Chapter 2, Biblical Theology: Old Testament © 1971 (see end of this page)
Perhaps the first impression one receives in studying the biblical account of the Creation is that here is an exceedingly simple and at the same time a very profound and meaningful account of creation. One fairly staggers with amazement and awe at the unfathomable truths here recorded. And yet a child reads it with much profit.
The pure monotheism of the record is most significant. It has no background or source in Mesopotamian polytheistic creation stories. Close study of polytheistic creation stories should convince us that the biblical record is not a refinement or purification of these polytheistic accounts into one of monotheism, but rather that the Bible preserves the original and true tradition of creation and that all others are degenerate forms of this tradition.
The rich and concentrated doctrinal content of the first two chapters of Genesis requires special notice. As we shall note presently, unfathomable teachings meet us in almost every verse. Among these are the teachings concerning God, the Creation, light and darkness, the firmament, day, vegetation, animals, man in the likeness and image of God, male and female, God's rest, the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
We should note also that the Creation is perhaps the theme most frequently referred to in the entire Bible. It shall be my purpose at the proper place to examine some of these teachings as they explain further or throw light on the meaning of the Genesis account. Wherein biblical writers unfold this truth further than that found in the Genesis record, these teachings shall be reserved for study at the proper places throughout this work.
We need to observe that man did not witness God's creative activity but that in some way God revealed to man His work of creation. The viewpoint may be best described by the word "phenomenal," i.e., the account is given as it would appear to man who sees God performing His creative work. The problem of whether or not there is any figurative language in this record is a very real one. The terms "myth" and "parable" have been used to describe much of the language of these first two chapters. While these two terms (when properly defined) may express elements of truth, they possess the liability of discrediting the historical character of the creation account. At the same time we need to recognize an outstanding characteristic of the Hebrew language. It was pictorial. Almost all verbs of the Hebrew language are pictures of actions. On this account the interpreter needs to sense correctly the true meaning of the language. He needs to grasp the picture painted by the author. He must reproduce in his mind the thoughts which the writers intended to convey. He must seek to discern aright what is literal and what is presented in picture form. Only where this is done conscientiously and with an open mind can he gain confidence in having rightly divided the word of truth.
Many students of Genesis have come to the conclusion that chapters 1 and 2 present two accounts of creation, the first covering Genesis 1:1- 2:3, and the second 2:4-25. The writer of Genesis gave no intimation of having done so. This viewpoint has its basis in a literary analysis of the Book of Genesis as a whole and of these two chapters in particular. If two documents are embedded in this account, the writer saw no contradiction between them but rather a grand unity. A clear monotheism is found in both parts. Both accounts describe the same creation. The creative activity of God is the same in both parts of the narrative. This does not ignore some difficulties which arise in efforts to harmonize some of the details. For instance, the creative work of chapter 2 discloses a different purpose and follows a divergent pattern from that of chapter 1. This becomes evident as one lists the creative acts of chapter 2 alongside those of chapter 1. It is my conviction that these difficulties of harmonization have been overworked by many students. It would seem that a safer course to follow is to search for the grand harmony and unity which obtains in these two chapters. When this becomes clear, the details of harmonization dwindle in size proportionately.
2. God the Creator
The opening words of the Book of Genesis are exceedingly arresting. We read, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." These words declare the theocentric character of the creation account. The author ascribed creative work to God alone. It is noteworthy that the writer always placed God as the subject of the verb "create" (bara). The work of creation is thus distinctly a work of God. In the two chapters on the Creation the author concentrated on what God did. There are fully fifty instances in these two chapters where God is the subject of verbs showing what He did in the way of creation. Thus God created, God said, God called, The Lord God made, God saw, He rested, God hallowed, The Lord God formed, The Lord God planted, The Lord God commanded, The Lord God called, and did much more. In a very real way the God of Genesis 1 and 2 is the God who acts.
The author portrayed God as alone the uncreated being. His Oneness is self-evident and is everywhere apparent. There is no rival God. The account shows His absolute lordship and sovereignty.
Throughout the narrative a radical distinction is made between God and His creation. It is equally clear that the created universe is not an emanation from God. Very plainly He transcends His creation.
It is noteworthy to observe the frequency with which other biblical writers refer to, add some comment on, draw some lesson from, or base a warning on the creation account. For these reasons I am giving a great deal of space to these creation references. The following instances are especially worthy of careful study.
Moses in the first of his closing messages to Israel (Deut. 4:32-35) raised some pertinent questions with regard to "the day that God created man upon the earth." He asked, "Did any people ever hear the voice of a god speaking out of the midst of a fire?" and again, "Has any god attempted to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation by trials, by signs, by wonders, and by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and by great terrors?" The obvious answer to these questions is, "To you it was shown that you might know that the Lord is God; there is no other beside him." In this way Moses affirmed the Oneness of God who without rival is the absolute Lord of the universe. The author of Job presented by dramatic references to God's creative power the Lord's answer to the perplexities of Job. God asked, "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? . . Who determined its measurements . . . or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone, when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy" (Job 38:4-7)? These and similar questions proved the glory and majesty of God, the Creator.
The psalmists in beautiful poetic language made reference to God's creative work. Here are a few choice allusions:
"When I look at thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast established" (8:3); "The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims his handiwork (19:1); "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of his mouth. He gathered the waters of the sea as in a bottle; he put the deeps in storehouses" (33:6, 7).
This poetic description of God's work of Creation is prefaced in verse 5 by words which express very clearly the character of God as revealed in creation. It reads, "He loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of the steadfast love of the Lord."
Similarly, in 89:2-18, where a poetic description of God's creation is given the psalmist referred to God's steadfast love, His faithfulness, His righteousness, His justice. In Psalm 104, the matchless hymn of Creation, the psalmist displayed the manifold works of God. He exclaimed, "In wisdom hast thou made them all" (v. 24b). He ascribed their creation to the Spirit, whom He sent forth (v. 30).
Psalm 136 drew attention to the character of God as displayed in the Creation as well as in other mighty works. The worshiper should give thanks to God, "for he is .good," "for his steadfast love endures for ever" (v. 1). In verses 5-8 the psalmist gave details of God's creation which reflect the Genesis 1 account. The writer of Psalm 148 bids every part of God's creation, the sun, the moon, the shining stars, to praise the name of the Lord, "for he commanded and they were created." In this sublime way the psalmist leads us to see the worthiness of God to receive praise and glory for His creation.
