I am beginning an entirely new life as of August 21, 2009–leaving the past behind, pressing on into Scripture, and reclaiming some aspects of my life that have been allowed to grow shallow. Part of this reclamation project is to read through Scripture all over again. I will go slowly and not press the issue of hurrying. I want to hear God’s voice and story all over again with fresh ears and see his words with fresh eyes. I will be going from beginning to end, straight through, and blogging what I learn along the way. I might read more than one chapter a day, but I will be blogging every chapter I read. Part of my transition out of paid ministry is to be recaptured by the Word of God all over again from an ‘unprofessional’ point of view. I need to be refreshed in the Scripture and get my bearings back. This is my first step in that endeavor: reading Scripture all over again for the first time. There’s a lot of hurt that goes along with transitioning from what you have always known to something entirely unknown. I will need food, good food, along the way. I think the Bible is a good place to start. I hope you will care to join me.–jerry
Reclamation Project, Day 1
It is easy to engage in debates and arguments concerning what Genesis 1 means. I, myself, have argued those lines. It is a no-win battle. What is often not argued is what is stated in the text. That is, let’s try hard not to read into the text our modern arguments, but instead let’s take time to simply read what a typical Hebrew might have read or heard read if they went to a synagogue on the Sabbath. How would they have heard the words?
I think they would have heard about God. There would not have been the sort of debates that we engage in when it comes to Scripture in general or Genesis in particular. They would have heard about God. I think sometimes I have been so ready to see what I think about God in Scripture that I have overlooked what God actually is in Scripture; especially Genesis. So note with me a couple of the more obvious things about Genesis 1 that I never hear anyone debating because they are so consumed with whether or not Genesis is talking about their favorite story of our origins.
First, God is. Genesis begins with God. This means the Bible begins with God. This means that the history recorded in the rest of the Bible begins with God. This means the beginning begins with God. God is. It’s rather simple. I think an original reader would have heard that. God is.
Second, God speaks. All through this chapter there is one voice that dominates the entire cosmos, there is one voice that is consistently heard in the beginning: God’s. We don’t know much about this God who is, but we instantly learn that He is, He is Spirit, and that He speaks. I think this means we should be interested in what he says, we should listen to his voice, and if he speaks in the beginning, does he speak again? What does he say? How does he say it? Why does he say it?
Third, God does. This God, of whom we know little so far, is doing things. He is making worlds. His voice is power to create, power to make, power to do. His voice, the only voice speaking in the entirety of the cosmos—makes worlds. ‘God made’ is heard over and over again in this chapter. His voice is permissive, “let there be.” Only he determined when it was right for these things to be and to happen.
Fourth, God blesses and commands. “God blessed them and said, ‘be fruitful and multiply.’” The work that he has called us to do (he gives the same command to creatures and man, verses 22, 28) is an aspect of his blessing for us. Tending gardens, pro-creating—being given power to make as he made, bearing his image, receiving his creation as our own, all of these things are part of his blessings for us. This God, who is described to us only once, ‘Spirit,’ interacts with his creation. He charges beasts and man alike to continue the work of creation that he started. God shares.
Fifth, God wants to be known. I believe God desires that knowledge of him be made abundantly evident in the creation. Paul says that since the creation, God’s invisible attributes, his eternal power, his divine nature have been clearly perceived ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made (Romans 1:20). I always thought this meant that God could be seen in the trees, in volcanoes, in stars and planets, in rivers, lakes, oceans, and things like that. But look what Genesis says: It is man and woman who bear the image of God. God’s power, his divine nature, his invisible attributes are not best seen in trees and rocks and mountains but in human beings—the ones who bear His image. God wants to be known–and we are the ones to show forth God. He created us in his image which means, I guess, that He has decided what we are to show of him. How will we do?
It was man who was charged with the responsibility to bear the image of God. It is man and woman who are created in the image of God not trees, not lemurs, not badgers, not lumps of coal, not angler fish. God wants his image to be seen on this earth in human beings. In a sense we are the visible manifestation of what is invisible (Spirit). We are to be the ones who make known what is unknown.
I will be interested to see how this story unfolds and what else this God has to say. I will be interested to see if this man and woman will bear his image the way he wants us to. In the meantime, this first chapter of the Bible gives us a great introduction to God even if the picture of God is not yet entirely fleshed out for us.
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