Genesis 1-11: Why it Matters – Creation
October 20, 2023, 1:00 PM

In our last article, we introduced a series that will be looking at the earliest chapters of Genesis and asking the question, “Why does it matter?” Why does it matter what we believe about Genesis 1-11? Isn’t it more important to spread the gospel? Isn’t it more important to show the love of Jesus to our friends and neighbors? Isn’t more important to live a holy life by putting off sin and putting on righteousness? Without diminishing the importance of all those things, we need to realize that the gospel of Jesus Christ doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Redemptive-History (RH) doesn’t begin in Matthew 1:1, it begins in Genesis 1:1.

The Apostle Paul says in Galatians 4:4 that Jesus Christ came “in the fullness of time.” That phrase speaks of the time being ripe. Think of farming (I minister in south-central Nebraska, which is “farm country”). You don’t just harvest a crop and call it good. You must prep the land, plant the seed, water, and cultivate the crop, and then in the fullness of time, you harvest the crop. The same can be said of RH. The gospel of Jesus Christ rests on the foundation of the OT. The OT contains the promises, types, and shadows that point to and are fulfilled in the coming of Christ. The first promise of the gospel comes in Genesis 3:15 with the promise of One to come who will crush the head of the serpent. It then is revealed in progressive steps throughout the OT. In the promise given to Abram (Genesis 12:3), in the sacrificial system of OT worship (Leviticus), in the Kings of Israel (2 Samuel 7:14), in the prophets with the Servant Songs of Isaiah (Isaiah 42:1-9; 49:1-7; 50:4-11; 52:13-53:12). If you just begin with Matthew 1:1 and ignore the entire OT, you will not see the beautiful unfolding of God’s plan of redemption and you will miss the significance of Jesus coming in the fullness of time.

If the gospel of Jesus Christ rests on the foundation of the OT, then Genesis 1-11 would be the “chief cornerstone” of that foundation. Who are we and from where did we come? What is the purpose of all things? Why is the world so messed up? Will justice ever truly prevail? What is the origin of ethnic and national hostility? All these questions find their answers in Genesis 1-11, and they all find their solution in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In the introduction, I mentioned that this series was born as a result of a recent trip to the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter. Both attractions are owned and operated by Answers in Genesis, and they have a useful way of looking at the scope of RH called The Seven C’s of History.[1] In this article, we’re going to look at the first “C:” Creation.

The biblical account of creation can be found in Genesis 1-2. In Genesis 1:1-2:3, you have the “30,000-foot view” of creation in seven days and all of it “very good.” Then in Genesis 2:4-25, you have a “zoomed in” view of the 6th day of creation. Now we all know the opening verse of the Bible, which reads: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” If you’re trying to run an investigation, you need to ask the all-important questions of “who, what, when, why, and how.” In this one verse, you have four of the five already answered. When? In the beginning. Who? God. How? Created. What? The heavens and the earth (i.e., everything). The “why” becomes apparent as you progress through the biblical narrative (for His glory).

If you were to read the narrative of Genesis 1:1-2:3 in a straight-forward manner, you would come away with the idea that God created the universe out of nothing in the space of six, ordinary, 24-hour days, culminating in a “very good” creation. If you were to read the genealogical records of Genesis 5 and Genesis 11 (again, in a straight-forward manner), you would conclude that the creation of the earth occurred roughly 6,000 years ago.[2] You hear this number (6,000 years) and something in your mind wants to scream “That can’t be so! Science has proved that the earth is 5 billion years old, and that the universe is 14 billion years old.” Even if you want to “fudge” the biblical narrative and claim that the genealogies are representative and not complete, you cannot fudge that much. You might be able to stretch out the biblical timeline to 10,000 years. But let’s face it, subtract 10,000 years from 14 billion years and you have a number that is still approximately 14 billion years; 10,000 years is less than a rounding error.

