From Dr. Barrick’s 2013 MacDonald Lectures Creation series, one minor yet somewhat interesting issue from the first Q&A: the age of the Earth and the question of whether there are any gaps in the genealogies.
The question is often referred to as whether or not the Genesis genealogies are “closed” (complete) or “open” (skip generations and have gaps). The Old Earth view would stretch the supposed “gaps” out to fit hundreds of thousands or more years, which is simply unworkable.
Dr. Barrick holds to and presents the belief that the Old Testament genealogies have gaps, such that the earth could be as much as 8,000, 10,000 or even 25,000 years old. He cites the writing of Henry Morris, “The Genesis Flood,” for this idea, as well as the mention of the genealogy gaps in 1 Chronicles, and the gaps in Aaron and Moses’ ancestry. (For further reading on this point, see “Hard Sayings of the Bible,” edited by Walter Kaiser and F.F. Bruce, which addresses this point. Click here to view pages 140-142 in Google Books.) He further notes extra-biblical “evidence,” the uncertainty of certain ancient civilizations, that even secular scientists argue among themselves: low chronology, middle chronology and high chronology for China, Egypt, and even for Sumeria.
I too heard that idea of “gaps” and thus the earth could be as much as 8,000 or 10,000 years old, when I first studied Creation Science years ago, from reading The Genesis Flood and similar material. But as pointed out in this article at ICR.org, the Genesis genealogy from Adam to Abraham does not have such gaps, and the other genealogies are not relevant to the question. We are told the age (to the nearest year) of each individual, from Adam’s age when Seth was born, on down to Abraham. The only “gap” is in the partial years, that each individual had reached a certain birthday plus some number of months, but less than the next full year. So the genealogies do not allow for a “gap” of a few thousand years, but only of 37 years.
Some people assume that the historical events related in the early chapters of Genesis cannot be precisely dated because we cannot be certain whether the genealogical lists are complete (“closed”) or whether they skip generations and have gaps (and are thus “open”). The issue is irrelevant because the timeframes given in Genesis are measured by the number of years between one event and another event, regardless of how many generations occurred between those “bookend” events.
As Barrick said, even if there were gaps we are still talking about a young earth, not millions and billions of years as some old-earth advocates would try to stretch the “gaps” to fit. But the Genesis genealogy doesn’t have such gaps, so we can know that the earth is approximately 6000 years old (with a variance of possibly 37 years from Adam to Abraham), not 8,000 or 10,000 years old.
Continuing with Dr. Barrick’s 2013 creation series, some key points and responses to common objections to young earth creationism. (From Barrick’s lectures #3, “The Problem of Death,” and #4, “Is It Poetry?”)
In reference to the theological issue of death, as in animal and plant death supposedly for millions and billions of years before man, old earth creationists sometimes point to Romans 5 and “reason” that the issue of spiritual death only relates to man’s death: the death of plants and animals is irrelevant. As one undecided pastor remarked years ago in a conversation about death before Adam, “Ahh, but what kind of death was Paul talking about?” Another pastor, firmly set in the Old Earth view, somehow thinks that plant and animal death is “normal” and part of the overall creation that God purposed, of course completely unrelated to Genesis 3.
Here we note that, indeed, Romans 5 is talking about spiritual death, in a comparison and contrast between the first and last Adam. Yet Romans 5 is not the full answer or even a “prooftext” for Old Earth Creation, since of course we look at all of God’s revelation. Genesis 3 is the first obvious text, and we also note many other OT texts which equate “blessing” with “life” and “curse” with “death.” Another text to consider is Romans 8:19-22, which clearly links the curse put on the creation, not willingly, and this curse affecting the creation is clearly linked to man’s sin – and the promise of redemption given both to redeemed sinners, as well as to the creation: the future Resurrection of the Righteous, and the future deliverance for creation itself.
Regarding the common claim that Genesis 1 is just poetry, I often think of a John MacArthur quote (from the 2009 Shepherd’s Conference), emphasizing that: Genesis 1 is not poetry, and that the person who admits that ‘Genesis 1 purports to be a narrative account, only I do not believe that account’ is a better interpreter of scripture than the one who says ‘I believe Genesis but it’s just poetry.’ Dr. Barrick devotes a full message to this topic, with major responses to the ‘Genesis is poetry’ line.
1) Genesis 1 lacks parallelism, a major feature of Hebrew poetry.
2) The grammar is same as that of the narrative style, not poetry. Barrick references a study (through ICR.org) in which the scientist worked with a group of statisticians. They tabulated and analyzed all the grammatical features in the original Hebrew, of many passages recognized as narrative (such as 2 Kings 5), as well as passages recognized as poetic, and even passages considered part poetry and part narrative. No surprise here, but Genesis 1’s grammar came up as on the extreme narrative category.
