Genesis – Week One
Podcast available at: https://anchor.fm/diane-simcox/episodes/The-Prequel-to-the-Beginning-e1fc4e3
Where were you on May 25, 1977? I can not only tell you where I was, but I can also tell you what I was wearing; at least partially.
I was wearing off-white painter pants and a brown tie-dyed shirt with the Star Wars movie poster on it and I was at the movie theatre to watch the very first Star Wars movie. There was so much hype about the movie and so many of our friends were going to the premier that my parents took us to see it the first night it played. Going to the movies wasn’t out of the ordinary for us, but this was night was extra special because we were going to the movies in the middle of the week! Going to the movies on a school night was just unheard of in our home.
I remember sitting there in my Star Wars t-shirt, munching on popcorn, watching the movie, and not really getting the story. Before that night, I didn’t have a clue as to the plot and I must be honest with you; I still have no clue. There are basic things that I know as far as the characters go (Luke Skywalker, his enemy, Darth Vader, as well as Princess Leia, etc.) but beyond that, I couldn’t contribute anything to a conversation. I do know that after the first movie, others followed. It was a pop culture thing and so many people were chomping at the bit for the next movie to be produced. But then an interesting thing occurred. It wasn’t the first time it had happened, but more than likely, it was the most talked-about time it happened. In 1999, another Star Wars movie was released; however, this was a prequel to the other three Star Wars movies that had been released over the 22 years prior. The Phantom Menace actually takes place 32 years prior to the first movie. In the prequel, viewers are introduced to Darth Vader before he becomes the bad guy and throughout that movie, along with two other prequels that were subsequently released, the character of Darth Vader or Anakin Skywalker as he was previously known is explained in greater detail. The fleshing out of Darth Vader provided the history and circumstances that resulted in the character of Darth Vader that many of us saw in 1977. Those who are true Star Wars fans more than likely have had many “ah-hah” moments after seeing the prequels because knowing the background often gives us a better understanding. Learning the history fills in the gaps and answers questions we may or may not have.
Our lesson is based on one verse. Genesis 1:1 NKJV “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
Try as I might, I cannot get a grasp on eternity. Everything has a beginning. I don’t care what you can think of, every single solitary thing has a beginning. Except for God.
Psalm 90:2 NET “Before the mountains were created, before the earth was formed, you are God without beginning or end.”
God has always existed. As hard as that is for us to conceptualize, we know that that statement is true. Because God is God and we are not, we have to read His Word being open-minded and willing to admit that there are facts about God that are beyond our understanding. This is one of those times.
Before we get started, please understand that I am no Bible scholar by any stretch of the imagination. I have researched and tried to limit my resources to those who share similar beliefs and those whose reputations are relatively sound. What I hope this lesson will do is not to attempt to reveal the magician’s secrets on how he performs his magic, but rather leave you in awe of our great God and the mystery that exists because our human minds are too limited to totally understand it all. I take seriously 2 Timothy 2:15 NET “15 Make every effort to present yourself before God as a proven worker who does not need to be ashamed, teaching the message of truth accurately.” I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I may get to Heaven and God will just be shaking His head and will say to me, “You were so wrong when you taught that lesson on Genesis 1:1. Here’s what really happened.” But I genuinely hope that this prequel of the book of Genesis is as accurate as it can possibly be for this very limited mind of mine. I can safely tell you that I’m not going to deliver any earth-shattering information today. This is all stuff that we know but it’s bits of history that will get us prepared for the study of Genesis.
The very first words of the Bible are “in the beginning”. If I were to ask you to write a summary of the first chapter of Genesis, I would imagine it would read something like this.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. He created light. On the second day, He made the skies and separated them from the water. Dry land and plants came on day three. On the fourth day, He made the sun, moon, and stars. Day five was when He made the fish and the birds. Humans and land animals came on day six and of course, He rested on the seventh day. That would be an accurate summation of creation.
The time span between Adam and Eve and Jesus being born is right at 4,000 years. We estimate that Jesus was born a little more than 2,000 years ago. That would mean that Adam and Eve were created approximately 6,000 years ago.
