—GEN. 1:26; 2:3.—JULY 7.—
"In the beginning God created the
heavens and the earth."—Gen. 1:1 .
GENESIS, as a word, signifies creation, beginning,—the act, process or mode of producing or originating. The Bible points out Jehovah God as the great first cause of all things. It addresses its counsels and promises only to those who recognize their Creator with the eyes of their understanding, and declares that those who do not recognize this great first cause, God, are so degraded, have their intellects so perverted, that they are non compos mentis—fools. (Psa. 14:1.) It further declares that God will not in the present age deal with any who are so depraved; but that "He that cometh unto God [acceptably] must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."—Heb. 11:6.
Amongst those who acknowledge a Creator there has come to be a wide difference of opinion respecting his Word and his work. Some accept the Bible testimony as a divine revelation, relying upon it accordingly. Others, with a larger amount of self-confidence, deny that the Bible is God-inspired, go to the rocks and study them,—forming their conclusions in harmony with their findings. Both acknowledge God and that his power and wisdom are manifest in his creation, yet the latter, leaning more and more to their own understanding (Prov. 3:5), tend to question the personality of God, and seek, if possible, to prove that there are what they term "Laws of Nature" in operation now which have been in operation from time immemorial, and they query whether or not these laws must of necessity have had an author. They see life in its various manifestations, and admit intelligence, but claim that this intelligence was attained through a process of evolution,—attained without a Creator, as evolutions from inert matter. In other words, they have been seeking for some time to see whether or not in their theory a God is absolutely necessary, with a view to dropping him entirely from their theories, if possible.
However, the learned, worldly-wise, do not generally reach that "fool" condition; for the majority admitting that while they could reason out all manner of changes as respects conditions, admit that they cannot produce a satisfactory theory of the origin of matter, nor of the origin of the first spark of life, nor of the origin of the first gleam of intelligence. Hence scientists as a class still admit that there must be some kind of a God, but the Scriptures assure us that, looking in the wrong direction, they fail to see the real God, fail to discern his real character and plan. "The world by wisdom knows not God."—1 Cor. 1:21.
While the leaders amongst natural men are searching for God and for truth in the rocks and in the sands, the children of God, begotten by his spirit, are seeking the wisdom that cometh from above, and are finding and knowing him whom to know is life eternal. Yea, and more than this, the "spirit of a sound mind" which they receive, and the guidance of the holy spirit, enable them to see "the deep things of God," in those things which were written aforetime for their admonition—in the holy writings which by divine arrangement have been gathered and cemented together, and which are known to us as the Bible—the Book of all books. In thus doubting their own wisdom and the ability of themselves and others to master the deep subject of creation and the divine will and plan associated with it, these whom the world counts unwise are really wise, in that they look to the Lord for their instruction respecting these things; they manifest a faith which is pleasing to him, and put themselves into a position of heart in which they may be "all taught of God," and thus know things which the natural man cannot know—thus seeing and appreciating things which "eye hath not seen, neither hath ear heard, neither hath entered into the hearts of [natural] men, ...but which God hath revealed unto us by his spirit; for the spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God."—1 Cor. 2:9,10.
We are not meaning to say that God has given great revelations respecting the earth and its creation; yet while admitting that the things that are revealed to God's people by his spirit pertain chiefly to the things that are to come, we hold, nevertheless, that in respect to the things that are past, the creation, etc., the Word of God is sufficient, that the man of God may be thoroughly furnished unto every good work.—2 Tim. 3:17.
The opportunities afforded by this lesson in various Sunday Schools and Bible classes of the civilized world are sure to be taken advantage of by many ministers, superintendents and teachers to introduce the unscriptural views which they have for some time past been imbibing from various quarters, especially from the colleges and seminaries of Christendom, respecting what is known as the Evolution Theory of Creation. It is the taking theory—the theory which commends itself to the natural mind—the theory which will seem to best fit all the facts of history in the judgment of those who look at the question from the outside, [R2835 : page 204] not from the inside;—from the natural standpoint and not from the standpoint of the spiritual new creature, instructed by the inner light of the "golden candlestick." However, we are to remember that the light which the priests enjoyed in the "holy places made with hands" represented the enlightenment of the holy spirit; which is granted during this Gospel age, only to the consecrated "royal priesthood." And as this light in the "Holy," could not be seen by those outside, we must not be surprised that the "natural man receiveth not the things [the light, the instruction] of the spirit of God, neither can he know them, for they are spiritually discerned."—1 Cor. 2:14.
