1. Read verses 4-7. With which day of creation does chapter 2 seem to be primarily concerned? What is the focal point of creation? How did God create man? Why was he necessary in the scheme of things? What is man’s source of life and value? What does it mean to be a living being?
2. Read verses 8-9. Why does the author refer to God as “the LORD God?” (Ex 6:2,3,7) Describe the garden. What do the trees suggest about man’s needs? Read verses 10-14. What do these verses tell us about God?
3. Read verse 15. What work did God give man to do? How does this relate to man's mission (1:28)? Read verses 16-17 (Adam’s Bible). What did God command the man? How do God’s commands establish spiritual order? How do they give man real freedom? Why must man be thankful? Obedient? (Ro 1:19-21)
4. Read verses 18-20. What was one thing in the garden that was not good in God's eyes? What does this show about God's love for and understanding of man? How did man co-work with God to be a shepherd and steward of the world?
5. Read verses 21-23. Why could no suitable helper be found among the animals? Describe the creation of woman. Why was she a suitable helper (18; 1:27)? How did Adam receive her?
Read verses 24-25. How did God confirm and establish the family? What commitment must man make to his wife? What does it mean that they become one flesh? (See Mk 10:6-9) What does verse 25 suggest about their relationship?
What does this chapter teach us about God? About the family and its purpose? About spiritual order? About what mankind needs to be happy? About man and community?
"Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.
In Chapter 1, the author of Genesis proclaims God the Almighty Creator of the heavens and the earth, the Sovereign Owner of all things. He created all things for his own pleasure and glory. On the 6th day, he created man in his own image. Man is the crown of his creation. So in chapter 2, the writer looks again at the 6th day of creation and gives us deeper insight into the mind and heart of God the Creator. He not only created all things for his own pleasure and glory, but he also created a world in which man could be happy. God who planted the Garden of Eden is God who wants mankind to be happy. Many people don't know how to be happy. As we study this chapter, we can discover what we really need in order to be happy.
1. God forms man (4-14)
Heaven and earth had been created, but the world was still sleeping, waiting for God to make a man to take care of it (2:4-7). Verse 7 says, "And the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." God made man out of the dust of the ground. In Hebrew, the word "Adam" means "man", but its original meaning was "dirt" or "soil" (2:7). Men are indeed dust. They are weak. Man's body came from the dust and it will return to dust. We have nothing of which to be proud. We must stand humbly before our God. Once Abraham stood before God and prayed, "I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes" (18:27b). We have nothing valuable in ourselves to boast about.
But this verse (7) also teaches us that we are valuable. God himself formed us out of the dust of the ground; God breathed his breath into the man he had formed out of clay and man became a living soul. God breathed his own breath, his Spirit into us, so we are living souls. We have physical life and we have God's life, spiritual life. He made us a little lower than God and crowned us with glory and honor (Ps 8:5). We must live our lives on a higher level, on a spiritual level, in fellowship with God.
When God made man he made him with a physical body; he gave him a spirit or mind and he gave him a soul. There is a very close relationship between the mind and the body. When the body is sick, one's mind becomes tired. When one becomes tired in his mind and spirit, his body becomes weak. But the indestructible soul is not affected by these things. When the soul becomes sick, it has no feeling. Sickness of the soul is like leprosy.
Man can never be satisfied with only those things which satisfy his physical desires; he has or is a soul. His spiritual life must be nurtured and satisfied. He must know God and have fellowship with him in order to be really alive. The joy of the soul is real joy.
2. God made the Garden of Eden.
Read verse 8. "Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed." The important point of this verse is that God made paradise for man. He put man there because he wanted man to live there and be happy. In planting paradise on earth, God made very clear his second purpose in creation: He wants man to be happy.
Read verse 9. "And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground--trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil."
Paradise is beautiful. Eden is made of pure gold and all kinds of precious stones, such as onyx, and aromatic resin (2:12). Perhaps there is no one who can adequately describe the beauty of Eden. John received God's revelation and wrote the book of Revelation. He saw Eden--the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. "It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal" (Rev 21:11). "The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass" (Rev 21:21).
