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Expository Notes on the Old Testament
This is not intended as an exhaustive verse-by-verse treatment of the text. It is an aid for the reader of the Old Testament who desires truth-applied daily discipleship. God help each reader to translate every truth into daily practice and so to radiate t he life of Jesus in a lost and dying world.
© Dr. Douglas A. Blanc, Sr.
New Life Bible Fellowship
The following summary of the book of Genesis is provided by Jay Smith. 1 For a more extensive introduction to the book of Genesis, please see Notes on Genesis (2012 edition) by Dr. Thomas L. Constable2 and the NIV Study Bible3 (both available online). The genre of Genesis is a Narrative History, and Genealogies. It was written by Moses about 1450-1410 B.C. Key personalities include Adam, Eve, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, and Joseph. This book was written to record God’s creation of the world and to demonstrate His love for all that He created. Genesis is the first book of the Law and also the first book of the entire Bible. The name Genesis literally means “In the Beginning”. It explains the actual events of one of the most debated subjects of our current day...the origin of life. Genesis describes the Lord God, who is infinite and all-powerful, creating everything that exists, by the power of His spoken Word, out of nothing. He essentially creates material matter out of nonmaterial nothing. In chapters 1-11:28, Moses explains the creation of all things, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (1:1). He quickly switches to the fall of man in sin and separation from God in chapter 3; then, how God implemented His judgment on the wicked earth. Through a universal flood and by selecting and sparing Noah, a faithful man, and his family, God wipes out humanity and starts again, with one secluded family. From chapters 11:28-36, God begins to carry out His plan of redemption in the beginning stages of establishing His own nation of Israel. It is through Abraham, again one faithful man, which God calls and promises to bless with a multitude of people and through them bless the entire world, "...and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed" (12:3). In chapters 37-50 God faithfully raises up and protects the generations from Abraham as He had promised, all the way through unto Joseph while in Egypt. God blesses Abraham’s son and their son’s. Through their disappointments and failures, He displays His power and sovereignty in their lives; but in at the end of the book of Genesis, God’s people are in a foreign land and wondering about the promise land. Exegetical and Explanatory Notes The mention of “God” evokes a conceptual image. The Hebrew term is ĕlōhīm (Heb. )אֹלהיםand is ִ֔ ֱ 4 the first name for God given in the Tanakh. The name appears in the masculine plural form (i.e. gods),5 but when used of the one true God is understood as singular, or the Strong One (2570 times in the OT).6
http://thebiblebooksummaries.weebly.com. http://www.soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/genesis.pdf. 3 http://www.biblica.com/niv/study-bible/genesis. 4 The Tanakh refers to the Hebrew Bible; so named for its tripartite divisions of Law, Prophets and Writings. 5 The plurality is significant in 1:26 where it appears with the singular verb “to speak/say” (i.e. “he is saying, God”). Implied here is plurality in the God-heard (i.e. God is Trinity) or perhaps a plurality of majesty concerning the communicable and incommunicable attributes of God.
© 2013 Dr. Douglas A. Blanc, Sr.
This name is differentiated from the sacred-personal and ineffable (unutterable) name for God, or YHWH7 (Yahweh/Jehovah [the LORD]; most frequently used designation, appearing over 6800 times in the OT; it signifies the closeness of God to man, see Gen 2:7).8 God brings into being what previously possessed no being; he creates out-of-nothing (Lat. ex-nihilo), see John 1:1-3. This is a demonstration not only of his awesome power, but also of his sovereignty (see Job 1:21). The origination and causation of the material world (time, space and matter) are attributed to God. Moses would have orally transmitted what he later etched into stone (?).9 The nation of Israel also possessed an experiential knowledge of God from his manifested presence and power among them (e.g. plagues on Egypt, Red Sea [or Sea of Reeds] crossing and phenomena such as the pillar of cloud-fire, Exod 7:14-11:10; 13:21-22; 14:1-31) and his nature (e.g. holy-separate) from the Law revealed to Moses at Sinai (Exod 3:5; 19:10-12). Specifically, his works among his people would confirm a conceptual image which included Creator, Judge, Redeemer-Deliverer and ProviderSustainer (of the latter, see Heb 1:3). Experience would also reveal the attributes of God (e.g. merciful, righteous-just, forgiving and loving). God is revealed as acting purposefully and with intention regarding his creation. The oftenappearing expression “according to its kind” ESV (1:11-13, 21, 24-25) demonstrates this purposeful intention. The notion of (procreative-) reproduction is also evident from this expression and the command to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it” (1:28; see also 4:1 ESV).10 Fullness involves human potentiality-capacity and opportunity; both witnesses to the grace of God. Note the emphasis on the manner of creation: “forming and filling” in relation to the six-days of creation (1:3-13 and 1:14-31). Note as well the emphasis on the means of creation: speech (1:3; the Spirit of God is present as well [1:2] and also the Son of God, John 1:3). The reader should consult Ps 29:1-11 and note repeated references to “the voice of the LORD” (3-5 and 7-9). The “voice” of God is connected to evidential and worship-inspiring displays of his strength (1-2). Need seems to be engineered by God into his design; the need for light, the need to fill, and the need for workers, 2:5). Every need is anticipated with a corresponding provision of a fully satisfying supply (e.g. hunger, 1:29). Regarding Divine intentionality; see also the creation of the greater and lesser lights “to rule” ESV the night (1:16). Mankind is created with the specific intention to bear the image of God (Lat. imago Dei, 1:27) and to exercise “dominion” (1:26) as subjects of a theocratic kingdom having been given representative authority (see of Jesus with his disciples, Matt 10:1; 28:18; Mark 3:1315; 6:7 and Luke 9:1).11
http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Names_of_G-d/Elohim/elohim.html. The “sacred” Tetragrammaton refers to the treatment of the four consonants used to represent the name of God in Hebrew ()יהוה transliterated into the Roman characters YHVH. Jews are forbidden to pronounce YHVH and say adonai (Lord) when reading the text. See http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/14346-tetragrammaton. 8 http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Names_of_G-d/YHVH/yhvh.html. 9 Please see “How was the Bible Written?” (Part 4 in a 6-part series) available from: http://www.truthnet.org/Bible-Origins. 10 The larger theme of generation and de-generation (the Fall of mankind away from God due to sin, 3:1-24) and re-generation are in view. Some scholars see this pattern in the so-called gap theory regarding the creation of the world; i.e. “the earth was [became] without form and void” (1:2) as the consequence of an earlier pre-Adamic race’s sin (see Isa 34:11 and Jer 4:23; it is more likely that these references refer to judgment for sin in general which causes the world to revert to its primordial state. See The NET Bible, 1st ed. (Dallas: Biblical Studies Press, 2005), text note 7, p. 2.). Search The Net Bible and footnotes at: http://bible.org/netbible. 11 See, “The Liberating Image? Interpreting the Imago Dei in Context” by J. Richard Middleton (Christian Scholars Review, 24:11994). Available from: http://goo.gl/y003q. Middleton understands the expression within the ancient Near Eastern concept of royalty and dominion and links imago Dei to “…the church's fundamental discernment of nothing less than the character and purposes of God precisely in this paradoxical self-giving of the Messiah. As the one who is the paradigm imago Dei, Christ's death on a cross, perceived by the world as foolishness and weakness, reveals instead, to those who have faith, the wisdom of God and the power of God (1 Cor 1:18-25). The death of Jesus discloses and models nothing less than the rule of God. Since Christ is the head of the church, this community of faith inherits his revelatory, representative task. The "body of Christ" is no mere metaphor; it is the calling
There is no attempt to “prove” the existence of God. The imprint of his handiwork is a sufficiently expressed testimony (see Rom 1:19-20; Paul is referring here to the expressed witness of creation to the human heart. That is, the natural observed phenomena communicates intuitively to the human heart that God exists.). The Genesis (Chapters 1-2) account of creation appears to be a polemic (a defense) of (the true) God.12 God is not represented in abstract and impersonal terms (e.g. as a pantheistic force or monistic all-pervading reality), but in personal terms (using personal pronouns and human actions; e.g. speech, spirit, approving and having intention). Of special interest is the nature of the creation account recorded here as occurring in six days. The numerating of the days implies succession, not duration. That is, left open is the issue of what is meant by the term “day” (Heb. -יֹוםyōm), whether referring to stages (eras) of creation or twentyfour hour periods (i.e. “first day” versus “first time,” etc.).13 2:1-4 The Hebrew verb ( שׁבּתshabbat) appearing in 2:1 means “to rest” or “to cease.” The English term ַ ׇ Sabbath is derived from this expression. It is best understood here as “cease” since God does not tire from activity. This is a report of the cessation of God’s work of creation. From it we may attribute “completion” to our conception of God; finishing what from our vantage point was a previously devised plan (suggests the comprehensive nature of an unfolding plan, see Job 38:4; Isa 45:21; Acts 15:18 AV).
