The Genesis file, part 1. Creatures that swarm

This is part of a new project, an occasional commentary. It’s something I’d like my kids to have someday. I’m just highlighting phrases as I read, because they delight me. Or scare me. If I left out your favorite phrase or image feel free to chime in.

This feature will show up about once a week, tucked in with the other posts on faith and culture. I wouldn’t be making any doctrine out of this stuff if I were you.

Genesis 1:20. …and let the water swarm with swarms of living creatures.
I know about this. I grew up on the coast in South Florida, where fish ran in schools and fiddler crabs swarmed along the shore and shrimp “ran” with the tide at night. In swarms, a picture of the richness of creation and the immeasurable grace and glory of God.

Genesis 2:18. …I will make him a helper fit for him.
Thank God for that. A helper fills in what is lacking in the “helped,” which in my case is a lot. This is a good thing, God says. And being alone is, well, “not good.“

Genesis 3:11. Who told you that you were naked?
A rhetorical question, maybe the first. It was the cool of the evening after all. I like the way no one actually answers the question. Eve gave me a piece of fruit? That’s not an answer. But the shame was palpable. It was the end of our transparency and the beginning of our vulnerability. (This word, naked, is pronounced with an “e” where I come from, by the way. As in “neck-ed.”)

Genesis 4: 1. I have gotten a man child with the help of the Lord.

Eve was fallen but not stupid. She recognized immediately that every good thing we get is with the help of the Lord. She says this when she has Cain. Then she lost Abel and had Seth. When Seth has a son of his own we’re told “At that time people began to call on the name of the Lord (4:26).” Few things are more miraculous than a birth, nor as thought provoking as a grandchild. Tabitha, Timothy, Andrew, Sarina—they all provoke this response, recognizing the help of God and calling on the name of the Lord.

Genesis 5:29. …this one shall bring us relief.

“This one” is Noah. What a wonderful name Lamech gives him. It sounds like the Hebrew word for rest, although if you were (are) outside the ark, the cure is worse than the disease. But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. We all can, but we all don’t.

Genesis 6:2. The sons of God saw the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose.
Saw and took. Adam and Eve saw and took too. Leads to trouble, apparently. In this case, the Nephilim, the “Fallen Ones.” These would be the bad guys. Mighty warriors in an “earth filled with violence (6:11).” It would be a mistake to think the taking here was civil. “Any they chose” does not suggest reciprocation. Rape, maybe. They start with something good and twist it into something bad. We haven’t learned much.

Genesis 6:9. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation.
How do we do this? Same verse: Noah walked with God. The formula hasn’t changed and it’s not any easier. You have to build a boat and wait for the rain.

Genesis 7:9. …and the Lord shut him in.
I’m a little claustrophobic, but I like being shut in in this way. In the ark. In the covenant. In the place God wants me to be. Please Lord, shut me in.

Genesis 8: 1. But God remembered Noah…..
And here we are, still being remembered.

Genesis 8: 21. …for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.
See also 6:5. Clearly we’ll need more than a boat. I first saw this when I read Lord of the Flies in ninth grade. I finally faced it when I saw myself in a mirror as a young college student who had emotionally defrauded a young woman. I’m just beginning to understand it. Thankfully, there is more grace in this book than in the other one.

Genesis 9:3. Every living thing that moves shall be food for you.
Sorry, PETA. Can’t go there.

Genesis 9:7. Teem on the earth and multiply in it.
Swarm all over the earth, recognizing the “help of the Lord.” And here’s a rainbow, by the way. And a covenant, too. Here’s more grace, swarms of it.

You’re going to need it.

All references from the ESV.

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