Here is my first of my ten blog posts for my Old Testament blogging project. The topic I will be tackling is creation. Creation seems to be the appropriate place to start since that is how the Old Testament and Scripture start out. We are all familiar with the creation story of God creating the world and everything on it in six days. The important takeaway for me is that the intent of God was to create something that God called good. Before we rush into the fall, I think we need to just soak in the goodness of creation. God breathes new life from nothingness. God has breathed new life into humanity through his breath. God has the ability to take something that is dark, dead, and nonexistent and turn it into something living, vibrant, and illuminating. God is the ultimate creator and we must never forget that. I am someone who cannot meditate by myself without falling asleep. So I have had to resort to prayer walking because it keeps me awake. But more importantly, prayer walking helps me focus on God because I am aware of his presence out in creation. Even if I’m walking outside, seeing the leaves on the trees and hearing the birds chirping allows me a deeper connection to God’s creation. Even if I’m outside on a busy street with cars roaring and people talking, I can still feel God’s presence as he is the creator of all things. Even walking by people gives me a connection to God. When I am praying inside by myself, there’s sometimes a tendency for me to just focus on myself without having perspective about what is outside of my home. Even when is I see another human being outside, I am aware of the presence of God the creator.
Sometimes I wonder if we move to the fall of humanity too quickly without realizing the goodness of creation from the beginning. I grew up focusing on on our depravity as humans. Thus, there was not much in this world to redeem. I was heavily influenced by the “Left Behind” series and similar dispensationalist theology. My father would talk about all the signs in current events that pointed to the coming apocalypse. My father was heavily influenced by this thinking. He would tell me and my brother that we were specially chosen by God and we would need to be vigilant as we would meet with Jesus again, probably sometime soon. This thinking made me disregard God’s creation since I had only seen what was broken and sinful about it. However, it wasn’t until I reread the creation story that I was reminded of God’s intent for creation. Even though we had messed it up, we had an opportunity to also redeem creation back to its original intent through the help of the Spirit. God has sent us out on a mission to be stewards of his creation. That sort of change in mentality has made such a difference in my life of discipleship.
On another note, I learned in my class that the Old Testament contains an alternative creation story that is much different than the Genesis account. This creation story was much more violent. In Psalm 74:12-17, the creation story starts out with God defeating the Leviathan, a sea monster. From there he finishes up his creation. There is this violent battle that is contrasted by the peaceful creative work by God in Genesis. There may have been some influence in this Leviathan story from the Babylonian creation story contained in the “Enuma Elish”. In this story, various gods fight each other in a violent battle that leads to the creation of the world. There are some similar overtones to the Leviathan. However, what makes the Leviathan story distinct from the Babylonian account is the fact that Yahweh defeats the Leviathan and is truly the creator and ultimate master, while in the Babylonian story, the gods are of equal strength and have a evenly matched violent battle for control of the earth. It’s interesting to note that the Old Testament has influences from its neighboring cultures. This does not take away the uniqueness of the Hebrew Bible. However, we can better understand these Old Testament passages when we understand their historical context and find out what cultural norms and practices of its neighbors of its time may have had an influence in their stories and practices. This is key to exegeting the Old Testament.