Genesis 2 – Sabbath and Temple: Sacred Time and Sacred Space

 

Introduction

In our first session we saw how God intervened in tohu wabohu, Hebrew words that represent void, that is, the absence of both functionality and future, darkness and chaos. God intervened, not with an army, but with Wind (Spirit), Word and Light. The result was the transformation of chaos into a creation characterized by intimacy with God, worship, community, righteousness in all relationships including with nonhuman creation, and shalom in all creation.

 

We can summarize our work on Genesis 1 in the following way: God intervenes in CHAOS and creates HEAVEN AND EARTH as a Temple. We’ll use this graphic as beginning point of our six week study:

 

Creation is God’s Intervention and Redemptive Action

CHAOS ……….>         ………….>         ………..>   ……….>    CREATION as TEMPLE

Characterized by intimacy with God, worship, community, righteousness in all relationships and shalom in all creation

 

When the Hebrew people, exiles in Babylon, heard this creation story they would hear:

  • God’s commitment to intervene in the chaos they were experiencing
  • God’s power to create new life
  • God’s love for them and for all creation
  • God’s desire to be present with them, in relationship with them and with all creation even in exile!

In this session we will continue to focus on sacred space. We’ll see how the macrocosmic heaven and earth temple God creates in Genesis 1 and in the Garden of Eden in Genesis 2, points toward the microcosmic Tabernacle and Temple in Jerusalem. The exiles, whose Temple has been destroyed by the Babylonians, know these links as well as they know their own names. In telling them these stories of creation and reminding them of these links, the priest is powerfully affirming God’s commitment to them and to creation. In this session we will also focus on a priceless gift God gives the exiles—the gift of Sabbath rest; sacred time. These amazing gifts: sacred space and sacred time hold out the possibility of transforming the exiles’ lives even as they continue in slavery in Babylon. May God use this map to guide us through our time of exile.

 

Creation as a Temple in Genesis 1

When we think of ancient temples, we think of gathering places for worship much as we think of churches today. But in the Ancient Near East (ANE), temples, for all cultures including Israel, were the place where heaven and earth intersected. Temples were the sacred place where the god or gods were enthroned, literally living with people and powerfully influencing their daily lives.

 

In the story of creation in Genesis 1, heaven and earth, the universe as a macrocosm, is a temple. God has made creation itself God’s sacred Temple. God is present and lives with all that God has created. How does the priest communicate that affirmation in a way the exiles will understand? Actually, the priest communicates it in several ways. We will look at one of them. It’s the number 7.

 

The priest author has used the number 7 in multiple ways. Rabbi and biblical scholar, Umberto Cassuto, has done extensive study on the priest author’s use of the number 7 in Genesis 1. Jon Levenson describes some of Cassuto’s observations:

Cassuto found that the heptadic (use of the number 7) principle extends far deeper into the text than had been thought. Hardly limited to the seven days in which the action takes place, groups or multiples of seven appear throughout the passage. The first verse, for example, consists of seven words; the second, of fourteen. Of the three dominant terms of v. 1—“God,” “heaven,” and “earth”—the first occurs thirty-five times in Genesis 1:1–2:3, and the third twenty-one times… The paragraph devoted to the seventh day consists of thirty-five words, twenty-one of which form three sentences of seven words, each of which includes the expression “the seventh day”…

 

Cassuto is surely right to conclude his discussion of the significance of seven in Genesis 1:1–2:3 with the remark that “it is impossible to think that all this is nothing but coincidence.”[1]

 

If “seven” is not a coincidence, why did the priest use it? Here again we see the importance of our frame of reference in understanding the Bible. The exiles would have understood immediately that the priest was describing creation as God’s cosmic Temple. For the exiles, the number 7 links the story of creation to the story of the Tabernacle built by Moses at Mt. Sinai and the Temple Solomon built in Jerusalem. While these connections are new to us, we need to remember that the Tabernacle and Temple were the sacred space at the heart of the Hebrew people’s identity. This knowledge was central to their faith and their community. In their minds, how did the number 7 link to the Tabernacle, the portable Temple that traveled with the Hebrew people on their journey across the wilderness to the Promised Land, and Temple in Jerusalem?

