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  • The book of Genesis is the first book of the Bible and it's storyline divides into two main parts

  • There's chapters 1-11, which tell the story of God and the whole world, and then there's chapters 12-50

  • which zoom in and tell the story of God and just one man, Abraham, and then his family.

  • And these two parts are connected by a hinge story at the beginning of chapter 12.

  • And this design, it gives us a clue as to how to understand the message of the book as a whole and how it

  • introduces the story of the whole Bible. So the book begins with God taking the disorder and the

  • darkness described in the second sentence of the Bible and God brings out of it order and beauty and

  • goodness and he makes out of it a world where life can flourish. And God makes these creatures called humans

  • or "adam," in Hebrew. He makes them in his image, which has to do with their role and purpose in God's world.

  • So humans are made to be reflections of God's character out into the world.

  • And they're appointed as God's representatives to rule his world on his behalf, which in context

  • means to harness all its potential, to care for it, and make it where even more life can flourish.

  • God blesses the humans. It's a key word in this book. And he gives them a garden, a place from which they

  • begin starting to build this new world. Now the key is that the humans have a choice about how they're

  • going to go about building this world and that's represented by the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

  • Up till now, God has provided and defined what is good and what is not good. But now God is giving humans the

  • dignity and the freedom of a choice: Are they going to trust God's definition of good and evil or are they

  • going to seize autonomy and define good and evil for themselves? And the stakes are really high.

  • To rebel against God is to embrace death because you're turning away from the giver of life himself.

  • This is represented by the Tree of Life. And so in chapter 3, a mysterious figure, a snake, enters into the story.

  • The snake's given no introduction other than it's a creature that God made.

  • And it becomes clear that it's a creature in rebellion against God and it wants to lead the humans into rebellion and their death.

  • The snake tells a different story about the tree and the choice.

  • It says that seizing the knowledge of good and evil are not going to bring death and that it's actually the

  • way to life and becoming like God themselves. Now the irony of this is tragic because we know the humans

  • are already like God--they were made to reflect God's image. But instead of trusting God, the humans seize autonomy,

  • they take the knowledge of good and evil for themselves, and in an instant the whole story

  • spirals out of control. The first casualty is human relationships. The man and the woman

  • they suddenly realize how vulnerable they are. Now they can't even trust each other. And so they make clothes

  • and they hide their bodies from one another. The second casualty is that intimacy between God and humans is

  • lost. So they go, run, and hide from God. And then when God finds them, they start this game of

  • blame-shifting about who rebelled first. Now right here this story stops and there's a series of short poems

  • where God declares to the snake, and then to the humans, the tragic consequences of their actions.

  • God first tells the snake that despite it's apparent victory, it is destined for defeat, to eat dust.

  • God promises that one day a seed, or a descendant, will come from the woman, who's going to deliver a lethal strike to the snakes head.

  • Which sounds like great news, but this victory is going to come with a cost because the snake, too,

  • will deliver a lethal strike to the descendant's heal as it's being crushed.

  • It's a very mysterious promise of this wounded victor. But in the flow of the story so far, you see that

  • this is an act of God's grace. The humans, they've just rebelled. And what does God do?

  • He promises to rescue them. But this doesn't erase the consequences of the humans' decision.

  • So God informs them that now every aspect of their life together--at home, in the field--it's going to be

  • fraught with grief and pain because of the rebellion, all leading to their death.

  • From here, the story then spirals downward. Chapters 3-11, they trace the widening ripple effect

  • of the rebellion and of human relationships fracturing at every level.

  • So there's the story of two brothers, Cain and Abel. Cain is so jealous of his brother that he wants to murder him.

  • And God warns him not to give in to the temptation but he does anyway. He murders him in the field.

  • So Cain then goes on to build a city where violence and oppression reign. And this is all epitomized in this story

  • of Lamech. He's the first man in the Bible to have more than one wife. He's accumulating them like property.

  • And then he goes on to sing a short song about how he's more violent and vengeful than Cain ever was.

  • After this we get an odd story about the "sons of God, " which could refer to evil, angelic beings,

  • or it could refer to ancient kings who claimed that they descended from the gods.

  • And like Lamech, they acquired as many wives as they wanted and they produced the Nephilim, these great warriors of old.

  • Whichever view is right, the point is that humans are building kingdoms that fill God's world with violence and even more corruption.

  • In response, we are told that God is broken with grief, humanity is ruining his good world and they're ruining each other.

  • And so out of a passion to protect the goodness of his world, he washes it clean of humanity's evil with a great flood.

  • But he protects one blameless human--Noah, and his family. And he commissions him as a new Adam.

  • He repeats the divine blessing and commissions him to go out into the world. And so our hopes are really high

  • but then Noah fails too. and also in a garden. He goes and he plants a vineyard and he gets drunk out of his mind.

  • And then one of his sons, Ham, does something shameful to his father in the tent. And so, here we have our new "adam," naked and ashamed,

  • just like the first. And the downward spiral begins again. It all leads to the foundation of the city of Babylon.

  • The people of ancient Mesopotamia, they come together around this new technology they have--the brick.

  • And they can make cities and towers bigger and faster than anybody's ever done before. And they want to build

  • a new kind of tower that will reach up to the gods and they will make a great name for themselves.

  • It's an image of human rebellion and arrogance. It's the garden rebellion now writ large.

  • And so God humbles their pride and scatters them. Now this is a diverse group of stories but you can see

  • they're all exploring the same basic point: God keeps giving humans the chance to do the right thing

  • with his world and humans keep ruining it. These stories are making a claim that we live in a good world that we have turned bad--

  • that we've all chosen to define good and evil for ourselves and so we all contribute

  • to this world of broken relationships, leading to conflict, and violence, and ultimately death.

  • But there's hope. God promised that one day a descendant would come--

  • the wounded victor who will defeat evil at its source. And so despite humanity's evil, God is determined to bless and rescue his world.

  • And so the big question is, of course, "What is God going to do?" And the next story, the hinge, offers the answer.

  • But for now, that's what Genesis 1-11 is all about.

The book of Genesis is the first book of the Bible and it's storyline divides into two main parts

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B1 god evil rebellion snake cain world

Read Scripture: Genesis Ch. 1-11

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    PAPAYA posted on 2016/07/25
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