We’ve spent four weeks looking at Genesis 1. On the first week, we learned that Moses wrote the book of Genesis. And he wrote it, originally, for the people of Israel who were making their way from Egypt, through the wilderness, to the Promised Land. So, he didn’t try to prove the existence of God because they had already knew God and believed in him. And Moses wrote about the creation of the world using simple, non-scientific language, so that the Israelites — and us — could understand it without difficulty. And he wrote to convince the Israelites that their God is far, far, far greater than the gods of the pagans. The pagans worshipped the sun and the moon and the stars; but our God made the sun and the moon and the stars. Their gods struggled to make the world; but our God only had to speak and things were made.
Those are some of the things we learned on the first week. The second week we concentrated on verse 2 where it tells us that the heavens and the earth — when God first made them — were formless and empty and dark. It was a dark, watery wasteland. Not the kind of place we’d want to live. But, of course, God wasn’t finished with it. He was about to transform this dark, watery wasteland into a world that would be a suitable home for us to live in. And so we thought about how he created the light so that the world was no longer dark. And he gave order and structure to the world so that it was no longer formless. And he filled the world with plants and fish and birds and animals so that it was no longer empty. And when everything was ready, when everything was just right, he finally created man. He was preparing a suitable home for us.
So, that’s what we were thinking about on the second week. On the third week we concentrated on what Moses wrote about the creation of humans. And so, we saw how he made men and women in his own image and likeness. And he gave us dominion and authority over everything else. And he made us with the capacity for language and for relationship. And by commanding us to increase in number, he ordained marriage for us. And by commanding us to subdue the earth, he ordained work for us. These are things he approves of. And, then we noted that everything he made was good. There was nothing wrong with the world when he first made it.
So, those are some of the things we learned on the third week. On the fourth week we spent our time thinking about the opening verses of chapter 2. Moses tells us that by the seventh day God had finished his work of creation. We often meet people who are good at starting things, but they’re not so good at finishing them. A builder starts to build a house, but soon he gets distracted, or he gets stuck, or he gets sick, and he can’t finish the work he began. But the Lord is not like that. What he begins, he finishes. When the world was made at first, it was a dark, watery wilderness. But he didn’t leave it there. He carried on until the work of creating the world was finished. What God begins, he finishes.
What else? Well, because God had finished his work of creation, he could rest on the seventh day and he blessed the seventh day and made it holy. For the pagans, each seventh day was an unlucky day. They were bad days whenever bad things happened. But for the Israelites, each seventh day was a good day. It was a blessed day. It was a day to look forward to with expectation and delight, because it meant they could rest their bodies from their labour. Think of them, working in the fields every day. It was hard work. But, thank God, because it would soon be the seventh day, when they could rest from their work. And since they didn’t have to work, then they had the time to worship the Lord and to give thanks to him. God has given us the seventh day, Sunday, for rest. And he’s given it to us for worship. And as we worship him, we look forward to the day when Jesus Christ our Saviour will return and we will enter into our eternal rest in the presence of God, when we will be done with our struggle against sin and temptation, and we’ll be done with all the sorrow and misery of this life, and there will be perfect peace and rest for all of God’s believing people.
So, that’s where we got to last time. Today we’re turning our attention to the remainder of chapter 2, and verses 4 to 25. And in verse 4 Moses wrote:
This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.
Now, that phrase, or something like it, pops up several times in the book of Genesis. We find it, for example, in 6:9:
This is the account of Noah.
And then we have the story of Noah and the flood. We also find it in 11:27 where it introduces the story of Terah and his son, Abraham. In 25:19, the same phrase is used to introduce the story of Isaac and his sons Jacob and Esau. And in 37:2 it’s used to introduce the story of Jacob’s son, Joseph. And it’s used in other places as well. And each time, it’s a kind of heading. It’s used to show the reader that a new section of the book is beginning.
And so, when we see it in 2:4, it’s telling us that a new section is beginning. Genesis 1 was a kind of introduction to the book of Genesis. And now that the introduction is over, Moses is beginning a new section of his book.
