"IN THE BEGINNING GOD...
It was 7:51 a.m. (EST), December 21, 1968. Apollo 8
successfully lifted off to begin its historic voyage. Travelling
at nearly 25,000 miles an hour, the spacecraft hurled itself from
the orbit of the earth and into flight toward the moon. Later,
with the attention of the world focused on them, the men aboard -
Frank Borman, James A.Lovell Jr., and William A. Anders - each
took part in reading Genesis 1:1-10, the story of creation.
Anders began the reading with the opening words of the
Bible: "In the beginning God..." These words were included on the
stamp that was issued to commemorate this mission, with the moon
surface below and planet earth nearly a quarter of a million
miles away shining brightly in the darkness of space.
For us, what better place could there be to begin this book
concerning the Bible than at the beginning? So we, too, turn to
Its name means the book of beginnings. An interesting
example of word formation is seen by comparing the letters g-e-n
in Genesis with words such as genes, genealogy, generation, or
generate, all of which also carry the meaning of "beginning."
Following the verses about the creation of heaven and earth,
one does not read too far until he is introduced to Adam, then
Eve, the garden of Eden, and the failure of the first human pair
to obey the command of God. All trees were given to them for
food, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they were
not to eat. It is not our purpose here to argue literal or
figurative explanations against each other as to what this
forbidden fruit may have been. Some say it was a pomegranate,
figs (because of the mention of fig leaves (an apricot, or the
traditional apple). But for now we will simply say that whatever
it was, it involved a test of obedience - and Adam and Eve failed
It is commonly assumed that when Eve ate of the forbidden
fruit (at the suggestion of the serpent), that Adam was somewhere
else. Then later, when he returned, he also ate of this fruit.
But the fact is, Adam was right there with her! "And when
the woman saw that the tree was good for food... she took of the
fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband WITH
HER; and he did eat" (Genesis 3:6).
Now I ask you: was her husband there "with her" or not? Yes,
he was. So, men, we cannot blame all the trouble in the world on
women! There is no indication that Adam tried to stop her and no
indication that he was somewhere else at the time!
The result of them both eating this fruit was this: "And the
eyes of them BOTH were opened, and they knew they were naked"
(Gen.3:7). It does not say her eyes were opened first, and his at
some later time. No, the transgression involved "both" of them.
The idea that the forbidden fruit was an apple may have
developed from the fact that in Latin the word which means "evil"
- malum - is exactly the same word as "apple." Jerome translated
the Bible into Latin in 405 A.D. and the idea may have passed on
down from that time. But the Bible does not mention the apple in
this connection: Nevertheless, some have pictured Eve eating an
apple first; then later when Adam discovered what had happened,
he was so shocked that a big lump came up in his throat. And
that's why men have an Adam's apple to this day!
Others hold an idea that is even more silly; they somehow
suppose that the fall was even a surprise to God! They suppose
the serpent sneaked into the garden when God's back was turned -
as though He who can see all things could not see this! Then,
some would have us believe, when God came into the garden for his
walk, he was horrified! Surprised! Shocked! His creation had
fallen into sin! But the fall in Eden was no surprise to God.
First of all, man was made weak - as proven by the fact that
all have sinned and come short of the glory of God. Adding to
this, God placed the forbidden tree - not in some inaccessible
thicket or remote part of the globe - but right in the midst of
the garden where it could be easily reached. With men's weak
nature, with the tree of forbidden fruit right in the very center
of the garden, and then with the serpent allowed to come in and
carry out his work of temptation - surely God knew what would
But there is actual scriptural proof that the fall in Eden
was no surprise to God. This is clearly seen by the fact that
even before the foundation of the world He planned our redemption
in Jesus Christ! Before God ever created Adam and Eve, before the
days of Eden, before my of these things, even before the
foundation of the world itself - God already had a plan whereby
fallen man could be redeemed! Salvation from sin is the result of
"his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus
BEFORE the world began" (2 Tim.1:9). We are redeemed with the
"precious blood of Christ ... who verily was foreordained BEFORE
the foundation of the world" (1 Peter 1:19, 20).
Since God planned out how men would be redeemed even before
the foundation of the would, it is clear he KNEW man would fall
and would be in need of this redemption.
A CONFERENCE IN HEAVEN?
