While the gospels are the easiest place to see the person and work of Jesus Christ, the entirety of the scriptures share the gospel story. Gospel Outside will highlight a part of the gospel seen outside of the 4 Gospels of the New Testament.
Nearly every culture from around the world has a creation myth. Each story is connected with that culture’s religious system and, while many are unique, there is some overlap in concepts and ideas. A couple of themes that often run through these creation myths are sex and death. Here is an example from a Babylonian creation myth featuring the chief Babylonian god Marduk;
Marduk armed himself with a bow and arrows, a club, and lightning, and he went in search of Tiamat’s monstrous army. Rolling his thunder and storms in front him, he attacked, and Kingu’s battle plan soon disintegrated. Tiamat was left alone to fight Marduk, and she howled as they closed for battle. They struggled as Marduk caught her in his nets. When she opened her mouth to devour him, he filled it with the evil wind that served him. She could not close her mouth with his gale blasting in it, and he shot an arrow down her throat. It split her heart, and she was slain.
After subduing the rest of her host, he took his club and split Tiamat’s water-laden body in half like a clam shell. Half he put in the sky and made the heavens, and he posted guards there to make sure that Tiamat’s salt waters could not escape. Across the heavens he made stations in the stars for the gods, and he made the moon and set it forth on its schedule across the heavens. From the other half of Tiamat’s body he made the land, which he placed over Apsu’s fresh waters, which now arise in wells and springs. From her eyes he made flow the Tigirs and Euphrates. Across this land he made the grains and herbs, the pastures and fields, the rains and the seeds, the cows and ewes, and the forests and the orchards.
Marduk set the vanquished gods who had supported Tiamat to a variety of tasks, including work in the fields and canals. Soon they complained of their work, however, and they rebeled by burning their spades and baskets. Marduk saw a solution to their labors, though, and proposed it to Ea. He had Kingu, Timat’s general, brought forward from the ranks of the defeated gods, and Kingu was slain. With Kingu’s blood, with clay from the earth, and with spittle from the other gods, Ea and the birth-goddess Nintu created humans. On them Ea imposed the labor previously assigned to the gods. Thus the humans were set to maintain the canals and boundary ditches, to hoe and to carry, to irrigate the land and to raise crops, to raise animals and fill the granaries, and to worship the gods at their regular festivals.
-“The Babylonian Genesis” (2nd edn.), Alexander Heidel, 1952: Chicago, University of Chicago Press, available here.
Creation myths are filled with similar ideas to this story: humanity came to be through unpleasant and unfortunate circumstances for the purpose of serving petty and power hungry gods.
Imagine being a child and hearing this story. How would you view the world if you believed your existence is based on the slaughter of some higher being, and your creation was to do the work that the lesser gods didn’t want to do? You’d grow up worried about how to please a petty god that would just as well squash you as let you live. You would know that, despite your abilities and efforts, anything you do could we wiped away at their whim. Life would have little meaning or value, so anything you do has even less value. And when life has little value, evil and selfishness run rampant, the strong prey on the weak, and hopelessness and despair reign.
It was into this world that God sent a simple message:
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
–Genesis 1:1 (ESV)
This is something that we often just fly past without thinking, but it has profound meaning. The creation of our world, leading up to and including our creation, wasn’t an accident or an unfortunate side effect, it was intentional and planned from the start. And that creation was made personally by God, and in a very personal form; through his voice. God spoke creation into being, giving creation His personal attention and care.
And He took special time to create humans:
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.” So God created 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 earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
–Genesis 1:26-28 (ESV)
Humanity was not an afterthought, it was special above the rest of creation. Humanity was made in the very image of the Creator – we bear His likeness! We are fearfully and wonderfully made, not some afterthought serving a pantheon of petty gods. Our lives are not hopeless, they are valuable beyond our imagination because God intentionally created us for a purpose – to worship and serve Him. Not by doing tasks He is unwilling or unable to do, but because He is worthy to be worshiped and praised!
So, when you are feeling down and when life starts to get to you, remember that God has specially created you with care and purpose – you are highly valued and loved by the Creator of the Universe! You are who you are because God wants you that way, and He has put you where He has you for a reason. Rest knowing that He is there for you!