September 30, 2008

In the Hands of the Potter

In Genesis 1-2:3, the writer describes God's creation of the world as a verbal activity. God creates by speaking things into being. God said, "Let there be light," and there was light! His word is a creative force that brings something into existence from nothing. (Ex nihilo is the Latin phrase used in theological circles to indicate creation "from nothing.")

Genesis 2, however, changes things a little. In Genesis 1 God is the transcendent (completely other, beyond us) Creator bringing things into existence by His Word. In Genesis 2 God is the imminent (close, among us), loving Creator who gets His hands dirty in the process of creating. God is planting a garden. God is forming a man. God is building a woman (anyone remember Weird Science?). God is actively and personally involved in His creation.

The Hebraic words for God also change to reflect this difference. Genesis 1 uses "Elohim" as the word for God. Elohim is the general word for God; by using it to reference God the writer is referring to the general concept of God. He is starting with the general, philosophical understanding of God. In Genesis 2, however, the words referencing God shifts to Yahweh Elohim. Yahweh is the personal name of God revealed to Moses at the burning bush. Combining Yahweh with Elohim makes a bold statement that the transcendent God of Creation in Genesis 1 is the imminent God of Creation in Genesis 2 and, ultimately, the God of Israel!

God's creation of the human being in Genesis 2 is the primary example of this difference. It is an intimate moment. The God of the Universe kneels down in the dirt, scoops the dust together, forms it into the shape of a human being, and leans close to breathe life into him. God is getting his hands dirty, and investing himself personally into this new creature. God is now in a personal relationship with His most treasured creation.

Scientific discoveries over the past few hundred years have illuminated our knowledge of the universe. At one point humans believed that earth was the center of the universe and everything rotated around we know better. Astronomy reveals that our universe is large and becoming larger every moment.

These discoveries can make humans feel smaller and smaller, but they shouldn't.

Genesis affirms the unique place of human beings in God's created order. No matter how vast the universe, we are the pinnacle of God's creation, and He has invested himself in us. Unlike any other creature in all of creation, we were created to live in a personal relationship with God, and His desire is for a personal relationship with each one of us.

In Jeremiah 1:5 God says to Jeremiah, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; appointed you as a prophet to the nations." As God knows Jeremiah so God knows us. His loving care for us is not an arbitrary, utilitarian thing...He formed us and loves us as a father loves his children. We are not disposable...we are not unimportant or worthless...we are valued and loved by the Creator God, and that should change how we view ourselves and how we allow others to view us.

If you would like to read some of the previous entries on Genesis go here, here, and here.

No comments:

Post a Comment