Genesis 4:1-16 “The First Things” (Where is Your Brother?) Part 11

We now come to our third story in Genesis—the story of Cain and Abel. The origins of this story probably explain the violent competition for land between herders and farmers at the beginning of civilization. Farmers need land to cultivate. Sheep herders need land to graze their sheep. Historically, even… Continue reading

Genesis 3 “The First Things” (The Fall and Original Sin) Part 10

Many people throughout church history have believed that this chapter in the Bible is the decisive text for all the rest—that it states the premise for everything that follows. But as Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann points out, this is at best a marginal passage in Scripture. It is never… Continue reading

Genesis 3 “The First Things” (The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil) Part 9

At the beginning of this sermon series I suggested that we could better understand and interpret the opening chapters of Genesis if we realized that these traditions are primarily stories—ancient stories which have profound wisdom to impart regarding God, humankind, and creation. They are not historical and scientific accounts of… Continue reading

Genesis 2:15-17 “The First Things” (East of Eden) Part 8

(based in large part on the exegesis of Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann) In an earlier sermon I shared with you the consensus of Old Testament scholars that these opening chapters of Genesis represent centuries of tradition. We now know that the final form of these chapters crystallized during the… Continue reading

Genesis 2 “The First Things” (The Garden of Eden) Part 7

For many years discerning scholars have known that there are two creation stories in Genesis and that these two stories come from different sources. This is no radical, liberal, modern idea. For almost as long as the United States has been a nation some people have noticed the Bible begins… Continue reading

Genesis 2:1-3; Exodus 10:8-11; Leviticus 25:1-7 “The First Things” (The Goal of Creation) Part 6

In the previous sermon in this series I shared with you the answer I gave during my teaching career as to whether I believed in evolution. Those asking that question were trying to get me fired, so I was very cagey with my answer. I told them that my only… Continue reading

Genesis 1:26-31 “The First Things” (The Image of God) Part 5

The Bible claims in its very first chapter that we are created in the image of God. But what does that mean? Does it mean we look like God? Does it mean we have souls? Does it mean we can love? Does it mean that we, unlike animals, can tell… Continue reading

Genesis 1:1-2:4a “The First Things” (Partnering with God) Part 4

In our first sermon on Genesis we said that the Bible is not a science book. We cannot expect the biblical writers to see creation as science understands the universe today. Ancient people basically understood the world as it appears. For example, it looks like the sun goes around the… Continue reading

Genesis 1:1-2:4a “The First Things” (God the Creator) Part 3

These words from Genesis are very familiar to us. They have been read from outer space by astronauts as they circled the earth. Perhaps these words are too familiar. When anything is too familiar, we have a tendency to take it for granted. It ceases to amaze us. Scholars tell… Continue reading

Genesis 1-12:3 “The First Things” (Ancient Near Eastern Traditions and Historical Context) Part 2

Introduction to the “First Things”: Genesis, Ancient Near Eastern Traditions, and Historical Context The opening chapters of Genesis raise a lot of questions for many people. How do we square the earth being made in 6 days with what we now know about the age and progression of the universe?… Continue reading

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