Now, in chapter 1 — in his introduction to the book — Moses was telling us about the creation of the heavens and the earth. In this new section — which continues until verse 9 of chapter 6 — he’s telling us about what happened once the world was made. And so, in chapter 2 he focusses in on the creation of Adam and Eve. And then, in chapter 3, he tells us about their fall into sin and its consequences. And in chapter 4 we see how sin spread through the human race. And things got so bad on the earth that God was grieved that he made us. And at that point, Moses introduces the next section of the book of Genesis which is about the story of Noah and the flood.
So, verse 4 of chapter 2 introduces a new section of the book of Genesis which focusses, first of all, on Adam and Eve.
Well, there’s one other point I need to make from verse 4. Listen again to what Moses wrote in the second part of verse 4. He said:
When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.
Now, look back to chapter 1 and you’ll see that every time Moses refers to God, he uses the word ‘God’. But in verse 4 he refers to God as ‘the LORD God’. And the fact that the word ‘LORD’ is in capital letters tells us that this is God’s special name. In Hebrew it’s Yahweh, but it appears in our English Bibles as LORD in capital letters. And this is the name God revealed to Moses at the burning bush. Do you remember? God told Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. And Moses wanted to know what he should say if the Israelites asked him who it was who had sent Moses. And God replied:
Tell them, ‘The LORD has sent me to you.’
The LORD in capital letters, Yahweh in Hebrew, was God’s special name.
Now, I’ve mentioned this before. The pagans would say:
Our god is Baal.
Our god is Dagon.
Our god is called this.
Our god is called that.
But the Israelites would say:
Our God is called Yahweh, the LORD.
Now, what’s the significance of this in verse 4 of chapter 2? Well, Moses — and remember that Moses wrote this book under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and for the Israelites who were travelling through the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land — Moses is reminding the Israelites in verse 4 that the God who made the heavens and the earth, the God who created all things, is Yahweh. Their God made all things. He’s saying to them:
The gods of the nations didn’t make these things. Our God made them. Our God is mightier than the gods the pagans believe in. We therefore ought to worship him; and we mustn’t ever give in to the temptation to go after the gods of the nations.
That’s what he was saying to them. And he’s saying it to us as well:
Our God, the Lord, is the same God who made all things. Therefore, be careful that you remain faithful to him always. Worship him and no other gods.
Let’s move on. Verses 5 and 6 are quite difficult to interpret but it seems that Moses is reminding us of the way the world was when God first made it. It wasn’t the hospitable place it is now. It wasn’t yet a home suitable for us. It was still a watery, wasteland. And so, Moses takes us back to a time before there were any shrubs and plants. And, instead of rain falling from the sky, there were springs of water, bubbling up from under the ground. In other words, it was a kind of a wet marsh and hardly the kind of place we’d want to live in. That’s the way it used to be. But God was going to transform it. And the reason he was going to transform it was in order to make it a suitable environment for the man he was about to create. And that’s what verse 7 is about: the creation of man.
And Moses tells us in verse 7 that the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground. And I think we’re to imagine a potter, shaping and moulding a lump of clay, working it into a new piece of pottery. That’s what God was doing. He was moulding and shaping the soil to form the shape of a man.
But, of course, if he left it there, then that’s all it would be: a beautiful shaped lump of clay, but still only a lump of clay. But, of course, God wasn’t finished with this lump of clay. And it’s almost as if God performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on Adam, or the kiss of life. Once the man was only an empty shell. An inanimate body. But then, God bent down, as it were, and breathed into this lifeless body so that Adam became a living being. In other words, God not only formed Adam’s body, but he also gave him life.
And the rest of this chapter tells us about the other things God gave us in the beginning. You see, God not only gave Adam life, but he also gave him a home to live in. And he gave him food to eat. And he gave him a companion to help him. God gave Adam one thing after another, so that we can’t help but see the kindness and love and sheer generosity of God in these verses. And that’s what I want us to think about now. God’s kindness to Adam in the beginning.
So, look at verse 8. Moses tells us that God had planted a garden in the East, in Eden. Now, it’s perhaps worth noting that the Garden isn’t called ‘the Garden of Eden’, although that’s what we call it. In verse 8 Moses refers to it as a garden in Eden. And, you see, Eden was a region of the earth. And the garden was located in that region. And once the garden has been planted, once it was ready, God placed Adam in the garden. And what a wonderful place it was! Look at verse 9: The Lord made all kinds of trees grow in the garden. In other words, there was a great variety of trees in the garden. God was stingy. He didn’t say that one or two or three kinds of tree will be sufficient. He planted all kinds of trees in the garden.
