Meant to Be

Posted: January 11, 2018 in Genesis, Uncategorized

Genesis 2, “Meant to Be”

When something is “meant to be,” it’s just right. It’s the relationship that hits it off – the job that goes without a hitch. It’s the situation that seems like it was predestined from the beginning of the world, and it plays out exactly as it was intended.

Those sorts of things are coincidental with us – based on our feelings and abilities at the time. If it “feels” right, we tend to think that it “is” right. That’s us; not God. For God, it isn’t coincidental at all. When things go according to His design, they truly are “meant to be,” by definition! 

Of course, God is sovereign, and nothing happens without His permission – but we need to acknowledge there are some things that happen that are not His express will or desire. Sin is the most obvious example. God’s desire is for us to live holy, free from ever falling into sin. His desire for us in that regard is explicit throughout the Bible. Yet the outcome is often radically different, as we engage in rebellion or simply fall in our weakness. Those are situations God has allowed, but they are not His express desire. 

That being said, there have been many times where things have played out exactly as God intended. For example, when Jesus went to the cross as the sacrifice for our sin, it may have looked chaotic & brutal, but it was exactly the will of God. Isaiah tells us that it pleased the Lord to bruise Him (Isa 53:10) – this was something that was necessary in order for God’s perfect justice to be fulfilled. So when Jesus went to the cross, died there, and was buried (and later risen from the grave), it was perfect. It was exactly what was meant to be.

That all brings us to Genesis 2. What was God’s desire for mankind? What is it that was meant to be? That’s what is detailed for us as the Bible continues to open. The whole of the universe has been made, and now the specific focus is put upon God’s special creation of Man. How was it that humans came to be? What is the role of men & women – what is the purpose of marriage? Those are the questions asked and answered in Genesis 2 as we see what God originally purposed for mankind – the things that were meant to be.

Things obviously aren’t this way today, and Genesis 3 tells us why. But we’re told in Genesis 2 of the way things once were, and lost. Why? Because that helps us hold out hope for the future to the day when all of this will be restored. Today, we may not have what was meant to be, but because of Jesus, one day we will!

Genesis 2

  • Day 7: conclusion of Creation (1-3)

1 Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. 2 And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.

  1. Summary & wrap-up from Chapter 1. Everything in the entire universe was completed. What God did, He did wonderfully well – and finally, He rested. Keep in mind that when God rests, it’s different from when we rest. God doesn’t get tired – God doesn’t need to sleep. He neither sleeps nor slumbers. (Ps 121:4) When God rested, it wasn’t out of necessity; it was His choice. He did not rest because of weariness; God was simply done. He ceased from His work. It was finished.
    1. That was Creation, but it’s also true regarding Redemption. It IS finished! (Jn 19:30) No more needs to be done, and now we can rest in Christ!

3 Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.

  1. God ceasing from His work makes for a special occasion, and that’s why He blessed the 7th day, and made it holy in His sight. This provides the background for the Hebrew 7th day Sabbath, which became their outward sign of their covenant with Him. (Exo 31:16-17) They declared their rest in God, just as God rested from His work of creation.
  2. Please note that this came (literally) in the first week of creation – before the Fall, before the flood, and long before the Hebrew nation, much less the Christian church. The 7th Day as the Sabbath predates it all. This is/was Saturday, as Sunday has always been recognized as the first day of the week. Nowhere in Genesis 2 or following did God command the Sabbath to be observed by Adam or his posterity, though it was obviously known by those who worshipped God. It was not made an official command until Moses with the nation of Israel (Exo 20), and never impressed upon the church. Additionally, the New Testament never once uses the term the “Christian Sabbath,” always using the term “Sabbath” to refer to the Hebrew observance of Saturday. The term “Lord’s Day,” is used but one time to refer to John’s time in prayer on Sunday when he received his revelation of the Lord Jesus. (Rev 1:10)
    1. How do Christians observe the Sabbath today? By resting from our labors in vain attempts to justify ourselves – by resting in the completed work of Jesus.
  • Origin of Man & Woman (4-25); Backstory (4-6)

