This summer, the women's ministry at my church is studying the first eleven chapters of Genesis. It's been interesting and refreshing to learn new things about the text. Here's a list of some of the things from the various meetings that have stood out to me as the meetings have gone on.
* The Bible does not hold the only real stories of God - we have our own too and need to tell them
* What parts of Genesis makes God more personal? He talks to man directly, creates a good place for them to live, good things to eat, and gives them a job to do.
* Offering man the free will to choose to eat from the tree of good and evil was the only way love was possible for God. Sure, he could have created a puppet man who wouldn't sin, but that wouldn't be creating a man with the freedom to choose to obey and choose to love.
* Work shows us our need for rest
* Be clear about which restrictions are from God, and which are not. Humans can add restrictions (i.e. don't touch the tree) with good intent, but those are not the real restrictions
* Man and women are more described as alike in the scriptures than different. Contempt grows out of hunting for the differences. Different, yes, but complementary
* God provides for pleasure and needs, not just needs, in Genesis
* It's a sign of God's grace that he asked "where are you" after the fall, instead of a lecture
* It's a sign of God's love that man didn't just instantly perish after sinning, but he continued to pursue them, even though he was the wounded party in their relationship.
* Even in God's punishments, he doesn't create or condone sin - so God's giving power to the husband is not condoning husbands who abuse their wives, to be clear!
* There is hope in the actions after the fall - naming Eve is a hope for the future of the living
* God providing garments is a sign of his continued care even after they have sinned
* God's mercy was not contingent on asking for forgiveness, it was provided immediately
* God working for good means making you more like Christ, not making you more happy