For centuries natural men have looked to the teachings of the Church, the Bible, for instruction; because in the "dark" time practically no other course of information was open to them. But now, in the dawn of the "morning," when light is becoming more general on every subject, the natural man is not only disposed to repudiate many of the teachings of priestcraft and superstition which he had received as truths, but additionally he is disposed to doubt that there is, and always has been, a truth-centre to Christianity;—around which, we admit, there were heavy incrustations of error and darkness which have to a very large degree misrepresented the truth to the world in general.
We are now come to the time when the battle of books which has waged during the past half century amongst professors and school-men is reaching the masses of the people. The leaven of doubt as respects the whole Bible, and Genesis in particular, is gradually permeating the entire mass of Christendom; and its progress will be increasingly rapid because it is already accepted by the learned; and the ignorant who are now being approached will feel that they can safely follow, blindly, these blind guides who are preaching "another Gospel," of which the atoning sacrifice of Christ is not the centre.
We well know that many Christian people who have adopted the Evolution Theory will dispute the foregoing statement, because of the source from which they have accepted it, and because of the insidious form in which they received it, and because they are not thoroughly furnished in a knowledge of the Scriptures, and because they have not reasoned the matter out—have not had their "senses exercised by reason of use" on this subject. (Heb. 5:14.) Their argument is: "We do not dispute the Scriptures, nor is it necessary so to do, in accepting the Evolution Theory. If asked to explain their position they would say: We still believe in God, a personal intelligent God, and have no sympathy with those who attempt to claim or to prove that life and intelligence could come spontaneously and without a Creator's power; we merely hold that our God, as Creator, produced the world gradually, and not in six twenty-four-hour days; we claim also that the creation of the fish, birds, beasts and man were gradual evolutions, but nevertheless under divine supervision, and during long periods. We claim that the monkey and the ape were not direct creations, but sharers in this evolution; and that in due time the evolutionary process which God started reached the point where a new and higher type of creature was evolved from the ape, a type having some degree of moral sense, that was man. We Bible-Evolutionists claim, that in this first gleam of moral sense was man's image or likeness to his Creator; and that during the past six thousand years this moral sense has been growing, expanding, developing, until by the grace of God the race has reached its present high altitudes of intelligence,—moral, spiritual, intellectual.
"We claim further that under divine providence the reasonable thing to expect is that this evolutionary process will continue throughout ages to come, perhaps forever, etc. We do not deny the Bible nor the Lord nor the apostles, altho we certainly do give less weight to their teachings than we formerly did;—being now inclined to believe that Jesus and the disciples either withheld some of the truth in their teaching, or else that they shared with mankind in general the lower planes of thought and less intelligence of their day; that they are to be respected for their good intentions and valuable service, but not to be regarded as competent to teach us who live under the more favored circumstances and enlightenment of this twentieth century civilization, taught by such lights as Prof. Briggs, Mrs. Eddy, Prof. Haupt, Darwin, Huxley, Tyndale, Spencer, et al."
In the foregoing we have given what we believe to be as fair a statement as could be made of the views of the great mass of intelligent people, especially of the educated class. And what does it mean? To us it means infidelity—a total denial of the divine Word and plan of God. And we will show why.
