Sunday, March 05, 2006

 

Genesis 2

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Genesis 2

Day 7 of Creation


Good Morning! We have completed the first 6 days of Creation in chapter 1 and now will continue our study in Genesis 2. Let’s go over our assumptions: First, we are treating the account as literally true. Secondly, we are making no accommodation for current philosophy or “scientific” beliefs of the moment.

We left creation at the end of day 6 with the universe complete, though not as it is now. Some great acts of Creation will occur later in our study. Sin and death have not yet entered the experience of God’s creatures. Today we look at his last great work of the week of beginnings.

Genesis 2:1 Read.

All the physical world is finished. God has brought into being matter. Electrons spin around protons and the protons in each atom hold together by his power. The idea in this verse is of COMPLETENESS. No allowance is made here for new things to evolve on their own or come into being later. The “host” is done. The first man and woman exist on the planet that is God’s footstool. All the stars, planets, and other heavenly bodies are in the place. Every “kind” of animal exists, roughly in the divisions we call “species”. The heavenly host exists too. All the angels are present. As are the animals here on earth. Great changes are to come, but the creation of matter is now complete.

Genesis 2:2-3 Read.

This is our Lord’s last great day of creation. He has just brought into being not a physical thing, but a concept. He created “rest”. This is not because he was weak and exhausted from all his hard work, but because of his love for his creation, especially the man and woman, he has set for them a great example. Dr. Boise, the great Presbyterian theologian points out that the first step toward sin is often a state of restlessness. In the field of substance abuse treatment we often say that the person with the soul-sickness of addiction is “restless, irritable, and discontented”. We will see Eve later in our study in this condition when she commits the original sin. But we as believers know the cure for restlessness, it is in the person of our Lord and Savior who said “come to me all ye who are weak and heavy laden and I will give you rest.” The father’s creation of the concept of rest looks forward to the day when all believers will find rest in him through his son.

Do you wonder that he blessed the seventh day and set it apart, or sanctified it?

Of course he also gave us fallible creatures the idea of at least one day in 7 to rest from our labors as he did. Our bodies and minds need a Sabbath from our drudgery. I will not here enter into the controversy of Saturday verses Sunday for rest and worship nor the doctrines that have grown up around it. I will only say if you’ve ever been in the position of NOT having a day in 7 off, you know how fatiguing and endless your labors soon seem.

Again, the ending of the creation week in this way takes away the possibility of slow change over eons of time, of never ending, pointless evolution. The act of creation is just that, an ACT or activity which has a measurable beginning and ending.

Genesis 2:4-6 Read.

These 3 verses begin another of the great controversies surrounding the book of Genesis. Liberal theologians insist we are now entering a second creation account and that this book just lists different ways it might have happened. They even divide the account up into different source documents and assign letters to them. Perhaps they should look at the context of the whole bible. The word used in verse 4 is correctly translated “generations”. The more modern versions simplify this for us by rendering it “accounts” or similar words. This is part of the unfortunate tendency on the part of the Modern English translators to “dumb down” scripture to make it easier to understand. The King James version I hold in my hand and also the New American Standard Version are presented in English for the reading level of perhaps a High School Senior. Many Modern English versions are aimed at a 6th to 10th grade reading skill. The result is the use of the word “accounts”. This leads a critic to suggest this passage is just another myth about how things came to be; another “account”. But the word “generations” is used specifically many times in the bible. It means the focused history of what happened to one particular person and his descendents. Do we have one person focused on in Genesis 1 and 2? Yes, the man Adam.

This is not just another version of creation, but now moves to the specifics of part of it. Verse 5 tells us some important things. First, God did not put seeds or roots into the earth to grow later. Remember, he created them whole already bearing seed, they would grow and be watered AFTER there was a man to till them. Again, not over hundreds of millions of years of evolution but 3 days later. Verse 6 gives us a hint at how different the climate and atmosphere were in the days of the “waters divided from the waters in the firmament”. OUR scientific “model” suggests that in this new, sub-tropical creation much of the free water was locked in a vast vapor canopy surrounding the earth and was not yet to be released as rain. As an alternative, mist rose from the ground and watered the soil and the earth was self irrigating by means of rivers.

Now God’s inspired word gives us a more descriptive account of how he made man on the sixth day.

Genesis 2:7 Read.

We have here one of the most powerful images in scripture. A loving God reaches down into the dust of his creation and molds it into a creature of his own image and with his own breath breathes life into it. What a picture! And what an abomination to suggest it happened slowly by accident and mutation over vast stretches of time. This act of love is a treasure to awe and inspire us, not a myth to toss over our shoulders. Not till Christ breathed on his disciples and said, “receive the Holy Spirit” would we see the like. There is obviously so much more to becoming a living soul than just breathing in and out as any animal is capable of doing. An act of love and the miraculous creation of an immortal soul is involved here. The idea of what that moment was like is almost past speculation.

And he made the man from dust. If you have access to a concordance and some time on your hands, you might want to follow Dr. Boise’s suggestion and look up every reference to dust. It carries the idea of being low, of being nothing, of defeat and shame. In the next chapter the serpent will be cursed to crawl in the dust. Of this God made us, to this we will return.

Now the creator gives a special gift to Adam, the Hebrew word for man, which is also from the same root as “earth.”

Genesis 2: 8,9 Read.

God made a place for his new creation to live and work in. On day 3 plants had been created instantly bearing fruit. Now he makes them to grow from the ground, he plants them and the promise of verse 5 is fulfilled, because there now a man present to care for them. Not every plant he had created, but those especially that were pleasant to the sight, and good for man to eat. And in the middle of the garden he planted two very, very special trees. One was the tree of life and the other the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

Commentators remind us that Moses, a wanderer of the desert and a former resident of the dry country of Egypt provided this description to desert nomads to whom it seemed a description of heaven itself.

