In honor of the Year of Faith (yeah, yeah, I’m way ahead of schedule, right?), I’ve decided to use my love of trivia for good instead of evil. Each week, I’ll post a list of 7 Things You Should Know About _________. This week, I thought I’d start with one of the most fascinating passages of Scripture, which just so happens to be the first.
- The Holy Trinity is present in the first 3 verses of Sacred Scripture. Don’t believe me? Check it out. No more pointing to Matthew 28 in exasperation when a Oneness Pentecostal tells you you’re a bit short on textual references.
- Creation took 6 days, not 7. Aside from a large faction of Americans who believe that creation took literally 6 days (not what I’m saying here), there are a great many others who look at that first week and forget that the last day was set aside for rest (could these be the same people who don’t set aside their day of rest each week?).
- The structure of the whole earth is a response to its original state of formlessness and emptiness. The Hebrew phrase describing the earth in Genesis 1:2 is tohu wabohu, meaning “formless and empty.” The first set of 3 days in creation, God creates forms – either places or raw, semi-abstract concepts – such as light, sea and sky, land. The second set of 3 days in creation, God fills those forms accordingly with their corresponding fillings: He fills the light with sun, moon, and stars, the sea and sky with fish and birds, and the land with animals and man.
- Image and likeness aren’t synonyms. When Genesis 1:26 says that we were created in the image and likeness of God, it’s not simply being redundant. Image has to do with man’s nature and faculties. Thus, many theologians will point to the memory, intellect, and will – among other things – as specific parts of the human image of God. Likeness is man’s moral similitude to God. In our state of original justice, the human race was like God and had the opportunity to grow in that likeness through holy obedience to God’s will. That likeness was broken by original sin, but is being restored by grace in Christ’s faithful.
- Love and sex comprise an integral part of what makes man an image of God. Genesis 1:27 reports that being created “in God’s image” includes being created “male and female.” The Holy Trinity is mentioned in the first 3 verses of Genesis, but here the life of the Holy Trinity is revealed. God does not have gender, so what could by meant by saying that we are created in His image as male and female if not that we are created in the image of His love? Thus, the human race has revealed in its own sexuality the truth that God is love.
- Fruitfulness makes one share in God’s likeness. Brief recap: 1) Our natural abilities help us share in the image of God. 2) One of the ways that we share in that image is our sexuality. 3) We share in God’s likeness by following God’s commands. The first of God’s commands? “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen. 1:28). In other words, we are more like God when we bring the image of God to live in our holy obedience. What has He commanded us to do? Only one of the most prized activities of human nature that happens to be nothing less than co-creating with the Creator Himself.
- The Garden of Eden will probably never be found. A few background notes on Eden: Not only was Eden a garden, it was a private, enclosed (probably hedged) garden on top of a mountain. How do we know that Eden was enclosed? The etymology of the word paradise indicates an enclosed space. (This interpretation is only confirmed by God’s placement of an angel at the entrance to keep man from returning after the Fall. Unenclosed spaces don’t have entrances.) How do we know that Eden was a mountain? It may not have been the highest place on earth, but it did have 4 rivers flowing through it. Rivers flow downhill. Sadly, we’ve never located any mountain-top, private, hedged gardens flanked by angels with flaming swords. That doesn’t mean the place doesn’t exist. After the Flood, there may not have been a need to guard it, seeing as the rivers apparently got all screwed up. Although 2 of them (the Euphrates and the Tigris) are close and meet up in Iraq near Kuwait, a 3rd (the Gihon) has an uncertain identification with the geographically unattached Nile River, while a 4th (the Pishon) is unknown to history by that name and has – vaguely at best – been associated with the geographically distant Ganges River in India. Without the coalescing of all the geographic markers, it’s unlikely we could ever locate paradise, but if anyone feels like taking a look in the Himalayas, let me know what you find.