Chapter Five: The Creation
Note that all of the tables are available in the handout.
The first thing that happens in the creation story (as told in Genesis) is that the Spirit of God moves on the waters. “Move” is same verb as “hover” in Deut 32:11-12 where it describes a mother bird, who is compared to the Lord: ‘”As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: So the Lord alone did lead him.” It is a similar image to the one used by Jesus during his mortal ministry: “how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings” (Matt 23:37), which is repeated in the BoM and D & C. I love this image of God as a mother bird, totally devoted to the protection and care of children. But even more significantly, we see that the acts of God are the same in the creation, the mortal ministry, the ministry in BoM lands, and speaking to us in the last days.
Our lesson today is about the creation, and my hope is that we can think of it not just as a Thing That Happened, but rather as a template that can teach us about God and our relationship with God.
Table 1: Fulfillment Pattern
–Note that all of the days follow the same pattern, although not every single element is included in every day. (There is no “it was good” in v8, perhaps because that would have been Monday. ;) ) What does this pattern teach you about God?
–God is not a perfectionist—half-done work is praised! Every little bit is praised! By contrast, we are rather stinting in praise of ourselves or others.
–“[He quotes ‘and God saw that it was good’.] It was a good world; it is a good world—despite the foolishness and perversities of men. It is good because of its beauties and bounties, and because of the glorious purpose and limitless possibilities that a loving Father has given His children—a Father whom the scriptures testify is personal and approachable.”–Elder Richard L. Evans, Conference Report, October 1954, pages 86-89.
–Further study: go through each day, see what is missing from formula, and consider why.
Table 2: Pattern of Days
–Note that the first column consists of resources–locations–no motion while the second consists of utilizers–inhabitants of location–having motion. Note also that days 3 and 6 each have two parts.
–What might you learn from this pattern–do you think it is valid? What might this pattern of creation teach us on a symbolic level? Why isn’t it followed on the seventh day?
–Read Genesis 1:26-27.
Table 3: What Does Image and Likeness Mean?
–Note that (4) is very “democratic,” since most people in the Ancient Near East thought that only the king was in God’s image.
–What do you think “image and likeness” means? What difference can it make in our lives to think that we–and everyone that we meet–is the image and likeness of God?
–1:27 seems to really emphasize the idea that you need male and female to give you the image of God.
–1:27: link to prohibition of idolatry—humans are the only acceptable image of God in the Bible.
Table 4: Creation by Separation
Adapted from Leon R. Kass, The Beginning of Wisdom: Reading Genesis, page 34.
–The idea here is that all things exist before they are created on earth and that the earthly creation is really more of a “separation” of things by categories. Of course, in order to make the pattern continue, I should have put in what men lack that women have, but I refrained. :)
–Do you think this is a useful way to approach the creation story? If so, what does it teach you about the creation? About God? What does it teach you that is relevant to your life?
–“The physical Creation itself was staged through ordered periods of time. In Genesis and Moses, those periods are called days. But in the book of Abraham, each period is referred to as a time. Whether termed a day, a time, or an age, each phase was a period between two identifiable events—a division of eternity.” –Elder Russell M. Nelson, “The Creation,” Ensign, May 2000, 84.
–Ask: Why divide the creation into chunks of time? What might we learn from that? (God builds trust in humans by working in order and with predictability—good relation to parenting.)
–Thoughts on the fact that we have multiple creation accounts? (Genesis, Moses, Abraham, temple)
–Read 1:31. NB that “behold” invites the audience into the scene.
–NB that the chapter division doesn’t make much sense.
–NB that v1-3 has a 3x repetition of ‘seven’, each in a sentence of seven words. So form and content emphasize distinction of the seventh day.
–V1-3 show God engaged in mental actions of “enjoyment, approval, and delight” (Collins). What could this add to our own Sabbath worship?
–V2 uses ordinary, human term for “work” and thereby ennobles human work. Thoughts?
–V3: What does it mean for God to rest?
–Why is the creation of water not narrated or described? (Chaos; pre-exists mortal creation.)
–Is the 7th day a day without creation or is the Sabbath created?
–We affect the universe through physical actions; God created the universe through speaking. Thoughts?
–We are to imitate the Sabbath; any other aspects of creation that we should imitate?
–Does it ever hurt your head to think that the same person who created planets is willing to listen to you whine about your lost car keys?
–Paradox of “image of God” and “clay.” Thoughts? Exalted humility. Reminds me of Book of Moses’ “man is nothing” in close proximity to “immortality and eternal life of man” as God’s purpose.