Happy at Hartfield

We almost moved this month. We found a house that is the mirror image of the house we’ve been renting. It was the one. Well, I thought it was the one. Turns out it was overpriced, according to the appraiser. We couldn’t pay more. The seller didn’t want less, so we had to walk away.

“…that so long as her father's happiness…required Hartfield to continue her home, it should be his likewise.”
“…that so long as her father’s happiness…required Hartfield to continue her home, it should be his likewise.”

I had these plans for “my house.” I was there during the inspection, quietly assessing and picturing our things in each room – which is a tad discombobulating when you’re used to the flipped version of a floor plan. I began to be attached. It was going to be our home, after all.

And now it’s not.

Oddly, I’m not disappointed. Like Emma, when she realizes Frank Churchill was only pretending to be interested in her, I feel like I should be upset. But I’m not. I feel relief. I guess the house wasn’t meant for us. We’re happy where we are. Are you happy where you are?

5 Books with Family Personality

People have personalities. Families do, too. Being part of a family affects people – what they do, what they say, how they act. During Thanksgiving this year, I listened in on various family conversations and found a prevailing train of thought. It began something like this:

“I’m thinking about going into…”

“I’ve been considering a new…”

“This coming year, I really want to focus on…”

These statements caught my ear because they said something about my family that I’d never noticed before. They are future-thinking, goal-oriented, action-bound statements. You don’t often hear these from a group of people who have shared a long past together. We like to revisit the past at family gatherings. We like to discuss the present, too, catching up on what’s been happening. But families who share their dreams for the future are special. Their talks are woven from threads of hope, trust, and encouragement. They have something to look forward to. They are not weighed down by something to keep hidden. Oh, they have their fights and trigger topics, but they enjoy divulging their plans because past experience has shown them they will be supported and loved regardless.

Sometimes families get in a communication rut. They forget why they are together and how much being together means. Church families can be the same way. Families can be inhibiting or they can wrap you up in the feeling that you are truly interesting, wanted, and needed. It’s amazing how quickly group personalities can change with the addition or subtraction of people. Just one person can stir up a habit or thought that will put the whole group onto another track.

Thinking about family personality had me considering the books I read. Do you know how few books I’ve read lately that even have a central family in the story? Kids books sometimes do, but the middle school and young adult tend toward the dysfunctional family dynamic. The adult books hardly attempt to draw from family unity at all. So, what opportunities do we readers have to see the family in action? I can think of five books that exhibit obvious family personality.

1. Life with Father by Clarence Day

2. Cheaper by the Dozen by Gilbreth and Carey.

3. Another book I would love to get my hands on is My Philadelphia Father by Biddle/Crichton. At least, I think I’d like it.

4. Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series.

5. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Everyone of these are based on real families. I haven’t come up with a fictional family yet. What about you? Can you think of a book that really exudes family personality (fictional or truth-based)?

 

A Day of R & R: Rest and Remembrance (Genesis 2:1-3)

20130701aIs there anything as satisfying as completing a big project? When I begin writing a new story, there is this glowing sense of discovery and challenge, like a bright light on everything. But when it’s done—when the last line is penned and the story sits before me, whole—there’s a dreadful lull that undoes me. Something that smacks of dissatisfaction haunts me as I look at my finished tale. It may be complete, but it needs work. I edit and polish it, and others edit and polish it. I’m still not satisfied. That’s when I have to let it go. I could spend the rest of my life trying to improve my child of script.

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.

When God completed Project Heavens and Earth, He wasn’t worried about having left out a crucial element. He had no dread of being dissatisfied. Everything He made was perfect.

And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made: and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.

The picture of an all-powerful Being resting after His work is odd, isn’t it? It’s not like He’s exhausted. The point is: He finished the project. It was done, and it was done right the first time. No need to touch-up or amend anything. He sits back and enjoys His completed masterpiece.

And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

This is the third time in seven days that God blesses something. Bless is a tough word to my Americanized eyes. Its first meaning is to kneel for a gift, and my society rarely kneels for anything. The second is to grant the gift. In later passages, the patriarchs bless their sons by placing their hands on them, signifying that it is a bestowal and not something the sons can just take. (For more, read about Israel blessing Joseph’s sons.) First, God blesses the animals of the sea and sky. Second, God blesses mankind. Now, God is blessing something I can’t see or set in an alcove of the study to match the curtains. He is blessing a day of the week! The pattern of blessing takes a definite shape: Each time God blesses something, He gives a task or purpose associated with that created thing.

