SERMON TWO PRESENTED ON  08-01-20   

       Last week I presented an overview of why it is important that we take a careful look at the issue of creation and evolution. I discussed various ways in which this issue is being addressed within the Christian community. We looked at what I labeled as classical evolutionary theory which sees the universe and all life gradually coming into existence over millions of years of evolutionary development devoid of supernatural involvement. This approach sees the Genesis account of creation as bogus.

       We briefly discussed what is called progressive creationism which sees the supernatural as creating the universe through the big bang and then creating life forms over millions of years of creative activity. We also discussed what is called theistic evolution which postulates that God created the universe through the big bang after which He set in motion the dynamics of evolution whereby all life forms have appeared.

       All three of these perspectives see creation as occurring over millions of years of time. Progressive creationists have tried to harmonize this approach with the Genesis account of creation by seeing the days of creation as each representing long epoch periods of time during which creation of life forms have taken place.

       Some theistic evolutionists have tried to harmonize their belief in millions of years of evolutionary development of life forms by seeing Adam and Eve as an insert event where God choose them from among an existing population of humans living outside the Garden. We briefly discussed this approach last week.    

       Those who embrace either progressive creationism or theistic evolution do so because they believe science has correctly identified the manner in which the universe has come to be and how life forms have come to be on planet earth. Since these folks also believe in the Biblical God and the Bible as having merit, they are attempting to harmonize belief in God and the Bible with science.  Can this be done?

       We can begin to answer this question by taking a careful look at the Genesis account of creation. As covered last week, Genesis 1:1 records that, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”  This chapter goes on to record that in six days God created/made day and night (first day), a firmament separating water from water (second day), plants (third day), sun, moon and stars (fourth day), fish and birds (fifth day), land animals, creeping things and man on the sixth day.

       Exodus 20:11a reflects the Genesis account. “For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them.”  Exodus 31:17b records the same thing.  “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day he abstained from work and rested." We see the Hebrew Scriptures teaching that the heavens, earth and sea, along with their inhabitants, were created in six days.  This six day timeframe is used as a template to establish the Sabbath rest.

       The Genesis creation account characterizes the first six days of creation as evening and morning periods of time which would indicate 24 hour time frames. While the seventh day is not defined as an evening and morning period, the fact that the first six days are so defined is strong indication the seventh day is an evening to morning period as well. 

        As do theistic evolutionist, progressive creationists view the Big Bang as a valid explanation of how the universe came to be. They believe God created space and time along with energy and matter through the Big Bang and thereby established the processes that have led to millions of years of cosmological and geological development.

        However, unlike theistic evolutionists, progressive creationists reject biological evolution. They feel the fossil record does not show transitional stages of development but instead shows completed development of millions of livings organisms which they believe date back millions of years. It is believed these living organisms were created during six epochs of time represented by the six-day creation account in Genesis. The first two verses of Genesis are seen to reflect a developing physical universe and earth that began with the Big Bang and the rest of Genesis 1 is revealing six epochs of time involving millions of years of development.

       Seeing the six-day creation account as six epochs of time covering multiple thousands and perhaps millions of years is sometimes referred to as the “day-age” theory. Progressive creationists point out that the Hebrew word yō·wm, translated day in the six day creation account, can mean an extended period of time and is used in other Old Testament passages in this manner.

        The “days” of creation which follow Genesis 1:1-2, are seen as beginning the progressive creation of life forms culminating in the creation of man many millions of years into this process. It is believed these are the life forms found in the fossil record and the fossil record results from various cataclysmic events that occurred over millions of years subsequent to the creation of life forms.

       The Genesis flood is not seen as one of these cataclysmic events but rather as a local event affecting only the Mediterranean area.  It is believed this overall approach harmonizes science and the Bible and is the best explanation of the various discoveries in the fields of geology and paleontology that indicate an old earth.  I will give an entire sermon on the Genesis flood as we move along in this series.

         Is there evidence for the idea of the six days of creation representing six epochs of time involving millions of years of biological creation.  The “days” of creation are described as “evening and the morning” time frames.  It is felt this designation of days within the framework of evening and morning clearly show the days of the Genesis creation account to be twenty-four hour periods as we know them.  Even though the seventh day of the creation week is not described in this manner, it is still believed to be a twenty-four hour period.

