My in-laws went on a cruise to celebrate one of their landmark anniversaries. They went to a vantage point and watched all the other cruise ships as they left dock for ports unknown. It was a very emotional time and it overtook my mother-in-law with its drama as she watched the ships leave. Finally she could take the excitement no longer and exclaimed to her husband, "How Wonderful! And where is our ship?"
My father-in-law, with as straight a face as possible, replied, "You're on it."
Like my mother-in-law, we are on the ship that started with the subversive, revolutionary, mythology-twisting stories of the Hebrews. Like her, we may also be unaware of how dependent upon that ship we are for all that we assume is stable shoreline. We have been grafted onto Israel and her stories are our stories. Most of us in the Church know the history of ancient Israel better than we do the stories of our own ethnic background.
These stories are troubling to those who deify nature in order to deify themselves, or use their own high status to "lord it over" those who are under them. For the Hebrew stories are anti-empire stories of liberation and freedom. As I noted previously, the empire-destroying tactics of the Hebrews involved taking and twisting the empire-supporting mythology of their captors to their own ends. The American experiment would have never even started had not those same stories fueled the colonies' own passion for that same liberation.
The foundation of the anti-empire mythology was laid in the very first chapter of the very first book: Genesis. The pinnacle of that subversive mythology was on day six of that story.
And God said, Let the land produce living creatures after their kind, cattle, and creeping things, and beasts of the land after their kind: and it was so. And God made the beasts of the land after their kind, and the cattle after their kind, and everything that creeps on the ground after its kind: and God saw that it was good.
The attack was on the ancient (though modern to them) practice of idol creation and imagery; it had nothing to do with modern (present day) categories of zoology and animal husbandry. The idols, images, and gods of the ancient societies were in the form of "birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things." Often the images were combinations of animals and men, using grotesque bestial forms in order to frighten the worshippers with their appearance of power.
Instead, this Hebrew God declares such mutations freaks, impossible and therefore imaginary. The animal forms were all subject to Him and He limited their forms to their own kinds. They cannot combine into the grotesque forms shown in the idols of the nations. No crocodile-men; no goat-men, no eagle-men (the image of Pharaoh). As such, the idols and their priests, including their imperial king-priests, are jokes rather than the objects of feat and awe.
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the skies, and over the cattle, and over all the land, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the land.
Herein lies the foundation of the democratic ideal: all men are in the image of God and after his likeness. The image of God is not limited to the Pharaoh or the Emperor; it was not limited to a race or a family line (not even the line of Israel). There was no special man who imaged God; all people imaged the Hebrew God and shared in His likeness. It was a universal elevation of all men in a world that elevated the few and the powerful.
These men expressed their status by having dominion over the birds of the skies, the domesticated and wild animals of the land and the fish of the sea. Men properly ruled the animals; the animals in the forms of idols did not rule over them. These verses alone were the death-knell to all tyrannical assumptions and stories. Yet the God of the Hebrews still continued His concerted attack upon the empires of the earth.
And God created the man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them: and God said to them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the land, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the skies, and over every living thing that moves on the land.
In this version of creation, the ultimate equality of even the sexes was declared, almost offhandedly. Not only were all men, irrespective of race or blood or status, made in the image of God, but so too were women. And both sexes together are given the image task of dominion over the animals, birds, and fish. The pagan civilizations, despite the best propaganda of the neo-pagans, would have considered such notions absurd; certainly they would have considered them dangerous.
We still fight over these same ideas today. World-wide it is still a subversive message. Just picture the sex exploitation of minors in countries like Taiwan today. Imagine how a Pharaoh or King with a royal harem or a priesthood over temple prostitutes would have responded!
And God said, Look, I have given you every herb yielding seed, which is on the face of all the land, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for food: and to every beast of the land, and to every bird of the skies, and to everything that creeps on the land, in which there is life, [ I have given ] every green herb for food: and it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and, look, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
The fertility of the land was not subject to the Pharaoh, his priests, or his gods. Fertility was a gift of the Hebrew God. It was not funneled through the divine sonship of the reigning king; it was a blessing given to all men. The yield of the earth was given to all life, be it animal or human being. All creation, as originally created by this Hebrew God, was good and blessed and abundant in its favor toward life.
And the skies and the land were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and santified it; because in it he rested from all his work which God had created and made.
Though all of creation was declared good, only rest was declared sacred. In a world that valued monuments, enforced labor, and accomplishment the sacredness of rest was idiocy and lunacy. Even as recent as ancient Rome, the Jewish Sabbath was mocked as an elevation of laziness and sloth. Ancient societies sanctified work; the Hebrew God sanctified rest. The contrast could not have been more pronounced.
Then and now. Only a faith-filled, fully allied people to such a wondrous God could set aside the plow and the captivity of ambition to rest for one day in seven. As men lose their faith in this same God the captivity of career, work, and business will increase all the more. Once again, the Americans work longer hours in their jobs than do the people of any other nation. This is not to our credit. It is to our enslavement.
In this, we are no longer true to the God of the Hebrews. We have willingly put our hands back into the chains of Egypt, Babylon, and Rome. We no longer have made the story of Genesis One our story. In this one way, at least, we have turned our back on the foundational document of the Hebrew God. If we continue, we may end up losing even more of the "self-evident" truths of America's foundational document as well.
If we don't soon return to a full understanding of Genesis, one currently obscured by both the evolutionists as well as the creationists, then we may again end up like my mother-in-law. We will exclaim, "And where is our ship?" This time, however, we will not be on it,
Instead, it will have left port without us.