Genesis 1-3, the Journey Begins
I know it has been a while since I have had anything of consequence to say, so I will begin by saying that this is the first post of several in the coming days about the first three chapters of Genesis. This is a section of scripture that has been highlighted to me several times, particularly in the pursuit of justice. If you are of a mind to follow me through this trip, welcome aboard. This is a section of scripture that has much more to say than we think, and I will be flushing some of that out here… though I dare say I will not be comprehensive.
There is a lot that can be said about these three chapters, and so I will endeavor to organize my thoughts as much as possible without making anyone drink from the fire hose. Since there are a lot of people making money writing verse-by-verse commentaries, I will leave that to the professional theologians. However, there is so much in these first three chapters that a lot of the Western church misses in the warm fuzzies of the creation story we treat like myth.
I think the place I should start is with the eschatological connection that these chapters carry. Beyond merely establishing the conflict that the rest of human history will play out, these three chapters actually form a dynamic synergism with Revelation 19-21. Now, nothing that I am about to say obscures the fact that Genesis 1-3 does establish the human dilemma and display the consequence of sin… but to say that this is the only importance of Genesis 1-3 is a severe misnomer.
In Genesis 1, we see the creation account that will serve as one of the two primary hallmarks of God’s power throughout the rest of the Old Testament (the other being the Exodus). This should not be skipped through lightly. Consider, for example, the existence of the sun. God, in his knowledge of the coming fall of man (and, ostensibly, the introduction of the laws of thermodynamics), God creates the sun in the sky and “hangs it in place”. Because of the second law of thermodynamics we know that energy cannot be created or destroyed but can only change forms. However, when energy changes form, it becomes progressively less usable. What that means is that the earth’s ecosystem, which is based on the transformation of energy in plant and animal life, is only sustainable if there is a constant source transmitting pure energy to the system. At the fall, God’s life-sustaining presence is removed from the earth, and the sun is left as a generator to sustain the engine. However, there is something in this creation account that should stand out from the mere act of creation– when God creates, he calls it “good”. While this is definitely establishing the precedent for the Millennial Kingdom later in scripture, we should take note of this and remember it for later.
In Genesis 2, we go from talking about creation in general to focusing primarily on the creation of man. In this single chapter, mankind is given four distinct things by God that serve as the hallmark of what justice looks like between man and God. More on that later, but right now we need to notice that the culmination of the narrative in this story– beyond the geography of Eden, beyond the command to take dominion over the earth– is in verse 24 where the edict is set forth that a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife. I say this because it is the single part of this chapter that appears elsewhere in the Bible… four times, to be exact (Mat 19:5, Mark 10:6-8, 1Cor 6:16, Eph 5:31). The punchline of Genesis 2 is the creation of the fullness of man unto his marriage. Genesis 2 is about a wedding.
Genesis 3 then establishes the conflict between the individual man, the rest of the human race and God. Much more to be said about that later, but the chapter is pretty straight forward. At the end of the day, God gave man a single rule and man disobeyed. When God comes on the scene, he sets forth the parameters of the new reality we now find ourselves in. Genesis chapter 3 is consumed with sin and the ensuing punishment for it.
Now that we understand the basics of the first three chapters of Genesis, we should start to see a startling parallel with Revelation 19-21. For starters, Revelation 19:11 sees Christ returning at the height of sin’s rule on the earth to judge the wickedness of man, correlating with Genesis 3. Revelation 20 is the picture of the Millennial Kingdom which is also referred to as the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. This then makes Revelation 20 a correlation to Genesis 2. Revelation 21 begins with John declaring that there are a New Heaven and a New Earth. This is the New Creation that is promised by the book of 1 Corinthians. Revelation 21 is the correlation of Genesis 1. Just as Genesis begins with creation, a marriage and judgment on sin, Revelation ends with a judgment on sin, the Marriage of the Lamb, and the New Creation. This is the beginning of understanding these first three chapters.
Part 2 to come…