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Home School of Biblical Theology Doing Biblical Theology: In God's Place and Under God's Rule - Genesis 2:4-25 Talk 3

Doing Biblical Theology: In God's Place and Under God's Rule - Genesis 2:4-25 Talk 3

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Doing Biblical Theology: In God's Place and Under God's Rule - Genesis 2:4-25

Talk 3

Genesis 1 introduced us to the creator God. He is the great sovereign King whose greatness and goodness was so evident in everything he created.

And having completed his work of creation, the great king began to enjoy his creation and be enjoyed by it. Each created part of the universe is operating as God designed it, each in its appointed place. It is all good and points to the glory and power of the great creator God.

Now as we move into chapter 2:4, we see even more clearly the nature of God and his special purpose for his people.

Genesis 2 is not a second creation account, but a picture of God’s rest mentioned in verse 2-3. God’s rest is not inactivity. He sustains his universe moment by moment and enjoys special relationship with his image bearers.

So Genesis 2 fills in and develops some of the details left unclear in Genesis 1 . In particular it shows us a picture of the life for which we were created: the life of unspoiled relationship with God; the life of purposeful activity and service of God; the life of blessing from God; the good life in God’s good world.

But how are we to understand the good life in God’s good world?

1. God is the giver of the good life (4-14).

Again the account begins with the focus on God, this time called The Lord God – Elohim Yahweh – and this is entirely fitting to emphasise the personal nature of God.

Rather than looking at his universe from a distance he is powerfully and totally involved in it and with his image bearers in particular.

We see this clearly in verses 4-6. All creation was centred on the creation of people. God made everything in his world to make it a good place for his image bearers to be.

Then, verse 7, God made people. But notice two equally important things about how people are “formed”.

First people are truly natural: they are constructed from chemicals like all other living organisms and all other animals; and they are made by God – the idea here is of a skilled craftsman making an object of delight, which he then owns.

The image bearer has in his very being a reminder of God’s sovereign power and authority over us. It is very dangerous for mankind to forget this.

Second, people are truly supernatural: the Lord God breathed the breath or spirit of life into man. This speaks of a warm, personal action by the Lord God of the whole universe. The idea is that of the intimacy of a gentle kiss, reminding us that people are unique in all of God’s creation because of this act of intimate self-giving which ties God’s Spirit to the essence of being human.

What an amazing thing that at the very start of creation we get a glimpse of the pattern we later see so clearly in Jesus – For God so loved the world . . . . . . that he gave of himself.

But God’s concern for and generosity to his image bearer is not finished yet. Look at verses 8-14. The Lord God now provides a wonderful place for his image bearer to live and thrive.

The garden is a distinct place within God’s good creation. It has the idea of a special place of delight in the midst of a vast property. The Hebrew word for Eden means delight; the Greek word is the word, paradise.

Clearly the garden is God’s special provision for his people: it is a place of absolute beauty; a place of plenty; a place of total satisfaction; a place of enjoyment, a place of creativity.

The garden is a real place: it is the place of life, the life of blessing; the good life is at its very centre. And from here blessing and the good life is pictured as flowing to the rest of the world in the waters that give life.

So the picture developed in chapter 1 is that the great King has created his kingdom. And in chapter 2 we see the details of the great King in his kingdom and enjoying it with his people.

God’s people are in God’s special place and this constitutes the good life, the ultimate purpose of God’s creative work because here God both enjoys and is enjoyed by his people.

2. God sets the terms for enjoying the good life (8-25)

The focus now shifts to God’s people. It is God who creates the garden and all its blessings and as he put man into ‘the good life’ he calls them to rule God’s world in the context of relationships the Lord has created.

Man & God: In the goodness of creation each created thing play its part. All the parts work together like a great machine, each one connected to the others, as God intended.

In the same way humans had their precise role as God’s image bearers. Verses 16-17 tell us that the primary expression of this is living under the direct word or command of God as a way of honouring God.

As Adam and Eve are put into God’s good place, they are brought face-to-face with the purpose for which they were made. The whole purpose of creation was that mankind would be in a personal, voluntary, loving relationship with the Lord God of the universe.

It is never enough for people just to do the right thing in the world, as though people are just another part of the vast machine which is the physical universe. People must respond as unique image bearers, expressing love for God by personal choice, obedience, and delight.

This word of God is not to be seen as negative or restrictive. Adam and Eve already knew good; everything around them was good; their relationship to God and each other was good.

And in direct knowledge from God they knew about the possibility of evil and were graciously warned about its horrendous consequences which would be the immediate end of the good life both physically and spiritually or relational with God.

It is hard to be precise about what the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was. With the help of 3:5 it appears that this tree represented God’s boundary which was not to be crossed without severe consequences.

To eat was to despise the proper boundary between creature and creator and to grasp for equality with God. Perhaps it was also to cross from knowing about the possibility of evil through God’s warning, to experiencing the reality of evil as a choice with all the awfulness, destruction and misery it would bring.

Man & Creation: As God’s rest did not mean inactivity for God, neither was it inactivity for his people. Look at verse 15. Adam, and subsequently Eve had to work, but it was not work as we know it.