 

The Number 7 and The Tabernacle:

We see the number seven used in creating this sacred space:

  • “The Lord said/spoke to Moses” seven times with instructions for how to build the Tabernacle as sacred space (Ex 25:1; 30:11, 17, 22, 34; 31:1, 12)
  • Seven times Moses acts “as the Lord had commanded” (Ex 39:1, 5, 7, 21, 26, 29, 31)
  • Materials for construction are organized into seven groups (gems, yarn, fabrics, spices, oil, wood, metals)
  • The Lord commands Moses how to erect and furnish the Tabernacle. Seven times Moses acts “as the Lord had commanded” (Ex 40:19, 21, 22, 25, 27, 29, 32)

So the exiles would have heard the story of God creating in 7 days and would have known that God is actually building a Temple. Creation, heaven and earth, is a macrocosmic Temple. And although we don’t have time to explore this, it’s important to note that many scholars believe that the exiles would have heard the repetitive, rhymical words of Genesis 1 as liturgy to be used in worship.

 

Beyond the number 7, there are many additional links between the building of the Tabernacle and the creation of the Genesis 1 macrocosmic temple. Here are a few of those connections:

  • Yahweh commands Moses to dedicate the Tabernacle on the “first day” as in the first day of creation in Genesis 1.
  • When Moses completes the dedication, we read, “So Moses finished the work” (Exodus 40:33). We see the same Hebrew verb in Genesis 2:1 where we read that the creation of heaven and earth is “finished.” This link between the dedication of the Tabernacle and the first day of creation in Genesis 1 implies that the Tabernacle is a new creation.
    • Note that when John tells us that Jesus’ last words on the cross are, “It is finished” (John 19:30), it is one of many clues that John is presenting Jesus as founding a new creation.
    • Three days later, his prophecy at Cana was fulfilled. In Cana he said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19).
  • In Exodus 40:34, the glory of God, that is, the actual presence of God goes into the Tabernacle. God enters the Tabernacle to be with his people whom he freed from slavery just as God promised (in Ex 29:42b-46) before the Tabernacle was built. As God said,

For there I will meet with you, and there I will speak to you, and there I will meet with the Israelites, and it shall be sanctified by My Presence. I will sanctify the Tent of Meeting and the altar, and I will consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests [as we will see, Adam and Eve were created to serve God as priests]. I will abide among the Israelites, and I will be their God. And they shall know that I the LORD am their God, who brought them out from the land of Egypt that I might abide among them, I the LORD their God.  (Ex 29:42b-46)[2]

 

The Number 7 and the Temple in Jerusalem

The seven-day structure of creation in Genesis 1 also links to Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. Levenson writes,

There are several features of Solomon’s building program that recall its protological archetype. For example, it takes him seven years to complete the work (1 Kgs 6:38), just as it takes the divine king seven days to complete creation (Gen 2:2)… Solomon dedicates his Temple during the festival of Tabernacles, a seven-day feast (Deut 16:13) that occurs in the seventh month (1 Kgs 8:2). His speech on that occasion includes a carefully constructed list of seven specific petitions (vv 31–53). In short, both the appurtenances of the Temple and the account of its construction reflect the character of the acts of creation narrated in Genesis 1:1–2:4a.[3]

 

Again, for the exiles, what is the number 7 associated with? The construction of the Temple.

The multiple use of the number 7 in Genesis 1 would have shouted to the exiles who had lost their Temple in Jerusalem and with it, God’s presence. The author priest was declaring that even in exile, even with no Temple, even in Babylon they are living in God’s presence, in God’s macrocosmic Temple. The priest was saying that Babylon was sacred space! Wow!!!

 

Genesis 1 is a story about creation, but it is not simply a story about their ancient past. It is a story about their present. And it is a story about our present. Even in a pandemic, our lives are not outside the sacred space of God’s loving presence and creative power.

 

 

Sabbath: The Seventh Day Climax of the Story of Creation – Sacred Time

The Sabbath, the climax of creation, is sacred time. We read how creation concludes and the Sabbath is initiated in Genesis 1:31 to 2:3.

31God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

2Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. 2And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. 3So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.

 

Here we are introduced to the concept of Sabbath rest. What is the rest described here? Is God tired? No. God has finished what he set out to do. The Hebrew word translated, “rest” really means, “to cease.”[4] What did God set out to do? To intervene in chaos, in the void of nothing-good-can-ever-happen, the darkness of tohu wabohu, and create a beautiful, ordered, very good, blessed macrocosmic Temple.

 

When we study the creation stories across the ANE, we frequently see this story. The god completes creation which normally includes the creation of a temple. Then the god is seated on the throne in the temple. There with all the issues resolved by the act of creation, the god rests. In Genesis 1, God saw that everything he had made was very good. Nothing else needed to be done. So God rests, not because God is tired but because, “God finished the work.”

