Genesis 1-3: God . . . Good . . . Sin . . . Triumph of Grace

Reading for Thursday, January 1st 2009: Genesis 1-3

There is no way to  overestimate the importance of these first three chapters of the Bible.  In it we have so many firsts to recount.  Of course, we have God who was first and always; the first heaven and earth; the first people and animals; the first marriage; the first lie; the first sin, death – both physical and spiritual as well as the first curse and the first spiritual separation between humankind and God.


Anyone who should venture to read the rest of the Bible without a thorough understanding of these three chapters will find themselves lost all the way through.  My desire for this chronology project is to keep my comments as limited as possible.  Such a task is very difficult with these three chapters given that this section is literally the foundation for the rest of Scripture. I would like to break down my comments into four sections.


God’s Creation

There is no doubt that the first chapter of Genesis is incredibly important for the rest of Scripture.  In it we are reminded that in the very beginning, there was God. As Christians this statement is critically important as we believe that all life did not come from non-life.  While 60% of scientists believe this notion, such a thought is totally absurd at its face.  Perhaps it is my own bias, but reason and common experience would have one suppose that life can produce life and non-life, but never that non-life can produce life.  We have examples of the former everywhere, and the evidence of the converse is no where to be seen.  In fact, the idea that life springs from non life seems impossible in our common experience and to this end it seems that no amount of time allotted by the evolution theorists can not change this reality.  One argument against the idea that given more time, life from non-life is possible is what philosophers call the “inverse gamblers fallacy.”  Many who participate in gambling believe that the more they participate in the lottery, for example, the better their chance will be for winning. Yet the reality is that each time a gambler plays the lottery their odds do not improve simply on the basis of having previously played the lottery.  If a man should play the lottery 10,000 times, at the onset of his next game, his odds will be identical to a first time lottery player who bought the same number of tickets, etc.,  In other words, time itself is not a relevant factor in improving the odds that a certain thing, particulary a seemingly impossible thing, will happen.


So here we have the first chapter of the book of Genesis, “In the Beginning was God. . .”  This is what Aristotle called the “prime mover.” Aristotle when considering how the world began (he was not a Christian) thought like many of us.  If I am here, how did I get here?  The answer of course was through his mother.  And how did she get here?  And he thought her mother.  He went through this exercise and eventually  went in his mind to that which must have been logically first.  That which was first had to have life and that life must have had eternal self-existence and this first being must have been the one who moved the world.  As has been mentioned, his choices for prime mover could have been a living being or a non-living being but to presuppose a non-living entity which is self-existent and was the prime mover of all creation makes much less sense than presupposing a living being who got the ball rolling of all creation.  This argument, called the cosmological argument, is still amazingly powerful in the present though more than two millennia have transpired since the argument was first made.


While much more could be said about Genesis one, suffice it to say that it establishes that there is a God who created it all.  The ancient pagan creation narratives would often make arguments that the world was started out of a cosmic struggle of good and evil.  In the Genesis narrative, there is no struggle as God called the world into existence and the Spirit of God hovered over the waters. No struggle, absolute peace . . . it was good.


It was Good

The point that it was good is absolutely critical for us to understand, if we are going to understand the Bible, God’s love for sinners, etc., properly.  When God created he created the world and all that was in it good.  This is God and this is only what he does.  God does what is good all the time.  God’s creation is a reflection of his nature and his nature is good and so are his works.  In this world we have many things that take place, many miscarriages of justice, many struggles and painful moments and it is too easy for us to ascribe these personal and national disappointments to God.  The Bible makes it painfully clear, and it is worth us noting here that sin is the reason for suffering and injustice and disappointment.  Sometimes it is our sin, sometimes it is others and sometimes our suffering is a consequence of the decisions that were made by someone else before we were born, but sin is the reason for evil and not God.  What God does is always good and He is particularly able to bring good from the evil that we may inflict on one another.


Our Fall

In chapter two of Genesis we are introduced to the first couple.  They were made good and in God’s image and likeness.  They were given in marriage to one another and they were given in an eternal bond and union to be treasured and enjoyed.  They were made to commune together with Him and they threw all of this away they day that they freely chose to live in sin.  Eve had some excuse because she was deceived by the serpent, but Adam went forth into sin with his eyes wide open.  Adam willingly chose the woman over God and we have suffered for his decision ever since.  The reality is that we still have the nature of Adam (the NT calls the “old nature) within us and the great joy is that when we find Christ we are free from the chains and the domination of that old nature and we are ushered into the wonder of the gift of new life through Christ Jesus our Lord.  While we have fallen, we are not hopeless as long as we have breath for we have a God who had made atonement and redeemed us and released us from eternal consequences of our sinful past.


God’s Triumph

At the end of chapter 3 we find a few verses in 21-24 which sets the stage for the rest of the Bible.  After the Fall of the human race, it was time for God to make atonement for their sin.  God presumably slew an animal and used its skins to cover Adam and Eve.  The slain animals skins we are made as a covering for their shame.  While God allowed there to be real consequences for the actions of this couple, God still was gracious to them and made a covering for them.  The word atonement means “to cover,” something.  From this point onward sacrifice for sin would become a common way to make atonement (or a covering) for sin.  Eventually this would lead, of course, to the complete work of redemption (meaning: to buy something back) by Jesus Christ who would completely remove all the sin that had been covered from the days of Adam onward. 


So in the first three chapters of Genesis, we discover how God made the world, how it ended up becoming as it is now and the hope that he has given us through Jesus Christ so that one day we may live and commune with Him again, through His grace, in a place that is very good.


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