Reflections on Genesis 2

If Genesis 1 doesn’t make you feel special by being God’s final, very good creation Genesis 2 should do it for you. Of all six days of creation the story focuses on the sixth day when God created man. God takes the lifeless dust of the ground and forms a man out of it. God breathes into his nostrils the breath of life and Adam comes to life. Now, man was not the only one to receive the breath of life. Animals got that too (7:22) but nowhere in the text does it give such a personal account of the animal kingdom getting such hands on treatment. Then Genesis leaves you hanging for about eight verses wondering what this new, belly buttonless, guy is up to. Rivers are named and treasures are mentioned.

Life and death:
God takes Adam and places him in the garden. What it means for God to take him and put him is beyond me. Was he lifted up and dropped in there walked by the hand? Who knows but God did it. God gave him one command, the first command ever given, don’t eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Eat it and you will certainly die. You might think he would have been banned from eating of the tree of life (2:9 & 2:24) but that isn’t mentioned here. As Sarna points out…this story is more interested in how we live than it is preoccupied with keeping people from dying as the Egyptians and many other people around them were obsessed with.

In 2:18 God recognizes Adam’s need for community. Just as God lives in community so should his people. Just as we are made in God’s image God produces from Adam’s very body a companion. Walton explains that what is called a “rib” in 2:21-22 is more like the flesh and bones of his side. That makes since because following that Adam calls her “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” They were together. They were naked. They were one. They were not ashamed.

What they had can be described as perfect intimacy. There were no other people to compete for their attention, just them and God. They didn’t have any walls to put up. They didn’t have to worry about fidelity. They were perfectly vulnerable, naked, unashamed and safe. That is how God meant for all this to be but too often we get in the way or we do things that bring shame into it all and goof it all up.It would be so nice if the story could just go on like this but right when it seems like it couldn’t get any more perfect we hit the very next verse in 3:1, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God has made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?'” and it all comes crashing down. Some commentators link up 2:25 and 3:1 noting a play on words between “naked” and “crafty” because they are very similar in Hebrew. Maybe there is a connection we can draw from that. When things are going well, Satan does his best to trip us up. That brings up the question of whether or not the serpent is Satan. I will get to that in the next post. But either way one of Satan’s purposes in life is to destroy appropriate intimacy between people and between God and to foster inappropriate intimacy, lighting fires of passion where they should not be.


Reflections on Genesis 1 – God Our Creator

In John Walton’s NIV Application Commentary he points out that the verb “Bara”, translated “to create” occurs 48 times in the Hebrew Old Testament. Every single time God is the subject of the verb and when God creates he doesn’t manufacture out of existing materials. God creates from nothing (ex nihilo). God is on a completely different level than we are. We say we create things but it has a completely different flavor and level of power and authority than when God creates something. We are really more like assemblers of things that already exist than we are actual creators.

God’s orderly creation:
Many have pointed out that there is a pattern to how God created the heavens and the earth. First he creates the space and then he fills the corresponding space. Longman charts it out in his book “How to Read Genesis” on p.105

Day one                                       Day two                                Day three
Light/Dark                                   Sky/water                               Land

Day four                                      Day five                                 Day six
Sun, moon, stars                        Birds/fish                                Animals & humans

Walter Brueggeman points out more order to the creation story pointing out the symmetrical nature of each day (Genesis, Interpretation, 30):

  • Time: “there was evening and morning”
  • Command: “God said, ‘Let there be…'”
  • Execution: “And it was so.”
  • Assessment: “God saw that it was good..”
  • Time “there was evening and morning”

His point is that God’s creation is not chaotic. It is orderly and created with purpose and precision. He believes that God’s commands are somewhat passive, “Let there be” rather than strictly authoritative, “Light appear!” He says God “gives permission” for creation to take place. God certainly does the creating. He is not negating that but the way in which he creates is spoken permission for things to be. His authority speaks for itself when those things appear just as he said they should.

Man’s special place in creation:
Not only does God differentiate Day six from the rest by saying it was all “very good” but even the verb used in creating man is different from the other five days. God made everything else but when it comes to man God “formed” him (Gen 2:7). Why the different verbage from the rest of the creation story when it comes to mankind? In his excellent Genesis commentary Nahum Sarna points out that this verb is “yasar” and has the same root as the Hebrew word for potter “yoser”. He says that Hebrew word is translated both potter and creator. Does that mean God was “hands on” when he created Adam from the dust of the ground? What is more the word for “dust” here is the same word as “clay” which a potter uses to form his pots. Now that is something. God cares for us. God is personally involved in creating us. David said God knit him in his mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). What is more God “breathed” life into man. Did God do that with the fish and birds? Did God make the animals “in his image”?

