Genesis 2:1-3, “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. 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. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”
On the “seventh day” we’re told two interesting things occur. First, after seeing “everything that He had made” and determining that “indeed it was very good” (Genesis 1:31), on the “seventh day” God “ended His work” and “rested.” In the Hebrew “ended” means His work was “accomplished” (“The heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished”) which explains why God then “rested.” Note: This word “rested” does not imply God was tired and needed a little R.N.R. Instead the word simply indicates the “cessation of what was happening before.” In the Hebrew “rested” is “shabath” which is the primitive root for “shabbath” or Sabbath.
So why would God “end His work” and cease creating? Had he simply run out of creative ideas or had the purpose of His creation been reached? Obviously the answer lies in the latter… Because the climax of and ultimate purpose behind creation had been achieved at the end of the sixth day when God created man, He could now “rest” from His work. What this means is that this “seventh day” (the number indicating completion) signified the consummation of creation, operating as it was design, with mankind enjoying an open and uninterrupted relationship with the Creator. God’s work ceased because He was finished. Note: Rest is found in a relationship with God through a work of God!
Secondly, this explains why we’re then told “God blessed and sanctified the seventh day.” In the Hebrew this word “blessed” or “barak” means “to praise or salute.” As one commentator observed, “Blessed is a statement of good will as well as the condition that fulfills those good words.” A better translation for “God blessed” would be “God favored.” Understand… God favored the “seventh day” and “sanctified” or literally set this day apart from the others because it was the day He was finally able to cease His work and simply enjoy His relationship with humanity. In a sense there was nothing God needed to do!
While there is no mandate in Genesis 2 for man to cease from his work on the “seventh day,” it demands our consideration that the Levitical Law does point back to these verses as the basis for the Sabbath Day. In Exodus 20:8-11 Moses writes, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work… For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.”
And yet, what’s interesting about this passage is that in placing the command for the children of Israel to cease from working on the Sabbath into the context of the “seventh day” recorded in Genesis 2 the idea is presented that the Sabbath actually had nothing to do with man’s work and was instead designed to recognize the completion of God’s! To this point in Exodus 31:12-17 “the LORD spoke to Moses… ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you. You shall keep the Sabbath for it is holy to you… Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death. Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested.’”
Please realize… The point of the Sabbath was to (A) Serve as a constant reminder that it was only through God’s work that humanity was originally afforded a relationship with God on the “seventh day”, and (B) Since our subsequent actions ruined this relationship it could only be through a reinstitution of His work that this relationship would be restored. Note: In a real way the Sabbath was God’s way of telling humanity to stop trying to fix something only He could! It’s why our work on the Sabbath resulted in death!
This understanding explains why it is that Jesus had such a difficult time with the religious establishment over, of all things, the Sabbath Day! John 5:16-18, “For this reason the Jews persecuted Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He had done these things on the Sabbath. But Jesus answered them, ‘My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.’ Therefore the Jews sought all the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but also said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God.”
The big problem Jesus had with the “Religious Right” was the fact they had twisted the Sabbath into something it in no way represented (a way they could earn God’s favor through their obedience) when the reality was that the Sabbath was instituted to emphasize the exact opposite… God’s favor is given through His work, not ours! The “seventh day” of grace!
What’s interesting is that this “seventh day” or God’s Sabbath (when He rested from His work) has only occurred twice in human history. Obviously, “God rested” on this original “seventh day”; and yet, as a consequence of the fall, when man sinned thereby separating himself from his Creator, God ended his rest and busied Himself with the work of redemption!
C.H. Mackintosh observes the seventh day “showed forth the completeness of creation work; but creation work is marred, and the seventh day rest interrupted; and thus, from the fall to the incarnation, God was working; from the incarnation to the cross, God the Son was working; and from Pentecost until now, God the Holy Ghost has been working.”
And yet, there is a second Sabbath in which God rested… How interesting it is that while the religious world ceased from working seeking to earn the favor of God, it was on that same Sabbath Day that Jesus was laid to rest in a Garden Tomb following the completion of His work on Calvary so that man might be given God’s favor and find his rest in Him.
You see the “seventh day” was originally “blessed and sanctified by God” because of what it would ultimately come to represent… The Sabbath Day served as a reminder that the only way our relationship with God could be restored would not be through our best attempts but rather through the completion of God’s perfect work in Jesus! Mark 2:27-28, “Jesus said to the Pharisees, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is also Lord of the Sabbath.’”
Never forget… Rest is only found in a relationship with God, but a relationship with God is only made possible through the completed work of God! Therefore, rest is not something you can earn, achieve, nor maintain, but is something that can only be yielded through a restored relationship with God through Jesus - His amazing grace!
