Thursday, June 29, 2006

Genesis 12

Genesis 12: Abram is introduced

Synopsis

The genealogy at the end of Chapter 11 mentioned the birth of Abram; Chapter 12 begins his story. The Bible doesn’t go into a lot of detail about Abram’s life, before the LORD calls him. He is already 75 years old when his story begins in this chapter.

In fact, the story starts rather abruptly; in the very first verses, the LORD simply tells Abram to get up and go, and move to another country:

The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.

“I will make you into a great nation
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.

I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”

(verses 1–3)

What’s even more surprising is that, as far as the Biblical account goes, Abram simply did it; verse 4 says “So Abram left, as the LORD had told him…” As far as is recorded, there was no argument, he simply did what he was told.

Abram was living in a land called Haran, when the LORD called him. He set off with his wife Sarai, and his nephew Lot. They travel to Canaan—which the LORD promises Abram will one day belong to his offspring—then to Bethel, and then to the Negev. (These names mean as little to me as they do to you, except that you may remember the name Canaan, who was Noah’s grandson.)

Eventually, there was a famine in the land, and the only place that had food was Egypt, so Abram decided to go there. However, he is afraid that the Egyptians will find Sarai so beautiful that they will kill Abram, so that they can have her. So they decide to say that she is his sister, not his wife. They do, and, as predicted, the Egyptians find Sarai to be very beautiful, and take her to the Pharaoh’s palace. Not only that, but verse 16 says that the Pharaoh “treated Abram well for her sake, and Abram acquired sheep and cattle, male and female donkeys, menservants and maidservants, and camels.” Wow. He milked it for all it was worth!

But the LORD inflicted serious diseases on Pharaoh and his household because of Sarai, so they realized what was going on, and asked Abram to leave, and bring Sarai and all of his possessions with him.

Thoughts

If you’re not familiar with the name Abram, you might be more familiar with the name Abraham, which is what Abram’s name is changed to in a later chapter. Similarly, his wife’s name in this chapter is Sarai, but is later changed to Sarah. (These names all mean something, so when we get to the appropriate parts later on, we’ll find out what they mean.)

This weird idea of calling Sarai his sister, instead of his wife, is not only used here; in a later chapter, Abram will try the same trick again. I guess he’s more afraid of death than of losing his wife. The amazing part, to me is that he was allowed to bring all of the stuff they had given him, when he left! The Egyptians had basically given Abram everything they gave him as some kind of dowry, or payment for his sister. You’d think when they found out that they couldn’t “keep” her, that the deal would be off, but I guess they just wanted to be rid of him.

But my most important thought about this chapter is why the LORD called Abram: there is no reason. Abram’s first 75 years are not discussed in the Bible for a reason: because God doesn’t want us to think that he had done things which warranted his calling. The LORD simply chose him, and that was it—it’s a picture of Grace in action.

In Hebrews 11:8–10—a New Testament passage—Abra[ha]m is given as an example of faith; the LORD called him to a land he didn’t know of, and he had enough faith in the LORD to do what he was asked to do. (Hebrews 11:11–12 gives another example of Abraham’s faith, from a chapter of Genesis that we haven’t got to yet.)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Genesis 11

Genesis 11: the tower of Babel, and more genealogy

Synopsis

This chapter starts off with the story of the tower of Babel. At the beginning of the story, everyone still speaks the same language, and also lives in pretty much the same geographical area.

They decide to build a city, “with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth” (verse 4). The LORD, however, does not like this plan. “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” (verses 6–7) So He confuses their language, and scatters them over the Earth.

The rest of the chapter is more genealogy, from Shem to Abram.

Thoughts

The moral of this story, I believe, is that men were becoming proud of themselves, and forgetting about God. They were trying to do things on their own, and flouting their accomplishments in front of His face.

I sometimes wonder, when I read this story, how well they would have done in building the tower, if the LORD hadn’t done what He did.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Genesis 10

Genesis 10: Genealogy

Synopsis

This chapter simply lists Noah’s descendants, and the nations into which they grew.

Thoughts

There’s not much to say about a chapter like this.

Except that one of the people named in this chapter is Nimrod, “who grew to be a mighty warrior on the earth”. (verse 8) I only mention him because, when I was a kid, “nimrod” was a name we used as an insult. “Don’t be such a nimrod”, and that kind of thing. I’m really not sure what the basis is for using his name as an insult, since he’s only ever mentioned favourably in the Bible.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Genesis 9

Genesis 9: God’s covenant with Noah (and, by extension, with us).