If the above theory be true, the Bible theory must be false; but if the Bible be true, the above theory must be false. We hold that the Scripture teaching as a whole is in violent conflict with the foregoing in nearly every point. The Genesis account of man's creation, in the image and likeness of God, is quite distinctly different from its account of the creation of the lower animals, and must necessarily mean something much higher than evolutionists admit;—it declares a direct creation. The words "image" and "likeness" [R2835 : page 205] signify a great deal more than a mere first glimmer of moral sense. To us these words signify a likeness of mental conception, a harmony of sentiment—that man was, in the flesh, a copy of his Creator, who is a spirit—that he was not a brute with a mere glimmer of intelligence. Nor could we imagine how such a being but one remove from the brute could be justly placed on trial for life, eternal life, so that by one act of disobedience he could be justly sentenced to death; nor could we see how such a being could with any propriety be said to fall, without losing the little spark of intelligence possessed, and becoming again a mere brute. The fact that the fallen man was possessed of such character and qualities as possessed by various of the patriarchs before as well as after the flood, as described in this very book of Genesis, proves conclusively either that the monkeyman and his posterity fell upward at a very rapid rate indeed, and not in any sense of the word downward and into sin and death, or else it disproves totally the Evolution Theory, on this subject.
On the contrary, all the Scriptures declare that man is fallen; that he has forfeited his Creator's favor and blessing, and the original grant of life everlasting; and teach us that this "condemnation" upon the first man and his posterity has been inflicted ever since; and that the "wrath of God" as manifested in the sentence of death has been upon the race as a "curse;" and that the only means of removing this "curse" or sentence, and recovering the lost man to the original position of harmony with God and to the right to eternal life, was through the redemption in Christ Jesus. The message of Jesus and the apostles was along this line; viz., that the promise of God that the race should be succored from its fallen condition by a Savior and a great one, able to save unto the uttermost—able to recover out of the horrible pit and out of the miry clay of sin and death, and that he made this recovery possible by giving the ransom price, his own sacrifice, and that as a result of the sacrifice he was to be the great King who, during a future age, the Millennium, would exercise divine power and authority, binding Satan and all the evil influences at present operating upon mankind and holding it in subjection to the curse of sin and death, would be removed, hindered, while the great King Immanuel should lift up and bless the race under restitution processes, bringing all the then willing back to the Paradise lost, and to all the favors that were lost,—even fellowship with God, the divine likeness and the everlasting life.
These two theories are so antagonistic that there cannot possibly be any sympathy or cooperation between them. If one is true the other is false, and for our part we say, Let God be true, tho it prove every professed scientist a liar! (Rom. 3:4.) This Evolution Theory of science comes properly under the criticism of the Apostle when he speaks of "science falsely so-called," which contradicts the divine Word, and sets [R2836 : page 205] it at naught, preferring the traditions of men and the light of human intelligence rather than the light of divine revelation. Yet, as above stated, we must not be surprised at this great trial and testing of faith, which is to prove all them that dwell upon the face of the whole earth. (Rev. 3:10.) We must not be surprised at the stumbling of those who have failed to use the opportunity granted, of coming into a condition of heart-consecration to the Lord, and begetting of his spirit, and entrance into the "holy place,"—into the light of the golden candlestick: we must not be surprised if these now reject and repudiate the true light which they see not. Indeed, to our understanding we are in the very testing time which is to prove the saints, and ultimately to reprove the world and bring to naught its wisdom.
Let us not be misunderstood: We agree that the Scriptures do not teach that the earth and all its creatures were created in six twenty-four hour days. There is nothing said in Genesis respecting the length of these periods called "days," but we have clearly set before us the fact that the term "day" is properly applied in Scripture to various periods. (Luke 1:80; John 8:56; Phil. 2:16.) Our Golden Text, rightly understood, indicates that the work of the six days mentioned in Genesis was a work of ordering and filling the earth, rather than a work of creating; for it plainly declares that the creation of the earth was "in the beginning"—that it "was" before the matters and affairs described subsequently, but in a chaotic condition. In harmony with this again is the statement, "Now the earth was without form and void." (Verse 2.) This was before the six creative days began, whatever their length; they merely set the earth in order and supplied it with living creatures.
Neither do we insist that anything in the narrative necessarily involves the thought that the creation of the lower animals, fish, fowl and beasts, was in the same manner as the creation of man; rather, since their creation is merely mentioned in a general way, the inference might be drawn that God used certain (possibly evolutionary) processes in their development up to the point where they reached fixity of class, nature, genera. But we do insist that the Scriptures specifically mention man as a direct creation of God, and not as an evolution. We insist that this particularity of statement respecting man's creation is not without significance, and that the special preparation for his reception in a Paradise of God was in full accord with his high rank as an earthly human son of [R2836 : page 206] the Highest, an image and likeness of his heavenly Creator. We do insist that the story of the fall as told in Genesis and throughout the prophets and psalms, and as particularly enunciated in the New Testament, must be held to implicitly by those who hold to the Word of God at all. We must insist that unless there was a fall, Christ died in vain, for if the Evolution Theory be true then there were no sinners to be redeemed and restored.—Acts 3:19-23.
