LOSING YOUR IDENTITY

We're going to start in Genesis chapter 1 but before we do I want to give you some back story to the context of this book because the purpose of Genesis 1 is not to give us a detailed account about the creation of the universe. In fact, the purpose of Genesis one is not even about that, it's to answer more important questions in our lives.

Have you ever been having a conversation with someone and another person walks up, in the middle of that conversation, and tries to interject a thought into it? They try to interject this thought but they are totally off. They totally missed what you were conversing about. They were off because they were missing context. Each book of
the Bible was written to a specific group of people for a specific reason and this is the context. Genesis was written to the children of God who were captive in Egypt for 400 years. The children of God had a lot of questions about the world around them, much like we do today. The women wondered why they were treated like second rate humans, why man ruled them, why there was so much pain. Men wondered why their wives fought against them, why labor was so hard. They all wondered why they were slaves and why the world operated the way it did. They had been slaves for 400 years and they had adapted the pagan, false, gods of Egypt, following way of Egypt.

If you've ever read Genesis 1-2 you've likely had questions. If you haven't had questions you're not reading it deep enough. Questions you may have are, "Was the world created in seven days, seven thousand years, seven million years?." "How much time passed between the earth being without form or void and when God separated the light from the darkness?" That being said, we may ask, "How is it that God separated the light from the dark on day one but didn't create the sun, moon, and stars until day four? What light was He separating?" We have these questions but the fact is that the creation story was not meant to answer these questions. It's not a detailed account of creation to answer our questions about how the world was created. The creation account was meant to answer the question of the children of God who had been slaves for the past 400 years.

So, the children of God were slaves and, as slaves, they were brick makers. They were to make bricks and if they didn't make enough bricks, if they didn't make them well enough, if those brick were brittle and broke, the slave would suffer. Sometimes they were beat, sometimes in-prisoned, and could even be killed if this error continued. This may not apply only to the man making bricks but could apply to his whole family and even his whole community. They all could suffer because of this one man. As a worker would get older in age and they could not make bricks any longer, this slave would be seen as useless and they would be ignored and often killed.

Because of this atmosphere, the children of God had placed their identity in making bricks. We are not too far removed from this in our lives today. We have our own brick making identity. Men often put their identity in their job and when their job is gone, so is their identity. Women put their identity in their husbands and this is why they often stay with abusive men because they will lose their identity otherwise. We put our identity in other things as well. We put our identity in our problems. It may be something horrible someone did to you or maybe something you've done in the past. And, if we are honest with ourselves, we don't want our problems fixed. Whether you were molested, do/did drugs, were an alcoholic, a prostitute, or what was done to you to cause the addiction, we don't want our problem fixed. We want our problems understood but we don't want them fixed because, if they are fixed, we will lose who we are because we've placed our identity in that thing.

Therefore, Genesis 1-2 is not trying to tell these people how the universe was created. The questions we had about creation earlier… let's look at how the creation narrative is assembled. What is happening that God separated the light from the dark on day one even though the sun wasn't created until day four?

The creation story is assembled in what is called a
parallelism. Days 1, 2, and 3 are lined up with days 4, 5, and 6. In other words, day 1 matches with day 4. Day 2 matches with day 5. And, day 3 matches with day 6. The first three days God separates and the last three days He creates.
Day 1, God separates the light from the dark and He creates the sun, moon, and stars in day 4.
Day 2, God separates the waters and sky and in day 5 He creates the fish and the birds.
Day 3 God separates the waters from the land and in day 6 He creates the land animals and man.

This is a good example that the creation story is not a detailed account about how God created the universe.

I had a woman read Genesis 1:1 and she said, "In the beginning God…" and I said "STOP!". I repeated this process to several woman and then looked at them and said, "In the beginning God…" The first thing Genesis one is trying to reveal to us is as long as we remember these first four words much of our questions will be answered because "In the beginning God…" Genesis is revealing to these slaves, that had their identity in brick making and were serving other gods, that what is about to be revealed is coming from the creator of the universe - the beginning of all things.

Now, a side lesson on this. In our American minds, we tend to look at things much differently than the Hebrews, and especially the Hebrews of that day. We think of 3+4=7 and they think of 3+4="rest". While we only see numbers as numerical values, they seen numbers with deep meanings. Numbers, names, and words meant more than a surface understanding. Because of this, the way they teach and the way they learn is different from our ways. We have this academic way of teaching an learning, looking at definitions of words and numbers but they teach and learn through imagery so they do things that are different than us and we just glaze over them not seeing them or not understanding their importance.

If you were looking at the Hebrew text you would notice some things that were purposely put into the text. Verse one has seven words, verse two has fourteen words, and verse three has twenty-one words. All these are incriminates of seven. Not just here. The word "earth" appears twenty-one times. There are thirty-five words in the seventh verse. The word God is mentioned thirty-five times. The phrase "it was so" and "God saw" appears seven times. We also know that "it was good" appears seven times, even though He did not say it in day two. The author made sure to include the statement twice in day three to make sure it appeared seven times.

