On Earth and Sea, On Herb and Tree – Genesis 1:9-13

“You got baptized,” a five-year-old friend told my daughter.

She answered, “Yes. And one day, if you decide to, you can be baptized, too.”

Her friend looked solemn. “I don’t think I’m old enough,” she said. “I can’t close my eyes that long, and I don’t think I can hold my breath, either.”

Water’s kinda scary that way, even to adults.

And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

Kids learn water’s cohesive properties when it slips down the window pane and collects in little pearls. Objects floating in a filled bathtub teach them about its surface tension. Water is so enthralling few toddlers can resist taking a splash in the toilet. They can’t tell you the scientific terms for the properties of water, but they understand and appreciate them. God just spoke those properties into existence and told the water where to go. By letting the dry land appear, He introduces the system to support life on the Earth.

And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters called he Seas: and God saw that it was good.

Have you noticed when God names things in the first chapter of Genesis, He uses opposites? Light and Darkness, Day and Night, Earth and Sea. He’s teaching basic concepts by comparing their properties.

And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.treeblossoms

The word ‘grass’ is also translated ‘vegetation.’ There are two types of vegetation mentioned here, the herb and the tree. God explains that they were made to multiply. This system—the herb creating its own seeds and the fruit tree making fruit that houses its seeds—tells me so much about God’s forward-looking plans for design. Not only is the life He created made to sustain itself but to recreate itself.

And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.blackberry

Plants reproduce what is in their own genetic makeup. An herb cannot reproduce a tree, nor a tree an herb. God points out His natural law for vegetation so that I’ll know that a walnut cannot be produced by an orange tree; components of the walnut tree are required to produce the walnut characteristics. In the same way, a carrot’s characteristics would not spontaneously come from the cabbage plant. According to God’s natural law, plant kinds have no instinctive or inventive capacity to produce another kind not their own.

BeeandflowerBut when it comes to reproduction, these herbs and trees needed the means to spread their pollen, right? Where are the bees? They have not been created yet. In this instance God is growing and fertilizing them before the whole system has been created. This answers the question, “Which came first, the seed or the plant?” The plant came first. It sprung up out of the ground out of nothing because God spoke it into existence. But wait! If the plant was created with the seed inside, weren’t they both first? Hm.

Speaking something into existence is a foreign idea because I’ve never seen God work directly, miraculously, by breaking His natural laws. I have to look at His mode of operation over time to see how and why He would do something through supernatural means that He doesn’t do today. There was a time when He directly told man the rules until the rules were set in place for mankind to grow and work independently. I can see this in His relationship with Adam. He spoke to Adam directly. He visited with Adam and Eve in the garden. Then came the era when He spoke to the fathers of the families, a.k.a. patriarchs, like Noah and Abraham. When He established the nation of Israel, He spoke to the people through prophets and deliverers (e.g., judges). Lastly, Jesus His Son entered the world, and He spoke to all the nations, establishing a world-wide kingdom that is other-worldly in scope.

whitebulbsSupernatural intervention was for times when His laws and words needed to be communicated. So, I see Him creating and pollinating the plants directly on the third day, but once the system of life on Earth is established, His natural laws that sustain and reproduce life take over. I see this same pattern when Jesus lived on Earth. Jesus performed miracles to prove His message was from God. He gave His apostles the ability to perform miracles to establish the words of His Will and Testament that went into effect after His death. Once that New Testament was written down, the Word was established to sustain and reproduce life. Spiritual life. How does it reproduce spiritual life? Spiritually alive people spread the seed of His Word to the hearts of others. The seed will take hold, grow in the heart, and reproduce more seeds of God’s Word to spread. Or a person will choose to reject that seed.

bluebellsGod established the boundaries for water.
He divided and named the Earth and the Seas.
He called them both good.
He established plant life and gave it the ability to reproduce.
Plant seeds produce only their own genetic kind.
Plants and their design He called good.

 

And the evening and the morning were the third day.

God’s natural laws remain. They are proof of His faithfulness. If He can design and sustain this Earth, I can put my trust in Him fully that He knows everything I need for the life to come.

The feature image and all images in this post are used by permission courtesy of Keriography.

Knowing Momma

I knew the moment my son was born. I had to have a c-section, so I was unable to see him being born, but I knew all the same. Everyone in the operating room was introduced to his healthy lungs immediately. He was a screamer.

“Would you like to see your son?” someone asked me, and then a screeching, mottled head was pressed against my shoulder, his bellowing mouth raised to the ceiling.

