Assorted Observations on Early Genesis

Being a youth pastor now means teaching a lot of lessons. In my Sunday school lessons lately, I’ve been working on a project to go through the story of the whole Bible. This has been pretty interesting to work on, and this post just reflects some of the observations I’ve made while making lessons for the first several chapters of Genesis. Note that many of these observations are greatly influenced by certain writers like N. T. Wright, Peter Leithart, and James Jordan.

  • Whatever happened historically, the seven day structure of Genesis 1, with its conclusion of Sabbath, points to the meaning of creation as a whole. On the one hand, what we do in normal daily life is quite important: six days are for creative labor. On the other hand, our daily doings are given their proper orientation and goal when seen in light of the one day, the day of rest and worship. Human work is not ultimate, for only worship of God can be that, but human work itself leads up to the worship of offering and thanksgiving and is the primary way to prepare for it.
  • We were made in the image of God, which primarily speaks of our ability to represent God in and to creation. The soul, the heart, and/or the (free?) will are not the image in us, but are rather faculties which we require in order to be images of God. Our representative role consists in being His regents and subcreators in the world, acting as kings and priests by the power of an ability which we and we alone share with God, namely word.
  • Gardens in the Bible and the ancient world are associated with palaces and sanctuaries. The Garden of Eden (by the way, “Eden” is the region where God planted the Garden, not a name for the Garden itself), like a temple sanctuary, had an image of its God, man, and men would worship and serve there as priests. Like a palace, it was the place where God put His regent, again man, who would rule on earth for Him who is in heaven.
  • If rivers flowed out of Eden, this implies high elevation. So does the Garden’s role as a holy place, since those are frequently associated in the Bible with mountains. James Jordan has suggested based on this point, the names of the four rivers, and the frequent biblical language about God coming from the north that Eden may have been in the area around the Black Sea, perhaps in modern Armenia.
  • Man was formed from the dust of earth. Being of earth means that man belongs on earth. God’s salvation will not involve kidnapping us for an eternity away from our home, but rather He will bring heaven to earth, so that the Groom and the Bride might share one house.
  • If man is meant to be God’s rulers on earth, then it was not good for Adam to be alone. Any feminist will tell you that a man ruling free of any womanly influence will get far too much wrong. Men need women—whether sisters or mothers or wives or daughters—to be who God wants them to be.
  • Adam’s naming of the animals serves a dual purpose. On the one hand, he had to be shown his need for a woman by his inability to find any creatures comparable to him. On the other hand, naming is often associated with authority in Scripture. Adam is not yet ready to be God’s regent, but he has begun his training. By naming the animals, Adam lays a royal claim over them.
  • Adam and Eve were made good but not perfect, at least in the sense of maturity and completion. They were much like children, having no experience, no knowledge of good and evil, no clothes, and no meat. This made them quite unready to take up the full authority for which God had created them. In the end, no man received full authority until Matthew 28.
  • The motif of knowing good and evil in the Bible is often associated with royal wisdom. It is the king who must know good and evil, and it is a good king who knows them well and can rule with justice on that basis. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil represents (not, by the way, in the sense that it didn’t exist) that royal responsibility for which Adam and Eve were not yet ready. But God never said that the tree was permanently off-limits. If they had held out in faith, they could have grown and eaten of both trees in time. As it happened, their premature grab at kingship meant that they yielded the power they were meant to have over to the creation itself and the demonic beings who tempted them.
  • Cain was born *after the Fall and the Curse*. This means that sin and the Fall did not bring the original blessing and commission of humanity to halt. The projects of creation and redemption, though distinct, continued to both operate, now in a symbiotic relationship. [This indicates postmillennialism.](
  • Seth was born when Adam was about 130 years old. Given a world pre-birth control and without that many distractions, this probably indicates that by the time Seth was born, there were hundreds or even thousands of people. If Seth was born shortly after Abel’s death, this implies that Cain’s rejection may well have taken place in public worship and thus involved public humiliation. This would make more sense of his murderous behavior, and why he was able to take his wife and build a city immediately afterwards.

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2 Thoughts to “Assorted Observations on Early Genesis

  1. What do I think? I think you have missed the full understanding of what the Sabbath Rest means for the Christian.

So what do you think?