When I was growing up, me and my brother had a game which was to invent words to describe situations, feelings, circumstances that didn’t have a name. For example we had a word for that feeling you sometimes get late in the evening and you are thinking really clearly about all your priorities and life style. Coming up with names is fun and creative, it causes you to think outside the box.
In this passage, Adam is invited to name all the animals. God brings them to him and his job is to name them. What an honour, a privilege and a task. In this post I want to explore some of the implications of this process.
1) Adam is invited to work alongside God. We also see this at the beginning of the chapter where it talks about both man’s work and God’s watering being required in order for things to grow. It seems the God of Genesis 2, is not so much interested in accomplishing things, as He is co-working with man. This is why man names the creatures, but it is God who brings them to him in the first place. Co-working with God. We’ll explore this more in another post on work. But for now, let us be encouraged that God wants to work with us to accomplish His goals.
2) Adam can step into some of his God-like Capacity. In the last chapter of Genesis, God decides to make man in His image and likeness – thereby giving him God given capacities. It seems that one of the God-like capacities is naming things. In Genesis 1, God is seen naming things, naming light and calling it day, naming darkness and calling it night. He looks at the water and calls it sea, and dry ground and calls in land. In this chapter God is saying to Adam, “now it’s your turn” name these animals.
3) Adam is tapping into the authority God has given him. We explored in another post that God provides authority and it is our job to steward it. Here that authority is put into action. In this culture, to name something is to declare a sense of authority over it. In fact, one commentary said that in ancient Near Eastern culture to name something was to engage in “destiny decreeing”! To name something, is to know it.
This is pertinent for us as Christians, we should be careful about the words we use. There is power in words. May we speak faith, declare truth and use our words towards purposes of freedom, encouragement and life.
4) God has named Mankind, and He will name us again. In the very last book of the Bible, Jesus promises that to those who overcome He will give ‘a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it’ (Rev 2:17)
We are highly esteemed by God, He values our efforts, opinions and work. He listens to what we call animals and goes along with it. He wants to work with us. God trusts us and wants to work with us.
Truly, the Bible is the gift that keeps on giving. I’ve done about 8-9 passes on these few verses and I keep getting to hear God’s voice! It’s just as well I’m not a time limit to finish this. I have a feeling a study like this is going to take a while.
It’s probably worth noting that I think going through the Bible at a fast pace is still important. Not only does it make it easier to appreciate each story in context, it also enables to see the Big Picture of God’s plan. That is why I’m still continuing my Bible Read Through approach with a friend. Saying all that, I can’t tell you how good it feels to soak this much in Scripture. It feels like a bath.
In this post I want to explore the Ongoing Call to Worship found in Genesis chapter 1-2:3. Because I’m a sermon writer, I can’t help myself, and have divided the post into three…
1) Creation still hums and buzzes with God’s word all these years later. It is amazing enough that when God spoke things happened, He said “let there be light” and there was! Boom! Cause for worship. But did you know that creation is still obeying His voice today – I know it’s obvious. But look at all the calls to reproduction we see in this passage. The plants are commanded to bring forth seed, fruit and more plants. The animals, fish and birds also. Whenever we see creatures, moving, living, growing, we have an opportunity to see the reverberation of God’s voice still at work today!
This means that when we go outside, listen to the birds singing, see the plants in all their vibrant beauty, right there, we can see God’s voice still working. Boom! Let us worship a God who’s voice echos these thousands, if not millions, of years later.
2) Every day the sun rises, every night the moon shines, we are given a rhythm to worship. Not only is the call to worship present in the ongoing obedience of creation to God’s ordinances. But we as human beings are given daily and weekly rhythms by which to worship. Every day the sun governs the light, every night the moon and stars rule the darkness, we can respond and worship in sync with that which is obediently, steadfastly proclaiming God’s power. Yes, His mercies are new every morning, praise Him, yes the sun rises every day, praise Him. Praise Him in the morning, and the evening.
3) We have been invited to enjoy His creation, especially on the Sabbath! The fact that God finishes what He starts, and rests, and enjoys His creation. Is a model for us, that we should do the same. May it be part of our weekly schedule, routine and rhythm, to pause on the Sabbath and appreciate all the work that God has done.
Creation calls us to worship it’s Creator. Look and see, hear and listen. It echos God’s power!
I’ve been studying Genesis 1:1-2:3 for the last couple of days now and have gleaned lots of eye-opening stuff! It’s still a little odd to be spending so long on one passage without the end goal being a sermon produced. In the past that’s been the only reason I’ve studied the Bible before – to prepare talks for Church. And so it’s refreshing, studying without the emotional cocktail of adrenaline and anticipation lurking in the background.
I’m separating my findings across several posts because 1) you’re in a hurry and 2) I don’t want to rush through typing up my notes. I have a feeling they will be useful to me later down the line.
This chapter (and a bit) of Genesis is very familiar to most people, even people who’ve not read the Bible before. It’s the 7-day creation story, when God makes the universe, the earth along with it’s inhabitants – including humanity. We see God actively creating in this passage.
But God isn’t just creating.
When I was reading I took note of all the things (that I saw) God doing:
God sees, God determines goodness, God makes, God names, God positions, moves, gathers and separates. God blesses, He gives away responsibility and delegates. He provides. God finishes, rests and ‘makes holy’. Oh yes, He also speaks! …It seems that have an active God.
Of all these actions, I chose the three that were most important to me and brought them to God in reflective prayer and then praise.
1) God Positions, Moves, Gathers and Separates
In this story God does a lot of positioning, like an interior designer (of the cosmos!). He separates the waters (into sea and sky), he gathers the sea together and the land. He positions the sun, moon and stars, so that they can determine days, months and seasons. It is like God is orchestrating creation to work, positioning each component to play its part with maximum effectiveness.
The positioning of the cosmos, reminds me that God has deliberately positioned me in life for a purpose, it reminds me of the encouragement Mordecai gives Esther: ‘who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this’ (Esther 4:14).
This act of God also reminds me that God is able to put me in the path of other people, and other people in my path, for His purposes. (A thought particularly encouraging with the work I am doing writing a book at the moment!) A friend of mine once told me how God had used a chance encounter with one of his hero’s (Pete Grieg) to remind him that God is able bring these encounters into our life as easily as anything. God positions.
2) God Blesses
God does a fair amount of blessing in Genesis 1. From blessing plants, animals and humans to “be fruitful and multiply”. And blessing the Sabbath to “make it holy”. It is super interesting to me that God doesn’t do nothing on the Sabbath, on the day of rest, instead He ACTIVELY blesses. That is the kind of God we serve!
I consider the promise in Ephesians, that God ‘has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ’ (Eph 1:3). God delights to bless, and as people made in His likeness we are to bless and be a blessing to the world (Gen 12)! How can we bless our colleagues, local church, family & friends? How can we be a blessing to creation itself? Let us ask these questions.
3) God Finishes
In a world of distractions and novelty, it’s easy to start things without finishing them. Believe me I know this to be true, there are so many projects I’ve started in life that I’ve not finished, or had to restart from the beginning because I gave up halfway through.
Fortunately though, we have a God who finishes what He begins. May I seek to become more like that. May I be encouraged and comforted by the fact that:
He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus – (Philippians 1:6)