I promised several of my readers that I would write a series on the early chapters of Genesis. It’s an important record—a full understanding of God’s saving grace is aided by knowing from whence we came. We’ll look at how God formed, made, and created mankind; Adam’s disobedience and expulsion from paradise; and the promise of the Redeemer. But, after much prayerful consideration, I believe I need to do an introduction regarding ignorance.
The Genesis record has been thoroughly muddied by well-meaning (or otherwise) scientists, philosophers, theologians, and preachers. Everybody, it seems, has a favorite theory that reconciles the Bible with modern scientific discoveries. This theoretical speculation, however, is rooted in hubris – a prideful belief that we are smarter and more knowledgeable than any others who came before. This belief is dead wrong.
The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Without proper meekness and humility, a respectful awe for our Creator and Lord, we fall into an insidious trap. We forget that his thoughts are far higher than our thoughts. We believe we can figure out all the answers – or at least most of them. But, if we fail to start from the true beginning, our endings will be far from the truth.
So let’s set aside our pride and admit our ignorance. We can start by acknowledging to God that He knows more than we. And always has!
God doesn’t love the people of today more than he loved the patriarchs and prophets of old. He didn’t leave them in ignorance of His Word and will. It’s incontrovertible that those men and women possessed knowledge that has now been lost – and I’m not referring to their copy of Pyramid Building for Dummies.
What we find in Genesis is a synopsis of the most critical information about the creation. Adam, Enoch, Noah, and Abraham (to name a few) all had a subtler and more complete understanding of what occurred.
But, you might ask, how could they? They didn’t have a written Bible!
All throughout history God has had his men who believed to receive His Word. Though they had no Bibles they did have the spoken Word of the prophets and a memorized tradition of how to read God’s Word from the stars.
And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:
Before God first formed Adam he set the stars and planets in motion in the skies—so that His Word could be read throughout the earth.
The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.
There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.
Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,
Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.
His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.
The lights in the firmament of heaven utter speech and show knowledge to those trained to read them. This topic is neatly summed up by Dr. Bullinger in his introduction to The Witness of the Stars.
For more than two thousand five hundred years the world was without a written revelation from God. The question is, Did God leave Himself without a witness? The question is answered very positively by the written Word that He did not. In Romans 1:19 it is declared that, “that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” But how was God known? How were His “invisible things,” i.e., His plans, His purposes, and His counsels, known since the creation of the world? We are told by the Holy Spirit in Romans 10:18. Having stated in v. 17 that “Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word (the thing spoken, sayings) of God,” He asks, “But I say, Have they not heard? Yes, verily.” And we may ask, How have they heard? The answer follows–“Their sound went into all the earth and their words (their teaching, message, instruction) unto the ends of the world.” What words? What instruction? Whose message? Whose teaching? There is only one answer, and that is, THE HEAVENS! This is settled by the fact that the passage is quoted from Psalm 19, [one] part of which is occupied with the Revelation of God written in the Heavens, and the [other] part with the Revelation of God written in the Word.
Please remember that Bullinger’s book is not the Word of God. It is, at best, a survey demonstrating how much knowledge we have lost over the millennia.
When Abraham stood upon the Palestinian Hills and looked up at the heavens he could read God’s Word in the names and arrangements of the stars. He was inspired by God’s goodness just as we are when we read the book of Psalms. He could read about the creation, the fall, and the promised saviour. He knew that Messiah would come to die for God’s people and be raised again.* He could read about the resurrections of the just and the unjust.
Even at the time of the birth of Jesus there were men who believed God – outside of Palestine – who understood this knowledge. The Magi came from the East, confident that the saviour had been born. How did they know? They read it from the stars. Today all we have left of this godly tradition is the degenerate art of astrology (Star – Knowledge or Star – Word). In place of Magi we have magicians.
When we read about the men of God in the Old Testament – the patriarchs before the time of Moses – we should remember that they probably knew far more about the creation than we do today. Lacking a written word these men were trained in memorization and logic from a very early age. Honestly, they would make most of us look stupid.
But we have no reason to despair – the salient points, those most critical for our understanding – have been preserved. If we approach God’s Word with an attitude of trembling respect for His awful majesty we can avoid the trap of hubris. We will stop trying to explain more than is written. We must not worship either science or our pet “biblical” theories.
Let’s simply read what is written and glean the clear truths.
*Extra credit: Can you find a record in Genesis that demonstrates Abraham’s knowledge about the coming Messiah?