When He blesses the sea creatures and air creatures, He says, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the waters and seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.” He tells mankind the same thing in verse 28: to be fruitful and multiply. He adds another task or purpose for mankind, to “replenish (fill it full) the earth, and subdue it and have dominion over [all the animals on the earth].”

He gives the seventh day a task, too. Its purpose is to remind me that God finished His Creation in six days, and He stopped working on the seventh because it was done, complete, perfect. God later establishes the ceremonial observance of the seventh day, known as Sabbath, for the Israelite nation under the law of Moses. The word Sabbath is derived from the word for rest, shabath.

He also sanctifies the seventh day. This is the first time sanctify is used, and I’m curious about its meaning because this word gets tossed around in religious terminology all the time. God is teaching this concept to a nation of people in their own primitive language, so it can’t be too complex. Sanctify means “separated for a purpose.” That’s it. So, basically, I can sanctify my hairbrush—meaning, I can announce it is my hairbrush and only my hairbrush, and any man, woman, child, or dog who attempts to use my hairbrush for anything other than to comb my hair will be swiftly rapped on the knuckles with that hairbrush. Sanctified isn’t a mystical concept. Anybody can sanctify something. It’s the one doing the sanctifying that makes all the difference. When God sanctifies something, it will stay separated for the purpose He gives to it.

God established the purpose for the seventh day, and He has the power to uphold it, just like God has the power to uphold all the laws He established. I didn’t exist when He created all the laws that make the world go ’round. I can’t even look back and observe, “Oh, here it is: the beginning of the phenomenon called the Law of Gravity.” Or, “I’ve pinpointed where the Law of Biogenesis came into existence!” Not possible. But God was there, and He talks about how crucial it is for me to believe that He was there at the beginning and that He is the Cause that effected this habitable, beautiful world.

Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. – Hebrews 11:3

Keir-Collection-Moses-Red-Sea
Moses and the Red Sea, Public Domain Image from Keir Collection

The Greek word aion is translated ‘worlds’ in this passage, and it looks a lot like our word ‘eon.’ It can mean the material universe, and it can mean the eras, the on-going passage of time. It tells me that every period of history that God has had recorded and preserved is a faithful account. It is a true and unfabricated testimony presented by an Eternal, All-Knowing Witness. My faith will not be strong enough to comprehend the nonmaterial components of this world that God has made if I can’t believe He’s telling me the truth. The understanding of concepts like salvation, love, penitence, the heinousness of sin, or the hope of a heavenly reward is not going to resonate with me wholly. Genesis 1 is a simple, this-is-how-it-happened narrative. The rest of the Bible builds on this foundation, so that, when I’m faced with the why’s and how’s of Jesus Christ being both the Son of God and Son of Man centuries later, I will have a solid grip of the material to establish the nonmaterial. If I find the first chapter in the Book questionable, what prevents me from continuing to reword and revise everything God is trying to teach me in the rest of His book? I’m going to miss what He’s trying to tell me.

Here is the message He wants His creation to know about the world and the humans He created: He made it right the first time. He didn’t make any mistakes. So, all the problems and the scars and the wars and the destruction that I see today were not because He messed up. The wise King Solomon knew this and counseled, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, ESV).

He made mankind beautiful in his time, in the fitting moment. I am the one who must choose to be or not to be what God meant me to be. I am born into a world of men and women who were given the opportunity and chose not to be the way God meant. I, too, chose the ugly route, putting the beautiful things God created to their worst use. That choice affected me; it continues to affect me and others. But God offered me—and everyone—that pristine beauty again through the perfect, sinless life of His Son. I can choose God’s good beauty, but I have to believe He’s telling me the truth and nothing but the truth. Because, one day, He’ll accept me as fully and completely as I accept Him and His truth, and I will enter into His rest, an everlasting shabath.

This is the final update of the “Touching Creation” series. You will find a complete list of posts in the series here.

Just Like Me (Genesis 1:27-31)

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

‘Man’ meant the human race, and the human race was made in God’s image. This is stated twice in the same verse. I think that’s a hint it’s important. So, what does it mean to be created in God’s image?

