Back to the Beginning pt. 4
Well, I hope and pray we never grow weary of singing God’s praises. And that we never tire of studying God’s Word.
For both are eternal. Yes, Christian, we will praise God for eternity.
And though the grass withers and the flower fades, the Word of our God stands forever! Isaiah 40:8
Now as you know, we have been studying the Genesis narrative. Narrative simply means story. In any great story you have 5 components: characters, setting, plot, conflict, and resolution.
During the last 3 Sunday we completed the opening chapter, Genesis 1.
Who is the main character? Elohim the powerful Creator. And the minor characters, are those God made in His image, male and female- Adam and Eve.
The setting of chapter 1 is the universe. And in chapter 2, after Moses gives us a creation summary in verses 1-3, he describes man’s home, the Garden of Eden.
While we won’t see conflict and resolution till chapter 3, what’s the plot of the opening chapter of Genesis?
It’s God showing His surpassing glory by creating the heavens and earth and man!
As we come to the second chapter, I want you to see how the plot deepens. For here we behold God’s bountiful blessing and care for His creation namely for Adam. And friends, this should compel us to love and serve Him all the more!
Since the first 3 verses tie most closely with chapter 1, let’s first read and hone in on them:
Genesis 2:1–3 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.
This focuses our attention on the
1. Completion of Creation 1-3
The vantage point Moses gives us here is looking back at the entire 6 days of creation.
Three great divine accomplishments are highlighted: the heavens- that’s the universe and the earth- that’s our planet.
And “the hosts”- that best refers not to angels but to stars (since we are told of the creation of the stars in 1:16 and nothing here of angels). Now here’s what’s mind boggling. We live in a universe that scientists tell us includes a billion galaxies. And each of those galaxies contain at least a billion stars! There’s no way we can get our minds around the immensity of stars. It’s not just the number but immensity of the stars that’s so stunning. You know the sun, it’s a star. And it can easily hold 1 million of our earths inside. Yet by comparison, it’s not a particularly large star! Let me introduce you to UY Scuti, a bright red supergiant discovered in the last 5 years. UY Scuti is believed to be the largest star in the known universe. How big is this star? Imagine that the Earth was an 8-inch diameter ball (the size of a cantaloupe). At that scale, the Sun would be 73 feet in diameter- that’s taller than the massive tree at the end of our parking lot. Now the enormous star, UY Scuti, in comparison, would be 125,000 feet across, nearly 24 miles (that’s from here to the Wayne County airport)!
So you could easily fit 4 quadrillion earths in UY Scuti- that’s 4 to the 15th power or 4 with 15 zeros!
Well, if you don’t know God, that can make you feel awfully insignificant and vulnerable.
You can feel like you are on a little ship named Earth in the universe that at any time could be hit and destroyed by an asteroid. A year ago this July, featured in the Sunday UK express was the following warning- SPACE WARNING: A GIANT death star is heading Earth’s way which could wipe out life on the planet. Then to make things worse the article went on to say it is one of 14 stars aiming toward Earth!
Friends, God completed His work on the 6th day. And He upholds every star and planet and all things by the word of His power. Heb. 1:3
You see, when God flung all the galaxies and stars into space, when He made the seas, rivers, lakes, trees, plants, birds, fish and beasts and mankind- He did it perfectly and completely.
In other words, there’s no evolutionary process whatsoever that began or maintains life. None!
Tragically, a number of those who claim to be Bible-believing Christians have embraced what’s called “Bio logos.” Sounds good but it’s just a remake of theistic evolution. These individuals see God as beginning the world yet then using evolution for millions of years to complete His work. By the way, guys like Bruce Waltke, Tim Keller, Alister McGrath teach this. Here’s the implication of bio logos: we have descended from earlier ape-like creatures by random mutation and natural selection. That’s what they want us to make of the Genesis account. Bible scholar H.P. Leupold aptly writes concerning Genesis 2, “Every inch of this chapter is a battleground.” Listen, evolution, biologos, and theistic evolution, share this in common: they attack and reject what is straightforward in Scripture. The implications of their view is this: “God didn’t get it right the first time.” Church, God is not like the big car companies in Motor City- every one of them botches something up and has to do recalls to fix things. Well, when truth is attacked, you answer with the sword of the Spirit. Look at verses 2 and of our text (Gen. 2:2). Watch how God drives home that He did it all by Himself.
