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Old Testament: The Pentateuch - Part 1

Tom Pennington • Selected Scriptures

  • 2016-11-13 PM
  • Anchored Section 1
  • Sermons


Well this evening we'll continue our series called Anchored. That is we want to learn the heart of what Scripture teaches so that our own souls are anchored instead of being swept along by every wind of doctrine that comes along.

And over these next few months we're going to be looking together at the Old Testament.

If you go in any bookstore, you will usually find an entire series of books that consist of aerial views of various famous places and cities. Those aerial views are intended to give you a kind of bird's eye overview of those destinations. You don't see it really on its detail instead you get the big picture of what that place is like. That is really what I want us to do together tonight and over the next number of weeks that we deal with this issue. Over the rest of this school year, I think, divided across the school year, there's going to be a number of messages where I want us to have an aerial tour of the Old Testament. We will fly over its peaks and over its valleys but from a height which we will fly over, we won't be able to make out all the details, that is not my goal or intention. But my goal is this, by the time we're finished, it's my hope that we will all have our arms around the history and the message of the Old Testament. While not understanding it at every detail, at the same time, we will understand the flow of history and we will understand the point of its message.

So, that's really where I want to begin tonight as we think about the Old Testament, we are going to hone in, in a few minutes, on the Pentateuch. That is "Penta," you recognize that word, five, as in "pentagon" and the "Pentateuch" simply refers to the first five books of our Old Testament penned by Moses and likely the first five books that were penned. So, what is the unifying message then, as we begin to look at the Old Testament, what is the unifying message of the Old Testament? Well, there are really four views out there of the Old Testament.

These are from Sidney Greidanus book and basically there is a view that the Old Testament is sub-Christian. You won't find these among the conservative evangelicals. This is a liberal view. These are liberals who reject the anger and the wrath of the God of Israel and say that is something from the outdated past and shouldn't be accepted, shouldn't be absorbed.

A second view says the Old Testament is non-Christian. That is, it really has nothing to do with Christianity and I am giving you a quote here from Leonard Thompson who said: "The Hebrew Scriptures are a complete work and do not need the New Testament to complete them."

A third view is that the Old Testament is pre-Christian. John Bright describes this view this way: "The Old Testament is not, of in by itself, a Christian message. The Old Testament stands in discontinuity with the New because it speaks with a BC word not an AD word." To those who hold this view, the Old Testament is a book directed primarily to Israel. There are some old-line, classic dispensationalists who took a view very similar to this one, if not identical to it.

And then the fourth view and the one I want you to see tonight is that the Old Testament is, in fact, a Christian book. As Sidney Greidanus puts it: "The dilemma of having a Christian message out of a non-Christian or pre-Christian book is a predicament of our own making. The Old Testament and the New are both parts of the Christian Bible."

Now, I want you to turn with me to 2 Corinthians to see this from the Apostle Paul. Second Corinthians chapter 3. He is comparing the Old Testament, specifically, the Mosaic Covenant and the lack of understanding that people have in to its content and what it really means before they come to Christ. Notice what he writes beginning in verse 14: "their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted," notice this "because it is removed in Christ. But to this day whenever Moses is read," so he's talking about the Pentateuch "whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts; but whenever someone turns to the Lord," that is when they turn to embrace Christ as Messiah, "the veil" that lies over their heart in reference to the Old Testament, "is taken away." So Paul is saying, listen, don't think that you have to, somehow, manufacture a Christian message and read it back in to the Old Testament. No, in fact, it is the lack of the Spirit, it is the lack of regeneration that keeps people from seeing Christ everywhere in the Old Testament and the Christian message. A Christian is better equipped to understand the true meaning and the significance of the Old Testament. It is, in fact, a Christian book.

Gleason Archer writes this, "The Old Testament presented the preparation of which the New Testament was the fulfillment. It was the seed of which the achievement of Christ and the apostles was the glorious fruit." That's a great way to think about it. Preparation, fulfillment, seed, and fruit. Church history supports this position as well. Harrison, writing in his introduction to the Old Testament, says, ""It was the common belief of the fathers," and he mentioned by name Origen, Jerome, Chrysostom and Augustine, "that the Old Testament was in principle a Christian book." But even if you look at the New Testament writers' use of the Old, it supports this view. There are 250 direct quotations from the Old Testament in the New. There are 1600 references to the Old Testament. The New Testament, for example, refers to the Book of Isaiah 308 times and refers to the Psalms 303 times. Only four New Testament books have no direct reference to the Old Testament and that's Philemon, because of the personal nature of it, and John's epistles.

