"Creation": No. 2 - God's Preface

 •  10 min. read  •  grade level: 11
S. L. Jacob
No. 2. — God’s Preface
God has given to us a wonderful Book, the most human of all books, with the individuality of each human penman strongly seen in his writings, yet it is altogether divine, and bears the impress of God as its Author on every page.
But how can we be sure that this Book is God’s Book? Well, there is no rival in the field, that is something. To exalt the Koran, the Vedas or other ancient writings to the level of the Holy Scriptures is but an evidence of ignorance.
When from a distant lighthouse we see a lamp of 100,000 candle power flashing its light across the sea, we own the cleverness of the inventor; but when we see the mighty sun, and realize a little what it is, and what it does, we feel that only the Almighty mind and hand could have produced it.
So as we learn how great the Book is, how marvelous the Person who is its theme, and how unspeakable are the results that it effects, we are compelled to own that mere skepticism is born of ignorance.
Christians need no apologetics, but we do need to have the glories of revelation unfolded to us by the Holy Spirit, for as one glory after another is unveiled before our wondering gaze, faith is strengthened, and the mists of unbelief are dispelled.
An insight into the purpose of God, and into the testimony which He has given beforehand of that which is to be displayed in a future day, helps to this end. God had planned all that He is accomplishing, and these plans were all recorded centuries ago; not necessarily in such a manner as to be discovered by the careless: God’s plans are not for them, but for those who seek understanding as silver, and search for her as for hid treasures (Prov. 2:44If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; (Proverbs 2:4)); these are richly repaid for their toil. God does nothing without revealing His secret to His servants the prophets (Amos 3:77Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets. (Amos 3:7)); and there is no failure with Him. The apparent failures we see all through the Word, have only been allowed in order to enhance the greatness of the display of God; for God is surely and steadily carrying out His plan absolutely undisturbed by anything either man or the devil may do. He has never had more than one thought, which is to reveal Himself to men in and by Christ; as has been well said,” God has spoken but one word, and that word is Christ.”
The Book of Genesis
Let us now turn to the beginning, for the beginnings of things are always important, for what is not begun well is not likely to end well, and we could have no confidence in that, the commencement of which was not good. Some conceive of redemption as if it were a mere afterthought, a remedy for the fall, and the healing of a terrible breach, but that is far from a true conception. Out of that which has been allowed to come in by the way, God designed to produce, by redemption, a brighter glory and a greater good than ever existed before the fall. On the very forepart of God’s book is that which tells us of God’s plan, prepared beforehand, perfect in its inception, as it will be perfect in its accomplishment. This must be the case because God is the architect and constructor of the whole edifice. Nevertheless, God’s judgments are unsearchable and His ways past finding out, save as He is pleased to reveal them, and Himself.
Genesis comes naturally as the first book of the Bible, and forms a prelude to the whole. Whether it was actually the first to be written, or not, matters nothing. In its own distinctive subject no other place befits it except the one which has been given to it (by doubtless divine arrangement) with the consent of all. It is well called the seed plot of the Bible, and what we see in its inception in Genesis is seen to be worked out in full in the book of Revelation; so that the latter is the complement of the former.
This book of Genesis consists of a preface or introduction, that is, chapters 1 and 2:1-3 (which for convenience sake we will henceforth call the first chapter, the chapters here being badly divided) and ten portions of unequal lengths all commencing with the word “generations.” The opening verses of these ten divisions are as follow: Chapter 2:4; 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10; 11:27; 25:12; 25:19; 36:1; 37:2.
The word “generations” is not used here as generally in human language, for we are told “these are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.” We do not in ordinary language speak of the generations of the heavens and of the earth, or of such things. Once when musing on the subject we said to ourselves, it must mean “histories,” and turning to the late J. N. Darby’s New Translation we found in the text (chap. 2:4) the word “histories,” and in the margin “Hebrew Genealogies,” and in chap. 5:1 in the text “generations,” and in the margin “or history.” This proves that others have had the same thought.
A perusal of the passages themselves will make it evident that in all the cases mentioned, unless it were the first, what goes before is never in question but always what comes after; we may therefore be sure that the first case also follows the same rule, that is, it deals with the subsequent history, and is not a recapitulation of that which precedes.