Some believe that when the fall came in Eden, God called a
great conference in heaven. All of the angels attended. God
explained what had happened on earth. He asked for suggestions as
to what could be done - some way to solve the problem. One angel
suggested this, another that, but no plan was satisfactory. At
this point, we are told, Jesus VOLUNTEERED to go to earth and
die for man. This plan was accepted and consequently, a plan of
salvation was made available to mankind.
What is wrong with this? It is wrong because the idea that
Jesus "volunteered" is not correct. What happened at Calvary was
not a last minute effort to repair some damage that happened as a
surprise to God! Total redemption was planned out in the divine
mind "before the foundation of the world"; it was no last minute
The book of Job, which contains more questions  than
any other book of the Bible, includes this question: "Art thou
the first man that was born?" (Job 15:7). Adam is referred to as
"the first man" (1 Cor.15:45), but he was not the first man born
(Gen. 2:7). The first man that was born was Cain (Gen.4:1). In
verse 17 of this same chapter Cain's wife is mentioned because
the Bible passes over some of these things quite rapidly, certain
details are not even mentioned. Consequently, it is not uncommon
for people to ask: "Where did Cain get his wife?"
When one preacher was asked this question by an infidel, he
replied: "I don't know. When I get to heaven, I will ask him."
"But what if Cain isn't in heaven?" To this the preacher replied:
"Then you can ask him!"
According to "The Book of Jubilees," a Jewish midrash
(commentary) on Genesis and the first 14 chapters of Exodus
written about 106 B.C., Cain married his sister. According to
this book - for what it's worth - following the birth of Cain and
Abel, Eve gave birth to two daughters: Awan and Azure. "And Cain
took Awan his sister to be his wife and she bare him Enoch",
while Seth married Azure his sister.....
RAIN BEFORE THE FLOOD?
It has sometimes been assumed that there was no rain upon
the earth until the days of the flood. Sermons have told about
Noah working for 120 years building the ark - all of which made
him appear as a complete religious fanatic in the eyes of others,
especially since it had never rained! But is this what the Bible
says? The Biblical passage which is quoted in support of this
view is Genesis 2:4-6:
"These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth
when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made
the earth and the heavens, and every plant of the field
before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field
before it grew: for the Lord God has not caused it to rain
upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.
But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the
whole face of the ground...."
This passage describes the condition of things before there
was a man to till the ground. It was at this time that it had not
rained upon the earth. Would this necessarily prove it did not
rain after the Lord God made man? Can this passage prove it did
not rain until the days of the flood which was 1,656 years later?
What this passage says is simply this: there was a time when the
Lord had not caused it to rain on the earth. It also says there
was no man and that plants were not growing yet. But soon the
plants did grow. Soon there was a man on earth - as mentioned in
the next verse. Though the Bible does not tell us, in so many
words, when it first began to rain, we believe it is stretching
the point to teach that it did not start raining until 1,656
years later - not until the time of the flood.
THE ARK - DID IT TAKE 120 YEARS TO BUILD?
Did it take Noah 120 years to build the ark? The mention of
120 years in Genesis 6:3 says nothing about the time required to
build the ark. Instead, this verse says: "And the Lord said, My
spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is
flesh. Yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years."
Judgment was pronounced upon mankind, but it was still 120
years away. Just how this judgment would be carried out was not,
at this point, explained. Nothing was said about a flood or
building an ark at this time.
One hundred and twenty years before the flood, Noah would
have been 480 years old (for he was 600 at the time of the flood
- Genesis 7:11). Noah's sons were not born until he was 500 years
old (Gen.5:32). It was not until quite some time after this that
Noah was told to build the ark, for when Noah was told to do
this, his sons had grown up and married. "Make thee an ark... I
do bring a flood of waters upon the earth, to destroy all
flesh... and thou shalt come into the ark, thou, and thy sons,
and thy wife, and thy sons' wives with thee" (Gen.6:14-18).
Since it is definitely implied that Noah's sons were grown
and married when he was instructed to build the ark, and
considering the ages of Noah and his sons, it seems clear that
Noah was not working on the ark for 120 years. It is possible
that the legend handed down in the book of Jasher is correct.
According to this, it took five years to build the ark, but the
Bible itself does not say how many years it took.
"And the ark rested... upon the mountains of Ararat" (Gen.
8:4). No SPECIFIC mountain is named here. There is no mention of
a "Mount Ararat." Instead, "the mountains of Ararat" implies a
region or nation within which these mountains were located.
Ararat was the name of a country, a kingdom, as may be seen from
Jeremiah 51:27: "...prepare the nations against her [Babylon],
call together against her the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and
The two sons of Sennacherib "escaped into the land of
Aramenia" (2 Kings 19:37). The word translated Armenia is
the same word translated Ararat. Either word is correct, for
Armenia is simply the later name by which Ararat was known.
CURSE ON HAM?
After the flood, Noah pronounced a curse on his son Ham. Or
did he? The Bible does not say he did. Yet for some reason this
is commonly assumed. As a result of this assumption, various
ideas have been presented as to what this curse may have been.
Here is what the passage under consideration actually says:
"And Noah ... planted a vineyard: and he drank of the wine,
and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And
Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father,
and told his two brethren without. And Sham and Japeth took
a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went
backward, and covered the nakedness of their father, and
their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's
nakedness. And Noah awoke from his wine, and he knew what
his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be
CANAAN; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren"
So, it was upon Canaan (not Ham) that the curse was
This passage raises several questions. If Ham was the one
that did. wrong, why was the curse pronounced upon his son? Does
the son bear the iniquity of the father? If Noah was wrong in
becoming drunk, who was he to pronounce a curse on anyone? Was
there any authority in his curse? Or was his cursing only an
expression of his feelings when he awoke from his wine? Are we to
conclude from this that it is morally wrong if a son happens to
see his father without clothes? Why didn't Noah have the tent
opening secured against entry?
Some feel there was more involved than what is stated. Some
have quoted, for example, Leviticus 20:11: "And the man that
lieth with his father's wife hath uncovered his father's
nakedness." According to this verse, if Ham had committed incest
with his father's wife, he had uncovered "his father's
nakedness." While there is a similarity in wording here, this
does not seem to have been the case in Genesis 9. The nakedness
was that of Noah himself. The one that was drunken was the one
that was uncovered (Gen.9:21).
Others believe that Ham did not merely look on his nude
father, but actually did something to him, possibly a homosexual
Rashi (Solomon ban Isaac, 1040-1105 AD.), an often-quoted
Jewish commentator on the Bible and Talmud said that Ham
castrated Noah. I see no reason to believe this, though there is
no account of Noah having any more children after this time.
Actually, the text does not say that Ham did anything other
than see his father's nakedness and tell his brothers about it.
We can speculate that he may have attempted to make a mockery of
the nakedness, that he spoke against his father, that he refused
to cover him, that he involved his son Canaan in his actions
(whatever they were), or that he committed a homosexual act. But
again, the text does not say any of these things.
I suppose the reason some believe Ham must have done
something severe is because the curse sounds severe. However, was
this curse even valid? Is there any reason to believe that the
curse pronounced upon Ham's son ever became a reality?
Here is a man - over 600 years old, according to the Bible
who awakes from being dead drunk. He hollers out words of cursing
- but instead of pronouncing the curse upon Ham who had seen his
nakedness, he curses Ham's son Canaan - who may have been only a
baby at this time! As far as the text is concerned, it would
appear that Noah was in the wrong as much as anyone - after all
he is the one that became drunk and uncovered in his tent.
Whatever Ham did (or didn't do) would not seem reason for a curse
to be put on his son Canaan.
In view of the many questions that surround Noah placing a
curse on Ham's son, we believe the serious student of the Bible
should keep everything in proper perspective. To believe a whole
race is doomed to slavery because thousands of years ago someone
saw the nakedness of his drunken father - as some contend - is,
in my opinion, not only untrue, it is silly.
(If there was some kind of a curse on Canaan, we will note it was
ONLY on Canaan - presuming he had done something to Noah which we
are not told - and NOT on his children for generation after
generation - Keith Hunt).
IT IS RECORDED IN THE BIBLE
The reason some believe Noah's curse to be valid is because
it is recorded in the Bible. But the Bible records many things -
even the words of Satan on occasions (Job 1:7). The Bible even
says: "Curse God and die" (Job 2:9), but them were the words of
Job's wife - not a message from God.
There are other statements in the Bible, statements which
may contain some truth, but were never intended as verses upon
which doctrines would be built. We will give four short examples.
(1) "We know that God heareth not sinners." (John 9:31). These
were not the inspired words of a prophet or apostle. These were
the words of the blind man who had been healed by Jesus, words
given under questioning. At this point he did not even know Jesus
was the son of God (see verses 35,36). We know it is the prayer
of a righteous man that availeth with God (James 5:16). However,
did not God hear the prayer of the man who said: "God be merciful
to me a sinner?" Yes, he did Luke 18:13,14). To say that God
never, under any circumstances, hears the prayer of a sinner is
certainly not true.