When you look specifically at the references that are there, you find that Matthew references the Old Testament 135 times, Luke 140 times, Acts 169 times, Romans 103 times, Hebrews 115 times, Revelation 574 times it references the Old Testament. What I want you to see is that in the mind of the New Testament writers, there was no dichotomy between the Old and the New. They shared the same message. So, what is that message? What is the unifying theme of the Bible? Well, if you've been around our church anytime at all you know that as I study through John 17, I sort of crafted this statement, the ideas are not unique to me, but the way it was expressed here is just the way that it captured my own mind. "Here is the theme of the Bible; God is redeeming a people by His Son, for His Son, to His own glory." Every one of those words, to me, is extremely important. God, He is the initiator of this. He is redeeming. It is not that redemption is fully accomplished yet. Redemption will not be fully accomplished until we are glorified and like our Lord Jesus Christ, body and soul. He is redeeming a people, a specific people, on whom He set His love in eternity past and He is redeeming this people by the work of His Son. And I love this, He is redeeming a people by His Son, for His Son.

Again and again, Jesus refers to believers as those whom the Father gave Me. You understand what that means? It means that in eternity past there was among the councils of the Trinity a discussion about redeeming mankind and the Father, as an expression of His love, gave to the Son a redeemed humanity who would reflect His glory and praise Him forever. So redemption is ultimately not about us, it's about the Trinity. God is redeeming a people by His Son, for His Son, to His own glory. The ultimate end of God in all things is the proper exaltation of Himself. It's not that God is a proud being, in fact, He is a very humble and gracious being who condescends to interact with us but it is right that He be glorified and so He accomplishes these things to His own glory.

So, that's the theme of the Bible. How do the various parts of the Bible connect to that theme? Well, the Old Testament says He's coming. The Redeemer's coming and here's why we need Him to come. Again and again we see that story unfold in the pages of the Old Testament. The Gospels tell us He came and the story of His coming and all that He accomplished. The Epistles say this is why He came and this is what He's doing now; and Revelation He's coming again. This is the theme of the Bible. So understand then that the focus of God's eternal plan centered in Christ is the redemption from fallen humanity of a people for Himself. That's the theme of the Bible. Just in case you think I'm the only one who thinks this, I'm sure you don't, but just in case; Merril Unger, in his introductory guide to the Old Testament, speaking now specifically of the Old Testament, says "its central unifying theme is the person and work of Jesus Christ the Redeemer."

That's the Old Testament, its central unifying theme is the person and work of Jesus Christ the Redeemer. I would argue it's not only the theme of the Old Testament but of the entire Scripture, in fact, Unger agrees in his guide to the Bible he says "the theme of Scripture is human redemption; the principal character is the world's Redeemer, Jesus Christ, God incarnate. Everything in the Old Testament that precedes His incarnation points to this grand event and its outworking in human redemption. This is what the Bible is about. John MacArthur in The MacArthur Study Bible says this, "there is one God, the Bible has one Creator, it is one book, it has one plan of grace recorded from initiation through execution to consummation. From predestination to glorification the Bible is the story of God redeeming His chosen people for the praise of His glory. This is what the Bible is about, this is what the Old Testament is about. So get it in your mind that the Old Testament is not a sub-Christian or a pre-Christian book, it is at its very core a Christian book.

Now, although Christ and His redemption are the core of the Old Testament message, there are several sub things as well. I really don't think there is a better summary than John MacArthur's summary of these key supporting themes when he wrote the introduction from The MacArthur Study Bible. Here's what he says, "Scripture is always teaching and illustrating these 5 basic themes:" so these are sub themes to the grand supporting theme. "The character and attributes of God. The tragedy of sin and disobedience to God's holy standard. The blessedness of faith and obedience to God's standard. The need for a Savior by whose righteousness and substitution sinners can be forgiven, declared just, and transformed to obey God's standard." And fifthly, "the coming glorious end of redemptive history in the Lord Savior's earthly kingdom and the subsequent eternal reign and glory of God in Christ." That's what the Bible is about.

Now, let me just say before we go on, that I understand I am giving you a lot of materials. It's going to be impossible to write it all down. The slides that I am showing you tonight will be available online. You'll burn a pen tip off if you try to capture all this but do write the highlights, the things that you want to make sure you save.

So, before we move on, there's one other question I want to answer and that is what is the appropriate use for us of the Old Testament? Is it right to use the Old Testament to instruct New Testament believers and how they ought to live? That seems like a pretty obvious question and answer doesn't it? But there are some conservative scholars in our day who teach that for us to deduce spiritual lessons from the Old Testament text is completely inappropriate. It should just be about redemption and only redemption and they call anything else—if you try to draw a spiritual lesson from one of the Old Testament characters they call it spiritualizing or moralizing.

