What Does the Rest of the Bible Say About Genesis?

Moon in day sky

Using scripture to interpret scripture

by Thomas Purifoy Jr.

Using scripture to interpret scripture is essential to understanding the Bible. Most of the people and events in the first chapters of Genesis are referred back to by both Old and New Testament authors. Even more importantly, Jesus Himself spoke often about Genesis.

It is these divinely-inspired statements that provide the interpretive framework for recognizing the historicity of Genesis. Three things become apparent when looking at these passages:

  1. The Biblical authors saw the events and people of Genesis as real history.
  2. They understood those historical events had spiritual and theological consequences.
  3. They realized those consequences continue to have an impact on the present day.

Since it is helpful to read what was actually said, here are some of the more important statements about Genesis.

Moses & Isaiah

“For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” – Exodus 20:11  

“Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever. It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested and was refreshed.’” – Exodus 31:16-17

These two passages from Moses tell us that God intentionally created the world in six normal days then rested on the seventh in order to provide a chronological pattern for our normal week of work.  They also clarify that the days of Genesis 1 cannot be interpreted as long ages, for the first Sabbath rest and the weekly Sabbath rest are the same amount of time: one day. As Moses records in Leviticus, understanding the time frame of the Sabbath could be a life and death issue.

“I made the earth and created man on it; it was my hands that stretched out the heavens, and I commanded all their host”….For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens (he is God!), who formed the earth and made it (he established it; he did not create it empty, he formed it to be inhabited!): “I am the Lord, and there is no other.” –Isaiah 45:12,18

Here God explains that He created the earth in order to be inhabited by man, and that He didn’t create it to be empty. This passage shows that the earth did not form slowly from bits of planetary rock over millions of years then sit empty and barren for 4.5 billion years before man appeared. Rather, the earth was created and man placed on it just a few days later (specifically the sixth day of creation).

“This is like the days of Noah to me: as I swore that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth, so I have sworn that I will not be angry with you, and will not rebuke you. For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” – Isaiah 54:9-10

Isaiah refers back to God’s covenant promise to Noah when He graciously promised not to flood the entire earth as a result of His anger. In the same way, He promises to have compassion on Israel even after they have been judged and punished.

Jesus

Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli…the son of Enos, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God. And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness for forty days, being tempted by the devil. – Luke 3:23,38-4:1

Luke provides the longest genealogy for Jesus by tracing His lineage back to Adam. It is no coincidence that he follows it with Jesus’ temptation. Where the first son fell to Satan in a beautiful garden, the last Son triumphed over him in a desolate wilderness. Luke wants us to understand that the primary reason Jesus came to earth was to undo the destruction and death resulting from Satan’s first temptation: a real event with real consequences that occurred near ‘the beginning of creation.’ …

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image credit: David Besh