Genesis 2:4b-7… In the day that the LORD God made earth and heaven. 5 Now no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the lord God had not sent rain upon the earth; and there was no man to cultivate the ground. 6 But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground. 7 Then the lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
Verse 4 teaches about what became of the heavens and the earth that God created in Genesis 1 (what actually became of it is that sin entered into the picture and devastated the creation). In the second phrase of verse 4 it says, “in the day that the Lord God made earth and heaven.” The word “day” here, since it has no number preceding it like Genesis 1 consistently does, is an idiom for “when” – “when the Lord God made earth and heaven.”
Now Genesis 1:11-12 teaches that on the third day of creation God caused the land to produce vegetation – “plants yielding seeds according to their kinds, and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds.” However, the above passage says that “no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the lord God had not sent rain upon the earth.” The above passage appears to say that man was created before the plants and vegetation, while Genesis 1 to teaches the converse. What’s really happening in chapter 2 is that God is keying in on man who is the theme of chapter 2. In Genesis 1 the entire creation is the theme, but since God’s sixth day creation of man was the pinnacle of that creation, He now hones in on that part of the creation. It’s like building a house. A builder might tell you that he built a home for himself and tell you how he did it. Then he says, “Now let me tell you about the game room!” His subsequent story about his game room is a lot like Genesis 2 when it goes back to man’s creation as the prevailing theme. In other words, Genesis 1 is an overview of the creation week, and Genesis 2 is thematic concerning man’s creation and his environment.
The growth of the shrubs is said to be dependent upon the rain and man’s efforts, yet man was created after the plants. However, the creation of the plants is not alluded to here at all, but simply the planting of the garden in Eden – the place where Adam would live and work. The growth of the shrubs is different from their initial creation. It only refers to their cultivation by man and rain for their natural development. Moreover, the shrubs and plants in the passage do not include the vegetable productions all over the earth at that time. The word for “field” here (Hebrew sadeh) does not describe the entire earth but a section of land fit for cultivation (Eden).
Verse 6 says that a “mist” rose up from the ground to water the earth. As noted in Genesis 1, the hydrologic cycle in the beginning was far different than the one we know today (the “waters above” were a vapor canopy). There was no rain in the beginning, and the mere mention of it looks forward to the Great Flood of Noah’s day. The “mist” here is best understood as a fountain from the great deep that likely shot water through the air to water the ground. Since the ground needed cultivation from man, God creates him and breathed life into him.
Food for Thought
Man’s formation from the dust of the earth is different from all other life forms because God breathed life into man, and he became a living being. God created man to care for His creation and have fellowship with God. Our creation came about because God made it come about, and God loves His creation. His gifts are endless, and His love is unconditional. Our purpose then is to worship our Creator, not slander His name. Dwell on that thought today.
Genesis 2:8-9… And the lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. 9 And out of the ground the lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Verse 8 actually explains Genesis 2:5-6 in that it shows that God, after creating the earth and everything in it, planted a garden. It was this garden in Eden (unknown whereabouts today) where “no shrub of the field was yet in the earth, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the lord God had not sent rain upon the earth” (Gen 2:5-6). The word for “earth” there is the same Hebrew word that simply means “land” or “a piece of land.” In this case it refers to the garden in Eden that God planted. This garden was where God placed Adam “whom He had formed.” This is now the sixth time in Genesis where God is said to have “created,” “formed,” or “made” man. This didn’t come about through long ages. Man was simply put together in an instant and given the breath of life by God Himself. That explains man’s origin in simple terms.
Verse 9 uses a Hebrew verb form that shows causation (hiphil). God “caused” every tree to grow up from the ground. In Genesis 2:5-6, however, it was said that nothing was growing because God had not sent rain on the land nor had man begun to cultivate the land. In the above passage it is God who causes all trees to grow, but in the previous passage it appears that man and rain are needed to make it grow. What this shows is a cooperative effort between man and God. Even though God causes all things to grow, He gives man a part in the fruits of that labor.
The second phrase of verse 9 is intriguing: “the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” The tree of life is a mysterious tree that appears again in the eternal state of heaven in Revelation. These two trees are addressed later in the narrative, and their insertion here in the story anticipates the coming crisis brought on by sin.
Food for Thought
The cooperative effort between man and God in the above passages is parallel to God’s divine election and man’s efforts in evangelism. As Christians we have been commissioned by Jesus Christ to preach the good news of His death and resurrection to the whole world (Matt. 28:19-20). But given that God has chosen his elect children from the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:3-14), that salvation comes by God’s grace apart from man’s works (Eph. 2:8-10), and that salvation belongs only to God (Jonah 2:9), He has given Christians the highest privilege of sharing in the salvation of others – even though they’re not really needed. The Apostle Paul deals with this very issue in 1 Corinthians 3:6 as he attempts to discredit any power he might have had over the salvation of others. He says in relation to himself and his fellow worker named Apollos: “What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth (emphasis mine). So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building.” Even though God causes salvation, He rewards us for taking part in it!
Paul calls called to salvation “God’s field.” Our task is to present Christ to everyone. Don’t forget that God has given us a great privilege and blessing in allowing us to share the good news of Jesus Christ with other people. If you’re not doing just that, you’re missing out on a wonderful blessing of great joy, not to mention the very task we were created to perform.
Genesis 2:10-14… Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers. 11 The name of the first is Pishon; it flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good; the bdellium and the onyx stone are there. 13 And the name of the second river is Gihon; it flows around the whole land of Cush. 14 And the name of the third river is Tigris; it flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
The parenthetical passages above describe the topography of that day. The Garden of Eden was destroyed after the Flood, and it’s whereabouts are merely speculation. An educated guess as to the location of Eden, which only adds to the speculation, would probably be in Israel and include all the area from the Nile to the Euphrates River. After all, this land is called the Land of Promise – a land that “flows with milk and honey” throughout the scriptures.
Speculation aside, there was a river that flowed out of this beautiful garden in the beginning when the first man was placed there. Dr. Henry Morris says, “Since there was no rainfall, the river would have to be supplied through a pressurized conduit from an underground reservoir of some kind, emerging under pressure as a sort of artesian spring.” The water would have had to have been heated by some deep lying source of heat in order to gain the pressure it needed to come up out of the reservoir. At any rate, the water that came up actually watered the garden as the passage teaches. The one river flows to a certain point then divides and becomes four different rivers. The first river, the Pishon, is said to flow around the whole land of Havilah “where there is gold.” The Havilah is an unknown area today that no longer exists, but the land must have been beautiful because it was a name given to Noah’s grandson (Gen. 10:7) after the Flood. Havilah means “Sandland” attesting to the rich primordial area that obviously made a great impression on the sons of Noah who were the last to see it before it was destroyed by the Flood. There is no such river today that encircles such a land “where there is gold” and where “the bdellium and onyx stone” reside. This gold and these precious stones, along with the entire Paradise region of Eden, are all restored when the new heavens and new earth are ushered in (cf. Rev. 21:15, 18, 21). The Paradise lost will be Paradise gained for those who follow Christ.
The second river is called the Gihon in verse 13. It flows around the land of Cush, and though Cush is equivalent to modern-day Ethiopia, the pre-Flood Cush appears to have been an entirely different region because there is no river today that flows around Ethiopia. The final two rivers, the Tigris and Euphrates, are rivers that flow throughout the Fertile Crescent today, but there is no evidence that these are the same rivers that the passage originally spoke of. The Tigris in the above passage is said to flow “east of Assyria,” yet the Tigris today flows west of Assyria.
In sum, the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the land of Cush, and Assyria were originally names given to certain areas and rivers on the pre-Flood earth. The names were remembered by the sons of Noah and given to people and places likely in memoriam to what we see in the post-Flood era. These places were completely wiped out during the Flood, and there appears to be absolutely no physical connection to them with the present day places that contain these names.
Food for Thought
The land of Eden was indeed a fertile and beautiful land. It was the true Paradise that man forfeited following his rebellious sin. We do have the promise of God, however, that this land will be restored (Rev. 21-22). We have that as part of our hope, and it is the longing of man to be there. It can and will be yours simply by placing your faith in its Creator: Jesus Christ our Lord.
Genesis 2:15-17… Then the lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. 16 And the lord God commanded the man, saying, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die."
After explaining in verses 11-14 how beautiful and lush the Garden of Eden is, God then places man there. God takes the apex of His creation, man, and places him in the most beautiful work environment on His perfect planet. Verse 15 says that God “took” Adam. This Hebrew word literally means “to grasp; to take hold of.” It’s the same word used when David “took” the sword from Goliath’s hand to sever his head. In other words, God picked Adam up from wherever it was that he had been formed and “put” him in the garden. “Put” literally means “to cause to rest; to lower.” So, God grasped Adam like a lion taking its young by the neck and lowered him into the Garden of Eden where he came to rest. The reason God did this was “to cultivate it and keep it.” Adam was to not only work in the garden by tilling the soil and taking care of the various plants, but he was also to “keep” it – another word for “guard” or “watch.” It’s important to note here that work was ordained for man from the beginning. The difficulties of work that we experience today, however, are part of the Curse, not the original plan of God.
After placing the man in the garden and giving him his commission to cultivate it and watch over it, God gives him free reign over everything except one tree. Adam was free to eat from any tree he pleased, and if the Garden of Eden did encompass the entire Promised Land that was later given to Abraham and his descendants, then the garden was quite large to say the least (circa 400,000 square miles). Now there are two trees specified that are in this garden in verse 9: the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Verse 17, however, gives just one prohibition: don’t eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The tree of life was apparently free game just like all the other trees, save one. In other words, God told Adam to eat anything he wanted in this lush and beautiful garden – a garden that likely stretched for miles and miles. He was given everything and had only one prohibition. But that’s all it took.
Now the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is just one tree in a large garden. The fact that there was a knowledge of good and evil means that at this stage evil had somehow already entered into the picture – that Satan’s rebellion in heaven and subsequent fall must have already occurred. This is something that Adam was likely ignorant to, and his eating from this particular tree would somehow enlighten him to evil as it relates to good. At any rate, the command is sure: “in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.” Since we know from Genesis 3 that Adam didn’t actually die on the “day” he ate the fruit, and since “day” here has no number preceding it, it is clear that “day” is an idiom for time and doesn’t mean he’ll actually die on the literal day in which he eats. He did later die, however – further proof that God was serious about His warning.
Food for Thought
God “grasped” Adam and placed him in the garden, and He has so placed us in our current life situations. Life today is unlike the garden, but we’re still commissioned to work and guard over that which God has delegated to us. We have obligations and prohibitions – just like Adam. God’s Word spells out those prohibitions through the Ten Commandments. Our failure to obey God is either caused by failure to seek God and know His will, or it’s a blatant refusal to obey in spite of our knowledge. Whatever free-will you believe you possess, pray for it today. It’s nature is to choose evil, and only the power of God can save us from that choosing.