(2) "How can I, except some man should guide me?" (Acts 8:31).
These were the words of the Ethiopian official when Philip had
asked him if he understood what he read from the book of Isaiah.
There was a time when this verse was quoted to show that the
common people could not understand the Bible; that it must be
explained by the priest. But, again, they were the words of a man
before he was converted. These can be no basis for doctrine. For
while God has placed teachers in his church (Eph 4:11), certainly
we should not limit God as though he cannot directly open a truth
to an individual (cf. 1 John 2:27). It would be a narrow
viewpoint indeed to deny that someone all alone could not read
from a Bible, understand what he reads, and be touched by God.
(3) "No man can do these miracles... except God be with him"
(John 3:2). Some years ago there was a radio program which used
the following words as an introduction to the evangelist who was
about to speak: ".. Jesus said, 'No man can do these miracles
except God be with him'... " But it was NICODEMUS who said this,
not Jesus. There is an element of truth in the words of Nicodemus
on this occasion, for Jesus spoke of certain miracles as a
confirmation of his divine mission (John 14:11). But a statement
made by a man who did not, at that point, understand about being
born again would definitely have to be qualified by other verses.
(And we must remember that some people who have or are working by
the power of Satan can do miracles - the false prophet of
Revelation can do miracles, and he will not be from God - Keith
(4) "For if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to
nought: but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply
ye be found even to fight against God" (Acts 5:38,39). The man
who said this was Gamaliel, a noted doctor of the law among Jews,
and under whom Paul, before his conversion, had been taught (Acts
22:31). Gamaliel cited the example of a cult of four hundred
people who followed Theudas, but who was killed and his followers
scattered. The same had been the fate of those who followed Judas
of Galilee. With this background given to the Jewish council
which sought to kill the apostles, Gamaliel gave the
recommendation of the words we are considering. As a result the
apostles were only punished and released.
But the words of Gamaliel, though recorded in the Bible,
were never intended for doctrine. While there is some good logic
in what he said, yet his statement is not totally true. He
mentioned two cults which had been organized only to come to
naught. He then made the statement that if a work is not of God
it will come to naught also. But there are many groups,
organizations, and religions which are not of God, yet have been
in existence for centuries! The length of time that a group has
been in existence does not, necessarily, mean it is the work of
(As Woodrow had pointed out, there are many religious groups
still in existance that are increasing in numbers every day, who
are not of the true God - Keith Hunt).
AGES IN THE BIBLE
Looking again at the book of Genesis, we repeatedly read of
various men who lived, their ages are given, and then we will
read of each: "...and he died" (See Genesis 5). The ages of men
are given, but what about women?
Of all the women mentioned in the Bible, an exact age at
death has only been given for one: Sarah! "And Sarah was an
hundred and seven and twenty years old .... and Sarah died" (Gen.
23:1). In fact, so far as I have been able to determine, Sarah is
the only woman for whom an exact age is given - not only at
death, but at any point in life. The only exceptions might be the
little daughter of Jarius who was age twelve Mk.5:42) and Anne,
for whom an approximate age is given (Lk.2:36,37). Otherwise,
Sarah stands out as an exception, her age being recorded in life
Probably the reason the age of Sarah is specifically
mentioned is because of the advanced age at which she gave birth
to Isaac, a point that is mentioned several times in the Bible.
When the promise of this child was given to Abraham, he laughed
and said in his heart: "Shall Sarah, that is ninety years old,
beer?" (Gen.17:17). But Isaac was born to her at this advanced
According to a Jewish legend, there were some women who
doubted that Sarah had actually given birth to Isaac. (They may
have suspected that Isaac was the child of a slave girl, as had
been the case with Ishmael). If she had indeed given birth to
Isaac, they wanted her to prove it by nursing their babies. She
refused to do this and their doubts were confirmed. When Abraham
heard this, he told Sarah: "Uncover your breasts and provide milk
for this entire brood", which she did!
If this is a true account of events, it explains a verse
which otherwise is quite obscure. Genesis 21:7 speaks of Sarah
providing milk for children (plural), though she only had one son
of her own. "And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that
Sarah should have given CHILDREN suck? for I have born him a son
in his old age."
TO BE CONTINUED