Thursday, April 03, 2008

Drulogion's Hexameron - The First Day

The release of the sequel piques interest in the original.

Whenever the sequel of a book or movie comes out, people are drawn to reconsider the original. In many cases, the first installment is better. But not always. Sometimes the later installment surpasses the first. This is often the case when the later installments were planned from the beginning, not simply tacked on to capitalize on the success of the first. But even when sequel is better, its release piques our interest in the original, looking for patterns, continuities, hidden themes, etc.

On the first day of the week, God raised Jesus from the dead. By raising Jesus from the dead, God restores and surpasses his creative work. In Christ, God recreates. He restores his original creation, and this restoration surpasses the original. Jesus lives again--to never die again. This surpassing restoration is the context of the Christian life: "If anyone is in Christ, he or she is a new creation" (2 Cor 5:17). The new creation is better than the original creation. Perhaps this is because it was planned from the beginning. But even when the sequel is better, its release piques interest in the original. The new creation piques interest in the original creation.

And so this Easter season I am going to reflect on God's original work of creating as testified to in the first creation story of Genesis (Gen 1:1-2:3). It is not a coincidence that lectionaries regularly place readings from Genesis 1 during the Easter season, for the release of the sequel piques interest in the original. Following this Christian practice, I will be reflecting on Genesis in light of Easter, and therefore not exclusively on its own terms, but as the first installment directed to its intended sequel.

This seven-week series of reflections will be organized around the seven days of creation. For each day I will ask after how God creates, what God creates, and why God creates. Answering the first question will require that at each day I pick out general themes that run through the creation story as a whole. I'm giving this series the g(r)eeky name of Hexameron ("six days") after the great tradition of Christian reflection on the first creation story that goes at least back to Basil of Caesarea. So here goes...

The First Day (Genesis 1:3-5)

In order to answer our three guiding questions, let's build a single statement. I am adding a first question because it is our first week, so we'll build this single statement in four steps.

Who creates?
God.

I will not give a separate treatment to the introductory verses of Genesis 1. Instead, I will revisit them from time to time through this series. And the subject of the statement I want to make concerning the first day occasions a reference to v. 1: "In the beginning, God." God. The actor, subject, agent of the first day of creation is God. God is the central character in the creation story. The Bible does not start with setting the scene ("It was a dark and stormy night") and then introduce the characters. Rather, the Bible starts with the character, God, who then sets the scene by creating it. This is the crucial starting point for our series, for it is God who supplies the point of continuity between the original creation and the new creation. No other continuities can be assumed from the outset except that the God who creates is the God who recreates. So the character of divine action is the focus of our reflection on creation.

How does God create?
God speaks.

One of the recurring features in the creation account is that God creates by speaking. God speaks at least once on each of the six days (Gen. 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26). And his speaking is not just a deliberation before taking creative action; God's speaking is his creative action. God creates by speaking. God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God speaks realities into existence. When God speaks, things happen. God's word is powerful and effective.

God continues to act by his word throughout his dealings with his creatures. It is not merely a special feature of the creation account. God's voice is heard in the heavens according to the Psalms. God's word comes to the prophets. And the same word by which God creates in the beginning became incarnate in Jesus Christ (Jn 1:1-18). The word of gospel concerning him is power, according to Paul (Rom 1:17). Note, the gospel is not about power, it is power. When God speaks, things happen. This means that those who new creatures in Christ have been made say by God's word. God has spoken new life into them. Perhaps this is why new creatures are Bible readers. Perhaps this is why we are told, "he who has ears let him hear." Hearing (which includes both listening and obeying) are near the heart of the Christian life.

What does God create?
God speaks light.

On the first day, God speaks light into existence. An odd feature of the creation story is that God does not create the lights (sun, moon, stars) until the fourth day. God doesn't create lights which give off light, but rather God creates light itself. What this means may remain a mystery, though it probably has something to do with the creaturely form of God's glory. With light God also creates time, as the rhythm of light and darkness, which he names "day" and "night," commences. And the daylight triumphs over the darkness of night. In the time that God has for us, the light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it.

