It seemed as though we had stagnated in finding topics to talk about in our lunchtime discussions – so I suggested that we take it in turns to give an accurate, well-informed interpretation of our respective holy books. I said this because I had found that although these Muslims said a lot about the Bible, when it came to actually knowing what was inside the Bible – they really had no idea (this is probably the same for Christians/westerners when it comes to the Quran). They liked the idea so I started off with the Bible, and will continue on Thursday and then next week they will have the opportunity to accurately explain the Quran to me.
We started at the beginning – Genesis chapter 1. I talked them through the 6 day creation story and we digressed as one of the students asked about the correct day of rest. I explained that the original, and correct, day of rest/Sabbath is Saturday (still kept by some Christians and all Jews) but Emperor Constantine changed the day of worship to Sunday when he nationalised Christianity, so that roman pagans and Christians (the new national roman religion) could all worship on the same day – typical politicians! (make everyone do the same). The students then raised the question of why Christians still worship on Sunday – letting the effects of man effectively change God’s word – to which I don’t have the answer!
We returned to Genesis 1, and finished off with the story of the creation of Adam and Eve and their role in the world. We talked through Genesis 2 – which gives a much broader account of Adam and Eve’s role in the world and explicitly states how Eve was created from Adam’s rib whilst he slept. We finished chapter 2 by reading the last verse, which for me, summarises paradise. No shame. No guilt. Naked before God (in every dimension of the word) but yet without shame. Clean.
Most of our time today was spent talking through Genesis Chapter 3 – one of the most important chapters in the whole Bible. This is where sin first enters the world and where God lays out the effects of sin for the rest of time. We spent digesting God’s words to satan (the snake):
The Lord God said to the serpent,
‘Because you have done this,
cursed are you among all animals
and among all wild creatures;
upon your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will strike your head,
and you will strike his heel.’
I explained that God starts off by saying that the snake is now cursed among all animals – one of the students added that this could be why snakes are frequently used in devil worship and black magic (very astute observation). God continues to explain that the snake will now crawl on his belly and eat dust for the rest of his life – signifying his demise and position, as well as his physical appearance and that snakes literally eat dust whenever they move. God then makes it clear that the snake (devil) and Eve are now enemies of each other and their descendants will continue to be enemies. God makes it clear that the descendants of the snake and the descendants of Eve will have enmity between them (they will be enemies). This implies that both Eve and the snake will have descendants. So when we continue to read the Bible – we should read it through this context – the descendants of Eve versus the descendants of the snake (this will become clearer when we get to chapter 3). God then explains that one of the descendants of Eve will ‘crush the head’ of the snake. ‘He’ – one of Eve’s descendants – will crush ‘your’ (talking to the devil) head. When I asked the students what ‘crush your head’ means – they said kill. So God is saying that one of Eve’s descendants will kill the devil (the snake).
This statement of God is a promise that we need to keep in the front of our mind as we read the rest of the Bible. Every generation after Adam would have known of this promise – that someone (a descendant of Eve) would be the one to kill the devil. It is the promise of a Messiah – a deliverer – a saviour.
After talking through this verse, we moved on to Chapter 4 – a story that we all knew very well (Cain and Abel). However, in the context of the descendants of Eve versus the descendants of the snake, I asked the students which one was which. One of them explained that Abel was the descendant of Eve (or God) and Cain was the descendant of the snake (their words). And I explained that this is how the rest of the Bible continues (for next few chapters anyway) – people are split into 2 categories – the descendants of Eve (God) and the descendants of the snake, and the Bible makes a clear distinction between the two groups.
So in 30 minutes – we got to Genesis chapter 4 – we’ll continue on Thursday!