When King Hezekiah was confronted with Sennacherib' s defiance and threat, he appealed to God, enthroned above the cherubim, the One who as God alone "hast made heaven and earth" (Is. 37:13-16).
In the prophet's message of comfort to the people of God, he described God's might and power in cosmic operation. God can be likened to no one. He created the heavens. The highest reach of the prophet's eloquence found expression in the words, "The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth." By reason of the power manifested in creation, "They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint" (40:28, 31).
In the first of the great Servant of the Lord passages (42:1-9) God's predictions through the prophet were effectual because it was He "who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread forth the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it" (42:5). In His message through Isaiah to the heathen monarch, Cyrus, God declared His power as manifested in creation (Is. 45):
I am the Lord, and there is no other (v. 5),
I form light and create darkness (v. 7).
I made the earth,
and created man upon it;
it was my hands that stretched out the heavens,
and I commanded all their host (v. 12).
For thus says the Lord,
who created the heavens
(he is God!)
who formed the earth and made it
(he established it;
he did not create it a chaos,
he formed it to be inhabited!) (v. 18).
The Lord directed Jeremiah to tell Zedekiah in his predicament: "It is I who by my great power and my outstretched arm have made the earth, with the men and animals that are on the earth, and I give it to whomever it seems right to me" (Jer. 27:5). In the promised new covenant context the most significant facts of astronomy stand out:
Thus says the Lord,
who gives the sun for light by day
and the fixed order of the moon
and the stars for light by night,
who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar-the Lord of hosts is his name:
"If this fixed order departs
from before me, says the Lord,
then shall the descendants of Israel cease
from being a nation before me for ever."
Thus says the Lord:
"If the heavens above can be measured,
and the foundations of the earth below
can be explored,
then I will cast off all the descendants of Israel
for all that they have done, says the Lord." (Jer. 31:35-37)
The creative work of God served as the basis for warnings given by several of the minor prophets. Thus Amos forewarned sinners, "Prepare to meet your God, O Israel," on the basis of the greatness of God as Creator: "For lo, he who forms the mountains, and creates the wind, and declares to man what is his thought; who makes the morning darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth - the Lord, the God of hosts, is his name" (Amos 4:12, 13)! In a later exhortation Amos commanded the people to seek the Lord and live, declaring, "He who made the Pleiades and Orion, and turns deep darkness into the morning, and darkens the day into night, who calls for the waters of the sea, and pours them out upon the surface of the earth, the Lord is his name" (5:6-8).
In like manner Zechariah prefaced a message of warning with an echo of the Genesis account: "Thus says the Lord, who stretched out the heavens and founded the earth and formed the spirit of man within him" (12:1). As Malachi chided the people for their faithlessness one to another, he injected the pertinent question, "Has not one God created us (2:10)? He exhorted God's people to be faithful one to another
in view of God's having created them all. Hear Ezra speak: "Thou art the Lord, thou alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and thou preservest all of them; and the host of heaven worships thee" (Neh. 9:6). Note that Ezra injects the idea of God's preservation.
Turning to the New Testament, one is impressed with the frequency as well as the significance of the references to the Creation by Jesus and the apostles. Thus Jesus took His hearers back in time in such language as, "From the beginning of the creation which God created until now" (Mk. 13:19). Jesus based the indissolubility of marriage on words found in the creation account. He asked, "Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one'?" On the basis of their nature by creation Jesus observed, "So they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder" (Mt. 19:4-6).
The Apostle John in a very significant reference to the Creation unfolded further what seems implicit in the Genesis account. His declaration, "In the beginning was the Word," suggests that some relation exists between the repeated expressions "God said" (Gen. 1) and "the Word," who was in the beginning. This thought gains greater weight when we read the psalmist's language, "By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all their host by the breath of his mouth" (Ps. 33:6-9). Moving with restraint in regard to the relation of the Genesis language, "God said," and John's language, "the Word," let us observe nevertheless the explicit language: "He was in the beginning with God; all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men" (Jn. 1:1-4).
In like manner Paul ascribed the Creation to Jesus, "For in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities - all things were created through him and for him" (Col. 1:16). Very significantly he added another truth in the words, "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together" (v. 17). In the way of pointing up the dignity of the Son the author of Hebrews wrote, "Through whom also he created the world" (Heb. 1:2). In the same context he ascribed to the Son the creative work described in Psalm 102:25-27, "Thou, Lord, didst found the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of thy hands." It is very noteworthy that the author of Hebrews showed the place of faith with regard to our knowledge of the creation of the world, when he wrote, "By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear" (11:3). The author would have us understand that the act of creation involved one of the profoundest of mysteries, namely, that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear. By this he showed that belief in the creative work of God is not naive but has a firm assurance and conviction which rest securely on the Genesis account of what God said and accomplished. It remained for Christ Himself to give testimony to His work of creation as follows: "The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation" (Rev. 3:14).
A unique way of referring to the Creation is found in the use of the word "foundation" (katabole). This conceives of the Creation as the laying down of a foundation to a house. Thus Christ spoke of the Father's love for Him "before the foundation of the world" (Jn. 17:24). In similar language Paul wrote how God chose us in Him before the foundation of the world. The writer of Hebrews gave a strong and forceful warning against those who refused to believe the Word of God when he wrote, "'They shall never enter my rest,' although his works were finished from the foundation of the world." This warning is based on the fact that "God rested on the seventh day from all his works" (Heb. 4:3, 4). Perhaps the most significant use of the expression "the foundation of the world" occurs in the Revelation where reference is made to "every one whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain" (13:8; see also 17:8).
3. God's Act of Creation
The definitive word used to describe God's acts of creation in Genesis 1 and 2 is bara.This word possesses a breadth of meaning. It is used with reference to bringing all things into existence: the heaven, the earth, man (male and female), great sea monsters, every winged bird, etc. Its meaning is heightened by the fact that in all instances the word is used with reference to the origin of the world. God is its subject. From this we gather that the kind of activity expressed by bara is deity work. The Septuagint translators used the word ktizo (to create), as its nearest equivalent in the Greek language. The word bara is used as a parallel with asah (to make) (Gen. 1:26, 27; Is. 41:20; 45:18); with yatsar (to form) (Amos 4:13; Is. 43:1; 45:18); and with kun (to establish) (Is. 45:18; Ezek. 28:13). It is very instructive to observe that in Isaiah 45:18 four different verbs are used to describe God's acts of creation, "For thus says the Lord, who created [bara] the heavens (be is God!), who formed [yatsar] the earth and made [asah] it (he established [kun] it; he did not create [bara] it a chaos, he formed [yatsar] it to be inhabited!)" This shows that the verb "create" (bara) is similar in meaning to the words translated formed, made, established.