       In Genesis 1:5, God separates day from night and it’s recorded that there was "evening, and there was morning--the first day." In Genesis 1:7-8, we see God separating water under the expanse called sky from the water above it. "And there was evening, and there was morning--the second day."

       In Genesis 1:11-13, God is seen as having the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees. "And there was evening, and there was morning--the third day."  In Genesis 1:16-19, God makes the sun, moon and stars. "And there was evening, and there was morning--the fourth day." In Genesis 1:20-23, God is seen as creating water living creatures, and birds.  "And there was evening, and there was morning--the fifth day" Next, Genesis records God creating land creatures and finally creating man. "And there was evening, and there was morning--the sixth day"

       Scripture shows a six-day timeframe is used as the template for establishing the Sabbath. The seventh-day Sabbath is established in relation to the first six days of the creation week being twenty-four hour periods. Since the Sabbath is seen in the context of working six days and resting on the seventh day, the creation is seen as occurring in a literal twenty-four hour per day six-day time frame. It is believed the passage in Exodus 20 establishing the seventh-day rest period in contrast to six days of work is strong evidence for taking a literal approach to defining the six-day creation period as six twenty-four periods.

        Exodus: 20: 9-11: Six days (Hebrew yā·mîm) you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days (Hebrew yā·mîm) the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy (NIV).

        The Hebrew yā·mîm is the plural of the basic Hebrew word for day which is yō·wm. While the semantic range of the Hebrew word yō·wm can and does at times designate a period of time longer than 24 hours, it is believed that when yō·wm is used with a cardinal or ordinal number and combined with the words evening and morning, it can only mean a 24 hour day and never a long period of time. It is believed that yō·wm must be understood by words or phrases that modify yō·wm and that context must be considered. .

       For example, In Genesis 2:4 we read "These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day (Hebrew bə·yō·wm) that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens" (KJV).  Here the preposition "bə" is used and along with context it can be clearly seen that yō·wm means more than a 24 hour period. Here yō·wm describes the entire period of creation time. Was this period epochs of time involving millions of years of progressive creationism or simply a summation of the six days of creation recorded in Genesis one? 

       In Genesis 1:5, we see it said that "God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening (Hebrew: ‘e·reḇ) and there was morning (Hebrew: ḇō·qer), one day" (Hebrew: ’e·ḥāḏ  yō·wm).

       Here the cardinal number one (Hebrew ’e·ḥāḏ) is used which is translated in the Revised Standard Version and other translations as "one day." The following 5 days are rendered as ordinal numbers such as second day, third day, and so forth. It is believed when this is combined with "evening and morning" modifiers, this cannot mean anything but 24 hour days.   

       It is instructive that the two Hebrew words ‘e·reḇ (evening) and ḇō·qer (morning) are combined with yō·wm 19 times outside of Genesis 1 and can be seen by context to always identify with a 24 hour day. Even when ‘e·reḇ (evening) and ḇō·qer (morning) appear without yō·wm (some 38 times), these two words are always seen to designate a 24 hour day. It is instructive that Jesus saw the combination of day and night as a 24 hour period.

       John 11:9-10: Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours of daylight? A man who walks by day will not stumble, for he sees by this world's light.  It is when he walks by night that he stumbles, for he has no light."

       Progressive creationists argue that because Genesis 2:4 reads "These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created," this indicates long periods of time. The Hebrew word translated "generations" is ṯō·wl·ḏō·wṯ (toledoth). The Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon defines ṯō·wl·ḏō·wṯ as meaning generations, families, races or histories. On page 380 of The Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ṯō·wl·ḏō·wṯ is defined as "what is produced or brought into being by someone or follows there from." In view of this, some translations render ṯō·wl·ḏō·wṯ in Genesis 2:4 in the following manner.

       Genesis 2:4a: This is the account (ṯō·wl·ḏō·wṯ) of the heavens and the earth when they were created (NIV, NAS, NET).

       It should be evident that there is nothing in the use of the Hebrew word ṯō·wl·ḏō·wṯ here to suggest the creation event involved millions of years of creative activity as proposed by progressive creationists.