 

God “hallowed” this finished time. This finished time is holy time, a sacred time, because there’s no more chaos, no more futility, no more hopelessness. Everything accurately reflects who God is. There is peace. There is shalom—wellbeing for all creation.

 

In placing Sabbath rest as the capstone of the Genesis 1 story of creation out of chaos, the priest is stating that this sacred time of rest is God’s vision for creation. As we make our way through Genesis 1-12, we will see God’s vision undone. But we’ll also see that God does not give up on that vision. And during the exile, the Hebrew prophets begin to discover that God is so committed to this vision that one day it will be completed. The rabbis come to call this, “the world-to-come.” God’s ultimate destination for creation, is what we see in the seventh day. And it’s what the author priest is calling the exiles to remember and enter every seven days.

 

As a priest, the author of Genesis 1 is responsible for the Sabbath practices and Sabbath worship of his people. What is he teaching them about the Sabbath? He is teaching them, even as exiles in Babylon, that God has created the Sabbath, blessed it, made it holy and is giving it to them as a gift. As Jesus would say centuries later, “The Sabbath was made for humankind, not humankind for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27). So the exiles need to step back from their daily battle with tohu wabohu and, in a sense, live Sabbath rest. In other words, they are called to live as if it were already eternity. They are to live as if God’s work of creation were already completed. They need to embrace worship—enter into God’s presence with them, rest, enjoy community, do what is life-giving, do whatever is renewing. As Jon Levenson writes,

The reality that the Sabbath represents—God’s unchallenged and uncompromised mastery, blessing, and hallowing—is consistently and irreversibly available only in the world-to-come. Until then, it is known only in the tantalizing experience of the Sabbath.”[5]

 

The Sabbath is sacred time—a gift from God. On the Sabbath we live in God’s eternal gift of sacred time—the time of order, security, beauty, community, justice and shalom. One day in seven, we step away from whatever chaos and oppression surrounds us and intentionally enter the seventh day. We enter the tantalizing experience of God created sacred time—the time of worship and peace and well-being. What are you hearing from the Wind and Word and Light? What Sabbath practices could go on your map?

 

We turn our attention now to the Garden of Eden where we will see a second picture of creation as a Temple.

 

Garden of Eden: A Temple – Sacred Space: Introduction

In Genesis 2:4 we read the transition from the 7-day story of creation in Genesis 1 to the Garden of Eden creation story. This is the transition verse: “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.” This verse begins with a literary formula, “these are the generations of,” that is repeated 10 additional times in the book of Genesis. Each time, the Hebrew word translated, “generation,” marks a transition in the unfolding story. These words usually mean, “then at a later time.” Sometimes people think the Garden of Eden story amplifies day six in the Genesis 1 story. But this formulaic transition verse tells us that the Garden of Eden story takes place at some later time. We’ll unpack the Garden of Eden stories more in our next two sessions when we study Adam and Eve.

 

This verse also marks a transition in authors. Genesis 1 was written by a priest—a source scholars refer to as “P.” Genesis 2-12 comes from what is called the Yahwistic source. This is a source of authors who used the name, Yahweh, for God. The P source uses El or Elohim for God. The Yahwistic source is abbreviated “J” for Jehovah, which scholars now know is an inaccurate translation of Yahweh. The P documents were mostly written during the exile in Babylon. The J documents were written centuries before between 900 and 850 B.C. Most scholars believe that a priest not only wrote Genesis 1 but also edited it and the older J documents into what we know as Genesis 1-12.

 

Garden Parks in the Ancient Near East

All of us are familiar with the story of the Garden of Eden. We tell it to our children and grandchildren. But we discover an entirely new understanding when we study the historical context. As empires emerged, kings built garden parks in major the cities of the ANE. John Walton writes, “Tiglath-pileser I, King of Assyria, (1114-1076) created a combined zoological park and arboretum of exotic animals and trees. Ashurnasirpal II, King of Assyria, (883-859) created a garden/park at Nimrud by diverting water from the Upper Zab River through a rock-cut channel for his impressive collection of foreign plants and animals.”[6]

 

The picture below is of a relief of the garden park of Assyrian King Assurbanipal (668-626 B.C.). He built it in Nineveh, the capitol of Assyria, only 50 to 80 years prior to the beginning of the Israel’s exile in Babylon. His garden park has remarkably common features with the Garden of Eden. In all likelihood, the priest author and exiles would have known about this garden park.