It is also profitable to observe the anthropomorphic language used in Genesis and elsewhere to describe God's creative work: banah (to build) Gen. 2:22; Amos 9:6); yasad (to found, to lay foundations)  qanah (to make or to possess) (Gen. 14:19, 22; Deut. 32:6); and kun (to establish).  It should be observed that this anthropomorphic language does not destroy the idea of creation but rather enhances it. It is language that is entirely congruous with the most spiritual conception of God. It might yet be observed that the Septuagint translators used the verb poieo to translate bara  and asah.  The verb poieo used very frequently in the Septuagint and in the New Testament carries the meanings make, produce, create, and cause.
A concluding thought on the meaning of creation: prefacing every creative act in the Genesis 1 account, the words "God said" carry a very significant meaning. They suggest God's free and spontaneous action. God was not involved in a strenuous act of labor which would exhaust His powers; we see, rather, the ease of God's speaking the word and the creative act taking place. The Hebrew word bara (create), carries the same idea. Says von Rad, "Here is an idea of the absolute effortlessness of the divine creative action."  Very significantly, later writers used the same term, "and God said," to describe these acts.  They would have us note that at the word of God the universe came into being.
Throughout the Christian era Bible students have concerned themselves with the question whether or not God's creation was out of nothing (creatio ex nihilo). The author of Genesis did not concern himself with bringing this matter into sharp focus. True indeed, he used anthropomorphic language carrying the idea of making, building, laying foundations, forming, etc., but this language is not to be interpreted in a childish fashion. The verb bara (create) gives us the true lead as to the nature of the creative act. It is an act which God alone can perform. It stands in sharp contrast with the kinds of acts just named. God, the eternal God, the One who alone stands over against all finite existence, is the One who spoke the word and all things came into being. There is absolutely no sound exegetical basis for holding that the creation account merely presents God as fashioning the world out of already existing materials. The scholars who hold this idea are building an unwarranted structure on the word void (chaos). Verse 1 stands as a complete sentence. This statement declares that God brought into being the heavens and the earth which had not before existed even in a chaotic form. Verse 2 takes up the narrative which describes in detail God's creative work. It would seem that 1 Maccabees 7:28; Romans 4:17; and Hebrews 11:3 give clear support to this idea. It is the judgment of the author that those who interpret Genesis 1, 2 in the way of God's fashioning already existing materials out of a chaos are depending more upon pagan mythology than upon the ideas presented both in the Genesis account and in the later writings just mentioned.
The element of time involved in the creation account also requires study. At first thought the reader of Genesis 1 might conclude that we have here a record of six days of ordinary length involved in creation. Close study will show that an extremely literal view of the creation days presents some insurmountable problems. These problems center in the acts of creation on these several days. For instance, there are certain time involvement in such expressions as "Let the earth put forth vegetation" (v. 11), "the earth brought forth vegetation" (v. 12), "Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures" (v. 20), and "Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds" (v. 24). In addition to this the account of man's creation in chapter 2, as it stands in relation to the other parts of the creation narrative as well as its relation to the account in chapter 1, presents some real problems concerning the time elements in the Creation. We also need to be aware of the different senses given to the word "day" in these two chapters.  Another aspect of the time element is found in the manner in which the days are numbered. Thus we have: one day, a second day, a third day, a fourth day, a fifth day, and a sixth day. It should also be noted that this form of expression does not occur with the seventh day. With these considerations in mind we may be sensing the mind of the writer that he was not expressing precise twenty-four-hour days of creation as though his first concern was to present the time element but rather that he was using this form of expression to set forth the orderly method of creation as well as the greatness of the creative acts. There was an orderly progression in God's acts of creation.
We may be justified by bringing into the picture the time elements involved in geology and astronomy. These constitute God's world. We should expect that God's word and God's world do not stand in conflict but that a grand harmony exists between them. The rock strata and fossils both indicate greater eras of time. In like manner we are told that it has required millions of years for light to travel from the most distant star to this planet. The bearing of all this upon our interpretation of the creation account is at once evident. There is need for giving as much recognition to what God's world reveals as to what God's word reveals. It is for these reasons that I have come to the conclusion that the author of Genesis did not intend the word "day" to be understood according to the usual meaning of this word. He would have us see the great creative acts of God standing out before us in all clearness, orderliness, and progress.
It should be noticed in passing that there is no sound exegetical basis for translating the verb hayithah (was) as become (Gen. 1:2). The verbs to be and to become stand out in Hebrew, Greek, and English as setting forth two distinct ideas. The verb to be points to persistence of being, while the verb to become has the idea of change from one thing to another. For this reason there is no justification for translating the verb to be as to become. No translation of this verb into any language gives any recognition for translating it otherwise. Those who have translated the verb to become have sought to find biblical evidence for the geological ages and on this account place a great gap between 1 and 2 of Genesis 1. The "gap" theory has no foundation either in this passage or anywhere else in the Scriptures. The Bible makes no reference to an earlier creation than what is recorded in chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis. Exodus 20:11 and 31:17 support this idea. We dare never make the Scriptures bend to help us out in an otherwise difficult problem. God's word properly interpreted and God's world properly understood do not stand in conflict even though we may not be able to explain all the problem to our complete satisfaction.
It lies beyond my purpose to enter into a detailed study of the acts of creation. In passing, a few perspectives might be noted. First, the initial statement that God created the heavens and the earth stands out with tremendous significance. We may conclude that the creation account is not geocentric. God created the heavens and the earth, the order of expression implying the subordinate position of the creation of the earth to that of the heavens. As we noted earlier, the creation account moves forward in an orderly fashion from vegetation to the lower animals, to the higher animals, and finally to man. The account very plainly depicts the high position of man in God's creation. All creation was made subject to man. Man exercises dominion over all the rest of creation. This position of man's dignity of his being created in the image of God, furnishes the true perspective in the interpretation of the creation account. We become aware also that certain fixed laws are found in the Creation, the most significant of which pertain to the heavenly bodies, through which we have the succession of seasons, days, and years. The biological factors bound up in the expression "according to its kind" also point to certain fixed laws instituted by God, the Creator.
