Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Genesis 9: Maybe Noah Needed A Drink!

In Elie Wiesel's book, Sages and Dreamers (p.33). Wiesel seems to suggest that Noah "haunted by his memories...escapes into drink and sleep." It may be my imagination but Wiesel seems to have some sympathy for this. As do I. We are told that majority opinion of the rabbis is that Noah errred in planting the vineyard, drinking the wine, getting drunk and all that. I wonder if Proverbs is commenting then in favor of the minority opinion: "Give strong drink to the hapless and wine to the embittered. Let them drink and forget their poverty and put their troubles out of mind." If a man comes to me from the battlefield, straight from the bowels of hell, I hope that I would have decency to pour him a stiff drink if need be. Elie Wiesel knows something about that kind of hell. An army chaplain needs not only food on hand but a private bottle of whiskey for emergencies; to my mind, an hour's rest--sweet nothingness, to the trembling soldier still in the depths of the nightmare is not to much to ask.

Genesis 6: Noah and Moses

Elie Wiesel, in his book "Sages and Dreamers" sums it up this way, with the flood, God was "starting all over, another draft." God preserves Noah and his family but abandons the rest of creation to the flood. It's interesting to me then that the children of Israel refuse to be abandoned, they cry out to God, they put off all their jewelry in mourning, they plead...and...their cause is upheld by the Lord. They are original squeaky wheel that gets the grease. Israel had sinned. God, who seems to have had it up to here with them, proposes that a glorious angel will lead them to the Promised Land...instead of him. He's had enough. The people respond with a might outcry; ice cream is no substitute for true love and an angel, however glorious, is no substitute for God.
Something has changed between Noah and Moses, and the Bible wants to let us in on it. Not only will Israel not be abandoned by God, they don't even have to accept a beautiful substitute. God's faithfulness seems to be coming into sharper and sharper focus, its glory is growing. We will see the glory of his faithfulness and love most in his son, Jesus Anointed, whom he sends because he refuses to abandon the world ("God so loved the world"). Nor will he send a substitute ("God saw that there was no man...he himself brought the victory." Is. 59:16), instead "the word became flesh and tented among us."

Genesis 5: Cursed Soil

Elie Wiesel notes in his book, "Sages and Dreamers(p. 20) that in Noah's time (ten generations from Adam) the ground is still under a curse. Wiesel correctly observes that this, by all rights, should not be; the sons are not to be punished for the sins of the fathers. In Romans chapter 5 Paul also observes much the same thing, "nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses." Paul is saying that death reigned in these days in order that the generations from Adam to Noah might be wakened from the dead by Jesus Anointed. Death did not reign because of "original sin" or any notion of sin being passed on like a disease down from Adam. Rather, death reigned (prior to the law) in order that death might be thoroughly overcome by grace. This thought is not unprecedented. Consider Micah 5 and the rabbinical commentary on its first few verses (The Jewish Study Bible:Jewish Publication Society, p.1213). The jist is that great hardship ("birthpangs") precede the Messiah. Some of the rabbis preferred not to see the Messiah because of the hardships that would that would come before the advent of the Anointed One.

The death that reigned from Adam to Moses are part of these birthpangs.

Sin is not an inescapable, inevitable disease to Paul but an inexplicable fact that has plagued the generations.

Genesis 6: Chamas

Why does the Bible leave the sin of the people shrouded in mystery? We know they are guilty of "chamas," lawlessness or violence, but what are there particular sins. And yet we know from the New Testament, that the people of Noah's time were the worst of the worst.
It's interesting that neither are the sins of Canaanites catalogued. We have reports here and there of child sacrifice and prostitution but no detailed analysis. Is it possible that the Bible does not want to introduce such horrors to its pages?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Robert Alter

I love Robert Alter's note, commenting on this place in Genesis, (Gensis: Translation and Commentary p.28 note 5) "Man's evil heart is pointedly meant to contrast to God's grieving heart (the same Hebrew word) in the next verse." The same idea comes out in Jeremiah 9, not only that God grieves, but also the contrast between God and man..."Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories, glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices mercy, justice and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight." God's practices are in sharp contrast to man who "proceeds from evil to evil...heaping oppression upon oppression and deceit up on deceit and "refuses to know me, says the Lord."

