God created a garden paradise on Earth and placed man in the midst of it. But what was life like in the center of God's abundant blessing? In this section of scripture, we learn about God's grace, His provision, His expectation for obedience, and we are introduced to His eternal promise to maintain relationship with His beloved creation.
- God placed man to rest and to work in the garden.
- Adam's job was a ministry unto The Lord and God helped Adam to succeed.
- God allowed Adam to discover his own desire for a companion so God could bless Adam at the proper time.
- As God brings man and woman together, he establishes marriage as a covenant and as a picture of Christ and His bride the Church.
Click below to hear the entire message:
Before God completed His creation and said it was "very good," He created man and placed him in the middle of the garden.
This garden was loaded with trees, fruit and animals. Rivers watered the rich soil, and light nourished the plants. Trees grew from seeds that were planted in the land, which had been separated from the waters. God's perfect design from each day of creation was working together in harmony.
This garden was established as a place of blessing where God provided for, and enjoyed fellowship with, His creation.
7 then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. 8 And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.
The Earth was created to be inhabited (Isa. 45:18), and mankind was granted authority over creation and immediately placed in a position of blessing. Being "put" or "placed" in the garden has the meaning of being "set to rest" in the garden.
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
Here we see an interesting contrast between being "set to rest" and being commanded to "work." This contrast gives us an important insight into God's approach to work.
19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.
Imagine how difficult it would be to go throughout all creation and round up every kind of animal (large and small). Instead, God brought the animals to Adam. This shows us a principle about how God helps us to accomplish His calling in our lives. God placed Adam in the garden and lead the animals to him. Adam used His gifts (his intellect and authority) to name the animals. Because God had given Adam dominion over creation, whatever Adam chose as the name was its name. Simple as that. No striving. No plotting. No second guessing. Just faithful obedience using the talents God provided in the first place.
Similarly today, God has given us talents and intelligence to make our way in this world. We can be tempted to think that God isn't involved in our careers or that our vocation is somehow separate or less important than other areas of ministry.
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord," Col. 3:23
Adam's work was ministry unto God, enabled by God, ultimately for a purpose that lead to Adam's own blessing. Whether in our professional lives or in ministry (which is really one in the same) God invites us to exercise the authority He has given us to work in partnership with Him. Too often we can be crippled with fear of making a bad decision, but we must trust that God will guide us according to His will so that we can be blessed and we can also be a blessing to others.
Good, but not good enough.
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
As good as this creation was, it was still missing something. It was not complete. Man was missing his companion -- woman. God knew it, and He planned to make a helper for Adam...just not right away. First, God allowed Adam to look throughout all the animals to discover that there was no suitable mate.
20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.
God allowed the desire in Adam's heart to grow so that when God blessed Him with a spouse, he was ready to receive her and he was thankful. (Some may also take note that it wasn't until Adam had a job that he was fit for a spouse.)
While God could have created woman at the same time as man, God used it as an opportunity to teach man a lesson about God and His desire to bless in the perfect way at the perfect time.
“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh"
We can almost hear the relief in Adam's exclamation "At last." I'm sure by Adam's standards, it was a blessing that was overdue. From God's perspective, however, He had to first awaken the desire in Adam so He could then provide the blessing to meet Adam's need.
One, Made Two, Made One
Moses (the author of Genesis) then adds God's instruction that man and woman should be separated unto each other and that they are to "hold fast" to each other as though they were one flesh bound together.
When Jesus was asked about marriage and divorce (Matt. 19), He referenced this moment in creation when man and woman were created and joined together by God in a covenant bond that should never be separated.
“Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”7 They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?” 8 He said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so."
God's design for marriage was that husband and wife would become a single spiritual and physical unit. The strength of the family, the community and the nation was connected to the strength of this covenant relationship. Unfortunately, as a result of sin, brokenness, and selfish hearts, mankind sought to break this covenant.
Paul tells us in Ephesians chapter 5 that being formed from one flesh and united as one flesh has an even bigger meaning.
28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
A covenant is a commitment, but it's only as strong as the one making the promise. As believers we have God's promises that he will never leave us or forsake us (Deut. 31:6, Matt. 28:20), that He will always uphold us and give is strength (Isa. 41:10), that He is faithful to complete the work He has started in us (Phil 1:6), that He is ready to forgive all who would turn to Him (Ps. 86:5), and that He is faithful even when we are not faithful (2 Tim. 2:13).
Let us rejoice in the promises of God, because He cannot fail us. We must trust Him to know what is "not good" and what is "very good" for us. He has created each of us for a purpose. Remember that He loves you and is working in your life to bless you at the proper time.
Questions for further reflection or group discussion
- Can you think of a time when you felt a need/desire that was not being met?
- Did God deliver a "helper" or provide for your need?
- What did you learn about God’s timing?
- Are you still waiting? How does this scripture encourage you?
- Although God has given Adam a life of blessing and favor, God still put Adam to work in the Garden and gave him responsibility.
- Why do you think God gave Adam a job?
- Why do you think God gave Adam an opportunity to disobey?
- To what kind of “work” do you think God is calling you?
- How is this "work" compatible with the "rest" God offers?
- This passage introduces us to the Biblical picture of marriage.
- How do you see Genesis 2, Matthew 19 and Ephesians 5 working together to create a more complete picture of marriage?
- Why do you think marriage is important to God?
- How does the Bible’s picture of marriage differ from the world’s standard today?