       So as can be seen, there are series linguistic problems with making the six day account of creation to represent six epochs of time involving millions of years of creative activity as believed by progressive creationists.

       Now there is another group of creationists who believe in the earth and life forms being millions of years old but who take the six day creation account as a literal description of creation. These folks embrace what is called the “gap theory.”  These folks believe that there is a gap of time between Genesis 1:1-2 and the six day creation account.  

       Where Genesis 1:1 says that “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” this is seen as referring to a period millions of years ago when God created a perfect universe. This creation included a beautiful earth with plants and animals and even prototypes of man.

       Verse two, "And the earth was (Hebrew: hā·yə·ṯāh (hayah) without form (Hebrew: ṯō·hū), and void (Hebrew bohu); and darkness was upon the face of the deep" is seen as the aftermath of a cataclysmic event that resulted in the earth becoming formless and void. The Gesenius Hebrew/Chaldee Lexicon defines ṯō·hū as “wasteness, that which is wasted, laid waste, emptiness.” Bohu is defined as "emptiness, voidness, something void and empty."

       Some who embrace the "gap theory" believe this event to be associated with a rebellion of Satan and a third of the angels who are believed to have inhabited the earth before the six-day creation. Their rebellion is seen as resulting in war between God and the forces of rebellion which resulted in much destruction to the earth and its solar system. After an unknown period of time, God is seen, in a literal six days, restoring the earth to its previous condition. 

       This restoration involved the separation of water and land, the clearing of the atmosphere to reveal the heavenly bodies, the reintroduction of life forms and the creation of man. Thus a great gap of time is inserted between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:3. It is believed that beginning with Genesis 1:3 we see what amounts to a “recreation.” This recreation is believed to have occurred during a period of six literal days.

       Contrary to progressive creationists, who see the fossil record being formed during the period covered by events beginning with Genesis 1:3 (six great epochs of time), those taking the gap approach see much of the fossil record forming due to the destruction that occurred during the supposed Satanic rebellion. This rebellion resulted in the earth becoming without form and void as described in Genesis 1:2. This approach assumes there were physical living organisms inhabiting the earth prior to the six day recreation and that the fossil record is a witness to their life and death.  

        Those who hold to this position believe Genesis 1:2 should read: “And the earth became without form and void” rather than “was without form and void.”  The Hebrew word translated “was” is hā·yə·ṯāh (hayah).  This Hebrew word, in its various tenses, appears 3,561 times in the Old Testament and is almost always translated "was."  Some feel this word can only be translated as “became” when followed by the preposition le which is not the case in Genesis 1:2.  An example of hayah with the preposition le is Genesis 2:7 where it’s recorded, “and the man became a living being” (NIV).

      Some scholars, however, feel hayah could be translated “became” in Genesis 1:2, despite it lacking the preposition el. This conclusion is based on the determination that the verb hayah has a basic notion of becoming, emerging or coming into being. One Hebrew scholar I read points out that the verb “hayah” is in the past perfect tense in Genesis 1:2 and thus it is grammatically correct to render hayah as “had been” in Genesis 1:2. Therefore, this passage could be saying the earth had become without form and void at some undisclosed time in the past.  

        Those who take the gap approach point out that Isaiah uses the same Hebrew word translated “without form” in Genesis 1:2 to say God did not create the earth “empty” (Hebrew: ṯō·hū).

        Isaiah 45:18:  For this is what the LORD says-- he, who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be "empty" (Hebrew: ṯō·hū), but formed it to be inhabited-- he says: "I am the LORD, and there is no other (NIV).

        It is felt that if God did not create the earth empty (without form), it must have become that way sometime subsequent to its creation.  Critics of this interpretation of Isaiah respond that Isaiah is simply saying God did not create the earth to be empty but to be inhabited. This doesn’t preclude it being empty (without form) when it was first created or in the process of developing after the Big Bang as progressive creationists contend.

        Some feel the gap theory is nothing more than an attempt to harmonize the Genesis account with evolutionary science.  However, the gap theory had been taught prior to current day geological discovery.  In The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, the Dutch scholar Simon Epíscopius (1583-1643) taught that the earth had originally been created before the six days of creation described in Genesis (1952, Vol. 3, p.302). This was roughly 200 years before geology discovered “evidence” for the ancient origin of earth.