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

It Grieved Him to His Heart: Genesis 6:6

It is only relatively recently that theology has been able to cast off some of its philosophic shackles and admitted the plain sense of the text: God grieves. We see this even more dramatically in Jeremiah 9 where God says "O that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and nigh for the slain of the daughter of my people!" It continues, " O that I had in the desert a wayfarers lodging place that I might leave my people and go away from them." It has been justly asked whether the speaker is the prophet or God himself, and in my opinion, here in Jeremiah, it could be either. However, when we come to the gospels, we see Jesus going off into the desert for a time alone after the death of the John the Baptist at the corrupt hands of Herod. In other words, Jesus Jehovah fulfills this word in Jeremiah. When he goes off into the desert, it is to weep for the slain, it to grieve for the wickedness of his people.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Comment on "Genesis 3: Grace"

My thinking has come along on this topic since February. In Mark chapter 12 we read Jesus' rebuke of the Saduccees, "And touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, 'I am the god of Abraham and the god of Isaac and the god of Jacob.'" Jesus then rounds out his rebuke with these words, "He is not the god of the dead but the god of the living. Ye greatly err."
These days I think that living has to do with rememberance. Specifically it has to do with GOD remembering you. Here's psalm 88 on this subject with the especially pertinent verse in capitals: "I am counted with those who go down to the Pit; I have been like a feeble man, free among the dead, as pierced ones lying in the grave, WHOM YOU REMEMBER NO MORE, yea by your hand they are cut off." In Exodus 17 we read about the Amalekites whom God means to wipe from the face of the earth, "I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven." In other words, if there is no remembrance of you, if God does not remember you, you are dead and gone.
But has God forgotten Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? No, he is their God, he is their savior, he remembers them. Therefore they are alive and praising God.
Descartes said "I think therefore I am." But Karl Barth corrected this by saying, "I am thought on by God therefore I am." God is thinking on, and is faithful in his thinking on and remembering of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." We know that Abraham's blessing is for all the nations. Through Jesus Anointed the blessing of life from the dead is for us all.

Genesis 6

"The sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful. And they took wives fro themselves from all those whom they chose. And Jehovah said, "My spirit shall not always vindicate man; in their erring he is flesh."

After talking with my Dad on the phone the other day, he said that flesh enters into the picture with wives. Adam had said, "this at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh." I would concur, however, I also wonder if flesh does not enter in with "erring." Flesh, remember, is that which is not forever, that which is temporary. Spirit on the other hand lasts forever. My Dad suggested a picture in which the mysterious "sons of God" were taking many many wives, not just one or two like Lamech or Abraham, but something like the Mormons who take many many wives, and the resulting confusion and sin that follows on this foolish course. Or think of Solomon who had a thousand wives and was led into idolatry. Solomon of all men! He who was called "Jedediah" or "beloved" of God.
In other words, God sees the sons of God with their thousand wives per and he sees all the foolishness and sins of the flesh resulting from all this indiscriminate marrying... and he steps back from man. No more 900 year life spans, 120 years and that's it. God is just not going to work as hard in this relationship. He will not vindicate and support the failing flesh of man anymore.

It is a preface of things to come, namely, the flood.

Correction to Previous Post

The word "son" is not present in Genesis chapter 5 nor is it present in Luke 3:38. In the former place the text says that Adam begot Seth and in the later place it reads "Adam of God." "Son" IS a very evocative word in the Bible and Luke and the writer(s) of Genesis probably have good reason for avoiding the term.
Is the Bible showing us in Genesis 5 that the relationship between Adam and Seth is the same as the relationship between Adam and God? Are we meant to compare the two?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Gentile Arrogance

I realize my question about the genealogies and lists of the Bible (see Ezra 2) are rooted in that arrogance that Paul warned about in Romans. Consider the list in Ezra, this is a survivor list. It is a list of the people moved by the spirit to rebuild Jerusalem. The people on the list are links to the past and the foundation of the future. Moreover, imagine how it feels for a Jewish person of the past or the present to read this list. Wouldn't he be thinking something like: "God knows the names of my ancestors, he has named them and counted them, from this list I am come." "God counted and named the survivors and the builders of Jerusalem and he knows my name, I am counted, I am loved." "God was faithful to my ancestors, bringing them home, he will be faithful to me." This is the way to think about such lists and genealogies.

