Genesis 1 “Ultimate Origins”

Sometimes I wish I could create comic-book style art. The epic origin story of humanity lends itself to colorful action-packed graphics filled with speech bubbles that say “Wham!” and “Pow!” and “$#!@” (which is comic-ese for “Oh Snap!”). Alas, I can only use words, which in an age of information…well, let’s be honest…there are just too many!

However, I have been compelled to share my thoughts, in hopes that a few people might rediscover the action packed true epic story of humanity. And also to remind myself of how much I LOVE this story.

Disclaimer: I am approaching the Bible as a STORY. In other words, I’m not pontificating and postulating about every little exegetical detail. The point of this blog is to bring wonder and life and awe and laughter to everyone that loves Jesus. If you read the Scriptures and you don’t smile and laugh and marvel frequently…you’re doing it wrong.

Allow me to make my case with the beginning, which Julie Andrews tells me, “is a very good place to start”.

Epic Story Issue #1

In the beginning, God created stuff. Not just any stuff. ALL stuff. The whole universe. Everything you can see (like pandas) and everything you cannot see (like panda farts). If it is in this universe, then God made it. God said, “BANG!” with comic book flair and everything came into existence at once. And it was big. As Donald Trump would say, it was “YUGE!”

The earth (not the planet, but the “land”), was empty and without inhabitants. It wasn’t “formless” like an amoeba or “void” like a bad check. It was simply desolate. The land resembled the barren wastelands of central Australia (imagine Mordor without the orcs or giant flaming eye). It was lifeless and boring.

This is not a compelling beginning for a grand and beautiful epic story, but fortunately, the setting is transformed. Or as Sci-fi geeks might put it, “terraformed”.  God is going to carefully craft a place for the main characters in his story, like a universe-sized game of Minecraft.

Something curious is going on. The Spirit of God (whoever that is) was hovering over the waters. I’m still waiting on my hoverboard, but the Holy Spirit has been hovering since the beginning of time.

At this point in the story, everything has been created except for life. There is, as of yet, no life.

Then, in true terra-forming style, God starts messing with this desolate lifeless place. What does all life require? Light, water, and food. These are the three things that we share in common with lions, bugs, and crabgrass. So in this story, it makes sense that the first thing that happens is the appearance of light.

As much as I want to talk about light and water and food and other stuff… I’ve committed to keeping these posts relatively short, so that will have to wait until my next post. In the meantime, consider this: God is introducing a story here, which may be likened to a masterpiece painting. First, God gets the pallet together. This is the stuff that defines all of reality as we know it. We shouldn’t breeze past it just to get to the painting or we’ll miss the brilliance of the painter’s method. We’ll miss all the happy little clouds. (Click the link. You’re welcome.)

P.S. I should note that I have never seen, heard, or smelled a panda fart, yet I believe they exist. If they could be painted, I’m sure they would be happy little panda farts.

Genesis 1- Part 2 “Light it Up”

“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.