We stand, on the contrary, with those who have, by the grace of God, attained a knowledge of God's Word, and who see in it Christ the Savior of mankind, and his cross the centre, the fulcrum upon which the entire work of salvation moves, by which alone the race can be lifted out of its present degraded condition, and brought back through divine processes of redemption and restitution to the glorious condition of God-likeness in a new Paradise of God, a new heavens and a new earth, from which sin shall eventually be blotted out, and in which righteousness shall prevail. These Scriptural presentations are the best possible answer to the doubts and queries of the scientists. But these clear views of the divine plan can be had only by those whose eyes of understanding have been opened, and into whose hearts the light of the knowledge of the glory of God shining in the face of Jesus Christ our Lord has shined. As respects all others, moral and immoral, good and bad, we must surely expect that they will fall away in this time of sifting. "Who shall be able to stand?" Only those who have availed themselves of the mercy of God and who have come into covenant relationship with him;—and they only as they maintain the spirit of their consecration, and grow in grace, knowledge and love toward God and men.
Our lesson specially deals with the creation of man. Verse 26 tells us of the purpose of God in advance, and we would render it, "Let us make mankind in our image, and after our likeness let them have dominion over the fish of the sea," etc., making the word "image" to apply to the character-likeness of God, in which man was created, and the word "likeness" to refer to the dominion;—that mankind should have dominion over the creatures of earth, even as God has dominion over all things. In a word, man was intended to be the king of the earth, the lord of the earth; and it was to this end that he was crowned with the glory and honor and majesty of the divine image,—in the moral and intellectual features of his being, a flesh image of his invisible spirit Creator. It is to this high exaltation of man, as God's representative in the earth, that the Prophet speaks, saying, "What is man that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honor, and didst set him over the works of thy hands." (Psa. 8:4-8.) So far from being only a little removed above the beast, this scripture declares that man was created in the very highest position of earthly creatures, but a little removed in intelligence, etc., from the angelic hosts. What we shall subsequently see respecting the fall of man from this grand position and the necessity of his redemption before he could be restored to it, is in perfect accord with the declarations respecting the glory and honor of the image in which he was created.
Verse 27 declares that that which God purposed was accomplished, and that this glory and honor in its full, complete sense, was not represented by one of the sexes alone, but by them both unitedly. This holy, happy pair had the blessing, the favor of God, and, contrary to the views of many, their fruitfulness was not the result of sin and the fall, but, as here distinctly declared, was in the intention of the Almighty respecting them before their disobedience and condemnation to death. The fact that God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth," contradicts the unscriptural thought that the propagation of children was in any sense or degree a transgression, or the transgression on account of which the "curse" came upon our first parents, and upon all through them. The Lord's people are not to be wise above what is written, nor to permit idle speculations to twist and warp their minds; but, on the contrary, are to rightly divide the word of truth.
The word "replenish" in our common version, is manifestly incorrect, as the word implies that the earth had once been filled, and was now, for some reason, empty and to be re plenished or re filled. A more correct rendering would be, "Fill the earth." It is in harmony with this original instruction, we understand, that when the earth has been filled with a population, the procreative powers will be eliminated, and eventually the race be composed of perfect units, such as Adam was originally, before being divided into two persons for the purpose of companionship, procreation, and the preservation of the race as one, and under one headship. As we have already shown, it is our thought that in that perfecting or unifying process every male being will take on the elements and qualities of the mind and of the heart now peculiarly emphasized in the female; and every female will take on those elements of mind and heart now peculiarly manifest in the male; and yet we should here guard ourselves lest we should think of either the coarseness or the frailties of the fallen race (male and female) being in any [R2836 : page 207] sense of the word a part or feature of the perfect earthly creatures of the future. We should also bear in mind that the Church, now being selected from the world, will have no part in this restitution process, but will become, as the Scriptures declare, members of a new creation, a new order of beings—spiritual—not only superhuman, but also "far above angels, principalities and powers."
