New Series: Through the Bible
Today I am starting a new, occasional blog series called “Through the Bible.” The bible is not a collection of random stories about God or about people. It is one story from start to finish about God and his plan at work in this world. My goal in this series is to help readers get a sense of that story so that we can not only better know the bible but also to better understand our place in this story.
Start at the Beginning: Genesis 1 – 2
The bible opens with the words, “In the beginning, God…” With these four words we are immediately taught that before anything existed there was God. He has no beginning and will never have an end. His existence does not depend on us or anything else, he simply is. We are then told “God created the heavens and the earth.” Everything that exists was created by God. As creator, God is in control of everything. He understands how everything works and has a plan for all of it – including us!
A Garden, in a Land, in a World
So God creates the world and said it was good. In one area of this world there is a land called Eden and in this land God makes a special garden. Did you catch that… in a world that was good, in fact, that was very good, God makes a particularly wonderful place. It is here that he places Adam and Eve. Why the garden? God tells Adam and Eve to “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” (Gen. 1:28). We also see in Gen. 2:15 that God puts Adam and Eve in the Garden to “work it and take care of it.” But let’s add one more piece to this picture. In Gen. 3:8 we are told that God was walking in the garden. So here are the really important pieces we can put together to discover something amazing about God and about who we are.
Living in the Presence of God
God made the Garden of Eden special from any other part of creation because it was in the Garden that Adam and Eve would live in his presence. God’s purpose for them was to live in and enjoy the Presence of their Almighty Creator who loves them. As they lived in God’s presence they would be images of him – sort of like reflectors of his glory. God’s purpose for us at the very beginning of history was for us to be with him. This is a theme that runs throughout all of Scripture as God designates places and ways for people to come into his presence and it is no accident that the bible ends with God coming to be with his people forever and ever (see Revelation 21:1-4).
Keepers of the Garden of God’s Presence
But Adam and Eve weren’t just created to hang out in the Garden and do nothing! They were to tend the garden, take care of it, and extend it. The implication of the commands to take care of the Garden combined with the command to fill the whole earth is that Adam and Eve and their offspring were to constantly be extending the borders of the Garden of God’s Presence until it filled the whole earth. This means that we are made not only to reflect the glory of God’s presence, but to work with the stuff of creation to increasingly and intentionally reflect God’s glory. This is another theme through the Bible. God’s people are to grow and spread. The land of God’s people is to grow and spread. Jesus tells the church to go and make disciples. The book of Revelation ends with imagery both of a building (city/temple) and a garden that have expanded to cover the whole earth (see Revelation 21 for the city that represents a temple and Revelation 22 for the Garden imagery).
God’s Presence is Our Purpose
So right at the beginning of the bible we have several major themes that will come up again and again throughout Scripture. God made everything, is powerfully in control over everything and has a plan for all of it. We are made for the incredible purpose of living in God’s presence, reflecting God’s presence, and extending the place of the meeting of God’s presence with people.
So when you wake up this morning, thank God for his purpose in creating you! Don’t just walk out of the house (after doing your morning bible reading of course) and go through the day like God doesn’t matter! You are living in His presence! It is what you are created for. So how are you going to live that today… and tomorrow… and the next day…
image by flickr user ah zut