Depiction of God in Genesis 1 and 2

Posted: July 27, 2012 in Old Testament, Theology and Faith
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In Genesis 1, begins with the ruach of God hovering over the waters of pre-Creation.  The tohu wa bohu and the waters of pre-Creation represent chaos and the lack of life.  There is no “space” in which life can happen or be sustained.  Yet, God breathes into the chaos, separating waters from waters, and opening space (day 1-3 and 7?) in which life can be sustained.  God is Creator and Sustainer.  God is not a God of chaos but of order.  After each day of creating, God blesses that which was made.

On days 4-6, God fills the space that has been created.  In each of these spaces, God empowers part of the creation to “govern” over the space (i.e., Sun, moon and stars govern the seasons and day and night).  God creates humanity and sets them to govern over the entirety of Creation.  Although God is shown to have all the power, God empowers the Creation and shares power with the Creation.  The potential of Creation is not complete.  Rather, God invites the Creation to participate in fulfilling that potential.  This suggests that God desires response from the Creation.

Everything that God has created is good, nothing is bad.  God does not create evil or chaos, but creates order and proclaims it very good (blesses it).  The life of God is generative.  Thus, God’s command to the creation, “be fruitful and multiply”, reflects the character and nature of God.  Although the Creation cannot create ex nihilo, it is able to “create” its own kind (likeness).  Again, God shares God’s power with the Creation, which blesses and sustains life.

God blesses the Sabbath and makes it holy.  The first thing that humanity sees God doing in Genesis 1 is resting, not creating.  God invites the Creation to rest from its labors with its Creator.  God is not simply about accomplishing tasks, but about relating with God’s good Creation.

In Genesis 1, God is pictured as transcendent and, in many ways, separate from the Creation.  God stands outside of the system.  Genesis 2 paints a different portrait.  God is very much intimately and immanently involved with the Creation.  God breathes life into the man’s nostrils and formed all the living creatures from the ground, like a potter molding clay.

God brings the animals before Adam to see what he might name them.  If God does know what Adam is going to name the animals, yet acts like there is real freedom for Adam to choose, then God has set the world up in deceptive ways (the appearance of freedom without the reality is illusory).  But, if God truly doesn’t know what Adam will decide and God is truthful, then we must re-conceive God’s omniscience.

God knows everything that is knowable, which means that the future is not something that is knowable as a set of propositions.  The future is not knowable because it does not yet exist and is not knowable.  God truly waits to see what Adam will name the animals because God really doesn’t know!  God gives true freedom for decision (and consequence) to the created order.  God invites the creation to participate in what God is doing in the world.

In order for there to be freedom for humanity, there has to be the option to choose opposite of God’s desires.  Thus, God creates the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  It is still part of God’s good creation.  Within that good creation, God provides boundaries and great freedom within those boundaries (“eat of any tree, except this one”).  God outlines the consequences of disobedience.  But, in providing the tree of knowledge of good and evil, God also creates freedom for humanity to really choose to live in obedience and love God.  God’s love is not coercive.

In Genesis 1, God creates and proclaims it as “good.”  In Genesis 2 there is a reversal.  God says that it is “not good.”  Man is alone and God views it as “not good.”  That does not mean that God’s creation is bad but simply incomplete.  It is “not good” because Adam’s situation does not fully reflect God’s character and nature.  Thus, God creates Adam a help partner: woman.  Man was created for community because the very character and nature of God is communal!


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