 

Othmar Keel and Silvia Schroer describe this illustration:

The relief shows a temple site raised on a mountain. The immediate surroundings of the temple are indicated by trees and water. The water is brought in by means of an aqueduct. On the temple mountain it divides into several streams (cf. Gen 2:10-14). Beside or in the sanctuary, which is approached by a vis sacra, is a stela [stone column] with the image of a worshiping Assyrian king. [7]

 

In our next session, we will focus on the concept of the image of God. That concept is graphically portrayed in this relief. In all ANE societies except the Hebrews, the image of god is the King. The king stands at the entrance to the temple. He calls people to worship the god who is enthroned in the temple. As the image of god, he is also god’s steward, responsible for the god’s land. As we see in Genesis 1 and 2, all people, not just kings, are made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27).

 

When we look at the Garden of Eden story, we see countless links with similar stories of temples with gardens adjacent to them in the ANE. Virtually every ANE society was formed around creation stories that included temples with gardens. The god lived in the temple. The gardens adjacent were symbols of blessings the god’s presence brought to the earth. While each ANE story is unique, all the stories have many characteristics in common.

 

Virtually all temples in the Ancient Near East had a tripartite structure—the kind of structure we see in the diagram below. The Holy of Holies is where the god was enthroned. The Holy Place is where the king and priests fulfilled their obligations to the god. The Outer Court is where the people lived and worked.

 

Some scholars see a tripartite structure reflected in the Garden of Eden. They see the Garden of Eden as yet another statement that God’s creation is a macrocosmic Temple—a sacred place where God dwells within the world God created.

 

What is the tripartite structure of the Garden of Eden? Scholars see Eden as the Holy of Holies, the place where God dwells. It is the place from which a river flows (Gen 2:10) that nourishes and blessed the garden. In the desert world of the Middle East, water is the source of life. God is the source of that water and the life it bestows. The Garden “of”, the Hebrew word literally translated means, “adjacent to,” Eden is the Holy Place. In this place, the garden is nourished by the river that flows from God. Adam and Eve live in the garden and, as we’ll see next time, work not as gardeners but as priests. God comes to join them and walk with them in the Garden at the time of the evening breeze (Gen 3:8). Scholars see the land outside the Garden, east of Eden,[8] representing the rest of earth, as the Outer Court. As stewards and priests of the Garden, Adam and Eve are to extend the garden into the Outer Court. In Genesis 1, God’s vision is to bring life to all creation. In Genesis 2, God’s vision is to extend the Garden adjacent Eden to all creation.

 

Garden of Eden, Tabernacle, Temple, New Creation

As the exiles heard the Garden of Eden story, they would have immediately recognized the many similarities between the Garden and both the Tabernacle and the Temple. The major difference was the Garden of Eden is a macrocosmic Temple marrying heaven and earth, while the portable Tabernacle and Jerusalem Temple are microcosmic Temples. But all three have many of the same characteristics.

 

So how does the story move from the Garden of Eden to the Tabernacle and Temple? After the demise of God’s ordered, blessed creation in Genesis 3 (our focus in our fourth session), God shuts down the Garden of Eden placing cherubim sentries at the gates. But God is still committed to his vision for his creation.

 

God forms a covenant with Abram and Sarai through whom all the families of the earth will be blessed (as we’ll see in the beginning of session 6). Generations later, God frees their descendants from slavery in Egypt and forms a covenant with them at Mt. Sinai. Then God gives them detailed instructions and they build the portable Tabernacle. Generations later, Solomon builds the Temple in Jerusalem.

 

The Hebrew exiles in Babylon know the characteristics of the Tabernacle and Temple. It’s core to their identity as the people of God.  They see that the Tabernacle and Temple are like a miniature Garden of Eden.

 

But for us, the story doesn’t end there. At the end of the Bible, in Revelation 21 and 22, we read the story of the new heaven and the new earth. We see that God’s Garden of Eden vision is completed and fully realized. There is no Outer Court in the end time Garden city—no place to extend as there was in the Garden of Eden—because all creation is included within the new heaven and earth. And this Garden city, the new heaven and earth, is not some add-on pulled out of nowhere and tacked on to the end if the Bible. No, the features we see in the new heaven and earth tell us it is an extension of God’s first vision—a vision that continues for all time. We see the same features that were part of the beginning: the Garden of Eden, the Tabernacle and the Temple. Those features are highlights of the end: the new heaven and earth!

