The Rhythms of Life


(Spectrumbot) #1

This week’s commentary comes from Good Word out of the School of Theology at Walla Walla University. The audio of this conversation can be found on the Good Word website here.

Host: David Thomas

Guests: Brant Berglin and Jenniffer Ogden

Texts for this Lesson: Genesis 1, Gen. 8:22, Ps. 90:10, Job 1:13–19, Acts 9:1–22, Phil. 1:6, Rom. 8:1.

Memory Text: “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1, NKJV).

Opening Question: Does the Genesis story of origins have anything to tell us in the current era?

From the perspective of the Bible, life, including human life, begins at the creation event laid out in Genesis 1. This is a well-known story that is, in our time unfortunately all caught up in a debate over creation vs. evolution. This is unfortunate because the story has a whole lot more to teach us beyond this never-ending debate. Truth is, this is a story that is not only descriptive but is also normative in that it sets the parameters for life on this planet. Let us notice several things from the Genesis 1 story:

First, the story in Genesis 1 is a story of an Almighty God making something orderly and beautiful out of something chaotic. It is a story from chaos to order, a story that gives us a picture of reality. Certainly, we did not ask to join the reality we are part of, nor do we fully understand it. In fact, given how small our planet is in comparison to how vast the universe is, we have very little hope of figuring out the larger reality we participate in. Agnostics and atheists tend to use this fact as reason to abandon theism saying belief in deity of some kind is merely opinion as we can’t possibly hope to make sense of our larger reality enough to be sure of the existence of a God. Theists, on the other hand, rejoice because of the evidences of revelation from God are abundant, clues left in the universe that give us some believable reference points for life. It is in this arena that Genesis 1 shines for it makes it very clear that we are part of a two-dimensioned reality, a beautiful and well-ordered natural world overseen by a supernatural world. Or, to put this another way, there is a realm of the Creator and a realm of the creature. These two realms are not at odds, at least they were not at odds at the beginning. Furthermore, the created realm, made up of material substances, is good, declare to be very good even. This stands in marked contrast to some other concepts of the material realm such as that held by the Greeks who saw material substance as very much diminished, even evil, in inherent conflict with the realm of the spirit.

Secondly, the Genesis 1 story reveals that the world we are part of operates in an orderly fashion. There are cycles and systems that function routinely to make life here possible. The heavenly bodies – sun, moon, and stars – have a function as the systems were set in place to allow for the propagation of the various life-forms on planet earth. It is significant that these systems were set up by God to operate without direct divine intervention. They have within themselves the ability to continue and to propagate. In this limited sense, the world operates on its own according to the “laws” set up by the Creator. It can therefore be said that not everything that happens on earth is directly or immediately caused by God. It also means that some things can happen on earth that are not the will of God. (Those who doubt this might want to ponder the question, “How many times in a given day do you think the will of God is NOT done?”). This eventuality has significant meaning for humans as far as volition and responsibility go. We have enough latitude for decision-making to be responsible for our actions.

A third item – and this is one that is particularly germane to our lessons – is that the Genesis story (we should say the Genesis stories for we now need to include also Genesis 2) sets the parameters for family. God, having made other creatures, came back to Adam with the observation that it would not be good for him to be alone. So, God made Eve. And when God brought Eve to Adam, he understood exactly what God was doing and he was quite charmed. In modern language his response was, “Wow!” He fully understood the gift of love and companionship that he and Eve would now share. So begins the human story.

One of the main but obvious points to be drawn from these stories in the beginning of Genesis is that the human experience is in a very foundational way relational. We are born into families that provide us with relationships automatically, all things being as they should. Within these relationships we thrive. Without them, we suffer. Families make relationships and they thrive with the maintenance of relationships. It is within these relationships that we pass through all kinds of events and transitions in life.

Those who know the Bible story are well aware that the pristine nature of human existence changed radically on account of the Genesis 3 story, the one where sin came in and upset the whole of creation, human life in particular. This story is downplayed today, or even ignored but it is a very important story for it explains the human situation to us. We are noble creatures made in the image of God, but now damaged by something called sin. Further, there is no part of our lives or persons that has not been damaged by sin. That includes even the planet we live on, the natural systems themselves. From the point of the entrance of sin, the rhythms and transitions of life have been radically altered. Perhaps the hardest reality is that we now live temporarily. Our lives have both a beginning and an end. In between our lives are fraught with good and bad things, characterized by vulnerability. Clearly, in the original providence of God, we were to experience only good and that endlessly. So, we are not well constituted to face bad things, and we are certainly not well constituted to face endings, death in particular. When death comes, even when its approach is anticipated, it always strikes us as something inherently wrong for humans. We are not made to experience it except with great sorrow and even anger. We are reminded that something is drastically wrong with life now. One consolation is that, even when faced with the adversity of death, family and good relationships can provide a measure of comfort and sustenance.

