In The Beginning
Because it is in the beginning of the bible,
and also, because it talks about "the beginning,"
the book of Genesis is often assumed to be the oldest.
Genesis is not the oldest book in the bible-that distinction goes to the book of Job.
Go ahead, impress all your friends with that fun bible fact at the next barbecue. No need to thank me!
The bible is not actually a book. It is a library of books. And these books are not arranged chronologically. They are not a series of eyewitness accounts. The whole process of the writing and gathering and ordering was a lot more complicated than that.
And if you'd like to know more, invite me over to your next barbecue and I will regale the crowd with captivating tales of the process we scripture nerds like to call "canonization." Who knew history or pastors could be so fun!?
understanding when Genesis was written is essential to hearing its message.
Rather than being jotted down shortly after writing was created, Genesis was likely written while the people of Israel were in exile in Babylon, roughly 592-539 BCE. The period of their captivity lasted around 50 years. This was an incredibly long time to be so far from their holy places, their holy land. Generations were dying in Babylon, new generations being born. It seemed that they may never get back to the land of God's promise. The people were in danger of giving up. The people were threatened by despair. The people were at risk of forgetting who they were.
And so, rather than to detail "the how" of creation, Genesis was written to remind the people "the who" of creation. This passage was written to make sure they knew who the creator was, and who they were as creations.
And until that day of homecoming, no matter how long it took, or what challenges they faced, they could turn to these words from Genesis and remember:
Do not doubt God's power to act, God spoke this entire world into existence.
Do not doubt God's concern for the world, everything God created was called "good."
Do not doubt God's love for you, you were created in God's image.
And throughout time, the Israelites have not been the only ones who needed help remembering who God is, and thereby, who they are.
Maybe for us, today, we could use this reminder as well.