Friday, September 27, 2013

Only Son (part 12)

Not only would these things be foreign concepts, but they also represent something of an inward, anthropocentric focus, whereas Israel, and especially Jesus, had a theo-centric focus, being fully concerned with what their Creator God had done, was doing, and was going to do for His people and for the world that He had created and that they understood He had promised to redeem and renew (beginning with their own land). 

Though it’s often difficult for the contemporary, western, individualistic mind to grasp, their eyes were cast upon their God and His plans and purposes, rather than upon themselves.  A “personal relationship with God” would have been an odd thought, and the notion that “God has a special plan for my life” would likely not have been on the table.  The covenant people were defined by, and defined themselves by the community, the role of the covenant people, and what their God was doing to do for and through the covenant people.  Naturally, the presence and operation of an honor and shame culture, in which one’s status was defined by the community, did not lend itself to isolated individualism. 

So even though Israel as a generalized whole thought about their God from inside the context of a separation from the nations, they certainly did not think about their God inside a counter-intuitive isolated individualism that was extremely personal in scope.  Now this is not to say that personal improvement, achievement, reflection, and excellence is not something that should be encouraged, or that it should not be valued, or that it is unbecoming for a believer (as individuals do indeed comprise a community), but it should be recognized that such thinking would not serve the purposes of their God that loved the world and sent His Son into the world because of that love. 

So if Adam is the son of God, how is one to think about him in light of Jesus’ statement which is so routinely thought of as nothing more than a self-referential evidentiary proposition that Jesus thought of Himself as the Son of God, and merely used this meeting with Nicodemus to inform him (with the author also informing his readers) that He was indeed the second person of the divine trinity?  Well, the answer lies in Genesis.  Israel’s God created the world. 

Regardless of what it was that was happening and is recorded in the first two chapters of Genesis, the fact of the matter, which was well-accepted by Israel and obviously by Jesus, was that Israel understood and insisted that their God was the Creator of this world, and that He was a providential God that held all things together by His power.  To them, He evidenced His presence by dramatic and powerful interventions in the affairs of the world, doing so primarily because He was a covenant-making-and-keeping God.  To that way of thinking, the very first verse of Genesis show forth a God that created the heavens and the earth (i.e. everything).  Together with that, the narrative goes on to present, over and over again, a God of restoration.  There is a consistent pronouncement, throughout the Genesis account and beyond (if one is attentive to it), that the Creator God saw His work as being good. 

In addition to that, from the very beginning one finds a God that speaks in the language of covenant.  In the first chapter, when God repeatedly says “Let there be,” this can be understood as an approximation of covenant language.  To get one’s mind around that, it is possible to think of the Creator God’s covenant with Abraham and hear Him saying “Let it be so,” as He declares the covenant that sets forth His purpose for Abraham, for His descendants, and for the world.  

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