The beginning of the Bible, the book of Genesis, “sets the table” for so much of the rest of the Bible: God’s creative act is how we exist; God is good and has our best interests at heart; sin is profoundly destructive; Satan lies; men still continue to believe the same old lies; God began His work of redemption for fallen mankind right at the first; the hardness of life is basically the result of our own sin and rebellion. There’s so much here upon which I could comment, that a book could be written — but I’ll limit myself to just a few observations.
The world was created in 6 days. One attempted compromise between evolution and creationism is known as “Theistic Evolution”, and it generally proposes a “day equals a thousand years” resolution between evolution and creationism. I used to subscribe to this point of view myself as a college aged man, looking for a way to blend the two otherwise opposing ideas. But a read through Genesis 1 one day, made me rethink this position. It was the reiteration at the end of each day’s description of creation, “and there was evening and there was morning, one day”. What caught my attention was the realization that Moses (the writer of the book) never had a watch or a clock or a unit of time like an hour. For ancient men, the usual means of describing what we would call a “24 hour day” was “there was morning and there was evening”. If the Lord really were trying to convey more of an eon long period of time for our solar system to have evolved, then bring forth life, and ultimately evolve humans, it seems reasonable to thing that he would have simply told us that there was simply “one day”. But the specificity of “there was evening and there was morning” points to something else, to 24 hours.
And why wouldn’t God be able to create the world in 6 24 hour segments? If such a thing seems to incredible to you, it just might be that as J.B. Philips put it “your God is too small.”
So, why does it look so old with all the layers and fossils etc.? Maybe a world-wide flood? We’ll touch more on that in a later post.
Genesis 2 is a second telling of the creation story, putting the magnifying glass, as it were, on the story of man’s creation, situation (Eden), and receiving of a mate. It’s the receiving of the woman that catches my attention to talk about for a moment. As Adam receives Eve, he is famously known to have said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.” It is little known or little talked about, but here are the first wedding vows, the first marriage covenant being confirmed. The phrase of “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” is typical covenant language of the ancient world, since a covenant was really the confirmation of an agreement by artificially making family. The American Indian referred to becoming a “blood brother” with someone not closely genetically linked to them by mingling their blood together. It was their form of covenant. And this is what marriage (described as a covenant in Malachi 2:14) is, a covenant. When we marry, starting from Adam to the present day, we include someone in our family, who is not blood-related to us, as if they were blood related.
Marriage should be seen as covenant, as making family. Too often it is seen as nothing more than a contract, which can be made or broken easily by either unhappy partner. But that’s not what you do with family. You stick with them, you work things out, they’ll always been your mother, father, brother, or sister, even if they make you crazy! So also with marriage, God says.
In Genesis 3 we can see the original sin — which, by the way, is not a sexual encounter between Adam and Eve (having sex was God command for husband and wife, Gen. 1:28 and 1 Cor. 7:1-6) — and then God’s judgment on mankind, because of their sin. What I’d like to draw attention to is the first Messianic promise of 3:15 — part of the condemnation of the “serpent”. The promise is that there would be enmity (hatred) between the serpent’s seed (Satan and his minions) and the woman’s “seed”. I put this in quotes because this is a very unusual expression. In the ancient world sexual reproduction was often pictured in a farming metaphor with a field and a seed. The woman’s contribution to reproduction was always conceived (no pun intended) as the field, while the man’s contribution was always the seed. So, to see the Scripture refer to the “woman’s seed” is really strange — strange unless you know that the Messiah came through a virgin birth. The enmity would result, this prophecy says, in a head injury to the serpent (fatal) and a heel injury to the seed of woman (the Messiah) painful, but not fatal. The cross is where it happened: Jesus died on the cross and rose again, and by doing so, dealt a fatal blow to Satan.
What a mighty and loving and good God we serve!