of the church to continue the incarnation and mission of Christ by manifesting God's redemptive purposes and coming kingdom. Just as Christ is sent by and discloses God, so the church as the new humanity, renewed in the imago Dei (Eph 4:24; Col 3:9-11; 2 Cor 3:17-18), is sent by Christ and called upon to imitate his paradigm of self-giving, thus witnessing to God's rule in the concrete shape of their communal life. Perhaps the crucial text is Paul's argument in Phil 2:5-11. Citing what is in all likelihood an early hymn, the apostle argues that if Jesus, as the unique imago Dei, used his divine power and sovereignty not for his own interests, but to serve others, even unto death, then the Christian community, following in its Lord's footsteps, should have among itself the same "mind" of compassionate self-giving. In the New Testament, imago Dei as rule becomes imitatio Christi (i.e. the imitation of Christ). 12 The point here is that ancient Near Eastern cosmologies (myths relating to the origin of the world) pre-date the biblical creation account which discloses and defends the true record of God work. See Gerhard F. Hasel, “The Polemic Nature of the Genesis Cosmology,” a paper presented in 1971 to the Uppsala Congress of the International Organization for Old Testament Studies. See also, Tony L. Shetter, “Genesis 1-2 in Light of Ancient Egyptian Creation Myths,: a paper presented in 2005 at the Student Academic Conference at Dallas Theological Seminary (Dallas, TX). 13 The NET Bible text note argues for a literal twenty-four hour day and suggests that consistency is best served this way. See The NET Bible, 1st ed. (Dallas: Biblical Studies Press, 2005), text note 11, p. 3.). Search The Net Bible and footnotes at: http://bible.org/netbible. Whitfield offers a balanced critique of views linked to the interpreting-translating yōm as a literal twenty-four hour day or as a prolonged period of time. He cites John F. MacArthur, Jr. for the latter and the Gleason Archer and Norman Geisler for the former. He concludes with Archer and Geisler on the basis of the Hebrew grammatical construction which does not exclude “extended period” or “age” and refers to yōm as it appears in the creation week account as creative “times” (1:8, 13, 19, 23). See http://godandscience.org/ youngearth/yom_with_number.pdf. Christian “Big Bang” cosmology theorists (e.g. Hugh Ross) have extrapolated from the “agestage-time” interpretation of yōm in conjunction with passages indicating God “stretching” forth (in astronomical terms this is “the Hubble constant” rate of expansion) the heavens (e.g. Job 9:8; Ps 104:2; Isa 40:22; 42:5; 44:24; 48:13; 51:13; Jer 10:12; 51:15 and Zech 12:1) to attribute God’s (i.e. the necessity of a transcendent being) creation of space, time and matter to a singular (principle of singularity) creative act (8-12) billions of years in the past; thus, reconciling Genesis 1 ( a concordist approach) with the current scientific (astronomical) data. See Hugh Ross (et al.) at http://www.reasons.org/articles/is-the-big-bang-biblical. The Big Bang cosmology theory (i.e. Hugh Ross) is critiqued by John Byl in “Cosmology and the Biblical God” in Contra Mundum 15 (1996). Available from: http://goo.gl/L0Cpn. Ross is motivated by reconciling the biblical text with scientific data primarily for those holding non-Christian worldviews. While commendable, the interpreter must never relinquish the certainty of objective biblical truth for the current observational (and often subjectively interpreted) conclusions of the scientific community. Scripture must interpret scientific “evidence” and not vice versa. This issue of God creating the space, time and matter with apparent age is compelling and makes certain phenomenological conclusions based on observed distances (spreading of the heavens) relative to a single act by God and not a cosmic explosion.
© 2013 Dr. Douglas A. Blanc, Sr.
In other words, God set in place the fundamentals (natural and spiritual order) of what was designed to function according to his laws (no pragmatism, no trial and error and without human cooperation. God did not cease to work in his creation; cessation is limited to his work of creation. As Christians, we do not conceive of God exclusively in terms of his transcendence (his “otherness”). Yes, God is ontologically (i.e. “in his being”) distinct from his creation (he is not equated with the natural realm), but he is also active in the world (i.e. he is “imminently” involved), see Num 11:23; Isa 59:1.14 The seventh day is significant because God “made it holy” (2:3). The Hebrew verb is “( ק ֵדּשׁto make something holy”) and in this context means that God made the seventh day different; this day belonged to him, a day to cease form normal labor, to perform spiritual service and to worship God. This was enforced later in the law of Moses (Exod 20:8-11; 23:12; 31:12-17; 34:21; Lev 19:3, 30; 23:3; 26:2; see Luke 13:10-17). The book of Genesis is organized according to the repeated phrase “these are the generations” (Heb. ,אלּהתֹּולדּ ֹתּpar. “this is what became of…”) used to give an accounting of the named person ְ ֶ ֵ or event (2:4; 5:1; 6:9; 10:1; 11:10, 27; 25:12, 19; 36:1, 9; 37:2). In the case of 2:4, the tōledōt is not to indicate the summation of 1:1-2:3, but to introduce the implications of the previously described creation in terms of the fall and subsequent judgment by God (2:5-4:26). COMPASS POINTS 1:1 Don’t Get Rooted into this World… Since there is a definitive beginning to the material world (time, space and matter) it follows that there must also be a definitive ending, by means of the same instrumentality, though not of the same kind and to the same degree. That is, God brought all things into existence, but the consummation of his plan for time, space and matter is not total dissolution from existence, but renewal and redemption (Rom 8:18-21). This world in which we live must be regarded as fallen and its allurements as temporal distractions from the One who alone deserves our supreme affection and singular worship (see 2 Cor 4:18). The world is presently in a state of “passing away” in order to disclose the earth and every deed done therein for judgment (1 John 2:17; 2 Pet 3:8-13).15 2:1 Find Contentment… The disciple of Jesus Christ is prevailed upon by the writer of Hebrews to enter “rest” according to the pattern established by God in creation (see Heb 4:10).16 From this we infer a cessation of striving that is often associated with life in this world. God did not expend energy to create (God cannot lose anything or diminish in any quality, see Mal 3:6). Perhaps this is eluded to by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (see Matt 6:24-34). The apostle Paul warns believers about the “love of money” (1 Tim 6:10) and cites Demas as a prominent example (see 2 Tim 4:10; see also 2 Tim 2:4). The apostle John as well emphasized the allurement of the world (1 John 2:15-17). We can become so worldly-minded that we’re of no use to the Master. God must heal us from our idolatrous ways through discipline which is aimed at centering our affections (worship) on him (Ps 137:5-6; 16:11).
These references to the “hand of the LORD” are anthropomorphisms; or personification, applying human characteristics to God. God is spirit in his essential nature (John 4:24). 15 For interpretive options re: 2 Pet 3:10-11 see. See The NET Bible, 1st ed. (Dallas: Biblical Studies Press, 2005), text note 14, p. 2375.). 16 See our study, “The Journey to Rest,” for an extended explanation of this theme.
The apostle Paul “learned” contentment (Phil 4:11-12). Thayer lists as one possible sense of the Greek αὐτάρκης (autarchēs) to be “independent of external circumstances.”17 How much does the influence of external circumstances affect our internal peace? Paul learned how to not permit need or abundance (both linked to external circumstance) to influence his daily walk with the Lord. For Paul, to be content was not a neutral state of sufficient provision; it is the ideal state of the truly satisfied soul. Craving after things is a sign of spiritual deprivation (i.e. exchanging a hunger for God for the things of this world, Matt 5:6; 6:33; see Ps 107:9).18 2:3 Desire the Complete Training of Your Faith… The idea of cessation is also a depiction of completion and perhaps fullness. These are the expressive terms used by James with reference to trails and temptations (Jas 1:2-4). We would never choose the path of discipline, opting for the path of least resistance. As disciples we must remember that discipline (formative-training and remedial) represents the very nature of our path (Heb 12:4-13). Encourage and Serve as a Component of Corporate Worship… Regarding Christian worship, the early Christians transitioned away from the temple and Sabbath day worship (see Acts 3:1-3 as an example of continued temple observance) to meet on the first day of the week (Sunday). Since they were Jews, this was a radical departure from the requirements of the law. It is clear that the early Christians saw another law which had precedent over the former, “the law of Christ” (Gal 6:2; John 13:34; 1 John 4:21). Jesus’ teaching in The Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:21-48, note especially the repeated “you have heard…I have said” phrases) did not abrogate the former Mosaic law, but pointed to himself as its “end” or the “goal” (Gal 3:23-27; Rom 10:4, see also 6:14). Jesus rose from the dead on the “first day of the week” (Mark 16:9) and this day seemed appropriate to his early followers for setting aside for worship.19 More than merely setting one day out of seven, regularity of corporate assembling for worship and mutual encouragement is the norm for Christian gathering (Heb 10:24-25).
Joseph Henry Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (New York: American Book Company, 1889). According to Gardner, eating and drinking here are metaphors for a relationship with God (see Isa 55:1-3; 61:3, 10-11). Richard B. Gardner, Believers Church Bible Commentary: Matthew (Waterloo: Herald Press, 1991), 95. 19 See Thomas D. Hanson, “The Origins of Sunday Worship in the Early Church.” Visit: http://www.gci.org/law/sabbath/hanson.
© 2013 Dr. Douglas A. Blanc, Sr.
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