Let's be honest, it's true that Christians often abuse the original author's intent by how they handle Old Testament Scripture; I am not disagreeing with that but done with respect to the context and keeping the overarching theme in view, it's not wrong to draw spiritual lessons from Old Testament history and Old Testament law. In fact, the New Testament encourages and models such an approach. Let me give you some examples. Romans 15:4 Paul says, "whatever was written" he's talking about the Old Testament now, "whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." He's saying even as believers there's an instructed content in the Old Testament Scriptures. First Corinthians 9:9-10 "For it is written in the Law of Moses, "YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING." God is not concerned about oxen, is He? Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops." Talking about making sure those who minister the gospel are paid for their ministry. So he's using Old Testament and Old Testament text to make an instructive point. First Corinthians 10:6 as he's talking about all that has happened in the wilderness wonderings and in the idolatry of the people they're pushing their liberty to the edge and falling over the edge, he says "Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved." Examples to teach us. First Corinthians 10:11 "Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come."

So, it's not wrong, I just want you to get this in your mind, you have to be careful. Everywhere you go in the Old Testament, you got to keep that huge theme constantly in front of you. But it's not wrong, as long as you understand that huge theme, that the point, the hero of the story is not Adam, or Noah, or Moses, or David, or whomever. The hero of the story is God the Redeemer. As long as you understand that, it's not inappropriate to use the instructions that's there for our instruction.

So the major unifying theme or message of the Old Testament is the same as that of the Bible as a whole. God is redeeming a people by His Son, for His Son, to His own glory.

By the way, turn with me to 2 Timothy 3 because I want you to see that in this very familiar passage, all three parts of this unifying theme of Scripture, they're found here. Second Timothy 3 notice, first of all, that the atonement, that the redemption of man is here. Verse 15 "from childhood you have known the sacred writings," that is a technical term for what we call the Old Testament, the Hebrew Scriptures. "You have known the sacred writings" now notice this, "which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith..." He says listen, the way to be right with God, salvation and the way that salvation is accomplished; it's in the Old Testament.

Secondly, the person of Christ notice how he continues in verse 15 from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." We are learning that aren't we? In chapter 4 of Romans, Abraham's faith in the Messiah, it's all there in the Old Testament and then in verses 16 and 17 make it clear that the Hebrew Scriptures—that's what he's talking about as well as, of course, the body of New Testament writings that were being written at the time—they are for the instruction of believers. So understand then that Paul, in this seminal text about the Scripture, makes it clear that all of this is part of the Scripture. Now, just having laid that foundation, let's make some important conclusions or deductions from this. Now there's some overlap between these, they are not clean in the sense that there is no overlap at all but I want you to think about these things with me. In light of what we just looked at, there are some conclusions and that is the fact that Christ is the central figure of both the Old and the New Testaments immediately raises the value of the entire Old Testament for New Testament Christians. If Christ really is the center, and before we're done I'm going to show you that, then, wow! The Old Testament—it's really important for us. It's not OK to ignore it except for Psalms and Proverbs. John 5:39 Jesus says the Old Testament Scriptures "speak of Me."

Secondly, we could conclude this, as Christians, understanding the central theme of the Old Testament validates our use of and the benefit we received from the Old Testament. The central theme of the Old Testament is the same as our New Testament.

Thirdly, Christ's important place in the Old Testament underscores the consistency and the continuity between the testaments. Listen, the Old Testament wasn't for the Jews and the New Testament for Christians. It is one unified book.

Our fourth conclusion we can draw is that Christ has been and will always be the Mediator between God and man. When Jesus said in John 14:6 "I Am the way, the truth, and the life no one comes to the Father but through Me" that wasn't from the incarnation on. That was all the way back and all the way in to the future. First Timothy 2:5 there is one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. Always has been as we'll see, and always will be.

And our fifth conclusion is all of these demands that you and I as New Testament Christians be students of the Old Testament. That is why over these next number of weeks; there will be mixed in with some other things along the way; but as we look at the Old Testament we can see why it is so important. We must understand it. It is part of our Bible.

Now, with that background, I want us to begin to look then at the Old Testament. The content of the Hebrew Scripture is identical to that of the modern English Old Testament. If you were to compare the actual, as you heard me say many times, the actual content that is in what we call the Old Testament; it is absolutely identical to what is in the Hebrew Scripture and has been from before Christ. The only difference is the arrangement of the content. In English, there are 39 books in what we call the Old Testament. In the Hebrew Bible there are 22 books. Now, the primary reason for those different calculations of numbers isn't the content, it's how it's arranged and here's why those different numbers (39 in English and 22 in Hebrew):

First of all, and this is a biggie, the Minor Prophets as we've called them, are grouped as one book in the Hebrew Bible called "The Twelve." So, right away, you get rid of all those 12 and they become 1 in the Hebrew Bible.

Secondly, six pairs of books, books that we call "First" and "Second" in many cases, are combined as one in the Hebrew Bible. Here are the specific examples: Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles; we say "First and Second Samuel, First and Second Kings, First and Second Chronicles," six books but in Hebrew there are three books. First and Second Samuel is Samuel, First and Second Kings is Kings, and First and Second Chronicles is Chronicles in Hebrew. Also Ezra and Nehemiah in our Bibles, two different books, in Hebrew, one; Ezra and Nehemiah. Joshua and Ruth in the Hebrew Bible constitute one book. And Jeremiah and Lamentations in the Hebrew Bible are grouped as one. So that's why we get 39, they get 22 but it's exactly the same content.

Now, not only is the number of books different but the way the book is situated, the arrangement of them in the English and in the Hebrew are different. I'm not going to spend a lot of time here. You are familiar of course of the English arrangement that's on the right hand side. We have the Pentateuch—the five books of Moses—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. And then you have history from Joshua down through Esther. And then in the English Bible you have poetry, the five books of poetry. Then you have the Major Prophets, not because they are more important, but because they're so big, they require their own scroll. And then what we have called the Minor Prophets, not because they are unimportant but because they're short and they can be combined on one scroll. That's our order.

Now go back and think about the Hebrew arrangement. The Hebrew arrangement starts out the same—the Torah, the Law, the first five books, the books of Moses, the first five books written. Then you have the Prophets, and the Prophets in the Hebrew are thinking (?) are broken down in to the former prophets that is those of old and the latter prophets. The former prophets being Joshua, Judges, and Ruth, the book of Samuel, the combined book of Samuel, combined book of Kings, and then the latter prophets would be what we usually refer to as the prophets. And then comes a third category in the Hebrew Bible, the Writings. You have the three poetical books, Psalms, Proverbs, and Job. You have the Megillot: Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, and Esther. And then the Hebrew Bible concludes with three Historical books: Daniel, Ezra/Nehemiah; remember one book in the Hebrew Bible, and then the Hebrew Bible ends with Chronicles; the two books combined as one. That, by the way, is why Jesus talks about the martyrs from Abel to Zechariah because the last martyr in Chronicles is Zechariah. He is affirming the Hebrew Old Testament as it was structured.

Now, the divisions in the days of Christ and you see it often in the New Testament, is simply the Law: the five books of Moses, and the Prophets: meaning the rest of the Old Testament. And occasionally, you will come across where it's called "the Law, the Prophets, and Psalms" because it was part of the major book in the third category, the Writings. So it varies but that is usually how it's describes. Now that we understand how the Old Testament is arranged, let me give you an overview of Old Testament history. I'm not going to spend a lot of time here, you're going to see these points of detail along the way in the future weeks when we look at this together, but you can reduce Old Testament history to nine basic movements. If you understand these nine movements, you understand Old Testament History.

First of all there is the period of universal dealings. When God is not dealing so much with individuals in the way we see it from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob but He's dealing more with humanity as a whole, yes, with individuals, but He is working on a universal basis; that's Genesis 1-11 and that is until the birth of Abraham in 2166. So, whenever creation was and you can go out somewhere between 4,000 years BC would be the earliest, if there were no gaps in the genealogies in Genesis 5, or if there are gaps that still make sense, you can go out to maybe the 10,000 BC to creation. So somewhere between 2,000 - 8,000 years is this period in Genesis 1-11.

Then you come to the Patriarchal period. That's the second movement. Described in Genesis 12-50 about 360 years. The third movement is just Exodus 1. It's the slavery in Egypt and it is also about 360 years. The fourth movement in Old Testament History is the Exodus and the wilderness wonderings. It's captured in Exodus chapter 2 through the end of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. This is a period of about 40 years. The fifth movement in Old Testament History is the conquest and the division of Canaan. The Biblical book of course is Joshua and this is a period of about 60 years until the death of Joshua and his generation.

