A Brief Skim of the Bible

Creation

This devotional is written by Matt Coombs who has just moved house and is living off take aways for the week.
I think that many Christians find the Bible quite tricky.

Some say it’s written in weird language.
'Yea, verily, I say unto thee…' - nice if you like Shakespeare but largely incomprehensible. If your Bible reads like this more modern translations are available.

Some think only experts can understand it. 

There certainly are some truly baffling bits that scholars and academics enjoy getting hot under the collar arguing over, but much of the Bible is quite straightforward. Jesus, for example, boiled down the whole Old Testament to two commandments: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and soul and love your neighbour as yourself.'

Some think it’s boring. 

It undoubtedly has dull sections (and long ones at that) but it also includes history, miraculous stories, moving poetry and timeless wisdom.
Some find the size of the Bible overwhelming. 
There are around 750,000 words in the Bible. Thankfully these words are broken down into 66 books and 1,189 chapters. But as the book is about life, death and everything in-between you’d expect more than a pamphlet.

Some think the Bible is irrelevant. 

The people in the Bible are like you and me. They may not carry oyster cards and get frustrated by the battery life of AirPods. But they wrestle with many of the same issues we do: love, peace, war, freedom, greed, forgiveness, sex, truth and much more. More than this the Bible is the primary way that God speaks to us. 

So with all this in mind, I thought it might be good to do a little overview of the Bible on Everyday with Matt. Over the next few days we’re going on a whistle stop tour of the Bible. Hopefully when you open your Bible in the future it’ll make a little more sense in the context of the big unfolding narrative.

Genesis 1


The Beginning
1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
3 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning - the first day.
6 And God said, "Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water." 7 So God made the vault and separated the water under the vault from the water above it. And it was so. 8 God called the vault "sky." And there was evening, and there was morning - the second day.
9 And God said, "Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear." And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground "land," and the gathered waters he called "seas." And God saw that it was good.
11 Then God said, "Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds." And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning - the third day.
14 And God said, "Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, 15 and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth." And it was so. 16 God made two great lights- the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. 17 God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, 18 to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 And there was evening, and there was morning - the fourth day.
20 And God said, "Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky." 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, "Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth." 23 And there was evening, and there was morning - the fifth day.
24 And God said, "Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind." And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

27
So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground."
29 Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground - everything that has the breath of life in it - I give every green plant for food." And it was so.
31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning - the sixth day.

2 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

Reflection

When we read the Bible it is important to remember that none of it is written into a vacuum. There is always a context to what is being written. There is a story behind the story. 

We don't know exactly when Genesis was written but one theory suggests that Genesis was written around the time that the people of God were in exile in Babylon. The Babylonians were a military superpower of their time who invaded Israel and ripped the people from their homes, livelihoods, and Temple and made to live and work in Babylon, for their violent oppressors who saw them as less than human.

The Babylonians had their own creation story for how the world began called the Enuma Elis. This story involved two warring gods. One god, called Marduk, fought and wrestled with one another god called Tiamat. After a struggle, Marduk strikes Tiamat, and tears her in half; one half of her divine body created the heavens and the other the earth…

Pretty bloody.

You can imagine the Jewish people looking at their violent and bloodthirsty enemies who see their origins in a brutal cosmic battle and think - you look just like your gods. It’s likely that at the same time reflected to their own origins.

To a God who created. 

Everything. 

Light, solar systems, planets, oceans, mountains, rainforests, orang-utans and US.

All along with the insistence that "it was good."

In the beginning, God was at work creating everything and he saw that it was good.

This world in which we live is good. Full of beauty and wonder. 

We are made to reflect God into the world (image and likeness), be fruitful, increase, join God in his creation.

Questions for reflection:

Is your starting place that all is chaos, violence and disorder, or order, creativity and overwhelming goodness?

When was the last time you went somewhere to just appreciate the beauty of God’s creation?

Do you share the same appreciation for God’s creation as he does? 
Do you share the same appreciation for you as he does?

What does it mean to you to be made in the image of a God who creates for the sake of creation and enjoys what he has made?

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