Brief Thoughts on Genesis 1-11

Written by Victor Stanley Jr.

Genesis chapters 1 through 11 give us a front row seat so to speak to the beginning of time, man, civilization, and the world as we know it. From the onset we are given the six day creation story, and I feel that it is important to note that everything God creates is regarded as ‘good’. This reveals to us that there was nothing inherently wrong or evil within anything God created. Everything had a purpose and function given it by God, and neither nature, the elements, nor the universe were designed to be against man as some people like to think. What we do see regarding the natural world is that as a result of the Fall the natural world was cursed (Gen. 3:17 & Rom. 8:20-22). We also see the animal kingdom (and I am excluding humans) being subjected to the curse in what I see as three significant actions by God. The first is the curse placed upon the serpent, which also foreshadows the coming of Christ. The second takes place right before God puts Adam and Eve out of the garden, in Gen. 3:21[1] it says, “And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.” This reveals the first bloodshed, and according to many scholars, the first animal sacrifice to atone for sin; a system we will later see put in place by God. The third act by God that affected the animal kingdom happens in Gen. 9:2-4:

“The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth and upon every bird of the heavens, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea. Into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you. And as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. But you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.”

At this point animals have now become food to us, as the text suggests that prior to this we were herbivores. These verses show the encompassing effect of Adams sin. It not only caused him and Eve to fall, but it resulted in the entire natural world being cursed.

I have personally always found it interesting that Satan fell from heaven because he wanted to be God, and that the way he tempted Eve was by telling her that she would be like God. Furthermore, the majority of world religions and secular philosophies teach that man either is God or a god, or that man can achieve, by his works and own ability, some type of god-like status or righteousness. What we see in the early part of civilization as detailed in Genesis, is man constantly staking his identity in this idea that he can be master of his own destiny, and that he can essentially be or become a god. This is in contrast to what God declares early on in Gen. 1:26 when he says that man is made in his image, not that man is made a god. He again affirms this in his covenant with Noah in Gen. 9:6 where it says, “. . . for God made man in his own image.” Yet, we have Cain bringing a sacrifice that he feels is acceptable, and when it is rejected and his brother’s accepted, he takes matters into his own hands, and proceeds to murder Abel even after God issues a warning in Gen. 4:7.

Down Cain’s line we see Lamech make a boast that seems to be an attempt to place himself higher than God. In Gen. 4:23-24 Lamech not only murders a man, and considering the circumstances this was an overreaction, but he also exclaims in verse 24 that, “If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold, then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.” Now God had told Cain that if anyone killed him, that vengeance would be poured out on them sevenfold. So Lamech’s statement seems not only to be a warning to those who would do him harm, but also a placing of himself higher than God. We see this pattern repeatedly from the Nephilim and “sons of God” enacting violence and taking advantage of women, to the construction of the tower of Babel. Man continuously does two things, he places his identity in his successes and worldly gain, and he attempts to establish himself above God. Both of these are marked by selfish desires that are evident in Adam and Eve wanting to be like God, in Cain wanting glory for himself, in Lamech wanting men to fear him, in the Nephilim taking the women they wanted, and in the violence men carried out against each other. These things not only give man a false identity, but it also strains and destroys his relationships with others, or makes them impossible altogether.

These first few chapters of Genesis dispel the idea that the world has grown and is growing progressively worse. People will often talk of “the good old days” or “back in the day when things were. . .” What we actually see is that the Fall of Man is not this gradual descent into evil, but rather an immediate plunge into depravity. This truth about our fall, our identity, and our nature only confirm my current worldview, and serve to remind me of why we so desperately needed a savior. It causes me to refrain from being upset or hostile toward the non-believer, for they are simply acting according to their nature; rather it causes me to have compassion for I was once like them. It also reveals what I think is the driving force behind man’s rebellion against God; his desire to be God, which was the temptation that led to man’s fall. I do not think the problem of our postmodern society—or any society that preceded it— is its attempt to get rid of God, but rather its attempt to set man up as God.

[1] All scripture quotes are taken from the English Standard Version


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