4 This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens,

  1. If Genesis 1:1-2:3 gives the overview of Creation, Genesis 2:4-25 give a more specific look at the details. There’s nothing in one that contradicts the other – they just provide some different perspectives.
  2. Note the term “history.” This is the same word elsewhere translated “generations,” and it provides the most common divisions of the book.
  3. Note also the word “LORD.” This is the first use of God’s covenant name in the Bible. This is the name “YHWH” (“The Ever-Existent One,” or from God’s point of view, “I AM”). There is a definite shift in the narration at this point. God as the All Powerful Creator has been shown in Chapter 1 – now we are introduced to God as the Personal Father, Son, and Spirit who interacts with His creation, desiring to know us. If we know people by their names, then this is the moment in the Bible when God is formally introduced.
    1. The great part about all of this is that anyone can know God on this kind of personal level! He introduces (reveals) Himself to us as Jesus!

5 before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; 6 but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.

  1. Knowing that the rest of the chapter is going on to describe the creation of man & woman, how is it that no plants had yet grown. On one hand, it seems like we’re getting an in-depth look at Day 6, but God had created the plant life on Day 3. Is this a contradiction? It’s possibly as simple as an issue of translation. What KJV & NKJV translate “earth” could just as easily be translated “land,” (NASB, ESV), context being the key for interpretation. Vs. 4 is plainly speaking of the heavens & the earth (referring to all lands everywhere), whereas vs. 5 could refer to a specific land which would soon be made into the Garden of Eden. Nothing was there yet, but it soon would change.
    1. Another possible explanation would be that the plants created, but not yet fully grown. Either interpretation would fit the text.
  2. Things were different then. The water cycle had not yet fully begun, and the way God caused the ground to be watered for plant growth was through a mist instead of rain. Rain would certainly be seen later with Noah, though it’s unclear exactly when the first rains began to fall. Why did things begin this way? Because God had a plan for mankind from the beginning: man was supposed to “till the ground.
    1. Although some liberal environmental groups would say otherwise, humans are not a blight and danger to planet earth; we are essential to it. God put humans here on this planet for a reason, tying people to the planet & vice-versa. We aren’t here to serve the planet; it’s here for us.
  • The Man (7)

7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

  1. There is wordplay here unseen in the English. To say that “Man” came from “dust” is to refer to Adam/adamah. Dust is simply what we are – but that’s just the stuff. God did something marvelous with all that stuff! Far from slowly evolving over millennia being guided by nothing but mere chance, the Bible shows that God specifically “formed man from the dust of the ground,” engaging in an artistic act much like a potter would form a beautiful vase from a lump of clay. God was intentional in His design of man, putting humans together exactly as He desired to do.
    1. Have we changed over time? There have been variations in heights, skin color, and much more through the centuries – but those are small adaptations in the grand scheme of things. In the end, humans are all human, and our design and formation came from God. Even evolutionists admit that we all have common ancestry…they simply refuse to acknowledge the source of that ancestry.
  2. That we came from the dust is not unusual; all animals are carbon-based life forms, and all physical bodies eventually deteriorate to dust. What makes humans different is what came after the dust: the breath of God. Interestingly, the Hebrew word used for “breath of life” is not the word some might expect (ruach = breath/wind/spirit), but is rather a word far more specifically referring to breath (nesamah נְשָׁמָה ; rooted in a word referring to gasping/panting). This isn’t so much a picture of Adam being filled with the Holy Spirit, as it is Incarnate God giving mouth-to-mouth to the Man, literally imparting life to him.
    1. God’s breath gives life! There is a reason why scientists have never been able to duplicate life in the laboratory. They can put all the elements together, and put all the essential nutrients there – but without some sort of life from which to begin, they have nothing but a lump of tissue. God alone grants life, and God alone has the right to take it away.
    2. God’s breath gives eternal life! We need His Spirit! John 20:21–22, “(21) So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” (22) And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.” This was the moment the disciples were born-again, born by the Holy Spirit now able to enter into the kingdom of God. (Jn 3:5)
  • The Garden (8-14)

