Module 02: The Need for a Mediator - The Reaon: Man
Module Guide: Genesis - The Book of Beginnings
This pre-read guide is taken from the public domain source "The Analysed Bible in 3 Volumes" by G. Campbell Morgan.
The book of Genesis is the book of origins. It deals with the beginnings of the facts and forces in the midst of which humanity lives, in so far as it is necessary for man to know them in order to set his life in right relationship to them. There is nothing final in this book. Things created are not seen in perfection, but rather as prepared for development. Evil is revealed neither as to its first origin nor ultimate development, but only in the beginnings of its operation in human life. The Divine plan of redemption is not fully unfolded, but the first movements in history toward its outworking are clearly revealed.
The main divisions of the book are marked by the phrases: "In the beginning God" (1:1), "Now the serpent" (3:1), "Now Jehovah " (12:1) . The first division tells the story of the beginnings of the material universe. The second division gives an account of how evil entered human history, and traces its first movements. The third division gives the history of the calling of a man, the making of a nation, the creation of a testimony, and thus the preparation for the ultimate coming of a Saviour. These in broad outline are the divisions of the book. The beginnings of created things: Generation, and, at the back of all, God. The beginnings of evil: Degeneration, and, at the back of all, the serpent. The beginnings of the process of restoration: Regeneration, and, at the back of all, Jehovah.
In this first division there are two sections, which give an account respectively of the generation of the material to man, and the generation of man as to nature and office.
"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." In that simple statement we have the Bible declaration of the origin of the material universe; and it is one in which faith finds reasonable foundation. Interpretations of method may vary, but the essential truth abides. In its dignified and sublime statement reason may rest as it cannot possibly do in any theory which leaves God out of the question, and thus finally declares that the first cause was more or less the result of accident, or the existence of laws without mind, or of order without thought.
"And the earth was waste and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep." It is not possible that those words describe the condition of the heaven and tlie earth as they were created by God. Between the original creation and the conditions herein described there had been a cataclysm. Of that revelation has given us no account. Speculations are interesting, but they cannot be final or dogmatic. It may be that behind the material cataclysm there was a moral catastrophe. Probably, if we knew all the history, we should know the truth concerning the origination of evil. In subsequent volumes of the Divine Library there are flashes of light which may afford some clue to the hidden things. The fact that Satan is spoken of as "the god of this world," "the prince of this world," may refer to a relationship he bore to the earth prior to the appearance of man. It may be that here angels "kept not their own principality," and that in their fall they involved the earth itself in degradation from its primal perfection, and brought it to the condition described as "waste and void."
With the words "The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters " begins the story of reconstruction, and this continues through the third verse of the second chapter. The method of the new birth of the earth was that of the brooding over it of the Spirit, and the uttering of the Word of God. The earth was born again by the Spirit and the Word. A careful study of this section and of the following one will reveal the fact that two words are made use of to describe the Divine action. The Revised Version has indicated the difference by the use of our words "created" and "made." The Hebrew words of which these are translations do not indicate the same thing. The first, "created," indicates an essential making, a bringing into existence. The second, "made," suggests rather the origination of new forms by the use of things already created. It is of great interest, and moreover of value, to notice the places where the word "created" is used. It occurs first in the declaration concerning the origin of material things. It occurs again at the point where life rises from the non-sensient to the sensient. It occurs, in the third place, at the story of the coming of man. Between these the word used is always "made." This fact reveals that at the points indicated there was a new act of God, introducing an entirely fresh order of being. It is worthy of notice that these words occur exactly where the evolutionary theory has never yet been able to bridge a gulf. The evolutionary process demands a primal fact from which everything goes forward. It cannot supply it. It is supplied by the declaration " In the beginning God created." It has never been able to discover the link between the nonsensient and sensient; that link is here supplied in the affirmation "God created ... every living creature." It has never been able finally to discover a link between the highest form of animal life and man; that link is supplied in the affirmation "God created man in His own image." Whereas according to this account He was ever the immanent God, by His own wisdom and power producing every new form of already existing life, He did also at certain periods in the process by direct, essential, new creation, create a crisis from which the order proceeded anew.
There are those who affirm that in the first two chapters we have two distinct accounts of the creation of man; and moreover, some declare that they contradict each other. As a matter of fact the first story places man in his relation to the material universe. He is seen as the crowning work in creation, the last of a succession, whether a succession of separate events or of evolutionary processes is not declared. Whatever the process, he is seen to be the crown of the material creation. In the second story he is shown to be more than this. There an explanation is given of that spiritual quantity which is found in man and in no other creation. It describes the process by which man became different from, and superior to, everything which had preceded him. He was made of the dust of the ground, that is, he had come from the common origin. His creation as man was due to the fact that God breathed into his nostrils the breath of lives. By the possession of God-breathed lives he was differentiated from everything which had preceded him.
