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.