We close this lesson by focusing on the reflections of the wise king Solomon who penned what is arguably one of the best reflections on the human experience:

To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace (Eccles. 3:1–8, NKJV).

Questions:

Talk about some of the life-changing experiences that you have been through, and talk about the lessons you learned and, if applicable, the lessons you should have learned but didn’t.

Talk about how family relationships have helped you in the experiences and transitions you have passed through in life.

Was there anything in this lesson that was new to you?

David Thomas is Professor of Practical Theology & Apologetics. He has been a member of the faculty at WWU since the summer of 2001. He served as Dean of the School of Theology for seventeen years (2001-2018). He is now focused on full-time teaching and writing.

Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/9532

(Thomas J Zwemer) #2

The General Conference used Drs Ford and Heppenstall to turn Brinsmead around only to retaliate against Ford


(Frank Peacham) #3

This is what puzzles me. Adam was in a relationship with his wife one that included compassion, deep emotional-love and of course forgiveness. He displayed these qualities when he forgave Eve and wished to share equally with her mistake. What a good man! What kind of mistake did Eve make? Was it one of open rebellion? No, it was one of innocent deception, as the Scriptures say. Sadly from love, compassion an a innocent mistake–came thousands of years of hell.

The Eden picture of God is not one of forgiveness or compassion–but just the opposite. One of exacting need for perfection to cosmic laws, a creator one should be very much afraid of offending.


(Ann-Marie Headley) #4

You know @frankpeachamvt, if God had destroyed Adam and Eve after they sinned and created a new couple who did not have the power of choice, I would have agreed with you. But the mere fact that he clothed their nakedness and allowed them to live, shows that they were forgiven. God’s response to Adam and Eve’s sin, reveals to me that although he desires perfection, his love and grace caused him to make provision for those who err so that we can regain entrance into his presence. Additionally, by allowing his only son, to come to this imperfect, sinful world and die for the very same people who transgressed his laws for hundreds of years, reveals to me a God whose love is greater than I will ever understand. The fact that to this day, the world continues to exist with people who sin on a daily basis and yet God has not destroyed all of us sinful, wayward humans, exposes a being whose patience is unimaginable, whose love is unfathomable, whose ways are higher than our ways and whose thoughts are deeper than our thoughts. Thank you Jesus for such amazing grace; grace that is greater than all of our sins. Amen.


(Frank Peacham) #5

Ann-Marie Headley: Have you given it much thought–that Adam may have struggled with overwhelming guilt. He failed to protect his wife. Adam was busy with something else in Eden while his wife had made a serious mistake. He was to blame. If he had kept Eve close at hand, she would not have dialogued with the serpent. God married them, united them with a bond that could not be broken. d

Many a good man has sacrificed his life to save his wife and children. If Adam had rejected Eve, due to her innocent mistake, he would be unable to love and keep her from further harm. He would hate himself. Adam could forgive Eve and stand beside her in the consequences to follow. That’s what a good man would do.


(Lynden Williams) #6

Frank, go back and read Genesis 2 again with a careful look at vs. 6. Eve handed the fruit to Adam “WHO WAS WITH HER”. He did not let her wander off as you said. Not only that…Adam was the greater sinner because he was not “Beguiled by the serpent”. He knew he was going against the instructions of God when he ate the fruit. He was willing to disobey God’s command in order to hold on to his wife. There is a crude term used today to describe a man who is so captivated with a woman that he will do almost anything for her.

But everyone is overlooking some of the more substantive issues of this piece. The author is saying God brought order out of chaos. Am I the only one that finds this a bit strange, since God created the entire universe? Why would he create this world in a chaotic state only to later bring order out of it? Second, how did he create the Sun, Moon and Stars on the 4th day when you can’t have a day 1,2, or 3 without the earth rotation and the sun shining on it. The only way to have a “Day” is to have the earth rotate with respect to the sun. Then there is the issue of relativity. There is order in the universe, it is caused by Einstein’s explanation of how bodies attract and how that without each of these entities, the Sun, the Moon and the Planets acting upon each other in a precise way in order for them to maintain their positions in the universe, everything would become chaos. Therefore, all of these entities must have existed and been in place for a very long time. Science is a tough taskmaster, and it must be adhered to regardless of interesting biblical allegories.

I am a firm believer in a creative and all powerful God. But I am also cognizant of some of the realities of nature, which are also God’s creation. Obviously, Moses didn’t have a firm grip on many of these laws of nature, and was primarily intent on conveying the fact that God was in control.


(Frank Peacham) #7

I was taking the lead of EGW’s interpretation of the Eden account. She places Adam a distance from Eve. I think this is probably more accurate due to the dialog of the Serpent with Eve was a one way discussion. 1 Tim. 2:14 says, “And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression.” Also recall that Eve presented the forbidden fruit to Adam and he took it from her hands, whereas the Serpent presented the fruit to Eve not Adam.