Synopsis

I’ve been saying that the flood story took place in Genesis 6–8, although I guess you could consider Chapter 9 to be part of the story as well. Oh well, too late now. I’m not going back and editing my posts for the last three chapters.

Once Noah is out of the ark, in addition to telling him and his family to “be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth” (verse 1), God gives out some rules: do not eat meat with its lifeblood still in it, and do not murder. In verse 6 He says:

Whoever sheds the blood of man,
by man shall his blood be shed;
for in the image of God
has God made man.

We read in Genesis 8:21–22 that God decided never to destroy the world again, as He had done with the flood. In Chapter 9, we read about his promise to Noah to that effect. He even gave us a sign of that covenant: the rainbow.

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.”

(verses 12–17)

Next comes a story which seems a bit bizarre to me: Noah plants a vineyard, drinks some of its wine, gets drunk, and falls asleep inside his tent, naked. His son Ham sees him in the tent, and goes and tells his brothers; his brothers, however—who are named Shem and Japheth—get a “garment”, and walk into the tent backwards, holding the garment, and lay it over their father, being careful not to see him naked. When Noah wakes up, and finds out what Ham had done, he curses Canaan—Ham’s son—because of what Ham has done, and blesses Shem and Japheth.

Finally, the chapter ends by telling us that Noah lived another 350 years after the flood, meaning that he was 950 when he died.

Thoughts

It’s interesting to note that the reason God gives, when He commands us not to murder, is that we are made in His image. Meaning that murder is a crime not only against the murdered human, but also against the God who made that human.

As I’m re-reading verses 1–4, I’m having a thought:

Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth. The fear and dread of you will fall upon all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air, upon every creature that moves along the ground, and upon all the fish of the sea; they are given into your hands. Everything that lives and moves will be food for you. Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.

“But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.”


Does this mean that mankind had been purely vegetarian, before the flood? The sentence I’m just now noticing is: “Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything.” If that is the case, it explains why God goes to the trouble of telling Noah not to eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it; if mankind is only now being given meat to eat, then it explains why they are also given this additional rule about it.

When we read in verses 12–17 that God will “remember” His covenant, when He sees a rainbow, we should not take this too literally, in the sense that He will not keep forgetting about His covenant, and be about to destroy the Earth, and then go “Hey, a rainbow! Oh yeah! My covenant! I guess I can’t destroy them with a flood again…” This language is figurative. What we should take away from this, however, is that the only reason God doesn’t destroy us is because of His own covenant; it’s not because we don’t deserve to be destroyed, but because He promised not to do it, and He is true to His own promise.

Finally, aside from the fact that I find the story about Noah’s sons and his nakedness to be strange—there are definitely some cultural issues with nudity happening here—you should also note that Noah’s curse against Canaan was definitely fulfilled. The Israelites had problems with the Canaanites—Canaan’s descendants—for much of their Old Testament history. We’ll be reading about wars and issues between the two nations for quite a while, as we get into subsequent Old Testament books.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Genesis 8

Genesis 8: The conclusion of the flood story.

I included little icons after links to Bible verses, on Bible Gateway. I haven’t decided yet if I’ll keep doing that.

Synopsis

This chapter concludes the flood story. The waters recede from the Earth, and eventually Noah, his family, and the animals, come out of the ark.

An interesting detail included is how Noah tested to see if the water was gone yet. As the waters receded, the ark eventually came to rest on Mount Ararat, and then stayed there, while the water continued to go down. Noah opened a window in the ark, and sent out a raven which “kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth” (verse 7). He later sent out a dove, but the dove had nowhere to land, so it came back. Seven days later, he sent out the dove again, and it returned to him in the evening with a freshly picked olive leaf. Finally, seven days after that, he sent out the dove again, but it didn’t return.

The chapter ends with the LORD saying:

“Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

“As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”

(verses 21–22)

Thoughts

This is actually a pretty straightforward chapter, so I don’t have a whole lot to say.

It’s a further testimony to the patience and long-suffering of God that He will not destroy the Earth again, even though “every inclination of [man’s] heart is evil from childhood”. (verse 21) Instead of destroying the Earth, He sent His Son to die for our sins, and take our sin upon Himself.

