During the month of August, we will examine themes found in the first five books of the Bible: the Pentateuch. These themes will tell us about God, humanity, faith, and the world. Join us each week as we discuss each book in the Pentateuch.
The book of Genesis begins by saying something that religions often fail to say. God begins his whole story in Scripture by saying something that is often very hard for us as religious people–or even just as people period: God saw all that he had created (including humanity), and he saw that it was good.
Have you noticed how difficult that can be to say? Personal confession time–that is very difficult for me to say more often that I would like to admit (which is honestly most of the time). Maybe it is hard for you to say too.
It is so much easier to believe the worst in people. To hear the stories of violence, division, hatred, and to think, “That’s everybody! (except for me).” It is much easier to think that when something goes wrong, it is intentionally malevolent. It is egregiously improper. It might even border on unjust.
It is very difficult to say what God says in Genesis 1:31. Because, as religious people, we often start in Genesis 3. Sin enters the picture in Genesis 3, and it corrupts everything. The relationship between God and humanity is torn apart. The relationship between various humans is dissolved. The relationship between humanity and creatures is fractured. The relationship between humanity and the creation itself is disrupted! Sin breaks the goodness apart and turns it into a twisted mess.
And through all of this, we might wonder, “What is the point of it all?” And we’re only three chapters into the story! The rest you may know or may need to be reminded of:
- Cain kills his brother Abel.
- All of creation becomes so corrupt, God has to hit the reset button and start over with Noah and his family saving 2 of every species in the Ark.
- The world decides to build a tower to the heavens so that they can enter into the realm of God and presumably take his place. God mixes up all the languages of the world so that they can’t finish the tower (which never would have worked to begin with).
- God makes a covenant with Abram that he will multiply his family, give them a place to dwell for generations, and all so that they can be a blessing to the world in order to show the world who God is and help get back to Genesis 1:31.
- Abram, now Abraham, turns out to be a not-so-good guy. God is faithful anyway.
- Abraham has a son, Isaac, and Isaac is pretty dysfunctional too. God is faithful anway.
- Isaac has a son Jacob, and Jacob is probably worse that his father and grandfather. God is faithful anyway.
- Jacob has 12 sons, one of whom is Judah (he’ll be important later on). Another son is Joseph. Joseph actually turns out to be a pretty good guy even though his brothers don’t seem to be.
- And through all of that, God is still faithful.
(As far as “cliff notes” versions go, that’s a pretty good one for the book of Genesis.)
And now that we have a bit of the full scale of the book of Genesis under our belts, we are certainly asking the question, “What is the point of all this?”
The point, I believe, is that God relates. God has a desire to relate to his creation. That’s why God created the world in the first place. God had a desire to share his goodness and wonder with someone(s), and so he made us! He made the world! So that we can be in relationship to us all!
That’s why too, as this story in the Bible reaches its pinnacle, God comes to dwell among us as a human being. As a person. Because God wants to relate to us. God wants to share his goodness and wonder with that which he has made.
And so, when we read and think about the book of Genesis, I believe it is vital that we remember that God wants to be with us. God wants to have relationship with us.
God begins this story by reminding us that we are made from him and of him. We are made in his image and with his likeness. God saw all that he had created, and it was very good. Because our God is very good.
Let us live this week in relationship with God, boasting of his goodness, and trying to remind ourselves and each other that we are made of God’s goodness.