OT: Gen. 1:1-2:25
Wow--so many wonderful thoughts hit me as I read through the creation story. One was just the beauty of the passage. It truly is poetic--I love the refrain, "And there was evening, and there was morning, the ______ day." I also found it to be very self-affirming. If I ever doubt my identity or importance, I should just turn to Genesis 1-2. The message I heard today was that God--the same God who spoke into existence the earth, the sun, the moon, and the stars--created me and cares deeply about me. I was struck by the immense love shown in God's creation of man. Genesis 1 says (and emphasizes by repetition) that God creates man and woman in His own image. Then, He immediately blesses them and sets them above all the rest of his creation. He essentially gives the rest of His creation to them for nourishment. In Genesis 2, the text goes further and says that God "formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life" (7). This is definitely not the "hands-off" approach He took with the rest of creation. Here, God shapes man with his own hands and physically breathes life into him. God then goes further and lovingly plants Adam a wonderful garden in which to live. And still, it is not good enough. He feels that man needs an earthly companion, and so He creates woman, also in His own image (see Gen. 1). Man and woman reflect God's image in different and yet complementary ways. I just love how God seemed so eager to create man, cherish him, and give him everything he could possibly need and want.
I think this all strikes me so much because I have begun to understand more and more how truly insignificant I am compared to God. It is truly amazing that an infinitely powerful God takes such an intimate interest in his frail creation. Such a love is incredibly humbling.
It's funny--whenever I think about the creation account, the main things that pop into my head are all my second-grade-level questions. How can the earth be formless and void, yet full of water? How can there be light when there is no sun? What did it mean, that the clouds separated the waters above from the waters below? Why does it say that God created all the seed bearing plants in Genesis 1, and then that there were not yet any seed bearing plants when God created man in Genesis 2?
But this morning, none of those questions occurred to me. This morning, I feel like I had insight into what the text was saying. It is not a scientific document, and it doesn't claim to be. It is simply not logical to apply modernist scientific standards to a premodern text. I had an older, more scientifically-minded gentleman at church once volunteer to me that our very definitions of morning and evening are dependent on the rise and setting of the sun. Thus, when God says morning and evening in Gen. 1, before He even makes the sun, He must have meant something else. That makes sense to me, but like I said, I just don't know if it is in our best interest to apply modern scientific standards to a text that does not claim to hold them.
If anything, I think it is more helpful to compare the creation story to the competing myths at the time. The Babylonian creation myth, for example, the Enuma Elish, is incredibly violent and bloody, and humans are an afterthought. The gods decide to create humans from the blood of an enemy god, and so they kill him and create humans to perform menial tasks for them. Lovely. How different from the picture of creation where God, the only God, creates humans as the crowning achievement of all of His creation, where God loves humans and wants a relationship with them. How so very different.
NT: Mt. 1:1-2:21
It is a great "coincidence" that the New Testament reading today perfectly continues the theme of God's love for us. What has elapsed between Genesis and Matthew are God's repeated attempts to have a relationship with man, and man's continual cycle of rebellion and restoration. Matthew tells Part 2 of God's grand plan, continued from the Part 1 of creation and the Garden of Eden. Part 2 redeems what human sin destroyed in Part 1. It redeems not only the souls of humanity, but the chance for unity with God.
[I will often probably list questions to pursue. These are things I am interested in, but don't have time right now to look it up. If anyone knows these, then by all means, answer!:) ]
Questions to pursue: Is Amminadab in v. 4 the same one whose house the ark stayed at in my recent Wed. night lesson? Was Hezekiah the son of the evil Ahaz? Is that the same one? I think I remember that being the case. Is that Josiah (11), the good Josiah I remember? Were the Israelites really carried off into captivity the generation after his reign? If so, wow. Does the genealogy skip the exiled period ("after the exile" in v. 12), or does it include those in the exiled period? The names there sound different. Maybe more Persian? If so, at what point in the genealogy did they return from exile?
I adore this passage; I always have, ever since I had to memorize it once in VBS. I so want to be that tree planted by streams of water, who yields its fruit in season. That image gives me peace and joy.
Truly, the full extent of my reflection upon reading this was: "Sounds good.":) The intro to Proverbs always whets my appetite for wisdom, so I'm excited to get to read the book on a daily basis.
Okay, that's enough for now. If anyone is reading this, I encourage you to share as well. What parts of today's reading stood out to you? What thoughts/comments/questions did you have?