With our Guest Speaker, ordination candidate Bobby Langhorne, comes a devotional! Bobby is speaking on the second week of our new theme “The Tie that Binds”. “The Tie That Binds” focuses on relationships and invites us to consider how our relationships with the Holy and with each other form and transform us. Come and hear Bobby speak Sunday, September 18th or listen to the PodCast at http://mac-coop.org/coopcast/
Text Genesis 1:27-2:4a
27 So God created humankind in God’s image,
in the image of God, God created them;
male and female God created them.
28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” 29 God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 God saw everything that had been made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
2 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. 2 And on the seventh day God finished the work that God had done, and rested on the seventh day from all the work that God had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that God had done in creation. 4 These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.
Notes on the Text
- Genesis is part of the Pentateuch or Torah – a set of five books traditionally ascribed to Moses, despite the events occurring long before Moses was born – that make up the core religious texts of Judaism.
- There are three strains that scholars believe point to three traditional texts that were merged for the final form of the Pentateuch (with a fourth strain that starts in Deuteronomy and continues into Joshua and 1 and 2 Kings). The three strains are J, the Jahwist source, E, the Elohim source, and P, the Priestly source. Like all Biblical criticism and scholarship, this is not universally accepted. Some scholars now believe there is not a difference between the J and E sources and that the P source was actually a revision instead of a separate document.
- However, the above could explain why there are two creation stories in Genesis – one from the P strain and one from the J strain. The creation story in the selected text is from the P strain.
- Some scholars believe that verse 30 shows that humans were vegetarians initially, which changed either after the curse or during the events of Noah.
- The selected text are day 6 and day 7 of the Weekly Torah portion, similar to the lectionary.
Some months ago, Pastor Kathy told me that the preaching I would be doing during my ordination process would be almost exclusively with difficult Scriptures – Scriptures that would challenge me. After several such assignments, I have decided that challenging Scriptures means text that will seem to be at odds with my science-leaning brain.
This passage is one such Scripture that hits me in the science gut. It, and other parts of the Pentateuch, has been used to justify Creationism, Young Earth, and Intelligent Design, all things that conflict with a scientific understanding of interstellar formations and the biology of life. Young Earthers and Creationists believe the world and the universe were created 10,000 years ago. Astronomy and physics tell us that the world was created 4 billion years ago, and the universe 13 billion years ago.
Part of being able to resolve this difference relies on self-determination – are you someone who believes the Bible to be the literal (dictated or written) word of God or are you someone who believes the Bible to be inspired by God? If we take the literal approach, the Young Earth and Creationism wins out over science, but we also have to believe that the Earth is flat and there are four pillars, one at each corner, that holds up the heavens.
However, if we take the inspirational route, we can view Genesis and the creation stories as allegories. I have to say, for an allegory that was written thousands of years before archaeology or science in general existed, it holds up pretty good. On Day 6, as seen in our text, God created the beasts of the land and then the humans, after having created the plants and whatnot. That order matches pretty well with the archaeological order we have discovered in how life progressed and appeared on the Earth.
So, the allegory and the science have places they match up fairly well. This allows us to derive some lessons from the text:
Lesson 1: Beasts and humans were created on the same day, out of the same materials, and God granted them both the same foodstuffs to eat. God declared that humans were the masters of the garden God created, intended to look after and care for the creation that God had wrought.
Lesson 2: All humanity stems from the first parents, whether you believe the inerrant word of the Bible, or the archaeological history. Because of this, we cannot exclude any other person as “other.” This is true as people of Earth but especially as Christians – as the Gospels tell us, “Those who say they love God but hate their brothers and sisters are liars.”
What are we to take from these lessons? It is fairly simple. Humans do not exist in a vacuum. Humanity is a part of the world that God created, and cannot separate itself from the world. All of humanity, all the beasts and all of the creation that God has wrought – they are all intertwined. To deliberately separate or cut off those ties are to disregard what God has created us to do.