Tuesday 22 September 2020

Bible Book:

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. (v. 1)

Genesis 1:1-13 Tuesday 22 September 2020

Psalm 123 


I want to invite you (again if you used these notes on Monday) to pay attention to the small words. Many translations of this passage read “In the beginning, God created …”, but the NRSV includes the small word ‘when’ and scholarship suggests that including ‘when’ is helpful. The ‘when’ invites us to pay attention to what existed when God created the heavens and earth – darkness, a formless void and wind.

It seems that what this ancient story is describing is a situation of chaos, which God then powerfully transforms into order and a world which can be inhabited. On each day, we see a movement away from disarray and darkness towards a world in which flourishing is possible. First comes light, then a separation of ‘the waters’. The image seems to be that there were primal oceans and, in effect, God creates a dome that produces an air bubble between them. Then the waters separate again to produce land and then the land begins to produce vegetation.

Traditional Christian theology has claimed that God created ‘out of nothing’, and it is possible to read Genesis to support this. But it is also possible to focus on a picture of God taking something that is dangerously chaotic and where nothing could flourish, and steadily producing order and everything needed for life.

And each time God pronounces what has been created to be ‘good’. The Hebrew word is towb and means good, but also describes anything that brings pleasure to any of our senses. So tasty food, any thing or person who is good to look at, a lovely smell and an enjoyable spoken message can all be described as towb, as can fertile soil. Perhaps, this understanding of towb can be linked with the idea that God looks and sees that creation was good. Here at the beginning of everything we get the sense of a God who draws pleasure, delights, in the goodness of creation.


To Ponder:

  • Are there ways in which you delight in creation? Have you ever thought about the idea that your pleasure reflects something of the nature of God?
  • What does a movement from chaos to order and flourishing mean to you? Is there any part of your life where you need a similar movement?
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