But we’ll get to that in another thousand chapters or so, give or take…

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Genesis 7

Genesis 7: The flood

Synopsis

This chapter continues the flood story. In Chapter 6, we read of God’s reasons for the flood, and in this chapter we read about the flood itself.

In case you’re not familiar with the story, here are the salient points:
  • Two of every kind of animal came to Noah, and entered the ark
  • When the time came, God commanded Noah to get into the ark, and he and his family did so
  • It rained for 40 days and 40 nights
  • Verses 19–20 say that the waters rose high enough to cover the mountains, to a depth of 20 feet.
  • The waters stayed on the earth for 150 days.
And that’s about it. In the next chapter, the waters will recede.

Thoughts

One thing to note is that Noah didn’t have to go out looking for all of the animals, to put into the ark; they came to him. This is mentioned in verses 8–9 and again in verse 15. I mention this because we have to remember that the LORD is involved in every aspect of this; He didn’t just command Noah what to do, He took an active part in it.

Also, it says in verse 6 that Noah was 600 years old when the floodwaters came on the earth. But in Chapter 6, it had mentioned that the LORD said man’s days “will be a hundred and twenty years” (verse 3). I think that Noah was already born, at the time, so I think that the intention was for people born after Noah to live no longer than 120 years.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Genesis 6

Genesis 6

The Flood—Part 1

Synopsis

This chapter begins the story of Noah and the flood, but before it does, it contains an interesting little historical footnote, in verses 1–3:

When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. Then the LORD said, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

This seems to indicate that God put a limit on how long a human can live, with the cap being 120 years. Obviously He is not saying that everyone will live exactly 120 years, no more, no less; most people don’t live nearly that long.

Anyway, back to the flood. The entire story is told in chapters 6–8, as follows:
  • Chapter 6: God’s reasons for the flood
  • Chapter 7: The flood happens
  • Chapter 8: The waters recede, and Noah comes back out of the ark
I like that the Bible takes an entire chapter, though, to talk about the reasons for the flood. And they can be summed up by verses 5–7:

The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time. The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain. So the LORD said, “I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, from the face of the earth—men and animals, and creatures that move along the ground, and birds of the air—for I am grieved that I have made them.”

With one important exception, in verse 8: “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.”

The rest of the chapter reiterates that “the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence.” God goes on to explain to Noah what He is going to do—and why He is going to do it—and instruct Noah to build the ark, into which Noah is to bring two of every living creature, male and female. God also gave Noah instructions on how to build the ark; what materials to use, how big it should be, etc. It’s only a few verses, though. (Compare that with instructions for the building of the temple, or the tabernacle, which will take up multiple chapters, in upcoming books!)

Thoughts

My first thought is about verses 1–3, before the story of the flood: I’m not 100% sure what the Bible means by “the sons of God”. Angels? Doesn’t sound likely. Demons/fallen angels/whatever? Seems more likely to me. In any event, it seems very strange. But I think these verses are put here because they’re an example of how wicked mankind had become. Again, I’m not really sure if that is the case; maybe it’s unrelated to wickedness, and that part of the story only starts in verse 5.

On first reading—especially if this is your first time through the Bible, and you’re not familiar with God’s sovereignty—it seems like God was about to wipe out mankind, and then came across Noah, and said “Phew! There’s one good one! Now I don’t have to destroy all of them; I can keep him.” However, we have to keep in mind that God is in control, and there are no “accidents of history”. He orchestrated events such that there would be a Noah, at the right time. He never intended to wipe out all of mankind; what He intended was to give us a lesson in holiness, and in compassion: God is a holy god, and we don’t live up to His holiness. He would be justified in wiping us all out right now, because we deserve it. But He doesn’t, and he didn’t with the flood, because He is patient, and long-suffering.

Modern-day North Americans tend to focus on God’s compassion, and forget about His holiness; for them, the story of the flood is very perplexing. “Why would God wipe out all of mankind?” they ask. “It seems so cruel! That’s not the God I know!” We sometimes have an incomplete picture of God, and only focus on particular attributes. But if your “God” includes the love, and not the holiness, you’re not worshipping the real God. God is loving, but He’s also holy; He is patient and long-suffering, but He’s also just.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Genesis 5

Genesis 5

Genealogy

Synopsis

This chapter records Adam’s descendants, up to Noah. It lists the name of the father, how old he was when he had his first child, and then at what age he died. It then goes on to the next in line, which, I assume, is probably the eldest boy—except for Seth, Adam’s son, who would have been Cain and Abel’s younger brother, I think. But of course Abel was dead, and Cain had been banished.

