Creation. The dawn of mankind, our fall from grace with the Father God and renewed hope for a blessed future; all the testimony of Genesis. It is ironic that a book at the very beginning of the Bible with so many answers to questions about the human condition is so often overlooked. Is it because of the fantastic circumstances surrounding the birth of life? If one chooses to believe in God, whose whisper keeps the sun burning, the fetus steadily growing, atoms and molecules held together, then of course nothing is impossible to Him. So, lets try to leave the skepticism behind and approach the text with an open mind and heart.
First, a little background. Who authored Genesis? Ancient oral traditions say that Moses divinely received the history of Earth’s beginnings from God Himself along with the other four books that begin the Bible called the Pentateuch. There are numerous times when this could have happened, but most significant would have been the 40 days and nights that Moses spent with God on Mt. Sinai.
Date of authorship? Language of the original Hebrew text, as in the use of “El” for God (ie: El Shaddai or God Almighty), had fallen out of use by Jesus’s time and points to the first millennium B.C. Also, certain practices that are expressly forbidden in Jewish laws are present in Genesis (Abraham marrying his half sister, tolerant attitude towards non-Jews) and most likely would not have been included if it was created at a later date. Lastly, a warning about writing style. The method of ancient Hebrew writing is different in that, at times, events will be told as a summary only to be revisited in the next chapter in more detail. It would be good to remember this while reading Genesis so as not to get confused by seemingly repeating information.
Chapter one introduces us to an Earth that is a void, formless and dark before the Spirit of God speaks, sparking a symphony of light and amazing sounds in the creation of land, sea and sky. The text is very detailed in how God orders the elements that govern our days, nights and seasons. The “two great lights” are to have dominion over day and night, serving as signs for festivals and counting years (Gen 1:14). The Bible says there was evening and then morning, the first day (Gen 1:5). The Lord continued to speak creatures great and small into life and finally the time came for man to enter the world. However, whereas before God used His powerful words to create, He felt the desire to shape the first man by His own hands from the newly made Earth. “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Gen 1:26). Even in the earliest book of the Bible, we see a God who has a desire for intimacy with His children, sealing us with the spirit of life by breathing His own essence into our nostrils.The Lord planted a garden in the east of the new realm, called Eden, that was watered by a river that split into four (two of which remain today, the Tigris and Euphrates-Gen 2:10-14). The man, later called Adam (from Hebrew: “man” or the masculine form of Adamah, meaning “earth”) was tasked with naming the creatures and tending the garden of this new world, but God saw that it was not good for Adam to be alone. Causing him to fall asleep, God created a new being from one of Adam’s ribs, a symbol of the natural bond they would share. The Lord led the woman to Adam and after seeing her for the first time, he declared with awe “This one, at last, is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh”. “This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh…” the Word tells us (Gen 2:23-24). Naked and blissfully unaware of the fact, the two enjoyed each other and their divinely created bodies, crafted by the hand of God. Their relationship with their Father was one of purity and innocent trust, for what reason did they have to do otherwise? The Lord, in all the reality of His glory, was there and would walk amongst them in the cool of the day (Gen 3:8). However, this union would end tragically.
In that garden were two trees; the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam was encouraged to eat from the Tree of Life and any other tree or bush baring vegetables and fruit but God warned him to stay away from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. “For on the day you eat from it, you will surely die.” (Gen 3:16) The blessings and the boundaries were understood and the two humans carried on with this new thing, called life, in peace. There was a darkness that had found it’s way to the Earth though; one that was very old, bitter with ancient jealousy, despising God and everything He touched. From the shadows this being watched the two humans, no doubt having the time of their lives, and decided to share his taste for rebellion. A spiritual being himself, he entered a serpent and called to the woman from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil…
The book of Genesis is large with many amazing topics to cover, but no need to wait. You can study the Word yourself and then come back here next time for Part II. Blessings!