Monday, May 07, 2007

Flying high with hearts on fire

Part 1: Genesis 1-Exodus 2.

It kicks of like most stories but this one is more emphatic than once upon at time. We start at the start - in the beginning. God. God. We don't know who this is yet but it's sensational because this God created the heavens and the earth. This earth was formless and empty and dark. The Spirit is over the waters - now we have two persons. The darkness is swiftly despatched. God says let there be light. Everything we know says that that's going to fall flat, but the author continues without sensation 'and there was light'.

God continues to form and fill his creation. And on the third day seed bearing plants are added. Step by step everything is spoken into existence. Enlightened, formed and filled. And then the climax, everything is good but day six ramps up the volume to make it very good.

God says 'let us make man in our image'. Once again personal plurality. Man is to rule over the creation and it's done. Man's commission is to be like God - imaging him to the world. Personal. Plural. Creative. Filling and forming. Fruitful and multiplying, ruling and subduing God's world.

The newly created human race, all two of them, are placed in a garden. Eden. A place in the east from which the rivers flow. A planted garden in the empty world. And they're called to fill the earth and subdue it. To cultivate the garden and extend it to fill the world. And so they're placed in the garden to work. First man, and then soon after woman. At first work is a good task, but soon after it becomes a hard job outside of Eden...

One 'not good' is found - a creation where there is just man is not quite right. Man can't be alone. Creatures are man and presented to the man. Like God he names creation, lions become lions, rats rats and so on. None is a suitable companion. None a person to image God rightly. And so at last, woman. And at the highpoint of creation we see man and woman in perfect union - two persons as one flesh and everything is unashamed glory.

Soon after man and woman stand deceived. God has spoken to them, but they choose instead to pursue what they desire, a wisdom beyond God's wisdom. Perfect relationship between humanity and God and man and woman is fractured. Man and woman shift blame and as God walks through they hide rather than live together. The comission to fill the earth and subdue it remains - but childbirth will be hard and work will be hard. Outside of Eden the comission remains but imaging God is a painful task that man may not be able to accomplish. Death was promised for disobedience but they remain alive, for now.

A seed is promised who will triumph and so we'll be on the look out for this son. Adam and Eve have two sons but that doesn't work out well. One kills the other. As the story unfolds humanity multiplies but everyone dies. One after another. They live and die. All except one, Enoch who walks with God and doesn't die. Everything is going downhill - everyone does evil. Noah arrives on the scene and is counted righteous by God. The promised seed? He's to play the fool by building an ark in the desert so that through judgement humanity can be saved. Everyone washed away and yet to no ultimate effect. The first comission is restated and evil remains unabated.

The nations grow and further their evil, even plotting to climb to heaven and proclaim their own greatness. Man had been given the earth to image God - to show how great God is and yet they can't resist self-promotion. They're struck down and scattered, language confused and set back on course to fill the whole earth. New generations continue to come and we meet Abraham. Could this be the seed we've been waiting for? God promises a global blessing through him. It's Babylon revisted but God writes the terms. A promise is made of righteousness and global blessing to Abraham and his seed (emphatically singular). It's not Abraham, but his seed is one to be looking for.

Abraham miraculously has a son in old age and then God tells him to kill him. Abraham and the seed arrive on the third day. A Moriah (Temple mount, Jerusalem?). Abraham is insistent that God will provide a lamb and when he does he can't stop looking ahead. He calls the place not God provided, but God will provide. So the seed lives and the promises unfold another generation. We follow the story with the deceptive son Jacob and soon he has twelve sons.

Famine strikes which the world-creating God could have averted but he is with his people. He sends them to Israel to seek provision through the exiled son Joseph. Generations pass and as we move into the second book of The Bible the people are vast in number. They have multiplied. They're not in the land promised to them, but they are many. They cry out to God for rescue - could he bring them to everything they've promised? The fruitful global land where the many can live?

They're under the rule of a foreign king who is determined to kill their seed. Sons are on death row. One seed is hidden and pulled up out of the water. A levite, Moses. Could he be the awaited seed? He's exiled and has a son called Foreigner. The problem is clear to see. What hope of rescue? Is From-the-Water or Foreigner the one who will restore God's people to the divine-imaging they were made to display. Expectation is high.

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