Made in God’s image:
Several commentators point out that kinds often used images to stand in their absence in distant lands they had conquered. It was a reminder of who the king was, his power and his sovereignty. People are made in God’s image. We are here on the earth proclaiming that God is sovereign and that he rules over our lives. Our very bodies are bear witness that God is real. God is alive and well.

God is still involved in the creation process:
On the seventh day God rested. So what is he doing now? Deists say God is like a clockmaker who made the world, wound it up and lets it run down. He is hands off. The Bible teaches us that God continues to create. Although God rested on the Sabbath the Jews believed that God continued to work in creation. The most obvious examples were God’s work in conception of babies in the womb and through circumcision that had to be done 8 days after birth even if that day was a Sabbath. God was still at work and God could accept circumcision on the Sabbath. One of the accusations brought against Jesus was that the messiah would not work on the Sabbath but Jesus points out that God still did and so would he (John 7:21-24)

It is important for us to realize that God has revealed himself through scripture to be active and engaged in the world. He didn’t wind it up and put it on a shelf. God works in and through creation because God loves us too much to leave us alone. I am reminded of the opening lines of Gensis…” 1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”

The Spirit of God was right there hovering over it all. God is present and God is working. God is forgiving sin and creating people and newly creating people. God is love and God is creative and all God makes is good. If anything in all creation is messed up it is because we tend to do that to the things we “create” on this earth. Fortunately in all the new beginnings in Genesis redemption is on the list!

Reflections on Genesis 1 – Background

I recently realized that our men’s class hadn’t studied a single Old Testament book in depth in at least five years. So last night we started a class on Genesis and from time to time I want to share some reflections that come out of preparing to teach that class.

First there is the title. Our title “Genesis” comes from the Greek Old Testament (aka Septuagint) and means “origins.” The Hebrews were far more innovative in creating titles for their books than that. They just took the first word in Genesis and made it the title. That word means “In the beginning.” Genesis is a book of origins. It explains the origin of people, the world, sin and redemption, the Hebrew nation (not to be confused with Gator nation) and last how God’s people ended up in Egypt. There is one origin that is left out and that is the origin of God. Unlink the other ancient religions the God of the Hebrews had no beginning or end.

Then there is the issue of time. Genesis presupposes that God is without beginning or end. Time doesn’t even appear to be an issue until the fourth day when God made the sun, moon and stars to designate set periods of time. The issue of seven days doesn’t seem to be so much an explanation of how long creation took more so that there was order to it and that it grew out of God’s creative speech in a certain order. The first 12 chapters spans thousands (or millions of years depending on your point of view) but the last 39 chapters is really about one family spanning a few hundred years at best.

Genesis never tells us who wrote it. It is anonymous. The Pentateuch is referred to as the “Law of Moses” in several places in the OT including Joshua 1:7-8 and 2 Chronicles 25:4. Jesus refers to Moses being the author (Mtt 19:7, Mark 7:10). So we assume that Moses was the primary author of Genesis-Deuteronomy. However, we know there are certain passage that did not come from Moses (see Numbers 12:3 & Deut 34). That is not earth shattering and should not be a stumbling flock to our faith. It is also not an issue when it comes to acceptance as inspired scripture. Genesis through Deuteronomy are still useful for building and informing our faith regardless of the process in which it was completed in the form we have today.

Competing Stories:
People have wondered where the world came from since the beginning of time. Many have attempted to answer that question by telling stories of their own to give explanation to what they see around them in the world. Many of the cultures surrounding God’s people in the ancient world had their stories. One of the most prominent creation stories was the Babylonian creation story Enuma Elish. Without getting into too many details their story says that matter was pre-existent. The gods were created and created more gods. They got disgruntled and battled it out. The result was Marduk, one of the elder gods, was killed and his body split in two. One half was made into the heavens and the other half made the earth. Mankind was created out of dust and demon blood (really a great beginning to our story…right?). What you end up with are “gods” that look and act a whole lot like people.