Matthew 1, which begins “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ,” is no exception. It has been thought that because, genealogies follow, therefore genealogies are the generation, but this is not so; the whole Gospel of Matthew is the book of the generation of Jesus Christ, that is, of those who are of His generation, or seed; while the genealogies recorded are given to show that Jesus Christ was the rightful King, and to connect the New Testament with the Old; and then the gospel goes on to show how Psalm 22:3030A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation. (Psalm 22:30) is fulfilled, where it is written, “a seed shall serve Him: it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.”
We find then that the greater part of the book of Genesis consists of ten histories of deep import, and in these ten histories God is giving us the great principles which cover the whole period from the creation of man to the end of the millennial day; not principles of good only, but of good and evil, both worked out experimentally, to the end; but before these histories begin, there is a short portion dealing with the creation of all things visible (not so large in scope as Colossians 1:1616For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: (Colossians 1:16)). This small portion is an introduction or preface to these histories. This preface is really a preface to the whole of God’s work, and contains in it prophetically a wondrous panorama of all God’s dealings, both with the whole world, and also with an individual soul (for the latter is only the former in miniature), beginning from the fall, and ending with the Sabbath of God’s rest, and the triumph of good over evil. If this be so, what grandeur does it impart to these Holy Scriptures, and what an insight into God’s plans. What solid ground does it give for the feet of those who rest on the immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, as we see the vast plan being worked out, and how Christ is magnified before our souls, for He it is who will carry out every jot and tittle of all the plans and purposes of God.
We believe we shall have no difficulty in proving these things, but at the same time we are painfully conscious that we cannot do justice to the subject, for it is so vast, and our knowledge of it so small. Nevertheless the theme has been one of great spiritual enjoyment to us for a long period, and we hope to be able to say enough, by way of suggestion, rather than of explanation, to make the subject profitable to our readers.
General Principles
In a former article on creation we sought to show that God being what He is, and His ways being as described in Scripture, it is impossible that He should form, or speak of material things except to teach us spiritual and moral things.
We do not now propose to go over this ground again, we will accept it as proven, and we will proceed to inquire into the purpose of this opening preface to God’s Book, which must necessarily have the deepest significance.
Certain principles may be here enunciated, which are of great help in reading the language of symbols, and in the understanding of the ways of God; these are three, as follows: —
(1) The language of symbols is most definite and distinct, and we have no more right to change the current meaning of a symbol to suit our preconceived ideas, than to change the meaning of a word for the same cause; yet many, otherwise reverent, often play fast and loose with symbolic meanings to suit their own views. This is altogether irreverent, and shows lack of confidence in God, and in God’s book. A flagrant example of this is seen in the use of the symbol leaven.’ Throughout the whole of Scripture this most distinctly means corruption and evil, yet because of the general unwillingness to accept this when the kingdom of Heaven is in question (Matt. 13 and Luke 13) the symbol is made to mean what is excellent and good, and the mysteries of the kingdom unfolded by the Lord, are therefore entirely falsified. But we must not condemn others, for who has been faultless in this matter?
(2) God never begins with that which shall be, which will abide and is perfect and according to His purpose; but always with something inferior, in order that we may learn by way of contrast — the only way ‘ indeed in which finite beings can learn — because thus only can we be trained for the high destiny which God has for us as heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ in the inheritance. This principle is unfolded in 1 Corinthians 15:4646Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. (1 Corinthians 15:46), where it is written, “Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural, afterward that which is spiritual.” This principle is of immense value; see also Jeremiah 18:44And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it. (Jeremiah 18:4).
(3) When God has brought in anything, albeit it is temporary and provisional, He does not set it aside until He has thoroughly tested and proved it, and found it wanting; then it must make way for that which will abide. This is shown in Hebrews 8:7-137For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. 8For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: 9Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord. 10For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people: 11And they shall not teach every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest. 12For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. 13In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away. (Hebrews 8:7‑13), where it is written “For if that first (the word covenant is not in the original) had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.”... And again, “In that he saith a new, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.”
Now bearing these things in mind let us ask the purport of this first chapter. It is generally supposed that it describes God (after the original act of creation) as writing upon a blank, and furnishing it with what is good, and that a perfect state of things is portrayed at each stage. We venture to suggest that on the contrary, we see the introduction of good into a scene of evil, without eliminating the evil, and in consequence it is the conflict of good and evil which is portrayed, with the ultimate triumph of the good. The second verse brings into view a fallen world with God at work for blessing, overcoming evil with good. That is, God is not presenting to us here a perfect world which has since fallen, but the world we now live in, the evil foreseen and provided for, and triumph assured. When we see this we then begin to understand how vastly better is God’s thought than our preconceived ideas. We now proceed to prove the above statement.