This being, at once related to the material universe, and yet kin of God, was placed at the centre of creation, to govern it in co-operation with God. He was to reign over all beneath him. The garden in which he found himself was not the ultimate goal. It was the opportunity for the exercise of the functions of the life bestowed. Within it there lay potentially the city, which man was to build by the cultivation of the forces of the garden, and by exercising authority over creation under the authority of God.
The relation of man to God and Nature was conditioned by a simple and yet perfectly clear command, which indicated the limits of liberty. There were things which he might do. There were bounds beyond which he might not go. His liberty consisted in loyalty to the law of God. Of these fundamental truths the trees of the garden afforded sacramental symhols. Of all save one he might eat; of this one he might not eat. It stood in the presence of his life, marking the bounds of his freedom.
Man was completed by the bringing to him of one who was of himself, and in whom he found the true complement of his own nature. In man and his companion the likeness of God was complete. "In His own image ... male and female created He them."
The division here commencing deals with the beginnings of that long process of degeneration, in the midst of which the human race still finds itself. The suggested analysis must not be treated as hard and fast in its separation of parts. It is intended simply to indicate the natural development of thought as to the individual, the family, society, the nation. These divisions indicate the true circles of human inter-relationship as they spread out in ever-widening circumference.
Everything commences with the individual. This is a simple story of a man in individual innocence and racial immaturity. Satan appealed to him through a lower form of creation, here spoken of as the serpent. Spiritual evil took material form to reach spiritual man through the material side of his being. The deepest note in the attack was that of its attempt to reflect on God. The deepest note in the fall was that of failure of faith. Faith being lost, fear immediately succeeded.
Man hid from God, but he could not escape Him. He came first for inquisition, and then for pronouncement of sentence. In the sentences pronounced there is evident the differentiation of strictest justice. The curse was for the originator, justice for the deceived. Side by side with the sentence the first prophetic word broke upon human ears. Behind all the movements of law there abides the heart of love, and this is finally seen in the exclusion of man from the tree of life in order that he might not perpetuate the condition into which he had come as the result of sin.
Following swiftly upon the degradation of the individual came that of the family. The sorrow following upon sin was manifest first in the agony of the heart of the first mother. In hope she bore her first-born, and called him Cain, crying, "I have gotten it," that is, I have gotten the promised seed of the Lord. The hope was doomed to disappointment, and she called her next boy xlbel. Vanity, because of what she had seen in the first. Thus the first family was broken up, and the first gap in the circle of human society was made by murder.
The race moved on, multiplying into families, but the shadow of the issue of sin was on the whole of them, and with one rare exception through fifteen centuries the knell of death was heard unceasingly.
As families multiplied and branched out into many directions, the new relationship of society was created. From the original man two lines proceeded, one through Cain, the other through Seth. These developed around two opposing ideals, the one that of self-consideration and self-advancement, the other that of fear of God, and obedience of Him. The lines of difference became less clearly marked until the sons of the godly race inter-mixed in marriage with the daughters of the people of the materialized ideals, and the issue was most terrible corruption.
This all ended in a Divine interference of swift and overwhelming judgment. The destruction of the race was not total, for while man had failed, the purpose of God moved forward toward consummation. Out of the devastation a remnant was saved, and human history started forward upon a new basis as there emerged a new idea of social relationship, that of the nation.
With an immediateness which startles, the book chronicles the story of the failure of the national idea. The will of God was the peopling of the earth by the separation of those delivered from its primal corruption into nations occupying different territories. Against this separation man rebelled by the formation of a godless confederacy, and an attempt to resist the Divine decree. This was followed by immediate Divine intervention, which issued in the confusion of the confederacy. Finally, the line of continuity from Shem to Abram is declared, and the section setting forth degeneration closes.
In the third division we have the account of the beginnings of Regeneration, that is, of a movement which culminated in the person of the Messiah. The lines of development correspond to those we have already noticed in the previous division. As there we had first the degeneration of the individual, so here the regeneration of the individual is first dealt with, and indeed, at greatest length. We also see the movement in its application to the family, to society, and toward the nation.
The section dealing with the regeneration of the individual gives us the account of the dealings of God with three men : Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. There is a distinct difference between the Divine communications in these three cases. The difference is to be accounted for by the different quality of faith exemplified in each man. To Abraham there were seven communications, each initiating a new movement. His faith was obedient faith. To Isaac there were two Divine communications, and there does not seem to be any personal or direct relation between the communications of God and Isaac's life. The faith of Isaac was passive. To Jacob there were five communications, each of them coming at the close of a movement in the life of the man, by which God arrested and changed the order of his progress. Jacob's faith was restless faith.
