern day Israel.  Continue reading

Evidence of Design: Lexical and Thematic Unity in Genesis 3–4

chiasm_textGod’s Word is inspired by God, but it is also written by men. And in many cases, these men show incredible literary skill in penning God’s Word. One thinks of Psalm 119’s acrostic praise of God’s Word or Jonah’s detailed use of chiastic structures as examples of authors employing literary devices to shape and structure their God-given, God-inspired words.

The same is true in Genesis 3–4. In a section that is often whisk-away as myth or relativized as poetry, we find that the historical details of Cain and Abel are written with incredible attention to literary style (i.e., history in poetic form). The number of words, the narrative parallels between the first family (ch. 4) and the first sin (ch. 3), and the repetition of expression are just a few ways Moses employs poetics structures to stress the main points of this historical narrative.

In a day when bold and italics were not available and space was limited, these structures evidence the main point of his writing. Moreover, they capture the way in which human authorship is “fully human” (i.e., marked by conventions of human speech). Divine inspiration does not cancel out man’s humanity in his writing. Rather, it improves his acuity, frees his will, and empowers his words. This is what Peter means when he says “men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21).

Genesis 3–4 as a Test Case

Considering this, we look at Genesis 3–4 as an example of this literary design, where Moses under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wrote with incredible attention to detail—hence allowing us to interpret with great detail. What follows are some of the observations Gordon Wenham has made to show the lexical and structural detail of Genesis 3–4. Continue reading

Established by Creation: Nine Reasons for Biblical Complementarity

 

malefemaleIn Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth (EFBT) Wayne Grudem is at his complementarian finest as he explains from Genesis why God created men and women equal yet distinct. While egalitarians argue the fall caused gender distinctions and that Christ’s redemption erased them (as explained in their reading of Galatians 3:28), Grudem shows how God created men and women with beautiful distinction from the beginning.

What follows are a synopsis of his points from Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth, pp. 30–42. For reasons explained here, I have left off his argument for gender distinction based upon trinitarian analogy. That theological argument is not necessary for making the claim that God created men and women equal, yet different. Therefore, I list Grudem’s nine biblical arguments for biblical complementarity. Continue reading

The Light of the World (Genesis 1:3)

Genesis 1:3“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.”

God created physical light. The Bible also says that God is light in a moral and spiritual sense (1 John 1:5). By God’s design, the physical aspects of creation can serve as vehicles for developing themes about God and his salvation. Jesus is “the light of the world” (John 8:12). (History of Salvation in the Old Testament: Preparing the Way for Christ,” in ESV Study Bible’s, p. 2635)

Let There Be Light

The first thing created in the Bible is “light.” In this God not only communicated his essence to creation; he also ensured that all things would be made under the rule of his light. As it will be in the new creation—a world illumined by the light of the Lamb (Rev 21:23)—so it was in the beginning.

God spoke light into existence and made the physical universe to display his radiant glory. Indeed, as the Bible tells, God’s glory shines in the heavens (Ps 19:1) and is reflected by men and women made in his image (Ps 8). With the Fall, sin dimmed and deranged that reflection—almost to the point of total darkness sometimes—but the light of God remains.

Truly, all creation was made by the Lord of light (John 1:3), and nothing exists that did not come from his light. The Lord of light is the Author of Life (Acts 3:15) and in his light we see light (Ps 36:9). In this way, the world was fashioned in the light; nothing that was made was made from darkness, by darkness, or contained darkness. As Genesis 1:31 states, all of it was “exceedingly good.” Continue reading

The Image of God (Genesis 1:26)

Genesis 1:26 

“The divine Son is “the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). Man was created in a way that reflects the imaging relation among the persons of the Trinity. The redemption of man from the fall and sin includes re-creation (2 Cor. 5:17), his being “created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness,” in the image of Christ (Eph. 4:24).” (History of Salvation in the Old Testament: Preparing the Way for Christ” in ESV Study Bible’s,  p. 2635).

In the beginning, God made the heavens and the earth, and on the earth he placed a man and a woman to reflect his glory and rule his creation (Gen 1:26-28). Genesis 1:26-27 recounts the words of the triune God, “Let us make mankind in our image, after our likeness. . . . So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

In his Theological Anthropology, Marc Cortez supplies a helpful survey of the ways Christians have understood the Imago Dei.  He summarizes the positions and asserts that some have argued that there is something material in man that makes him unique (i.e., his reason, mental capacity, etc.); others have suggested a functional view, that man made in God’s image is intended to rule over creation. This has strong exegetical support in Genesis 1:26-31 and Psalm 8. Still others make a case for a relational aspect of God’s image. Just as God exists as the three-in-one God, so mankind is male and female, and when man and woman unite in marriage, the two become one. The relationship is complementary, and in the mysterious union and diversity between the sexes is there a material glimpse of the one God who exists in three persons. Continue reading

The Gospel Preached Beforehand

Yesterday I preached a pair of messages on the “gospel preached beforehand.”  In Galatians 3:8, Paul writes, “And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”

I have thought much about what the contents of that ‘gospel message’ would have been, and yesterday I sought to explain from Genesis 12, 15, 17, and 22, how the Lord proclaimed the good news to the patriarch Abraham.  In short order, I argued that the content of the gospel can be witnessed in God’s promise of grace (Gen 12), justification by faith that results in a covenant relationship (Gen 15), circumcised citizenship in the kingdom of God (Gen 17), and the necessity of the Lord’s sacrifice, substitution, and resurrection (Gen 22).