People get very focused on how long people lived in Genesis, so here are the men listed in this chapter, and the age at which they died:
  • Adam: 930
  • Seth: 912
  • Enosh: 905
  • Kenan: 910
  • Mahalalel: 895
  • Jared: 962
  • Enoch: no age listed; verse 24 says “Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.”
  • Methuselah: 969
  • Lamech: 777

Thoughts

One interesting item is that the chapter lists Methuselah; his name has become synonymous with old age, because he lived the longest of anyone in this chapter. Not much longer, comparatively, but still, the longest.



I’m not sure the significance of the fact that God took Enoch away, instead of allowing him to die like everyone else. I do know that he is mentioned a couple of times in the New Testament:

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. (Hebrews 11:5)

and

Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” (Jude 14–15)

You may do with that information what you will.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Genesis 4

Genesis 4: Cain and Abel—the first murder

Synopsis

Adam and Eve, of course, bore children, and the first two children were Cain and Abel. When they grew up, “Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil” (verse 2b).

Eventually both sons brought offerings to the LORD; Cain brought some of the fruits of the soil, and Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. Which makes sense, since that’s what each did for a living. But the LORD “looked with favour on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favour.” (verses 4–5)

This made Cain angry, so he lured his brother out into the field, and killed him. And then, in verse 9, God again asks questions that He already knows the answers to:

Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?”

Ouch. I’m thinking it might not be a good idea to mouth off to the LORD of all creation, but that’s just me.

Cain’s punishment is that the ground will no longer yield its crops for him, and that God’s presence will be hidden from him. Cain will become a “restless wanderer” (verse 12). Cain is afraid that he will be killed, since he no longer has God’s protection, so God puts a mark on Cain “so that no one who found him would kill him” (verse 15).

The rest of the chapter, from verse 17 on, is simply some extra genealogy, of Cain’s children, and some more of Adam and Eve’s children.

Thoughts

First off is the question of why the LORD accepted Abel’s offering, and not Cain’s. The most common answer—and, probably, the one that is correct—is that Abel’s sacrifice was a blood sacrifice, and Cain’s was not. And the only thing that bugs me about that idea is that grain offerings were acceptable by God, when He set out the laws for the Israelites later on. I would guess that it’s the type of offering being offered; grain offerings are probably acceptable for some things, and blood sacrifices for other things. For example, if they were giving the offerings as a sin offering, then it would have to be a blood offering. But I’m not an expert on the sacrificial system. However, despite the specifics, I think the main point is that Abel’s sacrifice cost him more than Cain’s sacrifice cost him. It’s called a “sacrifice” for a reason—the idea is that you are putting God, and God’s needs and desires, above your own. If you don’t give Him the best, because you want to keep it for yourself, then you haven’t really sacrificed at all.

This chapter is where we get the concept of the “mark of Cain” that people sometimes refer to, in slightly different ways. In the Bible, according to the text, the mark was simply used to indicate to others that Cain must not be killed. In verse 15 God says that “if anyone kills Cain, he will suffer vengeance seven times over.”

Finally, keep in mind, when reading some of these chapters in Genesis, that the Bible doesn’t record every single son and daughter who were born. It’s clear, from Cain’s fear of being killed, that there are already a number of people in the world, by this time, not just Adam, Eve, and Cain.

Minor Change—Non Bible Related

Not that it’s too important, but I’ve gone back and removed the links from all of the titles of these posts, since they were causing problems. Instead, I’m making the first line of each post a link to the relevant chapter/passage on Bible Gateway.

I wouldn’t even have bothered to mention it, except that I’m one of those people who doesn’t like to change a post once it’s up—no matter how tempting it might be.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Genesis 3

Genesis 3

This chapter introduces Satan (I think), and recounts the fall of man into sin, when Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (Note that it wasn’t an apple, as is commonly depicted.)

Synopsis

The book of Genesis has a way of setting out very important things in a very matter-of-fact style of speech. For the history of the world, this is a very important set of events, but it’s an easy read, without any emphasis; it’s left up to the reader to realize how important these events are.