It is sad that the innocent native side of Eve was so exploited by the Serpent. From this mistake due to Eve’s lack of wisdom, knowledge and life experience, almost like a teenage girl exploited by an older man–came all the hell to follow. How is it that on the balance of Eve’s non rebellions mistake should follow such dreastic overwhelming punishment involving billions of humans spanning centuries. Don’t we hold to the law that punishment should be proportional to the offense?

As one who has faith in God, it seems to me the Eden story should be not taken absolutely literal. Was the fall of Adam and Eve inevitable for the containment of Satan’s rebellion with the removal of evil from heavenly realms?


(George Tichy) #8

Ford’s big sin was not his conclusion about Dan 8:14 and 1844, but rather the fact that he established the principle that the Bible should be (and is) the only reliable/authorized source of faith and doctrine for Christians. However, by decree, in the SDAC EGW’s theological authority is untouchable. Ford dared to “touch” it. Therefore… poooooooooffff… :wink:
@gford1


(George Tichy) #9

Creating earth, great. Then inserting the Sun and the Moon, and who knows what else into the mix. Just imagine the resulting universal chaos since basically the whole Universe would be affected by such a move, I mean, a complete re-arrangement would be necessary, re-positioning basically every single planet, star, and everything else.
Mind boggling indeed…


(SOMMER) #10

Hello! I propose here an article I wrote around the topic a few years ago.
Originally in French, I suppose the result of Gtranslate would be perfectible.

I’m no longer Adventist but genetically attached to.

I’m reading Spectrum since 11 years now, (where I’m learning English) and I enjoy the wide range of points of view.

Olivier

https://translate.google.fr/translate?hl=fr&sl=auto&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Froquebasse.net%2F%3Fp%3D149


(George Tichy) #11

Well, Spectrum is the perfect place for people who are no longer SDAs, who are now “mere Christians”… :wink:


#12

Merci de nous avoir fourni un article aussi stimulant!


(Ann-Marie Headley) #13

Frank, I agree with your explanation regarding how Adam felt and based on his love and compassion for his wife, he chose to share equally with her mistake. My comment however, was in response to your point which states:

“The Eden picture of God is not one of forgiveness or compassion–but just the opposite. One of exacting need for perfection to cosmic laws, a creator one should be very much afraid of offending”.

If God was not forgiving and compassionate and only concerned about exacting perfection from his created being, he would have terminated Adam and Eve forthwith, no questions, no discussions.

This situation can be compared to parents who discipline their children by grounding them and parents who discipline their children by killing them. The former withholds certain privileges from their children yet they will still provide for their needs out of love and compassion. Juxtapose with the latter, who will kill their children because they have made no provision for their kid’s shortcomings and failures.

Because God had love and compassion for the couple, he chose not to utterly destroy them but rather, he made provision for their failings.


(Frank Peacham) #14

Apparently this is not God’s method. He had a chance to destroy Satan who was not deceived nor dominated by human hormones. For their small sin, Eve being honestly deceived and Adam to not break a promise of love, were doomed to a life of pain, hardship, and death. Did their punishment fit the crime? I think the few believers that existed post Eden demonstrated that many were not sympathetic with the methods of God, not viewing them as an act of love.

I think there must be more to the Eden fall than is revealed.


#15

Intriguing…

What do you read between the lines?


(Elmer Cupino) #16

The story of Adam & Eve has nothing to do with the actual creation of physical matter. It is the story of the creation and origin of the relationship between God and men.


(SOMMER) #17

I think so! Many clues in the text of Genesis tell us that the earth was already populated at the time of Adam and Eve.


(Quacinda Jodyne Topkok) #18

I think we forget we are from the spirit world (we were first a thought in God’s mind) and are now living a life on earth having a physical experience.

So we are both spiritual and physical. But it goes even further… in a spiritual sense we (the human family) have eaten from the Tree of Knowledge but forget to eat the Bread (substanance/food) of Life.


(Quacinda Jodyne Topkok) #19

If we think of Adam and Eve as representing all of humanity, perhaps so.

I do believe in a literal Adam and Eve, which represent our physical state and origin, but I also believe we have forgotten spiritual applications. One of which is that when we ate from the Tree of Knowledge we ate lies… so now we live by lies in society. These lies we are blind to… we don’t even know we live by them; but the results can be seen in the pain and strife we now live with. Dysfunctional ways of living on the earth [outside God’s original plan] and with one another sociallly prove this.


(Quacinda Jodyne Topkok) #20

The leading line in your comment reminds me of a co-dependent relationship; don’t you think they each stood before God as individuals? Blame cannot be given in a case where I am responsible alone for my beliefs, actions and words; not my husband.