100_1273The word for image is translated ‘image’ in all but one passage in the King James version of the Bible, where it is translated ‘vain shew’—meaning something that looks like the real thing, but it isn’t. The Hebrew word for image is derived from the concept of a shadow or change of shade. The same word is used later in Genesis, when Adam has his son Seth.

When Adam had lived one hundred and thirty years, he became the father of a son in his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth (Genesis 5:3, NASB).

This verse is prefaced in Genesis 5 with the explanation, “When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created” (Genesis 5:1b-2, NASB). Doesn’t that sound like Genesis 1:27 above? But ‘image’ isn’t used here. Instead, it’s likeness, and it’s not the same word. It means in the fashion or similitude of. God uses it in when He says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). Why does God choose to use these two similar words, ‘image’ and ‘likeness,’ to compare mankind to God, and then repeat them to describe the relationship between Adam and Seth? I think God is telling me that He has a relationship with me that can be compared to the relationship I have with my children. The way I love and view my children is the way God loves and views me. I talked about the innate bond a mother shares with her newborn. My baby belongs to me in a way that doesn’t mean I possess or control her. I say to my father about my son, “He has your eyes.” Or I say my son acts so much like his father. I find delight in these similarities. He belongs, like I belong. It is in that same familial sense that I belong to God. He made me with similarities that endear me to Him and delight Him.

Seth was the father of a line of descendants of Adam who began to call on the name of the LORD. Adam had other sons before and after Seth, but God shows Seth to be the son Adam fathered “in his own likeness, according to his image.” Seth, who was like Adam, had sons who followed God. Cattle and beasts can’t call on the name of the LORD, and neither can fish or birds. No other creature but humankind has the capability of petitioning God for His instructions, approval, and love. When my children seek my instructions, approval, and love, I give to them willingly. God loves and gives so much more than I could ever love or give.THREE GENERATIONS OF COAL MINE WIVES AND A BABY, ALL RESIDENTS OF CUMBERLAND, KENTUCKY. FROM THE LEFT, THEY ARE MRS... - NARA - 556593

Other than my ability to create a being like myself, what other ways am I like God? Looking back through Genesis 1, I find…

God created; I can create. “In the beginning God created…”
I can create through many avenues. As a writer, this is an awesome thought for me. I have proof of reaches, materially and theoretically, that are humanly infinite. God provides the intellectually infinite for me, His offspring, to expand my knowledge and help me grow, while to Him it is finite.

God has a spirit; I have a spirit. “And the Spirit of God moved…”
God’s spirit as an active, doing entity (I touched on this in Light and Goodness). While my body works to thrive instinctively, there is a part of me that can go against my instincts. I can do, sometimes, the very opposite of what my natural needs and wants would have me do. That is spirit. Without it, I would be unable to think outside the here and now of my automated body.

I can see the light. “And God saw the light, that it was good.”
The idiom “see the light,” means to understand something clearly at last. My Creator shows me in this verse that He knows what is good. If I let Him teach me what is good, then I will see the light, too. He created me with this potential, to know and understand good versus what is bad. This is the very aspect that causes me to seek for a belief system; I yearn to understand things clearly and rightly.

And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

He tells man to replenish the earth. The word means to fill it full. It implies satisfying emptiness. I’m going to go out on a limb and suppose that God didn’t think humans were a nuisance to the ecosystem on day six. In fact, when He commands them to subdue the earth, it sounds like He’s all for taming the wilds and making the earth mankind’s dwelling.

And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

God is now handing over the food supply, saying, “These plants I made are for you.” Shouldn’t that give me a complex? I was taught in school that humans are using up the planet’s resources. I’m a problem to this planet, and I need to stop eating so much, living so much, breathing so much. My great big carbon footprint is all wrong! But God says He made the food, the earth, and the very atmosphere for me to…eat, live, and breathe! I’m here on purpose. He made me in His image. My life is not a nuisance to the planet; this planet was specially made for my human life to thrive.

And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.

God created enough food for mankind and animals to share. Based on this verse and the one before it, it’s been theorized that the first animals and people were vegetarians. It may have been true before Noah’s time, but God told Noah in Genesis 9:3-4 that every moving thing was food, but not to eat the blood. So, something happened between the beginning of the world and when Noah stepped out of the ark. It looks like the abundance at the beginning was drastically diminished, numerically and/or nutritionally.

God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good…

The human race gets the ultimate seal of approval from God: He calls His creation not just good, but very good.

Recapping,

God created man to be male and female, creating them in His image.
He established the laws of procreation and commanded man to fill the earth.
He commanded mankind to rule the creatures He made.
He gave man and animals green herbs for food.
He surveyed His creation and called it very good.

…And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

I have a beginning, and here it is. But where is God’s beginning? My brain can’t wrap around the concept of a Being Who has always existed. I wonder if God smiles on me like I smiled when my daughter remarked to her older brother, “When I grow up, I’m gonna be older than you!” She didn’t understand the laws of time, but I knew she would one day. As I move through time, I don’t fully grasp the concept of timelessness. The Creator knows I don’t get it yet. But I will. One day.

Wonders Great and Small – Genesis 1:20-23

A late 1880’s report documented the viewing of “gigantic Calamaries” found beached on the coasts of New Zealand. In January of last year, a Japanese fisherman hauled in a living 13-foot squid. Why are we so in awe of giant sea creatures? What makes that news? Perhaps it’s the notion that there are fearful, powerful creatures sharing this world with us that we don’t see every day.

Image is used by permission courtesy of Keriography.
Image is used by permission courtesy of Keriography.

And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

I’ve been using the King James Version for my flowery quotes, but here it begs the question, “Did the water create the sea creatures?” ‘Bring forth‘ is translated in other versions as ‘teem with’ or ‘swarm with.’ The water is not doing the producing; it is seen as the perfect environment for creating the abundant life God wants, just like the earth ‘brought forth’ grass.

Moving creature‘ covers anything from reptiles to insects to rodents to aquatic life. Fortunately, “let the waters bring forth” tells me these particular creatures all live in water. Some living creatures that make their home in the water, other than fish, are amphibians, crustaceans, mollusks, sea mammals, and reptiles—like sea turtles and sea serpents. Knowing there are many, many species of animals that live in the sea, wouldn’t it be efficient to describe them all with one word? That’s what God did. He made all sorts of creatures to live in the water, and He made them on one day. And if I had any doubt, the next verse gives a little more info.

And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.

So, the great sea creatures were made during this time, as well. Interestingly, the word for whales is translated in other Bible passages as ‘dragon,’ ‘sea monster,’ and ‘serpent.’ So, this word covers more than the whales.

bird2
Image is used by permission courtesy of Keriography.

What does ‘every winged fowl’ include? The word for fowl can mean any winged creature. Birds are not the only creatures with wings. There are also insects. And what about bats? These all take to the sky, so this would be the day they came into being.

Living in an age when scientists like to categorize and re-categorize creatures based on their traits, I have trouble allowing that all creatures with wings or all creatures that live in the water could be created simultaneously. Perhaps this is because I was taught for years that creatures evolved into new species and developed complex traits spontaneously, like wings, to fit their environments. Since evolutionary theories are constantly being revised, I’ve found it more reliable to accept that the variety of creatures with wings or in the water were made genetically pristine and intact from the beginning, and that God created them with the means to adapt in natural ways consistent with their biological makeup—i.e., they remain subject to the law of reproducing after their own kind.

And God blessed them, saying, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth.20080328m

The word ‘multiply’ is a bit intimidating when I remember that flying insects were part of this command. If you’ve ever been in a swarm of bugs, inhaled, and choked on one, you probably know what I mean.

God made the waters teem with sea creatures, great and small.
God made the winged creatures that fly in the sky.
God called them good.
God established the laws of procreation for His creatures.

And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

I’ve often wondered why God made creatures like bugs. I can know two things about them here: 1) When they were created, God called them good, and 2) God wanted them to multiply on the earth. There was also that time in Egypt when God used the bugs to prove His power over their gods and their much-worshiped pharaoh. He used the smallest, weakest creatures to overcome the pharaoh’s pride and arrogance. Insects are truly a small wonder.

Disclaimer: I do not agree with the conclusions presented in the article, “Fossils revise human evolution theories,” linked above, and it has been discredited by some scientists. See “Human ‘missing link’ fossils may be jumble of species” for more information.

The feature image is used by permission courtesy of Keriography.

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.

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?