We will summarize the main movements of the grand story Paul had in mind when he said “in accordance with the scriptures” with four words: Creation, Kingdom, Crisis, and Covenant.
The First Movement In The Story: Creation
If you are a typical 21st-century person, you probably think the first few chapters of Genesis are about the creation of the physical world, the one we study with our scientific tools and evaluate with our scientific theories. But they aren’t.
The people who first heard or read Genesis in the Ancient Near East had no concept of our scientific worldview or our assumptions about how the material world worked. Nevertheless, the opening chapters of Genesis made perfect sense to them.
The Cosmos is a Temple – In Genesis chapter 1 those living in the Ancient Near East heard a familiar story about how the Sovereign Creator had set up the cosmos as a temple. To them, the days of creation in Genesis were obviously describing how God brought order to the chaos of the universe and made it a sacred space in which he would dwell.
Humans Created In – The Creator’s Image Since the Sovereign Creator had set the cosmos in order as a sacred space, it was not surprising to the original hearers of Genesis to hear that an image was placed in the temple. All of the temples they knew about contained images or idols to represent the god they worshipped.
But, to everyone’s surprise, instead of an idol, the Sovereign Creator placed two humans into this temple to bear his image.
The Cosmos Was Created For Humans – Genesis brought a radical new idea to the world – humans were created to live their lives in the Sovereign Creator’s presence in a special relationship with him and they had an important role to play in the management God’s creation.
This idea was a shocking revelation to those in the Ancient Near East hearing Genesis for the first time. All of the other creation stories said humans were created to serve the needs of the gods as servants, at best, or to be slaves, at worst. The gods were distant and to be feared, not close and living with humans like they were family.
Here’s the main things to see in this first movement of the single, grand story of the Bible:
- The Cosmos Was To Be A Dwelling – The Cosmos is not just an expanse of enormous space where random atoms smash into one another and great forces mold and shape matter into suns and galaxies, planets and moons. The Sovereign Creator made it to be something He would inhabit with us, being actively involved with and wonderfully present to his human image-bearers.
- Humans Were To Live Life With God – Humans are not random accidents with no purpose or meaning in the universe. The whole of the Cosmos was ordered by the Sovereign Creator to be a place for us to live with Him.
- Humans Uniquely Represent The Creator Within Creation – Furthermore, our role was to represent Him, bearing his image within the creation, with all that that entails.
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