The vegetarian idea respecting what would constitute the proper food for the perfect man is clearly set forth in verse 29, the Lord declaring that he had given his creatures the herbage and fruitage of the earth for their meat—their food. It was not until after the flood, and the peculiar changes of conditions resulting therefrom (which we cannot here take time and space to discuss) that the Lord specially sanctioned the eating of animal food. (Gen. 9:1-4.) We understand the reason to have been that the conditions were so changed as not only to shorten human longevity but to greatly impair human strength, making necessary the nerve strength obtainable from animal food. Since animal food was thus sanctioned by the Lord it behooves the Lord's people not to become erratic and dictatorial upon this question of vegetarianism, nor to condemn those who find, or think they find, that animal food is necessary to the maintenance of their physical strength: on the other hand, let them remember that whatever was originally intended, and whatever may be the order of things in the Millennial age, there is no Scriptural sanction for condemning the eating of animal food in the present time. Whoever, therefore, advocates it, let him take heed that he does not make another gospel of it, and permit time and thought and voice and energy to be thus estranged from the service of the gospel truths committed to us [R2837 : page 207] by our Lord; let such, on the contrary, remember that our Lord ate meat and fish, both before and after his crucifixion, and that the apostles ate meat, and that in no sense of the word was the eating of it condemned or evil spoken of; and that none of the Lord's people today have any higher authorities or examples than these. And let those who eat meat not mock those who eat "vegetable only," believing this course to be more healthful for them.
The fact that for beast and for fowl the Lord originally provided the same vegetarian diet, is in perfect accord with some of the prophetic statements which seem to imply that under the new conditions of the Kingdom even the lower animals will return to vegetable diet, when "The lion shall eat grass like the ox," and when "Nothing shall hurt or destroy in all God's holy mountain [kingdom]." (Isa. 11:6,7; 65:25.) Thus we learn that the animals which at present are carnivorous (flesh-eaters) are not now in their original condition, but have been sharers with mankind in the results of the catastrophe which came upon our earth in the flood; likewise that they will be sharers with man, their king, in the great uplift which will come to him and to all nature when God's Kingdom, in the hands of the Sons of God, shall be established, and shall bless the groaning creation.—Rom. 8:19-22.
All that God did was in full accord with what he had purposed, and in his sight was very good; but we cannot think that man and the general conditions of the world today are in God's sight "very good," but, according to his own declaration, very bad—sin has marred all; and, as the Apostle expresses it, nothing is very good in God's sight now. "There is none righteous, no, not one." This is another testimony, therefore, to the effect that the fall of man was decidedly downward, and that the Evolution Theory of a gradual and persistent rise is a fallacy.*
The creation of man was just in the close of the sixth day or epoch. It was the crowning feature of creation, and finished it. Having finished his creative work God blessed the seventh day (or epoch) and set it apart, and rested therein from any further creative work—foreknowing, however, that during this seventh day, which has lasted from then until now (and will last yet another thousand years), sin would enter through disobedience, and his sentence of death be executed against Adam and his race, and the whole creation be caused to groan; knowing also that while he would thenceforth withhold his creative power, he would provide for the necessities of the fallen race, in the person of Jesus, "a Savior and a great one," who, by giving the ransom-price for man's sin, would become his Redeemer, his Lord, and thus obtain the right and the power to rescue him from death, and to lift up all the willing and obedient by restitution processes to all that was lost in Eden.
This seventh day, in which God has rested, to the intent that Christ may accomplish the great work of redemption, reconciliation and restitution has already lasted six thousand years, and altho this time has been an evil time under the reign of sin and death, the Redeemer is, according to the divine program, shortly to take unto himself his great power and reign for a thousand years, until he shall complete the work of restitution of the willing and obedient, and finally shall deliver up the Kingdom to God, even the Father, that God may be the all-in-all throughout eternity.+—Heb. 4:4-10.
Golden Text.—"God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by his own power."—1 Cor. 6:14.