We Goyim need to remember what Paul teaches, namely, that we have been brought to the table of salvation by grace. We have been brought to a Jewish table, "salvation comes from the Jews" as Jesus said. To not acknowledge this is to show the most abject blindness. It shows that we do not understand the Bible, which we Protestants at least, claim to have such an affection for.

The genealogy of Genesis 5, does all the above, but it further confirms the link of all of humanity, Jews and Gentiles, to Adam and to God. All of us can count God as our father. What does Paul say in Ephesians 3? "To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles, the unsearchable riches of Anointed and to make all men see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things...For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named."

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

What Are Genealogies?

Just a question, what is God saying to us throught these genealogies that are scattered in so many places throughout the Bible? When I look at Ezra 2, I wonder if I am not seeing something like a survivors list. In Matthew and Luke the genealogies are important because they link Jesus with the royal house of David for one thing. ( An aside: Why wasn't the question of descent from David the first question put to Sabbatai Zevi and other false messiahs?) But these explanations aren't enough. What is God saying through these lists?

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Genesis 5: A Son in His Own Likeness

"This is the book of the generation of Adam. When God created man he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them and blessed them and named them Adam when they were created. When Adam had lived a hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named him Seth."

It's interesting to me that it is Adam who names Seth. Eve had named Cain, their first son. The impression I get from this passage is that Seth is very much his father's boy, and the apple of his eye " he became the father of a son in his own likeness, after his image, and named his Seth." Seth is the "spittin' image" of his papa.

All this throws a new light on what it means for Adam to be in the likeness and image of God. This passage wants us to think again about what it means that Adam was in the image and likeness of God.

In past centuries, the idea of the "image of God" has had to carry around with it all sorts of ideological freight. We are "in the image of God" when we love. No, other scholars have said in my hearing, we are in the image of God when we create. But I prefer the simpler explanation of one scholar who says that Adam looked like God. That's it. Adam looked a lot like God, just as Seth looked a lot like Adam.

First, the use of the words "image" and "likeness" refer to statues, idols, pictures. God created a walking, talking, breathing statue of himself when he created Adam. What a slap in the face this would be to all idolatry. Later, the Israelites, in imitation of their neighbors, would make idols of silver and gold. But these pale in comparison to the "real" statue that God has made in Adam. In others words we are the real deal, not those gold and silver statuettes that can't move or talk or breathe. Idols are beneath our dignity to create. Put it another way, wouldn't the reader of Genesis conclude something like: We are what is beautiful, what God delights in, not those pieces of scrap metal.

But there is something more that this passage in Genesis 5 suggests to me and that is that just as Seth was the his daddy's boy, the apple of Adam's eye, so we are to conclude that Adam was his daddy's boy, the apple of God's eye, as we read in Luke 3:37, "Adam, the son of God."

To call someone "son"---that alone carries heavy connotations in the Bible. "Son" means beloved so many times in the Bible. Witness David mourning for Absolom, " O my son! Absolom! My son, my son!" Who can hear these words and not be moved by such a loss and such a love.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Cain and Abel

