|*January 7 - 13
|In the Beginning
Read for This Week's Study: Matt. 19:4; Job 38:4–7; Deut. 32:10, 11; Psalm 19; John 1:1–13; Rom. 5:12; Isa. 66:22.
"For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him" (Colossians 1:16, NKJV).
Key Thought: The doctrine of Creation, a literal six-day Creation, is foundational to all that we believe.
|It’s hard to imagine two
more diverse views of origins than the biblical model of creation and
the atheistic evolutionary model. The first presents a creation that
was planned, thought through, calculated, with nothing left to chance.
Nothing. In contrast, the evolutionary model is all chance. Second, in
the biblical account, everything was created for a purpose; God had an
end goal, what the Greeks call a telos, a purpose for what He created.
In contrast, evolution works on the premise that there is no final
goal, no purpose-driven force motivating what’s created. Random
mutation and natural selection (products of chance) work together
blindly, keeping what functions and discarding what doesn’t.
Finally, the biblical account teaches that humans were made in the
image of God. Evolution teaches that they are made in the image of
whatever primate just happened to precede homo sapiens.
This week, we’ll look at the biblical doctrine of Creation and see how it forms the foundation of all the biblical truth that follows. If we get creation wrong, we’re all but certain to get a lot else wrong. That’s how crucial the teaching is to what we believe as Seventh-day Adventist Christians.
*Study this week's lesson to prepare for Sabbath, January 14.
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1, NKJV). How does this opening line automatically make the Bible and Darwinian evolution mutually exclusive?
The book of Genesis opens with God already in action as Creator. No explanation for, or introduction of, God is given. None of the Bible writers thought that God needed an introduction. The closest thing for a proof of the existence of God might be the sentiment of the psalmist: “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Ps. 14:1, NKJV).
Scholars have noted an amazing artistry, not just in the act of creation itself but in how it is presented in the Bible. Genesis 1:2 provides the introductory aspects on which God’s masterpieces of matter are organized: “The earth was without form and void.” The first three days He “forms” what was “unformed.” The next three days He “fills” what had been “void” or empty.
In other words, the light that was created on day one is filled or completed on day four with the great lights of the sun and moon (and “the stars also,” Gen. 1:16). The air and water that had been the focus on day two are filled up with the birds and water creatures on day five (Gen. 1:6–8, 20–23). The dry land separated from the waters and then filled with vegetation on day three (Gen. 1:9–13) was completed with the land animals along with humans on day six. Finally, all was pronounced “very good” and then regally celebrated on the seventh day by God Himself (Gen. 2:1–3).
The point is, nothing in these texts leaves any indication that anything was left to chance. On the contrary, the texts teach the opposite: everything was meticulously worked out and planned.
According to the following texts, who also believed in the biblical account of Creation?
1 Tim. 2:13
|Everything in the Bible testifies to the fact that the Lord created the world, speaking it into existence just as depicted in Genesis 1 and 2. Scripture leaves us no wiggle room on that matter. One can choose Creation, or one can choose evolution, but honesty allows no melding of the two. The texts themselves don’t leave us that option.
The Heart of the Creator
The drama of Creation week is extraordinary. Day after day the Creator speaks into existence the life systems and life forms that continue to amaze scientists. Even God refers to the extreme joy of that time.
How does God express to Job the excitement that was part of the earth’s creation? Job 38:4–7.
A hint of the joy in the Creator’s heart that first week can also be found in the second verse of Genesis chapter one (NKJV): “And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” Biblical scholars become ever more appreciative of the fine literary crafting of the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) by Moses. In this instance, as Moses describes the Spirit of God “hovering” over the face of the waters at the opening of Creation week, he deliberately chooses a word that he will only use one more time—in Deuteronomy 32. That chapter is part of his farewell sermon to Israel.
How does Moses use the word hovering this second time? Deut. 32:10, 11. (See also Matt. 23:37.)
Think of how mother birds lovingly prepare the nest for their babies. Then picture them hovering over their babies, bringing them food, and then teaching them how to fly. Moses, who had taken care of sheep for 40 years, must have seen this natural phenomenon happen each spring, and it made him think of God’s tender care. Under inspiration, he pictured the same emotions in the Holy Spirit’s heart as our human “nest” was being constructed.
Everything in the Creation account, then, in contrast to the various evolutionary models—which depict our Creation as the work of forces violently competing with each other—reveals a God who loves His creation, who cares about it, and who purposely and carefully designed it. There’s nothing impersonal about the creation, nothing emotionless, nothing purposeless. Love was there, at the start of the Creation week. What a contrast to evolution, which teaches that love somehow emerged but only after billions of years of selfish violence. Love motivated the creation, and love will be there when this damaged version of creation is created anew.
|Dwell on the marvels of nature. How do you see the amazing love of God manifested there?
The Heavens Declare
The Psalms contains a rich corpus of songs praising the Creator. Regularly and jubilantly the psalmists refer to the “great works” of God.
