The later Homer Hoeksema was professor of Dogmatics and Old Testament in the Protestant Reformed Seminary.
God’s Creation of Man: (1) The Fact of Man’s Creation
We have seen repeatedly in these studies of Genesis 1that unbelief and faith, when confronted by the same set of facts, come inevitably to different conclusions with respect to those facts.
This is also true with respect to man. It is unquestionably true that man is the highest creature of the earth, that he represents the apex of all creatures, that he stands, at the pinnacle of all earthly things. It is also without doubt true that the animal stands in nature and in form nearest to man and that the universe is characterized by a gradual ascent from the lower to the higher creatures, the highest of whom is man. It is even true that the animals are living souls, and that in this respect the animals are related to the life of man. All these are facts. But with respect to the conclusion, the Christian maintains over against the evolutionist, that it is not true that one creature evolved into the other. Rather, all the various creatures came into existence through God’s special creative work according to which He gave unto each creature, throughout the six days of creation week, its own peculiar and separate nature and its own place in the organic whole of the creation, until in man, created on the sixth day, He unites the world unto Himself.
What is a grave danger, however, is the fact that among those in the Reformed tradition it is becoming a common thing to compromise in one way or another with the philosophy of evolution. For example, it is claimed that while man did not evolve out of the animal, nevertheless God created him “via the animals.” This is taught as a valid interpretation of the scriptural fact that God created man out of the dust of the ground. It is claimed, too, that Adam and Eve were not the first human couple, but that the human race actually existed some two million years prior to Adam and Eve. The biblical narrative in Genesis merely means that God separated Adam and Eve from the rest of the human race in order to deal covenantly with them. By others it is claimed that Adam and Eve did not actually exist and that a Paradise without sin and death also had no real existence. The record in Genesis must be so “interpreted” as to get rid of the element of any literal history in it.
All these claims and attempts are not made, mind you, by the unbelieving world, but they arise within the church. It is characteristic that such claims are made in the name of Christian scholarship, and even Reformed scholarship, and that the various attempts to deny the literally historical truths and facts related in the first part of the book of Genesis are made by those to whom the church ordinarily looks for leadership, guidance, and instruction.Moreover, the deceitful aspect of many of these attempts lies in the fact that they are made under the guise of exegesis, while in fact they are no exegesis whatsoever, but the introduction of mere human speculation, anti-biblical speculation. They are attempts to force upon the Bible theories and views which plainly contradict what the Bible says.
Over against such corruptions we must maintain without compromise the simple and clear language of Scripture concerning the creation of man and concerning the origin and nature of the human race. In fact, it is becoming more and more urgent, as these corruptions multiply within the walls of the church, that we see the danger from the foe within the gate and that we deal with this danger forthrightly and do not allow ourselves and our generation to be deceived and to be deprived of the heritage of the truth. We must see clearly that as soon as one begins to corrupt the truth concerning Adam and his creation, he also corrupts the truth about the entire human race and the truth about sin and its origin. He corrupts the truth concerning salvation in our Lord Jesus Christ and God’s everlasting covenant of grace in Him. Hence, let us pay attention, first of all, to what Scripture says concerning the creation of man.
Of this we read, in the first place, in Genesis 1:26, 27: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”
This is followed by the statement of verse 28: “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” This is followed by the significant statements in verses 29 and 30 assigning to man and to the animals respectively their proper food in the earth as it was before the fall and before sin and death entered. Finally, at the end of chapter 1, in verse 31, we find the summary statement that “God saw everything that he had made and, behold, it was very good,” and then the notice: “And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.”
It is not our intention at the moment to enter into all the details of this biblical presentation; that will be done later. But at present we call attention simply to the facts of man’s creation, and that, too, exactly because there are so many attempts to read into this narrative the whole cunningly devised fable of evolution. We want to point out that the only way in which that can be done is precisely by reading something into the text that is not actually there.
On the basis of the biblical data just quoted, notice the following elements.
1. Notice the fact that there is no continuity in the narrative of Gods work on the sixth day. The record in Genesis 1 does not take us directly from the creation of the land-animals to the creation of man, even though these two works both took place on the same day. These two works are plainly not on the same level. What we find instead is that there is a significant pause before the creation of man. The Lord is now about to create something distinct: a creature who, though he is related to the animal on his earthy side, is nevertheless a distinct creature, not a descendant of the animal. God reveals Himself as speaking before He creates man. He does not speak to the angels. That is impossible for the simple reason that the angels did not participate in the creation of man and man was not made after the image of the angels. Nor is the plural “us” to be explained as a so-called plural of majesty. But God speaks to Himself. He does so as the God who is one in Being and who yet is more than one, namely, three in Persons. This very fact already sets apart the creation of man as a distinct and special creature.
