Thursday, April 05, 2012

What is revealed in Genesis and the Torah

Okay, so what exactly is revealed to us in Genesis?

Uhm, well, in no particular order,
we learn:

That God created the world in six days.

That there was a kind of rest. (In the Psalms we talk about another kind of rest, and in Hebrews we hear some more about this particular kind of rest.)

That sound (God said) created light ("Light, Be!"). Then after light (or the big bang) was created, sound continued to create the world.

That only one God created the earth. Remember Moses was telling all this to people he was leading out of Egypt, people who for 400 years had only known the various Egyptian gods. They also learn that God doesn't like any kind of engraved images of himself.

That Woman came out of man or that the original created being had woman inside him in some way. They also learned that a man should have one wife and a wife should have one husband.

That a snake of some kind was involved in the fall. (In the Torah, we really don't learn about fallen angels or that satan was a fallen angel. In fact, Moses tells the stories about the nephilim as if the only problem was that the angels fell in love with earth women. Rebellion enough, yes, but he doesn't imply that there was some other greater rebellion behind it.)

That man had dominion over the earth, animals, possibly other metaphysical forces.

That man was made in God's image.

That the earth was once surrounded by a ring of water and by a ring or air. That the earth did not need the sun to survive. Yes, I know. But the earth as it was created isn't the earth we have now. And although this might be hard to believe, the day will come when the sun will stop shining and the earth will continue.

That humans and animals could communicate and speak together. Another flaky thing to believe, yes. But hey, why not? In the future world, lion, lamb, and child will walk together.

That a savior would come to save humans from the snake, and that this savior would be wounded yet he would conquer the snake.

That the world was all one continent and one language but then God divided everything because humans were aiming for falling into making a monument to themselves, a kind of human world without God.

That the key issue with humans is our inability to trust and believe God.

That God appointed a people who would preserve true knowledge of him and bring forth the savior who would bless the earth.

That man had no idea what evil was. They wouldn't have known evil if they did it. They wouldn't have known evil if they saw it.

That God is good and that even those appointed by God fail. This is kinda complicated for some to understand but quite simply: Moses was telling these freed slaves that God had appointed them to greatness because of their ancestors faith, not because of their ancestor's goodness. This is especially important to remember whenever a vision is appointed. Somehow being told that one is God's special people tend to make folks nasty. (This applies to all religions, by the way. And it even applies to those folks who don't believe in God. Somehow, feeling one is better than others tends to make folks nasty.) Through revelation, Moses told the people that Sarah had acted toward the Egyptian servant Hagar in as cruel a manner as their Egyptian captors had acted toward them. (Moses uses the same term to describe both Sarah's cruelty to Hagar and the Egyptian's cruelty toward them.) One of their ancestor, Levi (who was appointed to a special position among the Israelites) was a murderer. And why did he murder Prince Shechem exactly? Because his sister was seduced, but also because he thought his people were special people and the other people were not. Joseph learned that his brothers would bow before him and behaved like an idiot. Abraham learned that he was special to God's plan and immediately assumed that other cultures and kings he would meet wouldn't understand God (So he and his sons lied to kings about their marriages because they assumed those strangers to God's covenant would be unenlightened and not as spiritual as they were.

That the earth was cursed generally against all mankind because of Adam's sin, cursed again specifically against Cain because of Cain's sin, and then the curse of Cain was lifted. (Cain couldn't plant foods or take care of animals because it seems everything he touched brought death, so he ended up creating the first city. (I think that was the first city.) Cain's children also created music, and Cain's descendants seemed to take God's grace toward Cain as a kind of honor, going so far in their licentiousness and lack of understanding of God's grace that Lamech murdered someone and boast about it. (Unless, Lamech understood grace and was applying grace to his specific case. Who knows?) So we learn that God curses because of sin.) We get a first glimpse here of how the human heart can be so self-deceived that it uses God's grace and even the idea of righteousness to destroy other people.

That man had no laws forbidding them to do anything initially -- except to avoid the tree that teaches them conscience and teaches them about evil. but then gradually God created laws. With Noah, God created laws about eating meat. What was clean and what was not. We don't know if humans ate meat before this. That with

That there is a law of sowing and reaping. God is gracious and yet just. A curse was put on Cain because of Cain's sin yet a mark was also put on Cain for protection. Edom was blessed, although he sold his birthright. Jacob was blessed although he was a liar, yet Jacob suffered for his sins.

The Torah also reveals that God actually likes talking to human and it's actually we humans who avoids him (as in the self-imposed silencing the Israelites put on themselves when they said to Moses, "Don't let God talk to us. You talk to him and we'll listen to you.") God actually walked in the garden with Adam and Eve and throughout the Bible he keeps saying He wants to talk to humans. However, there is a big problem. The spirit of man can no longer understand God. The spirit of man is barely alive to God. Humans are well aware of this. And all kinds of explanations have popped up about this problem. The atheists say there is no God to hear and that's why we can't hear him. Secular Psychologists might say that whatever revelation we get it's really our own mind speaking to us. Religious people of all religions say that there is a way of connecting to the divine -- by one's own personal hard-won holiness, by gnosis and wisdom, or by mystical experience. Later revelation in the Hebrew Tanakh tells us that God's ways are not our ways, nor are God's thoughts like our thoughts. The proverbs tells us that a full wants to know wisdom in order that his heart may know itself, but we are told in Jeremiah that the heart is deceitful and self-deceived.

The gospels will tell us that we are blind to God because we are not spiritually alive. We learn about the intricacies of this problem throughout the rest of the Bible.

There are other things revealed in the Torah but I can't think of them all now. Perhaps because they are such a part of the Christian's mindset when we read Moses' books.

But we get the idea.
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