4. Creation of Man
a. Man the Climax of Creation
The creation of man marks the climax of God's creative work. As von Rad says, "On the topmost step of this pyramid stands man, and there is nothing between him and God."  We begin to approach the reason for God's creating man when we observe that he was created in the image and likeness of God. It was given to him to have dominion over all the rest of God's creation. The reason for the creation of man becomes more evident when we observe that God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living being. His life came from God. It was a life designed to be eternal in that by eating of the tree of life he would live forever. The dignity of man is further described in that he had a nature which, when he became morally mature, would enable him to know good from evil. Later revelation specifically states that God created man for His glory (Is. 43:7). It is for this reason that the psalmist could write, "Thou hast made him little less than God, and dost crown him with glory and honor. Thou hast given him dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet" (Ps. 8:5, 6).
b. Man's Unique Dignity
By reason of man's being made a little less than God, he possesses a unique dignity. The most expressive language setting forth this dignity is that he was created in the image and likeness of God. According to Ralph H. Elliott the word "image" (tselem) "implies a carved or hewn statue or 'copy' of something else, while 'likeness' (demuth) similarly means a facsimile. Thus, the words do not imply that man is divine. He is copied after a divine one with some of his attributes; he has functions which are like God's. Thus, God showed Himself to be the prototype and the original of man. 
New Testament Scriptures will lead us to a fuller understanding of the terms "image" and "likeness." Luke traced the genealogy of Jesus back to "Adam, the son of God." Paul confirmed the earlier teaching when he declared that "[man] is the image and glory of God" (1 Cor. 11:7). Paul most explicitly expressed man's being in the likeness and image of God in his letters to the Ephesians and Colossians. In Ephesians he wrote, "Put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness" (4:24). Similarly in Colossians he admonished believers to "put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator" (3:10). These aspects of the image of God, righteousness and holiness, were lost in the Fall but they belong to the new nature gained through the renewal in the spirit. It is a process of renewal, of becoming a new creation; its goal, the likeness of God. In this way God created man for personal relationship with Himself. It is the solid basis for the "I" and "Thou" relationship which is so essential to the Christian religion.
We have yet to note that God created man a sexual being. In Genesis 1 the writer made no distinction in time in the creation of man and woman. This suggests that whatever else chapter 2 adds to the creation of woman, we should regard man and woman as equal before God. God's blessing of the human pair included the command, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth" (1:28). In the chapter 2 account, the creation of woman is separated from that of man by God's creating all forms of animal life. Among these the man found no animal fit for him. On this account God made woman from a rib taken from the side of man. In her man found one who was bone of his bones, and flesh of his flesh, and he called her woman. Paul laid hold of the relative dignity of woman in relation to man when he wrote, "Woman is the glory of man" (1 Cor. 11:7). On this point Matthew Henry, writing more than two centuries ago, said, "If man is the head, she is the crown, a crown to her husband, the crown of the visible creation. The man was dust refined, but the woman was dust double refined, one remove further from the earth." Commenting on the woman's being made of a rib out of the side of Adam, Matthew Henry continued, "Not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved."  According to Vriezen, "Love is the original relationship between man and woman according to God's intention; she was made for him and he will cleave to her." 
This account of creation comes to a climax in the author's words, "Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh" (Gen. 2:24). Here the fundamental character of marriage stands forth. It is the forming of a new union of one man and one woman. His cleaving to his wife indicates the love relationship between the two. The words "one flesh" describe the nature of the union. They assert the indissolubility of the marriage relation. It is most noteworthy that this concept of marriage stands in the original account of creation.
It is a matter of some importance that man created in the image of God is alone a sexual being. God is not a sexual being. Herein is the radical difference between Israel's God and the Canaanite gods of ancient times. This fact lay at the basis of the condemnation of cultic prostitution at the sanctuaries of worship in Israel. 
As we leave the account of the creation of Adam and Eve it remains to be said that the author of Genesis represented Adam and Eve as being historical persons. The genealogies begin with them. The authors of 1 Chronicles and the Gospel of Luke in recording the genealogies looked to them as the progenitors of the human race. Both Paul and Jude confirmed the historicity of Adam and Eve. 
c. Cessation of Creation
The closing words of the first account of creation (Gen. 2:1-3) arrest the reader's attention: "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all his work which he had done in creation." Contrary to the usual interpretation, "God finished his work on the seventh day" rather than on the sixth day; but God also rested on the seventh day. This marked the cessation of creation. Accordingly, God blessed this seventh day and hallowed it. This setting apart of the seventh day had reference to God. No reference is made to the bearing of the Sabbath day on man. It is this fact that challenges us to discover, if possible, the meaning of God's resting on the seventh day. The interest in this inquiry becomes all the greater when we observe that there is no closing statement with reference to the seventh day as in the case of the six days. How are we to account for the absence of an expression such as "And there was evening and there was morning, a seventh day"? Does the absence of such an expression mean that in the mind of God the seventh day has not yet closed, that He continues to rest from His creative labor? Does it suggest that at some future time God will again perform a work of creation? This author believes that embedded in these verses is a profound implication that God at some future time will continue His work of creation. If this interprets the narrative correctly, we have here the first note of eschatology in the Bible. There is here a forward look to a new creation.
This interpretation of the seventh day language gains support when we read, "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered or come into mind" (Is. 65:17). We do not know what lay in the prophet's mind when he wrote these words but very clearly he was predicting a new creation, one that by contrast stands over against the creation account in Genesis. The author of Hebrews voiced something of the same sort when he quoted Psalm 95:11 as pointing to a future rest for the people of God. He noted, however, that God had finished His works of creation from the foundation of the world and that God rested on the seventh day from all His work. By this he implied that the future rest referred to in this psalm will be one that will follow a future work of creation. Peter, with evident intention of quoting Isaiah, predicted the coming of the Day of God in which the present creation will be destroyed. He wrote, "But according to his promise we wait for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (2 Pet. 3:13). It remained for John to climax this idea by writing, "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away" (Rev. 21:1). It would appear that these writers confirm the explicit eschatological note of Genesis 2:1-3.
