Day 5: “When you eat from it, you will certainly die”

Read Genesis 2:15-17 (yes, we read this yesterday)

When we left off at the end of chapter two, the whole world was perfect.

Peace flowed between the man, the woman, God, and nature; while the beautiful river rolled through the beautiful garden.

It was idyllic. It couldn’t be any better, except…

Except God had put two trees in the center of the garden and told the humans not to eat from one of them.

Wait a minute.

Didn’t God say that humans would ‘reign’ over the earth and all its creatures? Didn’t he put them in the garden to take care of it? But now he’s telling them what they can and can’t do.

Who’s in charge here anyway?

Who was in charge of the Mona Lisa? Did Leonardo stop having the right to change her after he finished painting her? Of course not. She was his creation, right up until he sold her.

God has never sold us.

This is a very important idea. We are God’s creation and he continues to have ownership of us.

And he’s not done yet.

He designed and built the stage, filled it with actors, and gave them their first prompt; but then he didn’t just sit down to watch. He calls up new actors, re-arranges the stage, and writes new sub-plots.

He continues to create the circumstances that form every life story.

The director can, in fact, make the rules, especially if he is also the playwright. God’s rule here is simple: don’t eat the fruit of this tree.

Remember how he gave the humans a will – the ability to choose? The rule gives them a chance to use it. They can choose to obey him, or not.

Does God have the right to say, ‘Don’t touch’?

The tree is his, and the garden – the whole world; yes, even the humans: Adam, Eve, you, me – then and now.

Day 4: “It is not good for the man to be alone”

Read Genesis 2:15-25

Some things look clearer from far away than close up.

Satellite views of earth show continents with crisp edges, but beaches and ragged shorelines prove it isn’t so.

It may be the same with the order of creation in Genesis one and two. In one, God outlines the whole grand picture of creation – as if from a distance; but then in chapter two the clear lines soften and blur as we zoom in on the garden and the man.

At any rate, the man is the focus now.

He’s different than the rest of creation, as we saw in chapter one. God singled out the humans and identified with them. They were ‘like’ him. He said they will rule the earth and all its creatures (Gen. 1:26-28).

He didn’t say exactly how we are like him. Obviously, we’re not like him in many ways, but we are like him in some.

We are.

He says so.

He breathes his life into us.

And also this: God thinks about a thing, and then does it. This sounds very ordinary but it isn’t. It’s profound. Trees can’t do it. Animals don’t – at least not to the same extent. Only humans share with God this ability to think (reason) and then choose to act (will) based on what we think.

God relates with the man as a friend. You can almost see him hovering over the man, ‘Here, name this one.’ Hear his concern, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” Finally, imagine his delight as he saves the best for last, and gives man the gift that makes everything good again – woman.

By creating man and woman, God is also creating human love and relationship. The attraction we feel toward one another, and some more than others, is God’s creation. He likes it. We enjoy love: family, friendship, and romantic, because God wants us to. It’s another part of how we are made like him.

It’s no accident, you know, that God talks to himself as “us” in 1:26. But the story hasn’t told us yet what it means. So tuck it away for now. Know that God is in some sort of relationship and that he created human relationships because a lonely human was, in his opinion, not good.

God was right there with Adam and even God didn’t think that was enough.

The human needed another human.

It’s how he made us.

Day 3: “Then the Lord God formed a man”

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.