Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
God as pre-existing and creative. Three days to create and shape the territory. Three days to populate the world. One day of rest. Creation of plants and animals that reproduce according to their own kind, not in different ways. Humanity as a special part of creation. The doctrine of vocation. A rhythm to life. There sure is a lot in the first 34 verses of Genesis!
We can't mine the depths of this passage. I would certainly write too much and miss many ideas. You would stop reading long before we got anywhere. Let's just pull three concepts out of this opening of Genesis.
First, God is the sovereign, creative, communicative, and pre-existent Lord of all. He exists before anything was created. He is uncreated. He is able to make everything, sometimes through unspecified means, sometimes by speaking it into existence, once out of non-living material, and once out of living material. The Bible presents God as being boundless. He is not a captive of time. He rather creates time. He is not a captive of space. It does what He wants. He can do things that would be completely impossible for us, like creating everything from nothing. And he is able to bring life, again, from what was not living.As we study creation more, especially using modern scientific methods and thought processes, we continue to find that it is more complex than we had ever dreamed before. Life, also, is one of those mysterious things. Try as we might, we find symptoms of life, but we don't really find a cause of life. The Bible describes God as causing all of this by his knowledge and power.
Second, humans have a special place in creation. Every other living thing in creation was created and made alive by God's word of command. Not so, humans! We were formed from the earth and then breathed into life by God. Since it takes male and female to reproduce, and the male was created first, in order to make a couple that could reproduce, God took like from the male and made female. As with the rest of creation, we really can't understand how this works. But we can see the symptoms of life. And we see something else. There is a particular kind of self-awareness and other-awareness that humans seem uniquely capable of. Of all the creatures, we seem to be the ones who actually think about things such as philosophy, who create structures to care in a meaningful way for others, including other species, and who would invent means to investigate the way things work in great detail. We are somehow special. The Bible descibes this as bearing the image of God. In that way, then, human life deserves a special kind of attention and respect.
Finally, we all have a role in creation. All the plants and animals are to bring forth offspring, but humans are not only to do that but also to tend the garden. We are to take care of the systems and inhabitants of this world, including humans, plants, and animals, to be sure that they work in reasonably good harmony with each other. This responsibility has never come to an end. It is deeply ingrained in the Jewish and Christian philosophy of life, or should be. Humans are responsible to take care of things. We aren't always told how to do it, but we are surprisingly good at figuring out those little details. When necessary, we take the steps needed to keep everything running well. That includes our families, our business, our government, and those other beings we call "the environment." Mostly, it chugs along pretty well. But there is proper use of natural resources, and we are not afraid to use those resources for our own benefit and for the benetit of others.'
God has given us a special role. As we progress from today's reading, which represents the very start of the biblical account, let's keep reading and finding out what our roles are to be.
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