Friday, November 6, 2009

The Word is the Word

If you've ever read the first few chapters of Genesis, you know about the story of creation. But look closely & you'll find that the account in chapter 1 doesn't match up chronologically with the account in chapter 2.

Chapter 1
Day one- light & darkness
Day two- sky
Day three- land, sea, sprouting vegetation
Day four- sun, moon & stars
Day five- fish & birds
Day six- animals & man (Adam)
Day seven- God rests

In chapter 2, man appears before vegetation sprouts up. So I got to thinking- maybe God just planted seeds on the third day & they had to grow into trees & plants & shrubbery- food for the animals & Adam & Eve.
Chapter 2 also tells us God planted a garden in Eden... but only after He had created Adam. And in the garden, Adam is presented with all sorts of living creatures, which remember, according to chapter 1, were created on the 6th day, preceding him. But Chapter 2 implies God formed them from the ground there in that moment and paraded them past Adam so he could name them & maybe find a friend (And you thought E-Harmony was a new idea.) But no suitable match could be found, so God put Adam to sleep, took a rib, and made Eve. Yet according to chapter 1, Eve had been made with Adam at the same time... "Male & female He created them." Ge. 1:27.

There's a basic argument that you can't take the Bible literally. And for stories such as this which seem a little far fetched, I'm inclined to agree. But that doesn't mean the story isn't valid.

I got to thinking about that scripture in 2 Timothy 3:16 that starts out by saying "All Scripture is God-breathed"... Some versions say "All Scripture is inspired or given by inspiration". Taken literally in its entirety, you create a petri dish for all kinds of fanaticism. Because God spoke it, it's Holy & by golly, it must be taken literally, to the hilt. I believe the bible is a mixture of literal & figurative, surely inspired by God, but not necessarily spoken or translated word for word.

The idea of being "God breathed" takes me back to the garden. Regardless what day man was created, he was nothing without the breath of God. Ge 2:7- God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of Life into the man's nostrils & he became a living person.
I'm reminded of another example in Ezekiel 37 where God took the prophet Ezekiel out to a field of bones & told him to speak them. Ezekiel did as he was told & the bones came together. Muscles & flesh formed over them, "but they still had no breath in them". Then the Lord told Ezekiel to "speak to the Breath", to breathe into the bodies so they would live. Breath entered them & they stood up as a mighty army. This of course was a vision, but the gist is, no breath, no life. For a more modern day application, what about CPR? You have a body that's essentially dead, so you pump the heart & put your breath into their lungs... If the Word of God is "breathed" into a dead body, it comes to life.

But (and here's a shocker) the words of the bible are just ink on a page. The gold edged paper, red letters or genuine calfskin leather doesn't make it holy... doesn't make it life giving... It doesn't matter what translation you have, there isn't one that's any more "holy" than another. Studying it, praying it, speaking it & practicing it are helpful, yes. The last part of 2 Timothy 3:16 says scripture "... is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness..." Yet Jesus said Himself "You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about Me, yet you refuse to come to Me to have life". John 5:39-40

The bible testifies about Jesus, points to Him, bears witness of Him, but it's not the bible that gives us life. "In the beginning was the Word, & the Word was with God & the Word was God (John 1:1)". We call the bible the "Word of God", but its Jesus Who is the Word... He is the inspiration of & fulfillment of Scripture. His is the spiritual breath that gives life to the corporeal body we call bible...

Remember our petri dish, brimming with fanaticism? We can cultivate a form of life by diligently searching our scriptures for literal application or we can step out of the lab & have life- literally.

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