If you find yourself restless… First, cease from your work! Hebrews 4:4, 9-10, “For Jesus has spoken in a certain place of the seventh day in this way: ‘And God rested on the seventh day from all His works’; ... There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered Jesus’ rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His.”
Next, come to Jesus! In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus said, “All you who labor and are heavy laden, come to Me and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you for My yoke is easy and My burden light… For I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
Genesis 2:4-6, “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, 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; but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground.”
Verse 4 opens, “This is the history of…” or literally “the generations of…” which marks a transition in Moses’ presentation of the creation narrative. It would seem after providing the larger story-arch of the six days of creation and the seventh in which God rested, Moses now takes us back to the sixth day in order to fill in some of the details.
Thematically, you can divide up the remaining portion of this chapter into 2 sections:
1. The creation of man and woman… And the parameters of their enjoyment of this distinction.
2. The formation of their world… And the parameters of their enjoyment therein.
In order to effectively cover the critically important things that are being presented in this chapter, instead of a pure verse by verse exposé of the text, we’re instead going to look at these two themes over the course of the next two weeks…
This morning we’re going to first look at the creation of man and woman. Then next week we’ll discuss the parameters of their enjoyment of this distinction as well as the formation of their world and the parameters of their enjoyment therein.
Genesis 2:7, “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.”
For starters, please notice that we’re given in these verses another name for God. Aside from “Elohim” first introduced in Genesis 1:1 and used throughout the creation narrative we now have reference to the “LORD” - the personal name for God presented in Scripture. While some claim these four Hebrew consonants “YHWH” translated “LORD” can be pronounced “Jehovah” with others claiming “Yahweh” the truth is that no one really knows. Regardless of the pronunciation, this first mention of “LORD” in setting the stage for God’s creation of man and women is significant for it spoke of His covenantal nature and personal involvement with man as opposed to His dealings with the rest of creation.
It’s a fascinating reality that while God spoke everything else into existence, we’re told “the Lord God formed man.” Note: This is the first time in Genesis this word “formed” is used. In the Hebrew this word literally means “to fashion or frame.” Interestingly enough, there are 17 instances in the Old Testament “formed” is instead translated as “potter” (Jeremiah 18). What makes this word of such importance is that it presents this personal “LORD” involving Himself in the creation of man in a very intimate way.
I hope you know it’s not the substance of the material man that makes him unique to the rest of creation. As a matter of fact, the same 17 elements found in “the dust of the ground” make up our physical bodies. Instead, man’s uniqueness flows from the specific involvement of a personable God “forming” man into “His image and likeness.” To accomplish this God “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man (Adam) became a living being” or better translated “a living soul” (consciousness and will) - Triune nature!
Genesis 2:18, “And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”
Because man was created in the “image and likeness” of the triune God, Adam was by design a relational being. Within his very being existed the desire for human community and companionship. Now sure Adam was absolutely content in His relationship with God; and yet, God recognized there was a component of human companionship He couldn’t satisfy. Timothy Keller rightly observed, “The ache for friends is not the result of sin!”
Knowing this dynamic, even while Adam was oblivious, God decides to “make a helper comparable to him.” This phrase “helper comparable” can be translated as “helpmeet, companion, fit-helper, or co-responder.” The idea being presented is that God decided to create for man a human partner that would perfectly fit his relational needs and vise-versa!
Before we continue I want to quickly head off a thought that arises in the skeptical mind… In making the woman was God correcting a flaw in His original design of man? The answer is no! Understand, the reason God made male and female genders separate from one another was so that mankind would recognize, appreciate, and cherish the essential need for this important distinction! In a sense it was an intentional flaw for a specific purpose. Which explains what follows…
Genesis 2:19-20, “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. 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.”
So if the context for the naming of the animals is that this all occurred on the sixth day how could Adam have possibly accomplished this task in only a few hours? Obviously, it helps that God “brought them to Adam” - no doubt incredibly intelligent. It could be that it was only the animals present in the Garden of Eden. It’s not beyond the realm of possibility that Adam didn’t name all the animals but only their general species. Who knows!?
Instead it’s important to know the reason Adam is given this task wasn’t to provide the animals names, but rather to reveal to Adam that “there was not found a helper comparable to him” in all of the animal kingdom. The purpose of the process was that while God knew Adam needed a helper, Adam was unaware until he named the animals.
Genesis 2:21-23, “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. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. 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.’”
Right from the beginning I want to point out an interesting contrast established in our text. In vs. 19 we’re told, “Out of the ground the LORD God formed” literally every living thing with one exception - the Women! While we’ve seen God “create” out of nothing and uniquely “form man from the dust of the earth” in regards to the woman we’re provided another first… God “made” the woman! This word “made” means “to build or establish.”