This prepares us to understand that God will be acting to accomplish in history all that must take place to consummate all things in a new creation. This is perhaps the profoundest note of all divine revelation. It is this fact that will give meaning to the numerous instances of a forward look in the Bible. It becomes one of the major tasks of biblical theology to bring these eschatological notes into their true perspective. This conscious anticipation of the future became very distinctive in God's revelation to man. The ongoing disclosures of God's purposes in the world as found in all the Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation stitute one of the major proofs that God has spoken and that He is acting in history. It is these predictions of the world to come on which faith lays hold. The child of God believes what God has promised; he trusts that God will fulfill all His promises. He has the faith voiced by von Rad when he wrote, "Thus Genesis 2:1 ff. speaks about the preparation of an exalted saving good for the world and man, of a rest, 'before which millennia pass away as a thunderstorm' (Novalis). It is as tangibly 'existent' protologically as it is expected eschatologically in Hebrews (Heb. ch. 4)." 
d. Religious Aspect of Creation
One of the most significant purposes of the Creation was that of leading man into a spiritual relationship with God. Herein lies the essence of true religion. We shall examine this from three angles:
first, the theocentric aspect of the relationship; second, the anthropocentric aspect; and third, these two aspects brought into focus as furnishing the essence of religion.
First, the theocentric aspect. Since God created man, the latter is subject to God. God possesses absolute supremacy over His creature man. The intimacy of this relationship is heightened all the more because of man's creation as a personal being. On this account man's subjection to God is a personal choice. As a creature, man is absolutely dependent on God. While God gave man dominion over all that He created, yet all things that man has under his care come from God.
This theocentric aspect, to use the words of Bernhard W. Anderson, "sets the stage for the unfolding of the divine purpose and inaugurates a historical drama within which first Israel and, in the fullness of time, the church were destined to play a key role. Thus the creation stands in an inseparable historical relation to the narratives that follow, particularly those that span the generations from Abraham to Joshua.  The idea that creation is inseparable from the history that follows becomes very clear in the frequent references to creation in the Bible. See again these references given in an earlier section, and note how the various writers linked a particular event in history or gave pertinent instruction on the basis of God's being the creator of the world.
This theocentric aspect becomes still clearer as we note the relation of this divine purpose to the theological concepts of preservation and providence. The author of Hebrews presented the idea of preservation when he referred to the Son, whom God appointed the heir of all things, "through whom also he created the world. He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power" (Heb. 1:1-3). The outworking of divine preservation comprehends the broad scope of divine providence. Throughout the history of the universe and continuing until the consummation, the hand of God is evident in leading the affairs of the world to its goal, the new creation. This has a vital bearing for man in relation to his creator. Man needs to be subject not only to the providential workings of God, but he needs also to strive, through loving obedience to God; to work together with Him to accomplish this goal. One of the saddest aspects of human history is man's failure to work with God in this ongoing divine providence.
Second, the anthropocentric aspect of God's purpose in creation. As noted above, man's creation in the image of God determined the level of God's dealings with him. The writer of Psalm 82 grasped the point of man's likeness to God when he wrote, "I say, 'You are gods, sons of the Most High, all of you' " (Ps. 82:6). This divine aspect of man's nature points to the character and pattern of man's approach to God. In the setting of the psalm just quoted, man is the son of God and hence he is divine, but not in the fullness of Christ's deity (Jn. 10:34).
There is another side to this anthropocentric aspect. It is the basic idea of the unity of the human race. All mankind are descendants of Adam. Herein we find the basis of the terrible fact of universal sinfulness of man. Paul wrote, "Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned" (Rom. 5:12). In like manner there is a common need of redemption. God's redemptive provision is applicable to the entire human race. As Paul said, "Then as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and life for all men" (Rom. 5:18). To gain the full force of this anthropocentric aspect we might think of the difference it would have made if God had created many human beings without any relationship one to the other. In such a situation the sin of one man would not have affected all mankind leading to universal depravity. It would have affected only the descendants of the one who had sinned. In like manner the saving benefits of Christ's redemptive work would not reach to all who have sinned because He would not have borne a relationship as a human being to all mankind.
Third, the theocentric and the anthropocentric aspects held in focus. We gain the true concept of the essence of religion through a study of the relation of man, the creature, to God, the Creator. This relationship is experiential in character. The most potent expression of man's religion is found in worship. Space forbids a presentation of worship as found in the great book of Psalms but a casual reading of such familiar psalms as 8, 19, 23, 24, 32, 42, 51, 90, 91, 95, 104, 136 will show that central in worship are praise, prayer, communion, and fellowship, repentance, faith and commitment. Before worship can be real the worshiper needs to repent from sin and cry to God for forgiveness.
It is this convergence of the theocentric and anthropocentric aspects which leads to covenant relationship between God and man. It will become evident when we study God's approach to our first parents after they sinned. He initiated the reconciliation and restored them to fellowship with Him. It will become still clearer in the covenants made with Noah, Abraham, Israel, and the new covenant instituted by Christ. A study of these covenants will show how essential this relationship between God and man is to the whole idea of religion. In fact, we shall discover that the entire discipline of biblical theology centers in the covenant relationship between God and man. Among the students of biblical theology, Walther Eichrodt grasped most fully this covenant aspect of biblical theology. He says, "In the face of all objections, the covenant' has been retained as the central concept, by which to illuminate the structural unity and the unchanging basic tendency of the message of the Old Testament. For it is in this concept that Israel's fundamental conviction of its special relationship with God is concentrated. . . . Every expression of the Old Testament which is determinative for its faith rests on the explicit or implicit assumption that a free act of God, consummated in history, has raised Israel to the rank of the people of God, in whom the nature and will of God are to be revealed. 
5. God's First Revelation to Man
a. Interpreting the Garden of Eden Narrative
The Garden story offers many real problems for interpretation. Some of these problems have been noticed already in the discussion of the creation stories. It would seem that the principles of interpretation followed in those stories would obtain here. To begin, we need to exercise caution against an extreme literalism in determining the details of the Garden scene. Some students have carried the literalism of interpretation to the extent of regarding the fruit of the trees as possessing some magical powers. The biblical narrative rightly understood does not give this idea.
Some Bible students are content to trace elements of the Garden story to pagan myths. There is no proof for this procedure. This is the same situation that they find in comparing the creation account with similar stories found in ancient nations. It would appear that some students are content to trace these stories back to heathen nations rather than to believe that the heathen nations received them from the people to whom God revealed them. The absolute monotheism of the biblical narratives as compared with the polytheism of pagan myths should stand as adequate support of the authenticity and priority of the biblical narratives as over against the degenerate forms of these stories among pagan nations.