 

Here are just a few examples of the same features included in the Garden of Eden, the Tabernacle, the Temple, and the New Heaven and Earth:

 

The Presence of God

Eden

God is present on earth. God walks with Adam and Eve at the time of the evening breeze (Gen 3:8)

 

Tabernacle and Temple: a Mini-cosmos or Microcosm of the Heaven and Earth

God is present on earth in the holy of holies. God is seated on a throne formed by cherubim, with his feet on the ark of the covenant which functions as his footstool (Exodus 25:17-22).

 

Note this picture of the sarcophagus of King Ahiram of Byblos (modern Lebanon). Ahiram lived in the 10 century BC, the time frame when Solomon was building the Temple in Jerusalem. The bas relief shows him seated on a throne guarded by cherubim (fierce hybrid winged creatures) with his feet on a footstool.

[9]

 

New Heaven and Earth

The new heaven and the new earth is a cube just as the holy of holies in the Tabernacle and Temple were cubes. The entire new creation fits into this cube. In other words, the new creation in its entirety is where God dwells (John’s measurements spanned the entire Roman Empire which for John was the known world, Rev 21:16). Just as Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 anticipated, heaven and earth meet and God dwells in all the renewed creation. And this vision is exactly what John, the author of Revelation, describes. John  hears a voice from the throne saying,

‘See, the home of God is among mortals.
He will dwell with them;
they will be his peoples,
and God himself will be with them (Rev 21:3).

 

Yet John saw no Temple building. He explains:

I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb (Rev 21:22).

 

It’s what Genesis 1,2,3 and the Tabernacle and Temple have been pointed toward since the beginning of time. Amazing.

 

River of Life

Eden

Rivers bring life to the Garden adjacent Eden:

10A river flows out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it divides and becomes four branches. 11The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; 12and the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. 13The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Cush. 14The name of the third river is Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates (Genesis 2:10-14)

 

Temple

During the exile when the Temple in Jerusalem has been destroyed, Ezekiel tells an amazing prophecy of a river of life flowing from the Temple. He begins:

Then he brought me back to the entrance of the temple; there, water was flowing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east) (Ezekiel 47:1a).

 

The river becomes larger and larger. Wherever it goes it brings life. God spoke to Ezekiel saying,

9Wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish, once these waters reach there. It will become fresh; and everything will live where the river goes. 10People will stand fishing beside the sea from En-gedi to En-eglaim; it will be a place for the spreading of nets; its fish will be of a great many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea. 11But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt. 12On the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing (Ezekiel 47:9-12).

 

New Heaven and Earth

We see the river of life again in the new heaven and earth. John writes,

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2through the middle of the street of the city (Rev 22:1,2a).

 

Tree of Life

Eden

We are all familiar with the tree of life in the Garden of Eden. As we read, “The tree of life is also in the midst of the garden” (Genesis 2:9).

 

Tabernacle and Temple

In both the Tabernacle and the Temple, the Menorah stands. It is shaped like a tree and modeled after the Tree of Life. The arms of the lampstand are shaped like the branches of an almond tree. “The lampstand had a central branch from which three branches extended from each side, forming a total of seven branches. Seven lamps holding olive oil and wicks rested on top of the branches. Each branch was fashioned to look like an almond tree, containing buds, blossoms, and flowers. The priests were instructed to keep the lamps burning continuously.”[10]

 

New Heaven and Earth

“On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations” Revelation 22:1-2.

 

Gold

Eden

There is gold in the Garden of Eden as we see in Genesis 2:11-12.

 

Tabernacle and Temple

The Temple is filled with many items of gold. The Holy of Holies is overlaid with the equivalent of 20 tons of gold:

3Solomon began to build the house of the Lord in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah. 4The vestibule in front of the nave of the house was twenty cubits long, across the width of the house; and its height was one hundred twenty cubits. He overlaid it on the inside with pure gold.5The nave he lined with cypress, covered it with fine gold, and made palms and chains on it. 6He adorned the house with settings of precious stones. The gold was gold from Parvaim. 7So he lined the house with gold—its beams, its thresholds, its walls, and its doors; and he carved cherubim on the walls. 8He made the most holy place; its length, corresponding to the width of the house, was twenty cubits, and its width was twenty cubits; he overlaid it with six hundred talents of fine gold. 9The weight of the nails was fifty shekels of gold. He overlaid the upper chambers with gold. (2 Chronicles 3:1a, 4-9)

