Genesis Lessons 2: 1-9, 15-28 - In His Image
LAST WEEK: In Gen. 1:1-5, 26-31; 2:1-3, we covered the Seven Days of Creation, when God spoke the universe into existence from nothing. The bedrock truth of this revelation is that God intends Himself to be known and praised as the Creator of all things. In this first chapter of God's Word, we saw the Six Days of Creation unfold in a common pattern: (1) God speaks; (2) God creates; (3) God names; (4) then God declares His creation "good"; and (5) finally, each "Day" is numbered. Gen. 1:26-31 described the origin of human beings, which God intended as the centerpiece of His creation. From that, we learned that Man is unique, created "in the image of God," invested with authority over the earth, and commanded to "fill it," These three points establish the critical aspect of the Christian worldview and the proper attitude towards the sanctity of human life.
THIS WEEK: In Gen. 2:1-9, 15-28, after describing of the Seventh Day of Creation, in which God rested in vv. 1-3, Chapter 2 describes the creation of man, whom God named "Adam," in much greater detail, the "garden" into which God placed him, and the "work" God gave him to do. In the garden there are many trees, but there are two of special significance: "the Tree of Life" and "the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil." Finally, when God sees that it was not good for man to be alone, He creates a "helper" for the man out of Adam's own rib, and the woman becomes his companion and wife, setting the example of God's design for marriage.
Read Gen. 2:1-3 - HE RESTED ON THE SEVENTH DAY
1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts. 2 By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.
v. 1: "Thus the heavens and the earth were completed, and all their hosts." - The new chapter begins with "Thus," which relates it back to the previous creative accounts, so that this verse, in effect, summarizes everything that took place in Chapter 1-a statement of conclusion for God's completed work of creation; the heavens and earth and every other aspect of God's great creation is now finished. We also need to remember that as originally written, chapter and verse divisions were not part of the original Bible text, so that the words were intended to be read in a continuous natural flow from chapter to chapter. In this moment, nothing existed in the creation that was flawed or out of order in the creation with God's plan and purpose; the heavens and the earth were vast, teeming with life, progressing exactly as God intended. Have you ever made something that turned out perfect in your eyes? Do you remember the sense of accomplishment it gave you?
v. 2: "By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done." - We know that the number seven (Heb. heptá [hep-tah']) in Scripture is often used figuratively to symbolize something that's perfect. This verse tells us that the Seventh Day, which followed the completion of the creation, was intended to By God to be the most important of all the days of the week. This day also represents the point where the pattern of Chapter 1 stops. So, having completed His work, God "rested," and on the seventh day, He did no work. We know, of course, that God never tires or sleeps, but it's important for us to see that this act was a deliberate choice on the part of the Creator. We know that later, this day of rest will become known as the Sabbath, a central part of God's Law that was incorporated into Israel's worship of Him.
NOTE: Of all the days of the week, God declares the Seventh to be both blessed and holy, which points forward to a time when God would command the Israelites to honor the Sabbath Day and keep it holy; and the symbolism and importance of this resting by God will become a major theme of the rest of Scripture.
v. 3: "Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made." - Here, resting from His work on the Seventh Day, God does two things: (1) He blesses the Seventh Day and (2) and he celebrates it as holy. God's blessing of the day was tied to the continuing prosperity of His creation-the filling of the earth with mankind and his stewardship over the creation. This also points to a later time, under the Mosaic Law, when God would bless Israel for keeping the Sabbath holy and would demonstrate His ability to provide for His people even when they stopped a day of work each week. So, at the very base of this, even before sin entered the world, God intended for the seventh day to be a special day dedicated to rest, and even now, our world still operates on a 7-day cycle.
Truth 1: In addition to the provision of food, God also gave humankind a day of rest. God intended for the seventh day to be a special day dedicated to rest, and even now, our world still operates on this Monday to Sunday, 7-day cycle.
Read Gen. 2:4-7 - GOD FORMED MAN OUT OF THE DUST OF THE GROUND
4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven. 5 Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the Lord God had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground. 6 But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground. 7 Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
v. 4: "This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven." - You will recall that Chap. 1 described God's process of creation in six separate days, then in the opening verses of Chap. 2, ends the sequence with a Seventh Day, where God chooses to take a "rest" from His work. Now, with verse 4, God now turns back to give a more detailed account of the creation of human beings, where they lived, along with God's instructions to them. This verse serves as an introduction to the Story of Adam and Eve and those who would follow them. In the original Hebrew, it was written in a poetic, chiastic pattern that is lyrical and memorable but is completely lost when translated into other languages like Greek or English. Notably, this the first use of the title "the Lord God" (Heb. YHWH ["Yahweh", lit. I Am]) in the Bible.
v. 5a: "Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted," - This phrase describes a world in which no small plants or vegetation of the field had yet to appear.
v. 5b: "for the Lord God had not sent rain upon the earth" - This was a different hydrological cycle which, instead of air masses that produce rain from evaporated water vapor, there was a thick blanket of water vapor in the upper atmosphere that had been created on the Second Day.