And we’re told that these trees were both pleasing to the eye and good for food. In other words, they were beautiful and their fruit was tasty. One preacher I heard recently said that God doesn’t do white walls and fluorescent tubes. He doesn’t makes things that are drab and dull and uninteresting. When he created the world, he filled the sky with stars that shine brightly. And when he planted a garden for Adam, he made sure that it was beautiful to look at. And he didn’t give Adam dry bread and water to drink. He filled the garden with tasty things for Adam to enjoy. The Lord not only provided him with a home, he ensured that the home was wonderful. That’s the God we worship. And, of course, he didn’t have to do this for Adam. But the fact that he put such a variety of trees in the garden, trees which were pleasing to the eye and good for food shows us how kind and good and generous our God is.
And then look at verse 10. There was a river which watered the garden. And this river, not only watered the garden in Eden, but it seemed to water the whole earth. Moses mentions how it separated to form four other rivers and these rivers flowed into other regions of the earth. So, God was not only taking care of Adam in his garden home, but he was also taking care of the rest of the earth as well. He made these rivers to make the world lush and green and perfect.
And just note briefly what we read in verse 12 about the gold and the other precious stones that God created. There was no need for God to make such things. He didn’t need to make gold and diamonds. But that’s the kind of God he is: he wanted the world to be beautiful and he wanted us to enjoy the glitter of gold and the sparkle of diamonds. The world God made was pleasing to the eye and around every corner there was something to delight and to charm Adam:
Look at that! Isn’t it wonderful. And look at that! And look at that! It was one thing after another, after another, after another.
And then, look down to verse 16, because once again we see God’s generosity. God said to Adam:
You are free to eat from any tree in the garden.
Now, there was one exception. Read on in verse 16 and you’ll see that God forbade Adam from eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Now, we’ll come back to that when we get into chapter 3 and the Fall. However, for now, notice God’s generosity. With that one exception, just one exception, Adam was free to eat from any other tree in the garden. Imagine going into your favourite restaurant and being told you can have whatever you want from the menu. And you can go back for seconds and thirds as well. Well, Adam was invited to take from whatever tree he wanted. And so, we can imagine him, out for a walk through the trees, picking an apple from this tree, and, of course, it’s a perfect apple, so every bite is wonderful. And then he reaches for an orange. And some grapes. And he bends down to try the strawberries and blackberries. And, of course, they’re the juiciest, tastiest fruits and berries you could ever imagine. Help yourself, God said to him. Our God is not stingy. That’s the God we believe in. And that’s the God we worship. He’s the one who not only gave life to Adam, but he also gave Adam a wonderful home to live in.
So, God gave Adam his life. He gave him a home. He gave him food. He also gave him a companion to help him.
Now, in chapter 1, Moses keep saying that God surveyed what he had made and he saw that it was good. Every day, whatever God made, was pronounced good. And, of course, when God had finished, he looked at all that he had made and it was very good. But now he notices something that is not good. Verse 18:
The LORD God said: ‘It is not good for the man to be alone.’
And so, God decided to make a suitable helper for Adam. And we read how all the other creatures were paraded in front of Adam and it’s his job to name them. But, not one of the other creatures was a suitable companion for Adam. The elephant — too big. The mice — too small. The toad — too slimy. The hedgehog — too prickly. And so on. None is right for Adam. Not one of them will make an ideal partner for him. So, in the end, the Lord God made a helper for Adam. From out of Adam’s side, he made a woman, and he presented her to Adam. And in verse 23 we have Adam’s very first recorded words. And what are his very first recorded words? Well, husbands should take note: it’s a love poem to his wife:
This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.
It’s as if he’s saying:
At last! I’ve waited so long for you. And now you’re here. This is the moment I’ve been waiting for.
