We had another exciting week studying the stories of Genesis. We started in Genesis 8 and moved through Genesis 13.
In our first post, Stewardship, Politics, and Genesis 9, we looked at the complex commands that God gave to Noah and his descendants: “Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the Earth. All of the animals on the earth will fear you and dread you—all the birds in the skies, everything crawling on the ground, and all of the sea’s fish. They are in your power. Everything that lives and moves will be your food. Just as I gave you the green grasses, I now give you everything” (Gen. 9:1-3). We examined how people have stretched biblical texts to fulfill their own political purposes. We then identified how we can responsibly integrate the Bible into our own lives and worlds.
The following post, Subtle Reminders, looked at the covenant that God established with Noah after the flood. We discussed those moments we experience in creation that remind us of God’s love and promises. Genesis describes how the rainbow is a natural marker of God’s covenant with us, and one of the commentators pointed out that there is a rainbow every day in Hawaii. We can feel and witness God’s covenant with us in creation and in so many other ways every day.
Finding God At Babel allowed us to look at the story of Babel and see God protecting humanity, rather than fearing it. Often people interpret the story of the Tower of Babel to mean that God felt insecure about how wise and crafty humanity had become, which led to His decision to scatter their languages and locations. Reading the passage in context, however, we remember Genesis 8, when God promised to never destroy creation again. In an effort to hold true to his promise, God realized that we needed boundaries to prevent the sort of straying that had taken place before the Flood. We finished by naming our call to live out the full potential that God has placed within us, and celebrating God’s willingness to provide us with guidance and strength along the way.
Finally, in When our Heroes Let Us Down, we studied the story of Abraham: the one who we laud as our father, our patriarch, and who also made some grave mistakes. In both Genesis 12 and in Genesis 20, he instructs his wife to pretend she’s his sister in an effort to protect his own life. Abraham abandons Sarah to the Pharaoh and to King Abimelech, both of whom experience the impact of his lie and confront Abraham about it. Sarah then returns to Abraham, and in both scenarios Abraham leaves wealthier than ever before. Sometimes our heroes let us down. They fail to meet our expectations for how they should behave, and leave us wondering why they made the choices they did. In the midst of disappointment, the most constructive action we can take is to acknowledge our own shortcomings, request forgiveness from God and from others, and offer forgiveness as well.
We got into some gritty texts this week. In the coming week, we will start with Genesis 14 and move forward into even more complicated, trying, and fascinating texts. Out of these we will learn lessons about how we can live with greater peace and reconciliation with God and others.
peru urevu umelu — be fertile, multiply, and fill the earth; God’s command in Gen. 8
queshet — bow; used to signify a rainbow in Gen. 8
ra — evil, bad, mischievous; God’s description of people’s ideas in Gen. 8
balal — to confuse or mix up; what God does to the language at Babel in Gen. 11