It had been well if the first verse, and beginning of the second, had been separated from the after verses, and entitled chapter 1 and thus seen to be distinct from the narrative of God’s constituting the earth as a suitable abode for His creature man. The second verse says that the earth, ere God began again to work upon it, was “tohu,” rendered “without form.” But Isa. 45:18, asserts that God did not create it “tohu.” And in Isa. 34:11, the same two words occur precisely as we have here, “tohu” “bohu” —”confusion and emptiness” as they are translated there. Compare also Jer. 4:23, and Rev. 16:18. From these four passages we are, perhaps, led to infer that judgment had swept over this planet ere man had aught to do with it. Curiosity would here invite us to enter the realms of conjecture, encouraged by the wise and foolish guesses of geology.
But let us from this singular opening of the book learn one most valuable lesson, that the silence of Scripture is itself instructive. Let us therefore refuse to be wise beyond what is written. If it had pleased God that at present we should know more certainly of the early stages through which the earth has passed, He would have told us more. But since He has not, let us bow our heads and confess our ignorance.
It has been said that the Bible is the history of man. Were this the fact, then it would inevitably follow that the proper study of mankind is man. But this is an atheistic sentiment. Better far to say that this Book traces the pathway of God through the narrow isthmus of time, and that it reveals His ways and His doings towards His frail, and sinful, and erring subject, man.
Now in the course of the fifty chapters of which this book is composed, seven men, each one of them a representative man, specially pass before our eyes. The account of The Lord’s dealings with these seven men constitutes the substance of this book. These seven of course are, as is well known, Adam, Enoch, and Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. Many other personages here appear. Still in relation to one or another of these all may be grouped. Therefore we may divide our remarks on this book by ranging what we are told under one or another of these seven, and of God’s action towards each of them.
Upon this most instructive Book of Genesis—the Book of the germs or seeds of everything—writers have been wont to direct their attention principally to the first half thereof. This surely is a mistake and a defect. For the main subject of this book is progressively and regularly developed, even as the work in creation is gradually unfolded in Chapter 1. And accordingly, in the following addresses, care has been taken to trace this development, evidently designed, as well and as much from Chapter 25 to the end, as from Chapter 1 to Chapter 25.