I said something to him, something generic like “Hey, baby boy.” All I could think was how much I wanted to hold him, this loud, red explosion in someone else’s arms. My words, whatever they were, didn’t matter to him, either. It was my voice that registered because he turned his head toward mine with a catch in his throat. He let go a soft sigh, blowing his new breath into my face. It was my turn to catch my breath. I will never forget it. His reaction was instantaneous. My minutes-old baby boy knew me. He didn’t know my name. He didn’t know how old I was, my social security number, my previous medical history, or my ethnic background. It was obvious he didn’t care, either. He knew I was his momma.

How did he know? I’m not asking for the obvious answer—that he knew my scent or my voice, etc. I’m asking where the instinct to collect this information originated. Why is a new human being capable of perceiving the being he/she came from, the one who provided and sustained his/her life for nine months? It’s an amazing instinct, like the natural desire I felt to calm and hold him.

Pandora Jewelry has tapped into this mother/child instinct, and other natural behaviors of children and mothers, with a video advertising their products. Fair warning: it will leave you pretty emotional. Now if viewers will transfer those good feelings over to the company, Pandora may gain some added clients for Mother’s Day!

 

The First Sandwich – Genesis 1:6-8

When my brother was single, he claimed to be looking for the ultimate woman—the woman who could make a sandwich. After a long and arduous search, he found her. She makes sandwiches…and coffee! Their marriage is a blissful one.

After reading about what God accomplished in one day—which dwarfs my To-Do list, oh, for the whole of my lifetime—I decided to check out what happened next. Would you believe God made a sandwich? Stick with me here…

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

When I think of a firmament, I envision something solid, some sort of mass. God describes ‘firmament‘ as an expanse on which something rests or hangs. The word is used later in the chapter as the place the stars were set and also where the birds are commanded to fly, i.e., “the open firmament of heaven.” (BTW, the word ‘open’ there is the same word that is translated ‘face,’ which I looked up last time.)

And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.

So, we have a layer of water, followed by the firmament, and another layer of water. It’s a sandwich! A perfect atmospheric sandwich. Using water vapor, along with other gases in the atmosphere, God created an internal system to regulate the temperature of the world. This greenhouse effect warms and cools our planet.

The second chapter of Genesis divulges some intriguing information. Genesis 2:5-6 states, “…for the Lord had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and no man tilled the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.” When the world was first formed, God set up instant irrigation—no rainfall required. So, once the plants were created, they wouldn’t need to be tended to—no tilling, no watering. And that’s a good thing since man wouldn’t be created for three more days.

And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

Wait a minute! Why is God calling the firmament ‘heaven’? Didn’t He already create the heavens in verse one? I need to look this up…

The word heaven can mean three separate places. The first heaven is the sky. The second heaven is the universe. Deuteronomy 10:14 bears out that ‘heaven’ is used to describe more than one place, stating, “Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD’S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is.” So, God speaks of separate places using the same word.

The third heaven is where God resides. Interestingly, He does not talk about where He dwells until I understand where I dwell. Since He created the sky ‘heaven’ on day two, I can conclude the heaven of space was made in the first verse. (At this point nothing is in space, except Earth.)

What can I learn from firmament/firmament, heaven/heaven name-sharing? First, that God uses comparisons of characteristics between things to teach me how to compare spiritual concepts. For example, by connecting the heaven of space with God’s heavenly dwelling, He develops my awe at the vastness of space into a greater awe for the heaven where God dwells. What that heaven must be like! Second, Old Hebrew didn’t have a lot of words to choose from (not to mention that annoying absence of vowels). But that worked well because Moses’ audience, to whom Genesis was originally written, had limited ideas. Yes, they were advanced for their time with written language, amazingly detailed religious rites and craftsmanship, fixed standards for commerce, and unprecedented protocols for stopping the spread of disease (like God’s soap recipe); but they were still coming out of the prehistoric age.

God made a firmament, an expanse in Earth’s sky.
The firmament was sandwiched between water, creating Earth’s thermostat.
All He had to do was speak it, and it was.
He named it Heaven.