There’s always been a bit of confusion for me because I’ve been to museums and have seen dinosaur skeletons that have been dated back millions of years ago. I believe the science, the research that’s been done that has placed dinosaurs way, way back millions of years ago. But the way we interpret the creation that is described for us in Genesis, the timeline doesn’t necessarily fit with science.
”the book of God’s words, the Bible, will not contradict the book of God’s works, in other words the natural world and all that’s in it. What God says he did and what God actually has done will be the same thing. When we use the reasoning capabilities that God has given us and we follow good procedures, and we analyze the evidence, and it points to things being 200 million years old, that’s not just something we should discard.”[i]
If we all agree that God has always existed, and we consider the widely believed thought that dinosaurs roamed the earth millions of years ago, isn’t it safe to presume that there’s more to the story? Genesis 1 reads “in the beginning” but, just like Star Wars, there’s a prequel.
It’s generally thought that Moses wrote Genesis. There are some schools of thought that he didn’t write all of it, but for our purposes, let’s assume that he did. God would have revealed to Moses what He wanted people to know at that time. God identifies Himself as the Creator of all that is around them. He doesn’t tell any more than what they needed to know. Deuteronomy 29:29 ERV tells us “There are some things that the Lord our God has kept secret. Only he knows these things. But he told us about some things.” We can appreciate that, can’t we? There are times in which we find ourselves overloaded with information. Too much information or TMI, as some would say, can occur when someone gives way more than what we asked for or can comprehend. And then the information just tumbles around in our minds like lottery balls, and we aren’t able to understand any of it. Have you ever asked anyone to tell a little about themselves and they start off with “Well, I was born in such and such year in such and such town…” and you know that you’re in for a long, very detailed story? TMI, right?! God knows that the story of creation is mind-blowing on its own; there’s no need to add in what He had been up to prior to creation. So God gives the words of Genesis as an introduction with much more information to follow.
In Genesis, we are given little bits of information that later scripture would support. For example, consider the Trinity. Verse 2 of Genesis 1 HCB reads “and the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.” In reading this, we know that the Holy Spirit was in existence and was with God. While Jesus isn’t named specifically in this first chapter, the New Testament gives us proof that Jesus was also in existence and was with God.
1 John 1:1 TLB “1 Christ was alive when the world began,”
John 1:1 CEV “In the beginning was the one who is called the Word. The Word was with God and was truly God. 2 From the very beginning the Word was with God. 3 And with this Word, God created all things. Nothing was made without the Word. Everything that was created 4 received its life from him, and his life gave light to everyone.”
In fact, this last scripture tells us that everything was created through Jesus. This substantiates the existence of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit before the events in Genesis. In case you need further proof of the Trinity being in existence at the time of creation, consider this. The name God appears approximately 35 times in the first chapter of Genesis, depending on the translation. The original Hebrew name used for God in this chapter was Elohim. Elohim is the plural form of the word El or Eloha which means God. So, when Elohim is used, it’s presumed that it’s a reference to the Trinity. An even simpler way of proving the Trinity’s existence is found in verse 26 of Genesis 1 HCSB: “26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” [Emphasis added]. The references to “us” and “our” leave us with no doubt.
We can be sure that the Trinity, the Godhead has always been in existence. All of the events that took place at the time of creation were orchestrated and ordained by God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Warren W. Wiersbe says, “God doesn’t act arbitrarily, and the fact that He created something suggests that He must have had some magnificent purposes in mind.”
I love a good plan. I can be spontaneous, but I do love having an organized plan with details, directions, and destinations. Very often when we make plans, we do so with backup plans. Those “just in case” scenarios. Isn’t it comforting to know that God doesn’t have backup plans? We’re told throughout Scripture that no one can prevent God from carrying out His plan.
Isaiah 46:9 CSB “Remember what happened long ago,
for I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and no one is like me.
