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Greg Brothers is an Adventist pastor in Oregon.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Attack of the Mutant Creation Stories

One of the oldest tricks in the writing trade is to take an old, familiar story and update it. Move Romeo and Juliet to the slums of New York, for instance, and you get West Side Story. Let Cinderella be an FBI agent who enters a beauty pageant, and you get Miss Congeniality. Take God out of the Creation story in Genesis 1, and you get the seventh-chapter of Daniel.

That last point may need some explaining – but as Jon Paulien points out, the events in Daniel 7 do bear an eerie resemblance to the first seven days of creation. Notice how in both accounts:

  • the scene opens with a mighty wind (or spirit) blowing upon the deep,
  • various beasts arrive on the scene,
  • and dominion is given to one like “a son of man.”

Unlike Genesis, however, Daniel 7 seems to leave out God entirely.

  • God does not call into existence the creatures of this world; instead, they just kind of show up on their own.
  • God does not fill this world with peaceful vegetarians, “each according to his own kind.” No, it is populated instead by monstrous hybrids – carnivores with wings and horns and way too many heads.
  • Finally, God does not give humanity the authority to rule this world; instead, a “little horn” with human eyes and mouth seizes power for its own.

In short, the world of Daniel 7 is not a world in which God can “look at what He’s created, and call it good.” No, it is a world without order. A world without love. A world that seems to lack any sign of God’s presence and care . . .

Much like the world in which Daniel lived.

Much like our world of today.

Fortunately, the God of Daniel 7 is also the God of Genesis 1 – for in both stories, God does not rest until everything is “very good.” In Genesis, this happens because of Creation; in Daniel, this takes place in spite of “creation.” But in both chapters, the story ends with God in charge of all creation.

That’s because these two chapters are both the same story.

Just told different ways.

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