There are a number of elements in this story which support an actual event in the Garden. Further, there are evidences which point to a profound meaning lying back of the elements of the story. This would suggest that the historical narrative of the Garden scene possesses elements of symbolism or of a sacrament, as we shall note presently. The very names of the two trees give expression to this idea. This is the sort of thing found all through the Bible. A study of circumcision, offerings and sacrifices, and the Christian sacraments shows that an outward physical act was given a deep spiritual significance. This same principle obtains here as well. Let us proceed then to allow the narrative to stand in its own right and to speak for itself. Later biblical references to the Garden scene should give us a true understanding of the story. Seen in this light, a profound meaning attaches to the Garden of Eden incident. Any other kind of interpretation nullifies the intent of the narrative.
b. Meaning of the Garden of Eden Story
The narrative begins with the words, "And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed" (Gen. 2:8). It is not naive to regard this statement as expressing the actual planting of a garden in Eden. It was an actual geographic locality in the east. It was entirely natural for later writers to refer to this as the Garden of the Lord.  On this account we should think of it as the dwelling place of God on this earth. God had planned that the Garden should be His meeting place with man. He received man into fellowship with Himself in a simple and expressive way. The Garden illustrated the God-centered character of religion. God designed that the human race should always dwell in this Garden where there would be full and free access to Him. This suggests the awfulness of the tragedy when our first parents were driven from the Garden and could no longer experience this free access to God.
After the sin of our first parents, God provided for man's access to Him outside of the Garden by way of personal appearances, as in the case of Abraham; by way of His providing a dwelling place among men, as in the tabernacle and temple; by way of the earthly ministry of the incarnate Son of God; by way of the indwelling Holy Spirit in man; and ultimately and gloriously in Paradise regained, when it will be said, "Behold, the dwelling of God is with men. He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people and God himself will be with them" (Rev. 21:3).
The tree of life stood in the midst of the Garden. God designed that after proper testing of our first parents they should eat of the tree of life and live forever (Gen. 3:22). By reason of their disobedience this privilege was denied to them. The story gives no indication that the tree of life possessed the dynamic of giving eternal life to those who ate of it. Consistency of interpretation would hold that the literal eating of the fruit of this tree was the symbol of God's giving to them eternal life.
Later references to the tree of life may help us to understand its meaning. By reason of their context the four references to the tree of life in the Book of Proverbs  give a little illumination on this point. Ezekiel's vision of the trees growing on both sides of the river may bear some relationship to the tree of life. In the vision the river flows from the sanctuary of God. The trees growing on both sides of the river draw their nourishment from the river so that they bear fruit, fresh fruit every month. Their fruit was to be for food and their leaves for healing. Since the sanctuary was the dwelling place of God we may properly conclude that Ezekiel was teaching that spiritual life, even eternal life, comes from God.
References to the tree of life in the Book of Revelation serve as the best commentary on the Genesis story. The church of Ephesus was told, "To him who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God" (Rev. 2:7). These words suggest that all Christians are in a conflict just as our first parents were in the Garden of Eden. Those who conquer will be allowed to eat of the tree of life. This is parallel to the scene in the Garden. If our first parents had been obedient in their test, they would have been granted the right to eat of the tree of life. Most expressive are the words from the last chapter of Revelation, "Then he showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations" (Rev. 22:1, 2). These verses reflect both the Garden of Eden scene and Ezekiel's vision. The picture serves to confirm the idea that Ezekiel's vision expanded the truth of the Garden scene. The vision of John pointed clearly to the spiritual significance of the literal tree of life in Eden. This approach in interpretation is comparable to that applied to other biblical teaching. Circumcision was a literal act but in the days of Moses we read of uncircumcised lips and uncircumcised hearts.  In like manner Paul dealt with the Passover when he regarded Christ as our Passover.
c. Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil
The starting point in the interpretation of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is to be found in God's prohibition against the eating of the fruit of this tree. Here was a test, a proving, that turned solely on obedience. Adam and Eve, created in the image of God, were subject to God. God the Creator required absolute obedience of those who were created in His image. He would lead them to choose the good in the setting of a free and responsible decision between good and evil. The test turned entirely on the principle of obedience. Through obedience they would continue to have full fellowship with God. It would eventually lead them to eat of the tree of life, which was the symbol of their gaining eternal life. Without a doubt the fruit of this tree was most delicious. There was nothing sinful in the eating of this fruit apart from God's command. The name of the tree gives adequate grounds for believing that God designed that this test should lead our first parents from a state of moral innocence to that of moral maturity.
To gain a knowledge of good and evil meant to learn the ethical antagonism between right and wrong. The test of obedience to God in an area not ethically wrong in itself most clearly revealed this antagonism. As we shall observe presently, Satan used this test as the occasion for tempting them to disobey God. He deceived Adam and Eve by concealing the fact that by eating of the tree they would become guilty before God. By eating of the tree their eyes were opened and they came to know good and evil, but it was by the way of transgression. God had intended that they should come to know the difference between right and wrong through obedience to His command. He would lead them to moral maturity without the experience of sin. The experience of sin deprived them of eating of the tree of life. This interpretation has support in later biblical teaching which pointed to early manhood or womanhood as the age in which people come to know this ethical antagonism. Isaiah picked up this idea in his prediction of Immanuel. He pointed to the time in the life of Immanuel when He would know how to refuse the evil and choose the good. 
This study of the tree of life and of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil naturally leads us to inquire into the meaning of the words, "In the day that you eat of it you shall die" (Gen. 2:17). What is the concept of death given in Genesis 2, 3? To begin, the author of Genesis brought the idea of death into the narrative without defining it. This requires us to search for its meaning by a study of its usage in the context. The presence of the tree of life in the Garden suggested that man, according to God's plan, should eventually eat of this tree. By eating of the tree of life man would live forever (3:22). From this we may conclude that man by creation was mortal. Eternal life depended on eating of the tree of life. It would appear that God designed that after man showed obedience in the test he could then eat of the tree of life. God had not planned that man should die, even though by creation he was mortal. In the wisdom of God the way of being saved from dying would be by obedience to God in this test.