3) Genesis 1’s lack of imagery and symbolism. Compare it to Psalm 104, poetic verses about the creation. Why would anyone think Genesis 1 is poetry, in comparison to Psalm 104?
4) Even if an account is poetic, that in no way negates its truthfulness. Or as Barrick described it, “Poetry provides no automatic confirmation of a lack of historical veracity.” The genre style of a text has no connection to its truthfulness or historicity. We have non-true prose: it’s called fiction. Even in secular literature, who would dismiss the classic poem “Charge of the Light Brigade” as of no value since it’s just poetry? Looking more closely at biblical texts: compare Judges 4 (narrative account) with Judges 5 (Song of Deborah), and Exodus 14 (Deliverance through the Red Sea) and the song in Exodus 15. Each of these provides one narrative account followed by a poetic version of the same event. Psalms 78, 105 and 106 provide additional examples. Do we think these cannot be taken as fact, taken seriously, just because it’s poetry? No way.
Linked at the Domain For Truth blog is another instructive lecture series from Dr. Bill Barrick: a four-part series plus two Q&A sessions done at Central Seminary earlier this year for the 2013 MacDonald Lectures.
As usual Dr. Barrick provides many quote-worthy observations, especially concerning the mirror-image of the Biblical accounts of the beginning and the end, something I observed previously here (the Masters Seminary audio lecture Kingdom of God series), with many good points regarding the link between creation and eschatology. The hermeneutics is a crucial point, and Barrick continues to uphold the underlying importance of biblical creation – biblical authority and inerrancy. As he also points out, what we think about the past directly affects how we understand and what we believe concerning the future events revealed in God’s word.
A few excerpts from the first lecture:
Think about it. If it really took millions or billions of years to create the First heavens and the First Earth, how long will we have to wait for the New Heavens and Earth after the old is destroyed? Are you willing to wait millions and billions of years for the New Heavens and New Earth to evolve like the First one? If God can create the second one instantaneously, why not the first? … Any time we start messing with either end of that entire structure of scripture, it affects the other end. Whether we reject the future prophecies — if we do that, then why would we accept the past, history? If we reject the past history, why would we accept the future prophecies?
What kind of Bible does your ministry depend upon? Think about it. A trustworthy Bible, or an untrustworthy Bible? A Bible you can believe about creation the same as you can believe about salvation? How important is the Bible to your ministry? As soon as we start denying either end of the spectrum here we’ve looked at, in this overall and overarching theme that runs through the Bible, as soon as we start messing with either the eschatology, the future things, or the protology, the first things, we begin to destroy the Bible. So if the Bible is significant to your ministry, why work to destroy it? Because if you destroy it, then there’s no more foundation for the ministry you perform, for what you’re doing. How can you tell people, ‘Thus says the Lord’, if you say, ‘well I only accept that when the Lord says such and such, but when the Lord says this, I don’t accept it. I don’t care if God wrote it with His finger on the tablet of stone on Mt. Sinai that He created the heavens and earth and all that is in them in six days, I don’t believe that. But I believe God over here when He says this.’ How can we pick and choose that way? How can we treat the Bible so casually?
What kind of God do we serve if we feel free to contradict what He Himself wrote on a stone tablet on Mt. Sinai? Can we really say with Paul then, ‘let God be true and every man a liar’? Are we instead saying, ‘oh, let modern science be true and let God be a liar when it comes to creation?’ It affects the character of God.
The second session, The Historicity of Adam, addresses an issue apparently of great discussion today within Seminary circles, and one he later addressed at the 2013 Shepherds’ Conference. An additional reading source mentioned here: Creationist Bill Cooper’s (1995) “After the Flood: The early post-flood history of Europe” (online text available here), which traces all European nations back to Japheth.
I’m still going through the series, and highly recommend it as well worth listening to.
Another true and timeless quote from Alva McClain’s “Greatness of the Kingdom” (p. 253):
some of the most incorrigible opponents of a millennial religious center in Jerusalem, at the same time have an untiring enthusiasm for “trips” to the Holy Land here and now. Surely it is a great privilege to walk where the Son of God once lived, suffered, and died. If this be so, how much more wonderful it will be to go there when He is once more there in visible manifestation and glory.
In recent months I have observed this very phenomenon: a church pastor – strong supersessionist (no future for Israel), Amillennial Preterist, old-earth creationist — who yet shows “untiring enthusiasm” in sharing pictures from his trip to the Holy Land last year. Such interest has even resulted in a lengthy Sunday School series for the main adult Sunday School class, complete with slides, diagram drawings and general geography and archeology sessions, and such trivia as the size of Jerusalem (in acres) at various times in biblical history. (Among the trivia: Jerusalem was 44 acres in size in Jesus’ day.) The lessons go into all the details in the biblical accounts of how the men in Hezekiah’s day affected the water supply, and other basic information that I tend to think of as appropriate for general, secular education. Certainly geography and archeology of the Holy Land is of some interest, even to natural man, as something concrete and part of our natural world. Yet where is the spiritual content of such a series, in light of the massive biblical revelation?
The biblical references in this series are basic and well-known to serious students of God’s word, but such a topical series comes across as disappointingly shallow. Consider the great depth and riches of what God’s word has to say regarding Israel (past, present and future): the great biblical covenants (especially the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants), and (as especially brought out in Alva McClain’s great work) the beginnings and details of God’s Mediatorial Kingdom in Israel, in Old Testament History and Prophecy. Then Israel’s apostasy and what that actually meant: not that the nation itself was completely cut-off and divorced from God, but that judgment fell on particular generations – and yet, as SLJ observed:
There are people who look at the Old Testament and say, ‘All fulfilled, of no real use to us today.’ That, the apostles would have been strongly against, for that was their Bible. And all that they taught they related to the Old Testament teaching. In fact, the epistle to the Romans is really nothing more than an Old Testament theology written in the light of the coming of Jesus Christ and the fulfillment of those promises in Him. The Jews have a future. Their place in the program of God in the present time is similar to that of a train which is passed onto a siding — the purpose of God has passed them by, not because they have no future but because they did not believe.
Also the prophecies regarding Israel’s present condition, such as the prophecies of Balaam, and especially of Hosea (Hosea 3:4-5):
For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days.
Oh the great riches in God’s word concerning Israel past, present, and especially future in the kingdom of God upon the earth, as described in so many passages of scripture, the Old Testament prophecies as well as great references in the gospels and New Testament passages. Yet, as Alva McClain observed over half a century ago (that which is still true) some professed believers rigorously oppose the idea of God having anything future to do with Israel, and yet they are content with and even have unending enthusiasm for trips to the Holy Land. Many of us have never had opportunity to visit the physical sites of the Holy Land, and perhaps never will get that opportunity in this life, yet we can dig into the treasures of God’s word regarding the nation Israel, and God’s purposes for Israel and the Gentile nations in the future Kingdom of God upon the earth. Indeed, “how much more wonderful it will be to go there when He is once more there in visible manifestation and glory.”
It’s a popular saying and idea, that it was the same crowd that cheered Christ at His triumphal entry, that later called for His crucifixion. I think of the line in a Christian song (Star of the Morning, Leon Patillo), “the same ones who cheered, yelled ‘Crucify!’” I recently read a Spurgeon sermon that echoed this thought:
You must not imagine that all those who strewed the branches in the way and cried “Hosanna,” cared about Christ as a spiritual prince! No, they thought that He was to be a temporal deliverer, and when they found out afterwards that they were mistaken, they hated Him just as much as they had loved Him and, “Crucify Him, crucify Him,” was as loud and vehement a cry as, “Hosanna, blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord.”
But was it really the same people? The gospel accounts indicate very large numbers of people in total (as do other historical records describing the yearly Passovers in Roman times). Luke 23:27 mentions “a great multitude” of the people who followed Him, mourning and lamenting – the people Jesus told to “weep for yourselves” as He prophesied of the coming judgment upon Jerusalem.
S. Lewis Johnson (gospel of John series) goes into more careful analysis of what was really going on:
First of all, emotional enthusiasm for Jesus Christ is far different from earnest faith in Him. Now the people who cried out, “Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord,” were likely to be people who had some attachment to the Lord Jesus. It is not they who later on say, “Crucify Him, crucify Him,” as some Bible teachers have suggested. As you look at these accounts carefully it’s evident that those who were shouting this were those who were familiar with His ministry from the Northern part of the land.
Continuing, Dr. Johnson points out the shortcoming of emotional enthusiasm, which is different from “earnest faith”:
As I said earlier, the provincial recognition, however, did not carry national assent. So they were shouting out of a failed and incomplete understanding of the Lord Jesus. Later on, those in the city who were antagonistic to Him would be crying out, “Crucify Him, crucify Him.” But one thing you can say is this, that emotional enthusiasm is far different from earnest faith. And while it’s not they who say later, ‘Not this man should be delivered, but Barabbas.’ It is, however, one of those very men who stood around the coals of fire and when asked by a little girl, ‘You’re one of them, are you not?’ He said, ‘I am not.’