In February 2007, a tornado ripped through the local High School in Enterprise, AL. Eight teenagers died crouched in the supposed safety of the school’s central hallway, including 16-year old Katie Strunk. Katie died just feet away from the classroom where her mother, a teacher, was seeing to the safety of her students. I know because my father told me on the phone. He was her preacher. He was also the police chaplain who identified her body and informed her parents of her death. I’m sitting in a coffee shop as I type this, and I find that I’m struggling to hold back tears because of the raw emotion of it. This voice that’s embedded deep inside of me keeps telling me, “this isn’t they way it’s supposed to be.” I turn on the news every day and I’m greeted with reports of war, reports of children starving to death, reports of violence, and sometimes worse. I watched the twin towers fall on live television. I helped muck out houses in New Orleans after hurricane Katrina. I’ve seen 4 pieces of water damaged plywood and a tarp that someone nailed together as a shelter for their family in Mexico. The voice in my heart screams to me again. It tells me that something is seriously wrong. I read the opening chapters of Genesis, and I’m reminded that the voice speaks the truth. I am also reminded that the tear-drenched proclamation that the voice keeps telling me is not simply a message of despair. When I look at it closely I can see that it is a message infused with hope. I remember that the cosmos has a Creator, who dreamed up the way things are supposed to be in the first place and who is certainly powerful and loving enough to get us there again. I flip to the back of my Bible and I see, in no uncertain terms, a return to Eden and a God who promises to make all things new.38 I am reminded that the curses pronounced in Genesis 3 do not reflect God’s desire for the world, nor are they intended to be permanent. I see Katie and her family reunited with the sting of death removed. I see children who spent their lives empty, now full and smiling. I see war, violence, terror and all of their effects, erased and forgotten. I see people who lost their homes due to hurricanes, tsunamis and poverty welcoming the city of God as it descends from heaven and a Savior who left to prepare them a place there. I see a return to harmony…to shalom. As Michael Wittmer so eloquently states,
“…the gospel story of redemption represents God’s restoration of creation. God refuses to allow our fall to ultimately destroy his good creation, and he graciously comes to earth to put away sin and restore the world to its original goodness.”39
This is our story, at least the beginning and end of it. It would be a sin, if the people of God inadvertently worked to exclude people from community rather than working to include them. It would be a sin if the people of God replaced the relationship he has always desired with a legal code. It would be a sin if the people of God misused the creation texts as a justification for exploiting and abusing the earth. It would be a tragic sin, if the people of God were inadvertently working to perpetuate the curse rather than working with God to reverse it.
- Bell, Rob. Sex God. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007.
- Bouma-Prediger, Steven. For the Beauty of the Earth. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001.
- Brueggemann, Walter. Genesis. Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching, ed. Mays, James L, vol. 1. Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1982.
- Ellis, Robert R. "Creation, vocation, crisis and rest: a creational model for spirituality." Review & Expositor 2, no. 103 (Spring 2006): 307-324.
- Enns, Peter. Inspiration and Incarnation. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005.
- Gonzalez, Justo L. Christian Thought Revisited. Maryknoll: Orbis Books, 1999.
- Grenz, Stanley J. Theology for the Community of God. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994.
- Hicks, John Mark. Yet Will I Trust Him. Joplin: College Press, 1999.
- Levinson, Jon D. The Jewish Study Bible. Edited by Adele Berlin and Marc Zvi Brettler. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.
- Longmann, Tremper, and Raymond Dillard. Introduction to the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006.
- Marshall, Paul. Heaven Is Not My Home. Nashville: Word Publishing, 1998.
- Matthews, Victor H, and James C. Moyer. The Old Testament: Text and Context. Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers, 2005.
- McKnight, Scot. Embracing Grace. Brewster: Paraclete Press, 2005.
- Middleton, J. Richard. The Liberating Image. Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2005.
- Middleton, Richard, and Brian Walsh. Truth Is Stranger Than It Used To Be. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1995.
- Plantinga, Cornelius. Not The Way Its Supposed To Be: a breviary of sin. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
- Von Rad, Gerhard. Genesis: a commentary. The Old Testament Library. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1972.
- Wittmer, Michael. Heaven is a Place on Earth. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2004.