The sixth movement of the Old Testament History is the period of the Judges. It begins at about 1350 or so after the death of Joshua and his generation and lasts until the first king of Israel was seated in 1051. About 300 years. And this is the darkest period in Old Testament History. This is when there was no central government in Israel and every man did that which is right in his own eyes. If you want to be disgusted, read the book of Judges and see what was going on during that period of time. Judges, Ruth, First Samuel 1-8; that's the period of the Judges. That's followed by movement number 7, the Monarchy. When there is a king in Israel. It is initiated by the united monarchy. By that we mean, that there was one king ruling over all twelve tribes over the south of Israel and the northern part of Israel as well. United under one king. Only for 120 years. That's what's remarkable. Only 120 years was there a united king over all of Israel. That's describe in 1 Samuel 9 through 1 Kings 11 and of course in Chronicles as well. And then comes the death of Solomon and his son, of course, splits the kingdom and you begin the divided monarchy and that's simply the divided monarchy means that there are now 2 kings, 2 different kingdoms, 2 different kings over what was the unified nation of Israel. You have the 10 tribes in the north, it's called Israel, and then you have the 2 tribes in the south which were called Judah so you have the divided monarchy for 350 years. That's describe in 1 Kings 12 through the end of 2 Kings.

The eighth movement in Old Testament history is the Babylonian exile. Of course, the monarchy ends with the people of Israel being carried off in captivity. You have the Babylonian exile, they are carried off in to exile in 3 basic movements: In 605 Daniel and some of the young leaders are taken into captivity. In 597 Ezekiel and others are taken into captivity and 586 Nebuchadnezzar comes back and destroys the city and carries the city of Jerusalem and the nation and carries off captives including Jeremiah. And the Babylonian exile, when the people of God are taken to Babylon, is a period of 70 years and it's calculated in 2 different ways. We'll deal with that later.

And then the ninth and final episode or movement of Old Testament history is the return from exile under three men. Three different returns: Zerubabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. Describes in the books of Ezra, Esther, and Nehemiah and those three returns, and the rebuilding of the temple and all that's involved, covers a period of about 120 years.

If you understand those nine basic movements you understand Old Testament history. You say wait a minute, where do the prophets factor in to this? There's so much in to the Old Testament that are Prophets. Well, the Old Testament prophets factor in to the time periods for the most part around the captivity and the destruction of the northen tribes and of the southern tribes. God is warning them, He's saying you're going to be captured, going to be destroyed, repent or judgment's coming. And God does that as we'll see as an apologetic so that the people around know that God is not weak. That this was His plan. So, that's the Old Testament in a nutshell.

Now, if you really want to be a good student of the Old Testament, you want to know when things happen. You don't have to, like in History class, memorize hundreds of dates. If you really want to capture Old Testament history, what I recommend is to work on just eight. If you will learn these eight dates and you have some idea of the flow of Old Testament History I just took you through, then you can put just about anything in its time period. I'm not going to spend a lot of time here, this will be on the notes that you'll receive. These are the important dates: First of all, the birth of Abraham, 2166. Secondly, the Exodus, 1446. You'll say how do we know the Exodus was in 1446? Read 1 Kings 6:1. First Kings 6:1 tells us exactly how long between Solomon back to the Exodus and so do the math, you'll end up with 1446 for the Exodus out of Egypt.

In 1051, the monarchy begins. Saul is seated on the throne. By the way, this is really easy; united monarchy: Saul, David, Solomon each reign for 40 years each. Nice round numbers. So you can do the math then if you know that. In 931, that's when kingdom is divided. That's Solomon dies and Rehoboam splits the kingdom. Seven twenty two (722) is when the northern 10 tribes fall to Assyria and they are carried off and destroyed.

Five eighty six (586) the south, Judah, falls to the Babylonians. Five thirty eight (538), Cyrus decrees that the Jews can return from Babylonian captivity to their own land. And then in 420, the Old Testament events basically end.

So if you know those eight dates and you have a basic idea of Old Testament history, then you can find your way around very easily through the Old Testament. So, enough with that overview, let's come then to the first 5 books of the Old Testament; the books of Moses.

I'm not going to spend any time here because most of us here don't doubt that Moses wrote the first 5 books but if you read it all you know that there are debates among primarily liberal scholars about whether or not Moses wrote these books, the first 5 books. What I provided for you here in the notes that you will receive is biblical documentation from the Pentateuch, that Moses wrote it, from the rest of the Old Testament, that Moses wrote it, and from the New Testament, that Moses wrote it. There's no question, when you look at the Scriptures itself, that Moses wrote what we call the Pentateuch, the first 5 books of the Old Testament, the first 5 books of revelation.

Now, Moses lived and wrote around the time of the Exodus, 1446 remember? So, sometime in the 40 years after that in the wilderness wondering when he wrote these 5 books, he is a long time separated from the events that are described from Genesis 1-11, how did he know? Well, some would say it was direct revelation, I think that's very possible because God does that often with the writers of Scripture. Others would say that oral tradition was passed down and he received that. Others would say, no, there were actually written records that, under inspiration, Moses used. The evidences ain't conclusive but it leans toward this third explanation. In fact, in Genesis, there is evidence of 11 such documents. When you look at the structure of Genesis, these documents that may have been used are identified with the recurring Hebrew word "Toledoth." It is usually translated "generations of" and you can see as I've given you a list here, there are 11 separate times that expression is used throughout the book of Genesis. So, we don't know if God gave it to Moses directly or if there were written records that, under inspiration, Moses used and knew they were correct but regardless; this structure is within this book.

