Gen 2 recounts for us the creation of the world again. Why? Read on to find out.
A. The LORD God creates man for vertical relationship (2:4-7)
Verse 4 serves as the header for the next section in the book. This narrative device also appears later in Gen 5:1, 6:9. It signifies the start of a new section, or a slight shift in focus. Hence, while these verses may look similar to Gen 1, but here, we do notice some difference. Notice how God is referred to differently in Gen 1 and Gen 2. The word “God” was used in Genesis 1, while the words “Lord God” are used in Genesis 2. “God” means “Elohim”, which is in the plural form. Loosely translated, it means creator, and fits the context of Genesis 1. The form used in Genesis 2 however, refers to the covenantal name of God. Essentially, it means “God of the Promise” and is more personal and intimate. In Genesis 2, He is not only the creator, but has a relationship with man, where promises are made. This is the difference in the retelling of the Creation story. Now, God is not merely a powerful Creator, but is one that has a relationship with His creation, specifically Man. What does it mean for us, people who know His name? God comes after us as this God. He is not a God of the slot machine, but a relational God.
Verses 5-6 give us details about natural processes. What is the point of highlighting the role of rain, mist, and watering?The passage highlights how there were no small plants implying that the cycle of growth had not yet begun. What was created, as mentioned in 1:12, were probably mature plants and vegetation. From here, we see how God provided means and natural processes of growth. From these verses, we can see that we live in a world of God’s providential care. Creation was put in place by this God, who meticulously made all things, even the water cycle!
God makes man in verse 7. From the descriptions, we see how man was made different from other creatures. God did not make man in an abstract, distant way, but personally crafted and fashioned man in His image. How would you describe this God? What do you think of God? This is “Lord God”, and nothing makes sense without our vertical relationship with Him!
B. The LORD God creates a home for vertical relationship (2:8-17)
Man was created and put in the garden, a place carefully prepared for him by God (v.8). Gen 2 describes the garden of paradise (v.9-14). The writer draws our attention to the three types of trees God plants in the garden:
- Good looking and tasty trees
- “Tree of Life”: (See also Rev 22:14) Life as it was meant to be lived, with complete wholeness
- “Tree of knowledge of good and evil”
God gave them trees for food. This is indeed a God who provides every good gift that we receive (c.f. Jas 1:17)! The tree of life is a symbol of complete wholeness, representing life as it was meant to be lived (c.f. Rev 22:14). Lastly, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil stood for the moral experience and meaning that existed only because God gave it.
He also provides a description of 4 rivers. This is significant because the book of Genesis was written by Moses to the Israelites while they were wandering in the desert. Such descriptions of abundant trees and great sources of waters was a stark contrast to their surroundings and situation in the desert. The description of the waters and precious stones would have created a great longing for this place, a place of flourishing, security, perfection and richness, everything they did not have.
- Man, however, was not to live idly in this garden (v.15-17). God also gives
- a mandate for man's work -- to work and keep the garden.
- provision for man's needs -- eat from any tree, including the tree of life
- only law for man's well-being -- not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
- consequence for man's rebellion -- death.
C. The LORD God creates perfect horizontal relationship for vertical relationship (2:18-25)
Man proceeds to give names to animals (v.18-23). The naming is an exertion of the authority given in Genesis (v.19). It parallels what God did at creation (Gen 1:22), and here, He invited man to participate in this world that He created.
Something interesting happens in verse 18. The words “not good” were first uttered and proclaimed by God. It was not good for man to be alone. Why? God himself is a plural, but man was alone, lacking vertical relationships. Even the creation that the man named and exerted authority over had others of their kind. The man needed “a helper fit for him”. Thus, God created a woman for Adam, unique and special.
In verse 20, we read of how God caused a deep sleep to overcome Adam, and when He was completely helpless, God formed and fashioned Eve. His helper was provided by God! God was the matchmaker. Adam responded with a song in verse 23, reveling his great delight. This was the first wedding, and God brought it all together. This first couple was joyous, and the Bible tells us that they were "naked and unashamed" (v.24-25). In the world of Gen 2, there was a perfect horizontal relationship between Adam and Eve, where there was no shame and nothing to hide. This is completely unlike the world we live in now. Have you ever considered why we need to wear clothes and why we talk about modesty issues? The Bible helps us to see that there is a reason for it. We wear clothes because after the fall (next chapter!), because we are all trying to hide our shame. Gen 3 will help us to see that the consumption of the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil created guilt and inward ugliness that broke the vertical relationship with God which marred our horizontal relationships. But in this chapter, we are meant to see life as God intended for us to live -- unashamed and perfectly at peace with each other, and with Him.
Gen 2 tells the creation story again, this time focussing on the creation of man. It reminds us that the Lord God (though powerful, yet also personal) originally created man for a relationship with Him, to live in His carefully prepared garden, and also with a specially created woman. We know that this is not the world we live in now, and the next chapter will help us understand why. But, Gen 2 helps us understand what man was created for. Do you know and actually have a relationship with this powerful, yet personal God?