100_1645While reading this, I realized God had to wait a couple thousand years before humankind was even ready for the writing of the Genesis account. Just think, He was giving Moses His commandments up on Mount Sinai, while Aaron was at the base of the mountain forming a gold cow so they could call it the god that delivered them out of Egypt. How insulting! And that was before He had Moses even start writing Genesis. Sometimes I think, “These stupid ‘great ideas’ of early man really bring home what my Heavenly Father has endured to teach His people.” Then I laugh at myself for thinking I’m any smarter. I may comprehend civilizations, nations, empires, and world-wide unification, but have I really grasped the point? Why did He go to so much trouble to teach me about the beginnings of a place that will one day cease to exist? There will be no Earth—no sky ‘heaven,’ no universe ‘heaven.’ Nothing physical will remain. Only the spiritual will go on. Hebrews 1:10-12 repeats what David wrote in Psalm 102:25-27,

And,
“You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning,

    and the heavens are the work of your hands;
11 they will perish, but you remain;
    they will all wear out like a garment,
12 like a robe you will roll them up,
    like a garment they will be changed.
But you are the same,
    and your years will have no end.”

What’s the point? Maybe it’s this: God made a physical world so complicated that I will never reach the ends of knowledge about how it works. Word by word, I am made aware that He knows and is providing everything I need. If He can provide for me in ways—atmospheric sandwich ways—that I can’t just look at and understand (that it took thousands of years and better technology to study and comprehend), how much more will He provide for my comfort in a world where my physical eyes are unnecessary?

Light and Goodness (Genesis 1:1-5)

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

It’s the most inspiring line in literature. It’s the most inspiring line in the history of humankind. It’s not “Suppose God created everything.” There’s no, “What’s your opinion on the whole creation quandary?” It’s authoritative. It sets the first foundation stone of belief in a Creator.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

I’m trying to picture this shapeless, empty world, and I don’t think I’ve ever used the phrase “face of the deep.” (“Hey, Edgar, did you see the face of the deep today? It was looking exceptionally deep.”) ‘Face‘ is translated “surface” in some Bible versions. ‘Deep‘ refers to the sea. Later in Genesis 1, God uses ‘face’ to describe how the plants would grow “upon the face of the earth.” The same word is used when Moses sees the burning bush, hears God speak to him, and hides his face because he’s afraid to look on God in Exodus 3:6. God uses comparisons, like my face and the face of something inanimate, to convey characteristics. He uses imagery to teach me how to visualize concepts that will later help me grasp spiritual ideas. In Isaiah 66:1, He says, “The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool…” Is this a literal account? Does God sit on heaven like a throne? He’s using metaphors, ideas I can grasp on my level, to give me a sense of His greatness.

I picture the Spirit of God moving over the face of the deep and it becomes clearer why He chooses this imagery to introduce me to Him. It’s a picture of a Being—with no physical qualities—actively interacting with what He has made. He’s 100% involved. You know that song, “From a Distance?” That’s completely the opposite of the God I see here. His Presence is so close He’s face to face with the water.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

As a mom, I’m quite amazed at the instant response here. When I say, “Turn on the light,” my kids don’t seem to know how to perform this task. Exactly whom was I calling on to turn on the light? Did I mean right now or after they’ve finished this one last game? This isn’t a problem for God. He says it, and light is.

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

God is looking at the light He made and noting it’s good. Why? He’s telling me something about His character. He wants me to know He doesn’t just create things, He creates good things. No half-baked creations here. The Master Builder makes only the best.

“But wait,” I think. “How can there be evil when God only made good creations?” If God grants me choice, it does not mean the creation itself is bad but that I’ve been given the ability to use His good creation in a good way or a bad way. He wants me to choose His way, but to do that I have to be able to have the other option. I have to be capable of rejecting His use for His creation.

If God is the Creator of all good, then rejecting God means one is left with the opposite of good. There’s no meh, sorta, or kinda good. There’s no gray area. Like that fabulous ghee the paleo dieters are crazy about, God is clarified, purified good. He separates the light from the darkness. He doesn’t care at all for the half dark, half-light behavior. Even the little-bit-of-dark-but-mostly-light ideas don’t cut it with Him. There are two options, ‘good’ or ‘evil.’

In the beginning God was.
He created everything from nothing.
His Spirit was active and present.
He spoke, and light came into the world.
The light was good, and God separated it from the darkness.

And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

He did all of that in a day! Isn’t that incredible? Actually, it’s quite credible. A Being Who can create the heavens and the earth from nothing must exist outside of the laws of matter, space, and time. He’d have to have complete control.

This is why I find the first five verses of Genesis fascinating. They not only shed light on the world, but on my understanding of Who my Creator is. He is God, He brings light, and He creates only good things.

 

Feature Image Courtesy of Keriography.