Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the Book of Genesis. This is study #26 of Genesis, chapter 8 and we are continuing to look at Genesis 8:20-22:
And Noah builded an altar unto JEHOVAH; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar. And JEHOVAH smelled a sweet savour; and JEHOVAH said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done. While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.
In our last study we were looking at the historical action that Noah took in building an altar and taking of every clean animal and fowl and offering burnt offerings on the altar, which is sacrifice. We notice that the first act performed in the new world after coming out of the ark was to build the altar and offer the sacrifice. We began to look at the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible tells us that Christ’s sacrifice in paying for sin was a finished work at the foundation of the world. We saw that there are direct statements in the Bible to that effect. Revelation, chapter 13, verse 8 tells us that Jesus was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world and Hebrews 4, verse 3 confirms that the works were finished from the foundation of the world. I want to read that verse again because it is very interesting how the finished works are related to the Sabbath. It says in Hebrews 4:3:
For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
Notice that it speaks of “rest” and this identifies with the Sabbath Day and with God resting after performing six days of work to create this world. He rested on the seventh day and He established the seventh day Sabbath, the day of rest. From the very beginning and from the very first week of creation, it was established and this seventh day Sabbath continued all the way to 33AD, so it was in effect for 11,045 years. It was the Law of God that people were to observe every seventh day as a day of “rest.” Whether or not people did so is not the point. The point is that God commanded it as the proper thing for the creature created in the image of God to do.
Why was there such an enormous emphasis upon this day of rest? From the beginning of the world, God emphasized that day to mankind every seven days, every week of every month of every year for 11,000 years. The day of rest would come around one more time each week – stop the work. You would no longer do the job you do throughout the week to make money, but focus on “rest.” The reason God gave this day of rest is found in Hebrews 4:3: “As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest…” This is also referring to the Promised Land because the entry into the land of Canaan identified with the Sabbath rest and it identifies with the new heaven and new earth. As the people of Israel crossed the Jordan and entered the Promised Land, it was an historical parable of how God’s people would someday cross from this world to the next. And how would they do it? They would cross over upon “dry ground,” just as Noah and everyone in the ark came out onto dry ground to inhabit the new earth. The Israelites crossed the dry river bed of Jordan and entered the Promised Land and into God’s “rest.” Again, that “rest” and the seventh day “rest” both point to Christ’s work of atonement, as it goes on to say in Hebrews 4:3:
… although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
This is really what the Sabbath Day represents. It was the day God instituted for mankind and no work was performed on that day. The Sabbath Day rest was a sign. It was a Law given by God to instruct people that the necessary work for salvation (the payment for sin) was completed. The work was done. The payment for the sins of the elect was made. The Law demanded “death” as the only acceptable payment for sin: “The wages of sin is death.” That was accomplished and, therefore, right away upon the creation of the world God established the Sabbath rest to teach mankind that the work was already finished. You can do no work. The work has been completed. And, therefore, it says, “although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.” This fits with Revelation 13, verse 8 where it says that Christ was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. It was Christ’s work of atonement. It was the death He died as He was bearing the sins of His people and paid for our sins that established the foundation. That is why it is important to say, “from the foundation of the world” rather than to say, “before the foundation of the world,” because His death formed the basis of that foundation. It was, itself, the foundation of the world. So if we say that Jesus was the Lamb slain “before” the foundation, it is not accurate. It gives us the wrong idea that He died and then the world’s foundation was formed and we are incorrectly thinking that the foundation of the world is just related to the creation of the world as God spoke and brought everything into existence, like the building of a house, and we would be connecting something that really should not be connected. Rather, it was His dying for sin and His resurrection after paying for those sins that is the “foundation.” The Bible says in 1Corinthians 3:11:
For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
He is the foundation. It is not just Christ in the sense that He is the Creator, but Christ is the foundation because He rose from the dead, declared to be the Son of God. It is that death and resurrection that is the foundation. It was the foundation that was in place and then God created. Again, Jesus Christ died in eternity past at some point and that is a mystery to us. We cannot grasp the idea of “points” in eternity past. The Bible tells us that God had mercy on His people from everlasting to everlasting, or from eternity past to eternity future. It was at some “point” in eternity past that Christ died and that formed the basis of the foundation for the earth. And not just this earth, but for the earth that we look forward to as we live in this cursed world; we are looking ahead with hope and expectation to that new earth and new heaven in the new creation. Christ’s death from the foundation of the world is also the foundation of that world to come. That is why in Genesis, chapter 2 we saw some strange and unusual language in regard to a focus on the Sabbath Day of rest. It says in Genesis 2:1-2:
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
Again, why did the Lord rest? Was he tired or weary from His labor because it took so much out of Him to create the heavens and the earth? Well, we do not get that impression at all from the account when we read Genesis, chapters 1 and 2. We read that God spoke and, all of a sudden, the sun, moon and stars appeared; God spoke and this happened or that happened and the Bible tells us that God does not get weary – He is not like man. We expend our energy and we need to rest and renew in order to regain our strength for the next day. God is not like that. The all- powerful and Almighty God took His time to create over the span of six days. He could have done it in one day or one moment, but He very deliberately created one aspect of creation on day one and He created something else on day two, and so forth, throughout the course of the six days. Then, very deliberately and with purpose, God ceased to work and on the seventh day He rested “from all his work which he had made.”
It had nothing to do with God needing to rest, but He was resting in order to teach and illustrate that the works were finished, as Hebrews 4, verse 3 tells us, from the foundation of the world. And then He points to the “rest” that was provided by that finished work; that is, Christ’s sacrifice and death on behalf of the elect was performed at the foundation of the world, providing Sabbath rest and providing the rest of salvation for the people predestinated to obtain it. The whole company of the elect would enter into that rest and obtain the wonderful and glorious gift of salvation and they would obtain it without performing the slightest bit of work. The Bible makes a point to emphasize that anyone that does the very smallest bit of work (like picking up a few sticks) will bring death to that individual. The “rest” must be complete and total and there is nothing that the individual chosen by God to obtain salvation must do – there is no work of any kind. It has all been done for us and we rest in the finished work of Christ from the foundation of the world. So God rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made. Then it says in Genesis 2:3:
And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.
Again, it is a wonderful fact of history that God created the world in six days and then rested the seventh day, but it is also a wonderful spiritual truth that He did so in order provide a living illustration of His salvation program and of what Christ had already accomplished at the foundation of the world.
So God established the Sabbath Day. Then it says in Genesis 2:4:
These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that JEHOVAH God made the earth and the heavens,
We talked about this before. I pointed out that Mr. Camping wrote a booklet called, “The Glorious Garden of Eden,” and he pointed out that this verse is unusual because God first speaks of the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, and then He says, “in the day He created the earth and heavens.” In the first part of the verse He said, “the heavens and the earth” and in the second part He reversed the order and said, “the earth and the heavens.” The second part using that particular word order is not found that often and it directs us to Revelation 20, which talks about a time when this present earth and heavens are passing away and the new world is coming into existence. So in this booklet Mr. Camping pointed out this truth: God established the new heaven and new earth at the same time He established our present heavens and earth. It all depends upon Christ’s sacrifice at the foundation of the world.
Again, notice that Genesis, 2, verse 4 says, “These are the generations,” and that word “generations” can be translated as “beginnings,” so it could say, “These are the beginnings of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that JEHOVAH God made the earth and the heavens.” If we think about a “day” at the foundation of the world, there was no time, so there was no “day,” but we read in Psalm 118:24:
This is the day which JEHOVAH hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
This reference to “the day” is a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ, the “day” of salvation. It ties in with what we read in Mark 2:27:
And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:
It does not say “day” here, but that is what the Sabbath is and it is the Sabbath Day that was made for man: “This is the day which JEHOVAH hath made.” God rested after working six days on the seventh day Sabbath. It is the day that God has made and it was made for man; that is, the rest of Christ’s finished work was made in order to provide salvation for God’s elect that were chosen by His grace and according to His good pleasure.
It says in Hebrews 1:5:
For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?
And this gets us right back to the whole discussion of Christ dying as He bore the sins of His people at the foundation of the world. He successfully paid for our sins and He rose again from the dead and it was through the resurrection from the dead that He was declared to be the Son of God: “Thou art my son,” and that was the declaration of God that was made in eternity past at the point that Christ arose from the dead. He was the “firstborn” at that time. When a new baby comes forth, a man says, “This is my son.” He does not wait until that son is 20 years old – it is immediate. As soon as Christ rose up and came to life again, He was risen or resurrected from the dead, the “firstborn” Son of God and it was declared by the Father, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.” He became the “day” of salvation and the very essence of it. He became the Sabbath “day” because He is the foundation of all that would follow. He is the “rest” for all His people.
That is why God uses this language to embody all these things and this all happened in eternity past. We cannot understand progression in eternity past very well at all, but this all happened at some point in eternity past and then at another point God created this world. He created this world, knowing the end from the beginning, and knowing there would be the fall of man. He had a redemption program to redeem certain ones and make them His sons and daughters, and so forth. God knew all that and Christ’s finished works were the foundation and it formed the basis for this world and everything that would happen in this world. And when this world is destroyed and the new heavens and new earth come into existence and God brings His people into that new creation, it is built on the same “foundation.” It is the atonement that Jesus made when He died as the Lamb from the foundation of the world.
Christ is the only foundation. There can be no other. God has established that the new heavens and new earth are built upon Him and that is why the first thing that Noah did when he came out of the ark into the new world was to perform a sacrifice as he offered up the clean animals upon the altar, directing our attention to this absolute fact and absolute truth: Christ’s death is also the reason why there will be a new heaven and new earth. It was His death from the foundation of the world that has brought His people into everlasting life, so we are reminded of this from the start. This is the Gospel. It is the wonderful and magnificent salvation plan of God. He not only looked in to the future regarding this world, but He looked in to the future of the next world that will exist for evermore.