If we go back to verse one, we see the center of the seven word verse has the Hebrew letters "Alef Tav." These are the first and last letter of the Hebrew alphabet which means "the beginning and end." When we get to the end of the Bible we have "Alpha and Omega" which is the first and last letter of the Greek alphabet that means "beginning and end".

These are not a coincidence. The author purposely arranged this text in a way that would help the reader see a deeper picture of what they were presenting. Not only do we read, "In the beginning God…" we see the letters of the Hebrew alphabet that says "the beginning and end". Everything in this section is pointing to God.

Then 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 heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

Genesis 1:26-27

If you noticed, most Bible will have verse 27 condensed down into a thinner arraignment. The text is centered with wider margins. When we see this we understand it's a poem or a song. All of Psalms has this style because they are songs. In Genesis 2:23 it's a song of Adam singing when he saw his bride for the first time. Here we have a poem.
Genesis 1:27 is a poem. I can't get into the structure of this poem at this time but the structure reveals a lesson for us. God did not create man in His image. God created man and woman in His image. Its man and woman together that was created in His image. Genesis 1:27 is telling a people who are asking why woman are second rate citizens that this is not how it was designed. God designed both man and woman to be in the image of the creator of the universe. To a people who put their identity in what they do, Genesis 1:27 is revealing to them that their identity isn't in what they do, it's in who they are. Their identity is an image of the God who created the universe. And, this is a message for us.

While we tend to place our identity in our job, our spouse, our children, whether we live in a house or trailer, the addiction we've gotten ourselves into, the bad thing that was done to us, Genesis 1:27 is telling us that is NOT our identity. Our identity is in who God created us to be… His image. It's a truth from the Creator Himself that we must grab ahold of if we are to live a life in which He designed for us. But grabbing this is not easy and we see that in the narrative of the children of God.

The children of God were released from their slavery after 400 years. They saw the waters of the red sea split. Now, I've been to lake Allatoona many times and I've never seen it split down the middle. This is not a natural thing. He also led them by fire at night and by a cloud by day. He fed them bread from heaven (that's not Chick-fil-a) but they couldn't let go of their identity.

For two years, God led the children of God through the desert. You see, we all need a desert to break us from our identity. The desert represents a land of just enough. There's just enough shade, just enough water, just enough food, just enough clothing. It's land of just enough that forces us to put our trust in the Creator of the Universe. The purpose of the desert is to build a relationship between us and our Creator that allows us to put our full faith and trust in Him. The children of God had their faith in what their enslavers could provide. We put our trust into what we can provide and don't really put our trust in what the Creator of the Universe can provide. That's what the desert time is about; but, we don't always listen to this time.

When you read Exodus you read how they grumbled all the time. They couldn't let go of their brick making identity. They kept wanting to go back to Egypt because that is where their identity was. When things were not going as they thought they should, they would say "we were better as slaves." They would say, "we should go back to Egypt." They wanted to go back to what gave them their identity. The reason we keep going back to the addictions, back to thinking about what was done to us, back to working hard for debt on things we don't need, is because we will not let go of the identity that was placed on us or which we placed on ourselves.

After two years of God showing them who they were, they could not lose their identity to the point they didn't even trust that God would allow them to take the land of Canaan from the people of that land. Only two of the twelve spies had let go of their identity and had full trust in God. So, God sent them back to the desert, back to the desert of just enough.

If we do not let go of that wrong identity, these desert times will not cease. If you're wondering why you keep going through these dry times, it's because you've not let go of your wrong identity. Don't let anyone keep that identity on you and don't hang on to it. It's not who you are. It's not who you are. Your identity is not in your past. Your identity is that you're an image of God. Your identity is not in what you've done or what was done to you. Stop saying you're an ex… Stop saying you're an ex-con, an ex-druggy, and ex-alcoholic. Stop saying you're a victim. You're not that… you're an image of the Creator of the Universe. That's your image - that's your identity.

We looked at all the times the number seven was used in Genesis 1… these images of seven are actually used all through Biblical text but we're going to just focus on this first chapter of Genesis.

On the seventh day, what did God do? He rested. Was He tired? No. The "rest" God did was a taking pleasure in His creation. It's like after giving birth and the baby is placed in mama's arms. She takes rest in the labor she had done. She takes pleasure in the creation placed in her arms. On the seventh day God took pleasure in His creation. He rested with His creation in His arms. And this chapter is calling a people who put their identity in their work to take rest, take pleasure in the Creator of the Universe. He tells us we need to work but He wants a day of rest with us. HE wants a day of rest WITH us. This is the purpose of the Sabbath and this is the purpose of all the uses of seven - the number that means rest.

We think of a day as morning and evening but Genesis 1 says evening and morning. We think of a day as starting with what we do but God is saying your day starts in your rest with Him. We take this rest with Him and in taking this rest WITH the Creator of the Universe it will help us understand our true identity. The first thing God wanted from His children, even before freeing them from slavery, was to take a Sabbath, take a rest WITH Him. Because in Him is our rest because in Him is our Identity.

When you're going through a desert time think about where you've placed your identity and use the time of just enough to lose that identity, take rest in the Creator, and draw closer to Him.