Pay Attention to Beginnings

March 18, 2013 — Leave a comment

Sometimes a beginning foreshadows the story.

Denzel in the rain

The hair-raising opening to the 2012 movie Flight, for instance, encapsulates the rest of the film.

When a sudden malfunction sends his plane into a nosedive, Captain Whip Whitfield though heavily intoxicated and high on cocaine manages to crash-land in an open field.

Beginning: The initial malfunction or what the film later refers to as an “act of God” represents the crash of the plane which will send Whip’s personal life in like manner spiraling out of control.

Middle: His impaired efforts to recover the plane stands for his subsequent attempts to hide his alcohol and drug use from authorities while  personally losing himself to his addictions.

End:  And finally the plane crash with minimal loss of life foreshadows the joy and the tragedy in the film’s ultimate conclusion.  (I’m not going to spoil it for you.)

The Bible

Such beginnings were not unknown or unused by Biblical writers.

Luke, for instance in his nativity (Luke 1), juxtaposes the accounts of Zachariah and Mary to stress the important contrast that will unfold throughout his story.

Like Zachariah, rich, powerful, male, Jews by and large reject God’s message while the poor, the powerless, women, and Gentiles, represented in Mary, receive it.  As a result the voices of the powerful are taken from them while the dispossessed begin to sing.

But the whole Bible, though made up of various authors, is likewise is fittingly foreshadowed in its opening scenes.

In the Beginning God creates Man (male and female), gives them a law and a land but Man disobeys the law and is ejected from the land.

Sound familiar?  It should.  It’s the story of Israel.

Genesis 1-3 is not just a history lesson about origins.  It’s a summary which directs our attention to the Bibles main theme.

Today when we read Genesis 1 it seems incredible.  How could the earth have a morning and an evening before there was a sun?  Why would God jump from the fish to the birds without first creating animals on land?  And perhaps the biggest question, why would God who has the power to create the earth instantly take six days and then a holiday?

Such questions become less of an issue, however, when we see how the details of the account foreshadow the Bible’s larger narrative.

God is building.

What he’s building is a temple.

A temple in which He will indwell His own Idol – Man.


Matthew Scott Miller

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