Our Story:
One thing I love about our story as Christians is that it is so unlike any other competing story about the super natural or eternal life out there. Yes there are some similarities in teaching with other religions but when you look at the broad theology of both testaments there is nothing else out there quite like it. So the Genesis creation story becomes that much fuller when you hold it up alongside the competing stories of their day and so does the rest of scripture. God is sovereign. He is not vying for power or in competition with anyone else for authority. God speaks and it happens. But He is also willing to set aside his immortality, take on flesh, and show us how to live. He confronted sin and death in a gruelling death match that lasts less than 48 hours (late Friday through early Sunday) and paved the way for us to live life as it was intended to be lived, eternal.

Louie Giglio – How Great is Our God

Awesome video recommended to me by Donny Dillon called Louie Giglio: How Great is Our God. The whole video is just under an hour long and Giglio does a fantastic job talking about how amazing creation is. Here is one segment of the five segments you can find on youtube. The best part is around 5:30 where you get a visual demonstration of how small the earth is in the whole scheme of God’s creation.

The Crucifixion of Christ

We don’t like to leave Christ on the cross for very long. Our theology often gets in a rush to the resurrection. But the resurrection lacks its own possibility if you exclude the crucifixion of Christ. Anyone who has watched the movie The Passion of the Christ was moved by the brutality of what Jesus experienced on our behalf. The Romans weren’t out to make any crucified criminal look good or keep their dignity intact. On Sunday we get 10 minutes to reflect on Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. I wonder what it would be like to reflect on the crucifixion for a full six hours? Several times I have prayed for a full hour but never for six. Imagine yourself at the foot of the cross, looking up at the dying Lord for a full six hours. Imagine the pain you would see, the blood that would flow, the words that were said, and the testimony from those standing nearby. Five minutes would seem like an eternity much less six long and brutal hours. The breathing becomes quicker, the pain more intense, the words more and more loving. And the seconds, minutes, and hours pass by slowly. To see him dead and lifeless hanging there would be heart wrenching. Could you keep your eyes on a bruised, battered and bloody Christ for six full hours? Could you keep your eyes off him?

There are several things that stand out to me when I spend time reflecting on the crucified Lord:

  1. He is concerned for others. He makes preparations for his mother. He forgives sins. He is concerned for the other crucified men around him.
  2. He experiences the full extent of the pain and agony. D.A. Carson points out the two times Jesus was offered wine in his crucifixion. The first is found in Mark 15:23, “wine mixed with myrrh”. Jesus refused this wine as it was intended to dull the pain. But the second offering of wine Jesus took (Mark 15:36). This wine was to ease Jesus’ thirst and would result in prolonging his life and as a result his agony on the cross (Gospel According to John, 620). Jesus really “bore it all” on the cross.
  3. Jesus is in full control. This isn’t an accident. It wasn’t a slip up. He was in control during his arrest and was in control of his crucifixion. Jesus gave up his spirit (John 19:30). It was his decision, his choice, and his obedience to the Father.
  4. There is glory in the unglorious. The cross was designed to degrade and shame those on it. It was a public spectacle designed to kill as much as to deter others from similar offenses. But through the unglorious experience of the cross Jesus received glory from God (John 17:4-5). What is more Jesus was bringing shame on sin and death itself.
  5. Last and most important is the obvious – love. John 3:16 says God loved the world so much that he gave Jesus. This is true in his birth. It is also true in the crucifixion. God gave Jesus fully. He didn’t let the world borrow Jesus and take him back again at a convenient and comfortable time. God fully gave him in order to fully gain us. John 14:1 tells us that through his foot washing Jesus showed his disciples the full extent of his love. That phrase might be better translated that he loved them to the end. The cross really did show them and us the full extent of his love. The creator laid down his life for the creation so that we could lay our lives down to take them up again just as he did.

From the Harding group The Firemen:

God of Wonders Video by Third Day and Caedmon’s Call

Thanks to Third Day and Caedmon’s Call. Absolutely beautiful!

Restoring Our Sense of Wonder

From the very beginning man has been on a mission to subdue and rule over the earth, ” God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” – Gen 1:28

We have been fruitful, we have increased in number to the 6 billion people range. We have traversed and mapped the face of the earth. There are few places that have not known the presence of people. We have categorized and captured many of the fish of the sea, birds of the air and creatures of the ground. We have searched out the depths of the ocean. We have flown across the skies. We have even made it into outer space and walked on the moon. We have even made tremendous strides in understanding the human body, genome, and brain. Things once explained as the deeds of the divine have now been explained by nature. What was once unpredictable has been predicted.