10 I declare the end from the beginning,
and from long ago what is not yet done,
saying: my plan will take place,
and I will do all my will.” [Emphasis added]
In times like we’re experiencing now, when the world seems chaotic, confused, and contaminated, we need to keep reminding ourselves that God’s plan will take place and His will as He decided will be carried out despite how things seem. That should be reassuring to us. Before we were even created, not just us personally, but mankind himself, God already knew we were going to mess up. The unveiling of evil and sinfulness, destruction and decay didn’t take God by surprise. The Godhead made arrangements for our redemption before it was even needed. The cross wasn’t a backup plan. It was the plan all along.
Ephesians 1:4 NIV “4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.”
Acts 2:23 ERV “23 Jesus was handed over to you, and you killed him. With the help of evil men, you nailed him to a cross. But God knew all this would happen. It was his plan—a plan he made long ago.”
Revelation 13:8 TLB “8 And all mankind—whose names were not written down before the founding of the world in the slain Lamb’s Book of Life —worshiped the evil Creature.”
These verses tell us that we were chosen before creation and that it was already planned for Jesus to be crucified in order for us to be forgiven. We are also told that there would be those who chose to worship Satan. The plan of salvation and our redemption is conceived, conducted, and carried out by the Godhead. In Ephesians 1, we learn that “we are chosen by the Father (vv.3-6), purchased by the Son (vv.7-12), and sealed by the Spirit (vv.13-14).”[ii]
All members of the Trinity have a role in our salvation and all of this was known and was planned before creation.
We’ve mentioned God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and Adam and Eve. There’s another critical character in Genesis that needs to be mentioned. In fact, this character slithers in at the beginning of chapter 3 of Genesis. “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made.” Genesis 3:1 NIV
Other translations call him clever, cunning, shrewd. The original Hebrew word that was used also means devious, sneaky, or tricky. Get the picture?
We all know the serpent is Satan. The Hebrew word that was used for serpent is nachash. Nachash as a noun means “serpent” or “snake”. The word nachash as a verb means “diviner”. Ever heard of a divining rod? It’s a forked rod or branch that is used to find underground water or minerals. Not by any coincidence, a snake has a forked tongue which enables it to taste the air so that it can determine which direction a scent comes from. It’s a hunting tool. As a snake prowls, the forked tongue assists in locating prey. Get the connection? The word nachash as an adjective means “the shining one”. We’ll discuss that a little further on. No matter how you read the word nachash, there’s no mistaking that the reference is to Satan.
The books of Ezekiel and Isaiah are extremely helpful in filling in the history of Satan before we are introduced to him in chapter 3 of Genesis. Ezekiel 28 begins with God sending a message to the ruler of Tyre. “The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, say to the ruler of Tyre: “This is what the Lord God says: Your heart is proud, and you have said, ‘I am a god’” (Ezekiel 28:1 HCSB) The message goes on and acknowledges the wisdom and the authority given to the ruler but because of the pride and arrogance that the ruler has assumed, God assures him that his destruction is coming. And then in verse 11, it’s as if God peeks over the shoulder of this pompous and proud ruler to address the one that planted and fertilized the pride and arrogance.
Ezekiel 38:11 HCSB “You were the seal of perfection,
full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
13 You were in Eden, the garden of God.
Every kind of precious stone covered you:
carnelian, topaz, and diamond,
beryl, onyx, and jasper,
sapphire, turquoise and emerald.
Your mountings and settings were crafted in gold;
they were prepared on the day you were created.
14 You were an anointed guardian cherub,
for I had appointed you.
You were on the holy mountain of God;
you walked among the fiery stones.
15 From the day you were created
you were blameless in your ways
until wickedness was found in you.
16 Through the abundance of your trade,
you were filled with violence, and you sinned.
So I expelled you in disgrace
from the mountain of God,
and banished you, guardian cherub,
from among the fiery stones.”
