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History 3: Antiquity

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  1. 1. Orientation
    12 Steps
  2. 2. Imago Dei: Creation
    13 Steps
  3. 3. The Two Cities: The Fall & Two Lineages
    11 Steps
  4. 4. Look On My Works, Ye Mighty: Babel & Mesopotamia
    11 Steps
  5. 5. The Waters of Life in the Everlasting Hills: Ancient Egypt
    11 Steps
  6. 6. Lekh-Lekha: Abraham & The Patriarchs
    11 Steps
  7. 7. On Eagles' Wings: The Exodus & The Law
    12 Steps
  8. 8. The Sacrifice of Praise: Worship in Ancient Israel
    13 Steps
  9. 9. A House of Prayer for All Nations: Samuel to Solomon
    11 Steps
  10. 10. The Ways of the Father: Prophets & Kings
    11 Steps
  11. 11. I Form Light and Create Darkness: The Exile, Medes & Persians, and Israel's Return
    11 Steps
  12. 12. Beyond Life and Death: India
    11 Steps
  13. 13. Immutable Tradition: China
    12 Steps
  14. 14. Honor Versus Life: Old Japan
    13 Steps
  15. 15. The Smoke of 1,000 Villages: Sub-Saharan Africa
    11 Steps
  16. 16. In Search of the Unknown God: Greek Stories & Early History
    12 Steps
  17. 17. Nostoi & Empire: Greece Versus Persia
    11 Steps
  18. 18. The Glory That Was Greece: The Golden Age
    11 Steps
  19. 19. The One and the Many: The Peloponnesian War & Philosophers
    11 Steps
  20. 20. To the Strongest: Alexander the Great
    11 Steps
  21. 21. Make Straight the Highway: Between the Testaments
    12 Steps
  22. 22. The Grandeur That Was Rome: The Roman Republic
    11 Steps
  23. 23. The War of Gods & Demons: The Conquest of Italy, Carthage, and Greece
    13 Steps
  24. 24. Crossing the Rubicon: The Fall of the Roman Republic
    11 Steps
  25. 25. Pax Romana: Caesar Augustus
    11 Steps
  26. 26. The Everlasting Man: Jesus Christ
    12 Steps
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The following transcript was automatically generated and may contain errors in spelling and/or grammar. It is provided for assistance in note-taking and review.

Alright, well today I want to take a look at that actual pattern of Genesis 1, what occurs on each of the seven days. And I’ll actually give you a theme for each of the days, we’ll talk about what actually happened, and give a few observations along the way. But for starters, I actually want to talk about kind of the unique nature of this being a seven day period. This is again something that Nahum Sarna, who I’ve quoted earlier, writes about in his commentary on Genesis. He said that the whole idea of keeping track of time as a seven day unit, we call it a week, he says it was unique to Israel, and it was unique in this creation story.

He also points out that this is a way that we keep track of time that’s different than the other ways that we actually use. So for example, when we keep track of a month, at least the way that it used to really work, it was based upon a lunar cycle.

In fact, that word “month” is related to the word “moon.” But you also can look at how we still keep track of a year, and that’s based upon how long it takes the Earth to actually travel around the Sun. So again, we keep track of most issues in time, or even the day, for example, is also how long it takes the Earth to rotate.

those are based upon the Sun or they’re based upon the moon but the week doesn’t actually have anything like that can correspond to it seems to hint at the fact that God is outside of time and he divinely reveals a unit of time that has nothing to do with the creative world as we actually know it let’s take a look at these seven days the first day of creation that the theme I’ll give for that is a theme of sovereignty. This theme of God’s actual power and his ability to order all things, ability to create all things, because it is day one that we have the creation of everything, the creation of the cosmos themselves.

It’s also day one that we have the creation of the heavens and the earth. That’s the whole creation of the cosmos right there. Some people look at Genesis 1-1 and say it’s like an introverse for the rest of Genesis. Some people say, and I tend to think I like this idea that Jesus is one, one is the creation of the heavens and the earth and then we have like the further development of the story after that.

And what’s curious about that is those heavens, which could refer to the expanse of the universe, could refer to the sky and the expanse of the universe that we see beyond it.

They could also refer to heaven itself as we know it and that’s kind of curious because the heavens aren’t really mentioned again after this unless you want to talk about the sky and so forth. So the idea being that the heavens themselves are already complete, they’re already mature, perhaps with mature angels at this point already, right there in Genesis 1.1, but the earth is different. In fact, the earth as we’re told is formless and void. Now keep in mind that this formlessness and this void only exist after that initial ex nihilo creation. It’s the whole important idea, as we already discussed, that God himself created, say, the formlessness and the void. The nothingness or the darkness, you could say, is not something that is separate from him. It’s not something that exists beyond him. It’s a part of the creation that he actually makes. That, again, is hugely different from all pagan mythologies, which usually have this great nothingness or usually have this great darkness itself that is just there.

