LISTEN: The Two Creation Accounts (The Covenant & the Cross #24 with Daniel Whyte III)

Daniel Whyte III
Daniel Whyte III

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Today’s passage of Scripture is Genesis 1:1-2 which reads: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.“

Allow me to share with you some commentary on this passage from the Bible Knowledge Commentary by John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck:

The account of Creation is the logical starting point for Genesis, for it explains the beginning of the universe. These verses have received much attention in connection with science; this is to be expected. But the passage is a theological treatise as well, for it lays a foundation for the rest of the Pentateuch. In writing this work for Israel, Moses wished to portray God as the Founder and Creator of all life. The account shows that the God who created Israel is the God who created the world and all who are in it. Thus the theocracy is founded on the sovereign God of Creation. That nation, her Law, and her customs and beliefs all go back to who God is. Israel would here learn what kind of God was forming them into a nation.

Today’s quote about the Bible is from Daniel Webster. He said: “If there is anything in my thoughts or style to commend, the credit is due to my parents for instilling in me an early love of the Scriptures.”

Our topic for today is titled: “The Two Creation Accounts” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.

The first two chapters of Genesis contain some of the most controversial material in the Bible. Until the mid-1800s, most scholars viewed these two chapters as a straightforward cosmology, that is, a description of the origin and structure of the universe. Since then, many scholars have abandoned that view. Today, most people in our culture look to geology or astronomy textbooks to find an explanation of how the world came into existence and how, over time, today’s world came to be.

In terms of biblical studies, the primary cause for this change was the work of German scholar Julius Wellhausen, who published his “Prolegomena to the History of Israel” in 1878. In this book, Wellhausen picked up on the ideas of another German scholar, Karl Graf, regarding how Genesis 1 and 2 fit together. Wellhausen was able to develop Graf’s ideas into a coherent theory and make it popular. In the process, he made a number of assumptions, which we discussed in the introduction. The heart of this theory (often called the Graf-Wellhausen hypothesis) was that Moses could not have written the Pentateuch (especially Genesis); therefore, what we call the Pentateuch today was a compilation of various documents from a variety of sources. Graf and Wellhausen identified four sources: J (from Jahwe, German for Yahweh), E (from the Hebrew word for God, Elohim), D (from Deuteronomy, which was viewed as a separate work added at the end), and P (a source written by priests to justify their existence). Because of these four sources, the Graf-Wellhausen hypothesis is also sometimes called the JEDP theory. This way of looking at the Bible is also called “source criticism” (i.e., critically examining the text to find its literary origins).

It had earlier been observed that in Genesis 1 the word Elohim is used consistently to refer to God. Beginning with Genesis 2:4, in contrast, we find the phrase YHWH-Elohim (translated as “the LORD God”). Some scholars concluded that the two sections were written by two different authors, which would explain the various differences in the way the creation process is described. More recent scholarship, however, has shown that these assumptions are not valid. Moreover, when we look at the terms used for God, we find an interesting distinction.

Elohim. This name, which is used in Genesis 1:1-2:3, is the plural of EL. It is usually viewed as a “plural of majesty.”‘ As used throughout the OT, the term reflects the transcendence of God, that is, His separation from and superiority over creation.’ As used in Genesis 1:1-2:3, which discusses the order and structure of creation, it points out the power and majesty of the transcendent Creator God.

YHWH (Yahweh). This name is apparently derived from the Hebrew verb “hayah”, “to be,” and thus related to the phrase translated “I Am.” As such, it denotes the eternally existing quality of God and emphasizes the personal, eternal, and all-sufficient aspects of God’s nature and character. But as used throughout the rest of the Old Testament, this term also shows the relational aspect of God. When we note how it is used in Genesis 2:4-4:26, we see a section that emphasizes the relationships of creation, especially between God and man. Here the name YHWH points toward the covenant God who is immanent (that is, within creation). Interestingly, in the part of Genesis 2 known as the “second creation account,” it is used as a compound term, YHWH-Elohim, pointing to a God who is both transcendent and relational.

Once we realize how these names are used for different purposes to reflect different roles of God, we begin to have a better feel for the structure of Genesis 1 and 2. In chapter 1, where the title Elohim is used consistently, we are given an overview of God as the Great Creator who is outside of creation. The description of the act of creation here is straightforward and matter-of-fact. In chapter 2, where the name YHWH is used, we see in contrast a focus on man and his relationship to the rest of creation as well as to his Creator. This distinction is even more evident when we observe that this second account is arranged topically rather than chronologically.


Before we close, dear friend, I want to remind you that the most important thing you should know about the Bible is that it is the story of God working to save humanity from sin and the consequences of sin. He did this by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for our sins and take the punishment that we deserve on Himself. Romans 5:8 says, “God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, and you want to get to know Him today, all you have to do is believe “that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” and you will be saved. The Bible states in the book of Romans 10:9, 13: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will.

Until next time, remember the word of God is the foundation to a successful life. God bless.

Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in twenty-three foreign countries. He is the author of thirty-four books. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry which publishes a monthly magazine called The Torch Leader. He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts, The Prayer Motivator Devotional and the Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report and the Second Coming Watch Update. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, and a Master’s degree in Religion from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica for twenty-five years. God has blessed their union with seven children. Find out more at Follow Daniel Whyte III on Twitter @prophetdaniel3 or on Facebook.

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