8 The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. 9 And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

  1. God not only made Man, but God made him a home. All of this speaks of fellowship. God designed Mankind to be different. Man was made in God’s image – he was endued with God’s breath – now he has a personal home provided for him by God. Animals lived anywhere, but man was unique. This was someone set apart by God in order that he might know God.
    1. Consider that for a moment. What is it that Jesus has been doing for 2000 years? Preparing a home for us. He’s building someplace marvelous for us for a reason: so we can be with Him. Where He is, we can be also (Jn 14:2-3). His desire is not only that we be forgiven, but that we know Him – both now, and for forever. How amazing is it that God wants to be with you? Praise God!!
  2. In this garden, God placed the best of the best. Again, God already created plant life on Day 3, but it was in Day 6 that God made a special orchard – a sanctuary for the Man in which to dwell. Note what was present from the very beginning: blessing and temptation. God will soon describe the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to Adam, but this was a tree that had always been in the garden. No doubt Adam walked by it often without issue, all until the serpent came around. (It’s a warning for us to be careful of the company we keep!)
  3. The location of the garden is described. 10…

10 Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads. 11 The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good. Bdellium and the onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which goes around the whole land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is Hiddekel; it is the one which goes toward the east of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates.

  1. We know none but the fourth of the rivers today (possibly the third, if it is referring to the Tigris, per the NASB & others), but the garden was described as being in a location which might have been easily found originally. That’s not to say it was that way in the days of Moses, but perhaps it was still that way in the days prior to Noah. Remember that the early chapters in Genesis were perhaps passed down to Moses for final review and editing, which might explain the use of the present tense for a land that was far removed from Moses at the time of his writing.
  2. Don’t miss the main point: this was a real place. An author doesn’t provide physical details like names of known rivers if the author is intentionally telling a myth. This was a place that could be found at one point, even if entry was forbidden (Gen 3:24). Question: is it important that Eden is a real place? It is if you want heaven to be a real place. The same sort of narrative wording used to describe Eden is used to describe the future city of New Jerusalem & the new heavens & new earth. Eden was heaven on earth at the beginning of the world; the New Jerusalem will be heaven on earth after its end & remaking. If we believe in one, it’s only logical we believe in the other.
  • The Command (15-17)

15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.

  1. Notice that work came before the Fall. When God pronounced the curse, work became laborious and difficult. Work is included in the curse resulting from the Fall, but work in & of itself is not Work is good. How could it be otherwise? God worked for 6 Days in Chapter 1, and it wasn’t until the 7th Day He stopped working. In fact, Jesus makes the argument that God the Father has never truly stopped working (Jn 5:17); God simply ceased from His creative activity on the 7th Day.
    1. We are meant to work! Man had work to do prior to the Fall, and we’ll have work to do in the Millennial Kingdom & beyond. Work doesn’t have to be bad…it can be wonderful. When we’re doing what we were created to do & what we are empowered to do, all in the presence of God, work doesn’t feel like “work” at all.
    2. It also underscores the importance of a good work ethic today. There’s a reason why Paul warns the church of some who are unworthy of financial assistance. If someone isn’t willing to work, he shouldn’t be helped by the church to remain that way. “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat,” (2 Ths 3:10). It’s one thing if a person is unable to work; it’s another if he/she is unwilling. Such a state is unnatural and (frankly) ungodly.

16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

  1. Although this isn’t the first command in all the Scripture (that’s found in Genesis 1: that the sea creatures and other animals would be fruitful and multiply), it is the first warning in the Scripture.
  2. There’s an interesting grammatical parallel between vss. 16-17 that doesn’t fully present itself in English. When God tells Adam that he may “freely eat” of all the trees, the same grammatical construction is used when God warns Adam that if he eats of the one tree, he will “surely die.” The Hebrew grammar is called the infinitive absolute, and it is when two of the same word are placed side-by-side in a particular form. In English, it would almost be like seeing the words “eating you may eat,” or “dying you shall die.” The purpose of it is to strengthen/emphasize the original idea. What difference does it make here? It might help us better understand the command given by God to Adam. On one hand, God gives Adam true, unfettered freedom. Basically, “Eat until your heart’s content! Enjoy as you eat & eat!” While the warning is, “If you eat of this one tree, you will without question die. Your death will be total & unrestrained.” IOW, God is warning Adam in no uncertain terms. There would have been no ambiguity in Adam’s mind as to what God was saying to him. When later confronted by the lies of the serpent who would claim, “You will not surely die,” (Gen 3:4), Adam would have known that the serpent was claiming exactly the opposite of God. It wasn’t something that was a “gray” area, or to be debated – God made it as clear as it could possibly be made.
    1. Quite often, that’s exactly the way God’s word is. It is us who like to read ambiguity back into the Bible, trying to pretend that it’s more complicated and nuanced than it is. After all, if the meaning of God’s word is up for debate, that means we might be able to give ourselves an “out” for whatever it is God’s word forbids. …
    2. Believe the Bible for what it says! What God had written, He meant. It’s not to be ignored.
  3. BTW – the warning still holds true. When we sin, we die. Paul put it simply: Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” We earn death ourselves; we’re given life by God. To the point: death is earned – it’s a wage that comes as the due result of sin. Sin kills. That’s just as true today as it was in the Garden of Eden. There are only two differences: (1) We are born into sin, so it’s our natural state to engage in it, but (2) We can be freed from it through faith in Jesus Christ.
  • The Woman (18-23); The Need for a Companion (18-20)

