Greetings, Fellow Imitators! Some of us are receiving more snow today on this Spring day, some of us are basking warm sunshine. Whatever the weather, we are enjoying God’s creation. And that is what we are going to talk about in this week’s session. We have, so far, discussed the need for making disciples, talked about the need for the Church, and gone over the awesome importance of God’s Word. Today, we arrive at my favorite part, actually getting into God’s Word and discovering the amazing story that unfolds within the pages of the Bible. Today’s session is Part IV: Understanding the Old Testament: Session 1: Creation. And of course, follow along here: Multiply!
Setting the Stage
First off, we need to realize that Bible is actually a story, not a random collection of historical documents, poetry, and a few moral tales. It is God’s story. And even though it begins long ago at the creation of the world, it isn’t finished yet. The story is still going on right now, and each of us have a part to play. But don’t get confused. The story isn’t about us. It’s about God. About the world He created, the people He placed in it, and the incredible plan He has to redeem it. Today our focus is on the beginning. The word “Genesis” means “beginning” and that is where we are going to start. “In the beginning…”
Discussion Question #1: Read Genesis 1–2. As you read, look for elements that will help orient you to the biblical story. Who are we introduced to in this section? What is being emphasized? What seems to be the point? After reading these two chapters, make some notes.
Who Is God?
In Chapter 1 of Genesis, it starts out with those famous words “In the beginning, God…”. And suddenly we are introduced to our very first character of the Bible. While Genesis doesn’t actually tell us who God is in theological terms or philosophical terms, it does teach us about God by telling us what He did. In the very beginning, He created. Let’s see what we can learn about God in these first two chapters.
Discussion Question #2: Take a minute to reflect on what you read in Genesis 1–2. What do God’s actions in this passage reveal about who He is?
This is God’s World
At the beginning, there is only God. God exists beyond our own existence. He is the only eternal being who has always been and always will be. There was a time when our universe didn’t exist. Then God spoke. And with mere words He created our world from nothing. Let it sink in how supremely different God is from everything you know or will ever know.
Discussion Question #3: How should God’s eternality and power in the creation account affect the way we view and relate to Him?
Human’s love to claim ownership of the earth. We need to protect “our” earth, claim “our” land, save “our” planet, etc. But in these first chapters of Genesis, we see that the only being who can claim ownership of the earth is God. He is the one who spoke it into existence.
This revelation should give us pause to think about our place in universe. All ownership and authority belongs to God. As Genesis tells us, we are given a type of authority on the earth, but it is an authority given to us from God and we answer to Him.
Discussion Question #4: How should God’s power, authority, and ownership affect the way we view our place in this world?
In the Image of God
God creates our environment with a word and then He pauses to talk to Himself. This may sound funny, but look what He says:
Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Gen. 1:16 NASB).
While we can debate over what the “image of God” actually means, the fact remains that God specifically created us to be like Him. We hold aspects of God and are placed on the Earth to be representations (images) of Himself. “His handiwork, nature, and attributes are displayed in us in a way that they are not displayed in the rest of the creation” (144). God’s image in each of us is a reminder of who is King of this world.
Discussion Question #5: In your own words, describe why it is significant that God created us “in His image.” How should this affect the way we view ourselves and the people around us?
The Personal God of Genesis 2
Now here is an interesting bit of information: In the first chapter of Genesis, we are introduced to God in the Hebrew language as “Elohim” (El-oh-heem) which means, simply, “God”. However, in chapter 2, God is named as “Elohim Yahweh”. Yahweh is a personal name that God gives Himself and He tends to use it when He is relating to His people in a personal manner (for example, when He began to establish a covenant with Moses and the Israelites in Exodus, but we’ll get to that later in the story).
In Genesis 2, we see God relating directly with Man. First, He breathes His own breath into Man, and then He speaks to Him. He tells him about the garden where Man is to live, He tells him what Man should and should not eat, and even gives Man a job to do (naming the animals). Right from the start, we see that “humanity was made to communicate with God. Even in his perfect state (before sin entered the world), Adam was dependent on revelation from God in order to live in the world that God made“(146-147).
God creates Adam and then for the first time He states that something is “not good”. “It’s not good for Man to be alone”. I’ve always found it interesting that God stated that Man was alone when he was with God (in a more perfect relationship than we currently enjoy). It occurred to me, recently, that Man did not have someone with whom he could relate entirely with. While God can always relate to us because He created us and knows us even more than we know ourselves, we cannot always relate to God, He is so vastly beyond us. Adam needed someone to be with him and to help him, someone he could relate to. So God created a woman. We can see that, from the beginning, humans were created for relationships with other human beings. We need other humans.
Discussion Question #6: What can we learn about human beings and their relationship with God and each other by reading Genesis 2?
Life in the Garden
When God places people in the garden, He gave them a job to do, work to keep them busy. They were to care for the garden and for the rest of God’s creation. Some people think that work was a result of the Fall, but here we see that God originally desired for Man to have an active role in caring for God’s creation. “God intended for humanity to have a caring relationship with the surrounding world” (148). From the very beginning, we see that it is God’s intention to rule the earth together with Man, Man and God working together. Can you imagine having such a close relationship with God, no guilt or shame or regret to shadow your relationship, no sin to taint it, just you and God? Alas, as we will soon find out, this harmonious beginning was not to last, it was to be tainted. However, we will see that God has a plan to restore everything to this beautiful beginning, only He promises it will be even more wondrous.
Discussion Question #7: Take some time to consider the picture of the world presented in Genesis 1–2. Why is this picture so appealing? Which aspects of life in the garden of Eden should we long to see restored in our world?
Could you ask for a more amazing start to a story!? I love reading about the gloriously pure and personal relationship Adam and Eve enjoyed with their Father and I envy them. Next week we will read on and find out what could spoil this beautiful paradise, lovingly hand-crafted by the Creator. I hope you’ll join me!