Creation – The Great Act of Love
How do you know someone loves you? What is the greatest act of love you can think of? If you could only do one thing for your spouse to show your love, what would it be? Now, I know, us men think that we only have to do one things for our wives and they should just be happy with that… but women know this isn’t the case.
Think back to when you first proposed to your spouse. What was going through your head? What is it that you were really proposing? That you desire more than anything else to spend the rest of your life with them. You want to live with them, build a home together, provide for all their needs.
The greatest gift of love you can give someone is to desire them. Desire to be with them. Desire for them not because of how they treat you…. but just because you do.
We’ve all seen the movies. The great story is of a woman who finds herself undesirable. No one in her whole life has ever wanted to be her friend. Her parents were absent or too judgmental, and so she is left utterly alone. That is, until the man comes along. We’ve seen that famous scene where she runs away from him because there is no one that perfect who could desire her! The clouds cry. The man almost cries as he says, “I love you for you. I love you for the beauty that no one else has seen. The beauty that is you!”
The Story is God’s love letter to us, and so it is no coincidence that as God’s pen hits the page, he spells his desire for us out of the inky blackness of nothing. God didn’t need to create us. He wanted to! He desired to! He wanted someone to shower his love on.
God’s great mission in life begins, and before he even proposes, he wants to set the scene. He creates a home for us that has everything but the kitchen sink, and who needs it because he created man first, and men don’t wash dishes! He forms light and darkness, sky and water, land and animals to brighten the place up. Then, once everything is in place, he proposes. God’s Great Proposal in this.
Gen. 1:26 – “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”
His proposal is to create his greatest desire—someone to love, someone to be in relationship with, someone to share life with. It’s like God went across the whole world looking for “the one,” and when humans enter the scene, God woos us. He says, “I have seen the whole Earth, and there is no one like you.” He says, “Baby, compared to you, they’re all just a bunch of animals!”
He fashioned a lovely place for us to live and then filled it with his life, his prized possession—us. He created the world because he wanted to LOVE us. Because he desired us!
Men, you thought women were expensive with their closets full of shoes and diamond rings! God made the whole Earth for you! Talk about a bill payment! But look at the very last verse of chapter 1 (vs. 31).
“God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.”
He said, “I don’t care how much you need. I want you. I want this place to be just perfect!” Now, the world isn’t just good, it’s very good! God has finally found the love of his life. He found you. He found me.
Interestingly, if we skip a bit ahead, we see that the only perfect companion for Adam is another human made in God’s image.
Gen. 2:20 – “The man gave names to all the livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.”
Then, after scouring all of creation, God puts Adam to sleep and creates Eve, and when he wakes up he writes a psalm for her. The first poem in the Bible is a sonnet from the lips of a man in love:
Gen. 2:23 – “This at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
He says, “At last, you have come to me! At last my desire stands before me! At last, the love of my life is here! We see God’s image spilling out of Adam in his desire to have someone to love, just as God created us because of his desire for us.
The creation of the world was God’s great act of love, but somewhere along the way, we lost that. Adam and Eve forgot God’s great love, They thought that maybe God didn’t desire them as much as had said. Perhaps God was holding back something. and so sin enters the world. But even through the next scene, God’s desire for us.
Sin – Love lost, Redemption Promised
Adam and Eve forget God’s love. Even with the greatness of the garden all around them, they forget the reason why they are, forget who they are. Now, enters an Earthly dilemma that begs for a Heavenly solution. The Antagonist enters the scene.
Jesus, the hero, when speaking about this great enemy says:
John 10:10 – “The thief, the serpent, Satan approaches with malicious intent, looking to steal, kill, and destroy.”
The first results of antagonist are thievery of innocence, sin which leads to death, and destruction of Adam and Eve’s perfect relationship with God and each other. Stealing, killing, and destruction.
Genesis 3:7-9 “Suddenly their eyes were opened to a reality previously unknown. For the first time, they sensed their vulnerability and rushed to hide their naked bodies, stitching fig leaves into crude loincloths. Then they heard the sound of the Eternal God walking in the cool misting shadows of the garden. The man and his wife took cover among the trees and hid from the Eternal God. But God called out for them, ‘Where are you?’”
Here we see the first glimpse of the Upper Story folding into the lives of Adam and Eve in their Lower Story. Their story said they had disobeyed God. They had disappointed their lover! They didn’t trust that the world was perfect for them as it was, and so they hid.
Do you think God didn’t know where they were? This is God we are talking about! We just witnessed him breathe the universe into being.
He knows about the curses to come. He knows they will soon not be living in the Garden any more, but He doesn’t just come out all guns-a-blazing: fire and brimstone from Heaven to satisfy His wrath. He could have. What are a few fireballs for the one who created all the fireballs in the sky (the stars)? He had a right to. Adam and Eve (the crowning jewel of his creation) had just destroyed everything he worked so hard to create. Instead, his response is one of love. One of desire. He seeks them out, despite their failure.