18 And the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”

  1. What’s striking here is the proclamation of something not being good.
  2. What was the problem? The man had no one “comparable to him.” He had no one that was opposite or corresponding to him. Although the man had been made in the image of God, there are certain traits of God that are incommunicable – they reside in God alone. Mankind may be impressed with God’s image, able to think, love, experience goodness and justice, etc., but we can never be omnipotent or ultimately self-sufficient. Thus we are like God, but not like Him. We are created beings like animals, but we are not animals, having within us the breath of God. We are unique on this planet, and that was on display with Adam.
  3. Question: wouldn’t this also be the case with God? After all, He is supremely unique as well. Yes, but no. God is unique, but God is also Trinity. There is one God, but that one God is forever existent as three Persons: Father, Son, Holy Spirit. Thus God the Father never gets lonely. There is eternal relationship between the members of the Godhead. (Which is why it is wrong for Christians to assume that God made us because He somehow needed us. God does not need anything whatsoever from us. He did not create us in order to give Him someone to love & love Him back; He created us because it gave Him pleasure and glory to do so. He created us out of an abundance of love; not a lack of it.)
  4. That being the case, the man was left in a precarious position, and that’s what God had planned to rectify through the creation of the woman. That’s when the odd parade of the animals began. 19…

19 Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.

  1. Question: Why? What was the purpose of all this? Surely God had already created male and female of every animal species when He created them in the first place. Certainly God had always known there would be Man and Woman among humans, as His eternal plan for Jesus included Him being born of a woman. Why have the animals parade themselves in front of Adam for his inspection? There are at least a couple of possibilities:
    1. The animals needed to be named. We get that much from the text itself. The animals did not merely come in front of Adam as possible companions; he named each one along the way. This was part of God’s work planned out for Adam – it was part of Adam exercising his God-given dominion over the living things on earth. (Gen 1:28)
      1. BTW – Did Adam see all of the many thousands of species that exist on earth? Surely not. It is far more probable that he inspected the various “kinds,” and gave his names to the general types of the animals. What those names originally were, we do not know. That may have been something lost to history, as language changed & evolved through the centuries.
    2. As they presented themselves to Adam, then Adam would see his own uniqueness. Obviously, God knew that Adam was unlike the animals, and that the male human would need a female human in order to multiply in population. But it would seem Adam did not yet understand this, and the parade was perhaps intended to help him understand his own uniqueness among creation.
      1. Sadly, this awareness is something that is increasingly being lost among people today. Evolutionists routinely assert that humans are no more than another one of the many species of animals, and our cultures end up treating one another that way. …
    3. There’s something poetic about the whole event that is somewhat lost in translation. The Hebrew word for “comparable,” can speak of a physical relationship: something that is “in front of” something else, or something that is “opposite” another based on where it’s placed. God had already observed that there was no creature truly opposite of Adam, and He gave Adam the opportunity to see it for himself. Each creature stood in front of Adam, and Adam could see, “that one isn’t like me,” etc. There was “not found a helper comparable to him,” no matter how many creatures stood opposite to him.
      1. (NET Bible notes) “The English word “helper,” because it can connote so many different ideas, does not accurately convey the connotation of the Hebrew word עֵזֶר (’ezer). Usage of the Hebrew term does not suggest a subordinate role, a connotation which English “helper” can have. In the Bible God is frequently described as the “helper,” the one who does for us what we cannot do for ourselves, the one who meets our needs. In this context the word seems to express the idea of an “indispensable companion.””
    4. This would seem to be an insurmountable problem. What could Adam do? He was alone, and had no capability to help himself. Yet God had a plan. He knew how it was meant to be, and that’s when God took action. 21…
  • Building the Woman (21-23)