In the temptation scene Satan deceived Eve by combining the truth and a lie. The truth lay in this that by eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they would not immediately experience physical death. The deception lay in the fact that there was an immediate experience of death of a different kind. The sequence of the narrative shows that this breaking of fellowship between them and God was death. On this account God would not allow them to eat of the tree of life in a state of broken fellowship. Only those in full fellowship with God could eat of this tree. The language, "You are dust and to dust you shall return" (3:19), applied to Adam and Eve as a result of their eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That is, the curse upon our first parents culminated in physical death. These words were spoken after their transgression. The entire context teaches that death involved both physical and spiritual aspects which were inseparable. Their transgression of God's command immediately broke their relation with God. It led to physical death, which in due time would take place. God's words to Ezekiel may shed some light on the spiritual aspect of death found in the Genesis narrative. God said, "The soul that sins shall die" (Ezek. 18:4).  In like manner the Apostle Paul intensified the spiritual aspect of death when he wrote, "Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned" (Rom. 5:12). [ 23] That the physical aspect of death is closely associated with the spiritual became evident in the death of Adam (Gen. 5:5).
d. Serpent's Encounter with Eve
The initial problem that we face here is that of interpreting the serpent. Most modern scholars trace the idea of the serpent back to Babylonian myths. For this line of descent there is no proof. It is more in accord with the facts of the case to hold that the Babylonian myths are degenerate forms of the true tradition given in the Bible. An explanation of the serpent, nevertheless, does call for solution. The writer introduced the narrative without any explanation more than to note, "The serpent was more subtle than any other wild creature that the Lord God had made" (Gen. 3:1). So far as the narrative is concerned, we are not able to determine how the serpent could speak. One thing is very clear, the encounter with the woman involved the most subtle form of temptation. Human ingenuity could hardly make a temptation scene more real or graphic. Some students attempt to escape the problem by calling this a parable or myth. Whether or not it is proper thus to solve the problem of taking the language literally, sound interpretation points to a real experience of temptation coming into the lives of our first parents. Any view that denies the reality of a temptation encounter fails to interpret the intended meaning of the narrative. Furthermore the writer gave no idea of the serpent being Satan. The existence of a personal archenemy of mankind, Satan, was not revealed so early.
Later biblical writers did not explain the problem of a literal serpent being the agent of temptation. Their identification of Satan as the agent manifested in the serpent or working through the serpent is very clear. As early as the apocryphal Book of Wisdom we read, "By the envy of Satan death entered into the world" (11:20). In Jesus' explanation of the Weeds of the Field parable, He identified the enemy who sowed the weeds as the devil (Mt. 13:39). By this Jesus attributed the presence of sin in the world to the devil. On another occasion Jesus spoke of the devil as being a murderer from the beginning. He is a liar and the father of lies (Jn. 8:44). In similar language John wrote, "He who commits sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning" (1 Jn. 3:8). Paul made an evident allusion to the tempter in the Garden when he wrote, "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet" (Rom. 16:20). Elsewhere Paul referred to the serpent as having deceived Eve by his cunning, but he identified Satan with the serpent in the same context (2 Cor. 11:3, 14). In the Revelation the clearest identification becomes evident. We read, "And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world - he was thrown down to the earth" (Rev. 12:9; 20:2).
The serpent encountered the woman with a question which sounded very innocent. It had to do with a certainty of fact, "Did God say, 'You shall not eat of any tree of the garden'" (Gen. 3:1)? The question had in it the implication of a serious problem of doubt. It could easily lead her to distrust God's command. Her answer was such that the serpent could move forward in his design to deceive her. He said a half-truth in the words, "You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil" (Gen. 3:4, 5). The deception lay first in the meaning of the word "die." The serpent implied a physical death. Further, there was truth in the idea that her eyes would be opened and in that sense she would be like God, knowing good and evil. The deception lay in her coming to know good and evil by way of committing sin. This was not the intention of God. He purposed that they should come to know good and evil without the experience of sin. By their remaining true to God's command and by their being obedient to the test, in a state of pure innocence their eyes would have been opened to know good and evil. Herein lay the lie and the deception. By giving heed to the serpent's deceptive words, the woman yielded to the beauty of the fruit and to the desire to make herself wise, and ate of the fruit - together with her husband.
Since the temptation of Jesus, the second Adam, had much in common with the temptation of Eve, we may gain a fuller understanding of the Garden scene by noting the similarity of Jesus' temptation with that of our first parents. There was purpose in Jesus' probation. The Spirit led Him into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. Satan encountered Jesus specifically on the point of obedience during the probation. Jesus, the God-man, needed to prove Himself genuinely human through the fundamental aspect of humanity, that of obedience to God. To turn stones into bread and to eat was in itself nonmoral. But for Jesus to have done so would have violated the limitations of human nature. The temptation turned solely on the matter of obedience to God. Jesus' temptation was real. The test of obedience on the part of Jesus was identical in nature with that of our first parents. Satan's words of deception to Jesus in the second and third temptations were similar in character to the words he spoke to the woman.
The immediate effects of the sin of Adam and Eve are very noteworthy. Their eyes were opened and they knew that they were naked. They immediately sought to cover their nakedness. For them nakedness had become a shame. They had come to know good and evil but it was not experienced in the way God had intended. They came to know good and evil by the way of transgression and its accompanying guilt of sin. Their guilty consciences spoke in the sense of shame in being naked. Why their sense of guilt expressed itself in this way is not entirely clear. Perhaps the reason for the shame of nakedness experienced by mankind throughout human history may suggest the reason for their shame. This shame of bodily nakedness bears a close relation to the powers of procreation given to the human race. The sense of guilt manifested itself in this way in order to teach the most tragic lesson: the effects of sin in the way of guilt center in the powers of procreation because all mankind were then sinful in their very nature. The shame of bodily nakedness ever continues to reflect the guilt of our first parents' sin.
e. God's Encounter with Sinful Man and Woman
Because of the tragic event described above, the Lord God came on the scene, "walking in the garden in the cool of the day." This reflects one purpose of the Garden; namely, that in this environment the Lord God would fellowship with those who were created in His image. By reason of their guilt and shame the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God. The scene that follows is full of instruction as an account of God's self-revelation to man. 
Let us note first that in this situation God took the initiative. It was not a case of the man and woman seeking for God by reason of their guilt and shame, but rather that God sought them out. This divine initiative is but the beginning of uncounted approaches that God has made to man because of his sin. On this account God's coming on the scene obtains special significance in that it becomes the prototype of all future encounters of God with man. It suggests at once that sinful man is helpless and that God acts in man's behalf to restore broken fellowship. It anticipates the grandest divine initiative expressed in the words, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (Jn. 3:16).
