Chapters 1 and 2
One Key Quote
“The biblical vision of God’s glory filling the earth is to be accomplished through the rule of humanity as God’s royal representatives. Their multiplying and filling the earth is the means by which God’s own glory fills the earth..”page 53
Chapter 1: Genesis, Science and the Art of Myth-Busting. The opening story of Genesis gives us the biblical worldview with which to interpret our world and introduces us to the unfolding drama, the big Story, of Scripture. To understand it, we have to look at the world behind the text. This means reading it as the kind of literature it is – not as a scientific account but as ancient mythology. PH does this by comparing it to other creation narratives of the ancient world, and noting how it subverts them. He shows three main differences – about God, about how God creates and, most significantly, about how we are created in God’s image, not as slaves to be fearful of God but as friends to walk with him in the garden and to share in his rule of the world.
Note: it is really important to understand that when we talk about myth we are not talking about something ‘untrue’ but about a story that answers the big questions about God, us and the world.
Chapter 2: Creation and the Image-Bearers of God. Using the birth of his own son as a starting off point, PH asserts that to be human is to be made in the image and likeness of our Father God. From Psalm 8, he then reflects on the wonder of our royal identity and invitation to share in God’s rule. By reference to the use of image and likeness in Genesis 5 he shows that it is about being sons of God and traces this throughout Scripture, and then shows how the mercy-driven mission of Jesus was about restoring our lost identity as royal sons. Apart from anything else, this means we are to treat everyone with dignity. By looking at the context of the use of images and statues in the ancient Near East, he shows that humanity is meant to be God’s representatives throughout the earth, his royal priests to rule and to bless. God does not need stone or bronze statues because he has living and breathing ones – us!
Reflect and Discuss
- Did it help you understand the Genesis creation story better by comparing it to other ancient creation myths? How?
- What difference should it make to us that we are called to be friends of God and those who share his rule?
- How does it make you feel to know that to me made in the image and likeness of God is to be made as his children and as his ‘living statues’?
- How should that fact that we are God’s royal sons and royal priests make us approach the world and other people?
- Choose someone who you are going to intentionally and purposefully treat with dignity this week because they are created to be children of God.
- Re-read and meditate on Genesis 1-2 and Psalm 8 this coming week in the light of what you have read – and worship!
Read Chapters 3 and 4 this week. One of the great and inspiring qualities of this book is the way Pete Hughes applies the story of Scripture to what he personally, and the church he leads, are living out this story. Think about how he does this in the next readings and see if you can identify with any of it.
There is a PDF version of this study here.