Creation and Covenant              

God, Abel, Noah and Abraham

A talk given to the students at the Peninsular Gospel Training Course, Plymouth

Satan hates all Scripture, all the Word of God; but especially Genesis and Revelation. Why?
      Genesis reveals how he caused the fall and in Rev. the Sovereign Lord reveals his final and total defeat.
These two books are the only accurate account of the beginning and the end.
      In between is history - HIS STORY.
            RE class teacher asked, "what would you do if Jesus walked through the door?
                  Bright schoolboy replied, "I would give him this red covered Bible and say, 'Jesus, This is Your Life'"!
      The whole Bible is an account of how Jesus Christ implements God's Rescue Plan.
            But the first two chapters reveal Creation and last two chapters reveal creation of a new heaven and a new earth.
God included them because he wants us to look at the earth and the stars, and ask, "How come?"

In the beginning God ... Gen 11

What clear definitive statement do these first four words of Scripture make?
      That before anything was created, God was. He existed before time began. Indeed, he made time.
Do we know of anything that happened before the beginning?
      The Son of God was chosen and agreed to be the Lamb who would bear the punishment we would deserve. 1Pe 119,20
      He wrote your name in the Book of Life!!  Eph 14
The creation story always stretches our minds, and I hope also our hearts in sheer wonder.

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth
Before the 6 days of earth's creation began, God created the heavens: the whole universe of millions of 'stars'.
      Each one of these 'stars' (e.g. M83 see below) is a galaxy like our Milky Way!

    And that has >200 billion little stars like our sun.
            Some 'stars' are huge clouds of matter in extraordinary shapes or Nebulae.



  Omega Swan M17

      Among the stars that form our galaxy in our solar system.
      Almighty God chose to set one special tiny speck of dust that we call earth in the midst the vast heavens.
      If earth is represented by a 5mm mapping pin how far from this room would you have walk to reach the Sun?
            Near Leeds or Liverpool - 289 miles. And another 11,300 miles (just short of New Zealand) to reach Pluto.
            And how many metres in diameter would the sun be ? 4345m (2.7 miles!)
      Yet this earth, this tiny speck of dust is unique.
     It was chosen by God to be the very pinnacle of his creation.
            "What is man that you are mindful of him?"  Psalm 83-5
So in the beginning God created a vast universe with a specially designed and positioned earth.
      It had a molten core, a cooled surface with lots of water.
      But it was formless and empty. It was dead - no organic chemistry. There was no land, no light and no life.
      Darkness was over the surface of the deep and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
This is the starting point in the '6 day' creation revelation.

Day 1 - 3  First God makes the earth habitable.
He gave, or had given earth its precise orbit at exactly the right distance from the sun, (and a moon for tides)
      He gave it rotation (surface didn't freeze or boil), tilt (seasons), ionosphere (absorbs UV and X-rays),
            an atmosphere to absorb significant IR, magnetism (deflects solar cosmic rays), gravity and electricity.
      He creates light (starts sun's nuclear fusion) and separates light and darkness.
      He separates thick 'mist' into water and sky (clouds and atmosphere, he initiates the weather and water cycle)
      He separates vast oceans (now 71% of surface and av >12,000 ft ) from dry land
      He splits the earth's crust, moves continents and makes mountains.
      He creates vegetation each according to their different kinds, each bearing seed for food and multiplication.
      He designed photosynthesis that absorbs CO2 and releases O2 that would be needed by fish, birds and mammals.
God took enormous care over his creation to make everything ready.

Day 4 - 6  Then God populates the uninhabited earth.
      He makes the sun and moon (already created) visible from earth.
      He populates the sea with fish and the sky with birds.
      He populates the land with animals (and insects, microbes).
      And finally he creates man in his own image.
      God blessed man and he gave him seeds for food and the responsibility to care for it all.
            God's rule, his care, is kind, just and organised.
            Note: This dominion is given to all men and women, not one man or even one gender.

Thus there was order, simplicity, balance, beauty, skill, imagination, variety and blessing.
      Scientifically it is highly complex and highly accurate;
      An average adult has some 75 million million cells! (and identical twins both from 1 cell are identical)
      Each human cell contains a million x a million molecules.

Each cell nucleus has 46 chromosomes each of which is surrounded by DNA molecules - like beads on a string.
      Though the whole cell is only 1/150 mm diameter,
            each of these DNA molecules is 1.8 metres long! intricately packaged in a very precise double helix structure.
Yet each cell is made from a few simple building blocks:
                  98.5% is water + hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, calcium and phosphorus. 1.5% other (iron, copper ...)

The whole universe is made from just 118 elements.