-> “By the 7th day God completed His work”
-> “which He had done.” Then follows:
-> “He rested on the 7th day from all His work which He had done.”
-> And in verse 3: “He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”
Listen, in those two verses, verses 2 and 3, if you include the pronouns “He” and “His” with God’s name, you find that 10x God emphasizes from beginning to the end, He did it all! By the way, that totals 46 x in Genesis 1 and 2 of God and not some process accomplishing all that was made!
No, our God did not need and did not use natural selection and the survival of the fittest for millions of years to help Him finish His creative work. He did it by Himself directly in 6 24-hour days, in 6 earth rotations!
Moses appeals to the literal 6-day creation week when he calls the children of Israel to observe the sabbath rest.
Exodus 20:9–11 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. 11 “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.
And Exodus 31:16–17 makes the same powerful point.
Just like in the divine work on the cross. Everything God set out to accomplish was complete! It was finished!
And on the 7th day, we are told in verse 2 and 3, God rested “from all His work.”
Did God get muscle fatigue, was He exhausted and worn out from the massive work of creation?
Not one bit. In fact, God didn’t have any diminished supply of energy and strength!
So, the resting God did had more to do with ceasing, stopping His creative work. He didn’t stop to catch His breath but rather to celebrate His completed work. That’s why He sanctified and set apart the 7th day.
Isaiah 40:28 puts it to us like this: “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired.”
O that’s so wonderful to remember, especially in times when we are weary and tired.
Do you remember how Isaiah found great consolation in that?
Isaiah 40:29–31 He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. 30 Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, 31 Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”
So, our privilege, beloved, is to rest in God’s limitless strength.
God’s rest is a model for us to find rest in Him.
Would you look with me and see that great encouragement in Hebrews 4. Because it ties right to verse 2 of our text:
Hebrews 4:4 “For He has said somewhere concerning the seventh day: “AND GOD RESTED ON THE SEVENTH DAY FROM ALL HIS WORKS”; And then in verse 9 So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10 For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. 11 Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.
We enter into a rest for our sinful souls at salvation.
And we are to enjoy resting in Him moment by moment, day after day.
Christ offers rest to the weary. And that’s for all of us. Matthew 11:28–30 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. 30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
With the completion of creation, we now get to see the
2. Close-up of Creation 4-7
Look at the beginning of verse 4, notice the key phrase: “This is the account of” or some translated it as “These are the generations of…”
This phrase appears 13 times in the O.T. 11 of which are in Genesis. Every time it refers to what follows rather than what precedes.
This shows us God is giving a 2nd description of how He created the heaven and earth.
It’s not a “confusion of two points of view” as liberals assert.
It’s a close-up look at what God accomplished especially in creating man.
Notice how the world was before the 3rd day of creation (v. 5).
We are told, “Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the LORD God (YHWH ELOHIM) had not sent rain upon the earth, and there was no man to cultivate the ground.”
God wants us to picture the condition of the ground before He created plants and vegetation.
There was dirt He made waiting to fill with flowers, grains, and trees for man to care for.
Would you look at how God sovereignly prepared the soil for planting?
V. 6: But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground.
Picture water gushing from the earth in huge fountains creating the perfect irrigation system misting over the earth.
One of my favorite school projects was making a terrarium out of a huge 5-gallon water bottle.
It was no easy job getting the plants through the small opening and rooted in the ground. But once there, the balanced habitat with evaporation and condensation caused the plants to thrive on just a little water.
So too, the world was a perfect environment, not just for plants and animals but for people.
For God designed the earth as a privileged planet for humanity. It’s perfectly designed for us!
Beginning in 1961 NASA supported SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.
At the tune of 2.5 million dollars a year, they scanned the skies 40 years hoping to find intelligent life on other planets. Yet they found absolutely none!
You see they are looking in the wrong direction with eyes blinded to the truth.
For the crown jewel of God’s creation is not some ET on some other planet. It’s what we see right here in verse 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.”
From this verse, God wants us to be clear on the fact that man was a totally distinct and separate creation.
That defies the myth of evolution that wants to connect us with some ancient monkey.
No, we don’t go to the zoo to see our relatives behind bars.