2. Notice the contents of that speech of God. God says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” At present it is our intention only to note this fact; we will enter into the details of its meaning later. But the emphasis falls here on the idea that man is to be a separate creature: he is to be the creature after God’s image. Of no other creature is this true. Nor is it thus, that God created a man and then added the divine image to him. No, God created man in His own image. This is repeatedly emphasized in the text. For this same reason the earth may not merely bring him forth: it will never bring forth the creature in the likeness of God. Neither can man simply be brought forth from God. That is true only of the Son of God by eternal generation. Man must be a creature, and yet a creature that looks like God, reflecting the image and likeness of God. Hence, he must be creatively formed, and formed, indeed, from the earth; yet, he must not merely be brought forth by the earth as are the animals, but be created in God’s image.
3. Notice that God created Adam. We must remember that while in our English rendering we read repeatedly here of “man,” the original term that is translated “man” is throughout the text “Adam.” The name “Adam” is that name for the first man, and for the race of mankind which is out of him, which emphasizes that he is of the earth, earthy: he is made from the ground. Our name “man,” on the other hand, a term which also occurs in Scripture, refers rather to his spiritual nature. But what we wish to emphasize is the fact that there were no so-called pre-Adamite men, who possibly existed some two million years before Adam. Nor were there, by the way, any other men—possibly men on other planets—as some like to suggest today. Adam was the first and only man whom God created.
4. Take note of the fact that already in Genesis 1 we read that God made them male and female. For thus we read in verse 27: “… male and female created he them.” It is true, of course, that in chapter 2 of Genesis we are furnished with the details concerning the creation of the woman. There we read of the fact that the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make an help meet for him.” Later we read of the fact that God brought the animals to man to see what he would call them, after which we read significantly again that for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. Then we read of the deep sleep brought upon Adam, which was not because Adam needed an anesthetic for an operation, but which was due to the fact that God resumed His work of creating; and this work of creation must necessarily fall outside of Adam’s experience. But all of this is simply explanation and details concerning the creation of male and female that is performed on the sixth day. The creation of the first man Adam, the naming of the animals, and the creation of the woman out of the man as an help meet for Adam—all of this was finished on the sixth day.
5. Notice that it is very plain, according to the narrative of Genesis 1:26-28, that man was created as the most highly exalted creature of the earth. His highly exalted position is exactly that he occupies the place of dominion over all other creatures. He is not one of the animals, but he is exalted above them, and that, too, by virtue of his very creation and by virtue of his being created in the image of God. Once more this distinction is emphasized when God, though He ordains that both man and the animals shall live from the earth, nevertheless speaks to man in distinction from the beasts.
6. Finally, it is very plain, according to the text, that all this belongs to the sixth day. Let it be emphasized again that the text of Scripture leaves absolutely no other impression than that this was a real day and a literal day. Not a process of evolution—whether that be theistic evolution or progressive creation or a providentially controlled evolution, or whatever else one wishes to call it—not a process of evolution is portrayed by Scripture. But it is a very definite and special creative act of God’s almighty power, accomplished on the sixth day—the climax of all the work of creation—that Scripture pictures to us.
But once more—almost as though the narrative could not emphasize it enough—our attention is called to man’s creation in the second chapter of Genesis, verse 7, where we read: “And the Lord God formed man out of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
Nor does one find a different note anywhere in all of Scripture. This same creation-truth is simply assumed and acknowledged without argumentation in the New Testament. Our Lord Jesus Christ, in His reply to the Pharisees in Matthew 19:3ff., refers to it when He says: “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, and said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?” The apostle Paul refers to the unity of the entire race in Adam, at Athens, when he says that God “hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on the face of the earth” (Acts 17:26). In Romans 5 he speaks of the one man by whom sin entered into the world, and death by sin. This one man is the real, historical Adam, who also is “the figure of him that was to come” (Rom. 5:12ff.). In I Corinthians 11:8, 9 the apostle speaks of this same creative act: “For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.” Again in I Timothy 2:13 this same historicity is underlying the apostle’s point when he writes: “For Adam was first formed, then Eve.” He then goes on to write about the fall also as historically real: “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” To mention but one more passage, in I Corinthians 15:45 are the well-known words: “And so it is written, the first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.”
We have emphasized these very simple and factual details of the wonderful and incomprehensible and profound work of man’s creation in order to show that the truth of Holy Writ is very plain and very simple. We have done so, too, in order to point out that all the fanciful hypotheses that are conjured up nowadays in the name of Christian scholarship, do not in any way have their origin and their foundation in the Scriptures. They are brought from without, and the attempt is made to cloak them somehow in scriptural terminology and give them a semblance of scriptural justification. But that attempt is vain. We have done so, too, in order to sound the warning that the church cannot tamper with the truth of man’s creation without tampering with all of Scripture and with all related truth.