Read Genesis 2:1-14
After the elegance and clarity of the creation order in chapter one, these verses are a little confusing.
It sounds as though God makes the man, then the plants and animals, and then the woman.
Which is different than what it says in chapter one.
So, we aren’t two chapters in and already here is a difficulty.
Good. I’m glad for the chance to say this right away: there will be a lot of things that won’t make sense as we move through the story. Some things will seem to contradict what we know is true, and some things will even seem to contradict themselves.
I’m not going to try to explain all these difficult things away. I don’t know why they are in here, or what they all mean.
As I said earlier, the bible is a big story, told by many different people, and with many small stories in it. If we understand the big story, then the difficulties about the smaller stories will become less difficult to us.
For instance, keeping the big story in mind we learn at the start that God made everything. This is true whether he made the man first or the plants first. Either way, both the man and the plants all belong to him.
We won’t have answers to every challenging passage, but we can realize that they don’t change the big story.
Books and commentaries abound, all written by men and women who have studied far more deeply than I have. I encourage you, if you are troubled about something we come across, look it up. Research it on your own: use the internet, or your church’s library, or ask someone you respect.
Still, I think it’s good to let the story explain itself. For some reason, God mixes up the order of creation. Maybe as we read on we will see why. Maybe we won’t. He’s written a storybook that is for all people everywhere through all of time. It has a very big job to do. Small wonder there are bits that we don’t understand.
Let’s allow the mysteries to exist, and let’s be glad for them. They remind us that God is smarter than we are.
“A river watering the garden flowed from Eden …”
I love this image. Right here, at the start of the story, flows a river so vast and rich that it waters four different lands. It is life and wealth, it is abundance, and it begins in Eden.
It pours out of God’s special garden.