Generations can be interpreted as a section heading, these descriptions, these are the records of Isaac can be the heading of the new section or some would say, no, they're the signature at the end of the section. Difficult to discern but regardless, this is the structure when you look at the book of Genesis. Now, let's look then at the first period, the period of universal dealings. Here's the first movement of Old Testament history, the period of universal dealings, by that I mean God deals with the human race as a whole. This period covers the events from creation to the call of Abraham out of Ur of the Caldees in about 2091 BC when you do the math. So, even if we use the most conservative date to the creation of the world, if there are no gaps in Genesis 5 and its genealogy, 4,000 BC, this period covers almost 2,000 years which is more than the rest of the Old Testament in total.

For example, from Abraham to Malachi is 1700 years. So, this section covers a huge span of Old Testament history. Now, this section of Old Testament history is marked by 4 great events. Genesis 1-11, four great events. And the first event, obviously, is creation. Turn back to Genesis 1 and look at verse 1. I want you to imagine for a moment that you had never read this verse, you never memorized this verse, you never heard a sermon on this verse, you're reading for the first time how the Bible begins. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." In the beginning, God's first act of creation was to call for time from eternity. It was a beginning. God made a beginning. He had no beginning, He was eternal in His person. But there was a beginning and in the beginning of time, notice what happens, God created.

Now, the Hebrew word "create" is always, always an activity of God. It is never used in the Old Testament of anyone but God. Men make things but only God creates in the sense of this word and clearly when God creates He creates ex-nihilo, that means "out of nothing." He created without pre-existing materials. This is what the Scriptures teaches, John 1:3 "All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being." You say, well, how did He do that? Romans 4:17 we'll see soon in the Book of Romans, God calls in to being that which does not exist. He simply speaks it in to being. Hebrews 11:3 By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible." Second Peter 3:5 " the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water...," It was God's mere word. It's not that God started with building blocks, it's that God started when there was nothing but God and He created time and in to time He speaks and from nothing, everything that is came in to being.

The heavens in Genesis 1:1 probably corresponds to our english word, "space." Moses adds, "and the earth" obviously that means, specifically, the earth but it refers to matter. So on the first day, do you see what it's saying? On the first day of the week, on this day, what we call Sunday, at the very beginning; God created time and space and matter. Henry Morris writes "Genesis 1:1 can legitimately and incisively be paraphrased as follows: the transcendent, omnipotent Godhead called in to existence the space, mass, time universe. That's what God does."

Now, the Christian church from the beginning has unanimously taught the doctrine of creation ex-nihilo, that God spoke everything in to being. This idea occurs in the writings of Justin Martyr, one of the earliest of the church fathers; Irenaus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and so forth. A man by the name of Theophelus was the first to stress that the days of creation were literal days but that seems to be the view of Irenaus and Tertullian as well and probably was the view of the rest of the church. Clement, Origen, and Augustine, with some variation, thought that the creation may have happened in a moment of time and that the description of several days was merely a literary device. The Reformers held firmly to creation ex-nihilo and the days of creation were six literal days.

In the 18th century as you know, with the enlightenment and all of its fruit came the attack of Naturalism. Soon theologians tried to harmonize Scripture with the discoveries of science and began to say, no, it could not have been six literal days we've somehow misunderstood. But listen folks, and I'm not going to belabor this, but there is great evidence from within the Scripture that the days of creation were literal days. Let me just give you some arguments very quickly. Number one, the literal meaning of the Hebrew word "Yom" is the most common use of that word. It simply means "day" like you and I use it and there's no reason in the context of Genesis 1 to change it. In fact, the word "Yom" occurs 2,225 times in the Old Testament and overwhelmingly it's used for an ordinary day. Number two, Exodus 20:11 says that God created in 6 days. Here's an interesting observation, 608 times in the Old Testament, the Hebrew word "Yom" the word for "day" occurs in the plural, "days." It always refers to ordinary days, no exception.

Number three, morning and evening, that expression use in the creation account, indicates a literal day-night cycle. This expression occurs outside of Genesis in 37 verses in the Old Testament and every other time it's used to describe an ordinary day and morning and evening were a day. Number four, hundreds of times in the Old Testament, the Hebrew word "Yom" occurs with a cardinal number, in other words, the first, second, third—those are cardinal numbers—"the first day, the second day." Hundreds of times the word "Yom" occurs with a cardinal number and when it does it always refers to a literal day. It never refers to anything else. Number five, the same language that's used for days one through three and days four to six. The sun was created on day four since days four to seven were literal solar days, there's no reason to assume that days one through three weren't. Same language is used.

