There are lots of ways that people try to use Genesis chapters 1 and 2 to prove one theory or another about any manner of scientific or doctrinal inquiries, which is fine. But it’s not the introduction to where life began or creation or day/age theories that really catches my attention. I just think it’s the introduction to God.
Of course it doesn’t explain everything about God or try to answer every question we can come up with. St. Augustine wrote, “We are talking about God. What wonder is it that you do not understand? If you do understand, then it is not God.” I think we would all be willing to admit that we have a lot more questions about God and for God than we do answers.
To me, that’s what makes the things revealed about God all the more crucial for us to ponder. Not just the factual data, but the revelation of the God who is our Father. And it’s not done in an orderly way. OCD people cannot enjoy Genesis 1, after all it begins with chaos! Oh, I’m sure they see the pattern … of the ways that God speaks, creates, sees, affirms.. but it’s messy.
It introduces us to our God who creates order out of chaos.
The earth was formless and void or a waste and emptiness, and darkness was upon the face of the deep [primeval ocean that covered the unformed earth]. The Spirit of God was moving (hovering, brooding) over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. (Genesis 1:2-3, AMP)
I don’t know what that chaos was like, even with the pretty vivid description. God spoke, and it was so. I was born into a world of order. Seasons change pretty much on time. Weather patterns are somewhat predictable. Gravity keeps us well grounded. But I do know what chaos looks like when the orderly life falls apart. I’ve tried to speak into my own chaos and found it just got more chaotic. But somehow in the roughest of times when we feel like we are free falling through life, there is a peace that is beyond our understanding. It comes from God who creates order out of chaos and is always powerful enough to do it. In the opening words of the introduction to God, calm comes from the void.
It introduces us to our God who takes His time to accomplish His will.
And God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good (pleasing, useful) and He affirmed and sustained it; and God separated the light [distinguishing it] from the darkness. 5 And God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was [f]evening and there was morning, one day. (Genesis 1:3-5, AMP)
It’s my working theory that God who can create order in the chaos and light separated from darkness in one day could have actually created it all in one day. One word. But like an artist who has a vision for what they desire to paint, and who enjoy so much the painting of it, God took his time. Six days of speaking, seeing, proclaiming that it’s good. I know when we think about God and His power we assume not only that he can make things right but that he ought to do it … now. When we’re broken hearted and we’ve prayed and cried our eyes out we just can’t see through our own chaos what God is doing. Or Why.
I’m not going to affirm that your heartaches are God’s brushstrokes on a celestial canvas. But like Ravi Zacharias teaches, life can be like an embroidery … on the underside it is a mess. You can’t imagine that there is anything of value there. But when you turn it over you can see what was not revealed previously. I wonder if the angels thought to themselves that this creation of the world didn’t look like it was going to turn out that great. Then suddenly verse 20 bursts into color: “Then God said, ‘Let the waters swarm and abundantly produce living creatures, and let birds soar above the earth in the open expanse of the heavens.’” That’s a wow moment. God doesn’t make prodigals come home and he doesn’t clean up addicts and he doesn’t afflict tyrant world leaders … on our time table. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t at work. Patiently. Creating. Beauty.
Genesis introduces us to our God who loves in community.
In verse 2 we’ve already read about His Spirit. But there’s more.
Then God said, “Let Us (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) make man in Our image, according to Our likeness [not physical, but a spiritual personality and moral likeness]… So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:26a, 27, AMP)
OK, so the Amplified Bible added “Father, Son, Holy Spirit”, but I think rightly so. God didn’t make humans because he was lonesome. He lives in community. We call it a Trinity. The Bible doesn’t use that word but it’s a good descriptive word. It is striking that of all the beautiful things God made, he only made one thing in his image. And that was us. There’s something about every human being that when God sees them it’s like looking in the mirror. Humanity can be pretty crummy sometimes but God made each one in His image. He made humans to live in community. Even though they were different in some ways, they were able to live together as one. And even make more humans.
This text introduces us to our God who rested.
So the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts (inhabitants). 2 And by the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested (ceased) on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it [as His own, that is, set it apart as holy from other days], because in it He rested from all His work which He had created and done. (Genesis 2:1-3, AMP)
Now if you ask me, that’s weird. God … rested. I know resting implies tiredness, but I don’t think God gets tired. He was done, and he stopped working. For a day. And he wants us to rest on a day. There are those who remind us that the command to observe the Sabbath is the only one of the ten commands Jesus never repeated. And I know there is a sabbath rest awaiting us in heaven. But I’ve heard that idea abused…as if to say if we rest we are somehow letting God down. Quite the opposite. Before Moses ever walked down Sinai with the tablets of stone … way before… God blessed and sanctified that day. So rest with God. Do we ever need that message today…in our nonstop world.
So if some want to sift through this text with a fine tooth comb looking for jewels of truth, I have no complaint. We should caution, as did Chrysostom, “Let us accept what is said with much gratitude, not overstepping the proper limit nor busying ourselves with matters beyond us”. With gratitude I accept Genesis 1 and 2 as an introduction to God. God 101, if you will. He creates order out of chaos. He takes his time to accomplish his will. He lives and loves in community. He rests because we need to rest.