Also in Eden were trees good for food. People must work hard to make a living in this world. Even beautiful young girls, who should be treated like angels, must find jobs and work like factory laborers. But in Eden, there was no worry about how to make a living.
Read verse 9b. "In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." God made the tree life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. These trees have to do with man's spiritual life. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil has no meaning until God gives instructions concerning it, but we can know that man's spiritual life is essential to his happiness.
The tree of life is in Eden. There are many sorrowful and tragic things. This is because all men despair before the enemy death. He leaves no room for hope. In Eden, i.e., paradise--the new heaven and new earth--there are no tears, no death, no suffering, no pain (Rev.21: 4). Why? Because the tree of life is there (2:9b).
So, in the beginning, God gave man paradise. Man cannot live without paradise. Men seem to have many wants and desires, but we can put them all together and say that man wants paradise. Many people have sought to recover paradise by building a utopia on earth. But paradise is a gift from God.
The river which watered the garden divided into 4 headstreams--the Pishon, the Gihon, the Tigris, and the Euphrates. These flowed out of Eden, the source of life and blessing, to all the world. It was God's desire that the happiness of Eden fill his earth.
3. Adam's Bible (15-17)
Read verse 15. God put man in charge of the garden to work it and take care of it. Here we can verify the fact that God is the owner and master of his world and that men are stewards whom he has set over his world. God created man for mission, now he entrusted his mission to man. Man needs mission to be happy. A man without any mission is miserable, for his life is meaningless. God gives to every person his own small garden to take care of. It is the garden of his own life. It is the garden of his home and his working place. God wants mankind whom he created to live as responsible stewards of the garden he made for them.
God also gave us his word of command. Read verses 16 and 17. "And the Lord God commanded the man, 'You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.'"
These words are called "Adam's Bible." This command, in the original language is given as an absolute command. There is nothing relative about the words in verse 17, "You will surely die." God's command to Adam is not relative. It demands obedience. When it is obeyed, man lives in eternal blessedness. When it is disobeyed, the result is death. People who enjoy sinning, complain about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and they ask why God put it in the garden. But there are two very important reasons why God put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden:
First, he wanted to establish the order of love
God created this world with an amazing and mysterious order. Basic to this order is the relationship of God, man and material things. When God created the world, he brought order out of chaos. He made everything to exist and move according to the inner order which he put there when he created it. Mountains act like mountains; the sea acts like the sea. The seasons come and go in their created order. If the mountains acted like the sea and the sea acted like the mountains or if rocks grew legs and walked, then the world would be so confusing that we couldn't live in it. The greatest mystery of the universe is this amazing order. It is this order in the created world that makes all scientific research and technological progress possible. Man can begin to understand this world because the world is created in an orderly way, and God gave man a rational mind with which to understand it.
But there must also be order in the relationship between God and man. God created the world by his word. Then he speaks a word of command to man and that word is obeyed, then the right order of relationship between man and God is established. When this order is destroyed, man's happiness is also destroyed. So it is right to speak of this order as the "order of love." Our happiness depends on how we look at this commandment which God gave Adam. How we look at this commandment is a measure of our faith. Our view of the world depends on how we view this commandment. God gave the tree of the knowledge of good and evil as a sign of this order. And this order is the order of love.
Second, he gave man freedom
The Lord God commanded, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden;" This seems to be an unnecessary command, but it is not. It reminds us that the garden belongs to God. The beautiful and delicious fruit are a gift of his grace. He wants us to know this so that we can be thankful. He does not want us to take his blessings for granted; he wants us to be thankful. It is God's will for us that we rejoice in all things, that we pray without ceasing and that we be thankful in all circumstances (1Th 5:16-18).
There is not only a positive command; there is a negative one as well: "But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die" (17). Many people complain because God put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden: "Why didn't he only put there trees that are pleasant to look at, and whose fruit is good to eat?" "Why did he have to put that tree of the knowledge of good and evil there and force men to spend their lives in the torment of the conflict with temptation too great to endure?"
