26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”29 And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
Peter Kapsner preached a series at Church of the Open Door over the summer. It tells the grand narrative of the Bible, but he particularly hones in on ‘good’ and ‘evil’. Our word for good does not really communicate the full meaning of the word that it translates. In fact in different passages of scripture the word for good is translated differently. The Hebrew word is tov. We hear it from Jewish friends when they drink and say mazel tov – literally good luck/fortune. However, the Hebrew, which can also be transliterated tobh, has many meanings depending on the context (http://www.biblestudytools.com/encyclopedias/isbe/good.html). Kapsner argues that the repetition of the word good in Genesis 1 brings us to a dynamic fullness. Things are as they should be, but they are also flourishing. They are moving toward a God-ordained reproduction and growth. God himself lies behind the goodness that infuses creation because he is good. He is flourishing and dynamic, life-giving and in harmony.
If we apply the full range of tov to man and woman it reveals God’s intentions more fully. God gives his life to men and women and lives with them. He is the source of their life and nourishes their souls. His life flows through them as they work together to bring nurture, care and flourishing to the plants and animals in the Garden of Eden. As God communes with them, so they carry his image and become majestic in their bearing. They are not clothed in fine robes and wearing crowns made of gold, they are naked and they feel no shame. There is nothing that shields them from each other or from their God. They are open to each other and open to Him. This is good. The connected relationships as a means to flourishing is life-giving. With the fall the nature of the relationship with God, others and self is broken. Life ebbs away. Kapsner says in his subsequent sermon, “In dying people die.” In being disconnected from the Creator, people find that their ability to nourish themselves is diminished. The light begins to dim. The flame flickers for a while longer before each brief candle is extinguished.
Listen to Peter Kapsner’s sermon here: http://www.thedoor.org/media.php?pageID=45
God, what you have meant for good we have turned to evil. We have cut ourselves off and hidden ourselves from the wellspring of life. May we become open and healed. May we regain the tree of life by seeking your heart and your reconciliation. In our relationships may we be open and courageous to rediscover the truth.
- How does God describe the entirety of his creation?
- What is the meaning of the Hebrew word ‘tov’?
- How does knowing the Hebrew enhance the reading of the English?
- How have 21st century humans cut themselves off from the source of good?
- How can you be an instrument in restoring the flow of good from a gracious God to his estranged creation?