By Sunday Akin Olukoju
If you were fortunate enough to have attended a formal school (Western education) early in life, you would have been privileged to know a few things from the get-go!
For example, you would have been introduced to the concept of nature – such as the ideas of illuminating light in the midst of pitch darkness; daytime and night; rainfall and river; land and seas; seed-bearing plants and fruit-bearing trees on vast vegetation; in addition to the sun that governs the day and moon as well as the stars that govern the night.
We were made to know, right from our earlier years – our own very beginnings, about the concept of living creatures in the seas, rivers, on land and in the skies. And of course, we were told how mankind came into being. And as the saying goes, the rest is now history! But this particular history is a living one.
The book of, and about the beginning is known as ‘Genesis’. It is the first book of the Holy Scriptures. It is the first place we knew about a man “knowing” a woman.
That knowledge translated into children. In the course of doing so, the man and the woman became one flesh – figuratively – when two imperfect individuals begin to complete and complement one another in the process of sharpening each other to become one perfect whole.
Genesis also introduced us to the concept of openness and transparency in relationships, as both the man and the woman were naked and felt no shame. It is where we were officially introduced to the concept of relationship – where we were subsequently told and coached about being relational beings.
Somehow, it is also the first place we were warned about a potential killer. Genesis, the book of beginnings specifically warned, and continues to warn humanity that it is not good for man – in this case, for any human individual, to be alone!
Today, we know how loneliness can kill easily. Now we know how a lonely person can easily fall into temptation. We are currently witnessing how individualism is tearing humanity apart at the seams. It is our nemesis. Genesis is still warning humanity about it till today. It starts slowly like a joke. We eventually buy into a lie, especially when we decide to keep going without seeking counsel.
We begin to think that we are smarter than anyone and everyone. We join the rat race. We just want to try something new, something different, something unique. In the process, we break all the rules of common sense.
We allow our appetite to run riot! We forget all about consequences. We walk blind with our eyes wide open!
And so it was in the beginning – disobedience was the nemesis in Genesis. The rule was simple. It was a warning never to taste a forbidden fruit. The rule was broken because the rule of relationship was first broken.
The one tempted to taste the forbidden fruit decided to be alone. Being alone meant a higher level of vulnerability. Being alone meant a higher likelihood of taking action without seeking counsel. Being alone meant a higher possibility of making a solo decision, most often, based more on feeling than on reason.
Loneliness is a killer. Individualism could be deceptive. Two good heads will always be better than one. From lonely vulnerability comes a higher probability of facing and falling prey to unforeseen temptations.
Genesis helps us to identify the nemesis of loneliness. It exposes the hidden nemesis of daily temptations.
It pinpoints the nemesis of undue power of emotional feelings and instant gratification over common sense, self-discipline, and reason.
It helps humanity realize the possibility of a slippery slope into disobedience and rebellion. It opens the eyes of the discerning to see how disloyalty occurs.
It plays out the trajectory of betrayal – from a very small seed of doubt and discord, to selfish curiosity, inordinate ambition, warped human logic, and the insatiable lust for self-glorification.
Today, we see this in the way humanity is in a blind race to build individual empires, while inflicting fatal injuries on humanity in the process. Many things have been happening in this world since then.
The next nemesis was a forced hiding as a result of the sad loss of innocence. It brings to the fore the image of a scared fugitive. When an individual break the law, he begins to hide and run from the law in order to avoid punishment. The idea of shameful nakedness was the next nemesis.
Humanity lost divine innocence. Shame steps forward and stands tall since then. Fear looms larger than life since then. Hiding and running will forever live with humanity. And of course, punishment! Punishment for disobedience. Punishment for hiding instead of coming clean to repent and make amends.
Punishment for looking for excuses. In fact, the idea of blame-game jumps out and has been living like a royal prince since then. The concept of punishment leads humanity into the place of severe hardship, with an adversary looking craftily since then to strike the heel of mankind. This is just another nemesis!
Genesis reveals a crude display of wicked anger and its possible consequence: a horrific homicide! Brother killing brother. This opens the floodgate to utter human wickedness.
No wonder some came up with the idea of honor-killing many years after.
Alcoholism is not a new concept after all, as it was one other nemesis in Genesis. A father who was supposed to be a good example was recorded to have been so drunk that he committed the abominable act of exposing his nakedness to his sons, and upon discovery, introduced the concept of a fatherly curse on a child – another nemesis.
In another instance, inordinate ambition led to the confusion of languages till today. Who knows whether the current race to space is a replay of humanity’s passion to defy divinity in the course of wanting to demystify whatever stands as a mystery?
We were introduced to various acts of sexual immorality, including the story of a whole city that was destroyed; as well as the story of two sisters who slept with their dad after getting him drunk. Genesis also unpacked how a mother connived with one of her sons to deceive his father and to rob his brother of his blessings.
It is also in Genesis that an innocent young woman was brutally raped, with follow up consequences of revenge that led to mass murder – thus introducing us to yet another nemesis! We were soon confronted with a revelation of how some brothers sold their blood brother into slavery, and how a father unknowingly slept with the wife of his dead son to father a child in the process.
Genesis ends with the true nemesis – when the wickedness of some wicked brothers was exposed. The wicked brothers who had earlier sold their younger brother into slavery as a result of burning hatred eventually served him.
Genesis unpacks a thesis that has a basis in crisis through insightful analysis. It has nothing to do with hypothesis but it’s huge in emphasis on the synthesis of the synopsis of the diagnosis, prognosis, and psychoanalysis of the metamorphosis that led to subsisting spiritual paralysis. Fortunately, the nemesis in Genesis ends with an oasis – the triumph of truth over falsehood!
(❚ Dr. Sunday Akin Olukoju is the Director of Distance Education of Providence Theological Seminary, a community newspaper correspondent, and the president of a community organization)