Genesis by Dr. Abidan Shah

GENESIS by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction:  How many of you had a friend or knew someone growing up who was very good at telling tall tales? I knew a kid like that in elementary school. We would all crowd around his desk between classes because he told the best stories of finding hidden treasures in his backyard, how his uncle was a spy, and how he was building a rocket ship. He would even bring little objects from home and tell us that they were developed by the military. Looking back, they were probably just small parts from his dad’s car or truck. The point is that he was making these things up just to impress us and make us flock around him. Sometimes, people think that the Bible is nothing more than a collection of tall tales meant to make us flock around the church, especially the first few chapters of Genesis. Nothing could be further from the truth. As you know, we are in our series on Apologetics called “Contend,” and we are turning our attention to the book of Genesis because of some of the questions that we received – #1 Is the Genesis account of creation meant to be taken literally? #2 Aren’t there other ancient myths and legends of creation? #3 Did the Bible borrow from other myths and legends? #4 Doesn’t science contradict the creation account in Genesis? Main Point: If there is one book in the Bible that has been a target of attack more than any other, it is the book of Genesis. That’s because it is both the account of our origin and our fall. In other words, it tells us how we got here and what happened to us. To get this wrong will eventually cause us to get the gospel wrong.

Genesis 1      1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. 4 And God saw the light, that it was good; and God divided the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness He called Night. So the evening and the morning were the first day.

Context: Most of us have no questions or qualms in reading that passage. That’s what God’s Word says how this world began and that’s what we should believe. Unfortunately, that’s not how everyone thinks about that passage or the first eleven chapters of Genesis, or even just Genesis 1. It may surprise some of you that there are 4 different ways that people have taken this book or these sections, especially Genesis 1-11 (Todd Beall): 1. Not historical, just a myth. 2. Not a myth, just figurative. 3. Not a myth, but partly figurative and partly literal. 4. Literal (Plain-view). I hold to the 4th view. Don’t misunderstand: This does not mean that we don’t consider the different genres in the Bible like poetry, wisdom, parables, etc. We understand that sometimes the biblical writers used metaphors like in Psalm 104     2 “…Who stretch out the heavens like a curtain. 3 He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters.” The more you study Genesis, especially the first 11 chapters, it is a narrative and not an extended poetic metaphor. None of the elements of Hebrew poetry like schema, metaphor, and other tropes are found.

Here’s a reminder: There are people who don’t take the fourth view like I do, but before I call them unbelievers or pass judgment on them, I must examine how what they believe about Genesis 1-11 impacts the first rank doctrines – the Trinity, the full deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, justification by faith, and the authority of Scripture. Here are some things that affect the first rank doctrines with regards to Genesis 1-11:

  • God and the creation are separate, and he made the creation out of nothing. That’s his aseity (independence and eternality).
  • The world was perfect before sin came in.
  • Adam and Eve were real historical individuals who were created in the image of God but chose to disobey God and fell into sin.
  • With them all of us are also sinners (original sin) and we need redemption through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

There are issues that are placed in the secondary or even tertiary category – the age of the earth and the length of the days in creation, etc. We need to be careful here because these issues do impact the Authority of Scripture, which is a primary issue. If I say that a part of the Bible is just a myth, legend, or figurative, then what happens to the other parts? Can I truly then say that “All Scripture is given by Inspiration of God?”

Why do I believe that the Genesis account should be taken literally? 3 major reasons (Beall and James K. Hoffmeier):

  1. No Division in Genesis

There are people who will say that Genesis 12-50 is literal, but not Genesis 1-11. Keep in mind that we divide the Bible into chapters and verses, but that’s not how Moses wrote it. For those of you who may not know – Chapter Divisions were put into the Bible by Stephen Langton (1150-1228), the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Verse Divisions were put in by Robert I. Estienne or Robert Stephanus (1503-1559), a printer/ scholar in Paris. By the way, the Red Letters of Jesus’ words were put in by Louis Klopsch (June 19th, 1899). He was the editor of the Christian Herald magazine, and he asked his mentor T. De Witt Talmadge (Pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle) to help with that. The point is that all these breaks came much later.