Cain said to his brother, "Let us go into the field" and this was where Cain would murder Abel. We see later in Genesis that before Joseph is thrown into a pit and sold by his brothers he was wandering in a field. But in I Samuel this trend seems to be reversed. Jonathan meets David in a field and instead of violence, they confirm their covenant. For me as I read this passage it is a strangely touching moment. In the house of David and Saul we see a reversal of that violence between brothers. Jonathan has the perfect opportunity to betray his friend, his father Saul would at first have been pleased before he came to his senses. But my larger question is this, does the royal house of David reverse Cain and Abel? Is the royal house of David the answer to the murder. Jesus Anointed is of this royal house, doesn't he command his disciples to love one another. And isn't there a field in the New Testament as well, that field where Judas hangs himself? A field of blood, a field purchased with silver? In Jeremiah we see this field again, before the exile God tells his prophet to buy a field. Buy a field? What a real estate market! Why would anyone by a field when the neighborhood will be brambles in the near future? But God tells Jeremiah to buy a field for hope, a sure and certain hope that the Jewish people would return. Akel dama is the field where Judas dies, a field of blood, but whose blood? Isn't it really the blood of the lamb? Isn't there hope for Judas too because of this blood which covers over the sins of murderers and suicides? I wonder if the field in the New Testament is not also a field of hope. God reconciling us to himself while we were yet enemies. Isn't Jesus' blood for the murderers and the suicides and the unbelievers and the cowards? God reconciling Judas with his brother Jesus, God reconciling brothers because unity among brothers is like fragrant oil on the head of Aaron, dripping down the collar of his robes, like the dew on Mount Hermon.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Cain and Abel

Cain's mark is not sign of God's displeasure. Quite the opposite, it is a mark of protection and blessing. It puts a stop to the cycle of violence. Some of the rabbis say that God gave it to Cain in order that he might repent (see Paul's letter to the Romans "God's goodness leads to our repentance"). It is interesting that Jesus' death on a cross also stops "the cycle of violence." Jesus tells his disciples on the night that he is betrayed, "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another." The cross is for our peace, not only that of the disciples but also the Judaean officials and the gentile Romans who crucified him. The cruel indifference of Pilate, the envy of the Judaean leaders, all this, "You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good" as Joseph tells his brothers after being reunited with them. Joseph's brothers meant it for evil, but God meant it for their saving and the saving of all Israel, so it is with Jesus Anointed, "all Israel will be saved; as it is written, 'The deliverer shall come from Zion and he will banish ungodliness from Jacob.'"

Friday, March 18, 2005

The Tree of Life

God does not destroy the tree of life, he does not uproot it or carry it away, instead he leaves it be, guarding the way with a cherubim and a flaming sword. This shows that God has not given up on eternal life. From the beginning God means man to live forever and as "it was in the beginning, so it is now and ever shall be." There is no shadow of turning with the father of lights, giving good gifts from heaven to his children. Jesus Anointed ("Anointed" is simply translating Christ into English) is the way to eternal life. My dad and I were discussing just the other day the recognition that death is over and done with, according to the gospels and letters, death is in a real sense, behind us now. Some in the early church were actually saying that the resurrection from the dead had already occurred. They go over the mark in thinking this but clearly the apostles are teaching that "it is finished" and that God's salvation means death to death, it means that the grave is in the grave now, all that is past and we are become new in Jesus Anointed. Paul's people overdo a bit on this idea, but they've got it right essentially.

Sunday, February 27, 2005


I must correct the previous post. There is no emphasized "am" in Jesus' words nor in the original from Exodus 3. Rather the emphasis may be on God: I, the GOD of Abraham. The implication being that the dead cannot praise God, the shades do not lift up their voices to sing as we learn in Isaiah. Anyway this is the hypothesis. I feel that I don't completely understand.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Genesis 3: Grace