God continues to shine his light throughout his dealing with his creatures. He guides his people through the wilderness nights by his pillar of fire. He fills his temple with the glorious light of his shekinah. His word-become-flesh is the light of his glory. He is the light of the world. He is the light of life. On the first day of the week, his light of light broke forth from the darkness of death. Just as when God created, there was light, so when God recreates, there is light. New creatures in Christ have been enlivened by God's light. The weight of God's glory shines on their unveiled faces.

Why does God create?
God speaks light so that we may know God.

The language of light connotes knowledge. The content of this knowledge is clearly more than mere information. He is the light of life. But knowledge is a result of light. We need light to see and understand. We speak of "enlightenment" with reference to new knowledge and understanding. Casting light on something means to reveal its true nature. God speaks light into existence so that we may know, not only the world around us, but himself.

Now knowledge has benefits. You shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free. Knowledge of God is an instrumental good. We can testify to this in the lives of those whose knowledge of God made a significant difference in their attitudes and actions, especially in the face of suffering. But, I do not want to focus on the benefits of the knowledge of God. You shall know the truth. Knowledge of God is also an intrinsic good. In fact, we must first face its intrinsic worth before considering its instrumental value. Knowing God is good in and of itself. And so the knowledge of God is a core value of the new creature. New creatures bath in the light of life. They crave to know God. Their driving passion is to know Christ, the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings. New creatures know God. What does this look like? New creatures ask each other, what are you learning about God? Or, better yet, what is God teaching you about himself? This is the concrete sign of the new creature's driving passion to know God.

Any thoughts?
  • Is understanding redemption as re-creation helpful? What problems do it have? Are these problems dealt with by the claim that it surpasses the original? Or does that claim have problems of its own?
  • Does the general relationship between creation and redemption implicit in the introduction to this appeal to you? In other words, is it okay to read Genesis in the light of Easter?
  • What do you think of the notion that God is the only presupposed point of continuity between creation and re-creation?
  • What do you make of God creating by speaking?
  • What does the language of light connote for you?

Next Week: The Second Day

Works consulted in the development of this series:

Basil the Great of Caesera, Hexameron, NPNF, Second Series, Vol. 8.
Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, Vol. 3, Part 1.
Walter Brueggemann,
Genesis, Interpretation.
Terence Fretheim, “Genesis” in
The New Interpreter’s Bible, Vol. 1.
Gordon Wenham,
Genesis 1-15, Word Biblical Commentary, Vol. 1.


3 comments:

Bob MacDonald said...

You will get me thinking! This is exactly what I had thought I might begin so I will, I hope, respond on my blog as the weeks go by. I wrote about the 7 days with a first diagram linked at that post and later a second diagram a few weeks ago. God speaks 10 times in the passage. I want to muse more on the 'central' - from what point of view? what is a day? (Gen 2:4 - in the day the Lord God made earth and heaven)

Bob MacDonald said...

This article by Peter Enns also arrived on my desk this morning on creation-recreation and on the subject that first spurred me to translate the psalms two years ago - the use of the psalms in Hebrews.

ElderChild said...

"Let There Be Light"

"In The Beginning" The Creator(Our Father) said,

"Let There Be Light, and There Was Light"

"The Beginning of The Creation of GOD"

"Let There Be Light"

And the revelation that The Messiah gave unto the
apostle John bore witness to The Truth that The
Messiah, was "The Beginning of the Creation of
GOD(Our Father, Creator of ALL)"! (Rev 3:14)

And The Messiah bore witness to His Brethren
when He testified, "My GOD is your GOD and My
Father(Creator) is your Father(Creator)."(Jn 20:17)

The Messiah testified "I have sent My angel to
you with this testimony for the assemblies. I am
the root and the offspring of David. I am the bright,
Morning Star(Light)"! (Rev 22:16) ) Peter testified
"We have the more sure word of prophecy; and
you do well to take heed, as to a lamp shining in a
dark place, until the day dawns, and The Morning
Star(Light) arises in your hearts."(2Pt 1:19) "But
you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood,
a holy nation, HIS own special people, that you
may proclaim the praises of HIM who called you
out of darkness into His marvelous Light."(1Pt2:9)

And the evening(darkness) and The Morning
(Light) was the First Day." (Gen 1:5)

"The Beginning of The Creation of GOD"!