We gather a lot of information about Satan in these verses. He was perfect. He was full of wisdom, beautiful. He was clothed with precious stones. He had been appointed as a guardian cherub. When we think of cherubs, we think of the cute little fat baby with wings. But Ezekiel gives us clues that paint a different picture. Cherubs were thought to have multiple faces, four wings, stiff legs with calves’ feet, and human hands.[iii] Cherubim (which is the plural of cherub) were given specific duties. In this case, Satan is identified as an anointed guardian cherub. He would have been placed somewhere to guard. Some resources suggested he was placed at the throne of God; others think it was the Garden of Eden. What matters is that Satan, as an anointed guardian cherub, was in a high position with direct access to God. We know that he was created by God and was a supernatural being. Twice in this passage of Ezekiel, there’s a reference to the fiery stones. First, it states that Satan walked among the fiery stones, then the passage ends with Satan being banished from among the fiery stones.
The fiery stones are thought to be a reference to the Divine Council which is best described as “spirit beings that inhabit the spiritual world who are loyal to God. It refers to the whole assembly of heavenly beings who were created to serve God in the spiritual realm. These members administer the cosmos under God’s direction. Like the Church, whose members assist God’s plans on earth, God doesn’t need assistance in the spiritual world, but He chooses to carry out his will that way.”[iv]
Psalm 82:1 refers to the Divine Council. “God has taken his place in the divine council;” Psalm 82:1 ESV Other translations call it divine assembly, His own congregation, or heaven’s court. The divine council is said to meet with God to decide the fate of people and nations. [v]
Piecing all of that together, Satan would have been a perfect creation that was appointed to a high position and served as a supernatural member of God’s inner circle. Isaiah 14 enlightens us on where it all went wrong.
“Shining morning star,” (other translations read “O Lucifer”, “Day Star, son of Dawn”) If you recall, the word “nachash “ means not only snake or serpent, but when used as an adjective, it means the “shining one”.
how you have fallen from the heavens!
You destroyer of nations,
you have been cut down to the ground.
These next few verses give us Satan’s goals that he had set for himself.
13 You said to yourself:
“I will ascend to the heavens;
I will set up my throne
above the stars of God.
I will sit on the mount of the gods’ assembly, (also known as the Divine Council)
in the remotest parts of the North.
14 I will ascend above the highest clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.”
But God delivers the outcome of these arrogant aspirations.
15 But you will be brought down to Sheol (which means “place of the dead”)
into the deepest regions of the Pit.”
Satan was beautiful, wise, highly regarded, the seal of perfection. But he was also arrogant, prideful, and too ambitious for his own good. He looked at God as a worthy opponent. Satan began to love the gifts God had given him rather than God Himself. Satan worshipped the gifts and not the Giver. And even though God had given him so much, Satan wanted more. Satan thought he deserved more. Satan fell because of pride; deceptive power of pride. Pride that tells us we’re better, more righteous, more deserving, less sinful, less imperfect. Satan saw God and thought he could take Him on. Too bad Satan didn’t have Proverbs 16:18 GNT as his screensaver. “Pride leads to destruction, and arrogance to downfall.”
Even though he had heavenly qualities, he wasn’t God. He was not and still is not sovereign. He doesn’t know everything. He can’t be everywhere at once. He’s not all-powerful. In fact, his power is limited by God. But make no mistake, his domain is vast.
1 John 5:19 BSB “We know that we are of God, and that the whole world is under the power of the evil one.”
Even Jesus tells us that the whole world is Satan’s domain. John 12:31 NLT “The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out.”
As we begin the study of Genesis next week, I think it is imperative that we remember what we’ve discussed today. As we read, “in the beginning”, we have to keep in mind that new beginnings happen every day. God the Father, Jesus the Son, the Holy Spirit were already firmly established before the events of Genesis 1:1 ever take place. God has a plan in place and has had it in place before He ever scooped up the dirt which became Adam. Neither Satan nor our own arrogant selves can prevent God from being God. We are not worthy opponents.
As Obi-Wan Kenobi said to Darth Vader: “You can’t win, Vader. If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” The same is true for our God. In fact, He can’t even be struck down no matter how hard Satan tries.
[ii] Be Basic by Warren W. Wiersbe