In the Big Scheme of Things
Gen 2:4 These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.
God created everything in the first chapter. Gen 2:4 provides a literary transition from the daily account of creation to the more detailed account of humanity’s creation. In the balance of the second chapter we see the establishment of our purpose, our roles and boundaries, and marriage. So far, so good. It isn’t until the third chapter things go awry. The great thing about the second chapter is we get a glimpse of perfection, life as it was and as many of us believe it will yet be. It tells us a great deal about what we hope for – the very hope of the Good News itself.
Gen 2:5-8 When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist [or spring] was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.
According to scientists the composition of the human body is roughly the same as the composition of the earth in terms of the elements found in our bodies. We are mostly water, but we also have plenty of carbon, calcium, salts, and other common elements in the makeup of our molecules. We have about the same percentage of heavier elements such as iron and potassium as are found in the earth, even of rare elements. I don’t think Moses had an electron microscope or a bioengineering degree when he recorded what God inspired him to write.
Little if anything in nature is more complex than human life. Of all we’ve figured out, we have yet to quantify life itself in scientific terms. Life is the gift of God. Life was a gift for Adam and it is for us today. God breathed life into the first man, and regardless of your position on the “unborn,” no one denies a child is a living person when it takes its first breath. There is no good reason why a bunch of proteins and acids should be able to write books, tend gardens, or build houses except that some higher power gives it the gifts of life and purpose and intelligence. We are animated, unique and the same in physical and spiritual nature, by the super power of our individual and cosmic creator.
Gen 2:15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
This verse fits nicely with the part in verse 6 that says “and there was no man to work the ground”. The earth needs man. Man needs to care for the earth. I’m not talking about radical fringe eco-politics. I’m talking about Godly stewardship. Adam’s purpose was to attend and care for God’s creation. We are blessed above all other creatures because God gave us the ability and responsibility to do this. In Gen 1:26 God gives man “dominion” or in some translations it says “rule” over creation. Many people today seem to think of Fidel Casto or Adolf Hitler when they think of the words rule or dominion. We should instead be thinking of how God rules, with loving kindness and benevolence. Above all we should be caring for one another.
Gen 2:16-17 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
No boundaries were set except these. Adam was free to eat of any of the fruit. He was large and in charge, second only to God Himself. He was free of law, free of tradition, free of all the limitations of the mind. He was free to commune directly with God, free to love, and free from any notion of anxiety. The restriction from the two trees was not to take away freedom, but to protect it. It wasn’t until Adam and his mate ate from the Tree of Knowledge they fell into slavery to sin and death. So long as we have sin, we too are in bondage to death. Jesus alone was without sin, yet taking our sin to his sacrificial death he ended its power by victoriously rising from death to life eternal. We have hope of being restored to this pre-fall condition only by his grace.
Gen 2:18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
God certainly understands the loneliness of command. Ask any military leader about the loneliness of responsibility. Ask any corporate CEO where the buck stops. Adam was made CEO of Earth Inc., put in charge and answering to the chairman of the board, God Himself. Adam needed a companion to share the burden. We all need someone to love us and help us, and we all know what it feels like when we are alone.
Gen 2:19-20 So out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.
God gave Adam the power to name all creation, to see it and have it in his care, but nothing in the animal kingdom could serve as his equal and share his good work. I believe creation and animals in particular are gifts from God. I believe in caring for them and loving them. We are unique from the animals in our position with God. We were created with certain similarities to God not shared by animals. I do believe animals have souls and I do believe animals have varying degrees of intelligence. Animals are capable of love. We have responsibility.
Gen 2:21-23 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
Marriage and family are a recurring theme throughout scripture. Obviously it is an important topic. It is even more interesting to realize that marriage is established as a covenant gift at the start of the bible and is consummated with the “marriage” of the church bride to her groom, Christ, at the conclusion of Revelation (Rev 19:6-10).
Our Hope – The Good News of Genesis 2
Gen 2:25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. God created Eden for man.
Eden was a place custom designed for humans to live. Peter said we should be ready to give a reason for our hope (1 Pe 3:15). I believe our ultimate hope is in an eternal life in a new world without pain or sorrow, where we experience the joy of living in the presence of our Lord without the shame of sin (Ro 6:15-22). Jesus was victorious over death (1 Cor 15:50-57), breaking its bond to us, making possible the very thing we hope for (Mk 10:27). The good new is we can come to God and take off the filthy garments of sin. There will be no shame when we stand naked before God – He Himself will clothe us with His righteousness when we abandon our rags (Rev 19:7-8). Rev 22:17 says: The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.