It is very important to both know and experience
The Messiah as He Is, Was and always Will Be,
and also to know the "glory He had with Our
Father" before He was born in "the likeness of
sinful flesh". (John 17:5, Rom 8:3) For what The
Messiah Was and Is, Is that which He will always
Will Be."The Only Begotten Son" of "Our Father"!

First, let me simply state that I do not believe the
"catholic" and "christian" theo'ry'logical doctrines
concerning "The Only True GOD, Father ALL". For
they "image"ine a three-headed "god" they call
their "trinity", or they declare their "christ" to be
their "god and father", or they believe that The
Messiah was but an exalted messenger(angel)
or prophet.

John The Baptist testified, "And I saw, and bare
record that The Messiah is the Son of GOD(Our
Father)."(John 1:34) Peter testified, "You are The
Messiah, The Son of The Living GOD(Father of
ALL)"!(Matt 16:16) And the Ethiopian eunuch
testified, "I believe that The Messiah is The Son
of GOD(Our Father)". (Acts 8:37) "Seeing then
that we have a great high priest, that is passed
into the Heavens, The Messiah, The Son of
GOD(Our Father), let us hold fast our profession."
(Heb 4:14) "These things are written so that you
might believe that The Messiah is The Son of GOD
(Our Father)". (John 20:31) The Messiah testified
that He was "The Son of GOD", and that His GOD
was "The Only True GOD(Father of ALL)".
(John 10:36,17:3)

And The Messiah also testified that He was the
"Son of man" and "The Light of the world".
(Matt 26:64, John 8:12)

It is needful to believe that The Messiah Was, Is
and always Will Be "The Son of The Living GOD",
and that there is but "One GOD, HE WHO is
Father of ALL". (Mat 16:16, Eph 4:6) The Messiah
bore witness to His Brethren when He testified
after being "raised from among the dead", "My GOD
is your GOD and My Father(Creator) is your Father
(Creator)" (John 20:17)

Is The Messiah's GOD and Father your GOD
and Father?

Who are The Brethren of The Messiah?

"Let There Be Light"

Once again, It is very important to both know and
experience The Messiah as He Was, Is and always
Will Be. The Messiah simply testified in John 17:5
"And now O Father, glorify Me with YOUR own self
with the glory that I had with YOU before the world
began".

Prior to that testimony The Messiah had testified,
"Yet a little while is The Light with you. Walk while
you have The Light, lest darkness comes upon
you: for he that walks in darkness does not know
where he goes. While you have Light, believe in
The Light, that you may be the children of Light."
(John 12:35-36)

And the apostle John testified: "In the beginning
was the Word, and the Word was with GOD, and
The Word was GOD. (John did not testify that
The Word is GOD)The same was in the beginning
with GOD. All things were made by Him, and
without Him was not any thing made that was
made. In Him was Life; and The Life was The
Light of men. And The Light shined in darkness;
and the darkness comprehended it not. There
was a man sent from GOD, whose name was
John. The same came for a witness, to bear
witness of The Light, that all men through Him
might believe. He(John the baptist) was not that
Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
That was the True Light, which enlightens every
man that comes into the world. He(The Messiah)
was in the world, and the world was made by
Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto
His own, and His own received Him not. But as
many as received Him, to them He gave power
to become the sons of GOD, even to them that
believe on His name: Which were born, not of
blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will
of man, but of "The Only True GOD, Father of
ALL"." (John 1:1-13)

It is needful to realize that The Messiah testified
of "The Only True GOD" in John 17:3, and so it is
that The GOD and Father of The Messiah IS,
WAS and always WILL BE "The Only True GOD".

"The Only True GOD" is "Father of ALL".

