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Genesis Series: 2:4-17 "In The Garden - Before it all went to pot" (Part 1)"

February 2, 2014

Gen. 2:4-25           

In The Garden – before it all went to pot (Part 1: The First Covenant)

Communion

Intro:  In Genesis 1 we have the seven day account of creation which reveals that God created with purpose and order and that it was all good in the eyes of God. And we have the Sabbath mandate: the rest God took and we who are made in his image are to take on the same schedule.  In Genesis 2, we have a retelling of creation but the focus here is more on the Creation of Man and Woman and culminates in the two of them being in union with one another.

 

Again, as I said last time, the author is writing with a purpose in mind.  What is he trying to establish?  What does he believe it is important for his readers to know?  Let’s begin with verse 4:

 

Is it clear who is stated as the Creator of the heavens and the earth?!  Stated and restated.  Reading now vss. 5-7

Before the creation of Man, God alone was steward of all that grew on the earth.  That’s all I’m going to say about that today.  What I’d like to focus on is US and our relationship with God.  We know from Gen 1:27 that “God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”  In Gen. 2:7 and following, we get more detail on how God created humankind and why he chose to make us male and female.  It is an embellishment of the first account in the previous chapter.  From it we know that we are created, we are not pre-existent like God.  But we are like God in that we are made in his image.  We find in 2:7 that we are formed of dust/clay from the ground.  We really are one with the earth in our origins!  But mankind is breathed into existence when God, after forming him from clay breathes into the first man’s nostrils, filling him with life and with God’s own Spirit.  As the kids have shown us, that’s not something that just anyone can do!

Let’s continue in our reading, vss. 8-9

Everything the created human would need was given to him. 

10-14

Many have tried to use this information to try to pinpoint “paradise”.  It hasn’t happened.  Vss. 15-17

Here is the first time we have revealed humanity’s freedom of choice.  Not only is the garden a gift, it is also a purpose:  to be worked and enjoyed.  Adam will have to choose whether or not to do so. Man is also given freedom to enjoy it all except for one tree, which leads him to choose whether he will obey the command of God to not eat fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

How many of you, when you were a kid, tested a rule like this?  Don’t touch the stove, stay away from the fire, don’t put anything in the outlet . . . Once given a rule, we always have the freedom to ignore it, or break it, or obey it.  It is the same for us as it was for Adam.  God lays down plainly his Law and gives us the freedom to choose whether we will obey or not.  It is part of our God-given, created DNA to be free to choose.

This, my friends is the first covenant that God makes with humankind.  It is the promise God makes that life will go well for us if we choose to obey God and live within the generous provisions he provides.  In this scenario in Gen 2, there is only one thing the man is told not to do.  All it takes for Adam to uphold his end of the covenant is to obey this one rule.

Our lesson at XFA this past week was about choosing to obey God 100%.  Not because it makes you better than anyone else but simply because it is the right thing to do and the blessing of obedience far outweighs the momentary joy of doing what seems right in our own eyes.  Or as in the story of Deborah that we used with the kids this week, one choice not to obey 100% can rob us of joy and victory and give it to another. 

A recap of that story . . . Deborah delivers the word of God to Barak, the leader of the Israelite army that he is to gather his men, go to the mountain and wait for God to deliver the leader of the opposing army into his hand.  Barak immediately shows his mistrust of God and instead of obeying 100%, tells Deborah he won’t go unless she goes with him.  Deborah agrees to go but lets Barak know that he has just forfeited the claim to the victory and it will be attributed to a woman. 

Do you want to know what happens?  The Israelites defeat the other guys, but their leader Sisera gets away.  Sisera goes to hide in what he assumes is the friendly tent of a woman named Jael.  Jael does indeed offer him a hiding place and seeing he is exhausted gives him a blanket and some milk to help him get to sleep.  As he is drifting off to sleep he orders Jael to stand guard at the door of the tent and tell anyone who asks that there is no one hiding in her tent.  After he is asleep, Jael takes a tent peg and a hammer and drives it into his temple, thus securing the victory over Israel’s army. 

Because Barak did not obey God’s Word 100%, he didn’t receive the blessing of victory that was promised him.  How often are we like Barak?  How often do we tell God, “What you are asking me to do is too hard, so I’ll make a deal, I’ll go this far until I get stronger.”  It’s not that we won’t achieve the desired outcome, eventually, but we will not know the blessing of the victory that was ours to take and there will be consequences of our disobedience that we will have to deal with later in life. 

As we are preparing to approach the Lord’s Table and receive the sacrament, now would be a good time to assess our level of obedience in the past week.  And if we find that we have fallen short of 100%, it would be good and wise for us to confess our shortcomings before we participate in this holy sacrament. 

Back to Genesis.  God made a covenant with Adam.  It was filled with blessing.  It was God giving Adam responsibility and privilege.  God has provided everything the man needs to thrive. In his commentary, Henri Blocher says:

God reveals himself in this first provision as the God of superabundant grace, the opposite of the castrating father of our pitiful fantasies, the bestowing Father who rejoices in the happiness of mankind.  God commands this permission, says the text.  It is an order for the man to benefit from the life God gives him, to explore the magnificent park and taste its fruits.  By refusing to be content with a stunted existence, the man will show his gratitude and glorify his Lord. . . .  Likewise it is stipulated in the creational agreement: ‘you shall not eat’; otherwise ‘DYING you shall die’. That is the condition that is the basis and the safeguard of the happiness of the human race.”  (Blocher, p.121)

God still gives to us abundantly.  He desires that we embrace all that he provides to us.  But he also tells us distinctly that sin kills.  He wants us to avoid it at all costs.  He has given us His written Word to guide us, teach us, confront us and correct us.  He has given us His Word made flesh in Jesus Christ to show us how to live in relationship to God and to redeem us from the very sin he warns us of.  Sin kills.  It brought about the death of Jesus Christ, but through that death and through the covenant of grace God ordained through it, we have all we need in this life to live obediently in relationship with God.

In the garden of Eden, God established his first covenant with human kind.  On a cross on a hill, God established his final covenant with mankind.  All of his abundant grace poured out in the blood and the broken body of his only Son, Jesus Christ.  This table is where we are established and re-established in that covenant of grace.  To all who know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, and to all who desire to know him, you are invited to come to this table of grace, this table of covenant.  But do not come unaware.  Do not come without preparing your heart.  The grace we embrace at this table came at the cost of life of God’s own Son.  Come with gratitude and thanksgiving.  Come with sorrow for your own sin and the ways you have failed to live in 100% obedience to God.  Come knowing that you are in good company as Paul reassures us that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

 

 

Charge:  In this passage from Genesis, the author is telling us about the relationship we humans have with God.  He is the generous provider of all that is good for us.  He has established his covenant with us.  We are the creatures, made in his image who are blessed when we live in obedience to the covenant he has made with us, then in the garden, now through Jesus.  Go and live accordingly in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Amen.