Last week carried one simple premise, that on the seventh day of creation God rested. Now it may have seemed a little on the lazy side for me to simplify the lesson as I did, but you can be sure that this is not the end of the discussion on the seventh day. The idea of the day of rest; the very command by God that we adhere to a day of rest, is a prominent feature in much of the Old Testament, and even substantially into the New. In other words, we will be exploring the seventh day of creation in thorough detail during a later study. For now, it is enough that you should know that God rested on the seventh day, not because He needed a rest, but because He knew we would. He set an example for us to follow. We will see at a later date how crucial that seventh day was.
In the meantime, we move forward to Genesis chapter 2. We should note up front as we devote ourselves to this discussion that there is seamless transition from God’s rest on day seven to the “generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created” (Vs. 2:1). It is an important distinction as you will see further in this discussion that we recognize the way in which the text transitions from the end of the account of creation in Chapter 1 to the detailed description of the account of creation with a focus on mankind in Chapter 2. The phrase “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens” (Vs 2:1 ESV) is both a closing of the initial account and an opening of the detailed account. This is not a transition from one account to another; if it were, “These” would not be the current generations, but rather “Those” would have been the generations. Another transitional phrase would be needed. Don’t worry, I’ll clarify shortly. So we begin.
“These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens. When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground—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” (Genesis 2:4-7 ESV).
A couple of notes first. You may recall on the third day of creation God brought forth the vegetation of the land: “And God said, ‘Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth’ And it was so” (Genesis 1:11 ESV). Yet here in the early stages of Chapter 2 we find that “No bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up” and we wonder how this coincides with what we read in chapter 1. In fact, much of what Genesis Chapter 2 offers has become a great point of debate over the years. The reason is in the very question we just posed: “If God commanded the earth to sprout vegetation on the third day, then why does chapter 2 talk about no vegetation being present yet?”
Chapter 2 of Genesis has been referred by some as a second creation. Essentially there are those who suggest that Chapter 1 was God’s first attempt at creation and it didn’t work, so He scrapped the whole project and started over. Putting aside the ludicrous idea that God made a mistake, let us focus on what is truly offered in the second chapter of Genesis.
We see first that the reason “No bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up” was because “the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground”. In other words, what we have in Genesis chapter 1 is a beautiful and powerful overview of the process of creation. In Chapter 2 we have a detailed account of the emphasis placed on the creation of mankind. You may remember that I made special note of the pinnacle of God’s creation. Mankind was the reason for creation; it was us that God wanted to create, and everything else was created to facilitate and accommodate us. Note that the reason there are no plants yet is because there was “no man to work the ground”. What we see early, and throughout Chapter 2 is the detailed, precise account of the process of creation with a focus on its overall purpose, namely mankind.
And so what we have is essentially a barren landscape which has been prepped in accordance with God’s command on day three for the production of vegetation.
“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” (Genesis 2:7 ESV).
On the sixth day of creation in the first chapter of Genesis we were introduced to that moment of creation when God had completed all the preparations for His greatest work: “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Genesis 1:26 ESV). The text goes on to say “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27 ESV). Now, here in the early stages of Chapter 2, God tells us how He created man. We have often heard that mankind was created from the dust of the ground, but few of us realize that it is not until this point in the narrative; not until the detailed account of the creation of mankind do we learn how we were created. Chapter 1 gives us an overview of what God did; but here in Chapter 2 we learn how He did it. This is the whole premise of the chapter; to give greater insight into the creation of mankind. And why do we have this detailed account? Why does God not place such a grand emphasis on His creation of everything else? Did He not create the cosmos on day 4? The trillions of fish in the sea; the birds of the air? Of course He did! But mankind was His greatest creation! This is why we have Genesis Chapter 2; the focus of God’s love is intricately described in his earliest moments. Nothing else in all of creation was created in the image of God. Nothing!
And so mankind was formed from the dust of the earth and God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life”. We stop here for now. I leave you with a question: What is the breath of life?
MEMORY VERSE: “But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler off the synagogue, ‘Do not fear, only believe’” (Mark 5:36 ESV).