And "The Father of ALL" is "Our Father", HE WHO
IS "The Only True GOD" and Father of The Messiah
and His Brethren.

And the apostle John testified in John 3:17-21:
"For Our Father sent not his Son into the world
to condemn the world; but that the world through
Him might be saved. He that believes on Him is
not condemned: but he that believes not is
condemned already, because he has not believed
in the name of the only begotten Son of GOD(Our
Father). And this is the condemnation, that Light is
come into the world, and men loved darkness
rather than Light, because their deeds were evil.
For every one that does evil hates The Light,
neither comes to The Light, lest his deeds should
be reproved. But he that does Truth comes to The
Light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that
they are wrought in GOD(Our Father)."

In John 12:34 the people asked, "Who is this Son
of man? Then in John 12:35-36, "The Messiah said
unto them, yet a little while is The Light with you.
Walk while you have The Light, lest darkness come
upon you: for he that walks in darkness does not
know where he goes. While you have Light, believe
in The Light, that you may be the children of Light.
The Messiah spoke these things, and departed,
and hid Himself from them."

Simply, "In The Beginning" The Only True GOD
spoke The Word, "Let There Be Light", "And there
was Light"! "And there was evening(darkness) and
there was morning (Light), The First Day". (Gen 1:5)
Certainly such "Light" was not "natural" light, for
"natural" light, the sun, moon, and stars were not
created until the "fourth day". (Gen 1:14-19)

"In the beginning", "The First Day", The Father of
All created "The Light", without which Creation and
Life, as we now know and experience it, could not
have been.

The First Day, "The Light", The Messiah, "The
beginning of the Creation of GOD(HE WHO is
The Only True GOD and Father of ALL)"!
(Gen 1:3, Rev 3:14, John 17:3, Eph 4:6)

And "The Only True GOD" created all "things" by,
through, and for "The Light", The Messiah, "The
Son of The Living GOD" and "Son of man".
(Col 1:15, Eph 3:9, Mat 16:16, Mat 12:32)

And "The True Light which enlightens every man
coming into the world", was born as a child
destined to be The Messiah. (John 1:9, Mat 1:21)

The Messiah, "The Light of the world".
(John 8:12, 9:5)

The Messiah, "The firstborn of every creature
(all creation)". (Col 1:15)

The Messiah, "Begotten of Our Father",
"The firstborn among many Brethren".
(Heb 1:5) (Ps 2:7) (Rom 8:29)

The Messiah, "A servant of The Only True GOD
(Father of ALL)". (Isa 42:1-7)

The Messiah, "The Lamb of GOD".
(John 1:29,36)

The Messiah, "The firstborn from among the dead".
(Col 1:18)

Once again: "In The Beginning" Our Father, "The
Only True GOD" spoke: "Let there be Light, and
there was Light"! The Messiah, "The Beginning of
the Creation of GOD", "the firstborn of every
creature(all creation)". (Gen 1:3, John 17:3,
Rev 3:14, Col 1:15)

Thanks Be To "Our Father"!

The Messiah, The Creation of "The Only True
GOD, Father of ALL"! (Rev 3:14)

The Messiah, "made so much better than the
angels"! (Heb 1:4)

The Messiah, "The Light of the world"!
(John 8:12, 9:5)

"The Lamb of GOD", "The Light of The New
Heavenly Jerusalem"! (Rev 21:22-23)

Paul experienced "The Light " on the road to
Damascus. "And it came to pass, that, as I
made my journey, and came near unto
Damascus about noontime, suddenly a great
Light from Heaven shone round about me.
And I fell unto the ground, and heard a voice
saying unto me, Saul, Saul, why do you
persecute Me? And I answered, "Who are
You, Master"? And He said unto me, I am
Yehowshuwa'(Yahshua, Joshua) of Nazareth,
Whom you persecute. And they that were
with me saw The Light, and were afraid; but
they did not hear the voice of Him that spoke
to me. And I said, "What shall I do, Master"?
And He said unto me, arise and go into
Damascus, and there you shall be told all
things which are appointed for you to do.
And when I could not see for the glory of
that Light, I was led by the hand into
Damascus." (Acts 22:6-11)