For the Greeks, for example, it was chaos. Chaos was the very first thing and it was it just was. That was how they explained the very beginning of things. The other curious thing we see with this whole narrative of moving from something that’s formless, something that is formed, is we see how God, even though he can make everything instantaneously if he wants to, we see how he actually does take time, literally, to form things.

To to form things like land rising out of the waters or to form things like man coming from dust. This is curious because man, being made in God’s image, also orders things, also changes things, changes materials, for example, from, say, raw materials into things like beautiful paintings, for example. We also have this curious thing at the beginning of the story of Genesis here, where the Spirit of God were told. The word there is used, the word that’s used for that is ruach, which is also used, curiously, for the wind at the Red Sea crossing, but we’re told that the Spirit of God is hovering over the face of the deep, almost in preparation for what’s about to happen. And then, of course, the narrative goes on to say, and God said. Actually, we’ll use this multiple times throughout the creation account, showing us that everything that is made is made by what we call divine fiat. It is made by God’s actual will, his actual ability. It is made by his power, by his powerful words, you could say. Once again, it is not made from matter already existing. Matter is not eternal in this idea. And then, of course, he says, “Let there be light.” This little Hebrew word, “yehi,” is reserved only for the creation of light and only for the heavenly bodies that are created on day four. Nahum Sarna, I’ll quote him once again because he’s so excellent, he says, “The divine word here shatters the primal cosmic silence that existed on day one before the creation of light,” and he says, “It signals the birth of a new cosmic order.” This will be incredible because light, which is energy, you might know this from your studies in science or the laws of thermodynamics that make it very plain that energy cannot be created or destroyed.

That energy is something that can only be transferred, although it does decay over time, the whole law of entropy, for example. But the point is this, and the whole purpose of this first day and its theme, is that light shows us God’s sheer power. That’s something that’s talked about again. For example, in Psalm 104, we are told that God is wrapped in a robe of light. Or in 1 John 1, we are simply told that God is light, that there is no darkness in Him. This is an enormous distinction, even from the other views we talked about in the previous lecture, because it shows us that light existing before the sun and before the moon, or before the stars for that matter, it exists as a sign of God’s sovereignty. And of course, he separates light from dark, and he names them night and he names them day. It’s also kind of curious too, because in both the Enuma Elish, which was the old Babylonian story of creation, and in the Egyptian creation tales, they also have gods, a god or gods for example, naming things to bring them into existence or usually naming things that are already there and then claiming it.

But again, when God names something, it’s something that he has already made and he has made this ex nihilo out of nothing. We also have on day one that whole rhythm for the whole creation week of there being evening and of their being mourning. In other words, we already have a keeping of time based upon God’s spoken light that is apart from the sun. What that would have looked like, we don’t know, but that’s something worthy just of contemplating. And of course, God calls it good. Francis Schaeffer says it’s not a relative judgment when he says it’s good, meaning it’s not like he’s just saying, “Oh, that looks good to me.” Well, in a way he is, ’cause he’s God and he can do that. He’s saying that God is judging the creation and saying it’s good because it is made by himself. It’s made for his purposes. It’s made to his own ends. It’s made for his own delight. This again is entirely different than what you see in the other stories of creation from other cultures of antiquity. Nahum Sarna, once again, he says, “The pagan notion of inherent primordial evil is banished. The idea that there’s some kind of evil or darkness at the very beginning. So like chaos to the Greeks or Tiamat for example to the Mesopotamians. Those were always these primordial evils that had to be fought that were just kind of there from the beginning and had been there always.

Anyway, Starna goes on he says, “Henceforth evil is to be apprehended on the moral and not the the mythological plane, meaning evil is something that is about what we actually do, not so much about a thing that is always evil.

In fact, all things were made by God, and therefore all things are good. The things that we might call evil, say for example Satan, it’s because they are fallen. It is because they have been corrupted. That’s the nature of evil. Finally, we’ll note on day one, and we’re probably camping out here, I think the longest in this case, is that the entire creation, something Schaeffer points out, acts according to its purpose because its whole purpose is to worship God.