How do you reconcile 6,000 years with 14 billion years? The answer is you can’t. One of them must be right and the other must be wrong. But which one? That’s the crux of the debate.

You might ask yourself, “When did the concept of ‘deep time’ originate?” It basically arose in the 18th century within the field of geology.[3] Eventually it crept into the fields of astronomy and biology, and before you know it, you have an old-earth (OE) paradigm that has become the consensus of most scientists today. If you hold to any view that doesn’t agree with this consensus, you will not have a voice in the mainstream scientific community. It has become a form of “sanity check” in scientific circles. By that, I mean, if you come up with any scientific result that does not conform to the OE paradigm, it is simply rejected or reinterpreted.

The OE paradigm is based on the philosophy of naturalism and uniformitarianism. Naturalism believes that any event that takes place must have a natural explanation. It will admit of no supernatural explanations to the things we observe. Uniformitarianism essentially teaches that the processes we observe today are the same processes that have always been. In other words, the present is the key to the past. If we observe an event as the result of a slow, drawn-out process, then that must have always been the case in the past. Thus, with the twin engines of Naturalism and Uniformitarianism, the OE paradigm manages to fly in the scientific community.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that this is an anti-biblical, anti-God paradigm. This is not to say that everyone involved in the scientific enterprise, both now and in years past, have actively sought out to disprove the existence of God and disprove the veracity of the Bible. But what you have is a paradigm that attempts to explain the “who, what, when, why, and how” of the universe without God. Who? No one. What? The entire cosmos. When? 14 billion years ago. Why? No purpose. How? Random chance and natural law and lots and lots of time.

For the Christian, the important thing to understand is this: If that is the origin of the universe, then how does Christ coming in the fullness of time solve anything? What problem is Jesus coming to cure? What is sin without a God who tells us what is right and wrong? What is salvation if there is nothing from which to be saved? What is justice if there is no purpose at all to the creation? Take away creation from nothing by God and you lose the whole point of the gospel.

Some have tried to marry the OE paradigm with the biblical creation narrative. You have such explanations as Gap Theory, Day-Age Theory, Theistic Evolution, Framework Hypothesis, etc. It is beyond the scope of this article to critique each of these theories. Suffice it to say some of these are ridiculous, some heretical, and some serious, but flawed, attempts to handle the biblical text. The problem with all of them is they essentially all see the OE paradigm as unassailable. Thus, they stipulate the OE paradigm and try to fit the biblical narrative around it. Some of the justification for this is by appealing to nature (i.e., General Revelation) as also telling us something about its creation. This is true. The Belgic Confession of Faith, in article 2, talks about two “books” of revelation. The universe is a “beautiful book” before our eyes that reveals to us “the invisible things of God.” The other “book” is God’s “holy and divine Word.” So, Scripture and nature are sources of revelation. But where nature is a source of revelation that can only “convict men and to leave them without excuse,” Scripture “makes [God] known to us more openly.”

If we look at nature and conclude that it’s 14 billion years old and then look at Scripture and see that it only says the universe is 6,000 years old, the proper response is not to reinterpret Scripture to fit the OE paradigm into its pages. Maybe, just maybe (I’m going out on a limb here), our understanding of nature is flawed? Maybe we’re making assumptions about the age of the earth and its processes we don’t need to make if we just take God’s “eye-witness” account at its word? If we try to cram the OE paradigm into Scripture, then the following happens: (1) You have billions of years of death and mutation occurring before sin; (2) you have “Adam” at the end of a long process of evolution; (3) you have millions of years of progression rather than thousands of years of digression; (4) finally, you have Jesus essentially lying about Adam, God’s word, and creation.

The biblical narrative paints a very different picture of the world than the OE paradigm with its reliance on naturalism and uniformitarianism. You have God speaking the universe into existence in a prearranged order, fully mature and ready to go, in the space of six days and all of it very good. The “very good” nature of the creation precludes billions of years of death and mutation. You have Adam created in the image of God holy, upright, and good. He is not the end of an evolutionary chain, but the pinnacle of God’s creative work to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. As we’ll see in the next article, Adam sinned, and that sin introduced death into God’s very good creation and initiates God’s RH plan.