Understand, God didn’t take an actual “rib” from Adam! The Hebrew word used here for “rib” is more often than not translated as “side or chamber.” The idea is that God removed a side of the man and from that side He made, built, and established the female gender.
Literally, to make the woman, God took certain genetic traits from the man which is why when Adam wakes up not only is he cognitively aware something is missing, but upon the presentation of Eve (the “woman”) he recognizes that part of him now existed in her! It’s why he declares, “Bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh… because she was taken out of Man!”
So what does the Bible say about human genders…
1. Genders exist… One might have said this point should go without saying, but in todays relativistic, pagan society where oneness is heralded and all distinctions ostracized and classified as arcane this reality needs to be restated. In Genesis 1:27 we’re presented a truth that “in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
The Bible is clear that God created homo sapiens with two genders: “male and female.” Masculinity and femininity exist not only through societal nurturing, but as an undeniable result of our created biology. Award winning psychologist Diane Halpern conceded that while “we do socialize our boys and girls differently, the contribution of biology is not zero.”
2. Genders are of equal importance… Directly following the creation of “male and female” Genesis 1:28 records God blessing “them” before giving “them” the same set of tasks. Now, while it’s true sin marred God’s created order lending to a further defining of gender roles, in their base, created nature “male and female” are of equal standing and value! C.H. Mackintosh, “In all his dignity, and in all his glory, she was entirely one. Adam did not rule over, but with Eve. He was lord of the creation, and she was one with him.”
For those who’d seek to diminish the important position of women through some kind of twisted machismo, I would simply refer you to a telling observation made by author Mark Twain, “What would men be without women? Scarce, sir… mighty scarce.”
3. Genders are distinct from one other and we see this in two ways…
Positional Distinction… Don’t forget God first “formed man from the dust” before He “made woman from man.” Note: This particular order was not an accident. Positionally, there seems to be a distinction between Adam and Eve at it pertained to moral responsibility. Though Eve would sin before Adam, God would hold Adam responsible. It’s why after making Eve we’re told “God brought her to the man.”
Understand, because Adam was the “first born of creation” sin nature was passed through the man and not the woman. According to Scripture because we were all condemned in Adam we could all be saved in Christ. Note: Jesus could only be born sinless because He was born through the woman with God as His Father!
In 1 Corinthians 15:45-49 Paul writes, “And so it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit… The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.”
Biological Distinction… Because God removed a certain biological part from the man in order to make the woman, while equally human, there are simply aspects of the biological makeup of “male and female” that are intrinsically different from one another… Dominate traits in man that are completely different from those found in women.
I don’t know if you saw the reports, but a study was recently conducted that showed for the first time the brains of men and women are wired differently. Many of the connections in a typical male brain run between the front and the back of the same side of the brain, whereas in women the connections are more likely to run from side to side between the left and right hemispheres.
Commenting on this study, professor of radiology at the University of Pennsylvania Ragini Verma, said, “These maps show a stark difference in the architecture of the human brain that helps to provide a neural basis as to why men excel at certain tasks, and women at others… What we’ve identified is that there are connections in the brain that are hardwired differently in men and women. Functional tests have shown that when they carry out certain tasks, men and women engage different parts of the brain.”
Neurologist Ruben Gur, PhD observed that these studies reveal that “women are faster and more accurate at identifying emotions.” Furthermore, the reality that the sections of the brain used to control aggression and anger responses are larger in women than in men explaining why it is that women are better than men at controlling their emotions. Concerning these observable difference between the male and female brain Gur concludes that since “most of these differences are complementary they increase the chances of males and females joining together. It helps the whole species.”
4. There is a divine purpose in these gender distinctions… Understand, God created humanity “male and female” so that each gender would fill a unique genetic role essential to the formation of human companionship.
Don’t forget the purpose in taking from man the woman was to create a dynamic whereby true human companionship could be found and enjoyed by both man and women specifically in the other gender. As God exists in a diversity of distinct roles existing in perfect harmony and equality (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) mankind was created in “His likeness” specifically as “male and female.”
In a very literal sense God has designed the functional man to be incomplete without the woman and the functional woman without the man. C.H. Mackintosh, “There was no other creature so near to Adam as Eve, because no other creature was part of himself.” I would add the exact same reality existed for the Eve as well!
It’s with all of these things in mind that next Sunday we’re going to explore the God-given parameters as to how humanity was to enjoyment this incredible distinction. God indeed made them “male and female” for the purposes of companionship, but He then determined that this ultimate joining together of the genders occur within marriage!
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