The book of Genesis is about babies. And as we read, we discover having babies is rough business.
Abraham and Sarah are promised babies. Lots of babies. But when it comes down to it, getting to baby is no cake walk. Along the way, they pull in Sarah’s servant and have her sleep with Abraham. That totally backfires. (Duh!)
When they finally have a son, he and his wife Rebecca also struggle to have a baby. When Isaac prays (finally), she gets pregnant. But it feels like a war going on inside of her. And that in utero war carries on through her twin sons’ lifetimes.
Jacob doubles down on wives and ends up with a mess of babies, but only because his wives get into a baby-making competition which ends up including their servants as additional baby machines. (Didn’t they learn from grandpa?)
When Judah has two sons die after marrying the same girl, he refuses to let her marry a third son, being afraid the black widow would kill him off, too. But Tamar, the childless widow, dresses up like a whore and gets Judah to sleep with her, getting her the baby she desired. (It’s not the only incest-for-the-sake-of-kids story in Genesis either, with Lot’s daughters getting their pops drunk in order to have babies by him.)
The quest for babies makes Genesis a wild mess beyond soap opera proportions.
And when we step back a bit further and look at Genesis as a whole, we discover that God’s in the baby-making business.
God wants kids, too. He’s frantic of them just like the human players in Genesis.
The entire book is built around ten genealogies. The first genealogy is God’s first “baby” — creation.
Genesis 2:4 reads: “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.”
But that word “generations” is the same Hebrew word used nine other times in Genesis for human genealogies. Some translators balk at using the word generations in reference to creation (NIV uses “account”). But when they do, they miss the point of the entire book.
Creation is God’s kid. It’s his baby. He longs for it. He loves it.
The other nine lists of generations are extensions of God’s first one. They grow God’s family. For the sake of completeness, here they are:
This is the book of the generations of Adam. (Gen. 5:1)
These are the generations of Noah. (Gen. 6:9)
These are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. (Gen. 10:1)
These are the generations of Shem. (Gen. 11:10)
Now these are the generations of Terah. (Gen. 11:27)
These are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s servant, bore to Abraham. (Gen. 25:12)
These are the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son. (Gen. 25:19)
These are the generations of Esau (that is, Edom). (Gen. 36:1)
These are the generations of Jacob. (Gen. 37:2)
I find it interesting that it’s not just the line leading to the people of Israel who get their generations listed. Ham, Japheth, Ishmael, and Esau get their broods tossed in among the baby lists. What gives?
God’s baby is a world. And it’s a world full of babies. All kinds of babies. Not just the babies of his special people. He wants them all.
This is what Gen. 1:28 tells us in God’s intent for humanity:
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
He wants us to have babies. To have them all over the place. To take fill and care for and rule the place.
That’s why, when the whole thing seems to fall apart, we hear God telling Abraham these words that echo throughout the entire rest of the Bible:
“I will make you into a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.” (Gen. 12:2-3)
God sets up a special family for the same of every other family. He wants them to have babies so they can bless everyone else’s babies.
God wants a world full of blessed babies.
This is God’s “baby” if you will, his pet project, his life’s work — a world full of blessed babies. But to get there requires us to have babies of our own. And as Genesis shows, that’s messy work.
You see, we forget all about God’s big “baby” in our myopia, focusing in on our tiny lives with our tiny problems, as we obsess about our own babies.
But that’s the way it has to be, isn’t it? Without us dealing with our obsessions, our babies, we never get to God’s obsession, his “baby.” God’s big picture is made up of all of our little pictures.
I remember the first time I saw a big picture composed of thousands of tiny pictures. It was on a poster for the movie The Truman Show. I loved it. I stood outside the small theater (or should I say theatre) down the block from our apartment in Vancouver and marveled at this composite image.
It struck me then that this is exactly what God is doing. He’s assembling all of our babies into one astounding “baby” — a creation that he is as deeply in love with as I am with each of the babies my wife and I have had since then.
So here’s the challenge. Will I love God’s Baby as much as I love my own?
Because that means loving you and your babies and Ishmael’s babies and Esau’s babies, too. That means hearing God’s call that “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Gen. 12:3). That means going to all nations to make disciples (i.e. Jesus babies), even if that really means loving on the jerk neighbor who acts like a baby two houses down.
If I only love my own babies, I miss out on loving God’s Baby. And that means I’ve drastically reduced my purpose for being on this good earth. In fact, by focusing on my own, I may find myself at cross purposes with God. And as Genesis shows us, that’s a recipe for one messy kitchen.