Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Gleanings from Genesis Chapters 1-3

A Few More Reflections on Genesis 1-3

1. Adam and Eve Are Real People
First, just read the text. Adam and Eve seem to be referred to as real people, not a group of people, or a mythical reference to the first man and woman. Scripture just talks about them as real people, so we should too. Further, when Adam and Eve fell into sin they brought all who would come after them into sin as well (Rom. 5:12). We are all by nature sinners (Rom. 3:23) because of Adam and Eve's sin. Those who read this as a good morality tale that inspires us to live better lives need to realize that this isn't the implication of this text. This text has something to say about you and me. This text is saying that all humanity is in rebellion against God, because of Adam and Eve. So for the person who asks the question, "What does this story about two random people in the creation have to do with me?" you need to realize that this has everything to do with you. It explains why you aren't 100% pleased with life. It explains why you have done bad things (i.e. lying, cheating, putting others down, etc.). It explains why misery and pain often are seemingly ever present. Our worst fear isn't reputation and fear of man, but that we have the Omnipotent God as an enemy because of our sin.

2. The Human Race
Second, race. Mankind was not made with references to different races. There is one race, the human race. Technically speaking when we talk about “racism” these days we’re really talking about “skin-colorism” or “ethnicism” not racism in the sense that the Bible applies race to humanity. There is no room for prioritizing skin-color or ethnicity as we’ll see upon reflection of all of Scripture.

3. God’s Relationship and Self-Revelation to Man
Third, the pre-eminence of the importance of man’s relationship to God. The Bible isn't just a collection of stories. It's about God and His interaction with real people. Ultimately, it's about God and you! God is high and lifted up. He is totally separate and other in His holiness, perfections, and aseity or independence. He has attributes that we could never have in and of ourselves (often called God’s “incommunicable attributes”). Yet, He has determined to make Himself known. As an expression of His pleasure He created the earth out of nothing. Not out of any need He had. He was perfectly happy in eternity past in the fellowship of the Trinity. And yet, He desired to create us in this world for His pleasure and our good. Don’t miss this. This God who is unknowable and inexhaustible has condescended to make Himself known, and these three chapters are only the start of the many ways He will reveal Himself. Further, He makes Himself most clearly known in the incarnation of the second person of the Godhead, Jesus Christ. Read these two passages:

Colossians 1:15-20 [1]

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Hebrews 1:1-4

1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

Praise God for this revelation of God in Christ. We can't miss this though, because of the fact that He is our Creator He has full rights to our lives. What He says goes. There's no room for rebellious questioning. We can fight to understand His ways more clearly, but an atheistic bent in questioning His ways in a derogatory way is not a proper manner in which we can approach Him. His ways are past finding out (Isa. 55:8-9; Rom. 11:33-35) and they are good and best even if what we experience is suffering (Jas. 1:17). Therefore, when we think we see discrepancy or contradiction in His character, instead of arrogantly writing Him off as irrelevant in our pride, we must see if there is any way in which they can be harmonized (i.e. His attributes of love and wrath, mercy and justice, unchangeableness and the way He reacts in relation to His chosen people, etc.). His ways are past finding out, and yet, there are things we can know about Him through His self-revelation in His Word. You'll find that while there is mystery in God's ways He is not self-contradictory. We must always remember that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb. 10:31), so we must tread these waters with reverence and care. By His grace we can know things about Him!

4. Creation and Fall of Marriage and Family Relationships
Have you ever noticed that marriage and family relationships can be difficult? That leads to the fourth and last gleaning from Genesis 1-3. The creation and fall of the marriage covenant and familial relationships. Marriage was created as good and remains good, but in the “fall” not only was each human affected in their relationship to God, but they were also affected in their two most blessed earthly relationships: (1) a mother and father’s relationship with children (and children to parents), and (2) a man and woman's relationship with each other in marriage. These are the two most important relationships other than man’s relationship with God, and they have been twisted by the fall. This means that what comes “natural” after the fall in regard to our desires as parents and children, or as covenantal and sexual beings is not necessarily good and right. We shouldn't be asking people what they think, rather we should be asking what does God think. Well, it appears He has designed things this way for a purpose, and we’ll see that unfold in how He hates divorce, homosexual relations, dishonoring of parents, murder, etc. Similar to the point above, we should recognize that God ordained things this way, and we should fight against our desires to destroy His good designs. Also, it's amazing He didn't just snuff us out when Adam and Eve fell. He determined to continue to bless humanity by allowing life, marriage, and families to populate the earth. How kind of God to bless us all in these ways.

[1] These passages are both from the ESV.

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