Here's the recording from our first class.  We had some technical difficulties, so you will hear our bell choir practicing in the background - hopefully we can eliminate that for next week.

Suggested Reading for this week:  

Genesis 1-11


Class notes from Creation
Genesis 1-11

Key Concepts

  • Genre of Prehistory - focused not on HOW but WHY

1.  The self-revealing of God
2.  The theme of God's presence with us
3.  The twin tracks of blessings and curses/sin
4.  Problem of sin

Key Sections

Genesis 1 - 6 days of creation - God as Creator

God speaks everything into existence, and fills his world with life.  But on day six, he creates humans in his image and likeness, and gives us a commandment - "Be fruitful and multiply.  Fill the earth."  In so doing, God engages us in the work of creation, and also makes himself vulnerable; the project of creation that has been "good" now depends partly on our participation as co-creators.

Genesis 2-3 - Adam and Eve in the Garden - God is Relational; God is Merciful

Even more clearly in this passage, we see God as investing relationally in his creatures, especially humans.  We also see the effect of sin; not that God flees from us, but that we flee from him.  Although sin is very serious to the LORD, he still choose to return and walk with Adam and Eve after their sin; it is they who chose not to hide from him.  The curse and the effects of sin constitute the problem that the rest of the Bible will attempt to resolve - how to restore God's presence to his people.

Genesis 4 - Cain and Able and Cain's bloodline - Sin increases

Again we notice that despite the fratricide of Cain, God shows mercy to him, and even speaks with him before and after the murder.  In the genealogy of Cain, we see the increase of sin in the world.

Genesis 5 - Seth's bloodline - Blessings increase

Adam and Eve have another child, Seth, and his bloodline reveals the blessing of God - both the continued obedience to "be fruitful and multiply", and also a clear reliance on a relationship with God.  This leads through Enoch, and culminates with Noah.

Genesis 6-9 - Noah - God is Sovereign and Holy

The problem of sin, and the increase of sin on the earth, reaches an apex in Genesis 6.  We are told that every inclination of the human heart was to evil, all the time, and that the LORD was grieved that he made mankind.  The flood is the correction of this evil, demonstrating that God is both sovereign over his creation, and also that he is holy and cannot abide our sin.  At the same time, this story again highlights the mercy of God - Noah and his family are rescued from the impending destruction.  After the flood, we are told that the condition of the human heart is unchanged, but God's heart has changed.  He makes a covenant with Noah and all his descendants to never again destroy the earth, and places the rainbow in the heavens to remind himself about this promise.  The use of our human language to describe God's character clearly runs into limitations in this passage; however, the story as a whole is designed to foreshadow God's work with Abraham and Israel.  Again, Abraham and his family will be rescued for the purpose of blessing the earth; again, God will continue the advance of the track of blessings through a single family.

Genesis 11 - Tower of Babel and Shem - God is sufficient; we are not

The final story of this pre-history section is the account of the Tower of Babel.  The people in the story have two goals: to make a name for themselves, becoming stable and permanent, and to reach up into the heavens, and by implication to reach God's presence on their own.  These two goals are really one and the same.  God confuses their attempt to be self-sufficient because he is sufficient for us; we will never be sufficient for ourselves.  We cannot create stability and fame for ourselves without the LORD, and neither can we reach his presence by our effort.  Independence is a chimera; we are called to be God-dependant.

The hope of this section lies with the final genealogy, which begins with Shem and ends with Abram.  God has a plan to advance the track of blessings in this world, to reveal himself more fully, and to restore his presence to humanity.  That plan will revolve around a new covenant with Abram.

Conversation - Discussion Questions for this Blog

I'd love for you to comment on this class in any way; however, I've included a few discussion questions here in case you'd like to respond to them specifically.

1.  Where do you see the track of blessings continuing in our world today?  Alternatively, what aspects of today's world do you think "grieve God's heart"?

2.  How can we slip into the attempt to be self-sufficient?  What do we do to avoid that pitfall?