Day 1: An Intending God
Read: Genesis 1:1-8
When I was twelve years old, my parents gave me a jig-saw puzzle that had 5,000 pieces. The individual pieces, smaller than a dime, were piled chaotically on our worn coffee table for months as my family slowly and surely made sense of that fragmented cardboard poster. The greatest help, though, in that endeavor of piecing back together that broken image, was the completed picture on the puzzle box-top. Without it, we never could have known what the puzzle was supposed to be.
The introduction of Genesis is one of the most paramount passages in the entire Bible, not simply because it is the dawn to the collected work of Scripture, or because of its cosmological implications. Genesis is important because it was written for the entire human race, and has a message for any man, woman, or child; no matter their background, language, race, culture, or presuppositions. It is a transcendent story, whispered around a global campfire; many epic stories are modeled after this when they echo, “In the beginning…”
All too often in the creation story, there is a tendency to extrapolate what we read, such as the order of creation or the usage of this or that word so that we can dialogue in conversations that the book of Genesis never meant to engage in. Genesis is clearly not a textbook, but neither is it a book of poems. It is a story that cannot be divorced from its purposes, the first being this: to show us the original intention of creation.
In today’s verses, we see the Spirit of God hovering over the midst of a shapeless and swirling bedlam, and He begins to create around Himself. In this picture, God is not outside of this chaotic scene, but in the thick of it; wholly involved in the mess, like painting with His fingers and not a brush. He calls out, “Let there be light!” and His call echoes light springing into existence. Right after this moment, it says, “God saw that the light was good,” a pattern that later follows all that He creates.
The Hebrew word for “saw” (Raah) used here is closer related to the word “regarded” than the word “observed.” It has more to do with how one thinks of something than it does to any visual mechanics. As well as that, the word for “good” (Tob) is also closer to the words “beautiful” and “pleasing” than to our modern understanding as “right” or “moral.” When Moses, the author of Genesis, wrote that “God saw that the light was good,” he is making a profound and important statement about what God regards as beautiful and pleasing to Himself; it is a judgment call. One of the greatest reasons the beginning chapters of Genesis cover in great detail what God creates is so that the reader can understand the original intention for the created world, by understanding what God sees as good.
The story of creation is the picture of the original intentions of God for what the world was supposed to be. It is the puzzle box-top that makes sense of the pile of fragmented pieces. Just as I had to look at that original image to interpret the puzzling mess before me, so it is that our verses today give insight into how we can interpret our own worlds.
Can I say that what is beautiful and pleasing to me aligns with what is beautiful and pleasing to God? All too often I find myself striving towards the wrong end. Are there places in my life that I need to look at the “puzzle box top” in order to have a better understanding of God’s original intentions?
Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.
I am finding these articles to be very accessible and encouraging. As a long time Christian I enjoy getting a fresh perspective on these well known verses. I do need that Puzzle Box Top.
Last night I picked up my bible and decided to work my way through the old testament chronologically and this is an amazing perspective on the opening of Genesis! Love it