       There is evidence in the Hebrew Midrash of belief in an existing earth prior to the six day creation account. The Midrash is the oldest pre-Christian commentary on the Old Testament.  There also is an ancient Aramaic translation of Genesis 1:2 which reads "and the earth was laid waste."  Thomas Aquinas (1226 -1274) reportedly wrote in reference to Genesis 1:1 that "but it seems better to maintain that the creation was prior to any of the days."  This appears to reflect the view that the creation of the heavens and the earth preceded the six day creation account.     

       In 1847, author John Harris published a book entitled Pre-Adamic Earth. Harris points out that Genesis 1:1-2 reveals that God created the heavens and earth and the earth was in a state of being without form and void. This is followed by six days of creative activity where the creative activity of each day is preceded by the phrase “And God said.”

       Genesis 1:3:"And God said," Let there be light" etc. Genesis 1:6: And God said, "Let there be an expanse" etc. Genesis 1:11: Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation etc. Genesis 1:14: And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky" etc. Genesis 1:20: And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures" etc.  Genesis 1:24: And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures" etc.

       Harris believes these “And God said” introductions to each of the six days of creation suggests a distinction between an original creation of the heavens and earth and God speaking into existence a restoration of what had become a wasted earth due to some event or events that are not revealed. It should also be noted that it is only the earth that is spoken of as without form and void, not the heavens.

       Genesis 1:2 says “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters."  It is to be noted that God was presiding over an already existing earth having darkness and waters before he begins to say in Genesis 1:3 “let there be light” and all the other things he commands during the next five days of the six day creation account. Genesis 1:3 begins with an already existing heavens and earth. There is nothing in the account of the first day of the six day creation account that suggests this is when the heavens and earth were created, let alone created in a wasted state of being.  Does this suggest a preexisting earth that is antecedent to the six day creation?            

       Some who hold to the gap approach will cite Isaiah 14:12-14 and Ezekiel 28:12-19 as evidence for Satan having once lived on the earth with access to God's abode in the heavens. It is believed these passages of Scripture show Satan losing his position of authority because of pride and rebellion against God. God then casts Satan to the earth which resulted in a great galactic battle that resulted in the earth and our solar system becoming damaged.  

       Both Isaiah and Ezekiel begin by describing the demise of specific human rulers but appear to insert descriptions of the demise of a supernatural ruler into the narrative as well.  Some who teach the gap approach believe these passages speak of God’s judgement upon Satan and his allies (fallen angles) for their rebellion which led to the temporary destruction of the earth and its solar system.

       Critics point out that neither Isaiah nor Ezekiel say anything about a battle between God and Satan or the destruction of the earth occurring because of a presumed rebellion of Satan.  Such conclusions are felt to be very speculative and unsupported by any hard evidence. Gap Theorists are seen as reading into the text what isn't there.

       The context in Isaiah is clearly addressing the King of Babylon and the context in Ezekiel is clearly addressing the King of Tyre.  It is pointed out that Scriptural writers often use rhetorical exaggeration (hyperbole) in describing events. It is felt that it is exactly such hyperbole that is being used here in describing the attributes of human rulers who are shown as having once held positions of prominence but are now being brought down to nothing. It is believed the context of these two chapters clearly relate to earthly kings and nothing more

       Some interpreters believe Satan is alluded to in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 where the downfall of the king of Babylon and the king of Tyre are discussed.  It is believed these prophets are using historical events associated with the fall of Satan to describe the fall of the kings of Babylon and Tyre.  It is believed these passages show that at some point in the historical past Satan tried to ascend to heaven and become like God but was cast back down to earth where he was at the time of the six day creation. 

       However, if we take Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 at face value, it appears that these prophets are using irony, metaphor and hyperbole to describe the downfall of the kings of Babylon and Tyre and these passages have nothing to do with Satan.  Satan is not mentioned in either of these passages.  In Isaiah 14:4 we see it is the King of Babylon who is being addressed. While there is language in verses 12-14 that sounds supernatural in nature, when verses 15-17 are read in the context of the entire chapter, it is clearly shown that a human king is being discussed here and not some supernatural Being.  The context of Isaiah 14 is all about the fall of the King of Babylon.

