Today we begin with Day 1 in which we read Genesis 1, Psalm 1 and Matthew 1:1-17
Old Testament – Genesis 1
In Genesis 1, we read the familiar account of creation. The question naturally arises – should we take this literally?
Taking the account literally is a defensible position however I think that the text is better understood if it is read stylized account of literal events. Traditionally, the Church interprets the first 11 books of Genesis this way. In other words, they are a story recounting actual events kind of like the way a movie might depict the life of a real person – like Lincoln or Patton.
The traditional understanding of the 7 days of creation is that they are not literally 7 day but 7 acts of God’s will. God says, “Let there be light” and everything that has to happen in the natural world for there to be light occurs. This may have taken a billion years in natural time but it would have been instantaneous to God. Thus, each act can analogized to a day to incorporate the two realities of each occurrence.
What I find powerful about the depiction of the events in Genesis chapter 1 is how closely they resemble the general understanding of how the earth developed given us by science. The leading theory of how the universe was created is that from nothing there was a “Big Bang”. Literally, “let there be light”. Stars form. The planets are formless and void but eventually cool and develop atmospheres. Life begins in the water. Eventually plants grow. Animals appear and eventually evolve into man. It is mind blowing to think how some writers about 3,000 years ago produced an account remarkably consistent with modern science.
New Testament – Matthew 1
Some quick things about Matthew:
It was most likely written by the Apostle Matthew. Much scholarship in the 1960’s to 80’s advocated the position that the author was someone else. However, this has largely been debunked and the traditional authorship by the Apostle Matthew is the more defensible position. The date of the book can safely be placed from about A.D. 50 to 60, with dates as late as A.D. 80 possible.
Matthew the Apostle was of course Jewish and the book is written for a Jewish audience. Hence the genealogy that begins the book, Matthew is establishing Jesus’ decent from the royal line of David thus establishing his right to the kingly inheritance of Israel.
In addition, we are told elsewhere that Matthew was a tax collector. This helps establish the books credibility. Tax collectors were ostracized members of Jewish society. Simply put, you wouldn’t name a book after a tax collector if you didn’t have to. It would be the equivalent of naming a book on learning to trust and tell the truth after Richard Nixon or Bill Clinton. Matthew’s affinity for numbers can also be seen throughout the book.