The great blessing

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply! Fill the earth and subdue it! Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every creature that moves on the ground.” Then God said, “I now give you every seed- bearing plant on the face of the entire earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the animals of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to all the creatures that move on the ground- everything that has the breath of life in it- I give every green plant for food generic cymbalta.” It was so.
God saw all that he had made- and it was very good! There was evening, and there was morning, the sixth day.
Genesis 1:28-31

Notice a the similarities and difference in the “God said” bit (relating to blessing) between v22:

v22: God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply…
v28: God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply…

  • The blessing here is similar to v22, where God’s blessing is directly related to fruitfulness and multiplication. In fact, the blessing here is in the context of reproduction – a blessing to reproduce. And this blessing is in the context of “Fill the earth and subdue it!” The ability to reproduce is needed for filling the earth and ruling over time/generations.
  • God has enabled (given the ability to do) what He has commanded man to do (in this instance)
  • The blessing here is different to v22 in that it was addressed to individuals “to them”. This appears in every translation. When God said to the fish and birds, it reads like a proclamation over the species but here it reads like a command to a few individuals – where the individuals have the capacity to understand the command. Man is distinct over all of creation.

The rulership of man:

  • So far, God created every living thing without mentioning it’s relationship to each other with regards to it’s purpose. Here God purposes created things in relation to one another and begins at the top: man’s purpose is to rule.
  • Although the word “subdue” has a negative connotation of conquered or put in bondage against one’s will. It is used here not to show an opposing or strained relationship but one of dominion. This is clear from the context.
  • When it comes to the rulership of man, God makes no mistake to include everything that man has authority over:
    • The “it” that comes after subdue is obviously the earth – every rock, creek, mountain, land, water, mineral/harvestable resource , etc
    • The three classes of created beings are also placed under man – every fish, bird and land creature. The animals were purposed to be subject to man. Man could harness animals for their benefit. 

The food of man and the rest of created beings:

  • The addition of the word הִנֵה (hinneh), which is often translated as “Behold”, is meant to bring to attention what God is doing in the present time. There could be several reasons why this was pointed out:
    • Because it was a gift: Notice how this part reads like a gift and not a command. God gives mankind the vegetation for food.
    • Because it establishes order in a hierarchy: Notice that there is now a hierarchical in authority – mankind, animals, vegetation with man on top and plants below. God makes clear where vegetation sits in the mix of creation and it’s purpose. This is an extension of man’s rulership.
    • Because it is a divine diet: vegetation is purposed as food for anything that had the “breath of life”. This is the diet that God commanded for all living creatures at this point: man & animals on top, vegetation below. A divine food chain. This is later changed in Genesis 9:3.

A note on the type of vegetation: only “seed bearing” plant and trees with seed in it’s fruit is for food for man and any green plant for food for anything that has life. Does that mean we can’t eat plants that propagate without seed and/or are not green? I’m thinking purple lettuce, seaweed, bamboo, etc (please excuse my ignorance if I’m wrong about some of these plants)

I don’t think this passage was prescriptive that way. The effect one gets from reading the passage is that God has given all creatures (“everything that has the breath of life”) all vegetation (“every green plant”) for food. That is the heart of the message. If we depart from this thought process, then God didn’t create the other planets, birds that swim (i.e. penguins), birds without wings (i.e. Moa) or land creatures that swim (i.e. platypus, seals and otters) because they weren’t specifically mentioned.

Another thing to note is the use of “breath of life”. God has included all animals into those with the breath of life! Here we make a distinction between creatures with an eternal spirit (God’s breath, Genesis 2:7) and creatures who simply are alive and have breath. The word breath in Genesis 2:7 is different from the word breath here.

I love how the passage ends with “And it was so.” This gives the effect that God’s blessing and commandment effected the minute it was said. The blessing on man to multiply, the rulership and hierarchy of man, the food chain of the whole world, all set in place in a split-second!

