This is a page that focuses on religious and theological issues, as well as providing comprehensive teaching from a classic Catholic perspective. As you read the articles, it is my hope they will educate and bless you.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Genesis The Book Of Beginnings Part 7 - Day Six of Creation (Genesis 1:26-31)

(Note:  all references to the Church Fathers in all the studies of this series are taken from Andrew Louth and Thomas C. Oden, eds., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture {Downers Grove, IL:  Intervarsity Press, 2001}.  In this lesson, the references come specifically from pages 27-45.  I am citing this from the outset as a lot of reliance will be on that material from that source.  Thank you.)

We have almost come to the end of the Creation account in Genesis 1, and Day Six is where God creates the pinnacle of his Creation, namely mankind.  It is in mankind that God creates an image of Himself, and therefore this is why throughout the Bible and the documentation of salvation history, the focus narrows until it gets to Christ, and then widens again after Christ is on the earth - God's plan was to single out a select group of the human race to culminate in the ultimate plan of salvation, Jesus as God Himself come to atone for our sins, so that all the human race would be able to have the opportunity to come to salvation and full restoration with the Father.  Therefore, although God does "rest" on the seventh day of Creation, the story of man continues through at least two more chapters of Genesis in relation to man's creation.  This is why the events of Day Six almost totally center on the creation of the first man, Adam, and on the life of Adam for several more chapters thereafter.

When we begin to read the account of God creating man on Day Six, we note a difference in phraseology.  Up until this point, when God created something, the words "let there be" were used.  However, when it comes to mankind, the phrase changes to "let us make"  In I Corinthians 15:45, we are reminded that "and so it is written, 'the first man, Adam, became a living being," and in verse 47 that "the first man was of the earth, made of dust," and (verse 49) "as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall bear the image of the heavenly man (Jesus)."  Although the sin nature corrupted the image of mankind by introducing sin and death, we still recall what it says in Genesis 1:26, where God is speaking as a Trinity by saying "Let us make mankind in our image and likeness."  This is a clear Trinitarian reference, as understood by the Church, in that the "Us" it speaks of cannot be angels, as St. Lawrence of Brindisi points out based on his reading of rabbinical sources, because the Hebraic tradition taught that angels came into being on the second day of Creation as created beings themselves - they did not assist in the Creation process, but were rather part of it (Toth and Warkulwicz, St. Lawrence Brindisi on Creation and the Fall.  Mount Jackson, VA:  the Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation, 2009. p. 81).  This will come into play later too, as it also would mean that Satan's fall was after the Creation and not prior, because Satan didn't exist prior to the Creation of the universe.  Therefore, when God said "let us make," it references the plurality of divine Persons (the Trinity) and also alludes to the unique nature of the human soul as well.  In Hebrew, the word used for God at these references is the plural proper noun Elohim, which means "Lords."  So, from the beginning then we see a Trinitarian participation in the Creation process, but specifically when it came to the creation of man.  In our previous study on the Lord's Prayer, you will recall Guardini noting that this also applies when Jesus addresses God as Father - Guardini says "What Jesus means is different.  It has pleased God, the almighty ruler and author of the world, the Creator and Lord of mankind, to make His creatures His children.  It is not by His nature that He is our Father, but by His gracious decree - truly a divine one - made before the beginning of time, that He has become our Father" (Romano Guardini, The Lord's Prayer.  Germany:  Matthias Grunewald Verlag, 1932. p. 22).  This means God had a more personal stake in the creation of mankind than He had in earlier creation, and mankind was meant to be the pinnacle of His created order, divine children endowed with attributes (image of) their Father.  His creation of humanity, then, was a special act of love.  Although God lovingly created and designed all Creation, it was mankind which He chose to imprint Himself in a special way.  So, why the word "man?"  We shall discuss this next.

Although this will probably blow away decades of Sunday School theology for many of those who read this, something needs to be pointed out.  Adam was not a proper name, but rather was a title, a general noun.  The word is the root of the Hebrew word adamah which means "earth," although Josephus argued that the root of Adam was adom, which literally means "ruddy."  The latter term denotes red clay that man was thought to have been formed by God from, and it makes sense later in other Scriptural metaphors (especially the classic "potter and clay" passage we find in Isaiah 64:8).  It is of interest too that when we study Genesis 11, a common idea runs through many of the world's languages regarding this - in Latin, for instance the word for man, homo (not to be confused with the Greek adjective hwmw, which means "same as.") has as its root the word humus, which is translated "ground."  Today, we still refer to dark soil as humus, and it is considered to be a rich planting soil made up of decomposed organic matter.  The spiritual application for that is profound, in that often it takes the dying to self - as in the decay of material that makes up humus - to bring forth new life; the vegetation we see sprouting that bears fruit.  There is a planting analogy that can be made, based on these terms, that describes how God transforms man from being corrupt to incorruptible (note further in I Corinthians 15, for instance).  Bottom line is that as throughout many places in Scripture, Adam is not necessarily a proper name, but may simply be just referring to the first man - could the first man have had a name, and if so, what was it?  It is not important to the story at this point to try to figure that out, so as many have done over the centuries, we will simply call the first man Adam despite whatever his real proper name was.  Adam however is proper to both the first created man, as well as the first female (Eve), and the term embraces both male and female as we see in 1:27 where it says "male and female He created them."  

Discussing further the Trinitarian consultation, we first of all see the image of God as the Word in John 1:1, which traditionally reads "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God."  In the original Greek translation of this verse, the phrase in the beginning is in the accusative , and it reads like this:  En archei hayn Logos kai Logos hayn pros ton Theon. To do a word study on this, essentially here is what happening - when this was translated by St. Jerome into Latin, it became in principio erat Verbum et Verbum erat apud Deum et Deus erat Verbum.  The accusative here implies direct object, and can mean either "in" or "from,"  and the Latin accusative also gives an indication as to the duration of time - this means that the Word (Jesus Christ) was with God and is God not only in the beginning, but also from the beginning.  As God, in his being qua being, transcends our own temporal limitations, the eternality of Jesus the Son with God the Father is plainly an indication that Jesus exists at Creation, and was involved in the creative process as part of the Trinitarian Godhead.  But, as St. Clement of Alexandria notes, it also means something else for us - the image of God is in His Word, and in the image of the Word is the true man the way God originally intended.  Jesus alone then is the visible face of God, and man is created in that image, as is noted by Church Father Marius Victorinus.  We are, in essence, an "image of the image."  Then there is the discussion of image vs. likeness.  First, according to Origen, the perfection of God's likeness is preserved for man at his salvation, which is fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ.  And, in a true Thomistic interpretation then, we could say that man in one's being is made in God's image; however, to be in God's likeness is only possible via the subjectivity of will.  This is why, going back to the Lord's Prayer, that the phrase "Thy will be done" is the gateway petition to the entire prayer - as Guardini notes, God's will is His holy intention for the world and for us, and His eternal counsel, the fruit of His wisdom, the force of His stern decrees, and the loving desire of His heart (Guardini, p. 5).  The subjectivity of man's will to God's, as Guardini writes further, should arise only from man's inner being - from his heart, his intellect, his love, and his free will (Guardini, p. 6).  To put it into the perspective of our study here, the image is what is created, and the likeness is formed by our willing submission to God's divine will.  Therefore, in our being, we are created perfect, but like the original creation of the earth on the First Day, we are "without form and void" until we allow the Holy Spirit to "hover over us" and transform us.  The only way that is possible is through the shed Blood of Jesus Christ, which we emerge from the waters of Holy Baptism having been cleansed by, and we then start to be formed in the likeness of God.  Note that on the Sixth Day of Creation, however, the Fall and sin had not happened yet, so at that point man was both in the image and likeness of God.  It was only after the Fall we will read about in Genesis 3 that man forfeited the likeness when the corruption of sin and death entered, and only Jesus Christ has the power and ability to restore that to us.

Due to the special nature of God's creation regarding mankind, God also gives dominion to man over Creation - it is said that Adam may have been the smartest and most accomplished man alive.  In a very short time, Adam names every creature on the earth, gets a wife he bears from himself (Eve), and he can speak every language of the world!   This is truly not bad for someone only a few days old at this point!  Like the creatures of the earth, God mandates Adam and his new bride Eve to "be fruitful and multiply."  St. Gregory of Nyssa notes some things about this from his writings, and one thing is that this increase involves two types:

1.  One involves the body in physical growth.
2.  The second involves the soul in education.

St. Augustine also notes that this "fruitful and multiply" aspect of man's existence refers to the time prior to the Fall, and it means that yes, Adam and Eve did have conjugal relations before the Fall too!  The conjugal union was then, as it is today, considered a blessing, and it is now sealed sacramentally in the matrimonial covenant.  And, that is one aspect of man's original nature that remained even after the Fall, although Satan has used and corrupted sex over the centuries into something that God never intended it to be.  The created order, therefore, from the beginning, included a nuptial covenant that was holy, and meant to be solely between a man and a woman.  Although God tolerated polygamist marriages for a time later (probably as a means of allowing man to repopulate the earth after the Flood, but that is just a personal theory), His original intention was a union of just one of each sex with one of the opposite sex.   This is why today such sins as adultery, homosexuality, and other misuses of sex are not only against God's commands, but they are in violation of the natural order as God created it.  The eternality of this bond also is why divorce is a serious problem for anyone professing to follow God and submission to His will - God intended the nuptial bond to be an eternal one, and it is something that should not be broken but rather preserved at all costs.