Number six, Hebrew has a word for "age" or indeterminate period of time and Moses chose not to use it. If he had wanted to say "an age" or "an indeterminate period of time" he had a perfect word to use and he didn't use it. Number seven, God uses the creative week as a pattern for man cycle of work and rest. In Exodus 20:11, Exodus 31:17. Now, just look at those arguments for a moment, and let me ask you this question, if God wanted to tell us that creation happened in 6 literal days, how else could He have said it? Now, did God need 6 twenty-four hour days? Of course not. So why did He do it? God could have created, as Augustine taught, in a moment. Why did He do it over 6 days? And the answer, from the text I just mentioned is as a pattern for the cycle of man's life. Ever thought about the week, the 7-day week doesn't fit anything well, I mean, in terms of math? Ever tried to divide it up and work with the calendar? It doesn't fit. Why in the world did we ever land on 7 days? There's only one answer and that's the creative pattern of God in the creation.

Let me just say having presented that sort of overview nutshell in a moment, the only reason for other views for Genesis 1 and 2 is an accommodation to modern scientific theory. That is it. You will not get where they get if you simply interpret Genesis 1 & 2 and the rest of the Scripture and its comments on the creation. Again, Genesis is about primeval history, from creation, somewhere between 10,000 and 4,000 BC to the birth of Abraham and the beginning of the patriarchal period in 2166 BC. This period of primeval history of universal dealings is marked by four events in Genesis 1-11. We've looked briefly at creation that's followed, and we're not going to look at this in any detail, by the fall in chapters 3 through 5, the fall in to sin and its results. In chapter 6-9 the flood, and in chapters 10-11 the nations. It includes the judgment of Babel, the spreading of Noah's descendants over the earth, and as a result of that, the earth is repopulated. Here's were Noah's sons went. You can see generally that Shem ended up in the Arabian peninsula and beyond, you can see that Ham went down near the Red Sea and down North Africa, and Japeth ended up over in toward Eastern Europe and the people were spread and the earth was repopulated. The period of universal dealings ends in 2166 with the birth of a man by the name of Abram.

Now, I want to finish our time tonight by pointing you to Christ. I want you to understand that Christ permeates Old Testament history. He's not only the primary focus of Old Testament prophecy; He's the primary character of Old Testament history. What was unique about Bethlehem, we're coming up on Christmas, what was unique about Bethlehem was that He became flesh, not that He came to this planet. Christ appears in the very first verse of the Old Testament. We looked at it Genesis 1:1 in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. John 1:3 says all things came in to being by the Word, the eternal Son, and apart from Him nothing came in to being that has come in to being. 1 Corinthians 8:6 Jesus Christ, by whom are all things and we exist through Him. Colossians 1:15-16, for by Him all things were created both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, all things have been created by Him and for Him. Hebrews 1:2 God has spoken to us in these last days by His Son through whom He made the world. Jesus shows up, not as Jesus, but as the eternal Son in Genesis 1:1. He spoke everything in to existence. The Old Testament and the world itself began in the sovereign creative act of Jesus Christ.

But when you examine the rest of the Old Testament, where do you find Christ? What is the most frequent form in which He appears? And the answer is, a mysterious person called The Angel Of The Lord. I mentioned Him this morning. By the way it is always with the definite article, "The" never indefinite. It's always "The" Angel Of The Lord never "An" Angel Of The Lord. Now, many who read the passages on which this person appears assumes that He is one of the created beings that we call angels. But the Hebrew word that is translated angel can also referred to a messenger. In fact, almost half of the times that Hebrew word occurs in the Old Testament, it translated "messenger." Now, let me give you briefly the arguments for the Angel Of Yahweh, The Angel Of The Lord being the eternal Son of God.

First of all, He's called Jehovah or Yahweh in several passages. For example, we meet The Angel Of The Lord interacting with Hagar in Genesis 16:13 and it says "Hagar called the name of the Lord who spoke to her. Remember when she was speaking to The Angel Of The Lord but she calls the name of the Lord, of Yahweh who spoke to her, "you are the God who sees" for she said "have I even remained alive here after seeing Him." So, The Angel Of The Lord, Yahweh. The Angel Of The Lord, God. The Angel Of The Lord, and she's shocked that she's still alive after seeing Him. He's called Yahweh in several passages. Secondly, He is distinct from Jehovah or Yahweh. For example, in Zechariah 1:12-13, The Angel Of Yahweh answered and said "Oh, Yahweh! How long will you have no compassion for Jerusalem." So here, you have The Angel of Yahweh, who is sometimes called God, speaking to God. So He's distinct from Yahweh.

