Genesis 2 – Sermon Manuscript

PLEASE NOTE: These are the notes I use to preach from, if you would like to hear them in context, please watch our YouTube channel.

Man and Woman

Genesis 2:4-25 (page 1)

-Muslims believe paradise will be a huge garden with riches immeasurable, each man will be rewarded with 70 beautiful young women.

-What does paradise look like to you?

-Muslims believe paradise is just part of a spirit world for those who are have believed in Jesus during their time on earth.

-Buddhism doesn’t believe in paradise, but instead in the “land of bliss” some argue that only men will reach this land

-Many people in America seem to act as if this land is paradise, they keep building your domain as big as you can, working their tails off to be the best version of themselves they can possibly be!

-The Bible gives us a different view to paradise, but can be summarized as: God’s people, in God’s land living under God’s rule & blessing. Once again, we see Genesis serving as the foundation for the whole Bible!

  1. Creation Retold (4-14)

-“These are the generations” serves as the beginning of a section in Genesis

6:9 Noah, 10:1 Noah’s family, 11:10 Shem, 11:27 Terah, etc.

-Every other instance is of people, this is of the created order, the beginning of everything

-We’ve picked up from where we left off last week and zooming in on the 6th day, focusing (again) on the creation of humanity, giving us quite a bit more detail 

-See this beginning verses as setting the stage for the main point of the story

-An error that people make is viewing this as 2 separate creation accounts

-There’s not 1 creation of people, then a separate creation when “Adam and Eve” are created, there is a message that God is communicating through this text (again!) start back with the original audience 

-Lord God – new name for God (Yahweh Elohim) last chapter was just Elohim, Yahweh is His covenant name that He gives to His people, the holy name that was unutterable by God’s people 

-Moses is telling us something about what God is doing/working in his creative acts, so early on in the creation of the world before plants were created, before rain fell from the sky, before there was a human to take care of the ground (tilling, planting, cultivating)

-Text tells us that the watering/care of the earth was done from water under the ground

-It’s at that point that God forms the man “of dust from the ground.”

-Said last week that unlike the previous creation, animals are created from that which was already created

-God then breathes into him the “breath of life”

-This is a two-fold act of creation, first the man is created bodily/physically, then God breathes into him 

-Again, we’re going to be approaching Genesis from a biblical theology perspective, so another place this pops up is Ezekiel 37 where the prophet is taken to the valley of dry bones, and points us to the ultimate reality that unless God awakens human creatures they are walking around as people who are dead (Eph 2:10)

-Then we get to a specific location out of all of the creation that God is going to bestow his special blessing upon – Eden. 

-Typically referred to as the garden of Eden, but I hadn’t noticed until digging in this week that man doesn’t work/till the ground until the Fall in Genesis 3, so tilling the earth is part of the Fall, not part of the creation, if you look at vs. 9, a better description would be the ORCHARD of Eden.

-Eden is described as ‘in the east” east of what? Again, original context, east of where Moses is writing from, the Promised Land of Israel. 

-Also looks like Adam was created from the ground somewhere outside, then Eden was created as a place for Adam, Adam is brought in and put there.

-Then notice some descriptions about the garden:

-“pleasant to the sight.” Just as I encouraged you last week, have you ever thought about why things are beautiful? They have no intrinsic evolutionary advantage! Have you ever been to a westward facing beach when the sun’s setting? Waves rhythmically kissing the sand, each second you see a new color in the sunset. Or been in the mountains of Colorado as the sun is rising?

-Even music! I was a music guy for 10 years before I came here, people get emotionally invested in music! Again, there is no intrinsic value to it, no evolutionary advantage, but we still have it! 

-God literally baked beautiful artistry into the created order. Food can be beautiful to look at! If you’ve ever been to a hibachi grill you know what I’m talking about. Food there becomes a work of art! That creativity comes from a creative God.

-2 trees are singled out for specific attention:

-The tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

-First, these trees are in the middle of the garden. I read some really interesting things about the garden, their significance and purpose this week. One person said that was done so the middle of Adam’s world was not himself, but life, the very presence of God. Tied into that looking at some of the Hebrew words used (specifically in 3:22, which we’ll study next week, says if you eat of the tree of life, you’ll live forever”) One commentator argues this should be translated as “perpetual life” meaning regular eating of the fruit counteracts the effects of aging. Here’s what’s crazy – even science today would argue that’s true! There are some foods we can eat that help our bodies remain in good health, let’s be honest though, they generally don’t taste as good as the foods that kill us! I still remember listening to one pastor who shared his love for bacon, got confronted by a member in his church because bacon will kill you, and he said “Fine! I’ll go to heaven and hang out with Jesus full of bacon!” We’ll look closer at the second tree in vs. 17, all I’ll say now is “good and evil” is used throughout the Bible as a merism, referring to all knowledge, not JUST good & evil

-Last thing from this section is the description of waters and fine metals. Eden is viewed as the source from which all life flows out – look at the language: “flowed OUT OF Eden” Since water is required for life, Eden is the source of that life. While we often read this as a geographical location, it’s more meant to say ALL life finds it’s source in Eden, 4 waters spreading out to cover the 4 corners of the earth. We also see the fine stones/metals that were there. 