The following happens, in this chapter:
  • The “serpent” is introduced in verse 1, as being “more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made”.
  • He tempts the woman to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. She does so, and gives some to Adam as well.
  • Once they do, their eyes are opened. They immediately become ashamed of their nakedness, and sew together fig leaves to create clothing.
  • God takes a walk through the garden, and Adam and Eve hide, because they’re ashamed. God confronts them with what they have done, Adam immediately blames Eve, and Eve immediately blames the serpent.
  • God curses the serpent, the woman, and the man.
  • The LORD creates “garments of skin” for Adam and Eve, and banishes them from the garden.
In this chapter, Adam also gives Eve her name (verse 20).

Thoughts

Again, a lot happens in this chapter.

I’m not 100% sure if the “serpent” is Satan, or simply a messenger of Satan. I think he is; verses 14 and 15—which we’ll get to momentarily—definitely seem to indicate it. But, on the other hand, I don’t know why the Bible didn’t just say so. For all intents and purposes, I guess you can assume that it is Satan, since, even if he’s not, he’s doing the work of Satan.

Whoever he is, he was pretty crafty in the way he tempted the woman to eat the fruit. In chapter 2, God had instructed the man that he was allowed to eat from any tree in the garden, except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. So the serpent’s first question is trying to get the woman to think God is being unfair: “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” She told him that, no, God didn’t say that. They’re allowed to eat from any tree in the garden, except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Then the serpent says something very disingenuous:

“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (verses 4–5)

Actually, there are two parts of this that are disingenuous:
  • “You will not surely die.” This is disingenuous because it hinges on what you mean by “die”; it’s true that the man and the woman didn’t immediately drop dead after they ate the fruit. However, by eating the fruit—or, more specifically, by disobeying God—the man and the woman brought sin into the world. God wasn’t telling them that if they ate the fruit they would die immmediately—He was telling them that if they ate the fruit, they would die, period. If they had not disobeyed God, Adam and Eve would have lived forever, without sin.
  • “…you will be like God…” this part is disingenuous and straight-up temptation. Who wouldn’t want to “be like God”? Unfortunately, this is pride; the serpent is tempting the woman to be less reliant on God, and more reliant on herself. A temptation that we all fall into, to this day.
People make a big deal out of God asking Adam and Eve questions, in verses 8–13; “Where are you?” and “What have you done?” “If he is God”, people ask, “then why didn’t He know? Why would He need to ask?” And my answer is that He did know. God didn’t ask Adam and Eve “What have you done?” because He wanted to find out what they had done; He asked them because He wanted to confront them with their sins, and make them answer for themselves. It’s simply a rhetorical device, but people like to make a very large mountain out of this particular molehill.

But bringing death into the world wasn’t the only result of Adam and Eve’s sin; there are also the curses. Because of this, women’s pain in childbirth is also, ahem, somewhat noticeable, and mankind is forced to go through “painful toil” in order to get food. It’s not only Adam and Eve that were affected by the fall; the whole Earth is affected, and the ground now produces “thorns and thistles”. Instead of simply eating the fruit that the garden produces for them, they are now forced to eat “the plants of the field”. (Remember in chapter 2, when we were talking about the “plants of the field” as opposed to wild plants?)

In verses 14–15, we see the serpent’s curse. The only thing I would point out in this passage is that in verse 15, God says “…I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers…”—but Hebrew used in this passage is using the singular form of “offspring”—it’s “offspring”, not “offsprings”. This passage is talking about Jesus. Satan will “bruise His heel” (through the death on the cross), but Jesus will “crush his head” (through the death on the cross).

And a final thing to note, although I don’t really have a comment on it: In verse 21, it says that “The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.” God actually killed an animal, to make clothes for Adam and Eve. That’s pretty strange to read.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Genesis 2

Genesis 2

The creation story, continued.

Synopsis

In Genesis 1, the Bible told the story of God’s creation of the world. Genesis 2 finishes the story, and then goes back and re-tells part of it, giving more details about the creation of man. But it starts in verses 1–2 by saying that God had completed His work of creating the heavens and the earth, and that He rested on the seventh day. And, because He rested on the seventh day, He made it holy.