God told man also not only to take dominion over Creation, but also to "fill the earth and subdue it."  In doing so, Adam not only had authority to name the creatures, but he was delegated the authority to rule them by God Himself.  And, additionally, God gave man the vegetation for food, including as we see in verse 29:

1.  Every herb that yields seed (grains?).
2.  Every tree whose fruit yields seed.

In verse 30, the plants also were created to nourish the beasts and birds as well as man, and Novatian, an early Church Father, gives us some insights on that.  First, it is commonly taught that before the Fall man primarily ate fruit and natural produce.  After the Fall, something happened to man's physiology due to the necessity of working, and his body began to require more complex proteins for energy, which is why God later allowed man to eat meat as well.  Therefore, our meat consumption is a result of the inherent sin nature we received at the Fall, and if you are like me personally, it is common knowledge that meat tastes good!  Eating meat was a pleasure that many of the early Desert Fathers saw as a hindrance to spiritual growth if done in excess, which is why today particularly in the Eastern Church there are seasons of fasting (notably Lent) in which no meat is consumed to remind us of who we are to be in Christ.  It is also worth noting that after the Fall as well many beasts were affected by concupiscent nature, which is why some became carnivores and scavengers.   It is also worth noting in relation to this that before the Fall, all necessities of life were provided for by God and there was really no need to arouse lusts and desires of the flesh, as carnal concupiscence didn't yet exist.  However, at the Creation, that which was given to man of the fruits for eating were of what St. Lawrence calls "the nobler fruits," whereas the more "common" vegetation was reserved for the animals (Toth and Warkulwicz, p. 95).  This all being said, I need to remind you that it is not a sin to consume meat, and indeed your body may need to do so!   After the Fall, some very fundamental alterations in environmental factors (more so after the Flood) caused the human body (as well as that of animals) to adopt physically to different diets, etc.  Man could no longer live on a purely vegetarian diet as he did prior to the Fall, and for those over the centuries who attempt to do so for "health reasons," often it causes more harm than good.  Pure vegans run risks of serious nutritional deficiencies due to the fact that they deprive themselves of essential materials needed for physical development (Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions. Brandywine, MD:  New Trends Publishing, 2001. p. 354).  So, eating meat is not to be considered necessarily a curse of the Fall, but a product of the Fall that evidences God's mercy.

Returning to the subject of marriage, God instituted it as a sacramental covenant from the beginning and there are two things about this we need to understand:

1.  Grace was dispensed by God to procreate.
2.  After the Fall, it was for the survival of the species.

Now, God also endowed certain traits in both man and woman - known as "attraction factor" - to make this not only a necessity, but also a blessing to be enjoyed by the couple entering into this bond.  Animals don't have this to the degree humans have, because God desired more of humanity.  Animals procreate for survival only, but humans do so in a covenantal way to reflect supernatural reality in a physical, natural, way.  The union of the male and female in a matrimonial, conjugal bond speaks on so many levels, and God purposed that for man in such a way that the sex act become not merely procreative, but also pleasurable and holy.  Eve was taken from Adam initially when she was created, but then joined back to Adam in this covenantal act.  Again, it demonstrates that distinctiveness in gender, matrimony, and the deeper dimension of human procreativity are by divine decree as a reflection of the likeness of God.

In verse 31, the first chapter of Genesis closes with the words that "God saw all that He had made and it was very good."  The implication here was that Creation was "good exceedingly," meaning that God commends all the works of His Creation.  All individual works were good by nature, but collectively they are one and very good.  As St. Chrysostom notes, God created all things in sequence, providing us with a clear instruction about created things through the word of their Author.  This therefore prevents us from relying solely on our own reasoning (which can get us in trouble!) to explain origins, as God is the Creator and Sustainer of all.  St. Gregory of Nyssa elaborates this further by noting that everything created was subdivided and brought into order by inexpressable laws decreed by God Himself.  Therefore, the conclusion here is that the divine good can be perceived through Creation, going back to the Thomistic Law of Non-Contradiction we have referenced throughout which states that Nature and Revelation have the same Author, and cannot contradict each other.  The power of God, therefore, is a creative power, and therefore even if God is not seen, He is judged by His works.  As St. Ambrose notes, the order of the universe, its arrangement and its beauty, should move a man to love his Creator.  The Christological dimension to all this is that in the Sixth Day of Creation, we see Jesus coming as the Son of Man to re-form us in the likeness of God, thus perfecting the image of God we have via being qua being.

In conclusion, there are a few observations we should note.  First, we once had an eternal aspect to our being (likeness), and Adam and Eve were created with that aspect but lost it when they chose to fall from the grace God gave them.  However, at the point of salvation, when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord, we recover that aspect, although it is not going to be fully realized until the final Resurrection. As Dr. Morris notes, one important point about the "image of God" that was initially created is this - the mortal body that humanity is now born into after the terrible curse rendered by Genesis 3 must be "changed" into a suitable "immortal" body that will be compatible with the eternal body of the Lord Jesus Christ (Henry Morris III, The Book of Beginnings, Vol. I.  Dallas:  ICR, 2012. p. 143).  Our human body form is connected to the incarnation of Jesus Christ, and as such is perfected by His sacrifice for us at Calvary.  The mortal body that humanity now has is in need of glorification therefore, because although as we have noted we retain the image of God in our being, concupiscence as a consequence of the Fall necessitates such a glorification to restore the likeness we once had.  The way, and key, to doing this is submission to God's will, and by taking to heart the petition of the Lord's Prayer we pray that "Thy will be done."  We have the choice to be that which God intended, and as a minister by the name of Mark Chironna once said, "Our present position doesn't determine our future potential."   Although that statement was meant to apply practically in this life, we also have the potential of living with God's likeness as part of us, but we must commit to follow Him to receive that.  Therefore, in the Creation narrative, we are not only educated in the history of our origins, but are reminded of our need for Jesus Christ in our lives to save us.  God bless you until the next lesson, where we will begin Genesis 2.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Genesis the Book of Beginnings Part 6 - The Fifth Day of Creation (Genesis 1:20-25)

There are two things about the Creation that should make one pause and glorify God.  First is its immensity, as we saw on Day Four, and secondly is its abundance - God's Creation is not uniform, but is characterized by a rich diversity of scene as well as life.  As we now have reached Day 5 of Creation, today we will be looking at the diversity of life in its richness, as Day Five is when the first life aside from plants was created.

The Genesis account of Creation picks up at Day Five in verse 20, and one of the first things mentioned is aquatic life.  St Basil the Great poetically states that this life "ornamented the waters," and as St. Ambrose notes, this life was simultaneously created and didn't merely "evolve." Also created simultaneously with the life of the sea was birds, which St. Augustine notes generated from "air saturated with water."  Both of these life forms have some merit for being created in association with the waters first, in that if you will recall back on Day One, the Holy Spirit was "hovering over" the waters "of the deep" and in a sense was incubating them in anticipation of the life to come.  What is also interesting too is that many evolutionists also believe that the first life came from the waters - on that point they are correct.  Evolution, like other mythologies and false religious systems, does have kernels of fact within it, and in this case they do have the sequence right although they err when they address the process - for the evolutionist, all life evolves from the water, whereas in Biblical Creation what really happened was that life started first in the water as part of God's creative plan, and as we see later land-dwelling life was created.  One of the things St. Augustine notes too is that the vapor of the seas supported the flight of the birds.  After looking into that statement, I found out some interesting things from science about that.  Water vapor sustains the weather grid for the planet, and although at this point of time in creation weather and precipitation were not what they are now, you will recall that in the earliest part of Creation God sent a heavy mist upon the earth to moisten and sustain life.  The sustaining of avian flight by water vapor therefore may have something to do with how condensation directs ocean currents, and it would have been quite an insight for St. Augustine to know that in the 5th century, but it is something that has been proven by science.  So, in a sense, as condensation plays a role in the air currents, it could be said that indeed the "vapors of the sea" do sustain the flight of birds!  It is amazing how scientific principles were actually defined and identified by Holy Scripture many generations before modern science discovered them, and we see more of them as the Creation narrative unfolds.

The master allegorist Origen also reminds us that there are spiritual typologies in this as well.  Origen, as all the Church Fathers did, recognized the literal truth in God bringing forth life, and he takes it a step further by stating an allegory concerning the very aspects of our being, both positive and negative - God brings both forth, for the purpose of helping us to distinguish what is good from what is bad.  In doing so, we strengthen the good attributes, and work on the bad ones to improve them.  Both of these, as the water and land, day and night, etc., proceed from one source - in the case of our attributes, from the heart, but in the case of overall Creation, from its Creator.  This is a good spiritual lesson, and also reminds us that the Holy Spirit living within us helps in that discerning process too.

St. Lawrence of Brindisi also notes something else regarding verse 20 - as St. Basil noted that this life ornamented the waters, St. Lawrence with his insights into the Hebrew translation focuses here on an original Hebrew word in this verse, sharac - the word is translated "to bring forth in abundance."  The "creeping creature having life" noted in verse 20 refers to fish too, as fish are said to be creeping things because they "creep" through the waters.  Noting this also, St. Lawrence quotes a Rabbi Solomon who said that "every living thing that is not from high land is (this) sharac."  These things come forth in great abundance and they moved themselves, meaning that they receive the power and command of God to do so (Craig R. Toth trans., and Victor Warkulwicz ed., St Lawrence of Brindisi on the Creation and the Fall - Commentary on Genesis 1-3.  Mount Jackson, VA:  The Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation, 2009.  pp. 73-74).  It is also worth noting that although "flying things" (birds) were not mixed among things coming from the waters, their flight was nevertheless designed to be sustained by the waters - air current dictated by movements of the oceans, etc.

As we move onto verse 21, the NKJV translates this verse as being "great sea creatures" which came into being.  Some historically have translated that to mean whales, and indeed whales are great sea creatures, but further study compels us not to limit the great sea creatures with immense bodies to just whales.  Throughout Scripture, there is reference to a sea-dwelling creature called a Leviathon, and one reference to this is in Job 41:1, where God asks Job this question: "Can you draw out Leviathon with a hook, or snare its tongue with a line which you lower?"  It doesn't take a Hebrew scholar to figure out that this is alluding to some sort of fishing, and apparently this "Leviathon" lived in the sea.  The word itself has a Hebrew root that means "twisted" or "coiled," (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leviathan - accessed 12/12/2015) and this definitely does not describe a whale, as a whale cannot curl itself up or twist - it just doesn't have the body to do so.  In the Byzantine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts which is celebrated during the Sundays of Lent, in the beginning of the Liturgy a lengthy Psalm, listed as 103 in the Liturgy but corresponding to 104 in Scripture, is sung that in essence sings praise to the Creator God who made all things.  At one point in the Liturgy at the singing of this Psalm, this verse is sung - "Upon it there are great ships a-sailing, and that great beast you made to have fun."  (Eparchy of Passaic, NJ, Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, Priest/Deacon Edition. Fairfax, VA:  Eastern Christian Publications, 1998.  p. 9).  In my NKJV translation, this verse is the same as Psalm 104:26, which in the NKJV reads like this - "There the ships sail about; there is that great Leviathan which you have made to play there."  I am about to introduce you to what I believe "Leviathan" actually is, and although some have translated it as "whale" over the years, the etymology and context of its references don't match the typical description of whales.  But, they do this:


This creature is the Pleisosaur, and it was a large ocean-dwelling dinosaur that many today think may still exist based on the Loch Ness Monster stories.  Back in the day, as a matter of fact and as we will also see momentarily, the word "dinosaur" was not in use (that term didn't come into common usage until the mid-19th century) but such things were called by another name - dragons.  These creatures lived on both land and sea, and the Pleisosaur was a sea-dwelling dinosaur which fits every possible description of the literal translation of the name leviathan.  And, despite what modern secular evolutionist "science" would have one believe, these things existed rather recently rather than millions of years ago, which is why God has taken such effort to document their existence in Scripture under names which would have been more recognizeable to the people at the time who wrote them.  There will be more of this later as we continue in the study, but it was worth mentioning here because not all immense sea creatures are whales. 

It is also important to know here that these creatures were created "of their own kind," and didn't evolve from one thing into something totally different. Now, that is not to say that adaptations (variations in kind, sometimes called microevolution) don't occur, because they certainly do and are observable.  For instance, a Chihuahua and a Great Dane are variations in kind, bred to produce their different sizes, traits, etc.  But, a Chihuahua and a Great Dane are both still dogs, and both of them are still "after their kind" despite the adaptations.  A Chihuahua didn't evolve from a rat, and a Great Dane didn't evolve from a horse.   This is also affirmed by St. Ambrose, who noted that living creatures were initially produced immediately by divine command of God Himself, and succeed each other (procreate) according to their kind. 

St. Lawrence of Brindisi, quoting a Rabbi bin Gabrirol, notes that the phrase "every living creature" implies a soul in which there is life (Toth and Warkulwicz, p.76).  There is a difference between animal soul, which contains the essence of life of all things, and the eternal soul, which lives on in man exclusively forever.  This has led to some debate over the decades about whether animals can go to heaven, and in recent years this has become a topic of discussion. Utilizing verses such as Job 12:10, Matthew 10;29, and Proverbs 12:10, a case can be made that animals share in some aspect of eternal reward, and as Tom Horn and Terry James point out in their book Do Our Pets Go to Heaven? (Crane, MO:  Defender, 2013) on pages 7-8. animals don't need salvation like humans do, but they can share in eternal life via a covenant relationship with us, thus experiencing a type of "salvation" but not in the same respect as we do by accepting Christ.  This is a topic that deserves a teaching of its own, but the important thing to note here is that animals have a soul (nephesh) with which they were endowed by God Himself at their creation.  

In further thoughts of this verse, we now look at the Hebrew word asah, which implies "making" or "doing."  The Maker (God) is using material already available to produce something more specific to a divine purpose.  This is where the evolutionist often goes wrong, because they point to the fact that humans and chimpanzees have so many similarities that they therefore must have either evolved from one another, or evolved from a common ape ancestor.  In reality, they miss the point - it is not a common ancestor which humans and chimps have, but rather a common Designer!  Remember the earlier studies, where many Church Fathers believed that God created base elements (heavens, wind, fire, earth, water) and formed life out of those?   Well, this verb asah implies exactly that - all life has a certain chemical makeup which suggests that natural elements were used in their creation, and indeed this is true when one studies biology.  But, that common construction doesn't mean we "evolved" from rocks, water and dirt - rather, a Creator God designed life by building-blocks utilizing these things, and then He added the miracle of life to it to animate it (God added nephesh).  That mark of a common designer is Asah (Henry Morris III, The Book of Beginnings Vol. 1. Dallas:  ICR, 2012. pp. 111-112).  Look at this from the perspective of the corporate world - Yamaha is a company that manufactures many things, and it manufactures both saxophones (I used to play a Yamaha baritone sax in high school) and motorcycles, in many cases using some of the same material.  Now, does that mean that a motorcycle evolved from a saxophone?  No, and it would be ridiculous to think they did!   It means they had a common designer.  In the same way, God created animals and humans - a common designer for two unrelated creatures.  In the case of humanity though, God's creation is described by another Hebrew verb, yatsar - this has a more personal dimension to it in that it is used in the same context as an artist who forms and sculpts (we discussed that term earlier also).  Man, therefore, in God's image has a creative attribute as well which testifies of this yatsar. To simplify what we have studied so far, God created the earth on Day One, formed the universe on Days 2-4, and on Days 5-6 He created life to ornament and animate His creation.  And, this all initiated ex nihilo, or in the Hebrew bara - God utilized a power unique to Himself to bring something into existence that was not there before, and this term bara appears, according to Dr. Morris, 54 times throughout the Hebrew Old Testament.  Therefore, as Dr. Morris continues, there are four observations to make here at this point:

1. Life is unique (independently functioning, reproducing after its kind)
2. Life has independent movement.
3. Life has blood
4. Life has nephesh (soul) - also used in same context as "heart." 

In the discussion of verses 22-23, we take a small rabbit-trail on the part of the Church Fathers to discuss why hybridization is wrong, and it sort of reminds us that we face some serious issues regarding this subject currently with the rise in recent decades of both the Eugenics movement and its 21st-century successor, transhumanism.  I am not going to get into a discussion of transhumanism here, as it is more appropriate when we get to Genesis 6, but the Church Fathers saw it largely in a negative light.  St. Ambrose attributes hybridization to the efforts of humans (or later, demonic entities inspiring humans to create "freaks" for pride and profit).  It is also scientifically proven that inter-species hybridization produces barrenness - a horse bred with a donkey for instance produces a sterile mule, as one example, and being the horse and donkey are of the same "kind," it substantiates that there are even limits to breeding within kinds as God ordered procreation within species.  Ambrose also reminds us too that the seeds are prefigurements of the Resurrection too.  As a "seed," we die corrupt but are raised incorruptible despite still being of the same substance.  However, this in no way implies evolution - a species doesn't produce a separate species, in other words.  St Gregory of Nyssa likewise picks up on this Resurrection allegory when he notes that we don't change in nature (of our being - my add) at the General Resurrection, but rather we are restored to something nobler.  St. Gregory also refutes reincarnation - the transmigration of souls is not only a heretical doctrine, but is an impossibility.  St. Augustine also notes something of interest in regard to the sanctity of life, procreation, and the sacrament of traditional marriage and its role - succession of offspring is to be seen as a blessing, and in a sense a type of immortality; the kind is preserved through procreation, a blessing given by God to both animals and humans. This is also picked up on by St. Lawrence of Brindisi, who notes that God is the one giving the command to "increase and multiply," and he utilizes a word based on his studies of the rabbinical writings, peru.  Peru implies "to be fruitful," and is used primarily for trees while another use of the same word means "to grow," and is used for animals.  The indication here, as St. Lawrence quotes from Rabbi ibn Ezra, is that God in effect said "You will increase and you will multiply." (Toth and Warkulwicz, p. 76).  The animals it mentions in verses 22-23 are classified by distinctions in the following way:

1.  Cattle - those things which dwell with the sons of man for their needs.
2. "Crawling creatures" - small animals which walk on the earth.
3. "Wild animals" - those animals living away from the dwellings of man.

In some cases,  after the Fall increased multiplication was needed for some creatures because man's dietary needs necessitated the protein the consumption of these creatures provided, and thus they were endowed with capacity for increased multiplication by God Himself to meet that demand.  While man is to be a wise steward over the earth which God gave him dominion, oftentimes the radical environmentalists tend to demean and denigrate man in deference to nature by fabricating extinctions of some creatures and human-instigated "climate changes."  Radical environmentalism is a type of paganism unfortunately which practically worships the environment over the Creator of the environment, and they are misled often in their own efforts to "preserve the earth" in that they forget God is still ultimately in control of His own creation.  There are many creatures which will never be extinct because of their importance to the food chain for both humanity and other animals, and although man has done some stupid things with pollution, etc., the earth can and will heal itself - it has before.  It is time many recognize that valuable revelation, as it is the message of Genesis itself.  Procreation therefore is a blessing, and it is guided by an unerring intellect and spoken word of God Himself. 

In verses 24-25, we get to the creation of the beasts.  The first and foremost thing to understand here is that the souls (nephesh) of beasts did not pre-exist before Creation - St. Basil the Great affirms that they wer called into existence by the command of God Himself.  All life was created by divine decree, and God's command remains constantly active even today.  St. Basil said that "from the beauty of the visible things let us form an idea of Him who is more than beautiful."  St. Chrysostom likewise concurs that these animals are not created just for our use however, but also for our benefit in that we shold be overwhelmed by the Creator's power.  In the earliest days of the earth's existence, for instance, animals often grew to immense size, a phenomenon we call megafauna.  Some of the greatest of these megafauna were what we know today as dinosaurs, but the ancients called them "dragons."  Testimony of this can be found again in Job 40:15, where when Job was feeling a little down God had to give him a pep talk to remind him of who was in charge, and one way He did this was by reminding Job of exactly what the quote from St. Basil was talking about.  He told Job to look at some creature hanging around out there called a behemoth, and God gives Job a pretty good description of this beast in the verses following verse 15:

1.  It is herbivorous ("eats grass like an ox.")
2.  His strength is in his hips (large legs)
3.  His power is in his stomach muscles (it has a big gut!)
4.  He moves his tail like a cedar (HUGE tail!)
5.  His bones are like beams of bronze (this thing was massive, in other words)
6.  His ribs are like bars of iron. 

Apparently, when reading further in the passage, this thing lived near river banks too, and the torrential rapids of the rivers didn't bother it.  Some people have historically tried to associate this beast with an elephant or a hippopotamus, but the description (in particular the tail) doesn't add up to support that.  However, in recent Creationist teachings a creature has been identified which does meet the description, and here it is: 


This is the Brachiosaurus, and it was a huge land-dwelling dinosaur that pretty much fits the bill of the description in Job.  Looking at this, we can see why God used it to remind Job that He is in control because He created this immense beast, and it reminds us as St. Chrysostom said to be overwhelmed by the Creator's power.  There are some who would oppose this, in that they have been taught for several decades now that dinosaurs lived millions of years ago and didn't cross paths with humans.  However, unfortunately for them the various "dragon" legends of diverse cultures around the world, as well as even artwork (a temple in southeast Asia even had a perfect replica of a stegosaurus on it, something one cannot draw up from a pile of bones, and the Incas have artwork of men fighting with and even riding large dinosaurs) speak otherwise.  An important part of this study is that we need to read the Bible as its original audience understood it, and not with a lot of the 21st-century skepticism we often presuppose when we read things like the Creation narrative.  This being said, it is to be noted from Scripture that there is a created order to the animal kingdom as well:

1.  Class 1 - Quadropeds (lizards, amphibians, etc.)
2.  Class 2 - Those that prowl about with fearsome mouths and claws
3.  Class 3 - The herds - those which are not fierce or violent by nature, but can defend themselves if necessary.

Now, for some concluding thoughts to the study.  First, God created various kinds of animals on the fifth day by divine decree and "according to their kinds."  They were given the ability from the start to procreate and bring forth offspring "after their kind" to continue their species.  Second, God created a great abundance of some animals in anticipation of nourishing and serving other animals and humans, as the Fall would eventually alter animal and human physiology to require animal protein for nourishment.  The plants were created on Day Three to intially feed and nourish all other life.  Finally, the creation of animals, as in all Creation, points to a sovereign God who by His very word brings life into existence.  Now, with everything else in place, it was time for mankind to make an appearance on the timeline of Creation, and that is where Day Six leads us in the next study.  God bless you until the next lesson. 


Friday, December 11, 2015

Genesis, The Book of Beginnings Part 5 - The Fourth Day of Creation (Genesis 1:14-19)

As we progress in this study, we see an order and pattern emerging in regard to Creation, and it is an order the defies human reasoning but also affirms that God had reasons for creating in the order He did, and as Christians it is not so much our job to try to determine what God's motives were (as most of that is not our concern anyway) but rather the fact that He did create the entire universe and everything in it, and that we are given the order in which He did so in Holy Scripture.  Over the centuries, the scientific record has also borne witness to much of this creative activity, and rather than contradicting the claims of Scripture, as the secularists and evolutionists would have us to believe, rather as more proof and evidence comes in almost on a daily basis, it is becoming more clear that science affirms the Biblical record on so many levels.  That is why we are doing this type of study, for in re-introducing the Creation narrative back into catechesis, it underpins so many other vital areas of our faith.

Before we begin to discuss Day Four, let us review what we have learned so far.  First, we now understand that the earth was created by God on the first day, and began to be formed on the second.  Second, we also note that this formation entailed three things:

1.  The separation of sea from land.
2.  The distinction between day and night.
3.  The creation of plant life.

Third, in creating plant life, God did so with the intention that plants were to provide nourishment for animals which would be created on Day Five, as well as for man on Day Six.  Finally, we come to Day Four, which entails the creation of the heavenly bodies (stars, moon, planets, the sun, etc.).  The heavens are important too, for as Psalm 19:1 reminds us, "the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork."  In Hebrews 11:12, we read the account of how we all come from one ancestor (Adam), and that we are "as many as the stars of the sky in multitude," which reminds us that God created a lot of them, and they are all named by the Creator, as Psalm 147:4 reminds us that "He counts the numbers of the stars, He calls them all by name."  The created stars then are not randomly scattered, but are rather ordered by God, as is the rest of the universe.

When it comes to Day Four, it is important to discuss from the outset that there has been for centuries a debate among Creationists regarding what the center of the solar system actually is.  That debate is largely generated by the passage which is the focal point of this lesson today, and the reason for it is the order of Creation - because the earth was created before the sun, the debate then is over where the earth therefore sits in relation to the sun.  This has led to the evolution of two schools of thought.

1.  Geocentrism - This view contends that the earth is at the center of the solar system and that the sun and all the other planets revolve around it.  This view is one that is advanced by some traditional Catholic Creationist writers, notably Robert Sungenis, and there are some component parts to this theory that should be examined:

a.  According to this view, the stars give evidence of the fact the earth is motionless in space - in his book Geocentrism 101, Robert Sungenis contends that a phenomenon called parallax, which is a standard of measurement as to how starlight is received on earth (Robert Sungenis, Geocentrism 101.  State Line, PA:  Catholic Apologetics International Publishing, 2014. p. 41).  The means of affirming geocentrism, Sungenis argues, is via stellar aberration, whereas one star rather than many being observed from earth (Sungenis, p. 44)
b.  Another evidence given for geocentrism is the cosmic microwave, which is argued to be oriented not specifically around the Milky Way galaxy but specifically around the plane joining the sun and the earth (Sungenis, p. 178).

There are other evidences that a more thorough reading of material by Geocentrists could probably produce, but time and the scope of this lesson don't permit to engage all of them.  The point is that there are proponents of a Geocentric view of the universe, and they deserve some examination.

2.  Heliocentrism - This is the traditional view that the sun is at the center of the solar system, and that the earth and all the other planets revolve around the sun.



Although I respect my Geocentrist colleagues, and I especially share with them the strong Biblical view of Creation and that the first chapters of Genesis are to be taken literally, at the same time I personally feel that the evidence is stronger that the solar system is heliocentric, and it has been well-established and accepted that the earth revolves around the sun rather than the other way around.  However, like Old-Earth Creationists, Geocentrists should be seen as fellow Christians, and many of their proponents have written some excellent material on Creation science, and thus they are valued.  And, aside from the centrist aspect of their convictions, Geocentrists would pretty much hold to much of the same position as other Young-Earth Creationists.  Whether the solar system is heliocentric or geocentric is really not the focus of the Scripture passage, and believing one way or another on that in no way violates any cardinal theology or spiritual convictions - it's just that the physical evidence for me weighs more on the side of heliocentrism rather than geocentrism.  However in discussing this particular passage of Scripture, it is of interest to know that this debate is currently on the table, and it benefits us to understand that it's there and may emerge in a discussion we could have in any given setting on this issue, which is why it is important to be informed about it.

The question arises at this point, based on the heliocentric-vs-geocentric debate, as to why then did God create the earth before the sun?  And, why then on Day Three, with all this plant life being created, did God choose to wait to create the sun while providing supernatural light from Himself to nourish plants?  For that, I would like to revisit the construction analogy.  If you are building a house, you are not going to have it wired for light right away, especially if you are still working on its structural components.  So, before the wiring is in place, you will probably need a source of light to work and make sure things are where they properly should be, correct?  Therefore, to power your equipment, you utilize a power generator which gives you torchlight and also provides a way to operate the drills, saws, and other equipment you require to finish the construction.   In a similar fashion, God had his purpose for the order of Creation too, and provided the light from Himself as a sort of ultimate "power generator" until the source of light was created the following day.  That is why the created order therefore is as it is.

So, now we arrive at Day Four, and in verse 14 we read that God said "Let there be lights in the firmament of the heavens to divide the day from night, and let them be for signs and seasons, and for days and years.   And let them be for lights in the firmament of the heavens to give light on the earth."   Notice that there are three reasons why these "lights in the firmament of the heavens" were created, and all of them involved time measurement to some degree:

1.  To separate day from night.
2.  For signs and seasons.
3.  For days and years.

In separating day from night, St. John of Damascus in his work Orthodox Faith posed a question - is fire equated necessarily with light?  He notes that these luminous bodies (sun and stars) were not lights themselves but merely receptacles of light, endowed by God with the power to produce that light, in other words.  St Basil the Great, in his Hexamaeron, elaborated on this by saying the purpose of the heavenly bodies was not to make day or night (as God had already done that) but rather to order the days.  Basil defined the day as the air being lighted by the sun (which interesting enough later had some confirmation from scientific research!).  He also noted that the moon and the sun not only order days, but also years - even today, our own calendar is based still on lunar cycles.  St. Cyril of Jerusalem, in his Catechetical Lectures, noted that well-ordered movements of stars and their "unfettered courses" serve as agricultural as well as navigational guides.  It is St. Ambrose, however, in his Hexamaeron who gives us a true clue as to why God created the earth first - this order of creation should discourage worshipping of the sun and other natural phenomena as deity, and thus God's created order is a sound refutation of paganism.  In St. Ambrose's time that would make good sense, for it was in his time that the Emperors Valentinian II and  Theodosius I carried out a campaign against remaining pagan strongholds in the Roman Empire, which at this point was officially Christian.  One of the pagan cults was a sun-worshipping cult of Sol Invictus which was instituted by Aurelian some centuries earlier, and as St. Ambrose encouraged and supported Valentinian's efforts, it could be that Ambrose included the polemic against sun-worship as part of his commentary of the Creation account in Genesis to show how futile it was to worship something that is relatively new.  Of course, as Christians we would affirm St. Ambrose in that, and as God orders things, I believe it was God Himself who gave Ambrose that inspiration.  Along those same lines, St. Chrysostom noted (correctly I might add) in his Homilies on Genesis that Moses was inspired by the Holy Spirit to teach with great precision this order of Creation.  However, I would go one further than St. Chrysostom on that - Moses spent a lot of time in communion with God on Sinai, and I believe God told this to Moses Himself during those times - Scripture does record in Exodus that Moses would be up on that mountain for days on end, and he and God more than likely got to talk about a lot.  However, I also believe that Moses as well could have heard many accounts from oral tradition, and God clarified those too - as we will see later, people lived to great ages even up to Moses's time, and it would not be uncommon for someone to have their 600-year-old gggg grandfather, who was probably an eyewitness to some of the Flood events, alive to tell what happened.  In time, as we also will see later, some cultures corrupted some of the facts of these things to create the famous mythologies we have all read, but the myth at times can substantiate the truth, as at the core of every mythology is some fact that has been over time embellished and stretched in order to accomodate religious systems that are opposed to the Judeo-Christian worldview.  The belief that myth has a basis in fact is something called euhemerism, and I classify myself to an extent as an euhemerist.  We will surely see more of that too as we continue this study.  (References to the Church Fathers are taken from Andrew Louth and Thomas C. Oden, eds., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture - Old Testament I: Genesis 1-11.  Downers Grove, IL:  Intervarsity Press, 2001.  pp. 16-19).

St. Lawrence of Brindisi, in his classic commentary on Genesis 1-3 entitled On Creation and the Fall, engages in some Hebrew word studies based on his research into rabbinic sources, and what he tells us is that there are a couple of  Hebrew words, yehi/yiyeh, which denote that the light was created (yehi) on the first day, but ordained to be ordered (yiyeh) on the fourth day by their placing in the firmament.  Therefore, for St. Lawrence, the sun, moon, and stars are created to be vehicles of that primordial light God had created earlier (Craig R. Toth, trans, and Victor Warkulwicz, ed., St Lawrence Brindisi on Creation and the Fall - A Verse by Verse Commentary on Genesis 1-3.  Mount Jackson, VA:  The Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation, 2009.  pp. 65-66).  Likewise, we are reminded that the sun, moon, and other natural phenomena are created to serve man and glorify God, and they are not for man to worship.

We now look at the second reason, "for signs and seasons."  In his book The Real Meaning of the Zodiac (Fort Lauderdale:  Coral Ridge Ministries, 1989), late Presbyterian minister and theologian Dr. D. James Kennedy notes that a sign is something that conveys a message, although the classic definition of a sign in sacramental theology is "one thing that stands for something else, and does so actively."  In his book, Dr. Kennedy relates this to what we call the Zodiac, in that the stars do qualify as signs in that sense in that they are clearly known and understood via the constellations (Hebrew Mazzaroth) and that through them God originally meant to convey the essence of His Gospel, but occultists and superstitions have corrupted it over time.  The message God gave us through the stars, Dr. Kennedy notes, lays far beyond and behind the occultic corruptions we see in horoscopes and other such nonsense, and it goes back to the earlier reference to Psalm 19:1 - "the heavens declare the glory of God" (Kennedy, p. 8).  God gave to all the world a proclamation of the Gospel in the stars, Dr. Kennedy notes, and the satanic distortion of that via the occultic art of astrology has robbed mankind of a great witness.  To see where that corruption came from, we will note later when we study Genesis 6 that when the fallen angels appeared with and encountered man, an extrabiblical source, The Book of Enoch, recorded in detail what these fallen angels (called "Watchers") did - two named by Enoch as Barkayal  and Tamiel taught men about "observing stars" and "astronomy," while a third, Asaradel, taught "the motion of the moon" (Enoch 8:5-9 - from Richard Laurence, trans.  The Book of Enoch the Prophet. London:  William Clowes and Sons, 1883. p. 8.).  The leader of this fallen Host, Azazyel, was responsible for leading this group of fallen angels to corrupt mankind - whether Azazyel is synonymous with Satan remains unclear in Enoch, although in Enoch 7:9 their leader is actually noted as being one named Samyaza.  This discussion shows that one trick of Satan is to use something God created and called good and corrupt it to cause man to fall into sin.  God ordered the stars for instance, and He set them in the heavens to be signs for us.  But, as with many other things, Satan corrupts them and turns them into something evil and idolatrous - the real sin of horoscopes and astrology is in reality the sin of idolatry, in that it places faith in the creation in determining fate rather than in the Creator who knows our fate.  This is why rather than relying upon stars and other heavenly phenomena in an idolatrous role of dictating fate, we need to see them as a protoevaggelion, the beginning of the revelation of Jesus Christ.  Keep in mind also the Thomistic approach we have been talking about throughout other parts of this study in that God authored two "books" - Nature and Revelation - and the stars in this instance are in essence a Gospel message of the Book of Nature, as there is a clear Christological affirmation within them.  

We talk now of the third reason, "for lights."  As we move onto verse 16, we see that God created three of these "lights:" 

1.  The "greater light" to rule the day (sun).
2.   The "lesser light" to rule the night (moon)
3.  The stars

These were made, as we have seen, for a couple of purposes:

1.  They are set in the "Firmament of the heavens" to give light unto the earth (v. 17).
2.  They divide the light from the darkness (v. 18)

Although the sun is treated distinctly in the Genesis account, it must also be remembered that the sun itself is a star.  As a star, it is not even the biggest, but God gave the sun to the earth to provide light for it, and hence it takes more prominence in the Genesis account. To demonstrate this, let us first take some basic mathematical formulae to calculate just how the sun measures up to other stars.  The largest star in our universe charted thus far is called UY Scuti (www.wikipedia.org/wiki/UY_Scuti - accessed November 21, 2015). The radius of the sun is measured to be 432,450 miles in circumference.  To calculate the immensity of the largest star, UY Scuti, which has a diameter of 1.5 billion miles, the square radius of the sun would have to be divided by the radius of UY Scuti, and if this happens, it comes out to 1708 - that means that this large star is about 1708 times larger than our sun!  The ninth-largest star so charted currently, Betelgeuse, is 1200 times larger (www.space-facts.com/how-big-is-the-sun-million-earths - accessed November 21, 2015).  The sun, by comparison, is equivalent in mass to about 1.3 million Earths.  With those figures, the largest known star then (and who's to say - there may be larger ones out there!) could hold a capacity of about 2,220,400,000 Earths!   Let us set this in scale perspective - if you pictured the earth as a BB, and the sun as a watermelon, that would be about how immense the sun is.  Now, take the watermelon, and scale it to an Olympic-sized swimming pool, and that gives you an idea of how big in comparison the largest star is in relation to the sun.  



What this immensity of heavenly bodies should be reminding us is that God's greatness is immeasurable - He created all of that, after all!  The sheer immensity of a star such as UY Scuti, which to us probably looks like a dot in the night sky, should be cause for marvel at the immensity of God's created universe.  By comparison, look at us as people - if the earth is represented by a BB, then we would be essentially smaller than the smallest electron by scale.  Yet, as we will see on Day Six, God created us in the vastness of this great universe uniquely in His image, and His love for us is even more profound when we realize how small we truly are in lieu of these great entities of Creation that exist.  And, in the time God took to create all of this - six mere days! - it demonstrates again to us that our natural universe indeed does have a supernatural beginning.

Now that we talked about the "greater light" (the sun) and the stars, let us now look at the "lesser light," or the moon.  The moon generates no light of its own, but rather reflects the light endowed to the sun by the Creator.  There is a very profound Christological typology here in that as the moon radiates a light belonging to another (the sun), so too the Church radiates a light belonging to the Son, Jesus Christ.  Dr. Regis Martin, who was one of my Theology professors recently at Franciscan University of Steubenville,  writes about this the following:  "In fact, the Church, like her analogue the moon, radiates a light belonging to Another, to Christ.  One does not draw near to an institution whose structures magically emit light and life; one draws near to a person, to Christ, Whom the structures are meant to mediate" (Regis Martin, What Is the Church.  Steubenville, OH:  Emmaus Road Publishing, 2003. p. 44).   This imagery was not lost on the Church Fathers either, as the master allegorist Origen noted in his Homilies on Genesis that "from Christ's light the Church has been enlightened."  The moon is a "lesser light" simply because it reflects the "greater light," that being the sun.  So too do we, as a lesser, less-than-perfect light, reflect the witness of Christ to others - we are not the light ourselves, but it reflects in us.  This also affirms the fact that Christ is eternal, and His presence is seen in the literal creation itself. 

When the passage in Scripture talks about the "rule" of these "greater and lesser lights," the word here used is from the Greek, and it is the word arcei, which is a term that means both rule and dominion as well as denoting the beginning of time.  We now return to St. Lawrence of Brindisi here, who notes that the moon is not an opposite of the sun, but rather doesn't reflect the full light of the sun unless it is positioned opposite of it in the night sky, and that they are not "great lights" because they are necessarily larger (indeed, as we have illustrated, there are stars immensely larger than the sun out there!) but rather because they appear larger to us.  And, they appear larger, as modern astronomy demonstrates, because they are closer than some of the even larger bodies out there - God had that in mind too, because a large star like UY Scuti, if it were in our solar system, would incinerate everything in close proximity to it.  Maybe that proves to the atheist and scoffer that God does exist and knows what He is doing - perhaps He should be given the benefit of the doubt then!

On the opposite extreme, for those who try to deify these heavenly bodies, there are warnings.  In St. Augustine's Letters, he cautions that occultic astrology is not possible to forecast future, and that it is distinguished from agricultural uses of the stars to plant and harvest because God ordered the latter and gave man wisdom to discern the seasons.  The stars are also ordered and in place to aid in navigation, as God fixed their positions in the heavens to aid in that discipline as well.  Astrology and horoscopes therefore are as we discussed earlier corruptions of Satan, and people who trust in those occultic practices are essentially trusting in and worshipping the stars themselves, which is why astrology is condemned in Isaiah 47:13, when the prophet said that their "arts" are folly and he mocks them effectively in that passage.  Also, unless you're a farmer or a sailor on the sea, the stars don't exert any influence upon you unless you are using them to determine planting seasons or as directional signals in travel. The Zodiac does exist, no doubt, although the constellations themselves bear little resemblance to the things they represent, and it is rightly to be seen as a testimony of God's greatness, as well as a revelation of the true way of salvation in Jesus Christ.  

In verses 18-19, God saw that these heavenly bodies He had created were good, and in that the fourth day ends.  But, there is one further Christological thought here that we note from the innumerable count of stars themselves.  Not only are the stars vast in size individually, but there are so many of them that it is almost impossible to count them.  Dr. Morris though has an interesting insight on this which bears some light into why Jesus desired to save us.  This hearkens to Genesis 22:17, when God is making the covenant with Abraham, and said that Abrahams descendants would be as the stars in the heavens and the sand of the seashore.  Dr. Morris notes on page 94 of his text that the approximate number of sand grains actually equal the calculated number of stars, and he uses this formula to come to that conclusion:

Average size of sand grain x average number of grains in a cubic meter of sand x the cubic thickness of the earth's crust = the total number of sand grains on the earth.  

It would truly take someone with a lot of time on their hands to even attempt to do this, as in reality who actually knows what the size of a grain of sand is anyway??  The point here is, and will be addressed further when we study Genesis 22, is that the spiritual seed of Abraham (the Church, represented by the stars) and the physical descendants of Abraham (Jews, Arabs, and others, represented by the sand) will be many.  That is one observation.  Another observation that should blow away the evolutionist is the fact that no one has actually seen a star being born - we see them die all the time, as they go "supernova" after a certain amount of time, but never generating.  The reason for this is that God created them all on Day Four, He ordered them, and He knows each one individually.  The conclusion here is that it is much simpler, even based on the standpoint of secular philosophy, to believe that an effect can never be greater than its cause.  Therefore, if the universe is the product (effect) of one Creator (cause), then by logic evolution, paganism, and pantheism are all impossibilities, which is a true message of the stars to us.  God bless you until next lesson. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Genesis The Book of Beginnings Part 4 - The Third Day of Creation (Genesis 1:11-12)

We have now come in our study to the third day of Creation, and here we begin to see life, but first a recap:

1.  The First Day - Creation proper (earth created but not yet formed)
2.  The Second Day - Preparation and security (day/night, water/land, etc.)
3.  The Third Day - Bringing forth life

When we speak of life here, we are talking about organic life that can procreate, grow, and needs a source of nourishment.  In verse 11, we see that this first life is plants.  The Bible in this account differentiates between three types of these plants:

A.  Grass - meaning ground-covering vegetation
B.  Herbs - bushes, shrubs, etc.
C.  Trees - larger, woody plants

Because plants are living organisms, they are not simple in their makeup.   For one thing, this is the first time created matter has been given self-replicating building-blocks called cells, which in themselves are complex.  Despite the fact the cell is microscopic, it is also like a small factory as many component parts make up a cell  As biochemist Michael Behe has noted, the cell has the capacity to produce thousands of different types of proteins and other molecules at different times and under variable conditions, a process known as irreducible complexity.  Irreducible complexity is defined as being several interacting parts being present and functioning at the same time, and the removal of even one causes the whole system to malfunction (Allen Gillen, Frank J. Sherwin III, and Alan C. Knowles, The Human Body, An Intelligent Design.  St. Joseph, MO:   Creation Research Society Books, 2001.  p. 28.).  This complexity of the cell is itself an evidence that a master Creator designed a remarkable system to reproduce and sustain life, and all organisms - plant, animal, and human - have cellular construction.  There is absolutely no logical possibility for such a system to randomly "evolve" over millions and billlions of years.  Again, this would be the Aquinas Law of Non-Contradiction - Nature doesn't disprove the Bible at all, but rather affirms what Scripture teaches about the origins of life.  In the case of plants however, God also gave them their own energy-producing mechanics by equipping them with cells called chromatophors which, through a process called photosynthesis, helps a plant produce its own food with help from the sun and other natural processes.  However, the sun would not be created until the next day, so how did the plants feed themselves on the first day?   Remember, God Himself provides a supernatural light on the first days of Creation, and thus it is this light that sustains the plants until the sun is created on Day Four. So, now that we have established that God created the basic building-blocks of life (cells), and the means for plants to feed themselves (photosynthesis), He also gave them the command and ability to reproduce after their kind.  First, however, we note what Jesus said in Luke 12:27 that God indeed endowed the plants with a beauty only He Himself could create but no man can duplicate, as it says that we are to "consider the lilies, how they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed as one of these."  The sophistication of their makeup, the beauty of their flowers and fruits, and the functionality they have makes plants a strong evidence for God's creation of all life - plants are not stupid, simple organisms which later randomly "evolved" into jellyfish, but are uniquely created by God to both adorn an otherwise barren earth as well as provide nourishment for the animals and man which were to come later. As mentioned, the plants were also the first living organisms, and could produce "after their kind," unlike the elements.  The Hebrew word used for this, as Dr. Morris notes, is the word min, and although an exact translation of this word is not a consensus among students of the Bible, it is mostly applied to living organisms, and is not limited necessarily to species either but would be more fitting to classify it with the biological term genus, which denotes a group of species which may share a common ancestor (dogs, jackals, and wolves, for instance, would be the "dog kind") (Henry Morris III, The Book of Beginnings Vol. I.  Dallas:  ICR, 2012. pp. 78-79).  One thing about kinds as well is that they can adopt to changes in climate and other factors (this is known as microevolution, and this is scientifically proven, although the better term for it would be adaptation) but one kind can never evolve into another.  The plants were created first for a specific purpose - they will provide food for the animals that are created on Day 5, as well as for man when he is created on Day 6.  Now, let us look at what the Church Fathers had to say about this, as many of them shed some interesting light on this whole subject as well.

St. Augustine, to start, noted some very sophisticated observations for a person in the 4th century who is not as "enlightened" as us 21st-century, sophisticated people (that is an argument which will be shredded later by the way, as ancients were just as smart and sophisticated as we are today on many levels, and prior to the Flood even more so!).   For one thing, he noted that plants are not counted among the elements (remember there are five basics of those - heaven, earth, fire, water, and wind) but rather occupy their own place in God's created order.  St. Augustine was astute enough to know that plants possessed the gift of life, in other words.  A second observation of note St. Augustine made was that poisonous (toxic) plants and thorns, and I could add even carnivorous plants such as Venus flytraps and sundews, came into being as a result of the Fall later on - poisonous plants, by their very existence, were seen by St. Augustine therefore as a punitive result of our own concupiscence.  St. Basil the Great also had some insights which would later be affirmed by Aquinas and others when he noted that God's voice and command became the natural law, and that God Himself endowed plants (and later animals) with procreative abilities.  This is an early affirmation of the Thomistic Law of Non-Contradiction, in that because God Himself spoke the command that became natural law, He is therefore the author of it and it doesn't contradict His written revelation in Scripture.  Basil further notes that the plants were created by divine decree, and are not a result of some primordial hiding in the earth. This means then that the creation of plant life is miraculous (the natural being created by supernatural means).  Basil also makes an excellent observation about the sun too - the sun would not be created for another day yet at this point, and therefore it is folly for those who treat the sun as deity because plants existed before the sun was even created!  This, I personally believe, is one of the main reasons why God chose to create the universe in the order He did so, because it makes idolatry and secularism both look foolish in the light of God's creative act.  The idea of "bringing forth," as Basil further notes, consists of an elaborate system of procreation with supernatural origin.  Therefore, vegetation and its creation are not merely symbolic, because the Scriptural account of their creation should be understood as written.  St. Gregory of Nyssa likewise notes that "the ear did not rise from a grain, but the grain came from an ear, and the ear grows around the grain." Now, what is odd about this is the fact that what St. Gregory describes is what we call corn - Corn (or maize) is indigenous to the New World, the Americas, and should not have even been known to 4th-century Church Fathers, but here is St. Gregory describing in almost perfect detail the development of an ear of corn!  As we will see later on, many parts of the world were not as isolated as the history books often lead us to believe, and it radically alters what we have been taught from a secular standpoint about history (which in recent years has become more altered, given the propensity of secular educators to cater to "political correctness" and other dumbing-down tactics).  St. John Chrysostom affirms too what we have been saying throughout this study as he notes that God Himself ripened the fruits by providing the initial light Himself which nourished the plants prior to the creation of the sun.  St. Ambrose would agree, as he wrote that the sun doesn't author vegetation, because it is younger than the green plant.  Likewise, St. Ephrem the Syrian (Mor Aprem) affirmed that God created the plants fully mature, due to the fact they had to be to nourish the animals that would be created on the 5th day.  These are just some of the uncited references of many of the early Church Fathers on this subject, and to a man they affirm both a literal creation of life by God and a creation that happened in a very short time (These references are taken again from Andrew Louth and Thomas C. Oden, eds, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture - Old Testament I: Genesis 1-11.  Downers Grove, IL:  Intervarsity Press, 2001.  pp. 13-16).

About a thousand years after the earliest Church Fathers wrote on this subject, a Capuchin monk, St. Lawrence of Brindisi (1559-1619) wrote a very thorough commentary on the first three chapters of Genesis in the 16th century which faithfully upheld the literal interpretation of these chapters in Genesis, and throughout much of the remainder of this study I will be referencing his work extensively.  For its time, St. Lawrence's commentary is actually very thorough and entails sophisticated scholarship that included even insights from studying Jewish rabbis and some Muslim scholars of his day, and St. Lawrence did have a first-hand knowledge of the Hebrew language himself that he utilized extensively in his own writing.  He also was well-schooled in Aramaic as well, and as a Doctor of the Church he stands out as being the only one who utilize rabbinic commentators in his writings.  The translation of St. Lawrence's commentary I am using here as reference was made available to me through the Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation, and  it has been a real blessing as a learning tool. In his utilization of the rabbinic writers in regard to our passage here, St. Lawrence quotes one, Dawid Kimchi, regarding verse 11 and the distinguishing between two Hebrew words used in the original translation of that verse, deshe and eshev.  The word deshe is translated by St. Lawrence as "to produce," implying when it begins to come forth out of the earth.  The word eshev is translated "herb," and denotes a mature plant.  Therefore, if read this way, the words "let it bring forth" would literally mean then "let it be covered in a garment of vegetation," being "brought forth" by the word of God Himself, in other words (Craig R. Toth, trans., and Victor P. Warkulwicz, ed., St. Lawrennce of  Brindisi on Creation and Fall - A Verse-by-Verse Commentary on Genesis 1-3. Mount Jackson, VA:  The Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation, 2009.  pp. 61-63).  In verse 12, St. Lawrence utilizes a word from another rabbi, Ibn Ezra, who says "in them seed which is according to their own species, because each seed preserves its own species," meaning again the impossibility of random evolution.  Ibn Ezra, as quoted by St. Lawrence, also notes that the earth produced trees making fruit rather than just fruit-trees, noting that God created this process rather than just making the fruit magically appear on the trees (ibid, p. 64).  So, what we see here is the supernatural, and the miraculous, but this must be distinguished from being merely magical - God made the trees to bear fruit through a process He created in them, and the fruit do not just suddenly appear in a smoke-and-mirrors display.  This would also figure later after the Fall, when man was cursed essentially with cultivation of these same fruits to bring them to the point of producing the fruits he would consume for nourishment.

There is also a Christocentric application in the third day of Creation too.  Out of the non-living God raised life, and in the same way Christ too brought forth life on the Cross when He gave His life for us.  And, as you remember, the Resurrection happened on the third day as well.  The existence of plant life then is a reminder to us that Jesus, from dead earth, brought forth new life to us.  One herb that is associated with the Ressurection traditionally is the basil plant.  Basil (which interesting enough comes from the Greek basileios, meaning "king") has long been associated with the Holy Cross, a tradition dating back to the Empress Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine, who was reported to have found the location of the Holy Cross by digging under a patch of basil. The shed Blood of Jesus was said to have given life to the basil plants that sprouted at the foot of the Cross, much as God gave life to the plants on the third day of Creation, and therefore since then the basil plant, the "king of herbs," has been associated with the King of Kings.  On the Feast of the Holy Cross in the Eastern Churches in particular, there is a blessing of basil bouquets that are then distributed to the faithful, and in an old prayer book I found the prayer for this blessing:

V:  Our help is in the name of the Lord
R:  Who hath made heaven and earth.

Let us pray.

Almighty and merciful God,
deign, we beseach Thee, to bless
Thy creature, this aromatic basil leaf. +
Even as it delights our senses, 
may it recall for us the triumph of Christ, our Crucified King
and the power of His Precious Blood
to purify and preserve us from evil
so that, planted beneath His Cross, 
we may flourish to Thy glory
and spread abroad the fragrance of His sacrifice.
Who is the Lord forever and ever.

R: Amen.

The example of the basil plant reminds us that even the "lowliest" of creeping herbs can teach us a great deal about the majesty of God, and this is something to remember the next time you eat that good pizza from your favorite Italian restaurant with the fragrance of basil in its sauce.  Again too, in Creation we see Christ, sometimes in the littlest of details, but all Creation bears witness and glorifies He who created it. 

For some concluding thoughts, first the plants came into being on the third day, each after its kind.  Secondly, Sacred Tradition affirms that the initial plant life God created was created with full maturity.  Third, the fact plant life was created mature was a necessity for nourishing the animal (and later human) life which was to come.   Plants, therefore, were intially created for our nourishment.  For the sake of this study finally, the word kind would correspond with the biological term genus, and this will bear great importance as we study through the remainder of Genesis as well.  God be with you until our next study. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Genesis The Book of Beginnings Part 3 - The Second Day of Creation (Genesis 1:3-10)

As we begin the third lesson of this series, I wanted to first of all review what has been taught so far from the previous lesson:

1.  On the first day of Creation, the earth was created but not yet formed - on the subsequent days of Creation we begin to see the formation of the earth.

2.  In verse 2, we also see a typology of the sacrament of baptism, and it is one of many Christological typologies we see in the reading of Genesis itself.

The discussion on the second day of Creation begins in Genesis 1:3 and goes through 1:10.  There are several things that were created on this day, and those are what will be discussed in detail in this lesson.

In verse 3, we note that God created a light, but it was not the sun as the heavenly bodies don't appear until Day Four.  As we again go back to the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture we cited in the last lesson, the Church Fathers had many things to say about this too.  In his writing On the Literal Interpretation of Genesis, St. Augustine affirms that God spoke ineffably, and the light appeared, simple as that.  And, St. Ephrem the Syrian, in his Commentary on Genesis, notes another fact we have already established - the light didn't come from the sun, but had to come from another source.  I would submit that the source of the light (and many of the Church Fathers referenced seem to concur) was God Himself.  Think of it this way - if you are constructing a house and have to work on a deadline, when you have the skeleton of the house up it isn't going to be wired for power yet, is it?  So, you need a source of light to work with as you continue the construction, correct?  Generally, that source is not going to be connected to the house itself, but will usually be the result of the contractor's generator.  It is a similar principle God utilizes too - God of course is not hindered by natural forces, but His earth needed a source of light to be formed, and God provided that through Himself.  That is why we read then in verse 4 that the light was good, because it comes from the ultimate source of good, God Himself.  With the creation of light, there was also now a distinction between light and darkness.   God of course called the light Day, and the darkness Night.  Many of the Church Fathers went into more specifics with this division too, in particular St. Basil the Great, who in his Hexamaeron noted that evening was the common boundary line established between day and night, and morning was the part of night bordering day.  St. Augustine, likewise, noted in his work On the Literal Interpretation of Genesis that God in His sovereignty spoke, and day and night were made in His power.  This pleased God in His goodness.  St. Augustine goes on further to note in another work entitled Against the Manichaeans that the "good" God finds at the completion of a given creative act is found in Creation's completeness, and in this context not necessarily in its being.  Again too, St. Augustine affirms that the presence of darkness doesn't mean that God created it, or that it is necessarily evil, but rather it just indicates the absence of light.   God Himself therefore made the division between light and darkness, and He called them what they were to be called.  St. Basil the Great again, in his Exegetic Homilies, also reaffirms that the sun at this point didn't exist, so solar motion has nothing to do with the beginning of day and night.  It was God Himself, St. Basil affirms, who created the first light, diffused it and redrew it according to a preordained divine measure so that "day came" and "night succeeded."  The most technical of these writings though is from a Father who in general is noted primarily for being a spiritual sage and hymnodist, St. Ephrem the Syrian (or Mor Aprem, as he is known in the Syriac Church spiritual tradition of which he was part).  He notes in his Commentary on Genesis that God created initially five "base elements," and those were heavens, earth, fire, water, and wind.  God created these initial elements ex nihilo, and would utilize them to create everything else.  That position does have some merit, as most of the created order of life which was to come later did have as its building-blocks pre-existing elements - God formed man, as we read later, from the dust of the earth, and even today our bodies are essentially composed of 95% water and 5% minerals such as sodium, iron, etc.  It is interesting that something a Church Father said over 1600 years ago has scientific authentication, and things like this should serve to remind us that maybe we in the 21st century have much to learn from people in the 4th and 5th centuries (and even earlier!).  As we have talked about many times before, this is still also something even later Church Fathers and saints - notably St. Thomas Aquinas - picked up on as well.  You may recall in previous studies how I mentioned that one principle of Thomistic philosophy is that God authored two "books" - one is the written Revelation (or Holy Scripture) while the other is what we call the "Book of Nature," and the Creation account we are studying now essentially chronicles the composition of the Book of Nature.  One thing about that too is what is called in Thomistic philosophy the Law of Non-Contradiction - what that says is that the Book of Nature (where created things speak to us directly) will never contradict the Book of Revelation (where God Himself reveals to us His own inner nature and his free gifts and special plans for humanity).  If an apparent contradiction does surface, then someone has made an error in interpretation and the evidence needs to be re-examined more carefully (W. Norris Clarke, The One and the Many.  Notre Dame, IN:  University of Notre Dame Press, 2001. p. 7).  What that means for us from a Creationist standpoint is this - God will ultimately prevail, and in time science will (and in many cases has!) confirmed what Scripture claims.  Even Scripture itself affirms this fact, as it says that in the last day "every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord" (Phillipians 2:10, NKJV).  At various points in this study, we will also see examples of where science is just now catching up to Scripture, and in days to come those who believe in silly lies like evolution will be made to look like the fools they have turned themselves into, as Scripture says of such people that they "profess to be wise but became fools" (Romans 1:22, NKJV).  Even the most naturalistic of philosophers, such as Descartes, recognized that an effect cannot be greater than its cause, and as God is the ultimate cause of all creation, its existence cannot make sense apart from Him.  

So now day and night have come into existence, and now that this distinction has been made, the next distinction is the division of the waters from the earth and from each other.  A major theme God seems to have on the second day of Creation is the creation of opposites and distinguishing them from each other.  This in no way implies the radical dualism espoused by heretical sects like ancient Gnosticism, for God actually sees these distinctions as both being good things rather than equal forces of good and evil, and the only reason He made these divisions was to form the earth He had created.  One of those things often talked about is something we see in verses 6-7 called the Firmament.  The word Firmament is taken from two Latin roots (firma "to strengthen" + mentum, denoting an action or resulting state) and together it could be literally translated as "a product (or process) of firmness."   In the original Hebrew text of the Torah, the word raqiya, meaning "an expanse," was used (Henry Morris III, The Book of Beginnings, Vol. 1. Dallas, TX:  ICR, 2012. pp. 67-68) and it appears 17 more times in the Old Testament.  The word raqiya, as Morris notes, is both a thing God created but is also used as an adjective to describe how this thing is used.  There are several types of this raqiya noted in Scripture, and in many cases they are synonymous with the word "heaven."  Here are some specific examples Dr. Morris gives us:

1. The solar system and the "starry universe" - in reference to Day Four of Creation.
2. The atmosphere above the earth (note Genesis 1:20).
3. The stars and galaxies of the universe - utilized by God Himself in Job 38.
4. The sun and moon specifically (Joshua 10:12-13)

However, it is also used to describe what is believed by many to be a canopy of moisture - either ice or water - that once existed above the atmosphere before the Flood, and this is the firmament we are going to discuss here.  The firmament in this context would be aptly described as a spherical band of water around the earth's atmosphere that may have been responsible to an extent for the "mist system" we will see that covered the ground in the days after the Creation and prior to the Flood (Genesis 2:5-6).  Some other translations of this Hebrew word raqiya, as Fr. Warkulwicz points out, are "dome" and "vault," although he notes that these terms may be misleading and the better translation would be as Dr. Morris suggested, namely "expanse" (Fr. Victor Warkulwicz, The Doctrines of Genesis 1-11.  Caryville, TN:  The John Paul II Institute of Christian Spirituality, 2007. p. 42).  This would mean then that before the Flood there was no rain to speak of, and the climatic conditions of the earth would have been much different, which may explain such megafauna we see in the so-called "fossil record" such as dinosaurs, mammoths, and creatures such as terrorbirds and Megatherium (giant ground sloths).  Another important fact about this firmament is that it was inserted in the waters, meaning some water was pulled above, and some below.  2 Peter 3:5 reminds us of this when it states "that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water."  Isaiah 40:22 likewise reminds us that it is God who "sits above the circle of the earth," and spreads the heavens "out like a tent to dwell in."  The firmament also had a necessary function to maintain the "breath of life" for the creation which was to follow, namely plants, animals, and mankind.  Below is a diagram I found that best illustrates the location of the firmament and how it functioned:




the firmament may also be illustrated in this way as well:


The second illustration shows us that the firmament not only produced a sort of beneficial "greenhouse effect," but also may have shielded early life from the harmful rays of the sun which came later - the lack of exposure to UV radiation may also be a contributing factor to the longer life spans of many people we read about later in Genesis, some of whom reached almost one thousand years in age.  The speculation as to what the firmament was and what it did was also something many Church Fathers discussed as well.  St. Basil the Great, in his Hexamaeron, explores the possibility for instance of the firmament being a canopy of ice, and it was he as well who understood the scientificl principle that water flows downward naturally - could St. Basil have understood gravity?  If so, maybe those "primitives" from ages past had more insight into scientific laws than we give them credit for, and if they can be right about that, why not trust them to believe what Scripture literally teaches then!  Origen too, writing earlier in his Homilies on Genesis, noted that there is a distinction between the firmament and the heaven where God dwells, in that the firmament is what he describes as a "corporeal heaven."  St. Augustine elaborates later on that too, in that he calls all matter below the firmament "corporeal."  Evidence from both scientific hypothesis and the writings of the Church Fathers indicate that a firmament did exist, and even secularists who espouse evolution acknowledge that at one time the earth was more humid and warmer - perhaps this firmament is why.  It would also mean no polar ice caps at this juncture, less ultraviolet radiation, and no deserts to speak of.  With the absence as well of precipitation, it would mean the air currents would be reduced and therefore no danger of cyclonic storm activity (such as hurricanes) or other disastrous environmental forces would be evident.  Again, at this point, God was creating a perfect world that He saw as "good," and also no sin or death had entered the picture yet either, making the earth a much different place at its beginnings.

With the separation of the waters and the creation of the firmament then, dry land was also separated from the seas, as we read in verse 9 - the dry land was called Earth, and the gathering of waters in specific places were called Seas.  St. John of Damascus, in his writing entitled Orthodox Faith, noted this plurality of seas - there was more than one sea from the beginning, although I would personally suspect the globe looked much different at that time too though. St. Augustine, in concordance with the idea that God was forming the earth, believed that the separation of dry land from seas was a part of God's formative process.  Likewise, St. Chrysostom goes further by noting that God didn't name the land or seas until they had been formed and put in their proper places. Origen, in his notably allegorical style, also saw a typology of the sacrament of holy baptism in this as well too - for Origen, as he wrote in his Homilies on Genesis, the dry land emerging from the waters symbolizes for us our new bodies and souls emerging from the waters of baptism, thus now possessing the ability to bear spiritual fruit.  There is also an important point in Origen's allegory that can be applied to the literal as well - God separated the dry land to prepare for it to bear fruit, as soon He would create plant life which would literally bear fruit.  As far as this is concerned too, St. Gregory of Nyssa also offers us some valuable advice in his writing On the Soul and Resurrection when he states that it is not as important to know how God did what He did, but rather the fact He can will something into existence in nature and it comes forth.  That is good advice, and it also reminds us that oftentimes the atheist and non-believer waste a lot of energy on trying to "prove" God doesn't exist when in reality it just reveals something in their nature that is warring with them - despite their denials, they can't get away from the fact that nature itself reveals God to us, and it therefore makes them obsessive with trying to prove the unprovable.  It honestly does take much more faith to believe as an atheist in many cases than it does to just see the evidence that creation points beyond itself to an ultimate Creator God who loves us and seeks to bring us into relationship with Him.  

There are some summary observations I want to make as we conclude this lesson.  First, on the second day, God created opposite spectrums (day/night, water/land, light/darkness) as He began to form His Creation.  Secondly, Patristic writers generally agree thatthe base elements that God created on the first day were formed on the second, and out of those He would create everything else.  Finally, we keep seeing these connections with the sacramental life of the Church, in this case Baptism, and that too points us back to Christ.  Out of the waters of baptism the Church therefore becomes likewise a "fruitful land."  In the next study, we will continue with Day Three, and soon we begin to see life coming into existence on this great planet God created for us.  God bless until next lesson.

(References to the Church Fathers in this study are taken from Andrew Louth and Thomas C. Oden, eds. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, Old Testament Vol. I  - Genesis 1-11.  Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2001.  pp. 6-13 for this particular lesson)