If Genesis contains the creation myth of all three Abrahamic religions in the creation of the world, Matthew contains the first take on the creation myth of specifically Christianity, the birth and life of Jesus.
While in Genesis the world is created from nothing (Genesis 1:2a), Jesus is not born into a void. Instead he comes from a long line of the faithful, and from the line of Abraham, with whom the first covenant to bring the savior through a specific line was made. (Genesis 12:3b) He is born, also, into great turmoil. His father, Joseph, is about to quietly divorce his wife, believing her to have cheated on him, but he has been convinced to keep her by the words of an angel. Within a short time from his birth Jesus and his family must flee Bethlehem to avoid an early destruction of the Son of God by the cruel hand of Herod.
Which brings me to my first questioning of the nature of the God of the Bible.
I never questioned the story of the flood, even when I reread it as part of this project. All humanity, except for Noah and his family, were destroyed because “all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.” (Genesis 6:12) Violence ran through the earth and so God choose to destroy his creation.
But I question here the nature of God. The wise men are given a signal, a star in the sky, to find Jesus. God, here, is a deity who knows all. He knows that these wise men will become lost, that Herod will hear of them, and that Herod will react the way he does to the news of the new prince.
Herod’s reaction is one of grotesque violence. He determines the time the star appeared, and where the prince was to be born and then orders the death of all the male children aged two or under in all of Bethlehem and it’s region. (Matthew 2:16-18) It is clear that this God knows what will happen because he has sent his chosen family, Joseph, Mary, and Jesus, out of Bethlehem and into Egypt to avoid the killing. (Matthew 2: 13)
This is a God who is believed to have all power. He could have softened Herod’s heart or mislead him, he could have kept Herod from hearing of the birth of Jesus, he could have killed Herod before the death of the children. But he choose instead to allow the murder of these sons of his chosen people to bring about a prophecy that he himself gave. (Matthew 2:15b)
I understand the need for prophecies and signs to show that Jesus is the intended fulfillment of his covenant, but it seems that the signs he spoke of were all signs of destruction and pain rather than signs of blessings, and that is what causes me to question the nature of God. Jesus, or rather the savior, is meant to be a blessing to his people but here, before he does anything else, he is the cause of pain, a curse on the people he is meant to bless.
Why would this God not bring signs of blessing and wonder to his people? Why would he choose to introduce his son, his savior, and the fulfillment of his plan, with death?
This is the creation myth of the founding of Christianity. A couple is blessed with a child, but his birth brings the death of other children. And from there we will move forward, to see God’s plan in action and to see the foundations of the new faith.