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In the Beginning

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All lessons have been copied or edited, and posted with permission from Jim Mcguiggan. You are reading #1 from 8 lessons (#1 In the Beginning, #2 The Servant Nation, #3 Blessing & Rebellion, #4 The Promised One, #5 All Things Made New, #6 The Gifts He Brings, #7 His Love – Our Response, #8 The Church and Its Lord)

THE WORLD BEGINS

As Genesis tells it, God created a masterpiece which we call earth, and shrouded it in deep cloud (Gen.1:2,6-8). Then he bathed it in light and separated the thick cloud around the earth from the earth’s surface and called the space between them the sky (1:6-8). He caused the waters that covered the earth to pour off the land masses and form the seas (1:9-10). From the ground God made vegetation to grow (1:11-12). He placed the sun and moon in relation to the earth to rule day and night (1:14-19). The sea, lakes, and rivers He filled with living things, and the sky He filled with birds (1:20-23). Then He filled the land with cattle and other kinds of animals (1:24-25). He looked at it all and breathed: “That’s good!” (1:4,10,12,18,21,25)

MANKIND MAKES ITS APPEARANCE

Then God created his masterpiece within the masterpiece—Man himself (Gen 1:26-29; 2:7,18-25). Having made him, God surveyed all he created and murmured: “Very good!” (1:31)

God deliberately created mankind in two distinct acts. First he created the male part of Man then the female part of Man out of the male (2:7,21-25) Both male and female make up Man as 1:27 tells us. They are both called ‘Adam’ which is the Hebrew word for ‘Man’ (in the sense of mankind)—Gen 5:2. God created a ‘plural unity’. Why?

God created Man in two phases to reflect the Church in its relationship to Christ. Right from the beginning God was teaching us that his love would lead him to rescue Man from sin by Jesus Christ. Christ would take on the role of a ‘Husband’ to a ‘wife’ (the Church) for whom he would be (as it were) ‘put to sleep’ (see Gen 2:21). Paul makes this point in Ephesians 5:30-32.

God created Man in two phases to stress the fact that man was made for ‘fellowship’, for life within relationships. For Man to be fully Man there must be a social element, he is mot made to ‘be alone’ (Gen 2:18). In summing up what God wanted for and from Man, Jesus said he wanted men to live in loving relationships with God and one another (Matthew 22:36-40).

God created Man in two phases to reflect the loving fellowship within the Godhead. We are told that Man is made ‘in the image of God’ (Gen 1:26-27;5:1-2). Whatever else that means (and we are not plainly told what it means), it means God is a ‘community’ being. God is a single spirit Being in whom there is more than one ‘person’ (John 1:1). God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…and God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him, male and female created he them” (Gen 1:26-27). (I’ve emphasized the plural nouns.) Man as a ‘plural unity’ reflects the plural unity’ within God. Man, being created for loving communion reflects the loving communion within the divine bond.

Man can only find full fellowship with God and with other humans. God made Adam name the animals (Gen 2:18-20). This ‘naming’ of the animals is done in connection with the statement, “But for Adam no suitable helper was found,” None of these animals was suited to Adam’s need for companionship and fellowship. ‘Naming’ the animals shows Man’s sovereignty but it also spells out the nature of the animals! They’re not suitable for human communion. Humans were made in the image of God—the animals were not.

The image of God is also reflected in the role God gave the humans to play as rulers of creation. They weren’t God! But he did give them dominion over the earth (Gen 1:26-28). They were to reflect him as they ruled. (Naming the animals also stressed Man’s dominion over them.) See Psalm 8.

WHAT MOVED GOD TO CREATE?

It is clear from the texts we already looked at that God did not create for hurtful reasons. Since God is love (1 John 4:8), he can do nothing lovelessly so love must have moved him to create. We aren’t left to guess because Psalm 136:5-9 tells us that God acted out of love. After each act of creation the psalmist says he did it because his love endures forever. Psalm 104 speaks of God’s loving provision in the creation. Psalm 33 which speaks of creation and other things, says the earth is full of his unfailing love (33:5-9). God’s intentions toward mankind have always been and always will be nothing but good. (But if that is true, what about the mess the world is in today?)

Then tragedy struck! It didn’t happen in a ghetto of impoverished and unemployed people living in rat-infested shacks. Rebellion took place in paradise!

Poverty, which is so often the result of injustice, is to be opposed! But poverty does not make people so much as people make poverty (though it can go a long way toward making it hard for them to be honorable). We will get people out of the slums when we get the slums out of people who create slums and imprison people in them. But Adam was not mistreated as a child, he was not an unemployed father of four children who couldn’t pay his honest debts!

Man sought to serve himself rather than God. It wasn’t enough for man to be in God’s image—he wanted to be God (Gen 3:5). What God gave him was not enough, he thought he would seize more! In rebelling against God he lost the paradise within, and consequently lost the paradise around him. Relationships were violated and betrayed. Sin is more than breaking rules. It is a violation of trust.

The history of Adam is the history of us all. We have all followed his lead. Therefore he is a fit representative of us all and he is used that way (Romans 5:15-19). We have rebelled as he did and we excuse ourselves as he did (see Gen 3:12,18 where he blames the woman and God for giving him the woman). When we read his record God wants us to accept our oneness with Adam rather than regarding ourselves as ‘spectators’ of the drama. This is our story as well as Adam’s! It isn’t written simply to explain the past.

When Man rebelled Paradise began to be a wilderness. Man hid from God rather than meet him (Gen 3:8). He found he had wounded his companion, himself and God. Blessing was turned to cursing and fruitfulness was lost in a wilderness (Gen 1:28;2:17; 3:3,17-19). The earth rebelled against Man who was its lord as Man had rebelled against his Lord.

THE REBELLION SPREADS

In a series of reports we learn that what happened in the garden was no isolated thing. Like fire in a paint factory, Sin spread. Cain murders Abel (Gen 4:8), Lamech takes two wives and brags about murder (4:23). Even the ancient heroes are in the center of wickedness (6:4) mutilating marriage by polygamy (6:2) while blasphemy and insolence increased (see Gen 5:21-24 and Jude 14-15). The hearts of the people became enslaved to wickedness while God’s heart is grieved (Gen 6:5,6). The garden was only a slice of mankind’s history!

The Sin plague went so deep that radical surgery had to be performed if Man were to be redeemable at all so God brought a flood on the world (Gen 6–8). God graciously chose one man and pinned mankind’s hope on him (Gen 6:8). Though he was a sinner, Noah lived honorably before God (7:1) and this exposed the lie that people ‘could not help’ living in total rebellion against God and one another.

This whole section of Genesis not only tells us of Man’s evil, it shows us God’s love since he continues to seek Man’s good. He urges Cain not to let Sin be his master (4:7) and purposes to bless the world through Noah despite Man’s past record (Gen 8:21-9:1,7 which we need to compare with 1:28).

He left the rainbow as a sign both of Man’s rebellion and his love for Man (9:12-17). God loved the sinless pair he created but he also loved the sinful pair they became. God’s love did not leave when Sin entered. His love took on a redemptive role.

{Read “The Servant Nation” next}

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