Genesis Scholar Likens Humankind to 'Guests in God's Home'

Dr. John Walton of Wheaton College speaks in the DeSantis Family Chapel at PBA on Monday. Palm Beach Atlantic University (PBA) is a private, accredited, Christ-centered college located in West Palm Beach, Florida, USA.
Dr. John Walton of Wheaton College speaks in the DeSantis Family Chapel at PBA on Monday.

On the seventh day, God rested.

Thus begins the second chapter of book of Genesis. However, it takes an understanding of the ancient world for modern audiences to fully understand an ancient biblical text like this one, said Wheaton College professor and Old Testament scholar Dr. John Walton, speaking to students at Palm Beach Atlantic University on Monday.

Dr. Walton’s chapel address, “Guests in God’s Home,” focused on the cosmic sacred space from the first and second chapters of Genesis. He will complete his analysis during a lecture from 7 to 8:30 p.m. tonight in the DeSantis Family Chapel.

His DVD, “Origins Today: Genesis Through Ancient Eyes,” will be available for purchase after the session, which is open to the PBA community.

During his morning presentation, Dr. Walton explained that in the ancient world, the notion of God resting indicates that the verse is a “temple text.” The temple was the place where God resided, Dr. Walton said.

“The resting in the temple was the residing in the temple, and the temple was the control room of the cosmos,” he said.

Rest is “not about down time,” he said. “It’s about taking control.”

Dr. Walton noted that the ancient temple inauguration process was seven days long. “We have to consider the possibility that the focus is not the building of the house — the cosmic house — but that the focus is when that house became God’s home,” he said.

Dr. Walton challenged the audience to consider whether Genesis 1 is a house story or a home story, a topic he promised to discuss in more detail during his evening lecture. “We’re inclined to think that every origin story is a house story,” he said.

He added that God didn’t just design the world for Himself. “This is God’s B&B,” he said. “He designed it for us. We have been made to be honored guests in His home.”

Dr. Walton also reminded those in attendance to reconsider their view of the Sabbath, traditionally seen as a day of rest from one’s labors.

“Step back from your work because your work is not the most important work to do,” he said.

By obeying scripture, “we’re not imitating God,” he said. “We’re acknowledging God in His role.”