The earth teemed with life - creatures with sight, feeling, hearing, smell, and taste.
      And men with intelligence and most important, men made in the image of God himself. Men with a soul.
What makes man unique and so different from all animals?
            Worship, beauty, music, imagination, kindness, intellect, reason.
            But also greed, war, pride, cruelty, revenge, wickedness.

God blessed the 7th day and made it holy. 23
Note: No evening and morning on the 7th day. No end. Every day God still enjoys his marvellous creation.
            There are10 commands in Gen 1. Each were instantly obeyed! God said ... And it was so.

Isn't God absolutely fantastic!!

Not all men think so.
Peter accurately foretold that men will finally scoff at the truth of God being Creator.  2 Pe 33-7
      If men then also deny God's Judgement, e.g. flood in Noah's day, Sodom ...
            then it is quite safe to ignore God. There is no need for anyone to fear him!
Now is not the time to show why evolution is both incorrect and wicked. But note the result:
      Man becomes even more arrogant and proud of his achievements in science, technology and medicine.
Man thinks God can be side-lined without any consequences
      "Survival of the fittest" when applied to humans inevitably leads to genocide and war
            (Basis of Nazi belief in supremacy of Aryan race).

Do Science and Scripture Conflict?

No, I don't think so.
Science is not a threat to faith nor is it the enemy of Scripture, but adds proof to its truth and consistency.
Many are frightened by the thought that a 'day', which in Hebrew is 'a Yom', isn't always 24 hours.
5 indications why I think the 'long day' may be the way God chose and the way that scripture tells it:
      1. After separating the land and sea, God chose a slow continental drift
            (not instant or 24 hours at 40 mph! Still moving about 2"/year.)
      2. God ordered each 'kind' of plant, fish and animal to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.
            They obeyed - but it took more than 24 hours!
      3. God called the light day ('Yom' here = 12 hours of daylight c.f. night).  15
      4. These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created,
            in the day (a 'yom' of 6 days) that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.  24 (KJV)
      5. The day ('yom' or reign) of the Lord.  Mal 41,5  Is 136,9 etc (x19)
            This can be the instant of his coming or the age of his rule (which is 1000 years or all eternity!)
So, far from denying the accuracy of Scripture,
      I think this view enhances Scripture and the eternal truth of God's amazing design.
Others may think that God did everything in 6x24 hours - fine! No quarrel.
God wants us to be absolutely sure of the who and what of creation.
      The when / how long seems to be more flexible.
            (Perhaps the question arises because we are almost obsessed with time and clocks today!)

The most vital truth is the "Wow" of God's incredible, beautiful, ingenious, creation.
The power to make energy and matter from nothing, its design, simplicity, complexity, variety, balance, colour, ...
      from the microscopic to the millions of light-years, and all with such apparently simple 'building blocks' ...

Consider the common Daddy-long-legs.

This little chap settled on the window while my wife and I were having supper one evening.
I watched it for while and marvelled! Then said, "I must show this to the students."
Each leg has a rigid bone structure to support its weight,
Each has 'hip' joint that is rotational and 3 dimensional. Each one also has 6 other two dimensional 'knee' joints.
Each joint has an energy supply and an actuator or muscle to enable movement,
Each muscle in each joint has a separate control system to and from the control centre or brain.
And throughout the length are nerves to detect feeling and position.
Moreover each limb is even self-repairing for many injuries.
Yet each leg is only about the size of an average needle!
God is absolutely amazing!
As an ex farmer I'm not generally squeamish
      but confess I'm now less eager to squash the next one that dares to enter our house!

God's Covenants and Promises

This is the 2nd half of my brief - what connection is there with Creation?

The Lord Almighty will not allow his fantastic creation to fall into the dustbin.
      He Covenants to rescue and restore. He Covenants a redeeming Saviour and a mighty Advocate.
As Karl said 2 weeks ago, "God is the promise-Maker and the promise-Keeper; we are the promise-Breakers."
What is a covenant?
      A Covenant is an unchangeable, divinely imposed legal agreement (guarantee) made by God with man.
God has made several covenants with men.
      A Worldwide Covenant with Noah that he would not the destroy the earth again by flood.
            Note that Peter reveals a rider to that covenant.  2Pe 310-13  Next time it will be by fire. Some covenant!!
      Personal Covenants like with Jacob.
            This is what the Lord says - he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel:
            "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine."
 Is 431
      God made a personal/national covenant with David:
            Has God not made with me an everlasting covenant, arranged and secured in every part?
            Will he not bring to fruition my salvation and grant me my every desire?  2Sam 235
We aren't going to focus on Jacob or David, or even on the probably familiar New Covenant in Jer 31
      Here God promises the house of Israel that instead of always wanting to sin and disobey the Law,
      God will write his Law in their hearts. A day is promised when temptation will have no pull on us at all!