21 And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. 22 Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.

  1. First surgical procedure in history. Not exactly a c-section, but not too much different, either! God took a rib (or part of his “side”) from Adam and “built” (literal translation) it into a woman. The word is different than the earlier word used for “formed,” but the general idea probably only differs in shades of meaning. Even so, there is something unique about this – something unseen anywhere else in the animal kingdom. (Once again underscoring that humans are not animals!)
  2. The whole picture is beautiful. When Adam looked to the outside, there was nothing truly opposite/corresponding to him. So God took something from Adam’s inside – something that was already infused with the breath of life given by God, and it was from Adam’s inside than a true corresponding helper could be built on the outside.
    1. FYI, humans typically have 24 ribs – men & women alike. The fact that God took a rib from Adam does not mean that his absence of a rib would have been genetic to males. Again, this was surgery (divine surgery, but still surgery); not the initial creation. If we’ve had ours removed, we don’t pass on a lack of a gall-bladder to our children. It’s no different here.
  3. God built the woman, and as might be expected, He did a fabulous job. Notice how Adam responds…

23 And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.”

  1. Adam is so amazed that he breaks out into poetic verse! Whether or not he sang, we don’t know, but it certainly would have been appropriate! He was blown away by this gift given him by God. At no point among all the creatures on the earth had Adam seen anyone like himself, but he now saw someone who was absolutely like himself, having come from his own body. She may have been standing on the outside, but she was still a part of Adam, and would always be. And that caused Adam to speak out in joy!
  2. She was the same, but she was different. She was genetically made of same stuff as Adam, being of his flesh. She was truly comparable to him as she stood opposite him gazing on him. At the same time, she was observably different, and Adam appropriately gave her another name. She was comparable to him physically, equivalent to him emotionally, but still different from him fundamentally. God did not give Adam another man; God gave him a woman – and this was rightly recognized by Adam.
  3. This all leads to the Biblical description of the institution of marriage, as seen in the concluding remarks to the chapter. 24…
  • Conclusion (24-25)

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

  1. Notice this is now broader than that of Adam & Eve, and prescriptive for the entire human race. What God did with the original, became the standard for all who followed. And that standard did not change with the Fall. It’s quoted by both Jesus and Paul in the New Testament. God’s intent for Adam & Eve is God’s intent for every married couple: one man & one woman, united together for life.
    1. One mate for each. Polygamy was common in the Bible, but never endorsed by God.
    2. One mate of the opposite sex. Man was to be joined with Woman – there is never any allowance for another version.
    3. They are to be united together on every level. Because one had become two, two now become one.
    4. It lasts for life. Flesh is not to be ripped apart, and this is the reason divorce is wrong.
  2. Sum it up: Marriage is loving unity between husband and wife, humbly submitted unto God and one another.
    1. Ultimately, this isn’t so much about man & woman, as it is Christ and the Church. (Eph 5:32)

25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

  1. The chapter leaves off with everything being perfect. All was good. No sin was in the world, and no shame existed. Though the humans were naked, there was no awareness of their own vulnerability. They were totally innocent – exactly as God intended. This was the way it was meant to be.

Conclusion:

This is how it was meant to be, though it wouldn’t remain that way for long. 

Never again will humanity be innocent. Once lost, it can never again be regained. Yet God gives us something truly good in its place: redemption!

To read of how God meant things to be might cause us to realize how far we’ve fallen. Perhaps we look around at our own marriages and see that they don’t match up – or our divorce & realize how badly we failed. Perhaps we simply see our own lack of innocence, mourning our own ready tendencies to sin. Don’t let those things cause you to despair; let them drive you to Jesus! He is our Redeemer & Restorer. He is the one who forgives, and gives us hope.

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