And thirdly, that brings us to the conclusion that He must be the Second Person of the Trinity, the eternal Son, for several reasons. The Second Person of the Trinity, the Son, is the only member of the Trinity revealed bodily in the New Testament and The Angel Of The Lord, this mysterious character never appears after the incarnation. Though He, whoever He is, and Jesus Christ are sent by the Father and we're told that no one's ever seen the Father, so The Angel Of The Lord is not the Father. By process of elimination, you end up with the Son.

And throughout the history of the church theologians and Bible scholars have identified The Angel Of The Lord as none other than Jesus Christ. Here's Justin Martyr, "permit me further to show you from the book of Exodus how the same One who is both Angel and God and Lord and Man and who had appeared in human form to Abraham and Isaac appeared in a flame of fire from the bush and converse with Moses." Irenaeus writing about the books of Moses says "the Son of God is implanted everywhere throughout his writings, at one time indeed speaking with Abraham, went about to eat with him and another time with Noah giving to him the dimensions of the ark and another inquiring after Adam, at another bringing down judgment upon the Sodomites and again when He becomes visible and directs Jacob upon his journey and speaks with Moses from the bush." Tertullian says "it is the Son, therefore, who has been from the beginning administering judgment, throwing down the haughty tower of Babel, dividing the tongues, punishing the whole world by the violence of water, raining upon Sodom and Gomorrah fire and brimstone as the Lord from the Lord. For He is who was at all times the One who came down to hold converse with men from Adam on to the patriarchs and the prophets in visions and dreams, in mirror, in dark sayings, ever from the beginning laying the foundation of the course of His dispensations which He meant to follow out to the very last, thus, was He ever learning even as God to converse with men upon earth being no other than the Word which was to be made flesh." Now while that's been very clear in the past, many Christians today believe that to see Jesus Christ in the Old Testament, is reading the New Testament back to the Old Testament. But the testimony of the Scripture about this is absolutely clear.

What does Jesus say? Turn very quickly to John. Look at John 5:39 Jesus says, "you search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life, but it is the Scriptures that testify about me." Verse 35, "if you believe Moses," what he wrote, "you would believe Me for he wrote about Me." Turn over to Luke, just a few pages back, in Luke 24:25, Jesus to the Emmaus road disciples, "He said to them, 'O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and to enter into His glory? Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures." That is the Hebrew Scriptures, our Old Testament. Get down to verse 44, with the apostles after the resurrection, "He said to them, 'These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms'" there's the three-fold Hebrew division, 'must be fulfilled.' Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, 'Thus it is written, that the Messiah would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day..'"

You look at the sermons in Acts, you see the same thing. I wish I have time to take you through Acts. Let me give you one, Acts 26:22, Paul before Agrippa, he says, I am teaching nothing, hear that word? "Nothing, but what the Prophets and Moses said was going to take place; that the Messiah was to suffer, and that by reason of His resurrection from the dead He would be the first to proclaim light both to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles." Christ everywhere in what we call the Old Testament.

But I want to finish this evening by having you look at one text. Turn to Genesis 3. There are so many places where He appears but I think this is the most touching and compelling for me. Genesis 3, you're familiar of course with the sin of Adam and Eve, God's pronouncement of judgment on them but at the same time the pronouncement of the gospel, verse 15, "I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He (the coming Messiah) shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise Him on the heel." Who said these words? The Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, the very One who would be bruised, the very One who would suffer. And then Jesus, or the Son, I should say, does something remarkable down in verse 21, "the Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them."

Because of their sin, Adam and Eve should have died. But instead, the first death on this planet was an innocent animal that the Son, Himself, killed. And from that point forward, all the Old Testament sacrifices pointed back to the great promise in Genesis 3:15 and to the first sacrifice that the Son, Himself, had performed. Do you see the great irony of the Bible? Is that the Son of God, performed the first sacrifice of the Old Testament, an animal, and He, Himself, became the last sacrifice. Hebrews says, by one offering, the sacrifice of His own body, He has once and for all brought redemption. Do not let go of the Old Testament. It is our book, it's a book about God redeeming a people by His Son, for His Son, to His own glory. It's a book about our Savior, Jesus Christ, from Genesis 1:1 to its end. Do not be content to be just a New Testament Christian.

Let's pray together.

Father, thank you for our study tonight, so many things we've looked at, so quickly but I pray You would seal them to our hearts. Thank you for Christ. Oh God, cause us to love Him and be more devoted to Him and may we fall in love again with this Book, all of it, that speaks of Him. We pray in Jesus name, Amen.

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