He comes back from a trip to Heaven and his garden is a mess, but what he cares about more is the fact that his beloved are missing. He says, “Where are you?” There is no getter around the curses. There is no getting out of the circumstances of their actions. God sends curses their way, not out of spite, but with tears in his eyes, and again in the middle of this list of curses comes a blessing. The Upper Story pushes God’s character into the lowest part of their Lower Story.
Speaking to the serpent – Gen. 3:15 – “I will put hostility between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring; but one day, her offspring will crush your head, and you will attack his heal.”
This is a foreshadowing of the cross. A picture of Jesus who would one day come and yes be attacked by Satan and those who continue to listen to his slithering lies, yes even to death on a cross… but though you will attack his heal, he will crush your head! It only takes 3 days. Only takes a cross and a grave. Another glimpse of the Upper Story of God’s love come after the new way of life has been laid out for them.
Gen. 3:12 – “God made garments of animal skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.”
He cares for them in this tangible way, casting off their old and tired leaf clothing and covering it with a sacrifice. God spills the blood of one of his precious animals right before their eye. He says, “Look, its messy, but it has to be done. You can’t be covered by the perfect innocence I gave you any longer. You are guilty. There will be blood. There will be sacrifice.” But even in this dark time, God points them again to the sacrifice that is coming. The perfect Lamb that will be slaughtered for them at Calvary—Jesus, whose blood given for all of humanity will cover us in new spiritual clothing that are white as snow. God created this world perfect and just for us, but we forget his love, and each day that we do, He doesn’t seek us out to punish us, but primarily to love us.
In the space between the Tree of Life in the Garden and the Tree of Death at the crucifixion, a lot happens. Cain kill his brother Abel. Cain, this man ruled by sin, builds the first city. This is the beginning of the Babylonian civilization (Gen. 4:17-26). Sin lays the foundations for the great city in which the Tower of Babel is construction (Gen. 11): a great proclamation to God that we don’t need him anymore!
Isn’t that what Adam and Eve were doing on a smaller scale? Isn’t that what we do today on a smaller scale? “God, we want to know what you know. God, we don’t need you.”
So, you think, why did God curse us knowing how much it would spiral out of control. I mean, He just started! Can’t he just say, “Oops” and start over? He does, but not right away, because God’s love for us out-weighs his wrath for sin.
His greatest desire is to bring us back out of sin, not destroy us with it, but sometimes we don’t let him. Sometimes, we want to go down with the ship, or down because we didn’t get in the ship. That’s the story of Noah. It’s a story of judgment, but not without redemption.
The Flood – Judgment leads to redemption
Sin destroy the world, but God’s love reigns. He decided it was time of a do-over, but he doesn’t just wipe the slate clean and start again. He weaves his Upper Story into the Lower Story of a man named Noah. He seeks him out like he did Adam and Eve in the Garden. The text says,
Gen. 6:8 – “Noah found favour in the sight of the LORD.”
The whole Earth is ready to drown, but God saves the only one left who is willing to love Him enough to trust him, to build a boat when there is no rain, and wait for the storm to come. God redeems all of humanity not with a blackboard erasure, but with his prized creation: a human being. He starts again with nothing but a few faithful and a bunch of oblivious animals.
Even in the darkness of Noah’s Lower Story, he is saved by God’s love, comes out of the Ark to the first rainbow in history and hears God reaffirm his love. The first thing God says after such a great destructive act is words of love.
Gen. 8:21 – “I will never again curse the ground because of humankind, even though the inclination of their minds is evil. I will never again destroy everything that lives, as I have just done.”
The flood is a cosmic act of grace, saving those who remained faithful from the corruption of the serpent. God gave those few refugees of love freedom from the oppression of a world full of wickedness. Though the flood was horrid, a worldly genocide of sorts, the hero is the rainbow. The Flood was a one-time deal, a single dot in the line of history. Many people today forget about the flood, but no one can deny the rainbow. No one can deny the great promise of God’s love, a reminder of his redemption. Even those who don’t understand the story of God’s redemptive love know that a rainbow makes them happy, gives unexplainable joy, no matter how bleak the storm was.
I don’t know how bleak your storm is today. I don’t know how your Lower Story has been playing out recently. Maybe you are not wading through the best parts, but God’s Upper Story is still the same today as it was at the very beginning. Even though bad things happen, even though we still feel the effects of sin in this world, God’s greatest desire is us. He created the world as a great show of his love, and he sent his Son, Jesus, to bring us back into the fold of his love.
May we fall more in love with Him today. Whatever our circumstances, may we cling to Him, even if all around we hear people telling us that God is a lie, or doesn’t care (like the serpent). Even if He tells us to do something crazy (like Noah), because through it all, he is faithful.