This is a continuation from (1) Abraham’s backstory – Creation comparison
A review of two stories
As a quick reminder from our last discussion, we looked at the two accounts of creation. The end of the first creation account and beginning of the second are in Genesis 2:4. In story 1, the creator is God or Elohim in Hebrew; but in story 2 he is portrayed as Lord God or YHVH Elohim in Hebrew. We discovered how these two names reflect his revealed nature in each story.
In the first creation story, it seems God’s power and nature are expressed by what he does. In the second story life takes root, things begin to happen naturally and organically; and the world builds on the framework from the first story. God who was awe inspiring, omnipotent, judge and distant now steps into the story and begins to interact with his creation. God’s power and nature are now expressed by his presence (his being). Story 1 seems to more about “doing”, while story 2 is more about “being”
In both accounts of creation (which I call “Story 1” and “Story 2”), we’ve discovered some interesting attributes of God.
Nature reflects nature
It’s fascinating how the two stories relate the creation account from two perspectives; Elohim and YHVH Elohim – names for God in each story. The events in these stories reflect the dual nature of the creator. But then the real beauty occurs in story 2 as the elements of nature begin to interact with each other and YHVH is present to join in the experience with Adam. Hopefully, a side by side comparison of the elements of each will make the differences apparent.
|Elements in story 1||Connectedness in story 2|
|Heaven | earth||Plants spring up from land|
|Light | darkness||Rain, mist waters the earth|
|Waters above | waters below||Lord God forms man from dust. Lord God breathes into man to give him breath of life|
|Seas | dry land||God planted a garden, places man in the garden|
|Evening | morning||River flowed out of Eden to water the garden and then divided in four branches|
|Sun | Moon||Man is naming the animals|
|Male | Female||Woman is created from Man|
Thinking like Jesus
If we consider that Jesus is the expression of YHVH Elohim in story 2, how might he want believers to understand and relate to his father. As you read John chapters 14-17 you will note the Lord is constantly thinking of, talking to, and concerned for his fathers’ desires and he wants his disciples to understand the father also. Meditatively read these verses: John 14:6-12; 16:25,28; 17:11,21
With a clearer picture of God as revealed in creation and a desire to know all the Godhead, the next question is who is man as revealed in these stories? To begin, there is a literary tool called “chiasmus”. Chiasmus is a two-part sentence or phrase, where the second part is a reversal of the first. “When the going gets tough, the tough get going” is a simple example of this literary device.
With the above understanding let us look at Gen. 1:27.” God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
Hopefully, you can notice the central idea is expressed by the narrowest point of the chiasmic funnel. Man is to be God’s image on earth; made in the “image” of “one who creates”. We are his viceroy, “mini creators”, creating in the same way he created. If we take time to consider the creator in both stories, we find that he creates by bringing order out of chaos, separating things, judging things, resting, relating to his environment, establishing relationships between elements of creation, improving things, etc.
Just as the chiasm of verse 27 above reverses God and man, so story 2 reverses “heavens and earth” to “earth and heavens”. This illustrates that earth is the place given to man for him to represent God as mini creators, creating as he did. Is this not the essence of “image bearing?” Try to think deeply on how creation occurs in both stories and how you represent that in your own ability to create.
These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created,
in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens. Gen. 2:4
A good exercise is to review from the last teaching the attributes of the creator in each story. With the understanding that you are made in that image, how do you bring those characteristics into the work and creativity which you perform each day?
A word on “Purpose”
How many times do we ask ourselves what is my purpose, why am I here? What if we are asking the wrong question? The very premise of the question is about work and effort. For example, don’t we really mean, “what am I supposed to do with my life”?
Maybe it’s not about “purpose”, maybe it’s about “image”, to both “do” and “be” as YHVH Elohim does and is. Ask the father to give you understanding into this, see what he says? I’d love to hear about it.
Garden = Laboratory?
As humans, in what “state” can we embrace both concepts of God and understand “image”? Maybe it’s only possible to understand him in the place where Adam interacts with YHVH Elohim – in the garden. Eden was a place where God and man connected. It was the garden of God, a place on earth where God could hang out with Adam. But it needed to be a hospitable place for man. The relationship between God and man was one of God gifting the gardens resources to man and man tending and caring for those resources which belonged to God. They would often walk together as they talked about these things.
Is it possible that the garden of Eden was like a laboratory, but not a sterile pharmaceutical lab more like a place of divine intimacy; a place for us to understand Elohim and YHVH and to learn what it means to “image” and create like he created? My thought is that Eden is still possible, that place of intimacy, human and divine connectedness where we truly learn what “image” (not purpose) is about.
How do you understand Eden and image?