Only when all of these elements are included do you have the full gospel message. Maybe I saw too much Christ in the Old Testament, maybe not enough. Tell me what you think.

Here is the sermon audio. The first message begins in Luke 24 and turns to look at Genesis 12, 15, and 17; the second message covers Genesis 22 with an introductory excursus asking this question: ‘Since we have the full gospel (Heb 1:1-4), why should we spend much time on the gospel preached beforehand?”

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

Beholding the Christ of Creation (Genesis 1:1)

Genesis 1:1

“God’s act of creation is the foundation for the entire biblical history. A considerable number of passages refer back to creation (e.g., Pss 8; 104; 148John 1:1–31 Cor. 8:6Col. 1:15–17Heb. 1:2; 11:31 John 1:5–7). All the rest of the Bible depends indirectly on it” (History of Salvation in the Old Testament: Preparing the Way for Christ,” in the ESV Study Bible, p. 2635).

In his illuminating book, Preaching Christ from the Old Testament: A Contemporary Hermeneutic MethodSidney Greidanus suggests seven ways of ‘finding’ Christ in the Old Testament.  These include (1) progress of redemption, (2) promise-fulfillment, (3) typology, (4) analogy, (5) longitudinal themes, (6) direct quotation, and (7) way of contrast.  Throughout our reading of the OT, we  see all of these at work.  Strikingly, in the opening verse of the Bible–“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” we see all of them at work. Let’s consider these in turn.

First, without creation, there would be no new creation.  There would be nothing–but God.  Everything in the Bible presupposes a creation, and even though the Bible speaks about a time before creation, it begins with the beginning.  The Fall, the history of redemption, and the hope of new creation are all predicated on the reality of creation. Therefore, progress of redemption begins with this grand fact—God created the world with his all-powerful Word (Ps 33:6; John 1:1-3).

Second, with creation comes the promise of God working in the world.  All the world is his, and from the (unfinished) beginning, there is the promise and the need for fulfillment.  In other words, there is as much eschatology in Genesis 1 as there is Revelation 21-22, only eschatology in Genesis 1 is all promise, whereas Revelation 21-22 is all fulfillment.

Third, in creation there is a wealth of typology.  God speaking the world into existence typifies the way in which God is going to speak light into the darkness of dead sinners (2 Cor 4:4). Most significantly, the creation of the imago dei is the preeminent type.  All other types (people, events, insitutions) depend on this original man—a man who is himself made in the image of God. This man serves as the father of humanity, but he also functions as a type of the last Adam, Jesus Christ (Rom 5:12-210. Therefore, the rest of human history and the salvation of mankind is patterned after the original man.

Fourth, the history of redemption hangs on an analogy between creation and new creation. Just as God made the world, he will recreate the heavens and the earth.  Matthew 19:28 reads in red letters, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world (lit., ‘in the regeneration,’ palingenesis), when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”  Truly, the hope of heaven and earth is the new creation of the heavens and the earth (Isa 65:17-25; 2 Pet 3:13; Rev 21-22).

Fifth, creation and its renewal (i.e., new creation) run as a theme throughout the Bible. When God delivers Israel from Egypt, the Bible uses creation language to speak of Israel’s exodus (Isa 43:1-7).  In the Psalms, exodus imagery is often conflated with creation imagery (Ps 74:12-17; 89:5-13).  In the Prophets, the judgment of God results in the degeneration of the created world (Jer 4:23-28; Hos 4:3; cf. Isa 24:1-23; Joel 1:10).  This is true in the New Testament as well (see Rom 8:18-22).  Moreover, in the New Testament, personal salvation is described as a new creation (2 Cor 5:17), as is the cosmic regeneration of all created things (Matt 19:28; Rev 21-22).  Therefore, creation, de-creation, and new creation run as themes throughout the Bible.

Sixth, the NT often quotes and/or alludes to Genesis 1:1.  John begins his gospel using similar words, “In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”  In three verses, John repeats and expands the first verse in the Bible.  He is not alone, the whole Bible stands on the fact that God created the world and everything in it (cf. Pss 8, 104, 148; 1 Cor 8:6; Col 1:15-17; Heb 1:2; 11:3; 1 John 1:5-7; etc.).

Seventh, Scripture frequently uses death, darkness, and the degeneration of creation as visible expressions of God’s judgment.  It was God’s goodness and love that prompted creation; in creation his glory is revealed (Ps 19:1; cf. Rom 1:18-20).  Therefore, when Scripture speaks of God’s curse upon sin, it frequently comes with effects that stand against creation–death is the cessation of life which God created; darkness is the effect of sin upon a persons mind (Eph 4:18) and the destiny of all those who reject God (2 Pet 2:12); and the destruction of heaven and earth is the necessary consequence of those who spurn the Creator and worship created things (Rom 1:21-32).

To deny the fact of creation in Genesis 1:1 as some Christians are doing today (and have done for years)—or to extract from it the existential reality of a creation from nothing—is to present to the world a different God and a different gospel.  History, Scripture, and salvation hang on the reality of God’s creation. Thus it is not surprising that we find in Genesis 1:1 all seven ways of uniting creation (in the OT) to the new creation (expressed most clearly in the NT). Indeed, since the universe came into existence through the Son and for the Son (Col 1:15-16), it is clear that all of creation depends on him (Col 1:17) and declares that something about him (cf. Ps. 19:1). With eyes trained by the Word, we can see Christ in history and creation, and thus we should (labor to) see how all things hold together in him (Eph 1:10).

May God give us such Christ-besotted vision.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss