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  • Well now, the Bible is not one book, but many. The word Bible comes from the plural word

  • biblia which means library and the Bible is not one book but 66 books and together these

  • books form a history book, the history of our universe. But the Bible begins earlier,

  • and it ends later than any other history book because it begins with the very beginning

  • of our universe. It goes right through to the end of our universe and even beyond. But

  • it's history written from God's point of view. Therefore, he selects what is important

  • for him; that makes it quite different from a political history or a physical history

  • of our universe, or a cultural history of our society. God selects very carefully the

  • things that matter to him; the events which affected him most deeply. Therefore again,

  • it's quite different from every other history. Now there are two themes in the Bible. Number

  • 1 - what has gone wrong with our world? And Number 2 how can it be put right? I think

  • everybody agrees our world is not a good place to live in. Something has gone terribly wrong

  • with it and the book of Genesis tells us exactly what. But the rest of the Bible tells us how

  • it's going to be put right, or rather how God himself will put it right. Only God could

  • solve a problem the size of our world and he's going to do it by rescuing the human

  • race from itself. For that's what we need to be rescued from - ourselves. That's what

  • the word redemption actually means, to be rescued; and we need to be rescued from ourselves.

  • So all 66 books form part of one great drama which I'm going to call the Drama of Redemption

  • and the book of Genesis introduces us to the stage, the cast and the plot of this great

  • drama, and without the first few chapters of Genesis, the rest of the Bible would really

  • not make any sense. The Hebrew title for this book is simply In

  • the Beginning, that's because the Hebrew scriptures were in the form of scrolls all

  • rolled up and they would simply give each scroll the name of the first word or phrase

  • in it so that just unwrapping the first bit of the scroll, they could identify which book

  • of their scriptures it was. So they simply call it In the Beginning. When the Hebrew

  • Old Testament was translated into Greek about 250 years before Jesus was born, they changed

  • the name to Genesis, which means 'origin' or 'beginning' and that's a very appropriate

  • title because here we have the origin of our universe - of the sun and the moon and the

  • stars, of planet earth on which we live. Here we have the origin of plants, birds, fish,

  • animals, humans. Here we have the origin of sex, of marriage and of family life. We have

  • the origin of civilisation, of government, of culture, both arts and sciences. We have

  • here the origin of sin and death and murder and war. We even have here in this book the

  • origin of sacrifice, both animal and human. So, it's a remarkable book, just one small

  • book - 50 chapters - and yet it covers the origin of all that. And it deals with ultimate

  • questions like Where did our universe come from? Why are we here? And even more personal,

  • Why does each of us have to die? - something we rebel against, something we don't talk

  • about or think about, something we dress up like a horticultural show to try and disguise

  • the horror of it. But we all have to die. Why? Now these are ultimate questions of life

  • and we need answers to them or else we just drown these questions in busyness and forget

  • them. But they can't be answered by any human being. The historians can't answer

  • these questions, they can't tell us how it all began because no historian was there

  • either to observe or record how it happened. Scientists can't tell us about the beginning

  • of our universe. They can go back to the beginning, but they can't go beyond that. They can't

  • observe anything beyond that. So they can't tell us how it began and therefore much more,

  • they cannot tell us why it began. Science cannot find a purpose for this universe coming

  • into being. They can tell us some details of how it came about, but certainly not why.

  • Philosophers can't answer these ultimate questions, they can only guess. It is speculation

  • when philosophers try and tell us for example the answer to the question that occupies most

  • of them, the problem of evil. Where did evil come from, why is there so much evil in the

  • world? Philosophers have strained their brains to try and give us an answer, but it is all

  • guesswork, nobody really knows. There is only one person who could really answer these questions

  • for us and that is God himself. So when you open the book of Genesis you are immediately

  • faced with a question. Are you reading the results of human imagination or divine inspiration?

  • Does the book of Genesis just give us another series of guesses from human speculation about

  • these things? Or does it actually tell us the answer, give us the answer from the only

  • person who was there when it all began, and indeed the person responsible for it?

  • There are other accounts of creation in the world. There's one widely known one called

  • the Babylonian Epic. It's far more complicated and far less credible than what you have in

  • Genesis but it's only one of other sagas which are supposed to tell us how it all began.

  • You should read some of them just to compare them with the sheer simplicity and convincing

  • nature of Genesis 1. But you must decide when you read Genesis - are you reading the product

  • of a human imagination or a divine inspiration? So, you've got to take a step of faith before

  • you open the book. But actually, science is based on steps of faith. I've got a science

  • degree and I know that in science you produce a hypothesis, a working theory and then you

  • test it to see if it fits the facts. That's how science progresses. It's built on such

  • leaps of faith, so you leap in faith into a theory and then you test it with the facts.

  • And therefore I believe that the approach of faith is scientific from that point of

  • view and I say, take a step of faith in Genesis, assume it is God's answer to these questions

  • and then see if it fits the facts, And there are two big facts that stare me in the face

  • which are perfectly explained by the answer in Genesis. Fact number 1, what a wonderful

  • world we live in. Isn't it incredible? The universe is amazing, but this planet is the

  • most interesting thing in the universe. It's got more variety in it. Well, it's got life

  • in it. We live in a wonderful world and the more you watch nature programmes on television

  • the more wonderful it appears to be and the wonders of modern photography are revealing

  • so much to us. Do you like watching those programmes? What a wonderful world we are

  • in and the other fact is this. It's been ruined by those who live in it.

  • Now these are two facts we all have to live with and we're becoming more and more conscious

  • of the environment and what we are doing to it. 100 different species are becoming extinct

  • every day. We're destroying the world we live in. Now these two facts are extraordinary.

  • What a wonderful world we live in; and why are we destroying it? Well I believe that

  • the facts fit Genesis perfectly and I believe it's a scientific approach.

  • Now let's look at the place of Genesis in the Bible. It's not just the first book

  • in the Bible it's the foundational book for the whole Bible. Most, if not all, biblical

  • truths are here in the book of Genesis in essence, that's why it's been called the

  • seed plot of the Bible. The seeds of Genesis come to fruition later in the Bible, but they

  • are all there in embryo. This book is in fact the key that unlocks the rest of the Bible.

  • Have you ever wondered what the Bible would be like if it began with Exodus instead of

  • Genesis? Supposing this book was missing. I think as soon as you began to read the Bible

  • without it you'd say, well I'm not interested in a bunch of Jewish slaves in Egypt. Why

  • should I study their history and religion? Only if you had a particular academic interest

  • in it would you read any further. But because Genesis is there, you're reading about yourself,

  • about your life. You understand what makes you tick and why you can't be a better person

  • and the person you wish to be in your best moments. Have you ever wondered why life is

  • such a moral struggle? Most people want to be better than they are but fail, why? Well

  • Exodus wouldn't help you to understand that; Genesis does, because you are reading about

  • your ancestor, a man called Adam and when you read about him it's like looking in

  • a mirror and seeing yourself. The Old Testament is built on the book of Genesis, there are

  • many references all the way through the Old Testament to people like Adam and Noah and

  • Abraham and Jacob who changed his name to Israel. The whole of the Old Testament builds

  • on the book of Genesis. But it's the New Testament that builds on it even more. Surprisingly,

  • Genesis is more quoted in the New than in the Old Testament, would you believe it. All

  • the first six chapters - one, two, three, four, five, six - are all quoted in detail

  • in the New Testament. All the major writers of the New Testament, eight of them, all refer

  • to the book of Genesis and Jesus himself did of course.

  • For Christians, Jesus' attitude to Genesis settles all questions. Because if we follow

  • Jesus then we trust him, we believe he spoke the truth and it's interesting that Jesus

  • regarded all the characters of Genesis as real historical figures, not legends. He regarded

  • Noah and the flood as an historical event and if Jesus did then I do, whatever other

  • difficulties there may be, and we'll look at them as we go along. Nevertheless, if Noah

  • was real for Jesus then he is real for me. Not only that, but Jesus claimed to be on

  • personal acquaintance terms with Abraham. And he said, before Abraham was born I Am

  • and he was glad to meet me, and the Jews listened to Jesus saying this and said, you're not

  • 50 years old and you claim to know Abraham. But Jesus is saying I was there, I was there.

  • Do you trust Jesus? Then that's the truth. So Jesus was constantly endorsing the book

  • of Genesis. When he was asked about divorce and remarriage, what did he do? He took them

  • right back to Genesis chapter 2 and said, you'll find the answer right there. So you

  • can see that the book of Genesis really underlies the whole Bible, provides the key to the rest.

  • Without it, the rest would not make sense. To give you just one example, you will not

  • understand the cross without the book of Genesis, would you believe it? Because Paul says this

  • is what happened at the Cross: just as one man's disobedience brought death to the

  • human race, one man's obedience brings life. Now that's the heart of the cross. But he's

  • talking about Genesis chapter 3. So I think I have established my case. Therefore, if

  • you don't believe the book of Genesis you can't rely on the rest of the Bible. If

  • Genesis is proved mistaken, then the rest of the Bible is shaken. If Genesis is not

  • true, then chance is our creator. And the brute beasts are our ancestors if Genesis

  • is not true. And therefore, it is not surprising that this book has been more under attack

  • than any other book in the entire Bible. There are two prongs to the attack. One is scientific

  • and we're all aware of some of the problems there. I'm not going to have time to deal

  • with them all in full, but we will refer to them and there are other tapes that have been

  • made and videos that deal with them more fully. But we have to be aware of them, especially

  • young people are aware of what they've been told in school, biology classes, and they

  • come with that background to read Genesis and they have real problems. And we must be

  • honest about them. For example, science has questioned the order of creation, the speed

  • of creation and the method of creation. Science has questioned the age of the earth, the origin

  • of man, the extent of the flood, the age of people who lived before the flood and many

  • other things. But behind that attack, I believe there is a satanic attack. The devil hates

  • two books in the Bible, Genesis and Revelation. And he hates the first chapters of Genesis

  • and the last chapters of Revelation, particularly because the one describes his entrance into

  • our world and the other describes his undignified exit from our world and so he likes to keep

  • people out of the early chapters of Genesis and the later chapters of Revelation. He wants

  • to persuade you that Genesis is myth and Revelation is mystery, so that you leave them alone.

  • Because he knows perfectly well that if you can destroy people's faith in Genesis then

  • you have, in fact, destroyed the foundation of the whole Bible. So it is not surprising

  • that there's been such a lot of argument about Genesis. If you distrust this book,

  • you tend to discard the rest. Now how did Genesis come to be written? It's

  • one of five books which form a unit, not so much in our Bible but in Jewish scripture

  • most certainly. These five books form together the Pentateuch, 'penta' means five, there's

  • a big five-sided building in Washington DC called the Pentagon, well it's the same

  • word – Pentateuch - the five books. And they are often called by Jews the Torah, which

  • means 'instruction' and they believe that these five books together form the Maker's

  • instructions. And it is very wise - since the Maker gave us these instructions to get

  • the most out of life - to become familiar with them. So the Jews read through the first

  • five books of the Bible every year, on a lectionary. Every week they read a bit more, so they get

  • round it in a year like painting the Forth Bridge - when they get to the other end of

  • it they start again at the beginning -and it is their weekly lectionary.

