A Vision of Hope, Freedom, and Dignity in the Face of Oppression.
The creation story found at the beginning of the Bible, Genesis 1, had special meaning for the people of Israel during the period known as the Babylonian captivity.
In the years leading up to 587 BCE, Jerusalem, it’s Temple, and several other cities were conquered and destroyed by the Babylonian Empire. Many of the people were taken into captivity in Babylon and held there for more than 50 years, longer than a typical lifetime.
One of the things the Babylonians did to maintain their dominance was to bring people together periodically to hear the Babylonian story of creation, the Enuma Elish. This was an awful story that was an attempt to justify the oppression of the captive people by the Babylonians.
But the captives had another story — the creation story of Genesis 1. This was a much different story, one that involved freedom, human dignity, the goodness of creation, and the possibility of living a flourishing life.
In the story from Genesis 1, God creates humans in his own image, blesses them, and tells them to be fruitful, fill the earth, and have dominion over it. In other words, we are to be creative and productive, and to flourish. It would be understandable if the captives in Babylon heard this story as a message of hope and a sign that their oppression would not last.
This optimistic view of Genesis 1 sometimes seems to be inconsistent with what we see in the world and in history. It sometimes even seems like the life we saw in Babylon has not ended for some people. We continue to see brokenness, sin, and oppression. And we all have plenty of problems in our work lives as well. We have good times, of course, times when the human spirit seems to emerge from its enslavement. But the forces that would enslave us can reemerge as well.
Like the captives in Babylon, we need to remember the underlying story and take it to heart.
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Each Monday we release a new podcast episode dealing with Spiritual Renewal in Our Work Lives. Topics include finding purpose/work as a calling, spiritual practices that can help us in our work, dealing with workplace stress and other forms of workplace toxicity, spiritual aspects of leadership, and building a flourishing work life. We invite you to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play, or listen on our website. You can also subscribe to email updates when we release new material.