To the contrary, the entire book is connected by a phrase that is repeated – “eleh toledoth,” meaning “these are the generations of” or “this is the history of”:

  • Genesis 2:4 “This is the history of the heavens and the earth”
  • Genesis 5:1 “This is the book of the genealogy of Adam”
  • Genesis 6:9 “This is the genealogy of Noah”
  • Genesis 10:1 “Now this is the genealogy of the sons of Noah”
  • Genesis 11:10 “This is the genealogy of Shem”
  • Genesis 11:27 “This is the genealogy of Terah”
  • Genesis 25:12 “Now this is the genealogy of Ishmael, Abraham’s son”
  • Genesis 25:19 “This is the genealogy of Isaac, Abraham’s son”
  • Genesis 36:1, 9 “Now this is the genealogy of Esau”
  • Genesis 37:2 “This is the history of Jacob”

Each time that phrase comes up, it narrows the focus to a particular group of people. These names are not fictitious but real historical people. The historical references are not just in Genesis 12 onwards but also in the first 11 chapters – 66 geographical names, 88 personal names, 48 generic names, 21 items like gold and other precious metals (Walter Kaiser). He even adds that Genesis 10 has 5 times more geographical information than the entire Quran. In conclusion, the first 11 chapters are setting up for the historical call of a historical person named Abram in chapter 12.

  1. No Dependence in Genesis

There are people who claim that the opening chapters of Genesis resemble Babylonian, Canaanite, and Egyptian myths and mythologies. Of course, there may be some parallels, but there are far more differences. For example: some point to the similarities between Enuma Elish (Babylonian creation myth) and Genesis creation. The only clear parallel is where the god Marduk splits Tiamat into 2 spheres of water, which is like God dividing the waters in the firmament on day 2. What many don’t consider is how Enuma Elish is different from the Genesis account. There the god Marduk is being portrayed as superior to other gods and the universe coming into being after a big battle between the gods. Also, not much about the creation of light or the plant and animal beings. In the Canaanite myths, it is the conflict between the storm god Baal and the sea god Yam. So also, in the Egyptian myths, the focus is on the creation of the gods and the cosmos. Even there, these gods are made in all sorts of ways – Ptah speaks the world into being, Atum’s semen and fingers are used in creation, even his spit. Finally, the world is cyclical, where the sun is born every day and the Nile recedes each year. Finally, the gods are themselves a part of nature. This is nothing like the Genesis account of creation.

To the contrary, there are 4 things that stand out as evidence that the events in Genesis 1-11 are to be taken literally:

  1. Garden of Eden

Genesis 2     10 Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads. 11 The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good. Bdellium and the onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which goes around the whole land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is Hiddekel; it is the one which goes toward the east of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates.

Tigris and Euphrates are clearly identifiable. Gihon – through the land of Cush, cental Mesopotamia could have been known as the land of Cush, after the Kassites. Pishon – possibly the river discovered from the Shuttle Imaging Radar technology that flowed east from Saudi Arabia.

  1. Sons of God and Daughters of Men

Genesis 6     1 Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, 2 that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose. 3 And the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” 4 There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.

We will look at this in detail further down. For now, think of the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh which depicts a hero holding a lion in his arm. His name appears on the Sumerian King List as the 5th king of the first dynasty of Uruk. This is dated around 2750 BC. Bottom line: History is stranger than fiction!

  1. Global Flood:

Genesis 6     13 And God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth. 14Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch. 15 And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. 16 You shall make a window for the ark, and you shall finish it to a cubit from above; and set the door of the ark in its side. You shall make it with lower, second, and third decks.

Compare this with Epic of Gilgamesh where a man Utnapishtim recounts the flood story. The sky god Anu decided to send a flood because people were making too much noise. The god Ea decided to reveal the plan to Utnapishtim, and he built the ship. When the floods came, the gods cowered like dogs outside and the goddess Ishtar screamed like a woman in childbirth. When the flood was over and he offered sacrifices, the gods crowded around the food like flies!

  1. Tower of Babel

Genesis 11       1 Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. 2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. 3 Then they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. 4 And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

More and more evidence support that our languages had a common beginning. The Sumerians had myths about a period when there was only one language.

  1. No Doubt Regarding Genesis

At least 25 passages that talk about Genesis 1-11. Here are just a few:

Matthew 19      4 And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 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 flesh’? 6So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

2 Corinthians 11:3 But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

Matthew 24     37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.

Conclusion: We have a real problem that stems from a real event that took place in a real garden to 2 real people. God knew that when he created the world that he would also have to come to save it. He did 2000 years ago by sending his Son to die on a real cross on a real hill called Calvary. There is a real judgment coming where if you don’t receive him, you will be cast into a real lake of fire which was prepared for a real Satan and the fallen angels. You don’t have to go there. Instead, you can go to the real new heavens and the new earth by receiving Christ as your Savior and King.

