I’m going to cheat today. Today, I’m going to be a broker of scholarly wisdom from someone else. But only because it’s really good! Old Testament scholar Sandra Richter suggests that Genesis 1 is more like a song whereas Genesis 2 is more like a reporting of the same event but in a different way – a narrative, or story. Genesis 1 has a beginning, middle, and end. It has a chorus: “and God saw that it was good, and there was evening and morning, day ___.” It is more concerned about answering the question, “Who’s in charge here?” whereas Genesis 2 asks, “What is the nature of humans?” Genesis 1 has a structure in its seven-day pattern of creation. This is where it get’s really fascinating. Dr. Richter explains that on days 1-3, God establishes three habitats or kingdoms. On days 4-6, God provides inhabitants to “govern,” “rule,” or “have dominion” over each kingdom. Day 1 corresponds with day 4, day 2 with day 5, and day 3 with day 6. The six days of creation are crowned with the Sabbath. The language of God “resting” was in the ancient near east the image of a king who sits down, enthroned over a peaceful empire. That should really inform our understanding and practice of Sabbath! It’s one day a week of going through rhythms that enthrone God and trust that His kingship can handle the other six days of our weeks. It is also an opportunity to dethrone, if necessary (and it usually is), anything other than God – our cultural idols, our cravings, and our own egos.
This whole creation account of Genesis 1 suggests the order of authority between God, His humans, and the rest of His created order. It is clear that when everything is in the right order, there are three kingdoms that are governed by a group of created beings. Humans are second only to God as His representatives upon the earth. And God does not rule one of the three kingdoms. Over all three kingdoms, God is King of Kings. This reminds me of a quote from the movie The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe based on C. S. Lewis’s book in The Chronicles of Narnia. Mr. Beaver shares a prophecy with four children who have entered Narnia and to whom all the creatures are looking for hope. It states: “When Adam’s Flesh and Adam’s bone sits at Cair Paravel enthroned, the evil time will be over and done.” A cosmic problem is that God’s stewards, humans bearing His image, have fallen out of balance with the creation we are supposed to be stewarding God’s way. When we begin to live into this purpose and realize that at the same time God is at work restoring what was broken, bringing blessing and transformation to what was cursed, the story starts to look like it’s heading in a wonderfully positive direction. And He is at work. As Mr. Beaver would say, “Aslan is on the move.” Perhaps if you’re doing the daily reading of the whole bible and finding yourself today in Matthew 3, we can see how this plot line is being carried out in the first three chapters of Matthew’s gospel. The King has returned. Glory to God in the highest! Now, it’s our opportunity to join the project as His representatives and governors in this wondrous creation of His.
Because I have shared a great deal of Dr. Sandra Richter’s thoughts, I want to share the source directly. These are two of her videos from Seven Minute Seminary by Seedbed: