The Lunatic Gospel: Genesis 5

22 07 2009

Click here to read Genesis 5.

This is the boring stuff of the Bible: lists, ages, chronologies, genealogy. Details, details, details.  Begat upon begat.

Maybe I’m weird, but I like this stuff. In fact, I’m devoting a whole (albeit short) entry to this one chapter. One fascinating thing that I learned in Hebrew Bible class is that Genesis 5 is thought to be a “doublet” (or, repeat) of the previous chapter’s genealogy.

Genesis 4 lists: (Adam), Cain, EnochIradMehujaelMethusaelLamech
Genesis 5 lists: Adam, Seth, Enosh, KenanMahalalelJaredEnochMethuselahLamech

So the question remains: why was this stuff important enough to write down? And, why was important enough to write down twice?

I think one answer lies in the first two verses of the chapter, which recap the creation story. But here, instead of drawing out an epic picture of the deity’s triumph over primordial chaos, the biblical authors pare it down to three essential elements: the creation of mankind (in God’s image), the blessing of mankind, the naming of mankind.

“When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them ‘man.'”

The naming of mankind. Over and over again, we will see how important names are to God and to his people. Everyone in this lineage was created, blessed, and called by name.

This isn’t filler material. It’s not just a nice little transition between stories. We can’t skip over it impatiently and say, “Adam….blah blah blah blah blah…Noah.” It’s important for us to know these names. To know that each of these people had a role in this story that God prepared for us. And most of all, to connect to a heritage that shows us that we, too, have been created, blessed, and called by name.

(originally posted 6/7/08 at

The Lunatic Gospel: Genesis 3 & 4

19 07 2009

Click here to read Genesis 3 & 4.

The Fall of Man, by Titian

The Fall of Man, by Titian

In church yesterday we talked about the interconnectedness of worship and obedience. It is possible to have one without the other, but in order to truly glorify God and achieve our purpose, we must do both: simultaneously and continuously.

The Israelites knew a lot about worship and obedience. They had entire books of legal codes, both civil and religious. There was a law to cover every situation, and corollaries that explained what to do if the law was disobeyed. Even worship was regulated by strict protocol–there were definite “dos” and “don’ts” about how to approach God with your sacrifices.

By such standards, the first humans had it easy. They only had one direct commandment from God, and everything else was fair game. Adam and Eve had come face-to-face with their Creator, and the natural response would be to respect his only wish and provide an example of obedient worship for generations to come. Right?

Wrong. They failed. Miserably, and with such notoriety that this chapter has become known as the Fall of Man. And it only gets worse from there.

a more modern representation of the Biblical story, from

a more modern representation of the Biblical story, from

We’re never told exactly what was wrong with Cain’s sacrifice. Maybe he didn’t give God the best of what he had to offer, maybe he offered it up grudgingly, or maybe his offering just wasn’t holy. In any case, God reasons with him and offers him the chance to try again.

But here’s the problem. At the heart of it all, Cain is not willing to worship God rightly. He’d rather bring an unworthy sacrifice, and he’d even rather murder his own brother, than worship God rightly.

Rob Bell wrote in Velvet Elvis that the real question about the Fall of Man is not whether or not the story happened, but whether and how it is happening today. Over and over again, we fail to obey, and thus we choose not to worship God. Just when we think we can’t go any lower, we fall again. And each time, it is as much a tragedy as it was back then.

(originally posted 5/26/08 at