As God’s appointed rulers of this world, their work was to care for God’s creation, using all their God-given abilities, as a direct service to the Lord.

Once again we get a glimpse into the unique character of people in God’s creation. Of all the animals only mankind has the creative ability to interact with their environment and thereby improve it.

We see an example of this in verses 19-20. Here is Adam exercising in a perfect way, his God-given authority over creation. Only Adam had sufficient creative ability and insight into God’s creation to name the airborne creatures and land based creatures appropriately.

Man & fellow man: In Genesis 1:26-31 authority as God’s vice-regents was given jointly to male and female. But in the detail of Genesis 2 we discover that Adam appears at first alone in the garden enjoying a personal, unique and satisfying relationship with God.

Yet for all that, the Lord God, verse 18, recognises that Adam needed something more. His need for a ‘helper suitable for him’ is not met in a relationship with the other animals because none had his nature and so none could truly be his partner in life.

So the Lord made woman and Adam immediately recognised that she was like him in every way: equally an image-bearer, made by the Lord; equal in nature being made from exactly the same stuff; equally in need of relationship.

But note that helper is not a value judgment meaning Adam was superior and Eve inferior or that they were competitors because the two are created equal in nature and character. Helper denotes function difference only. Different function and personality makes Eve a true companion and a complement to him in every way – practically, emotionally and sexually.

The marriage relationship is the crowning glory of God’s creative work in his image bearers, and the fulfilment of God’s purpose in making people male and female, because now they could, like God, create life as a product of coming together sexually.

Friends, it is in the context of these relationships that ‘the good life’ God intended for his people was to be experienced and enjoyed. And enjoying the good life given by God is, indeed, their worship – their whole of life response to God as their creator and to God’s goodness to them.

So, how are we to think about God’s good life, given the reality of sin?

The ideas and patterns expressed in this chapter quite literally govern every other page of the Bible right up to and including the last page.

Here we have an insight into the beauty and perfection of God’s world as it was created to be and God’s people as they were created to be.

To be truly human is to live in and enjoy living in God’s kingdom, in close relationship with the great king himself. How do we see God’s kingdom? In big picture language it is simply God’s people (Adam and Eve) in God’s place (the Garden of Eden) under God’s rule (the word of God)

Of course, as we will see in the next session, God’s people messed it up by refusing to be God’s people, and by rejecting God’s rule through God’s word. Instead they rebelled from God determined to be their own people and operating under their own rule.

And as a result they lost the good life: lost their great relationship with God and finally were excluded from God’s place completely as enemies and facing impending judgment.

The rest of the Old Testament is about God’s plan and determination to fix up the mess people made: to put things right by restoring the conditions of the Garden of Eden through dealing with sin and restoring his people to relationship and once more bringing them home to his special place.

And when we get to the New Testament we find everything about the Kingdom of God being understood and explained Christo-centricly or in terms of Jesus.

The ministry of Jesus was introduced in terms of the good news that in Jesus God was acting to restore his kingdom – Matt 4:23 . Likewise in Mark 1:14-15 Jesus’ ministry is the good news that God is about to restore his kingdom.

Look at Matthew 11:28 . Jesus invites weary, sin-burdened people to find rest in him. The same theme underpins the whole letter to the Hebrews where the writer pleads with people not to turn away from Jesus and look elsewhere for security and peace and a future.

Why? Because they already experience rest in Jesus. That is, by virtue of being united with Jesus they have it all. Look at Hebrews 12:22 . Jesus is Zion or the heavenly Jerusalem, God’s temple. In other words Jesus is God’s place of beauty and perfection and balance.

To be in Jesus is to be in God’s place once more – secure and safe and enjoying unbroken relationship with God forever.

Jesus has done for us what we could never have done for ourselves - dealt with our sins and freed us from the power of death; changed our attitudes and desires so that once more we want to serve and delight in the blessings of the Lord and enjoy the good life under his word.

So, the only way a person can be truly human; the only way a person can have a true understanding of their meaning and purpose in life; the only way a person can be what they were created to be is to love, serve, honour and delight in God recognising he is the creator and we are his creature.

A person’s ultimate purpose is not to be happy, to make money and be wealthy; to have freedom or a particular form of government. Man’s ultimate purpose is to worship God to serve him and enjoy him and be in his place of blessing and under his rule.

Genesis 1 & 2 are so important if we are to understand our world today and if we are to be helpful to those around us who are so lost – struggling to find meaning and purpose in life, but not knowing why life is so horrible and cruel, and not knowing how to fix the problem.

What a message we, as Christians, have to share with the world. There is a place where we can have meaning and purpose and be what God created us to be. There is a place that answers our longings for something better than we now experience in this world.

That place is Jesus – he restores our ability to live as God created us to live. He frees us from the consequences of rebellion and thus restores us to the good life, God’s place of blessing and enjoyment and security.

Come to me all you who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. If the son sets you free you will be free indeed.

Go to talk 4

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 January 2011 15:01  

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