Let us go to Gen 4 and to the story of Abel
Abel was well aware of the terrible sinful plight he had inherited - and it grieved him.
Abel was a shepherd; he brought the best portions of the firstborn of his flock. Couldn't be better.
      But he knew that his offering was not good enough.
      He knew that God would have to provide the full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice for sin.
      What made Abel so glad?
            God had given him assurance that his sins were forgiven, and he had received the gift of God's righteousness.
            How do we know this?
                  Heb 114 describes Abel as commended by God as a righteous man.
            It also says that he was a man who by faith offered a better sacrifice. By faith?
            Heb 111 defines faith as the assurance of things hoped for -
                  He didn't just hope for forgiveness God assured him of it.
                  This God-given assurance was God's personal covenant with Abel.
                        Not pride; but the gracious statement of our mighty Advocate and the verdict of the Judge.
                  And so it is with us too - we are redeemed, summoned by name (like Jacob), and assured we belong to Jesus.
             Abel was so glad, in zealous gratitude he gave his best.
                  Like the forgiven ex-prostitute who anointed Jesus with perfume.  Lu 736-50
                  Neither were forgiven because they gave much; they were forgiven much and therefore gladly gave much.
                  In The Pilgrims Progress, when Christian comes to the Cross;
                        who was relieved of his burden of sin, given robe of righteousness and scroll.
                        The scroll was God's personal covenant to Christian. What a treasure!
It was Abel's joy that made Cain so jealous; a jealousy which grew and led to murder - but that's another story.

Noah was righteous and obeyed God.
      He obeyed because he was righteous, not made righteous because he obeyed.
      He was ridiculed - worse, so was God - until it was too late.
             Peter prophesies that at the end men will scoff at creation, righteousness and Judgement.  2 Pe 33
God gave Noah precise instructions as to how to build the Ark. It was much more that quaint Sunday-school story.
      Within those instructions our great and gracious God gave Noah a personal Covenant.  Gen 614
God instructed Noah to apply pitch to the Ark, both inside and out.
      'Pitch' here is the Hebrew word Kaphar. And no doubt it was the familiar black tar. But on all the other 94 times in OT it is translated as atonement, purging, mercy, forgiving ...
      So God's instruction was to coat the Ark inside and out with tar which represented 'Atonement'.
            Just as for us the bread and wine represent the cost of redemption.
            For Noah inside, the pitch, the atonement, was the clear, eloquent assurance of God's personal covenant.
                  But for those outside it was a direct evangelistic sermon!
      Noah's personal Covenant clearly revealed that it was by God's instruction
             that Noah was made righteous by the atonement of Christ.
                  As Charles Wesley would later write:
       "Jesus, thy blood and righteousness my beauty are, my glorious dress,
        Midst flaming worlds in these arrayed, with joy shall I lift up my head."

In Gen 12 God makes an unconditional eternal national covenant with Abraham:
      I will make you into a great nation.  Gen 122   Abraham was the father of the Jews.
      I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse.  Gen 123a   Ignored. UK loses empire.
      All peoples on earth will be blessed through you.  Gen 123b   Jesus chose to be born a Jew; and bless all nations.
      To your descendants I give this land.  Gen 127 1518
Each of these four promises are now bitterly contended by both Muslim Arabs and much of Christian West -
      Especially the land gift.
      But God's Covenant remains, and we do well to understand this.  Read Zech 12, 14

The Lord himself confirms that like Abel, and Noah, Abraham 'saw' day of Jesus Christ.
      Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.   Jn 856
            What did he see? In Gen 22 we are given the answer.
Abraham is instructed to offer Isaac. 222
      As they were going to Mt Moriah,
            Isaac says, "The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?"
            Abraham answered, "God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son."
 Gen 227,8
            What a prophecy!
      In fact God provided a Ram caught in a thorn bush. 2000 years later Jesus wore a crown of thorns.
      Isaac (aged~20 and Abraham 120) would have had to be willing to be sacrificed.
Jesus, the only and beloved Son of God was obedient unto death.  Phil 28
      And to prove that Abraham really did see something of what God himself would do,
            He called that place The Lord Will Provide. (not Has provided).  Gen 2214
      For Isaac there was a substitute ram provided.
            But for Jesus there could be no substitute.
            Jesus became our substitute. No one else could do what our Redeemer has done for us.

The Lord Almighty remains the Creator and eternal Covenant Maker.

God is faithful

     and always, absolutely always, keeps his word

           to Abel, to Noah, to Abraham ... and to us.