Its whole purpose is simply to do what it was made to do. The second day, we will give the general term or theme of separation. Because it’s on this day that the upper waters and the lower waters are separated and the firmament is created to be stretched between them. There’s some debate on what this is. It could be, say, the sky and the seas. That’s a possibility. It could maybe even refer to the heavens themselves or heaven itself and the lower universe. And there’s some different, and it could be both of those even. But the firmament, which is often called the heavens, Hebrew word is the Hebrew word “raquia” which means something that is beaten out or something that’s like a curtain. It’s actually the barrier is like the same word is used actually for the barrier to describe the tabernacle and the temple that that curtain that separated the holy place from the most holy place.

So it may simply be a barrier between like I mentioned the sky and the seas but it like I mentioned also it might be a barrier between the highest heaven, heaven itself and the rest of the created universe.

Part of the reason we think this is because we have the story from Exodus of Moses and the elders of Israel being allowed to see God on his throne through the firmament and the area around him there and in Revelation described as a glassy sea.

It’s also curious when we look at verses like Revelation 6.14 which talks about the firmament being rolled up like a scroll at the end of time. Meaning that the firmament is something temporary. It’s something that’s reflective of history and time, or, well, I should say history, really. It’s something that, as we know it, is temporary. It’s also curious that in day two, that we don’t have any mentioning of the firmament or the separation of being good. Instead, when land is created on day three, and then plants are created on day three, the whole formula of it was good is used twice.

So day two is kind of leading up to day three, which I’ll give you the theme for that now. The theme for day three is fruitfulness. It’s on this day that I mentioned to you that we have the land arising from the seas. This kind of structuring is called good because this is going to be the place where the head of creation actually dwells. This will be the site of so much fruitfulness in all the plants that actually will appear on this dry land which appears out of the waters ready for new life.

In fact, that’s something that shows up throughout the script as kind of image. It’s kind of like a baptismal image of something of new life arising out of waters. We also, of course, course with the creation of plants we’re told that these plants will produce seeds and they’ll also be trees producing fruit with their seeds in them. Some commentators have talked about how these are the essential ingredients to make bread and wine so it could be a symbol of communion that might be a bit of a stretch but it’s an interesting stretch I will say. But of course all of this thing is happening supernaturally as these things are sprouting out of the earth and they’re sprouting out in quick succession. It’s also worth noting that we start getting this language here that all of these things are are being made to sprout to bear seeds each according to their kind.

In other words, they are being made, they’re being designed to actually produce much fruit, which of course according to John 15 8 is how we actually glorify God by producing or bearing much fruit.

Day four, the theme is government. It’s the central day in the entire week. This of course is when the Sun, Moon, and the stars are all created. It’s kind of curious that they’re created after light. And it’s interesting too because in the Enuma Elish, that Babylonian tale, it also puts the creation of light before these actual heavenly bodies but it’s also actually curiously in that story the creation of light is also there before the gods themselves so it seems to actually be of greater power or of greater has been around longer than they actually have but a few things were told about the heavenly lights is that for one they provide light in the darkness but for another they separate day and and night, they also govern time, they govern seasons, they’ll be used to govern things like festivals, even be used for things like navigation, or keeping track of time, and so forth. And of course, the sun and the moon are mentioned as rulers of the day and the night, but curiously, the stars are just mentioned, they’re just kinda like, “And the stars.” It’s almost as if the stars, which are useful in navigation, for example, especially to the ancients, it’s almost curious, it’s almost like the stars are there simply as a grand adornment for the sky that mankind will be able to look up at. This is the marvelous nature about what God is actually making. He’s making all of this for his creatures for whom he cares deeply. It’s kind of the great reality and the great astonishment about what man is, the fact that God is so mindful of him. Day five, the theme that we’ll give is the theme of swarms. This is when the waters, we’re told that God brings forth creatures by his command out of the waters. And for the first time, these are called living creatures. They’re called nefesh hayah. It’s this animate life. It’s this life that is distinct from plant life. It’s this life that has breath. In fact, the term berah, which means to create and only used when God is creating, is used to describe these creatures, along with the Tannens, who are the great sea creatures found in Genesis 5.

Curiously, these Tannens are also found in various Canaanite stories. And they were usually seen in some kind of sea dragons or some kind of sea creatures that fought against their hero, whom they called Baal.

But of course, the creatures here are just creatures. they’re stripped of all their divinity. But they do seem to have a power of their own. For example, we’ll see on Genesis, or on day six, when man is given authority and dominion over the animals, he’s not given authority over the great sea creatures. This is probably the Leviathan that is discussed in the book of Job. Another thing that we’ll mention at this point too, while we’re here on day five, is that when we see these creatures created, all the flying creatures, and all of the sea or swimming creatures.

One thing you’ll notice about modern science and taxonomy, the grouping of animals in different species, is that this doesn’t fit that at all. So if we are talking about all the flying creatures, that would include birds, but would also likely include flying mammals, such as bats or flying reptiles, for example.

