Notice also the trinity here in creation. God speaks his creative word, ‘Let there be’. If you’ve been following our reading plan, you’ll notice straight away that John sees in this creative word the person of Jesus, the Word who then became flesh. Notice also that the Spirit of God is hovering over the waters. We see this again, a little later on in our reading, when God says, ‘Let us make man in our image’. Sometimes with scripture, it’s the little words that reveal so much, the ‘us’ and the ‘our’. Genesis 1 and 2 paints a wonderful picture of God.
Traditionally, Genesis is considered to be written by Moses, around 1600BC. We start with the epic events of creation. In the beginning… God. What I love about this account of creation is that it stands unique against all the other creation stories of the Ancient Near East, and indeed of the ancient world. These other ancient accounts, like those of the Egyptians and Babylonians, have a god or gods who create a flawed world, a world that is corrupt. The world is made either out of god or out of something else. In Genesis however, we start simply with God, and a God who creates ‘ex nihilo’. This Latin phrase means ‘out of nothing’. It paints a picture of God as supremely powerful, without limit or imperfection; a God who is infinite and eternal.
That brings us nicely to considering what the passage teaches about us, about the nature of man. What does it mean to be made in the image of God? This is such a rich and complex idea that one simple answer would not seem to suffice. Perhaps it points to our three-part nature; we are Spirit, Soul and Body. Perhaps it points to the creativity inherent in mankind, a desire and ability to make and create that distinguishes us from the rest of the animal kingdom. Or maybe it means that life is not about a quest for a better ‘self image’. Maybe the point of life is to be like a mirror that draws people’s attention not to ourselves but to the one who made us, that we ought to be growing daily into more of the image and likeness of the one who made us and who breathed his ‘breathe of life’ into us. Genesis paints a wonderful picture of creation and humanity.
In the 2nd chapter of Genesis we see that we were made for relationship. This 3-part God who for eternity has enjoyed existing as Father, Son and Spirit, sees in Adam the longing for relationship and so creates Eve. In doing so, God speaks an eternal law that forever, man will leave his parents and be united both emotionally and physically with his wife. We were made to be in relationship. We’ll see this more in the next installment.
Here are some thoughts you might want to reflect on or discuss with others…
1. How do I view God? - Have I limited him in any way?
2. How do I view myself and those around me? - Do I see myself and each person as made in the divine image, God’s masterpiece, someone in whom God has breathed his spirit? (ruach can mean breath, wind or spirit)
3. How do I show respect for God by showing respect for his creation (for other humans and the world)? - How we treat the created teaches us something important about how we really view the creator, doesn’t it? You’ll know that’s true if you’ve ever kept your kids paintings; they’re precious not because they’re brilliant masterpieces, but rather because the creator is precious to us.
And why not get out in creation for a little bit and take a moment to thank God for this world that he has given us, for all it’s diversity and magnificence that reveals to us something of who God is.