Though the punishment for eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil is death, Adam and Eve are not struck down. Interestingly, the serpent is correct in his assesment of God, "you are not going to die." Or as Jonah says mournfully (seeing that Ninevah the archenemy of Israel is likely NOT going to be destroyed) "I knew you were a God merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in grace!" That grace is already at work here in Genesis, prolonging Adam's life for 930 years. Adam must recognize it too even as God speaks his judgment, he must realize that the judgment means not death but a "life," that he and the woman are not going to keel over on the spot, but become farmers, and his wife will bear children. In recognition of this grace and pardon, Adam names his wife, Eve, for he sees that instead of death, she will be "the mother of all living." And yet, I think that there is something more going on here than Adam recognizing that he has been given something of a reprieve. It is that, "something of a reprieve," not full pardon, not life everlasting in the garden doing good work and being taught by God. Things were not supposed to go this way. Adam and Eve were not supposed to die. They were not supposed to have bitterly hard labor. The last words in God's judgment are "you are dust and to dust you shall return," what a terrible defeat for Adam and Eve! What a terrible defeat for mankind! Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, they all die! The history of death in the Old Testament, as one after the other of God's friends die, is the biggest bummer ever! All this makes Adam's next words deeply surprising. The words "dust to dust" still ringing in Adam's ears, he does not name his wife "Mother of dust" or "Woman who did me wrong." No, he names her mother of all living. Does Adam know something? Is he a prophet? He must be because in Jesus Anointed (Christ) his words come true. Doesn't King Hezekiah make a similar prophecy under similar circumstances in Isaiah 26? Seeing the uselessness and vanity of Israel, "we brought forth wind...we have wrought no deliverance in the earth" Hezekiah predicts life from the dead for his people, for himself, "thy dead shall live, my dead body shall arise." All of this comes true in Hezekiah's descendent, King Jesus whose dead body did arise and who brings about our resurrection. In other words, Hezekiah was right, Adam was right about God, God is the god of the living. As Jesus teaches, "as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God, 'I AM the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.' He is not the God of the dead but of the living." (Matthew 22:31ff, citing Exodus 3:6)

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Genesis 3: Because You Have Done This

Throughout the Bible, God makes the punishment fit the crime. When the Israelites are disheartened, refusing to enter the Promised Land and enraged against Moses and Aaron they say, "Would that we had died in the land of Egypt. Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why does the Lord bring us into this land to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey; would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?" Because of Israel's fit of cowardice, their forgetfulness of the what God has done for them, God says that the Israelites will wander for 40 years in the wilderness while the children whom they said would be "prey" will enter the land and conquer it.

We see this same sort of geometry in God's judgment on the serpent, Eve and Adam. The serpent acted as an enemy to Eve in tempting her to do this thing, so the serpent will be an enemy to her and to her children in the future. (In Revelation we see this motif appear again when the dragon, a great serpent, seeks to swallow up the child of a woman. The woman perhaps standing for Jerusalem...) Now let's look at Eve. Her "desire will be for her husband." When she ate the fruit she did not keep it for herself but shared it with Adam. In other words in her disobedience she was looking for a collaborator. She was not free and independent and bold but sought the approval of her husband. So God's judgment on her is that she will continue to seek Adam's approval "and he will rule over you." Adam's judgment is harder for me to understand. The ground is cursed because of Adam's sin. Is this because he turned his back on all the good growing things of the garden and takes what is forbidden instead? Is the idea that since Adam turned his back on the good earth of Eden and all its blessings, the good earth will respond in kind, turning its back, that is, denying, Adam its fruit, "thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread"?

Monday, February 14, 2005

Question and Polemic

In "The Torah: A Modern Commentary," we read the following note to Genesis 3:3, " Eve said to the serpent that she was not even allowed to touch the fruit, although this was a not part of the original prohibition. The Rabbis consider this (and any) embroidery of the truth to be the opening wedge of sin." (pg 41).
My question is what is the difference between Eve's "embroidery" and what is known as "fencing the Torah?" Could it be that some of the Rabbis are a wee bit too hard on Eve--"Thank God I was not created a woman" and all that... a foolish prayer indeed if there ever was one.

What if Eve is simply the first theologian?

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Genesis 3: The Serpent

"And the serpent was cunning above every beast in the field"

Later in the Bible at 2 Samuel 13 we read of the "very wise" Jonadab. Amnon the son of King David loves his half sister Tamar. He despairs of her but his cousin Jonadab advises him, "Lie down on your bed and pretend to be ill. And your father will come and see you and you shall say to him, 'Please let my sister Tamar come in and give me food to eat, and she shall make food before my eyes so that I may see and may eat from her hand.'" So ends the advice of Jonadab but it is enough. It leads to the rape of Tamar, her subsequent bereavment and desolation, and the revenge of Absolom against his brother Amnon. As Amnon is about to force Tamar, she tries desperately to reason with him, "No, my brother do not humble me, for it is not done so in Israel. Do not do this foolishness. And I, where should cause I my disgrace to go? And you, you will be as one of the fools in Israel. Please speak to the king for he will not withold me from you." But Amnon is not willing to listen and forces her. We read then, "And Amnon hated her with a very great hatred and the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he loved her."

Jonadab's advice is truly good advice. Amnon wants Tamar and this is the quickest way to get her. But Tamar speaks the truth when she says that Amnon will be as one of the fools in Israel. He could have asked his father to give him his half sister in marriage but no. Amnon in his borrowed wisdom is an utter fool whose end is death at the hand of his own brother Absolom and hatred for the woman he loved so much.

It seems to me that the serpent is something like Jonadab. The serpent is wise, his advice is sound. The tree DOES make Adam and Eve as God, knowing good and evil. The serpent points out the quickest path to the desired result, just like Jonadab. And yet following the serpent, Eve and then Adam become fools. They hide from their friend, the Lord. They know they are naked but casting about they are only able to cover themselves with just about the worst kind of covering, leaves. Had they obeyed God he would have taught them good and evil himself and in the best kind of way (see note below). The kind of knowledge that they have acquired will only torture them. God sends them out from the garden of Eden because he knows that in the Garden they could live forever, and be tortured forever by their ill-gotten knowledge. He sets a cherubim at the tree of life to guard it for just this reason. Amnon too is only tortured by his ill-gotten "knowledge" of Tamar, hating her afterwards with a hatred greater than the love he once bore her. He is slain in the end, just as Adam and Eve in the end must succumb to death. God sustains them in his grace for a long long time but in the end they return to the dust, a thing God never wanted for his children.

God's commandment to Adam looks almost foolish, simple besides the wisdom of the snake. His gift of marriage seems old-fashioned and quaint. Why take the long way when you get there by a short cut? And yet, God's foolishness, as Paul said, is wiser than the wisdom of men.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Genesis 2: Ishah, Woman

"Then God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man; and while he was sleeping, he took one of his ribs and closed up the place from which he took it with flesh. And the Lord God made the rib that he had taken from the man into a woman and he brought her to the man. Then the man said: 'This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. This one shall be called Woman for from Man she was taken.'"
Take it from me and a lot of other people, it is painful to have an operation even when they put you under. An operation is an operation. Adam suffered. But after this painful experience Adam comes nearer to praising God than he ever has. Let's look back over chapter 2, Adam did not praise the beautiful garden that God had made for him, he did not comment on the variety of plants, he did not start in wonder when he saw the giraffe, he did not praise God for the elephant, he did remark on how cute the wee mousies were ala Robbie Burns, but when he saw the woman, then a song of praise and thanks came out of his mouth for the first time.

Israel was in pain during their bondage in Egypt, for four hundred years that were in Egypt. But when they came out of that bondage when they saw the bodies of the dead Egyptians wash up on shore, they believed in God and in his servant Moses, and then their belief blossomed into song, "I will sing to the Lord for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and rider he has thrown into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation."

Some ask, "Would it have been better if God had just created Eve from the dust with no operation and no pain?" No, because Adam would not have had joy then, he would not have given thanks. Some say,"It would have been better if Israel had not suffered for four hundred years. Why couldn't God just transport them on a magic carpet to the promised land?" Had this happened Israel would never have believed, Israel would never have sung out in joy.

Some ask, "Why did Anointed Jesus, God's only begotten son have to die on a cross? Why couldn't he have just said the word and we would have been saved?" This is not how God works as we see from the very beginning. Through his own suffering and pain, the Lord now brings belief, eternal joy, life, righteousness, "all things excellent", to Israel and to all the nations, "for God so loved the world."

Genesis 2: Tree Control

Notice that God does not put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil out of Adam's reach. He does not put it seven feet up in the air, he does not put barbed wire around it, or install an alarm system. From the first he puts trust in his son Adam. He doesn't treat Adam like he's a disobedient fool but a beloved son. Have you heard those who believe in"gun-control"? I know this much, God says no to "tree-control."

