Week 1 09/11/16—Highland—Meute
The Story: “In the Beginning”
Based on Genesis 1-4, 6-9
Pearl: Creation: the beginnings of life as we know it.
Function: To get a grasp of what the Bible teaches about the origin of all creation/life.
“In the beginning God….” Within the first four words of the Bible is your first lesson. The very first pages of the Bible and so the first chapters of the first book of the Bible give you a lesson on the origins of the world in which you live and the origins of creation.
1. We have within us a natural curiosity on the history of the world and the origins of human, animal, and plant life on this planet home that we call earth.
a. The Bible in its opening pages wastes no time in telling us the story of the origin of life on our planet earth and to the limits of all that we can see out into space.
2. The first lesson which is the all-important lesson is that God is the Source of all creation. God is the Creator and Source of all things.
3. We are all acquainted with the battles within our cultures through human history over theories of how things came into existence. These debates have been defined as being between those who believe in creation and those who believe in evolution. Many believers today, myself included, see the processes of the creation of life on this planet as including some aspects of the theories of evolution, all at the masterful hand of the composer God himself.
a. As with most human battles there is a certain futility because our understanding is imperfect and we live in a most complex world.
4. The main point of the biblical account of “Beginnings” is “Who” and the “Hows” and “Whats” are secondary.
a. Yet most questions have to do with the facts and processes. For example, many wonder where the dinosaurs fit in.
There is an account of the creation of our planet home in these early chapters of Genesis. Actually there are two accounts of creation. Did you notice that in your reading? In seminary you analyze both accounts and learn that different editors with different emphases authored the different accounts. Yet there is significant continuity between them. There are even creation accounts from other peoples and cultures which also share similarities with the biblical accounts.
1. The Enuma Elish—a Babylonian creation epic found in 1849 and published in 1876.
2. There is even a Lakota Indian Great Flood version which is unique and also in continuity. One learns why the eagle is so sacred to American Indian peoples.
It is very important to note that the scriptural descriptions of origins are poetic and artistic. That speaks volumes!
1. The Bible is not a “scientific textbook.” That is, it does not seek to tell everything. It does not seek to explain the processes by which God created life on earth. All of the details of how things came to be are not presented. The key revelation about origins is the One who did it. God is the central character in the early pages of scripture. He is the original mover and creator.
2. The origins of creation are presented in an artistic and poetic way. Scholars use the word “myth” but not meaning “made up.” In this regard “myth” means “stories conveying truth not in the facts and details but in the whole of the story.”
a. So in the biblical creation myth in Days 1, 2, and 3 atmospheres are created by God.
i. Day 1—Light and Dark
ii. Day 2—Sky and Water
iii. Day 3—Land
b. In Days 4, 5, and 6 those atmospheres of earlier “days” are filled with the things they were created for.
i. Day 4—Sun and Moon/stars (Light and Dark)
ii. Day 5—Birds and Sea creatures (Sky and Water)
iii. Day 6—Animals and human beings (Land)
3. Amazingly God “spoke into existence” the created world. Whether a “day” was a literal 24-hour day is unknown. These “creation” days could have been “ages.” Who knows? The Bible is not a scientific textbook, but it is a collection of ancient writings which tell more about “Whom” than “How.” The Main thing is not details or processes of creation but a personal God and the relationship of God to his created world.
4. The crux of The Story is the relationship between God and humanity: the crown of God’s creation.
From the earliest biblical accounts of the origin of life on planet earth, people are the pinnacle of God’s creative energies. God took great interest in people and made people in his own image—that image being defined as a combination of male and female.
1. The Bible’s explanation of origins includes an explanation for how so much evil became a part of life on earth. Most people wonder how death, disease, war, murder, abuse, evil, and so on came to be a part of this life on earth.
2. The explanation comes through the story of the two trees which grew in the Garden of Eden. God created humans with the ability to obey or disobey Him. Human beings, while the crown of creation, were not puppets. God has made you in such a way that you can cooperate with him or you can reject him. This is the marvel of the human being. God does not force you to cooperate and to respond to his love.
3. God told his people not to eat from the one tree—the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. An oppositional spirit to God, which the bible refers to as the Devil, took the form of a serpent and made the suggestion to the first people that God was not trustworthy and was hiding something. The serpent said, “If you eat of the tree you will become like God knowing good and evil.”
a. So, as the story goes, Adam and Eve ate from the tree and a fracture was created in the relationship between God and his creation. A breach appeared. Sin entered into the human condition. Sin became a cancer-like agent within creation. The following are some of the symptoms of the cancer…
i. Animals became afraid of human beings—we see this today.
1. Strangely in the Galapagos Islands animals are not so afraid of humans. They will come right up to you and not cower in fear or run away.
ii. People feel a special loathing for snakes—When God cursed the snake he said that humans will crush the heads of snakes and snakes will strike the heels of humans—this is why you are basically scared of snakes.
iii. Another condition of the fracture was pain in childbirth. Mothers, is childbirth still painful?
The rest of the Bible is about God’s overtures to restore the relationship between creation, humanity, and God himself. The Bible is about God’s ongoing effort to restore that original relationship of harmony and loving trust between Creator and Creation.
1. In fact theologians throughout history, beginning with the Apostle Paul, have referred to Jesus the Christ as the Second Adam. Paul wrote in I Corinthians 15:45: “’the first man, Adam, became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” So Christ, as the second Adam, is the key clue to the restoration of God’s creation.
With the fracturing of the relationship and the advent of sin came the growth and expansion of sin’s devastation to the human race. Adam and Eve, the first generation of people, chose a different vision than God’s vision and sin became a part of human spiritual DNA and more sinners were produced.
1. This is repeated by God in scripture in the following way: “Every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” Did you notice that grim pronouncement when you read the first chapter?
2. Genesis 4-9 presents the growth and expansion of the devastation of sin and its effects.
a. The Bible presents God in human “feeling” terms as being sorry that he made human beings. So he decided to destroy the creation by a Great Flood. Yet he did not completely wipe away the animals or the human because he saved two of every kind of animal and one family headed by Noah. Noah was told to build a great floating vessel within which he would take two of every kind of animal species and his own human family. The creatures on this vessel (ark) would be spared from the waters of the Great Flood.
b. When the waters finally dried up and the Noah family set foot on dry land again with the animal representatives sin was still with them. It likely showed itself forth the first day into the flood on board the Ark. God probably immediately realized that this was not the final answer.
c. When Noah and his family stepped off of the ark all was not “Paradise Restored.”
So the essence of the “Beginning” of life on earth is the saga of the relationship between God and his “image bearers”: humanity. The rest of The Story, the rest of the Bible, gives clues to how God is restoring all things.
1. As you read through The Story you will sense many clues to what God is up to. There is one major clue in what happens in the covering up of the nakedness of Adam and Eve.
2. After they sinned, they became aware of their nakedness. They took steps to deal with this. What they experienced was a sense of “shame” in their exposure. And so they tried to cover up their “shame” using fig leaves.
a. The fig leaves were not good enough in God’s sight. They did not fully cover up their shame. So he killed some animals and used their skins to cover up Adam and Eve’s nakedness.
b. Within this is a “salvation,” “restoration,” clue: Human beings were not capable of effectively dealing with their exposure, shame, sin. God would have to do so. Ultimately, the Second Adam, Jesus the Christ, would shed his blood as the atonement for sin, to cover the shame of humanity once and for all (Hebrews 7:27, 9:26b).
“In the beginning, God”…from the beginning God was working to restore all things.
Every person and every nook and cranny of the created world will experience God’s re-creation, God’s restoration of all things!
And so The Story begins!