Three Kingdoms

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:

 

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4 Comments

  1. Over the last couple days there have been a couple areas in the readings that have really jumped out to me and I have a couple follow up questions that I’m going to try and find. They may not be significant but it sparked my curiosity and wanted to share. I noticed that out of all the people mentioned in Gneiss 5: 24; Enoch was the only one “taken away” by God and everyone else died. Then that made me think of Elijah and how he was taken away and started thinking why is it that some are taken away by God and others are allowed to die? My next point to ponder after reading todays readings are the word “endures” in Genesis 8:22. It made me ask myself the question: does God mean as long as the earth physically endures or as long as the generations after Noah endure? It makes me think of what the term “race” that is used several times. When I think of race I think of endurance so does that mean as long as there are those on the this beautiful world God created running the race set out before them will he spare us from another flood? Just thoughts that came to my mind while reading todays journey. As I shared with my wife after reading todays scripture, rainbows will have a whole new meaning. It’s so awesome to think that every time I see a rainbow it now has a new meaning; it is a visible symbol of Gods covenant with us!

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  2. Aslan on the move resonates with me. Reading the past 3days I see 3 day sixes to bring our relationship to Authority – Genesis 1, Genesis 8 with Noah exiting the arc, and Matthew 3 with baptism of Jesus.

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  3. Elijah Supper not Elijah of the Old Testament raises some good insights and questions. Only two people were spared physical death in the Bible. This teaching appears to be more about faithfulness and God’s succession order than the why, when, and questions around life and death. We will read more later about the mystery of life and death. Yes, Elijah I agree the reference in Genesis 8 is about “human race” which means all of us are given the covenant by God that He will not destroy the earth again. The sign is a rainbow. Jesus expanded on this covenant in the Last Supper with the new covenant. All of us in the new covenant have the invitation to have our sins forgiven and our relationship restored with God. The sign is a cross. We are reminded of this new covenant each time we receive Holy Communion. We also anticipate the coming of the Kingdom of God and the consummation of Jesus’ new covenant. In that day, all in Jesus will be lifted up!

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  4. Interesting. Jon and I are taking Disciple Bible Study I for the second time. First time was in Alaska, around 1999. We are taking the Beta version (which is o.k. but doesn’t allow enough time for discussion when we gather to review). Anyway, that the two versions of the creation are different in that one is a song and the other a story, emphasises the difference. Same story, different presentation. I never thought of it that way. Pastor McVay posted “We are reminded of this new covenant each time we receive Holy Communion. We also anticipate the coming of the Kingdom of God and the consummation of Jesus’ new covenant. In that day, all in Jesus will be lifted up!” I feel very strongly about haveing communion with our Lord and Savior every Sunday, not just when it’s “that time of the month”. I think we should be offered to be in communion with Jesus every Sunday…or at least once a month.

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