v. 5c: "and there was no man to cultivate the ground." - This phrase points forward to man's future work and purpose on the earth: to plant crops, work the ground, and bring order to the earth by tending and nurturing what God has already made.
v. 6: "But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground." - God had set up this hydrological cycle to supply a rich system of evaporation and condensation in the form of a heavy dew or mist that provided the moisture needed to sustain plant life.
v. 7a1: "Then the Lord God formed man" - The verb "formed" (Heb. yi'ser) literally describes the work of an artist or sculptor who is creating a meticulous work of art.
v. 7a2: "of dust from the ground," - Here we see God forming human life from the ground itself.
v. 7b: "and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." - Next. God did that which makes us alive: "he breathed into his nostrils the breath of life," literally breathing life into a lump of soil that transformed it into a "living being." The name "Adam" (Heb. ā'dām) which literally translates as "man," is derived from the Hebrew word for ground, adamah. Previously, in Gen. 1:31, God had described the form of man as "very good."
Truth 2: God created man from the dust of the earth. Human beings aren't just a higher form of animal but beings made by God in His image with the specified purpose of ruling over the entire creation (Gen. 1:26-31).
Read Gen. 2:8-9 - THE LORD PLANTED A GARDEN TOWARD THE EAST, IN EDEN
8 The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. 9 Out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
v. 8a: "The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden;" - God planted the garden in "Eden," which is thought to have been a territory somewhere in Mesopotamia, near the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. In any case, it would have been located eastward from the Pentateuch's original audience, the Israelites in Palestine. The Hebrew word for it, ay'-den, is a place name, not a term.
v. 8b: "and in there He placed the man whom He had formed." - God created Eden as a home for man, and as we will see, had a specific agenda for placing him there.
v. 9a: "Out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food;" - The garden that God created for the man was spectacular, both in its beauty in the variety of trees and the abundance of edible fruits growing from many of them. Two specific trees are mentioned by name as standing in the middle of the garden:
v. 9b: "the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, " - According to Gen. 3:22, those who eat from the "tree of Life" will gain immortality (i.e., supernatural preservation) as long they continue to eat from it, but once they cease eating from it, immortality will be lost. God still has a tree of life available to His people, which is in heaven (Rev. 2:7; 22:2).
v. 9c: "and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." - As we continue into this chapter, we'll learn more about the nature of this tree and why God designed these two specific trees with special characteristics and purposes in mind.
Read Gen. 2:15-17 - YOU MAY EAT FROM ANY TREE EXCEPT ONE
15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. 16 The Lord God commanded the man, saying, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die."
v. 15: "Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it." - One of the most important teachings revealed by this verse is that soon after he was created, the first man had two God-given purposes in the garden: (1) to work it-managing and maintaining the productivity of the garden; and (2) to "keep" it-which meant guarding and protecting it. God could have made a self-sustaining system, requiring no upkeep, but even from the start, God designed human beings to work and to do their part in helping Him accomplish His purposes. Work, therefore, is not a curse but in reality is a blessing ordained by God. Purpose-driven work is an essential need of all humans. And this principle applies to all Christians today. Paul said, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them" (Eph. 2:10).
Truth 2: God created the Garden of Eden to be man's home, his provision, and his place of work. Besides living there and eating its food, God expected the man (1) to work and maintain it and (2) to guard and protect it. From the very start, God designed human beings to work and to do their part in helping Him accomplish His purposes. Work isn't a curse but in reality is a blessing ordained by God.
v. 16-17: "The LORD God commanded the man, saying, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die." - Verses 16 and 17 form a complete thought and should be read together to be fully understood. This is God' first negative-do not-command to humans, telling the man what he must not do.
Truth 3: The tree's purpose was to demonstrate God's authority and require human obedience to His authority. God gave man the free will to eat from any tree in the garden except one. God wasn't constraining man with a multitude of rules or impossible restrictions but limited obedience to one simple command. Today, The fact that mankind disobeys one single, simple command-believe in Jesus Christ as Savior-summarizes the Bible view of sin and salvation.
Read Gen. 2:18 - A HELPER SUITABLE FOR HIM
18 Then the Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him."
v. 18: Notice that this is the first instance in the Bible when we hear God describe something as "not good." Up to this point, God has seen everything He made as good or very good. The significance of "not good" didn't equate to bad or evil but the idea that man was incomplete-something was missing. The problem was that man was alone, and God didn't design human beings to live in seclusion. To complete man, God would "make him a helper suitable for him" ("comparable" or "fit" in some translations). Without female companionship and a partner in the reproductive process by which they could begin the fill the earth, the man would be helpless to fully carry out his humanity. From this starting place, we see that marriage between a man and a woman was part of God's plan for humanity, even before sin entered the world. The term "helper" doesn't mean inferior or sub-servant, but denotes a co-equal partnership in which the man is expected to lead and protect.
Truth 4: Without female companionship, man was incomplete. Without female companionship and a partner in the reproductive process by which they could begin the fill the earth, the man would be helpless to fully carry out his humanity. From this starting place, we see that marriage between a man and a woman was part of God's plan for humanity, even before sin entered the world. The term "helper" doesn't denote inferiority but a co-equal partnership in which the man is expected to lead and protect.