And what had he been waiting for? A companion. Or, as we read in verse 20, he was waiting to meet a suitable help for him. Now, it’s perhaps possible for some men to look at these verses about the creation of Eve, Adam’s wife, and to think that they have a divine warrant to treat their wives as skivvies, designed by God to do all the unpleasant tasks which the man doesn’t want to do. But, of course, we would be completely wrong to think like that. The woman was to be the man’s ‘helper’ and the word for ‘helper’ is also used in the Bible to refer to the Lord who was known as Israel’s helper. Remember the Psalmist who asked:
Where does my help come from?
The Lord God was Israel’s helper. In other words, he was their Saviour. God saved Israel from danger and the woman God created saved the man from his loneliness. So, Eve was not created to be Adam’s skivvy or slave. She wasn’t created to be inferior to him. She was to be his companion and partner and she was created to help him because he wouldn’t be any good on his own.
Well, God understands that we need companions. It’s not good for any of us to be on our own. And so when we’re born, we surrounded by a family because an infant cannot survive on her own. And as we grow up, we make friends. We might get married and start our own family. And in the church, we enjoy the company of our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Throughout our lives, God surrounds us with people to support us and to encourage us and to help us. He does it for us. And he did it for Adam right at the beginning. God is so good. He gave Adam his life. He gave him a home. He gave him food to eat. And he gave him a companion.
Well, today’s passage ends with verse 25 and the little detail that Adam and Eve were both naked and they felt no shame. It speaks to us of their innocence before sin came into the world. But it wasn’t to last, was it? In chapter 3 we’ll read how they disobeyed the Lord by eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. And as soon as they did that, they became ashamed of themselves and they ran away from God and hid themselves whenever he came into the garden to see them.
Well, they had no reason to disobey God. God had been good to them. He had been so kind and generous to them. He gave them their life. He gave them a wonderful home to live in. He gave them all the food they could possibly want. He gave them each other for companionship. He had been so good to them. They had no reason to turn against him.
And, of course, we can say the same. In fact, we can say even more than Adam and Eve could say, because we can say that not only has God given us our life, and our homes, and our food, and companions to help us, but he’s also given us his Son to be our Saviour. And he’s given us the assurance of sins forgiven. And he’s given us the hope of everlasting life. God has been good to us. We really have no good reason for disobeying him.
And yet we do, don’t we? An old preacher once asked his congregation to think about what their employer would say to them if — having given them their salary so that they could house themselves, and feed themselves, and look after themselves — they then came into work and, instead of working, only sat back, with their feet up on the table. What would their employer do to them? Well, we all know what their employer would do if they behaved like that. And none of us would dream of doing such a thing. Well, it would be infinitely worse if we were to treat the Lord like that, and instead of serving him with all our might every day, we gave no thought to how we might repay his kindness to us. What would we think if he ever said to us:
I gave you your life and your health!
I gave you your home!
I gave you your food!
I gave you your friends and family!
I gave you the forgiveness of sins and the hope of everlasting life!
Why then are you so slow to serve me?
We’d be ashamed if that is what he would say to us. And so, let’s be careful to serve the Lord wholeheartedly; let’s make it our ambition to do his will every day; let’s make sure we obey and serve him so that he will never be able to accuse us of such ingratitude.
But there’s one more thing to add. Even though Adam disobeyed the Lord, the Lord did not turn away from him and withhold his kindness from him. He didn’t do that. Instead, as we’ll see, he gave Adam and Eve animal skins to cover their nakedness. And then, he promised them that he would send them a Saviour who would cover their sin and their guilt.
And so, in due course, the Saviour came into the world, and he died for us to pay for our sins. And now, through faith in him, the guilt of our sins is covered over, forever.
Do you see the kindness and generosity of our God? His kindness to us never ends. He just gives and gives and gives and gives, even though we don’t deserve it. And so, he gives us life. He gives us the world to live in. He gives us food to eat every day. He gives us our family and friends. But his gifts don’t stop there, because he gave us a Saviour. And he gives us the faith to believe in the Saviour. And he gives us the repentance we need to turn from our sin. And he gives us forgiveness and he gives us peace with God and he gives us the hope of everlasting life. His gifts towards us never stop. He’s the giving God. And so, everyday we ought to come to him and give thanks to him for his kindness to us. And we ought to ensure that we live our lives for him and for his glory.