Reflections for the Week of Sunday, July 22, 2018 Ninth after Pentecost

Gospel: Mark 6.30-34, 53-56 tells of how the crowds pressed in on Jesus because he healed them, and Jesus looked on the multitudes with compassion for they were like sheep without a shepherd, and He taught them many things.

We all are like sheep without anyone to lead us or teach us who we are, where we are going, and what is life really all about. Jesus in His teaching and healing was bringing in His kingdom, and  those who were part of it learned what real life is all about. Great controversies swirl about the Bible and its interpretation. A recent book entitled The Lost World of Genesis One (2009) by Dr. John Walton, long-time professor of Old Testament at Wheaton, clarifies some of the issues regarding creation and origins. Most readers of the Old Testament take Genesis to be a description of the origins of the material cosmos. Great controversies have raged over the issues of origins (including the origin of species). Some believers in Scripture have become convinced that the earth is ‘young’ , created only 6-8,000 years ago. Scientists produce empirical evidence that the earth originated as part of the solar system four and a half billion years ago. Walton’s thesis is that Genesis 1 is not about material origins at all. Rather, ‘in the beginning’, the first seven days of Genesis is describing the inaugurating and dedicating of the cosmos as a temple in which God will come to dwell in order to maintain the world’s functions in proper order. The consecration is a seven day liturgy culminating in the Sabbath when God enters the cosmic temple whence He will rule (‘rest’) to govern the world for its inhabitants, especially human beings. Rather than the origin of physical objects, most of the entities created are functions or processes. Light, for instance, is not described as a material ‘thing’  but as the alternating succession of days. The sun and moon are to mark seasons. Their true nature was completely misunderstood by ancient man. The sky which was regarded as solid (‘firmament’) separating the waters above that occasionally fell down as rain for the earth. So the ‘sky’ is understood primarily in terms fo weather as an ongoing and varying process. Many ancient near eastern cultures had similar temples where their god(s) dwelt and which were consecrated by liturgical ceremonies similar to the biblical description in Genesis 1. The temple in Jerusalem had a ‘veil’ between the holy place and the most holy place representing the separation of heaven and earth, and the seven branched menorah represented the seven recognized planets, and many decorations represented nature. When the Scripture says, “It was good”, it doesn’t refer to morals but to function: processes are functioning as they should. The most significant conclusion is that the first chapter of Genesis is not about the origin of material entities and so does not conflict with scientific cosmogonies at all. Humans are created in terms of their function as stewards (managers) of God’s cosmos to rule over it for God. The really important things are not material  (nouns) but are processes (verbs) (to fill the earth with plants and animals by multiplying, to have dominion by natural laws, separating water from land, causing plants to bear fruit, for man to rule, to name, etc). When this occurred is no concern of Genesis, nor is the mechanism (‘how’ is the question science addresses; the Bible is more concerned with ‘why’) by which these processes were established. If this view of origins is correct, then the controversy over origins between Scripture and science is irrelevant. aple

Memory Verse: And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth. (Gen 1.28).

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