Lastly, God considered “all that he had made” and proclaimed (using the word hinneh again) “it was very good”. When it says God considered all, it truly means all. All meaning everything. Imagine what it means to perceive, understand, analyse, approve, discern the whole universe (and meta-universe) all at once. Every large thing thing like the sun, to every minute detail like nano thingamajigs. It takes mankind years of collective observation, analysing and discerning before we can understand a little something of creation yet God does so without effort. Truly, only God can. Mind blown.

The proclamation “very good” is not to be missed here. Very good is God’s ultimate stamp of approval. If there some something God was pleased with, it was all of creation. And this was the sixth day.

Vision

When there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but the one who keeps the law, blessed is he!
Proverbs 29:18 (NET)

This verse is often used when speaking about a church mission or personal goal. As always, my goal is to find out whether our usage and understanding of this verse is true to the original meaning of the verse. The NET notes writes that “The Hebrew word “vision” (from the verb חָזָה [khazah, “to see”]) refers to divine communication to prophets (as in 1 Samuel 3:1) and not to individual goals or plans… He also notes that in the book of Proverbs there is no mention of prophetic teaching with wisdom as a guide. So he emends the word to “guidance” following the LXX (Proverbs [ICC], 512).” The second part of this verse gives us another clue that it isn’t an individual / personal call, goal or plan involved but to return to God’s His word/law, the concrete form of revelation, to attain blessing.

This verse works to highlight the cause of chaos and blessing and to contrast the two, with the key cause being God’s revelation, both prophetic and concrete. The provision of prophetic revelation keeps the people from running wild and causing chaos (as it did to call people back to God in Judges); the provision of written revelation brings God’s blessing. Both have their place and both are needed!

May I treasure them and learn to love them both.

神的爱

After cell yesterday, I had another look into the relationship between power and love.

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”
Ephesians 3:14-19

We seem to work on the assumption that Christ love is easy to accept. Like a free gift that only needs unwrapping, its all ours to take. We make love sound much easier than it really is. The truth is, not everyone understands love. At least not the kind of love that Paul is talking about here.

When God says “I have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3), how many of us have had this kind of experience in this life? I dare say, none! Human love is such a poor reflection of God’s love that when we are faced with the raw and unadulterated love of God, it is so bewildering and so foreign to us that some of us reject it (Luke 5:8)!

The truth is that human relationships are filled with disappointment and rejection. Absolutely everyone has been hurt by someone else in the past, even someone whom they love and who loves them. We have all been given a rock when we asked for a fish at some point in our life. Even Song of Solomon ends in a longing for the perfect union in love (Song of Solomon 8:13-14).

That is because God defines love (John 10:11, 1 John 4:8). But we only get a partial definition.  Like a weak mobile phone signal, all the fallen love that we have and experience is derived from the God’s love (1 John 4:8). It is at best only a partial experience of love (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Sure we can grasp love. The idea of human love. A romantic love even. Even to experience God’s complete love (1 John 4:12). But to fully grasp the love of Christ? To understand and feel a love that spans the width cross (1 John 4:9-10), it’s height reaches to the heavens (Psalm 36:5) and it’s depth to the deepest ocean (Jonah 2:3-6)? No wonder power is needed to strengthen us to understand that love! It is simply mind (and heart) blowing!

“How can I stand here with you and not be moved by you?
Would you tell me how could it be any better than this?”
Lifehouse – Everything

My wife, Sara, spoke of this love that forcefully bursts into our world, that causes us to live and breathe differently (2 Corinthians 5:14).  Once we understand that our tiny hearts cannot even begin to contain that huge amount of perfect love, I believe our tiny hearts explode. Yes it does. It explodes. And the only way we can cope with it is to let it splatter everywhere. Thus begins our ministry of reconciliation.

I had lunch with Ps Dan Sheikh. What a lunch. Here are some highlights of our meeting.

“If you call yourself blessed because you have a house, a car, a wife, two kids and a boat, the unbeliever beside you is just as blessed. In fact, some of them are more blessed than you!”
Ps Dan, speaking about goals in life

“It was never meant to fit. Its like trying to put a square block into a round hole.”
Ps Dan, speaking about the incongruence between our life and God’s call

“Most people sitting in the church settled.”
Ps Dan, speaking about God’s call

I walked away with a sobering thought: what if we are settling?