Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Genesis in a Nutshell 1

The Creation
1. "When God began to create the skies and the land, it was formless and empty. Darkness was over the face of the deep and the breath of God moved over the face of the waters. And God said, 'Let there be light.' And there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good... And God called the light, "Day," and the darkness he called, "Night." And the evening and the morning was day one" (1:1-5).

The rest of the first chapter poetically sets out an orderly creation of the world in six "days." Finally, on the sixth day, God creates humans.

"Then God said, 'Let us make humanity in our image, according to our likeness. And let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the skies and over the cattle of the land and over every creeping thing that creeps on the land.' And God created humanity in his own image. In the image of God he created human. Male and female he created them" (1:26-28).

"God blessed them and said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and gain control of it... God saw all that he had made and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day" (1:31).

"And the skies and the land were completed, and all their hosts. By the seventh day God completed the work he had done. And God rested the seventh day from all the work that he had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and set it apart as holy, because on it he rested from all his work which God had created and made" (2:1-3).

2. A later book in the Old Testament, the Psalms, poetically says the following about God in comparison to the creation:

"You of old founded the earth,
     and the skies are the works of your hands.
They will also perish, but you endure.
     They will all wear out like a garment...
But you are the same,
     And your years will not come to an end" (Ps. 102:25-27).

Adam and Eve
3. Genesis 2-3 then give the story of Adam and Eve. In the story, God first creates Adam out of the dust of the earth: "The LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground, breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and Adam became a living being" (2:7). Whenever you see LORD or GOD in all capital letters, you are looking at the name of God in the original Hebrew language, YAHWEH.

God brings the animals to Adam to name. Adam sees that all the other animals are paired into male and female, but for Adam no one was found to be at his side (2:20). So the LORD God causes Adam to sleep, and while he is sleeping, God creates Eve from his rib.

They are in a garden, the Garden of Eden. They are "naked and unashamed" (2:25).

4. Another one of the Psalms, gives a poetic expression of this creation of humanity. Psalm 8 beautifully reads:

"O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
     Who have displayed your glory above the skies...
When I consider the skies, the work of your hands,
      The moon and the stars, which you have fixed,
What is a mortal, that you remember them
     Or the child of a mortal, that you visit them?
Yet you have made them a little lower than God,
     And you crown them with glory and honor
You make them rule over the works of your hands,
     You have put everything under their feet...
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!"

You can see the way Hebrew poetry works by way of parallelism. You say something in one line, then you repeat it or contrast with it in the next line.

5. Genesis 3 then tells about the "Fall" of Adam and Eve from the glory of the Garden. Snakes crawl on their belly without legs. Men have often worked hard to get fields to yield crops. Women have painful childbirth and have often in history been subject to the demands of men. Why is the world not as God intended it to be?

Genesis 3 tells of two trees in the Garden: 1) the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and 2) the Tree of Life. If Adam and Eve could have eaten regularly of the second tree, they would have lived forever. However, they were forbidden to eat of the first tree.

The first tree was a parable of the knowledge of evil. The snake tempted Eve to eat of it, and she urged Adam to eat of it with her. When they ate the fruit, they indeed came to know evil. They were banished from the Garden and thus were doomed in that moment to die, since they could not eat of the Tree of Life. God administers the punishments mentioned above.

6. The New Testament will later reflect on this story and on the dynamics of sin. A book called James says, "Let no one say when he or she is tempted, 'God is tempting me.' God is not tempted with evil, nor does he tempt anyone. Each person is tempted when they are carried away and enticed by their own desire. Then when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin. And sin, when it is finished, brings forth death" (Jas. 1:13-15).

All the human beings who have lived ever since, except for Jesus, have repeated the same failure as Adam and Eve. A New Testament writer named Paul writes, "All have sinned and are lacking the glory of God," just as Adam and Eve fell from the glorious place that God had given them. The words of Paul echo through our lives: "Death passed to every human being, because everyone sins" (Rom. 5:12).

A New Testament book named Hebrews echoes our current failure to achieve Psalm 8 when it says, "We do not see everything under humanity's feet at present" (Heb. 2:8).

1 comment:

Martin LaBar said...

A good start. Thanks.