The Lord God's conversation with the sinful pair led at once to the prediction of a coming conflict. This conflict would center in what God does to put enmity between the serpent and the woman. What this means is that the newly established friendship of the man and the woman with the serpent would be broken. God would restore friendship and fellowship of the man and the woman with Himself. The breaking of the friendship with the serpent and the reestablishing of friendship with God would have a direct bearing on their affections. Change of affection results from acts of love and compassion on the part of the supposed enemy. By implication, God would restore the love relationship between Himself and sinful man through something that He would do.
God declared that the conflict would involve the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. It would not be the outcome of an immediate combat. The battle would continue. The language implies that the conflict would involve the entire human race. This suggests that the entire human race would ultimately be involved in a temptation experience similar to that of Adam and Eve. Human experience has confirmed this. The conflict between man and the serpent came to a climax in the temptation of the God-man, Jesus Christ. Very plainly, the temptations of Adam and Eve, of Jesus Christ, and of all mankind are essentially one in character. The difference lies in this that the disobedience of the man and the woman must be undone. This leads to the heart of the conflict predicted in Genesis 3:15.
The Lord God also pointed to the issue of the conflict. The seed of the woman would bruise the head of the serpent. The serpent would bruise the heel of the seed of the woman. We do not know how the man and the woman understood this language. It is possible that they realized that out of the race would come the fatal blow. Whatever meaning they took from these words, they had grounds for believing that God would destroy the serpent.
As God's conversation continued, the elements of justice and mercy in God's dealings with the man and the woman became apparent. Justice would manifest itself in the pain of childbearing, in the curse inflicted on the ground, in the toil of man for his food, and in physical death. Mingled with these acts of justice was the expression of grace. Even though childbearing would be painful, yet through it the race would be propagated. Even though the ground was cursed and man needed to toil for his food, yet through his toil he would acquire food.
The sequel to this encounter became evident in God's provision of garments of skins by which the Lord God clothed Adam and Eve. We naturally inquire whether or not there was any special significance to this act of God. Avoiding extremes of giving too little or too much meaning to this act of God's, one may make two observations on this provision of clothes for Adam and Eve. In the first place, the Lord God made the provision. He discarded the aprons of fig leaves and provided the garments of skins. Apparently Adam and Eve did not possess the knowledge of what kind of garments would cover their nakedness.
The initiative taken by God bears the same character as that found in the entire encounter. God needed to do what man was unable to do. In the second place, the provision of garments of skins may carry deeper meaning by reason of the shedding of blood required for providing them. A momentous fact soon rises before us. Beginning with Abel and continuing through Noah, Abraham, Moses, and throughout Israel's history we meet bloody sacrifices. How did these bloody sacrifices originate? There is no recorded command of God for His people to make such offerings. Is it going too far with this narrative to say that Abel gained the idea of a bloody sacrifice when he heard how God had clothed his parents with garments of skins? In my judgment this incident carries such potential meaning." 
A few concluding thoughts bring the study of this encounter to a close. The entire incident underscored the idea of eschatology in God's revelation. We will need to judge whether or not the account of the seventh day of creation and this story possess any eschatological significance. At some point along the way, whether in the time of Noah or of Abraham, this aspect of divine revelation does become entirely clear. At whatever time this characteristic of divine revelation does become evident, the fact is of highest importance. Divine revelation looked forward to what God would accomplish in the future. He was moving forward to a definite goal. The God who acts in history would magnify His glory in what He would ultimately accomplish in His mighty works. This aspect of eschatology marked the beginning and gave the ground of hope on the part of man in his relation to God. This hope has its basis, its foundation in man's faith-relation to God. It is the idea grasped, enlarged, and intensified by the author of the letter to the Hebrews when he wrote, "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old received divine approval" (Heb. 11:1, 2). The author's message began with Abel and included men and women of faith throughout sacred history. He concluded with the words, "All these, though well attested by their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had foreseen something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect" (Heb. 11:39, 40).
1. Gen. 1:1, 21, 27; 2:3,4; 5:1,2; 6:7; Deut. 4:32.
2. Pss. 24:2; 78:69; 89:11; 102:25; 104:5; Pray. 3:19; Is. 48:13; 51:13, 16; Amos 9:6; and Zech. 12:1.
3. Pss. 8:3; 24:2; 65:6; 03:1; 96:10; 119:73,90; Is. 45:18; Jer. 10:12; 51:15; Ezek. 28:13.
4. Gen. 1:21.27; 5:1,2; 6:7; Is. 42:5; 43:1; 45:7, 18.
5. Gen. 1:7, 11, 12, 16,21, 25, 26. 31; 2:2-4; 3:1; 5:1; 6:6.
6. OT. Theology, Vol. 1, p. 142.
7. Ps. 33:9; 148:5; Is. 45:12; Heb. 11:3; 2 Pet. 3:5,6.
8. 1:5, 14, 16; 2:4.
9. Op. cit., p. 144.
10. Message of Genesis, Broadman Press, p. 36.
11. An Exposition of the Old and New Testaments,(New York: Fleming H. Revel Company), Vol. 1 comments on 2:21-25.
12. An Outline of Old Testament Theology (Boston: Charles T. Branford Co., 1958), p. 206.
13. See Lev. 19:29; Nub. 23:18; 1 Sam. 2:22-25; 1 Kings 15:12; 22:46.
14. Rom. 5:14; 1 Cor. 15:22,45; 2 Cor. 11:3; 1 Tim. 2:13. 14; Jude 14.
15. Genesis. A Commentary, by Gerhard von Rad (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1961), p. 61.
16. The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, "Creation" (New York: Abingdon Press. 1962), A-D. p. 727.
17. Theology of the Old Testament (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press. 1961). vol. I, pp. 13, 14.
18. Gen. 13:10; Is. 51:3; Ezek. 28:13; 31:8,9.
19. Prov. 3:18; 11:30; 13:12; 15:4.
20. Ex. 6:12,30; Lev. 26:41; Ezek. 44:7,9.
21. Is. 7:13-16. See also Nut. 1:39; Num. 14:29.30.
22. See also vv. 19-32; 33:11-16.
23. See also 6:23; Eph. 2:1-6; Col. 2:13.
24. See Vos, op. cit., pp. 52-55, for a significant discussion of God's encounter with Adam and Eve.
This is chapter 2 of Chester K. Lehman's Biblical Theology: Old Testament. Published by Leland M. Haines by arrangement with Herald Press, Scottdale, Pa. 15683 . Copyright © 1971 by Herald Press. All rights reserved.
IBSN 1-890133-12-4. Third printing, 1997.
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