Genesis 1&2: More Than Just The Beginning
Many people know the contents of the first 2 chapters of the Bible, both Christians and non-Christians alike. Seeing that the Creation story as portrayed within Genesis seems to come up a lot in debates about the creation of our universe, how could they not? However, I don’t intend to broach this debate in today’s article on Genesis (if you must know, I’m one of those who believe that both the idea of Evolution and the Creation story of Genesis go hand in hand). Instead, I’d like to focus on what appears to be one of the key messages of Genesis: the message of order.
As we all know, God created the world out of nothing within a span of six days before taking the seventh day as a time of rest. The first five days was focused on the creation of Heaven and Earth, day and night, sea and sky, plants and fruits, the sun, moon and stars, fishes, birds and creatures of the land. In this act of creation, God brought forth order from a world that had none; from the “earth (that) was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep” (Genesis 1:2). Point 1: there is a natural ordering to the world. God sits above all of creation as its Divine Creator and it is only through God that order comes about. Seeking order without the Creator is like constructing a building without a building plan. The work may proceed and ultimately yield a building, but it will never be as ordered nor as perfect as the one that has been planned, especially one planned by the Divine Creator.
Moving on, during the sixth day, God made man. This one, was slightly special. Unlike the other days, He didn’t create man out of nothing. In Genesis 2:7, “the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life”. More than that, “God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them” (Genesis 1:27). Point 2: man was not made to be fully physical (as the dust he was made from) and neither was he made fully spirit (as that of the breath of God). He was made to be of both flesh and spirit. It is natural then that material comforts alone do not satisfy the heart of humankind and neither can we physically live with simply words of prayer alone.
More than that though, “God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.” (Genesis 1:28-29) Point 3: man has been given stewardship over all of Creation and humankind is the summit of God’s creations. However, that is not to say that we have been made Creator (see the irony there?).
Back to point number one, while Man may have been granted the privilege of standing above nature, we are not separate from Creation. “There is a solidarity among all creatures arising from the fact that all have the same Creator and are all ordered to his glory” (CCC 344) That is to say, we remain creature even as we stand above the other creatures of God. While we may have been handed the vineyard by the landowner to tend to and to be used, we do not hold ownership of the vineyard to do anything that we please. There is a certain responsibility that comes with this stewardship. We are not meant to control nature but to harvest it. We share in God’s ability to create but we ourselves are not gods. Just as the child who builds Legos do not create the Lego from scratch, we can only create because God has given us the ability and resources to do so. The story of the Tower of Babel does not warn us against construction of skyscrapers, it warns us of the folly of trying to be God.
At the end of it all, “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.” (Genesis 1:31). Point 4: there is inherent goodness in the world. Before the creation of man, all was good. After man was made, the world was very good. The plan of God has always included man in it. Did God know man was going to sin? Yeah probably. Was God not going to make man because of that? Definitely not. We need to realise that it has been ordered and ordained (both of the same root word ordomeaning arrangement; surprise surprise!) from the very beginning that man was to share in God’s love and glory.
And lastly, “God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.” (Genesis 2:3) A day of being; of not doing. A day in which God rested. A day in which He once again invites us to rest, to be. Because at the end of the day, it is only because we have become so caught up with our work, ourselves and our surroundings that we stop seeing the natural order of God in our everyday lives. It is because we rush and rush to progress that we have failed to notice that all things have been ordained in God. Genesis serve to remind us once again to stop, to be aware of God’s glory in the order of all of creation (us included). It is a reminder of our own genesis through God’s Love, a need to return back to our Heavenly roots. It is a reminder to let God sort through the disorder of our lives and order it back around He who is the Source of Love and Life.
© 2019 Christ Centered Conversations/Gregory Adrian Gunawan