The first communication to Abram was of the nature of a call to leave his own country, and to set his face toward a new one, under new conditions of life. "The Lord said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country ... unto the land that I will show thee." It may be that this initial call was really to Terah. It is certainly declared that Terah moved, taking Abram and Lot with him. The first intention, however, was not immediately realized. Coming to Haran, Terah remained there. After his death, Abram moved on, and came into the land of Canaan.
In the second communication God promised him the land for possession, and he proceeded in faith and obedience. By the third communication the land was solemnly given to Abram under interesting and remarkable circumstances. The herdsmen of Abram and Lot had quarrelled; and the former, with the magnanimity of a great soul, allowed Lot to make his choice. When he had departed God said to Abram, "Lift up now thine eyes," and thus to the man who was content not to choose, but rather to leave himself free for the following of faith, the whole of the land was given.
In the fourth communication God promised him a seed, which should become a great nation.
In connection with the fifth communication God entered into a solemn covenant as between Himself and Abraham.
The sixth communication was in connection with the actual coming to Abraham of his son.
The seventh and final communication was that by which God finally tested this man in the matter of faith, and because of his obedience was able to lead him into a closer and more conscious fellowship with Himself.
By these seven communications God led Abraham step by step through more trying circumstances toward higher experiences, and, because he followed, to larger possessions. In the process of the story we find on the part of Abraham deflections from faith. In a time of difficulty he went down into Egypt and by so doing fell, not merely from the simplicity of faith, but from truth. The method, however, is clearly indicated as being a Divine appearing, an obedient answer, and a consequent advancement.
In the story of Isaac we have first of all an account of the pastoral simplicity of his life. In the midst of this quietness there came to him the first of two Divine communications, in which God told him that the covenant made with Abraham was continued to him. The second communication was for the purpose of ratifying this selfsame covenant. Isaac was a man quiet, restful, and passive. His deflections from faith were fewer than those of his father. His restlessness was less than that of his son. There are no actions of magnificent or daring triumph. God never broke in upon his life with the thick darkness or the alarming struggle by Jabbok, but with quiet messages, showing that he too was included in covenant privilege and purpose. Isaac, the man who dug wells, and lived by them, was necessary in the Divine economy as well as Abraham, the man who blazed the way, and became the pioneer of faith ; as well as Jacob, the man of restless activity, who never found final anchorage until he was crippled.
The dealings of God with Jacob were of an entirely different nature because he was an entirely different man. Through all the story it is evident that he was a man who believed in God. That was the deepest fact in his life. He was nevertheless a man of restless activity, and the five communications to him were all for the purpose of checking him, correcting his methods, and keeping him in the pathway of the Divine will.
The first of these culminated a method of duplicity, followed in order to obtain a blessing. By deceit wrought upon his father, under the instigation and with the connivance of his mother, he obtained the blessing which God meant him to have. He believed that it was in the purpose of God for him, but, unable to follow and to wait, by manipulation of events and by the exercise of cunning obtained his father's benediction. As his face was set toward a new country, in consequence of his duplicity, God appeared to him, and with great tenderness, knowing the deepest in him, bridged the gulf between his material life and the spiritual realities by the vision of the ladder and the angels.
Arrived in the land of Laban, by quick wit and ready resource he won his way to material prosperity against all the meanness of his uncle. There was great danger lest such a man should become satisfied with success in an alien land, and God appeared to him the second time, and commanded him to return.
The self-reliance and independence of Jacob are seen in the method of his return. He made his arrangments with Laban, and built a watch-tower at Mizpah. He then went forward to meet his brother, and so far as possible prepared for every contingency. Then followed the third Divine communication. God set Himself against Jacob's independence, and in the mystery of that long night revealed Himself as the conquering One, Who breaks in order to make. Who cripples in order to crown.
Having come back into the land, immediately he compromised with the circumstances by which he found himself surrounded, with the result that sorrow entered his house in the wake of sin. Again God appeared to him for purposes of restoration, commanding him to get back to Bethel.
In the last part of this section the faith of Jacob seems to have become obedient, and the fifth communication of God immediately followed.
Subsequently there is an account of another word God spoke to Jacob, but because it was intimately connected with his sons it is omitted in this description of the dealings of God with the man himself.
In this study of the beginnings of the regeneration of the individual the truth is revealed that the one principle through which God is able to operate is that of faith in Himself. Where that is present, even though it may express itself in different ways, according to differing temperaments, He can act. Obedient faith He leads quietly forward; passive faith He visits to comfort and strengthen; restless faith He checks and corrects toward ultimate realization.