But the NT places a lot of weight on the historical veracity of the creation narrative. Jesus says of Adam and Eve that God “made them at the beginning male and female” (Matthew 19:4). The word “beginning” has no meaning if mankind was at the end of a 4-billion-year evolutionary process. Paul, in Romans 5 and 1 Corinthians 15, compares Adam and Jesus (who is referred to as the “Last Adam”). This is vitally important for our understanding of salvation and is completely made null and void if Adam wasn’t a created person. Most importantly, if we accept the OE paradigm, then what Jesus said about the word of God is laughably wrong. Jesus believed in “jot and tittle” inspiration (Matthew 5:18; 24:35), and that includes Genesis 1-11. The OE paradigm destroys the credibility of Genesis 1-11, and that destroys the credibility of Jesus’ words in the Gospels.

One final thing I want to say before we close, and that is in the interpretation of “day” in Genesis 1:1-2:3 as a normal, 24-hour day. All the Christian attempts to harmonize the OE paradigm with Scripture must interpret “day” (יוֹם) as something other than 24-hours. Without getting too technical, the Hebrew word for “day” has the same flexibility as the English word for “day.” It can refer to a 24-hour day, the daylight portion of the day (day vs night), or an unspecified point in time (“back in my day,” “Day of the Lord”). It is my conviction, along with many other biblical scholars, that “day” as it’s used in Genesis 1:1-2:3 (combined with “morning and evening” and cardinal numbers “first, second, third…”) refers to an ordinary 24-hour day. Furthermore, if you consider the context of the 4th commandment, it bases Israel’s observance of the Sabbath on creation week: “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore, the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:11). If “day” isn’t a 24-hour day, then the Sabbath command has no meaning.

As I bring this to a close, I want to reiterate: This matters! If we ignore the biblical account of creation, we do irreparable harm to the gospel. Because the gospel is so much more than just an announcement of how one can be saved from their sins. It is that. But it’s also an account of Paradise Lost and Paradise Restored. We didn’t mention it yet (and it will play an important part later in the series), but in Genesis 2:16-17, God makes a covenant[4] with Adam. In that covenant, God promises death if Adam eats of the forbidden fruit. Implied in that prohibition is the reward of eternal life (symbolized by the Tree of Life) if Adam succeeded. That’s why the connection between Jesus and Adam is so important. Jesus comes in the fullness of time to restore what Adam had lost. It’s no surprise that we see the Tree of Life again in the New Heavens and the New Earth (Revelation 22:2).

If you don’t have Creation, you don’t have New Creation. If you don’t have Adam, you don’t have the Last Adam, Jesus Christ. If you believe in the OE paradigm, you have a natural world governed by random chance and natural law that’s heading to no end, no goal (no telos). If you only observe the “book of nature,” you will arrive at the OE paradigm. But if you consider God’s eye-witness account of things, you have special creation out of nothing in six 24-hour says all very good about 6,000 years ago. One destroys the gospel, the other establishes it.

~ Pastor Carl


[1] As a reminder, they are Creation, Corruption, Catastrophe, Confusion, Christ, Cross, and Consummation.

[2] The figure 6,000 years comes from the fact that most people acknowledge that Abraham lived around 2,000 BC. The genealogical data in Genesis 5 and Genesis 11 record approximately 2,000 years from creation to Abraham. So, 2,000 years from creation to Abraham. 2,000 years from Abraham to Christ, 2,000 years from Christ to today. Approximately 6,000 years.

[3] You can read more about it here:

[4] A “covenant” is an arrangement between two parties. In this case, between God and Adam (and all humanity represented in Adam). This covenant is commonly referred to as “The Covenant of Works.”

Post a Comment