Such people don't know much about life. Perhaps they want a life that offers plenty to eat and no problems. But a man who lives only to eat and who has no problems cannot really be called a man. Even though a lion in the zoo has a peaceful life and plenty to eat, he cannot be called happy. In the jungle, a lion must hunt for food. Sometimes he goes hungry. Sometimes he must fight for his life. But a lion is really a lion when he is living as the king of the beasts roaming the jungle, not when he is sleeping with a full stomach in a cage. A person who has no ultimate freedom of choice is like a lion in the zoo. So God gave man the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and commanded him not to eat from it. When he freely obeys God's command, the order of love is established in his life; he has a right relationship with God and a right relationship with all created things. He can be truly human and truly happy.
Third, The Holy Commandment
Read verses 16 and 17 again. "And the Lord God commanded the man, `You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.'"
This is a holy commandment which establishes a right relationship between God and man. God is the one who commands; man is the one who obeys. Man the creature can meet God the Creator only on these terms. A man's relationship with his horse is normal and right when he climbs on its back and rides it. It just wouldn't work the other way. When man the creature begins to take his relationship with his Creator lightly, sin comes into his heart (3:7). He looses contact and communication with his God.
Furthermore, this holy commandment in man's heart becomes a fixed point from which he can find direction for his life. It is an unconditional commandment. In this commandment is the power to maintain the order of the universe as God created it. Man has unlimited freedom because he has freedom of choice to obey or disobey this commandment. On the other hand, man is a lump of clay. He is weak. So men need a fixed point in their hearts. Peter compared this fixed point to the morning star. Long ago man had to cross the ocean without a compass. So the morning star became the fixed point by which sailors could set their courses and find direction. So this holy commandment is the morning star by which men could find the way of life. In my heart there must be a holy word, an unconditional command from God. What is the holy commandment which you have received from God?
4. God establishes the family (18-25)
Read verse 18. "The Lord God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.'" Eden was beautiful; it seemed to be a perfect paradise. But God looked and saw one thing that was not good. Man was lonesome. So God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." So after Adam had worked hard all one day, doing God's work, he fell into a deep sleep (19,20). God took one of his ribs and from it he made woman, and he brought her to Adam.
God created a woman to help the man fulfill the mission God had given him. She was to be his companion, his friend. She, too, was created in God's image, out of Adam's rib. So she was a part of him, a continuation of God's creation of man. No suitable helper could be found for Adam among animals because the animals could not share man's spiritual life or his mission. They could not think or reason or communicate with him on his level, and they could not help him produce children in his image.
The man was not so concerned about his lack of a suitable helper. God was concerned. The man welcomed the animals God created and brought to him. He gave them names. He was their shepherd. God was the one who saw man's need and understood it and filled that need in his own way at the right time. God knows us better than we know ourselves, and he is ready to give us the best co-worker, and lead us into the most fruitful life.
The man welcomed the woman God brought to him. God himself united them into one flesh and thus created the first family. Adam was very happy as he worked with his co1worker to till the soil and take care of the Garden of Eden. He was so happy that he made this confession of love: "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman', for she was taken out of man" (23). We can see from this confession that man and woman are not separate entities. They are united into one body. A home is built on this confession of love and on this union of personalities.
Jesus commented on this first marriage by saying, "What God has joined together, let not man separate" (Mk 10:9). Verse 25 implies that they were free and innocent and uninhibited in their relationship with one another. There were no artificial barriers and no competition between them. They joyfully served God and loved each other and were happy.
God created the family and showed us that man is basically a social creature. The family is the first building block of society. It is a part of God's perfect creation. The family was not created to be an end in itself, however. When a man leaves his father and mother and makes a life-long commitment to his wife, it is so that he can be an independent and responsible servant of God, working together with his wife to fulfill his mission and glorify God. God gives man happiness as a gift and a blessing.
In these first two chapters we have seen that God created the world and brought order out of chaos. God is glorified and man is happy when the basic creation order is established and kept. In chapter 2, we learned that man longs for paradise, and God wants him to have it. We must continue to think deeply about two things: What kind of God is the God who created the heavens and the earth? Who am I that God should create me and say, "It is very good"?