Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Genesis 1-3 In the beginning, God created

As its name implies, Genesis is about beginnings. Genesis tells us that God created everything that exists. It shows that God is both the Creator and the Ruler of all creation. But it also tells of humanity’s tragic fall into sin and death, and of God’s unfolding plan of redemption through his covenant with Abraham and his descendants. Genesis includes some of the most memorable stories in the Bible, beginning with Adam and Eve (chs. 1-4), continuing through Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and ending with the life of Joseph (chs. 37-50), who died before 1600 b.c. Traditionally, Jews and Christians have recognized Moses as the author, writing after the Exodus from Egypt, commonly dated around 1440 b.c. though some prefer a date around 1260 b.c.

(The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Gen). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.)

Gen 1.1 Story; God creates the heavens and the earth.
Gen 1.2 Story; The earth was without form and void, darkness over the deep, God hovered over waters
Gen 1.3-2.3 Story; The seven days of God speaking, naming and allocating tasks

Gen 2.4 Story; The generations of the heavens and the earth
Gen 2.5-20 Story; Creation story repeated, the LORD created Adam
Gen 2.21-25 Story; The LORD gives Adam a woman as a helper

Gen 3.1-7 Sin-Story; Adam and Eve are tempted by the serpent and disobey God
Gen 3.8-13 Story; The LORD God questions Adam and Eve on their actions
Gen 3.14-15 Story; The LORD curses the Serpent
Gen 3.16 Story; The LORD curses the Woman
Gen 3.17-19 Story; The LORD curses the Man
Gen 3.20-24 Story; The LORD makes garments for Adam and Eve and exiles them from the garden

Passage and comments
It seems appropriate to start the blog focusing on God’s first act - Creation. The Old Testament starts with;

1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. (Gen 1.1)

In the beginning there was God. He existed in the beginning. We know from other scriptures that God is eternal. What I mean by that is He has no beginning and no end. The alpha and omega.

God created the heavens and the earth. I realise creation is a sensitive subject for some, so I might recommend a book I read that tries to explain a common meaning of ‘created’ in the Old Testament. The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate, by John H. Walton. His idea is that ‘create’ can be used in the sense of ordering existing elements. A bit like forming a new company out of things like people, buildings and items.

The text continues stating the existence of the earth before it has been made into anything.

2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. (Gen 1.2)

So what is clear from this text is that the earth already existed, it was ‘without form and void’. The ‘deep’ already existed and the ‘waters’ already existed. This imagery is common to ancient near eastern creation accounts. Not to say Moses cut and pasted these accounts, rather he used their language and concepts to communicate his worldview. What is his worldview?

3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day. (Gen 1.3-5)

The Hebrew God is the one who created. God continues bringing order out of chaos forming the world in which he will inhabit. Like a temple.

Story of Israel
Within the history of Israel, the temple represented the place where God dwelt amongst his people. The sad story of Genesis 1-3 and Israel is that in both cases the people God brought to himself were kicked out. Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden, Israel was kicked out of the promised land. Throughout the Old Testament we will see sin, judgment and exile. But that is not all. God promises to restore. It takes a long time for these promises to manifest themselves. But the start of the Gospel of John creates a link between creation and the restoration promised throughout the scriptures.

Story of Jesus
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (Jn 1.1-5,14)

The word became flesh. His name is Jesus.