Psalm 19. The progression of thought is audacious. First, David describes the glories of the heavens and firmament, including the blazing sun. He compares the brilliant energy of the sun to a bridegroom going to his wedding and also to an athlete in training (vss. 1–6). He then links this splendor of the sun to the perfection of God’s law and the power of its precepts. The contents of the law are thereby linked with the grandeur of God’s creative actions (vss. 7–11).
Psalm 92. This “Song for the Sabbath” opens with the attitude of praise from a grateful heart. The one who traces the use of “the works of Your hands” and “Your works,” as used throughout the Psalter (or throughout any biblical book for that matter), will be drawn to the extensive praise for the created world included in the Bible. And the more any person learns about the created works of God—whether the smallest detail seen through a microscope, or the furthest star or planet seen through a telescope, or whatever creature of animal life (whether it swims, flies, or walks)—the more the amazing power of God’s creative activity comes through. Scientists continue to learn more and more, not only about the different plants and animals but also about how all systems of life interact with each other in the complex web of life. The more they learn, the more amazing it all appears.
“[The] jaw is clearly not an example of intelligent design; rather, it is an imperfect adaptation that has occurred as a result of natural selection, working with the materials at hand to refashion and shorten the mammalian muzzle into a face.”—Owen Gingerich, God’s Universe (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2006), pp. 98, 99. What important point has this Christian—fruitlessly attempting to meld evolution with a Christian worldview—unfortunately missed?
No question, the created world reveals the love and power of the Creator. But our world has also been devastated by sin, by the scars and disruption caused by the great controversy. We see the horrible results all around us in sickness, death, natural disasters, and the like. No part of the earthly creation has escaped, and certainly no human being has. And yet, even amid this devastation, we can see the love and power of the Creator. The key is not to focus on the bad but on the good that underlies it. We might see, for example, a cherry tree smitten with the blight that destroys all the fruit. The blight, however bad, does not and cannot erase the love and goodness revealed in the tree itself, a love and goodness that points to the character of the Creator.
The Cross and Creation
Read John 1:1–13. In what ways does John link Creation with the Cross? Why are the two teachings inseparable?
In numerous places the Bible clearly links the Lord as Creator with the Lord as Redeemer, a link that provides more evidence that evolution cannot be reconciled with the Bible, especially with the teaching of the Cross. Otherwise, what? The Lord would have incarnated into an evolved ape created through the vicious and painfully murderous cycle of natural selection, all in order to abolish death, “the last enemy” (1 Cor. 15:26)? But how can death be the “enemy” if it were one of God’s chosen means for creating humans, at least according to the evolutionary model? The Lord must have expended plenty of dead homo erectus, homo heidelbergensis, and homo neanderthalensis in order to finally get one into His own image (homo sapiens). What this would mean, then, is that Jesus came to save humankind from the very process He, as Creator, used to create it in the first place. If that sounds ridiculous, it’s because it is.
Read Romans 5:12. How does this text help us understand how crucial a literal reading of the Genesis Creation account is to the whole plan of salvation?
How is the idea of the Fall, so clearly biblical, explained by those who seek to meld evolution with the Bible? Does God use processes of violence, selfishness, and dominance of the strong against the weak in order to create a morally flawless and selfless being who then “falls” into a state of violence, selfishness, and dominance of the strong over the weak—a state from which he has to be redeemed—or else face final punishment?
Again, the absurdity of the position utterly rules it out. The only way to make sense of the Cross, of the need for the Savior to redeem a fallen race, is for human beings to have “fallen” from something, and a “fall” implies a descent, a degeneration; it means we went from what was good to something that wasn’t as good. That makes perfect sense from a literal understanding of Genesis; with evolution, it makes no sense at all. Indeed, the idea of evolution makes a mockery of the Fall and the Cross, as well.
Creation and Recreation
What wonderful promises are found in these texts? Isa. 65:17, Isa. 66:22, 2 Pet. 3:13, Rev. 21:4. Also, how are they linked with the biblical model of Creation, as revealed in the opening chapters of Genesis?
The whole Christian hope rests on the promises of a new heaven and a new earth, a heaven and earth without the devastation that sin has brought to the one we inhabit now. Without that hope, that promise, we have literally no hope at all. The promise of eternal life is wonderful, but we want that eternal life in a world without the horrors, sorrows, and disappointments of this one. What could be worse than the eternal death that awaits the unsaved than eternal life in a world in which misery is often the rule, rather than the exception?
All of which leads to some very interesting questions in regard to origins and how the Lord worked in the process of the first Creation—the one depicted so masterfully in Genesis 1 and 2. The question is, will the new heaven and the new earth be created by divine fiat; that is, as depicted in a literal reading of Genesis: God speaks and within an amazingly short time all life exists on the earth fully formed and developed, with nothing left to caprice, violence, or chance?