The result? Our sense of wonder has been stolen. We have answers and with that comes a perceived sense of control. What do we have left to restore our sense of awe and wonder?

God Is Hands On

When God made the world and everything it in, he spoke it into existence.

When God made man he made him from the dust of the ground.

When God made woman, he made her from a rib.

You can speak from a distance. God didn’t speak Adam or Eve into existence. He made them and he breathed the breath of life into them. The psalmist calls God’s work in making people “knitting.” When you knit, you have to touch. Just as the potter is hands on with the clay God is hands on in molding our lives. God is hands on in how he creates his people.

The good news is, it doesn’t stop there. God is not some clockmaker who hand makes the clock, winds it up and then is an absentee creator. He tends to it, mends it, resets it, and continues to make it just as beautiful as the day it was first made. God is hands on. God is good.

Christ & Culture – Beauty

★☆★ The Dove self-esteem Fund

The way beauty is defined over time and across cultures varies dramatically. We look to the arctic and to Fiji to find ideal body types that are much more robust than we find in Western cultures of today. We look to the past to the painters of Western Europe several hundred years ago and find pictures of the ideal woman being far more full figured than is often pictured as an ideal in America today. Beauty is not as much romanticized today as it is advertised and commercialized. There is a push to see beauty as extremes and unattainables in an effort to make people uncomfortable with themselves and unsatisfied that they never measure up to what they see on the magazine rack or on television. Dissatisfaction is the key to good marketing and the result is two-fold. The first is that clothing companies, diet companies, and perfume manufacturers all go to the bank with big smiles on their faces. The second is that the typical American woman is totally dissatisfied with their own bodies and can actually end up with psychological problems due to poor body-image and depression.

The methods that we have pushed to attain beauty are potentially harmful and extremes are gone to in order to achieve ultimate beauty but satisfaction is rarely achieved through such means (implantations, augmentations, tucks, staples, lifts, you name it). When you watch the video clip above you realize that even the image they are presenting is a lie. The people we see in the magazines and on the billboards don’t even look that way themselves! Yet we try our best to measure up to the brushed up fantasy world of fashion and walk away even more dissatisfied with ourselves than ever.

God’s definition of beauty:

You can compare yourself to all sorts of images and input from others but they can never define you. God is the only one who has the right to define you as beautiful or not because he created you and in the end it is only his opinion that really matters. Here are some verses to read as you consider how beautiful God sees you!

  • Genesis 1:26-27 – You were made in his image. By definition you have value and beauty because you resemble God.
  • Psalm 139:13-16 – God knit each part of you in place for a reason. God did so with a purpose and he thinks you are beautiful.
  • Ecc 3:11 – Everything is beautiful in its time!
  • Revelation 21:2 – The church is a spiritually beautiful bride being prepared for Christ.
  • 1 Tim 2:9-10 & 1 Peter 3:3-5 – True beauty does not come from outward adornments (name brand fashions) rather from character and actions. We have an inherent values that comes from God.
  • Matt 23:27 – Jesus calls the Pharisees whitewashed tombs. They are pretty and all dressed up on the outside but everyone knows what is inside a tomb.
  • Psalm 45:11 – This psalm talks about the wedding of a daughter to a king and how beautiful he sees her to be.

Child of God, know that God sees you as beautiful. No matter what lies society tries to get you to buy into in order to dissatisfy you, God loves you and he made you beautiful! You are beautiful inside and out because God made both. Have a look in the mirror and maybe for the first time in a long time, be satisfied with who God made you to be!

Adam Stood Tall, Christ Took the Fall

Genesis 2:7 says, “the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground [——-and ——] breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

I wonder if just after forming man from the dust of the ground, God looked down at the lifeless body of Adam and held his breath for a moment…” One more breath meant life for the man and death for his Son. Yet he did it anyway. In my better moments I would like to think there was no hesitation and no temptation to avoid all the heartache and pain by just walking awa. There is no doubt that there was a realization of what the cost would be. And he still did it! He exhaled! And Adam stood tall and Christ took the fall. Praise the Lord!

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