       Isaiah 14:12-14: How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!  You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High."

       Isaiah 14:15-17: But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit. Those who see you stare at you, they ponder your fate: "Is this the man who shook the earth and made kingdoms tremble, the man who made the world a desert, who overthrew its cities and would not let his captives go home?"

       The King James translation renders Isaiah 14:12 as."How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!"  The Hebrew word translated "Lucifer" in the KJV is heylel. The Hebrew Lexicons define heylel as brightness or morning star. Most English translations render heylel in a way reflective of this definition. Lucifer is a Latin word which means "light bringer."  The King James translators simply appropriated this word from the Latin Vulgate translation of the Hebrew Scriptures.  It is nowhere else found in Scripture. Its popular usage as a proper name for Satan is based on its appearance in the Isaiah passage in the KJV and the belief that Isaiah is alluding to the downfall of Satan. However, as already discussed, Satan is not mentioned in this passage.  This passage is all about the downfall of the king of Babylon.  The following footnote to this Isaiah passage in the NET Bible is instructive.

       "Apparently these verses allude to a mythological story about a minor god (Helel son of Shachar) who tried to take over Zaphon, the mountain of the gods. His attempted coup failed and he was hurled down to the underworld. The king of Babylon is taunted for having similar unrealized delusions of grandeur. Some Christians have seen an allusion to the fall of Satan here, but this seems contextually unwarranted (see J. Martin, “Isaiah,” BKCOT, 1061)." 

       Ezekiel 28:1-2: The word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, say to the ruler of Tyre, `This is what the Sovereign LORD says: "`In the pride of your heart you say, "I am a god; I sit on the throne of a god in the heart of the seas." But you are a man and not a god, though you think you are as wise as a god.

       Verse 4-5: By your wisdom and understanding you have gained wealth for yourself and amassed gold and silver in your treasuries. By your great skill in trading you have increased your wealth, and because of your wealth your heart has grown proud.

       Verse 6-9: Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: "`Because you think you are wise, as wise as a god, I am going to bring foreigners against you, the most ruthless of nations; they will draw their swords against your beauty and wisdom and pierce your shining splendor. They will bring you down to the pit, and you will die a violent death in the heart of the seas. Will you then say, "I am a god," in the presence of those who kill you? You will be but a man, not a god, in the hands of those who slay you.

       Ezekiel 28 begins by showing the ruler of Tyre is being addressed as a man who through wisdom and understanding and skill in trading has amassed great wealth. Because of his wealth he is seen as becoming proud.  Because this king is seen to think he is as wise as God, he is told that foreign nations will attack him and he will die. It is recorded in verse 10 that this ruler will die at the hands of foreigners. Ezekiel then takes up a lament against the king of Tyre and, like is true with Isaiah's lament against the king of Babylon, there is a good deal of supernatural sounding language used to characterize this king.

       Ezekiel tells the king that he was the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.  He is said to have been in Eden, the garden of God.  He is seen as being adorned by precious stones on the day he was created. The king is said to have been
anointed as a guardian cherub and was on the holy mount of God where he walked among the fiery stones. He is said to have been blameless in his ways from the day he was created until wickedness was found in him (Ezekiel 28:12-15). In verse 17 this personage is seen as being thrown to earth. 

       Because of being seen as having been in Eden, the garden of God, being anointed as a guardian cherub, walking on the holy mount of God, and being thrown to earth, it is believed by many that Ezekiel is describing a high ranking angelic Being who was created by God who at some point sinned and was consequently removed from his lofty position and ended up as the deceiving serpent seen in the Garden of Eden.   

       However, beginning in verse 16, the person being addressed is seen as being driven out by God because of sinning in association with being involved in widespread trade and violence. In verse 17 he is seen as being punished because of dishonest trade. He is seen as being reduced to ashes in the sight of other kings. While there is language directed to the king of Tyre that could be taken to refer to some sort of supernatural Being, much of the language directed to the king is in the context of the king being a physical Being engaging in earthly pursuits. Because of this, it may be more prudent to view the supernatural language of these passages as the writers using irony, metaphor and hyperbole to describe the downfall of these two kings. Metaphor and hyperbole is used a lot in Scripture to get a point across