Invitation: Genesis is true, and the Gospel is true. Are you saved?

When God is Your Father by Pastor Abidan Shah

 

WHEN GOD IS YOUR FATHER by Pastor Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson

whengodisyourfatherIntroduction: This morning we are in our series through the Lord’s Prayer called “Talking to the Father” and today’s message is titled – “When God is Your Father.”

Matthew 6   9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Overall Background: Along with Psalm 23, John 3:16, Philippians 4:13, Jeremiah 29:11 and a few others, the passage we just read is one of the most well known passages of the Bible. It is the Lord’s Prayer or the Pater Noster or sometimes even known as the Disciple’s Prayer. It is found twice in the Gospels – one here in Matthew 6 and a shorter version in Luke 11. It could be that Jesus taught the same prayer several times or it could be that Luke placed it at a different point in his gospel, as he often does. What is interesting about Luke’s version of the prayer is that he gives us the context in which Jesus gave this model prayer. Listen to Luke 11:1 Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” What is very interesting to me is that the disciples did not ask Jesus – “teach us to preach or teach us to evangelize or teach us to do a miracle” but “teach us to pray.” Why? Because they witnessed how important prayer was to Jesus.

Question: If you were one of the disciples, what would you have asked Jesus? How important is prayer to your daily life? Many of you shared with me this past week, how much you are looking forward to this series. Many of you have shared with me that you have begun to pray as never before. That’s wonderful! How about the rest of you? Here’s another question – Are you saved? Do you know Christ as your Savior?

This morning we will be looking at just the opening line of the Lord’s Prayer, just the designation that Jesus uses for God – “Our Father.” I’m praying that the Holy Spirit will open your eyes so you can see what that title represents. Also, if you don’t know God as your father that today you will believe in Christ as your Savior.

I. COMMON MISCONCEPTIONS:

  1. Jesus was the first to call God – “Our Father.”

Not true. This is a popular misunderstanding that was proposed by a German scholar by the name of Joachim Jeremias. Later on this same scholar revised his view but no one listened to him. It preached too good! Here are some examples of previous usage:

  • Moses said to the people of Israel in Deuteronomy 32:6 Do you thus deal with the LORD, O foolish and unwise people? Is He not your Father, who bought you? Has He not made you and established you?
  • In Isaiah 63:16 it says, “Doubtless You are our Father…You, O LORD, are our Father; Our Redeemer from Everlasting is Your name.”
  • In Malachi 1:6 where God says to His people “A son honors his father, And a servant his If then I am the Father, Where is My honor?…”

The point is this – Jesus did bring us a special intimacy with God. Ever since the Garden of Eden, God has desired to have a close relationship with us as a father to a child.

  1. “Abba Father” represents a little child’s name for father.

Once again the same scholar was responsible for this misunderstanding and once again he tried to correct it but to no avail. When you study the literature from that time, the word “abba” is not just a little child’s word for father but also a grown child’s word for father. Just like a 4 year old and a 40 year old can use the word “daddy,” a little child and a grown child can use the word “abba.”

The point is this – We’ve tried to insert our modern psychology into the first century world. Yes – there is something special in how a little boy or girl looks up to his/her father but this is not all that Jesus had in mind when He said “Our Abba.”

Some of y’all are wondering – what are you trying to get at? When we understand the real reason why Jesus said “Our Father,” it will change the way we think about God and pray to Him. It will revolutionize our prayer life! So what is the correct understanding?

II. CORRECT INTERPRETATION:

  1. Abba Father means God is our Creator.

Listen again to Deuteronomy 32:6 – “Do you thus deal with the LORD, O foolish and unwise people? Is He not your Father, who bought you? Has He not made you and established you?”

Here “Abba Father” has the idea of God being our Creator. When we say “Our Father,” what we’re really saying is “God, You are the source of our existence. We were created by you and we exist because of you. You’re not depended on us but we are depended on you.” Paul said the same thing in Acts 17:28 for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’” Offspring means we are God’s children who depend upon Him. Paul goes on in verse 29 to say, “Therefore, since we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, something shaped by art and man’s devising.” Meaning: As God’s offspring, He gives shape and sustenance to us and not the other way around. He doesn’t depend on us but we depend on Him.