For only we are made in God’s image. And only man and no animal had God personally reach down and form him from moist dust (that’s clay) from the ground.
Yes, God fashioned Adam as a potter would his work.
What elements would it take to make a human body?
You would need 50 quarts of water, 58 pounds of condensed oxygen, 24 pounds of carbon, 3 pounds of calcium, 2 ounces of salt, and some chorine, phosphorus, iron, sulfur and glycerin.
With those ingredients, you have a do-it-yourself kit for a human body.
Yet the problem is assembling the body so it works. That’s a sheer impossibility!
For the human body is so complex that scientists still cannot fully understand some of its functions and composition.
Experts still aren’t certain what the appendix is for. Some tell us it’s an unneeded vestigial organ from our apelike ancestors. Then Dr. Helen Kimbrel from Johns Hopkins University stated this about that little organ:
“After decades of presuming that it no longer had any real function, we were shocked to discover that the appendix is in fact the body’s one and only vessel for a person’s eternal spirit.”
Interesting idea but impossible. For that would mean some would be walking around without a spirit!
But God made that organ and every other organ for our good and His glory. By the way, researchers now believe the appendix was designed to protect good bacteria in the gut.
Take for example the wonder of the human eye.
Our own Steve Aukstakalnis in his wonderful book, “Practical Augmented Reality” describes the marvel of the human eye. He writes, “Your eye can distinguish between 50,000 shades of grey, hundreds of different hues and millions of different shades and tints. Of the nearly 10 BILLION neurons in our heads, approximately half are dedicated to the processing and evaluation of visual information.”
Why our response should be more than, “Wow, that’s amazing.” Rather it should be as David reacted, “I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14
Now regarding God making Adam into a living being (as we see in verse 7) this is opposite to some accidental and impersonal process!
Friends God’s creating man by breathing into Him the breath of life was tender, personal, and purposeful. That’s corresponds to the privilege you and I have as descendants of Adam being made in God’s image.
The apostle Paul builds of this in I Corinthians 15:45 so wonderfully. “So also it is written, ‘The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL. The last Adam (that’s Jesus) became a life-giving spirit.’”
We have physical life in the line of Adam. Yet we have spiritual life through Jesus Christ (the last Adam)! And that is the glorious gospel message.
Adam gave us death, Christ gives us deliverance from death and life in Himself!
The completion of Creation- God did it all,
The close-up of creation- God crafted man in His image prepares us to see the
3. Care of God’s creatures 8-17
God didn’t just make Adam and then say, “You’re on your own.” It’s sink or swim, the survival of the fittest!
No, the God who created Adam cared for Adam.
Verse 8 tells us, “The LORD God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed.”
Did you catch that? After God formed Adam, He then took him and placed him in the garden.
Not some mythical land. It was a paradise called Eden- that means “delight.”
And don’t miss the geographical reference, “toward the east”- that showing it was a real place.
God prepared that place of exquisite beauty and perfect tranquility.
The fragrant flowers ablaze with blossoms, the trees dangling with fruit, the animals frolicking around…
Adam could gaze at all with profound awe and wonder.
He knew that was God’s bountiful care and saying as it were to Him, “Enjoy life from My hand!”
That’s the clear sense of verse 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.”
God made a lush orchard with many varies of trees in that garden. Only 2 are named- keep them in mind.
At center stage, the tree of life. And the other was literally called the tree knowing good and evil. We will see them shortly.
First though, take in the water wonderland that garden would have been. Verse 10: “Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers. 11 The name of the first is Pishon; it flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 13 The name of the second river is Gihon; it flows around the whole land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is Tigris; it flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.”
Virtually every campground and even amusement park has water involved. People love seeing water. It’s refreshing and invigorating.
It seems God prepared a massive underground spring in Eden. Picture the water gushing forth as from an Artesian well and coursing its way in four tributaries through the garden.
Because of the universal flood, we can’t pinpoint where this was. Yet today, two of these rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates originate in the highlands of eastern Turkey, flow through Syria and Iraq an empty into the Persian Gulf.
In Eden, we are also told in verse 12, about precious metal and precious stone.
The gold of that land is good; the bdellium (likely blue colored lapis lazuli and the onyx stone (likely black) are there.