Genesis 2: Two Trees

The tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Notice that God does not forbid Adam to eat of the tree of life. The idea was that when Adam had any pain or disease he would eat of the tree. Picture how it would have been. One day Adam feels arthritis coming on in his joints, he simply strolls to the middle of the garden and eats some of the fruit and the pain goes away. But Adam is not to eat of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. This is because God wants to tell Adam all about what is good and what is bad. As Adam and God walked in the garden God would tell Adam that it is good to tell the truth, bad to lie, it is good to brush one's teeth, but it is bad to brush too hard, things like that. One day on one of their walks God would gently break it to Adam that he is naked, "oh look here son, a nice toga for you to wear, why not try it on? God wants to slowly, gently educate Adam in all these things and more, God does not want it all to break in on Adam suddenly. And so when Adam and Eve eat of this fruit, it is all too much, shocking and hurtful. They realize they are naked and are ashamed. God did not want them to be ashamed, but happy. As happy as a child who is gently dressed and taught and helped.

Monday, February 07, 2005

Genesis 2:4ff

I think that it was interesting that God created man (Adam) BEFORE he made the garden to put him in. My father once asked in order to illustrate this point, "Did God put Adam on a shelf while he planted the garden?" But you know I am glad that God created man first of all, not setting it all up and then creating man. It shows that Adam was first on God's priority list, first in his heart. Maybe I'm being sentimental here but I like that God doesn't seem to be a kind of Martha Stewart (though I love you Martha!) planning everything out ahead of time, superorganization, micromanaging and all that. Is God is laid back in a way that the subtle serpent is not?

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Genesis 2: The Sabbath Day

We read that after all his work, God rests on the seventh day. It is interesting that there is no evidence that God ever took another day off. He is a workin' man. Later he will command the people of Israel to honor the sabbath day and keep it holy, doing no labor on that day but resting. In other words, God is saying to Israel, his "first born" child, "Relax son!" "I will handle this." We see that in the New Testament, Jesus is the very embodiment of this command. Jesus is Israel's (and the nations') sabbath, "come to me all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Jesus is the living embodiment of that hymn that goes "It is finished, the battle is over, there will be no more war...I have heard he has fought all my battles for me." The word to us today is the same as it was then, "Relax son!" only now it is even more glorious.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Genesis 1

Neat thing #1: Besides being called "buraysheeth" which is "beginning" or "head," this is also the first of five "books of Moses." How is Genesis a book or scroll of Moses? Moses is called a prophet. The writers of the Bible want us to understand that Genesis is a kind of prophecy. It is a kind of prophecy that looks and sees the truth about the past though, instead of the future. The writers of the Bible want the scroll or book of Genesis to have come from Moses or the school of Moses, Moses' students or disciples.

Neat thing #2 The heavens are pictured as a great crystal dome surrounding us and protecting us. In other words according to the writers of Genesis we are not whirling around in cold space but are enfolded and protected in a Buckminster Fuller dome! God gives us this wonderful round house to live in.

Dim recollection #1 Haven't I read somewhere that the rabbis drew connections between the various days of creation and...what? I think that Jesus may have known and alluded to these connections or correspondances. Does anyone know what I am talking about?

Neat thing #3 I just think it is neat that God gives the fruit trees and seed bearing plants, power within themselves to produce fruit and seed. God is not a puppeteer. He empowers the plants and trees to carry on his work. And he empowers us too. Think of all the stuff Paul wants us to do. Paul directs his church to have compassion, to forgive one another because they have been enabled to do these things by the Lord. In other words Paul is saying "keep on keepin' on" and God is saying the same thing to the fruit trees. There is good reason that Isaiah calls the people of Israel "oaks of righteousness" (Isaiah 61:3). Not that God leaves us alone "deus ex machina" kind of thing. In the morning and evening he walks in the garden that he has created. And in Job we learn that God cares not only about the stars in their heavenly courses but about the mountain goats. He knows the time that they bring forth their young and presumably is with them. Talk about a "with it" God!