Paul also testified, "At midday I saw in the
way a Light from Heaven, ABOVE THE
BRIGHTNESS OF THE SUN, shining round
about me and those who journeyed with me.
And when we were all fallen to the earth, I
heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying
in the HEBREW tongue, Saul, Saul, why do
you persecute Me? It is hard for you to kick
against the pricks." (The Messiah could not
have told Paul, "I am jesus" for He spoke in
the "HEBREW tongue") (Acts 26:13-14)

Paul saw "The Light" that was The Messiah
and he was blinded(naturally, not Spiritually)
for a time. Now when The Messiah was in
the "likeness of sinful flesh", born as "the
Son of man", He could only reflect "The
Light", liken unto the moon which but reflects
the light of the natural sun.

"Let There Be Light"

The Messiah, "The Light of the world"!

And consider the natural light provided by
the sun, which was Created on the fourth
day. Does not the natural light of the sun
reveal outwardly, all the earthly, natural
things? Consider what happens when
that which you thought was clean is
exposed to the light of the sun? Is not
the least outward particle of uncleanness
readily seen in the light of the sun? And
so it is with "The Light" that is The Messiah.
For His Life, "The Life", exposes all the
uncleanness in the life that is of The "I" in
all of us! The "I" is the creation of mankind's
"imag"ination! And "The Light" penetrates
deeply, cleansing even the innermost
recesses of the heart, "rightly dividing the
soul and spirit"!

Yet for such a cleansing to begin one must
"experience The Messiah(The Light) and
The Power that raised Him from among the
dead"!(Php 3:10) Oh, there are many who
know of a "messiah", yet who has
experienced "The Light"? For "The Light"
was "The Beginning of Creation" both the
old, which was natural and earthly and The
New, which is of The Spirit and Heavenly.
Those who "love this world and it's things"
yet desire that which "decayed, waxed
old and vanished away" (Heb 8:13) They
are of those "whose 'god' is their belly,
and whose glory is in their shame, for
they mind earthly things". (Phlp 3:19)

Sadly, those who "love this world and it's
things" yet love darkness more than The
Light and they will abide in the darkness
they loved forever ;-( (1Jn2:15,Jn3:19-20)

Sadder yet, systems of religion that are of
this world, such as "catholicism", "christianity",
"judaism", "islam", etc., have so perverted
The Testimonies, that today, as in the two
thousand or so, years gone by, "The Way
of Truth is evil spoken of"! All because of
the theo'ry'logical, heretical doctrines that
are of men! And especially those
theo'ry'logical doctrines which seek to
define "The Only True GOD, Father of All".
(2Peter 2:1-2)

All such doctrines are but the product of
mankind's "imag"ination and mankind's
"imag"ination is destroying and perverting
Creation(land, air, water, creatures, Light,
Truth, Love, Peace, Joy, Hope, .etc.)

Yes, sadly ;-( Creation is being destroyed
by self-willed men who could care less
about that which is of The Truth(What Is,
Was, and always Will Be), and care even
less about those things which they can
not comprehend apart from their
"natural" senses and mental processes ;-(

And The Truth testifies, The Creator "will
destroy those who destroy the earth(HIS
Creation)"(Rev 11:18).

Sadly, in this wicked world, those who
seek profit will naturally overcome those
who do not ;-(

Yet, There Is Hope!

For The Life is of The Spirit!

And Miracles do happen!

And Faith rejoices against profit(greed)
and theo'ry'logy(logic)!

Hope is there would be those who experience
The Miracle that is receiving "a love of The
Truth" for they will "see" "The Light".
(2Thes 2:10, John 8:12, 9:5)

And they will receive peace, in spite of the
dis-ease(no-peace) that is of this world, for
they will clearly "see" that "The WHOLE
world is under the control of the evil one".
(1John 5:19) And they will clearly "see"
things as they are and not as "imag"inative,
world-loving humans would have others
believe them to be, for they will "see" The
Light that is The Messiah....... francisco