Imagine having gone through one of the most challenging experiences of your life. You might ask (like millions before you have), “Where was God in all of the mess/challenge/disaster”? Now imagine that someone said everything that you had lost (health/spouse/freedom/job/etc.) does not spell the end. Why? Because there is a way out as you respond to the call God has on your heart and life.
Flash back to around the 530’s BCE and that scenario was exactly what the Priestly writers faced trying to inspire a nation to keep loving God, to continue seeing the ‘divine hand’ guiding and protecting them, providing loving care and comfort. It is in this historical context that scholars invite us to reexamine the familiar stories of Genesis, pulling their lessons forward to today. Here are two points to consider.
First, the Priestly writers, probable authors of Genesis 1 in the 5th century BCE, are addressing a community of Exiles, those who survived the deportation from Israel to Babylon between 597 – 581 BCE. The nation must be recreated, and it is to God’s word that the Priestly writers turn as the very bedrock of how lives and a nation will be rebuilt. The opening seven days of creation become a hymn of praise to a Creator ready and willing to be right there, to rebuild lives, hope, and comfort.
Secondly, respected scholars like Walter Brueggemann, long thought one of the main authorities on Genesis, positions this entire alpha book of Scripture as the way God and God’s creation are inextricably tied together, shaped around promises. God promises Israel to be their only God, and Israel promises God to worship and rely solely on Him.
There is much to explore around these two fundamental points and with a total of 50 chapters, ample ground to cover. Genesis is often divided into 4 parts, roughly equal in length. Part 1 includes the way God calls to the creation and how that call is not always answered (sound familiar to our lives today?!). These pieces include the Creation stories, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, the flood and Noah portion, and finally the Tower of Babel (chapters 1:1 – 11:28).
The second logical divide in Genesis is from chapters 11:30 to 25:18, where the call of God is answered in the person of Abraham. (One of the powerful study guides to this portion is reviewing the New Testament book of Hebrews 11:8-19 when that writer holds up Abraham’s faithfulness to the new community of God-followers: Christians of the first century.). How Abraham responds speaks directly to our walk of faith today and has much to teach us.
If you’re interested in studying these first 25 chapters of Genesis in-depth, please join us at The Cedars Camps near Lebanon, Missouri this Fall: October 17-21. We have an incredible opportunity to learn together, diving deeper in an uninterrupted environment of beauty and support. Click here for more information and enrollment. Hope to see you there! (Space is filling rapidly. If you’re interested, would encourage you to make inquiries sooner than later.)
Hi, Madelon. Thank you for this taste of what we will be enjoying in October. I am really looking forward to it. There are many people whom I love, but not very many whom I would choose to listen to for four full days in succession. Happily you are one of the few! 😊
Today’s blog encourages me to read about Abraham both in Genesis & Hebrews. And I enjoy reflecting on (paraphrase) God and God’s creation inextricably linked to the promises. I heard a feisty African-American Pentecostal preacher/pastor (now Bishop) in San Francisco tell her listeners to simply “pray the promises.” Thank you for your hard work and sharing it with us all!
Perfect timing…I have always wanted to know how Gen 1 made it to the front of the Bible. Know it was a God think…hope we learn how these books are dated and found their way in the order of today.
We look forward to Cedars!
Kaye and Jim