Genesis 2 is where we find the story of God creating man from the dust of the ground, and breathing life into it (verse 7). We also find in Chapter 2 that God has created a garden called “Eden”, where he places the man. In the middle of this garden He placed the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God told the man that he was allowed to eat from any tree in the garden, except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And it says “for when you eat of it, you will surely die.” (verse 17) Notice that God says “when you eat of it”, not “if you eat of it”; He knew what was going to happen, just as we all know what’s going to happen. However, He had a purpose in doing it this way. (And, LORD willing, we’ll spend the next 1,187 chapters of the Bible exploring that purpose.)

Genesis 1 is punctuated occasionally by God declaring His work of creation to be “good”. He created the light, and saw that it was good, He created the land and the seas, and saw that it was good, etc. In Chapter 2, we see the first time that God saw that something wasn’t good: “The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” (verse 18) So what did God do next? He brought every kind of animal before the man, and had the name name them. So he did, but for him, “no suitable helper was found” (verse 20). So, another famous scene from the Bible we’ve all heard: God took a rib from the man—who was called Adam—and formed the rib into a woman, and brought her to Adam. Adam named her Eve. (According to my footnotes, in Hebrew, “Adam” basically means man, and the word for “Eve” sounds like the Hebrew for man.)

The chapter ends with these two verses (24–25):

For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

Thoughts

Many people get a bit confused between Genesis 1 and Genesis 2, because they say that there is an inconsistency: Genesis 1 says that God created “vegetation, seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds” on the third day, and man on the sixth day. And then, in Genesis 2:4b–7, it says “When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens—and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground—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.” (emphasis added) People say the two chapters are inconsistent, because they say that in the first chapter, God created the plants first, but in the second chapter, He created man first. However, that’s not what chapter 2 actually says, which is why I put in the italics when I quoted that verse. What it says in chapter 2 is that man was created before there were any cultivated plants—which makes sense, because “there was no man to work the ground”. We know that there were already plants, because it says that God put the man in the garden, which He had already created.

Another thought: God said that it was “not good” for man to be alone. However, this was not a condemnation of singlehood; it’s not wrong to be single. In fact, in the New Testament, Paul makes it quite clear that it’s not only okay to be single, it can actually help you grow closer to God, because: “An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided.” (1 Corinthians 7:32b–34a) The statement in Genesis is a general statement: people, in general, are happier when they have a “helper” to spend their lives with. But this is not a universal truth; all of chapter 7 of 1 Corinthians is an examination of the pros and cons of getting married. Neither is intrinsically wrong, or a sin.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Genesis 1

Genesis 1

The first book in the Bible.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

Synopsis

There are two accounts of the creation in the Bible, Genesis 1 and Genesis 2. The first chapter is more of a summary of creation, while chapter 2 re-explains it, and goes into a bit more detail on some aspects.

Even someone who wasn’t raised in a Christian (or Jewish) family will be familiar with the story recounted in Genesis 1. Everyone will hear a ring of familiarity when they read “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.”

The Genesis account of creation outlines 6 days of work that God did:
  • Day 1: Created the heavens, the earth, and light, and then separated the light and the darkness to create “day” and “night”
  • Day 2: Created waters and sky
  • Day 3: Created dry land, to separate the waters, and vegetation, to grow out of the land
  • Day 4: Created the sun, the moon, and the stars
  • Day 5: Created creatures to live in the seas, and birds
  • Day 6: Created creatures to live on the land, and created mankind “in the image of God”. (verse 27)
In this chapter, God also gave mankind a command: “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.” (verse 28)

The chapter ends by saying that God saw all that He had made, and it was “very good”.

Thoughts

Even if you don’t believe the Biblical account of Creation—I do, but not everyone does—the story in Genesis 1 still has this value: It illustrates that God was in control of it all, from the beginning. If you happen to believe that the world is millions of years old, instead of 6,000, and that mankind evolved from other forms of life, but still believe that God was in control, you’re at least getting part of the point behind this chapter.

Also, a thought on verse 28, which I mentioned above: some people will see language like “fill the earth and subdue it”, and “rule over… every living creature that moves on the ground”, and think “All right! That means we’re the boss! We can do whatever we want!” However, this was not God’s intent. God didn’t give us the Earth as a plaything, that we can use up as we see fit; he gave us a responsibility, to care for His creation, and not waste the resources within.