Today we start our journey through the Bible. Thank you for joining me!
My daughter Isabella and I recently watched a movie that we both agree is the worst movie either of us have ever seen (I won’t give the title here, sorry). The characters were never developed, and worse, I am pretty sure there was no plot. At all. Have you ever seen a movie like that? There are plenty of them.
The Bible, on the other hand, wastes no time. In the first three chapters, all the characters are introduced, the plot is formed, and the tension is palpable.
First, there is the protagonist: “In the beginning, God…” He is the hero of our story. He is introduced as a fact. There is no character development needed. Indeed, we see in these open four words that our God, in fact, is Who He is. It’s His very name: YHWH (Ex 3:14). And He is introduced first as Creator, and we read of Him creating all that there is. And using the same opening words, the Gospel of John tells us that this is Christ Himself creating:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. – John 1:1–3 (ESV)
And in six literal days* everything is made. The Bible is establishing God’s ultimate power and sovereignty in these verses. What He says, goes (quite literally).
Note the parallelism of the first three creation days with the second three (three in the Bible being a number of perfection). On day one God creates light, and on day four makes permanent sources of light. On day two He separates “the waters” and created the heavens, and on day five He fills the waters and the heavens with life. On day three God created land and vegetation, and on day six He fills the land with sentient life. This leaves us with life sprouting from the ground on the third day of the first cycle, and man being given life from out of the ground on the third day of the second cycle – a shadow of Christ’s resurrection from the grave to new life on the third day.
And that brings us to the other main character in our story – man. We see that God makes a covenant with this man (known as the Creation Covenant or Adamic Covenant), and as usual God graciously gives everything to us before He ever requires anything of us. This is what He mandated for us:
And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” – Genesis 1:28 (ESV)
God gave us the world – literally – and gave just one prohibition, the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil**. And, of course, three chapters in, we fail. Not just to observe the prohibition, but as importantly, to fulfill our creation mandate. We will see as the story unfolds that Christ succeeds in both. We were created sinless, but through our disobedience brought sin and death into the world. Christ, through His obedience, overcomes sin and death and is everything we were supposed to be but weren’t.
We are also introduced to the serpent, who is really Satan. But we cannot like Eve try to lay the blame for sin at his feet. Adam knew what he was doing when he took of the fruit. We know when we’re doing when we sin, even when tempted.
And the real story begins here. In the curse for sin is a promise. Genesis 3:15 is the promise of Christ. We are early on in the story told that YHWH God is Creator, but that He is also, and even more gloriously, Redeemer. The story of the Bible is one of redemption. It begins immediately, typified in the sacrifice of the animal to cover the nakedness that typifies the shame of sin – God, through a blood sacrifice, covered what Adam (we) did. And He would again in Christ.
God is sovereign, we are helpless. God is all powerful, we are weak. God is gracious, we are selfish. God is our Redeemer, and our greatest need is redemption. This is what the opening three chapters reveal.
* I believe the days of creation to be literal days. Not only because to assign thousands or millions of years to each day means that plant life existed thousands or millions of years before the sun, and that whole photosynthesis thing we all learned in school would preclude such a thing, but because the seven days (seven being a number of completeness or perfection in he Bible), particularly the seventh day and the Sabbath rest, is used by God throughout the Bible as a pointer to the true Sabbath rest – salvation in Jesus Christ. God refers to these days as seven literal days to make this analogy.
** I do not believe that there was anything inherent in the tree. It was simply the fact that God sovereignly chose that tree. It was the sin of disobedience that revealed the “knowledge” of good and evil to man. That knowledge is talking about firsthand, direct experience of both good (our created state) and evil (our sinful state after the Fall). I also believe that the fruit was a pomegranate…but we’ll get there when we look at Exodus 28.