Genesis 2:4-25 serves as the backdrop for the tragic stories that occur in Genesis 3-4. It is important that we begin here so that the temptation stories of Adam/Eve and Cain come into full view.
Scholars typically identify Genesis 2:4-25 as the second of two Creation stories in Genesis. The other, of course, is Genesis 1:1-2:3. The author of Genesis links the second story to the first by means of verse 2:4 “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth…” In other words, we are invited to read the second story as the sequel to the first. Although there is overlap in these stories, Genesis 2 provides a fuller treatment of the creation of humanity. In fact, Genesis two centers on the role of humanity in the world.
Genesis two paints a picture of an idyllic paradise in which God and humanity interact freely and naturally. Moreover, humanity lives at peace with the environment. The first man spends time naming the other animals in the Garden which God had created. The highpoint of the narrative occurs in the creation of the first woman out of the first man. The woman is created as the manâ€™s perfect helper and partner, not subservient or inferior in any way. The man is so excited by the sight of the woman that he exclaims, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman for out of Man this one was taken.” The story reaches its zenith at this moment. Verses 24-25 describe the first marriage and the narrative, which has been read aloud at countless weddings through the millennia, serves to root the institution of marriage in the perfection of God’s original creative order.
What a beautiful story! Humanity enjoys an unfettered and perfect relationship with God, with the environment, and between the sexes. There is an abundance of food which is â€œpleasing to the eye and good to eatâ€ (v. 9). Humanity enjoys a blissful existence in a garden where there is only one explicit curb on behavior: the humans are simply not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (v. 17). Even this prohibition is couched in terms of protection and concern. They are to avoid consuming the fruit of this tree because if they do so, they will die. Thus, even the Creator’s rule serves not as an infringement on their freedom as much as it is a safeguard for their own well being.
This story, however, is no stand alone tale of Creation. Within the book of Genesis, it serves as the introduction to the story of the entrance of human disobedience into the world. The juxtaposition of the idyllic harmony of the world in Genesis 2 with the fractured world in Genesis 3 and 4 is striking. Yet, even more striking is the realization that temptation came and won the day in the midst of a perfect world. It did not strike at a moment of weakness or stress. When Genesis 3 opens, it is following the climactic scene in Genesis 2 in which husband and wife enjoy perfect intimacy with one another.
This then stands as a warning to future generations. The Apostle Paulâ€™s caution to the Corinthian church is an apt one for us as well: â€œSo if you think you are standing, watch out, lest you fallâ€ (1 Cor 10:12). As Christian leaders, we no longer live in paradise. How much more at risk are we?
Where are you in your walk with God today?
What safeguards do you maintain in your life with God?
When do you face your deepest struggles?
Do they occur during the good times or primarily during tough times?
What lessons can we glean from Genesis 2?
Â© 2005 Brian D. Russell