This is increasingly hard in our culture to understand where fathers have become dispensable. Fathers are nothing more than “sperm donors.” Mothers, on the other hand, have to carry the child for nine months, go through the pain of childbirth, and then provide nourishment and nurture for the child. Ladies – no disrespect to you but this is part of the reason why our society is so messed up today. We have pretty much told fathers – “We don’t need you. We can do without you. Just do your thing and get out of sight. We have the government, the school, and the church to raise the child. ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’” Growing up, my dad was everything to me. I know this is a tough message for some of you but this is not meant to hurt you or pull back the scab. This is not to blame you for some deadbeat dad. But we have to return to the standard.

Listen carefully – When we pray “Our Father in heaven,” we are telling God that we need Him and that we are depended on Him. He is our source and our sustenance. Without Him, we would not exist and without Him, we cannot survive.

Application: What do you think when you say “Our Father in Heaven?” Are you acknowledging that God is your creator? Are you admitting to Him that you are His creation? Are you reminding Him and your self how much you are depended on Him?

2. Abba Father means God is our Superior.

Malachi 1:6      “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am the Father, where is My honor? And if I am a Master, where is My reverence? Says the LORD of hosts.”

Here Abba Father has the idea of God being our Superior. When we say “Our Father,” what we’re really saying is “God, You are above us. You deserve all honor and respect. You are not subject to us. We are subject to You. You don’t obey us. We obey You.” We find this echoed several times. Ephesians 4 (There is) 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 1 Corinthians 8:6 “yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him.” By the way, the one person who lived this perfectly was Jesus Christ. He always honored and obeyed His Father. Hebrews 5:8 “though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.”

Once again, this is also increasingly hard in our culture to understand where fathers have lost all respect and authority. For several reasons – they are just as guilty or clueless or just another male-mom. Let’s look at each one of them briefly:

  • Just as guilty: If you yourself have issues, how can you tell your children to behave? No wonder your kids don’t honor you.
  • Clueless: If you are like the typical TV dad, can’t do anything right and always the last one to get it, is it any wonder your children don’t respect and obey you?
  • Male-mom: Please don’t misunderstand – Yes, 2 Corinthians 1:3 describes God as “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” but we can do that without becoming a second mom. God designed every family to have only one mom, a caregiver and nurturer. Dad should invoke authority and respect. My kids know that I love them and I am gentle with them but they also have a healthy fear of me. So also with God.

Listen carefully – When we pray “Our Father in heaven,” we are telling God that He is the boss. He is in charge and He has authority over us. We will obey and respect Him.

Application: What do you think when you say “Our Father in Heaven?” Are you acknowledging that God is your superior? Are you willing to submit to Him and obey Him? Are you willing to affirm – “Father knows best?”

3. Abba Father means God is our Redeemer.

Isaiah 63:16 “Doubtless You are our Father…You, O LORD, are our Father; Our Redeemer from Everlasting is Your name.”

Here Abba Father has the idea of God being our Redeemer. When we say “Our Father,” what we’re really saying is “God, You are our Redeemer. We are in a mess and we need you to rescue us and set us free. You are our only hope.” The greatest example of this is found in Exodus 4 when God sent Moses to free His people Israel from slaver in Egypt – 22 Then you shall say to Pharaoh, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Israel is My son, My firstborn. 23 So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me. But if you refuse to let him go, indeed I will kill your son, your firstborn.’” By the way, was God bluffing? No. When Pharaoh refused to let God’s people go, every male firstborn of man and livestock died the night of the Passover.

Once again, this is also increasingly hard in our culture to understand where fathers have checked out. So many children have no fathers to defend and recuse their sons/daughters.

Illustration: Third grade was a rough year for life. Mom got really sick and was in the hospital for months. Dad had to take care of her and preach and travel to make ends meet. It was a dark period in my life. To top it all, my teacher in 3rd grade was not nice. She was mistreating me, playing favoritism. I had lost all self-worth. I say that carefully because I am a teacher/principal and I have a very high regard for teachers. My mom was a teacher. Dad saw my report card and he wasn’t happy. He asked my why I wasn’t paying attention. I told him I was. He asked me if I sat up front? I told him that the teacher did not have a seat for me. She told me to see who is absent and take their seat for the day. He asked a few more questions. Nothing more was said. Next day, I saw him going to the office. I thought I was in big trouble. I wasn’t. In fact, the principal realized what was happening and what this teacher was doing. Things were different from then.

That’s how God our Father is. He killed His own firstborn to rescue us from His own wrath. He is our Redeemer. When you come to Him for help, He doesn’t sit back and judge you. He immediately comes to your rescue.

Invitation: Is God your Father? This prayer is not just about imitation but participation. When we are in Christ, this becomes our prayer. Are you in Christ

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