The universe was empty.
Heaven and earth had no name.
The universe was empty.
Except for water. Water existed. It existed in the form of two gods: Apsu and Tiamut.
By now you know I am not describing the biblical creation story. The story of Apsu and Tiamut comes to us from the Babylonians. It is a mythical story that goes on to tell us of the creation of the universe. In short, this is how it goes:
Many gods are birthed and live within Tiamut’s being. They cause a ruckus and are plotted against by Apsu (Tiamut's husband). But before Apsu can destroy them, he is killed in his sleep by one of the gods. This god joins with another god and they have a son, Marduk. Marduk becomes the most powerful god in existence. He and Tiamut then battle because she is upset about her husband, Apsu, being killed. Marduk wins the battle, splitting Tiamut into two halves, and thus, of course, creating the world and everything in it - the sky and earth, day and night, plants and animals, and lastly creates man from the blood of Kingu, Tiamut’s second husband.
Many myths like this one existed in the Ancient Near East, but this one is especially important. It’s called the Enuma Elish. This myth was believed and recognized to be the story of the origin of the universe in Mesopotamia long before the biblical creation story was known. Centuries. It was celebrated and re-enacted annually. It was passed down generation to generation. It was the genesis of their gods, their humanity, their life and culture. Many creation stories existed before the biblical story. These myths, like the 7-tablet, thousand lined Babylonian epic described above, defined their religious life and worship and defined the gods they worshiped.
Some have said that the story in Genesis is only a retelling of this Babylonian myth. Even though the content is very different, there is no doubt that the two have very similar language, phrasing, and even ordering. However, others say it is because of these similarities that make the biblical creation story all the more powerful and meaningful.
The creation story we find in the Bible was spoken before it was written. Mothers and fathers told this story to their children and grandparents to their grandchildren. This story reflected the current beliefs and ideas about the universe at the time in the Ancient Near East...beliefs and ideas that were influenced by the Enuma Elish. However, it uses these ideas to tell a new story about creation. A story about a different God. About One God. About a God who needs no other to create. A God who doesn’t rely on human needs like food, sex, and sleep. A God who speaks things into existence instead of battles them into existence. A God who gives humanity companionship, not chains. A God who doesn’t demand worship, but just is worshiped. Worshiped by rocks and plants. A God who has no beginning or end but just IS. A God who is Creator but also Deliverer and Provider. You see, this story that was shared over campfires and meals was drastically different than anything the people at this time had heard before. Can you imagine hearing this story of creation after hearing the stories of Mesopotamia your whole life. The biblical story isn’t a scientific account of creation. These people had no interest or knowledge of scientific concepts. Its purpose was to show us who God is, the Creator of the world, but also the God of the Jewish people. Because it uses elements of older myths and beliefs of the culture but tells a different story it points us to the character of God. It’s setting up the scene for us. It’s inviting us to know the God of a much greater story. The story of redemption.
In Genesis 2 we read that this perfect God creates humanity. He creates humanity in his image. You know the story. In the end we fail. We rebel. We break the covenant. And because of this humanity is broken.
We are in need of something to hide our imperfection.
To hide our shame.
We need redemption. Grace. We need to be covered. And our perfect Creator covers us. He covers us with garments of animal skins. Garments that this perfect, all-knowing, blameless, unblemished, loving God fashions himself.
And He continues to cover us.
This is the Creator of my body. This is the God that I need.
To cover me.
Cover my imperfection.
I am broken and imperfect but my Creator is not.
*This is the 1st in a series called Truth for Movers. It is a weekly series dedicated to discussing biblical truths that will hopefully provide encouragement for our journey and insight into our human struggle with body image. To find more posts in this series (in the future) click here.