-Biblical theology: where else in the Bible do we see a land with a river flowing through it and precious metals being found in it? Revelation 21-22

-The Garden in Eden is being described as a temple where God’s people can live in perfect relationship with Him. Now we know what’s coming next week, so we today can long for that ‘Paradise Lost’ to quote John Milton, but we’re getting a little bit ahead of this story!

-This garden/orchard has boundaries (it wasn’t the whole earth) and it’s specifically created FOR the fulfilment and enjoyment of the man. (enjoyment because the trees were “pleasant to the sight”) not mere pragmatic value. Let’s look at the man

  • The Man’s Role (15-17)

-Remember Adam was formed/fashioned somewhere else, then brought to this garden that was specifically created for him to flourish.

-The word translated “put” in vs. 15 is from the word we saw last week: rest. Connotation of “settled” so just as God rested from his work, so the man is rested/settled into his garden.

-Then the man is given a job: to work and keep the garden.

-Garden of Eden isn’t an all-inclusive resort, sipping an Arnold Palmer in the sun being waited on by the animals. Work is good! Work is a gift from God. Work means we join with God in the ordering of the creation. Some people translate that “work” as “serve,” or “worship.” Throughout the Pentateuch (first 5 books of the Bible) it’s used to describe how we work and worship in the service of the Lord. Do you view your work as worship?

-We know that we live “east of Eden” today and our work is much much harder than it was intended to be, but work is still a good thing. 2 Thessalonians 3:10 “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” Your work is meant to be an act of worship to God – we join with God in bringing order to the chaos around us, we all should be contributing to the furthering of good and human flourishing and fighting against the darkness. But I’d take that a step further and tie in some NT ideas to be salt and light in your various vocations. Take some time this week and think about this question: how can I use my job to worship God and point others to Him? Maybe it’s setting a reminder on your phone to pray a couple times a day. Maybe it’s bringing your Bible and reading it during lunch. Maybe it’s as simple as being a hard, reliable, and dependable worker who works hard to get along with everyone with whom you work. Whatever it is, God has sent you to your job to be his witness. 

-I think it’s also true that our work, when we find the unique ways God has wired and gifted us, our work ends up feeling more like rest.

-Second word: keep. Guard, observe, watch over. Most often used for keeping God’s commands and obeying God’s Word. Once again, there’s this pictures that God through Moses are painting in these opening chapters of Genesis that are laying the foundation for how we as humans are meant to operate and view the rest of the created order. God creates the world perfectly for us to flourish, then we join with him in continuing to push back against the chaos, darkness, and disorder, working/serving and keeping the world He created. 

-But what does the keeping mean without a command? Two-fold, first a positive, then a negative.

-Positive: surely you may eat of every tree. Negative: at least every tree except one. One leads to life, one leads to death. That’s the same theme we saw throughout the Psalms: 2 ways to live, one leads to life and one leads to death. So many of the themes we see in the Bible and our world today are seen in these opening pages. If humans were to choose to eat from the forbidden fruit, in that day they will die. They will experience separation from God, physically and spiritually.

-This is all background to focusing on the man. The stage is set, the garden is prepped, the work is given, the command is in place (both positively and negatively) and then the drama continues because there is a problem.

  • The Man’s Helper (18-25)

-First instance of “not good” Remember I shared last week, tov maod, but in this case God uses my motto for Hebrew: lo tov – not good! Even living in paradise in perfect communion with God and every tree producing fruit in abundance isn’t enough for the man. 

-Think of how caring this God is. Contrary to other world religions where humanity is created to do the work of the gods, God partners with us in continuing to carry out His task. Not left to our own devices or ideas to try to figure out what we should be doing in the world. He gives us food, a job, provision, and now he’ll go above and beyond in giving the man a “helper fit for him.” Before we talk about the contemporary significance of that, let’s walk through the whole section.