Through the sons of Jacob the circle widens and we see the movement toward the regeneration of the family. Two stories run concurrently, that of Joseph and that of Israel. In the history of Joseph we have a further revelation of the method of God with the individual, but grouped around the man are movements that make toward the regeneratiou of the family, of society, and the nation. The story of Joseph is in some senses the most wonderful of the Old Testament. Considering it from first to last there is less in him of failure, less of faltering than in any other of the Old Testament characters. Around the story of his life are grouped the CA'cnts which contributed toward the larger application of the regenerative purposes of God. These events, as they contributed to that purpose, were the result of God's overruling. Apart from that, the process of degeneration moved forward hopelessly.
A list of the sons of Jacob, and a table of the generations of Esau are first given. Then follows the story of Joseph, which is immediately succeeded by an account of the terrible corruption of the family in the case of Judah. The connection here is important in that it indicates the beginning of that movement which culminated in the segregation of the nation, by which they were saved for long years from the contaminating influences of the people of Canaan; and purity of family life, and of society, was made possible.
The history of Joseph shows how God overruled all the failure of man for the ultimate good of man. Joseph was exiled from his father's home by the malice of his brethren, but by the overruling hand of God he was sent into Egypt in order that there he might prepare a place for Israel, that the whole society, which had not yet become a nation, might be brought into circumstances of separation and suffering for their purification. Already, instead of being separate and peculiar, as salt and light in the midst of darkness, they had become corrupted, as the case of Judah proves, and from this corruption it was necessary that they should be delivered. This was accomplished by the overruling of God through the exile of Joseph, the coming of famine, and all those events which issued in their being transferred from Canaan to the land of Goshen, and kept there in separation for centuries. There was nothing more beneficent in the early history of the people than those long years of pain and slavery. Through those years God purged the family and society and so prepared for the nation which was presently to emerge under His wonder-working hand and to enter into possession of the land of His appointment.
In the final verses of the book of Genesis the national idea is seen for a moment as a prophecy and a hope. Joseph, in dying, charged those who were about him that when presently they should return to their land, they should take his bones and carry them with them. In this charge there is revealed one of the greatest triumphs of faith recorded in the whole book. It is the triumph of a man who believed in God, and in the assured establishment of His people; and he therefore was certain that they must ultimately pass back into their own land. The book closes with the account of the burial of the man who had expressed this faith; and the story of beginnings closes with the phrase, "a coffin in Egypt."
Part A: GENERATION - Genesis 1:1-2:25
A.1. Of Material to Man - Gen. 1:1-2:3
- Origin - 1:1
- Ruin - 1:2a
- The revealed Cosmology - 1:2b-2:3
A.2. Of Man, as to Nature and Office - Gen. 2:4-2:25
- Created - 2:4-2:8
- Crowned - 2:9-2:15
- Conditioned - 2:16-2:17
- Completed - 2:18-2:25
Part B: DEGENERATION - Genesis 3:1-11:32
B.1. Of the Individual - Gen. 3:1-3:24
- The Serpent and Man - 3:1-3:8
- Jehovah 3:9-3:24
B.2. Of the Family - Gen. 4:1-5:32
- The first Family - 4:1-4:26
- The Families - 5:1-5:32
B.3. Of Society - Gen. 6:1-10:32
- Intermixture - 6:1-6:10
- Degeneracy - 6:11-6:22
- Destruction and Deliverance - 7:1-8:22
- New Departure National - 9:1-10:32
B.4. Of the Nations - Gen. 11:1-11:32
- Confederacy - 11:1-11:7
- Confusion - 11:8-11:9
- Continuity Shem to Abraham - 11:10-11:32
Part C: REGENERATION - Genesis 12:1-50:26
C.1. Of Individuals - Gen. 12:1-35:21
- Abraham - 7 Communications - 12:1-25:10
- Isaac - 2 Communications - 25:11-26:35
- Jacob - 5 Communications - 27:1-35:21
C.2. Of the Family - Gen. 35:22-38:30
- The Sons of Jacob - 35:22-35:29
- The Generations of Esau - 36:1-36:43
- Joseph - 37:1-37:36
- Judah's Corruption - 38:1-38:30
C.3. Of Society - Gen. 39:1-50:21
- History of Joseph - 39:1-46:26
- Israel Segregated - 46:26-50:21
C.4. Of a Nation - Gen. 50:22-50:26
- Prophecy of Faith - 50:22-50:26
Note: To the best of our knowledge we are of the understanding that the above material, being published in 1907 and freely available elsewhere on the internet in various formats, is in the public domain.