In other words, the way that Genesis looks at animal categories is not like we do. That’s not there’s anything wrong with how we look at them. That’s very helpful in our modern understanding of science. But what’s curious is that Genesis seems to categorize animals based upon their habitat, based upon where they actually dwell and so forth. So it’s more about their relationship with their habitat and so forth. It’s also here at this point that the very first usage of the terms be fruitful multiply is given as these flying creatures and these swimming creatures are called swarms and they are blessed by God.

Again, the first usage of that in the entirety of the Genesis 1 account. Which leads us to day six. The theme for which is vice regency. This is a term that has grander language than all the other days. This is a day that has grander language than all the other days. So for example, a definite article is used for the day and it’s called the sixth day is how we’d essentially communicate that in English. In other words, this is meant to be the climax of the whole story. This of course is when we have the creation of all the cattle, of all the creeping things, of all the beasts of the earth, all of these secondary helpers to man, and they’re all made from the earth like man. But then again we have the creation of man which which actually uses a personal Hebrew verb that actually shows strong resolutions, called the cohortive verb in Hebrew.

And of course, as I mentioned to you earlier, we also have the word bara used here to create this specific term about God creating X and helo, but it’s used four times here. In other words, this really is something different. It’s curious here that this word adam, which really means earth or means dirt. In fact, we also get the word homos related to this as well. It’s very curious that he is tied to the earth. He’s something physical. He’s made from something in this world, which you’ll find in Egyptian myths, you’ll find in Mesopotamian myths, you’ll find in the Greek myths, especially the story of Prometheus. But of course, we also have this phrase where God says, “Let us make man in our own image.” He uses the plural. It’s only used two or three times early in Genesis. Once for when man is expelled from Eden and once for when man is dispersed from Babel. But the point is this, man being made in God’s image, in fact, the verse is that God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, the nishmat hayim, and the man became a living creature.

We’re told, of course, that he created the male and female. It’s the only time this little phrase is used, and it shows us that he created them both equally. He created them both in Mago Dehi. He created them both in his image. Later on, of course, the woman will be called the helper, the Ezer in Hebrew, which means helper. It’s used throughout the Old Testament, but curiously, it’s often used to describe God, as God is a helper to us. It’s not a derogatory term at all. But of course, we know the story, based upon Genesis 2, that Adam begins to name the animals, showing that he is a different animal himself.

He has the ability of language. He also has the ability to distinguish one species from another. But as he goes through this process, it’s a process of discernment because he recognizes there’s no one like himself. And so we have the creation of Eve out of one of Adam’s ribs. This is also curious too because we have ancient Greek stories, for example, like Athena coming out of Zeus’s head. She’s not really of any part of him. She was actually born from her mother who was transformed into a fly who Zeus then swallowed. You may know that story. Or then again, we have Aphrodite arising from a part of Uranus who had just been harmed by his son, Cronus. But what’s curious about all of these things is that those all reflect some kind of violence or trickery, but this itself is something much more beautiful.

This itself is a recognition that Eve actually completes Adam. In fact, when he sees her for the first time and he sings the first song in human history about her being bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, he calls himself Ish, which means man, for the very first time in the text, and he calls her Isha, which means woman, for the very first time in the text also.

In other words, it’s almost like Adam has to see her to really recognize who he actually is. In other words, we have the fraternity of all creation, as it’s called, right here at day six. The fact that all mankind is equally made in God’s image. And then of course, we also have this text that tells us that God directly addresses them. It’s also unique. He directly talks to them. And he gives them dominion over all the creatures, save the Tannens, the great sea creatures. And he gives them all the plants for food. And he places them in the Garden of Eden, which we’re told is this place of four rivers. We’re told is this place that has gems and gold and of course has the tree of life as well as the tree of knowledge of good and evil, things we find out in later chapters.

Anyway, to conclude, we’ll finish with day seven of which the theme is of course rest because it’s on this day that God recognizes that all of creation is very good, that it is complete. Actually, he recognizes it on day six. But on day seven, it’s a day that tells us that the whole story of creation, which opened with God and what he does, also ends with God as he blesses everything, as he actually rests from his pattern or his act of creation.

One thing we’ll note about this is that when he calls time holy, that’s unique. Making time holy is also different from the Babylonian understanding, ’cause in the Enuma Elish, their creation story, it ends with the creation of a temple to Marduk, a place being made holy or set aside for holy purposes.

But here we have time itself, which is actually designed for us, for our own benefit, for our own rest from our labors. We have something that God actually makes holy once again showing he’s outside of time.