“It is one thing to go to your commanding officer first thing in the morning and have a string of commands barked at you. But what would you do if, instead, he began ‘Once upon a time . . .’?” Bishop N.T. Wright
“In the beginning” is God’s own way of saying, “Once upon a time”. God introduces his story with the creation of the universe, then he introduces all of his most profound themes in the first chapter of the epic. Consider for a moment, that perhaps the days of creation are like colors on an artist’s palette. What if each created thing represents something far greater than the thing itself?
Before we continue, a short disclaimer: I am intentionally taking this part slow. Think of it like a frightened turtle crossing the highway. There will be plenty of action, but we don’t want to rush it or we’ll get completely smushed by the speeding theological 16-wheeler. Nobody wants that. Turtles are cute.
Day 1: “LET THERE BE LIGHT”. God already created everything in verse one, so here He is either being poetic about the spiritual significance of light, or he is shining actual light on this plot of land on a tiny pale blue dot for the first time…or both. My money is on both.
Light is not just a physical reality. It is also a symbol of wisdom, sight, and life-giving truth. This concept is not lost on George Lucas. The light side? He didn’t make that up. It’s a universal metaphor known to all cultures in every place and time since human history began. Light also gives us a sense of comfort and security, because we can walk around without stepping on Fluffy. We can roam freely without walking into a chair. We can go about our business without encountering a scary-looking dude with a chainsaw and a hockey mask. That guy does not hang out at the beach to enjoy the sunshine and watch the waves. He hides in the closet or under the bed. He loves the darkness more than the light. For the rest of this epic story, light always means truth, and it plays a life-giving role that delivers us from evil and leads us to salvation.
Lastly, light is a metaphor for two-being-one. It is not part-matter and part-energy. It is fully matter and fully energy. Our human brains might not understand how that works, but we know it is true.
Day 2: “LET THERE BE WATER”. There are two “areas” for the water to exist. Up in the sky (clouds) and on the surface of the planet (seas). For the rest of the story, the waters above are connected to life and God’s presence, while the waters below are symbolic of chaos, death, and darkness. This symbolic meaning becomes important on day three, when something rises up out of “death”.
Day 3: “LET THE DRY LAND APPEAR”. On the third day, God brings the dry land up out of the sea. This is not just “land”. It has to be “dry land”. Why? Because wet land sucks. It’s muddy and gross and gets into everything. That’s why there are no vacation resorts by mud. People don’t build on mud. Nobody frolics in mud. Nobody relaxes in mud. Even scary guys with chainsaws don’t do well in mud. More importantly, nobody in the Bible is saved by traveling through mud. Dry land is a theme that recurs over and over again in our epic story. It is a means of salvation. The dry land is what prevents us from drowning in the depths and succumbing to the chaos of death and darkness.
Dry land is connected to the most important theme in the whole story. The land, and the abundant fruitful life that grows out of it, rises out of death on the third day. Sound familiar? This is an especially bright color on the Artist’s palette. The Third Day is always a day when God shows up and does something awesome. The “third day” theme is incredibly important and it shows up far more often than most people realize.
Days four is about filling the heavens with specific lights for a special purpose. Day five is about filling the two “water” regions from day two. The sky is filled with birds, and the sea with fish. Day six is related to the third day because it marks the day that the land is filled. It is also the day when a particular creature is formed. This creature is the one for whom this epic story is written. As smart as they may be, God didn’t write the Bible for dolphins. He writes it for these curious, hairless mammals, made in the very image of the author Himself.
In my next post, we’ll take a closer look at these peculiar image-bearing creatures called Adam and Eve.
Until then, consider this: Humans are the only mammals that look ok with little or no hair. Have you ever seen a hairless cat? Those are freakish little things, but they are nothing compared to a hairless bear. Those things will haunt your dreams. See for yourself: http://www.boredpanda.com/hairless-bald-animals/
After following the link, praise God for fuzzy bears and rabbits. He is a good God.