One of life’s biggest questions relates to our origins. Where did we come from? Genealogy searches have become increasingly popular in recent years as historical records have become more accessible. The NBC program Who Do You Think You Are? allows viewers to watch people in the process of learning about their roots. There are many practical reasons we seek our past which include wanting to validate family stories, trace medical conditions, or claim family inheritance. On a deeper level we recognize that our heritage is part of who we are today because our identity and values come through families.
Genealogy archives may connect us with many past generations but finally the last known link of our heritage disappears. We are still left with the question, “But where did humans come from in the beginning?” The answer to that haunting question may determine how we live our lives. If we are here by an impersonal accident of forces our existence may be as meaningless as the original cause of our existence. At minimum, there is nothing hopeful to anticipate beyond death. If we are here because of God, our life has unfathomable worth, purpose, and a promised future beyond death.
In the Bible’s unparalleled account of human history we read “In the beginning God.” The Scriptures describe God as a Triune Being, Father, Son, and Spirit who existed in perfect love and relationship from all eternity. Such love cannot refrain from expression so God in community spoke of creating man in community, male and female. God said, “Let us make man in our image.” Together male and female complete the image of God. They do this as either married or single in the broader context of society. Because our origin began in relationship not randomness, there is purpose for our existence. While the record may not answer all our questions about lineage, there is enough information to let us know that our beginning was cradled in God’s heart. God desired us. His love motivated our creation.
In Genesis we read of God setting the stage for human history. The earth is described as dark, unorganized, and chaotic in form. God hovered over these conditions and then began a transformation of epic proportions, creating a spectacular environment for the first humans. He filled skies, land and waters with beauty and creatures to forever inspire worship of him as the Creator. Then God created Adam and let him name all the creatures but in the process Adam noticed all creatures had mates whereas he was alone. Putting Adam into a deep sleep, God took a part of Adam’s body that was close to his heart to create Eve. When Eve was presented to Adam he recognized that together they were a completely new unit of existence on earth.
Their story had every element that should have supported the words “And they lived happily ever after” but the Scriptures tell us that something went terribly wrong. At some point, Adam and Eve both chose to indulge in the only prohibition God had required of them. The results were immediate and permanent. Trust was broken in their relationship with God and in their relationship with each other. The propensity to go against God’s will was now embedded in their nature. Fear of God replaced the comfort they had felt in his presence. Hiding from God felt safer than communion with him. God found them and described extraordinary changes that would take place as a result of their disobedience, but God also reassured them that they were still loved beyond measure and they were forgiven. God had a Plan to redeem them from the effects of their sins. In the meantime, God would sustain them through every experience they would encounter. In essence the Trinity had committed to, “Let us remake man in our image.”
Adam and Eve had to leave their home thus forfeit the day-to-day happiness of living in God’s visible presence, but they retained a poignant and powerful reminder of their relationship to God in the relationship they had in marriage. In this sacred connection to each other they were connected to their Creator. Because Adam and Eve were created in God’s image they had the responsibility and privilege of daily revealing God’s character to each other for the rest of their lives.
Down through time marriage has continued to symbolize God’s original plan for the happiness and welfare of human beings. When Christ came to earth he chose to attend a wedding at the start of his public ministry. It was there that he performed his first miracle – transforming ordinary water to extraordinary wine. The symbolism was no doubt lost to all but him yet the miracle was a gracious gesture affirming that marriage was worth celebrating. We have the advantage today of looking back at that miracle and seeing how closely it represented Christ’s ministry of transforming lives.
In the Old and New Testaments we read how God used marriage as a symbol of the covenant relationship he had with his people but that symbol has meaning for us today because in Revelation 19 we read of a marriage feast yet to come. God, the bridegroom, will be permanently united with his bride- all those who have accepted his plan of salvation down through time and we will all live happily ever after. Today’s genealogy records connect us only to relationships in the past. God’s word connects us to the defining Relationship that promises us a future.
I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you
and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 20:11.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/5113