  • Now Jews, Christians and even pagan historians believe that Moses wrote these five books

  • and that's been the long tradition. I see no reason to doubt it. By the time of Moses,

  • the alphabet had replaced the picture language that prevailed in Egypt, and still in China

  • and Japan today. But that had been replaced by an alphabet, and remember that Moses was

  • university educated. If ever you see Cleopatra's Needle on the Thames Embankment, that's

  • one of two columns - the other is in Rome - which stood at the entrance to the Egyptian

  • university and may well be two columns which Moses looked at every morning he went as a

  • student. So he had the education and the knowledge to compile these five books and I believe

  • that that tradition is right, though none of the books has a name in them. There are

  • however, two problems if Moses wrote these five books. The first problem is quite minor

  • and that is that at the end of Deuteronomy, Moses' death is carefully recorded. And

  • I assume you would agree with me that that's a little unlikely that he wrote that. Joshua

  • probably added a note to that effect at the end of the five books to round off the story.

  • But the major problem is this. The book of Genesis ends 300 years before Moses was born.

  • Now he lived during the days covered by Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy; those

  • four clearly come from his lifetime. There's no problem with Moses writing those. But Genesis

  • ends 3-400 years before Moses was born. So how could he have got his material for the

  • book of Genesis? One of the things we know about early society is that people who don't

  • write have phenomenal memories. To this day, tribes that have no writing can tell you the

  • history of the tribe; they pass it on around the camp fire at night from father to son.

  • And this aural tradition, as we call it, is very strong in primitive communities, and

  • would be among the Hebrews. Especially when they became slaves in Egypt, they would want

  • their children to know who they were, where they'd come from.

  • Now there are two things that are normally passed down in this memory form. One is genealogies,

  • family trees, to give people their identity and sure enough, Genesis is full of genealogies,

  • full of family trees. And there is one phrase that comes ten times in the book of Genesis

  • and it is, 'these are the generations of', scattered through the book. If you have read

  • it you must have noticed that phrase, 'these are the generations of'. That is exactly

  • the kind of thing that would be passed on from memory to memory. The other thing that

  • gets passed on are sagas, I mean hero stories of great things that your ancestors have done.

  • And so tribal memories composed of these two things, generation or genealogies and sagas,

  • the things our ancestors did that were exciting, and these are told over the camp fire. Now

  • most of Genesis is composed of these two things. Stories about great heroes interspersed with

  • family trees. So it is obviously a collection, a compilation of memories that Moses picked

  • up from the slaves in Egypt and put together. And I'm sure you can see how clearly that

  • was done. Except for one passage. There is one part of Genesis he couldn't possibly

  • have picked up that way - the first chapter. Or rather since the chapter divisions, as

  • so often in the Bible - God never inspired them - are in quite the wrong place, chapter

  • 1 verse 1 through to chapter 2 verse 3 is a section that Moses couldn't possibly have

  • got from any human being. That section he must have got from God himself. It is one

  • of those parts of the Bible that must have been directly dictated by God and taken down

  • by man. Most of the Bible did not come that way. We mustn't think of the writers of

  • the Bible as word processors, as typewriters on which God typed out his word, because God

  • inspired the writers to use their own temperament and memory and insight and outlook to shape

  • his word, but so overruled by the inspiration of his Spirit that what resulted was what

  • he wanted written. So that other parts of the Bible have the stamp of the writer on

  • them. The rest of Genesis has the same stamp on it as Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.

  • You can detect Moses' style and hand in it, but Genesis 1:1 to 2:3 is totally different

  • and has all the marks of God's speech. We shall see in a moment that it's mathematically

  • perfect. When God speaks, his speech is perfect mathematics. You see the Hebrew language doesn't

  • have figures, they just had letters and each letter stood for a figure, so Aleph or A was

  • 1 and B was 2 and C was 3 and so on. That's a common way of counting and when you turn

  • the letters of Genesis 1 into figures, it is astonishing. I've been in Jerusalem talking

  • to Rabbis who have actually worked out all the mathematics of every verse and they spend

  • days discussing it because it's mathematically perfect. The very first sentence, β€œIn the

  • beginning God created the heavens and the earth” is a sentence of seven words. That's

  • just one of the figures; we'll be looking at this later. But in many ways, Genesis 1

  • is a unique piece of literature, quite unique, and has all the hallmarks of having come directly

  • from God. So I can imagine Moses collecting all the memories of the people, the genealogies