Tag Archives: creation

Creation and chaos

Yesterday morning, during our sermon, we talked about Creation and Chaos. The current spate of hurricanes and earthquakes and violence leave us wondering if God is really in control. It makes me think of the All Saints Day disaster in Lisbon in 1755, when several earthquakes provoked a tsunami that was followed by a fire. Thousands died as churches collapsed; the death total is estimated to be between 30 and 60 thousand. Voltaire expressed the thoughts of many:

“Are you then sure, the power which would create
The universe and fix the laws of fate,
Could not have found for man a proper place,
But earthquakes must destroy the human race?”
“Lisbon Earthquake Poem” (1755)

How can we believe in a God who will let disasters rock his creation and cause such suffering?

We looked at Genesis 1, as God brings order out of chaos. We then discussed the fall, how sin let chaos back into this ordered creation. Darkness fights against the light; death assaults life time and again. Romans 8 tells us:

“The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” (Romans 8:19–21)

Decay… chaos. The creation is frustrated from being what it was meant to be. It suffers decay because of the effects of sin. Climate change shouldn’t surprise us… it’s a natural expression of the decay of a fallen universe. But this will be reversed one day, and all of creation longs for that day. Even mankind longs for that day, though we don’t always recognize that longing. There is a great day coming:

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”” (Revelation 21:1–5)

Chaos will be vanquished, expelled once again. No decay, no decline, no corruption.

That’s my anchor when times get troubling. Rabbi Simcha Bunim once said that every person should have two pockets and keep a piece of paper in each of those pockets. On one paper should be the words: “For my sake was 
the world created.” On the other paper should be the words: “I am but 
dust and ashes.” We need that balance in our daily lives, that remembrance of our place in creation. When we feel overwhelmed, we should remember that God placed us in a place above the rest of creation. When we think too much of ourselves, we must remember that we are dust and ashes.

One day, the dust and ashes will give way to the full image of God. We will have incorruptible bodies, resurrection bodies. And we will live in a world where chaos will never be found again.

What does the creation story tell us about gender differences?

15_gn02_25So let’s go back to the beginning.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

Two different sexes, both made in the image of God. (which shows us that we’re not talking about the physical image of God… but we won’t follow that tangent)

“the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.” (Genesis 2:7–8)
“The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Genesis 2:15)

In Genesis 1, “man” referred to both male and female. In Genesis 2, it refers to male. Paul saw significance to the order in which man and woman were created. (1 Timothy 2:13; Ephesians 5:23)

Man is put in the garden to work it and take care of it.

“The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”” (Genesis 2:18)
“So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”” (Genesis 2:21–23)

Woman is created as a “suitable helper.” She was the solution to the problem of man being alone. She was created as his complement, not as his servant. She fulfilled his need for companionship in a way which no animal could do.

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” (Genesis 3:6–7)

Again, worth noting that Paul saw significance in the fact that the woman was the one who was deceived by the serpent. (1 Timothy 2:14)

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?”” (Genesis 3:8–9)

Here God apparently makes a mistake. Failing to remember the need to be gender inclusive, he calls to the man, even though the text emphasizes that the man and his wife were together.

It’s an important text. This is not a consequence of the fall; that comes in a moment. God held the man responsible for what was going on and expected him to answer for it. That was the order in Eden. Not domination. Responsibility.

“To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”” (Genesis 3:16–19)

Man had been given the task of working the garden. That task became more difficult. Could we not say that God did the same with the woman, making her appointed task more difficult? The next verse says that Adam called the woman Eve because she would be mother of all living things. Was that merely a consequence of the fall?

One consequence of the fall was the idea that man would rule over woman. It’s interesting to note that that’s precisely the leadership style that Jesus forbade for his followers. And it’s interesting that in the passages where Paul refers to the creation story, he doesn’t make reference to this point. That’s not why men are given the responsibility of leadership. That happened before the fall.

Creation paints a picture of equality. It also paints a picture of different tasks for men and for women.

Image from The Brick Testament

Earth Day epiphany

Texas sunsetWe’re to love the earth. Not as an end to itself, but as something that God has made, something that reflects the glory of God.

As a Texan, it’s right to love Texas, to long to see the sunsets that stretch out for miles and miles. As a Coloradan, it’s right to love Colorado, to relish the sight of towering mountains and green forests. As a Floridian, the ocean should call to you. Arizonans should find peace in the desert colors.

Because God made it.

It’s right to love the place that you’re from. I have reservations, however, about loving the man-made systems connected with that place. I’m not saying that nothing that man does can glorify God, but if we’re not careful, they end up glorifying man, instead.

Thoughts that struck me on Earth Day. Does any of that make sense? Or am I on the wrong track?

Love what God did much more than what man has done.


photo from morguefile.com