God loves to show His beauty even with such colorful gems. And He tells us to expect in heaven walls of jasper, foundation stones of sapphire, emerald, topaz, amethyst and many other stones.
Christian, you will see 12 gates each of a single massive pearl and streets of pure gold like transparent glass! Rev. 21:18-21 And all of those will reflect the radiant light of heaven, Jesus Christ!
Back to Eden. Look with me at the job God gave to Adam:
V. 15 “Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.”
In the perfection of Eden, God gave man the responsibility of taking care of it. In fact his name “Adam” is related to a word meaning to till the soil.
He was to be industrious not indolent, productive not passive in tending that great garden. His job was a cross between farming and landscaping in caring for the animals, plants, and trees God had created.
He was a steward of the wonderful world of beauty God had made. Before the fall into sin, it was never a drudgery but always a delight.
Friends, don’t forget, work is a blessing of God to you too. Not just from the payment but privilege of using your strength for God’s glory.
While ministering in the Czech Republic, our neighbors told us under communism we pretended to work and the government pretended to pay us. Yet that’s a godless perspective on work with which God has privileged us.
Children, don’t try to get out of work. Don’t disappear when their work to help in at home.
Young people, don’t seek to squeak by doing the least possible.
For all of us, let’s take to heart the encouragements Paul left with the Thessalonian Christians to “Make it your ambition to “work with your own hands.” I Thes. 4:11
Adam brought glory to God by working hard and so should we.
Don’t forget. When we are in the eternal state, free from sin and in Christ’s presence. John tells us in Revelation 22:3, that we and all “His bond-servants will serve Him.”
So, let the hard work you do now for God’s honor prepare you for an eternity of serving God with joy.
Well, Adam tended the paradise of Eden.He was perfect, yet He was unproven, untested.
So God speaks to Adam and tells him what he may do and what he must not do.
Verse 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….”
This is the first command in the Bible.
Parents, note how God the Father deals with Adam. What a model for parenting. He is not unfair, overbearing or negative. There is great encouragement in what he places before Adam.
We often see only the prohibition but must notice the permission. Yet, God gave Adam tremendous freedom. He could climb in the trees, run through the flowers, ride a dinosaur, swim in the river, go anywhere he wanted to go.
There was a wide-open provision to enjoy all.
God even specifies, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely….”
With all the thousands and thousands of wonderful things he could do and enjoy and eat in the garden, there is just 1 prohibition.
You shall note eat from one tree- “the tree of the knowledge of the good and evil.”
Now keep this in mind. There is nothing said about looking at that tree, touching the tree, smelling the tree- just 1 thing- don’t eat its fruit.
And if he did what would happen? “for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”
There’s strong warning here. If you eat of it, God tells him, “dying you shall surely die.”
Ezekiel 18:20 declares, “The person who sins will die….”
“For the wages of sin is death…” Rom. 6:23
The death God warns of is not annihilation but alienation
To disobey would mean to be separated from God physically and spiritually.
It was a life and death test. Everything was at stake in the response. In fact, the future of the human race hung in the balances of the decision that would be made.
Yet far bigger than that, the future of mankind lay not in man’s response but in God’s hands and great grace.
For the beauty of that pristine garden will be far surpassed by the glory of God that will come from man failing the test and being shown the spectacular salvation plan.
Before that, we will first see next week how and why God provided a perfect complement for Adam in his wife Eve.
Think back to the bountiful blessing and care of God for Adam in that garden.
God graciously, generously, and gloriously gave Adam all He needed- everything for life and fellowship with Himself.
And men, women, children, if you are in Christ, you have been given so much more.
For in Christ you have been given everything pertaining to life and godliness.
Friends, here’s the big take away.
Whether you are single, married, young or older. Be thankful to God and content in Christ.
Sure you have your “to do list”, dreams and goals.
But don’t live as if you are incomplete, missing out on what you really need.
Friends, if you have Christ you have it all. So live with a thankful heart for the glory of God.
Back to the Beginning pt. 4
1. Completion of Creation 1-3
Heb. 4:4, 9-11
2. Close-up of Creation 4-7
I Cor. 15:45
3. Care of God’s Creatures 8-17
I Thes. 4:11
Being a thankful doer of God’s Word:
Back to the Beginning pt. 4