Genesis 2:4–25: Humanity
Who are we? What does it mean to be a human being? These are fundamental questions that touch on every aspect of our existence, and they have been answered variously throughout history. To some, we are gods, or at least united to the pantheist deity. To others, we are groveling worms before a tyrannical god. To still others, we are the accidental products of gas explosions, spontaneous life-generation, and a series of fortunate mutations. To yet others, we are are nothing more than our feelings, hormones, and experiences.
According to the Bible, human beings are fundamentally unique in all of creation. Furthermore, we embody a complex set of paradoxes. So, we are created from the dust, but despite our humble origins, we are created in the very image of God himself. Then, while the curse of human sin has caused our labor to become toil painful, sweat-filled toil to bring fruit out of the dust, we nevertheless exercise dignity and nobility in our work. Additionally, while our marriages are torn by strife, infidelity, and divorce, our marriage relationships nevertheless reflect (however dimly) a sacred mystery: the marriage of Christ and his church. We are simultaneously glorious and shameful, majestic and depraved, hopeful and despondent. How does all of this fit together?
Unless we understand what we were created to be, we will never understand who we are. The entry of sin into the world will wreak havoc on our original nature, but we cannot see the nature and the extent of the damage of the Fall without fully appreciating the baseline starting point of creation. Also, we must fully appreciate on our original glory if we wish to understand the nature of the glory that Jesus Christ came to restore. Throughout the whole Bible, Genesis 2:4–25 stands as the most important reflection on human nature, human work, and human marriage—where we began, and where we are going.
1. Why do we need two accounts of the creation story? Why is it so important to acknowledge the almighty power of the Creator God in Genesis 1:1–2:3? Why is it so important to recognize the intimate, covenantal love of Yahweh God in Genesis 2:4–25? What happens if we lose either perspective of God?
2. Think about the work that God has called you to do. In what ways has he called you to further his work of filling through the work of cultivating? In what ways has he called you to preserve his work of forming through the work of keeping? How might seeing your work in light of Genesis 2 help you work unto the Lord in your vocation?
3. What does the nature of cultivating and keeping as priestly work tell us about our own work? How do we avoid the two extremes of either over-spiritualizing or under-spiritualizing our work? In what ways does a robust understanding of creation help us to see the connection between our work and our calling as priests of God?
4. If you are a married man, how might God be calling you to forsake previous ties in order to sacrificially lead and cling to your wife? If you are a married woman, how might God be calling you to serve as a helper to your husband? If you are unmarried, what does this passage teach you about how to think about the possibility of marriage?