-Remember back in Genesis 1, God is the one naming the creation, so He calls light “day” and darkness “night”, expanse “Heaven,” dry land “Earth” waters “seas” 

-The man is called to name the animals God created. Think of this beautiful parade of all creatures great and small being trotted in front of him, and he gets commissioned from God to name them all. It’s almost as if God is showing off and sharing everything He made! Just as God naming His creation shows his rule/reign over that creation, in this case God is sharing that rule/reign with the man. 

-Prophet/priest/king – This is God giving the man a kingly role. Priest is found in the “Serving and keeping” just like the priests are to serve and keep the temple, prophet is obeying and keeping the commands of God. 

-Despite this man naming everything, there was no creature made that was a helper fit, or corresponding to him. Which means God’s final act of creation here is to bring relationship to the human race. 

-Last week I shared that men and women together are created in the image of God, one gender by itself is insufficient in imaging God into the world. 

-First time the proper name is used is in this verse. “The man” is called Adam. (thought to be pointing back to the ground, the adama from which he was taken)

-God is going to perform surgery on Adam to create his helper. Literally in the Hebrew God takes from Adam’s side – some have argued God took his WHOLE side and fashioned woman from her, but rib also works. 

-God leads the first ever wedding ceremony, bringing the woman to the man, and the man cannot believe it! He breaks out in song, leading to his progeny attempting to use song to woo women from that point forward.

-Says “Woah, man!” I mean, WOMAN. Just as “Adam” is similar to adama, woman is isha man is ish. They correspond to each other. Man and woman are interconnected, that is the way God has intended men and women to function. We are not completed with just 1 gender, God created us for community.

-This section ends with what one commentator described as “leave, cleave, and weave.” 

-Leave: a man shall leave his father and mother. A new family unit is formed in marriage that didn’t exist before. Does not merely mean physical separation, as in this context the new couple would often move back in with his parents to carry on the family trade.

-Cleave: (hold fast) the primary allegiance moves from your immediate family to your new spouse

-Weave: become one flesh. Your life completely changes! At our overseer meeting this week we were sharing how our lives were radically different before we were married. Hate to share this, but some of our overseers cooking skills are limited to the buttons on the microwave – some of them needed to be single longer!

-Ends with both man and woman being “naked and were not ashamed.” More than just lack of clothing, nothing is hidden from each other, there is complete understanding, care, concern for each other with no shame of being “found out” or “exposed” to be something you’re not. No facades, no trial in their relationship, a state we won’t ever fully experience until we’re in eternity.

-So what does this section mean for us on this side of the Fall, yet redeemed people?

Gender roles – This passage appears again in 1 Timothy 2 with Paul’s description of roles/function in the church. Can’t dig in too far – but I am a convinced complementarian, meaning there are distinct roles/gifts for men/women in the church to fulfill. Just as there is distinction in the rest of creation (light/dark, sea/land) there is distinction between men & women that sets the stage for how we are to fulfil our cultural mandate:

-“helper” may not be the best word for us today because we tend to view it as subservient to, can be thought of as companion, or counterpart. Eve fills in where Adam is lacking, and Adam fills in where Eve is lacking. But it’s also important to know that throughout the OT this word ezer is most often used in connection with God as our helper, or companion

Cultural mandate – John Frame: “Man’s responsibility to fill and subdue the earth is sometimes called the cultural mandate. That language brings out the fact that man’s task is one of turning the earth into a habitat for man, one suited to the needs and purposes of man. This task involves not only the cultivation of crops for food, but also the arts, sciences, and literature, by which human life becomes more than mere subsistence. And at the deepest level, man’s labor has the goal of bringing praise and glory to God. So he is to structure his life and culture according to God’s standards.”

Basically, man is to extend Eden’s borders to fill the whole earth

Blessing in/through the church. Adam’s role sets the stage for authority for all humans: prophet, priest, king (authority, presence, control) Now the church is meant to recapture that same call of prophet as we speak God’s Words to each other, priest as we implant ourselves among each other in a specific place, and king as we work hard as for the Lord and not for man bringing God’s ordering out of the chaos into our various spheres of influence.

-“creation itself was not complete until there was community, Adam needing eve before humanity was whole. God never works with individuals in isolation, but always with people in community.” Peterson, A Long Obedience, 177 

-One of the ways we are a blessing is by working hard for God, as Col. 3:23 reminds us “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” A little Monk named Brother Lawrence decided to live this way, using everything he did as a means of blessing others and God. He described this pursuit in a letter saying “I decided to sacrifice my life with all its pleasures to God. But He greatly disappointed me in this idea, for I haver met with nothing but satisfaction in giving my life over to Him.” 

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: