Friday, January 1, 2010

January 1

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?

Ps. 1:1-6

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.

Prov. 1:1-6

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?


  1. Thanks Kim, I really loved your insight. Some of my thoughts: (Gen.) I always love to read the creation account...God had such a BIG BIG plan in the creation, it dazzles me! (Matthew) "she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit" Only God! Again, you just have to marvel at God's plan! (Psalm) Christians have DEEP ROOTS...the world's people seem to have shifting-sand roots, never seeing, always searching, changing, hungering, always thirsty for something else, never satisfied, etc. Thank you, God, for filling us up with your Spirit. And it is a comforting reminder that (vs6) He always watches over us. (Proverbs) Well said!

  2. Mom, I love the thought about the deep roots, especially in comparison with the rest of the world's. I've never thought of it quite like that. I think I've often read that psalm and have longed to be that tree, not feeling like I was. As I've grown, I feel more and more that I AM rooted and constantly nourished by God.

    I also love the idea that the tree yields its fruit in season. Even that wonderful tree has seasons of its life, seasons of fruitfulness and seasons of...not fruitfulness. Barrenness? Winters? The point is, I often think of our trials with Mike. I remember reading those verses at a time when I was confused at why God was letting it all happen (while Mike was still alive), and it jumped out at me that even this very comforting verse implies that life will have seasons. Even that great tree has seasons. I was strangely comforted by that at the time.

  3. I agree wholeheartedly with the awesomeness of the Creation account. I picked up a book at the library because it was in the kids' section called "Creation" seemed right on, and a great illustration of the incredible sights that may have taken place. I was looking for God though, and was sorely disappointed when I got to the end and found the point being .."I it is all mine..all for me. I am the world."

    What? No.

    I was struck by the powerfulness of the creation, how water was moved around, lights came into being ...did animals just "bling!" appear or did God run his finger across the earth and left behind "every living creature"?

    I heard someone say once that if God wanted to use the "Big Bang" approach then he could have. I liked that ..God's methods are way different than anything we can comprehend with our limited knowledge of the scientific world!

    Also, one thought that struck me was that we are somewhat limited in the descriptions of all that considering that a man wrote it, you know? God inspired, of course but a man who was limited by vocabulary was trying to describe "Waters" "day/night" "skies" "sun/moon" ...interesting.

    I mean, I am wondering ..when God placed the sun and moon ..was that when He created space and all the universes beyond the one connected to earth? Did he create the planets (stars I guess so), the magnetic pull of the earth ..etc..all then? Did it appear all at once or did he work with it a bit, pull this planet back, spin this on this way, and that one this way. Did he hide stuff far away from us ..and if so, why? dont know.

  4. That one was getting long so I thought I would wrap my thoughts up here ...

    About Matthew, I was struck by the "love story" today. Poor Joseph, and poor Mary! Sure, God was there and sent an angel to her ..for real!..but trying to convince your almost-husband to be of that? No wonder he sought to divorce her quietly (I dont blame him, really). Then, it was kinna nice of God to send an angel his way. I bet both Joseph and Mary were so relieved! They got to be together afterall :)

    And, I was struck (not for the first time) that Jo was such a man. It was like he took up his part of it with all the passion of a young man in love. He took Mary into his house, he didnt "join with her" until after the baby was born, he sought shelter for her when it was time to have the child ..he was good guy. I think that Mary gets alot of credit for God's choice for her being Jesus' mother, but how much did Joseph play into God's choice of an earthly family too?

    Psalms - I think these verses are so visual! So simple, but expressive. I love your mom's omments about roots. How perfectly fitting for this world of constant change!

    Proverbs - Its like the Bible is everything you need :)

    Well, I am having a blast so far ..thanks Kim for the work I know you will pour into this this year! I am excited to see what God does with it!

  5. Court,
    Thanks for all your comments! More and more, with the creation account, I just feel like God tells us what we need to know. What we needed to know--and what man has always needed to know--is that He made us, and He loves us, and He has a purpose for it. The scientific stuff--not so important. Maybe the hand of God looked like what we call a Big Bang, maybe not. Maybe we are way off with that. But that's not really the point.

    It's probably because I am NOT a scientist that none of that stuff bothers me in the least.

    And with Mary and Joseph, I have definitely been struck in the past with sympathy for them. As you know, I definitely get attached to my own plans, dreams, and mental pictures. And when God derails those plans for His own superior purposes, often my sinful nature gets frustrated. Imagine not even getting to have sex before you had a BABY in the house. I'm sure a lot of that whole process was nothing like what they had planned and dreamed about. Of course, it was for an infinitely more superior purpose, but...

    This story is a good reminder to me that God's plans are always better than mine. I like to take the comfortable, easy, pain-free way. He aims much higher.

    Okay, I know I don't have to respond to every comment, but this is so fun! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Kim, I appreciate your ambition! I had thought about doing a blog a few years back when I led a read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year discussion at church. It was tough to find time and I eventually lost it (about a week in, lol). I hope you are able to keep it up! I finished the entire Bible yesterday. I will probably just do the New Testament this year. It's cool that y'all have so much support/accountability. Get-R-done! :)