 

New Heaven and Earth

In the new heaven and earth, “The city is pure gold, clear as glass” Revelation 21:18b

 

Garden of Eden: Conclusion

What the priest is saying to the exiles is that since the beginning time, God’s commitment is to be with and bless his creation. And so for the Hebrew people whose Temple has been destroyed, for whom God’s presence is being questioned, and who are living in slavery in mighty Babylon; the priest is saying that God is here with you. And the blessings of God’s presence as portrayed symbolically in the Garden of Eden are available too. Even in Babylon, the exiles are living in God’s Temple of creation. The exiles need to trust that the loving creator God is with them and allow themselves to be filled with the joy of God’s life-giving presence. They need to worship God, delight in God, trust God for their future and serve God.

 

We in our exile have an even longer view. With the New Testament (we’ll be going there in session 6) ,we see God’s love for, commitment to creation in the life, death and resurrection of the Son of God, in the giving of the Spirit on Pentecost, in the life of the church, and in the destination God has set for his creation: the new heaven and earth. As theologian Jurgen Moltmann has said, “I don’t want to go to heaven. The angels have their home in heaven. I was raised on earth and I want to live on the new earth in which justice dwells and God will be all in all.”[11]

 

And while it seems that the new heaven and earth are far off in the future and may well be, none of us is far away. I turn 74 this summer. And while there have been times when days seemed like years, looking back, my life has gone by like a flash. My time ahead, whether days or two decades, will be short in comparison with my 74 years. So the future that God has lovingly crafted for us will be soon as billions of people have already experienced.

 

In the meantime, the priest wants us to know that no matter how bad the world is, sacred space in worship, prayer and daily life, and sacred time in Sabbath rest are reachable for anyone and everyone. We need intentionally to enter into them. We live in God’s sanctuary.

 

Discerning the Map for Exiles

In this time of pandemic, there is so much happening in our families, communities, country and world that is concerning. It can easily become all consuming. As Christians, our goal is not to pretend it’s not happening. We need to be rooted in reality. But we need to be rooted in both the reality of the circumstances around us and the reality of God as revealed to us by the priest and by the unfolding story of the Bible. We need to do as the imprisoned Paul urged the church in Philippi suffering under Roman oppression. Paul writes,

4Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (Philippians 4:4-8).

 

In what specific ways is the Wind (Spirit), Word (Christ) and Light forming you, adding to your map?

 

Our Next Meetings

 

June 10, 11: Our Third of 6 Sessions

Genesis 1 and 2

In the Image of God—What it Means to be Human

 

 

June 24, 25: Our Fourth of 6 Sessions

Genesis 3, 4 and 6

How did God’s Good Creation Tank?!

 

 

July 8, 9: Our Fifth of 6 Sessions

Genesis 11, 12 and 15

How Empires Work; How God Works

The Tower of Babel and Abraham

 

 

July 22, 23: Our Final Session

Sacred Space, Sacred Time Redux

Garden of Eden, Tabernacle, Temple, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Gospel of John, Jesus, Church, New Creation and Today

 

Rev. Dr. David Smith

 

ENDNOTES

[1] Levenson, (1994), 67.

[2] Translation by Jon Levenson from “Jerusalem Temple in Devotional & Visionary Experience,” https://ldsfocuschrist2.wordpress.com/2007/09/21/jerusalem-temple-in-devotional-visionary-experience-j-d-levenson/

[3] Jon D. Levenson, Sinai and Zion, New York, NY: Harper Collins, 1987, 143-144.

[4] Mark S. Smith, The Priestly Vision of Genesis 1, Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2010, 105.

[5] Ibid., 123.

[6] John H. Walton, Genesis, Grand Rapids: MI, 2013, 29.

[7] Illustration and description, Othmar Keel & Silvia Schroer, Creation: Biblical Theologies in the Context of the Ancient Near East, Eisenbrauns, 2015, 66.

[8] The Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:24) and the later tabernacle and temple (Numbers 3:38, Ezekiel 10:19, 11:1, 42:9, 12, 15, 43:1-4, 44:1, 46:1, 47:1) are entered from the east.

[9] https://twitter.com/TheAncientWorld/status/1173987396645527554/photo/2

[10] http://holyland-sites.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-menorah-at-timna.html

[11] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUY2T8KaFgk

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