Verses 5 and 6 have already told us that rain had not yet fallen on the earth so the garden and the rest of the one continent on which it rested were watered by mists and irrigated by steams and rivers. The mists must have been very thick and heavy. The Hebrew word translated “mist” here can also mean “stream”.

Genesis 2:10-14 Read.

So a deep, pure river of water flowed out from the garden and not only watered it but the continent of the early earth. Now our scientific skeptics will poke fun at us an point out that the rivers named here do not spring from one source or flow the way this passage describes, nor do the minerals here exist in great amounts in some of those regions bound by them. So Genesis must be a myth, right?

You can find the answer itself very quickly at the library. If you go there you will see in a display case a piece of tile over a thousand years old that says Pella on it. Why does it have the name of a Midwestern town half a planet away on it? Because men give names in new places that make them feel at home or comfortable. That’s why there is a Bedford, England near where John Bunyan wrote Pilgrim’s Progress and another in Massachusetts. For the same reason there is a Harlem in the Netherlands and another on Manhattan Island. And a York and a New York. I could give dozens of examples. In the days after Noah left the ark, he and his family must have named every terrain feature they came across after ones the remembered from the old earth before the flood. But we’re getting way ahead of our story.

Genesis 2:15 Read.

See? Verse 5 is being fulfilled. It sounds as though the garden was very like an orchard or vineyard. It needed dressed and kept, or if you will, pruned and kept neat. Not weeded in these days before the Fall in these days before thorns and thistles. We also see here that with every gift comes responsibilities. The gift of our salvation is like that. James said “faith without works is dead”. The responsibility to dress and take care of our faith, to make it bloom and yield fruit rests on us.

And now, having given Adam the wonderful gift of this paradise to live in, and responsibility for caring for it, God gives him a rule, just one, the first “thou shalt not”.

Genesis 2:16,17 Read.

Notice about this commandment that Adam could eat “freely” of every tree. He could eat till he had his fill, he could sample them all, even presumably the tree of life, but that is an argument that could use up weeks of sermons. For now, on this 6th day of creation God provides man with all he could possibly need. And while tomorrow the Father will introduce to Adam the idea of rest, today he introduces another and frightening possibility, death. So we find added to the gift, responsibility, to the responsibility, the expectation of obedience, and to the obedience... consequences. There would be much to contemplate on the day of rest that would follow. But first God has much more for both himself and Adam to accomplish.

Genesis 2:18 Read.

You will recall that in our last lesson we noticed that as God made each part of his creation, he described it as “good” as soon as he was finished with it, with the exception of the man and the woman. The ancient Jewish Rabbi’s said this was because of all creation only humans had the option of choosing goodness. Later in chapter 1 God would look at his creation in it’s totality and say it was “very” good. An extra word that describes the old creation before the fall. But in this verse we see that already on day 6 God has seen something about the creature in his image that is NOT good. He is alone. He has God for a companion. He will soon have animals for companions, but he needs more, “an help meet”. In other words, a mate and a helper who is “meet” for him or as we would say now, a helper fit to meet his needs.

Genesis 2:19,20 Read.

At last, those of you who think I’m too hard on the modern translations in favor of the King James will find a passage where they are partially, at least, more correct. Great confusion has come about from the feeling that the King James gives us here that God made these creatures after Adam was created in contradiction of chapter 1. Not so. A better translation is “And out of the ground the Lord God HAD formed etc.” That one word “had” making all the difference. God created them in the past as described in chapter 1, NOW he presents them to Adam to show him, I think, that each one has a mate or help meet fit for it.

God also does something else here. He is delegating his authority. In the last passage he granted the man authority over the plant kingdom, at least the part of it that grew in the garden. Now he delegates more authority to Adam, authority over the animal kingdom. Up to now God has named things, he called the light day and the darkness, night. That act of authority is now passed on to man.

I can imagine the fun he had with creatures such as the giraffe and duck-billed platypus, but always with a touch of disappointment. These creatures all had mates. He had companionship, but he needed someone to love as well. A loving God would soon provide.

Genesis 2: 21-23 Read.

Now we see why verse 4 calls this the “generations” of creation. Man has just had his first descendent, so to speak. Woman is taken out of him and is part of him. It is interesting that the Hebrew word we translate as “rib”, carries with it much more than the idea of a shiny white bone. It means “part of the side”. One or more ribs with the flesh, muscle tissue, skin, etc. attached. Well good Adam then say, “this is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” She truly was. And Adam already had authority, because God lets him name her. God brought her to him, the scripture says, and now Adam knew a help meet was found for him. Of all the things that God had created, this was the treasure, the most precious. And how precious are they to be to each other? Moses answers that in verse 24.

Genesis 2:24 Read.

Already one flesh physically, they are to be one flesh emotionally and spiritually. The father and mother are not to come first. Man's attention and loyalty is not to be divided. That is why the most devastating effects on marriage are the interference of in-laws and the perversion of unfaithfulness, of seeking other flesh. God has established an example of what our relationship with him is to be. Infidelity is the example he shows of what it means to turn away from him and seek other God’s. A husband and wife are to be one flesh, God and man are to be one spirit. Where is our fidelity today?

Genesis 2:25 Read.
In many ways verse 25 goes more with chapter 3, where we will see the results of the lust of the flesh that is here hinted at and we will attend more to it in that study.

For now we need to look to our own hearts and ask ourselves...

What have I done with God’s free gift of salvation?

Have I carried out my responsibility to dress and keep my faith, to make it bloom and bear fruit?

Have I followed the commandments the Giver of the gift has given me?

Have I stayed faithful and true to him, forsaking all others?

When the day of judgement comes, can my life stand naked before him without shame?
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