Once again I’m using a post here to dump a whole load of stuff from last Sunday’s sermon – it’s my way of digesting stuff I heard and it helps me to keep it in my head. We were looking at Genesis 1, which you’d have thought I know inside out after all these years but wow, there was so much that I hadn’t noticed or just didn’t know. So here goes, in total jumbled form (a bit like the state of play in verse 2…):
Day 1-3 God was setting things up in preparation for Day 4-6, a bit like putting up a trellis before planting – structure comes before content. (I wish I was more like that…)
There’s a connection between the sequence in days 1-3 and days 4-6: in day 1 he made the heavens and the earth, and in day 4 he fills the heavens (with sun, moon and stars); day 2: water, day 5: fish (and birds too); day 3: dry land, day 6: creatures who live on dry land – animals and creepy crawlies and… us!
cool point about the sun and the moon – it says there that they were made for us to mark time (verse 14)! and since hearing that I’m feeling all excited about how the sun rises again every day and it tells me: God is keeping the sequence that he put in place, God is in control and he’s faithful. (Oh, and in verse 15 it says they were made to give us light – us, earthlings. Yup. He made all this for us!)
Interesting side point about marking time: in Jewish culture we’ve taken the order from here and because it says “there was evening and there was morning” for each day, we regard the evening (sunset) as the start of a new day. Apparently it was Julius Caesar who decided to start marking the date change in the middle of the night, which is a weird choice really, there’s nothing going on in the middle of the night – in those days most people would have been fast asleep because they didn’t have electricity. Personally I have to say that in my own mind, I think of the day as starting at dawn. But it looks like the biblical approach is that it starts in the evening, kind of imitating the sequence of creation: first there was darkness and then there was light.
(It was also apparently Caesar’s idea to start the new year in the middle of winter, which also seems weird – in terms of the natural year, or the agricultural year, it’s a time when nothing is going on. In the Bible the year starts in spring, which makes so much more sense!) (In Jewish culture we’ve shifted to celebrating new year in autumn, which bugs me as it’s not the biblical new year but at least it’s a time of stuff happening in the agricultural world – the last harvest is a kind of ending of one annual cycle and beginning of a new one.)
Back to the days of creation – I’d never noticed that on the second day, God does not say that it’s good. It’s the day when God separated the waters above from the waters below, creating the sea but it’s only the next day that he pushes the sea away to make dry land, a place of safety for us, and then he says that it’s good! The sea is not a safe place for humans, and God was making a place for us.
Apart from that second day, every day God created stuff and declared it to be good. So material stuff is not bad or inferior – it’s good. God said so. And when he made us, he said it was very good.
Interesting point about the whole thing about the various creatures made “according to their kinds” reinforced by I Corinthians 15:39 (“All flesh is not the same…”).
And humans made in the image of God, and being male and female is part of that – because God is not one homogenous blob, he is a plurality of distinct persons, different from one another but functioning in loving unity. “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.” (v.27) (and I’m noticing the pronouns – and yes, they’re there in the Hebrew text – showing this unity and plurality: we’re one but we’re plural, we’re plural but we’re united (or should be), just like God gets the singular pronoun here but in the previous verse he’s talking about himself in plural.)
There was also something our pastor mentioned about the difference between plants that were given to us to eat and plants that were given to the animals to eat – something about seeds – but I didn’t really get it, so I’ll just leave it here for now.