Or, instead, will the process of creation mean that life will, again, have to endure the “joys” and rigors of natural selection and survival of the fittest for billions of years until a new world, one “wherein dwelleth righteousness” (2 Pet. 3:13), finally appears?
After all, if God chose to use evolution the first time around to create this world, why would He do something different the second time? If these were His chosen means in the original Creation, are they not good enough for round two?
The absurdity of the idea that God would use evolution to recreate the heavens and the earth is more evidence pointing to the absurdity of His having created the world that way to begin with. No question, the Cross, Redemption, and the promise of a new heaven and a new earth are themes inseparably tied in with the literal Genesis account.
|Try to imagine what our world was like in its pristine beauty. Imagine, too, what it will be like when it is created over. Our minds and hearts can only begin to wrap around what that will be like. Why is nothing in this world worth having if we lose out on what is promised us?
Through all her ministry, Ellen G. White was uncompromising in her rejection of the theory of evolution.
“It is,” she wrote, “the worst kind of infidelity; for with many who profess to believe the record of creation, it is infidelity in disguise.”—The Signs of the Times, March 20, 1879.
“[S]hall we, for the privilege of tracing our descent from germs and mollusks and apes, consent to cast away that statement of Holy Writ, so grand in its simplicity, ‘God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him’? Genesis 1:27.”—Ellen G. White, Education, p. 130.
“When the Lord declares that He made the world in six days and rested on the seventh day, He means the day of twenty four hours, which He has marked off by the rising and setting of the sun.”—Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, p. 136.
| Another problem stemming from the attempt to
meld evolution with the Bible is the resurrection of the dead at the
end of time. Isn’t that going to be an instantaneous process, in
the “twinkling of an eye” (1 Cor.
15:52) even? Some folk have been dead for thousands of years;
there’s not much left to work with. Yet, if God can re-create
them in an instant, why did He use evolution to create them the first
Contrary to popular conceptions, Charles Darwin worked onhis theory of evolution from a theological premise. He expressed it like this: “There seems to me,” wrote Darwin, “too much misery in the world. I cannot persuade myself that a beneficent and omnipotent God would have designedly created the [parasitic wasp] with the express intention of their feeding within the living bodies of caterpillars, or that the cat should play with mice.” Of course a “beneficent and omnipotent God” did no such thing. What’s wrong with Darwin’s assumption, and how do you think it influenced him to come up with such a radically wrong theory on human origins?
As a class, spend some time in nature and marvel at the various wonders of the created world. As you do it, keep open to the damage that sin has brought, and see how much you can distinguish between the creation and what sin has done to the creation. Why is it always important to keep this distinction in mind?
|Despite many attempts to mix a biblical world-view with the doctrine of evolution, the two teachings are polar opposites. Christians must stand firm on the literal Creation story; once that goes, the plan of salvation goes with it.
|I N S I D E Story
|Power of Prayer
Irina is a teenager who lives with her family in the Republic of Georgia. As a child she suffered from a painful spinal tumor, and doctors gave her only four years to live. Her mother, desperate for help, met a woman who was lending books in the marketplace. Irina’s mother chose several books that offered hope and took them home to read as she sat by Irina’s bedside.
When Mother returned the books she thanked the woman for sharing them. The woman invited Mother to visit the Adventist church and to bring Irina. “We will fast and pray for her,” she promised, smiling. Mother took Irina to the church the following Sabbath, and the woman and her friends fasted and prayed for her.
When Mother took Irina back to the hospital for a checkup, her doctors were amazed to find that the tumor was shrinking. They removed the tumor, and Irina’s pain disappeared.
Mother continued attending the Adventist church and took Irina and her sister, Yana, with her. The girls learned the importance of prayer and began praying for others, just as Irina had been prayed for.
When the girls visited a certain store, they often sought out Lisa, a woman who sold bread there. They invited her to church, but Lisa refused to go. The girls weren’t discouraged; they continued praying for their friend, even after she stopped working at the store.
One day Mother met Lisa on the subway and told the woman that Irina and Yana were praying for her. Mother shared words of hope with Lisa and invited her to church. This time Lisa agreed to go.
When Lisa arrived at church the next week, the sisters hugged her and sat with her. “We wanted her to know we love her and that she is special to God,” Irina says.
Lisa continued attending church, even though she had to take several busses to get there. Irina, Yana, and Mother continued praying for her. One Sabbath the pastor invited those who wanted to accept Jesus to stand. The sisters prayed silently that Lisa would make her decision for Christ and were thrilled when Lisa stood up.
“We felt that God had answered our prayers for Lisa,” Irina said. Lisa was baptized along with three friends for whom they also had been praying. The girls are praying for their father. “He’s started reading the Bible,” Irina says. “We know that God is working on his heart in answer to our prayers.”
Sharing our faith through witnessing and prayer and giving a generous mission offering are the three most powerful ways to bring others through Christ.
|Produced by the General Conference Office
of Mission Awareness.
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