Jun 19, 2022 | Greg Johnson
The Place and Purpose for Men
Last week, as began our journey through Genesis, we took the first few minutes to determine the original hearers, the Israelites, sometime during their 40 years in the desert, who were largely being introduced to the God of their ancestors – remember, they were coming out of over 400 years in slavery to a nation that worshipped many gods, so they were having to get their minds around ONE GOD who created it all – AND, based on last week, he was a God who valued BEING/REST over DOING/PRODUCTION, a stark contrast to their “brick-making” mentality, and his prized creation was MAN – Not only was man God’s prized creation, but an IMAGE BEARER of God, with an invitation to RULE with him – I’m sure they felt CHOSEN and INVITED into HIS WORLD.
As we move into chapter two, we see the focus is now sharpening on the prize of God’s creation – today, in the first half chapter two, we will see the PLACE created for MAN, and the PURPOSE for which MAN was created – Genesis 2:4-17
V4 – This will be a common phrase throughout Genesis – “this is the account…” – This verse really supports that chapter 1 is a poetic narrative of creation, and while he saw it all as GOOD, the author is now focusing in on what God called VERY GOOD
V5-6 – Author is honing in on a specific part of creation – the shrubs and plants here are referring to food and sustenance that will be needed for man – part of the blessing of ch.1
V7 – In chapter one, man was created in God’s image and invited to partner with him to rule the earth – now we get more detail into his creation account – formed from dust or soil – Hebrew word for ground is Adam - let’s just pause for a second and take in the vast understatement of creation here – 60,000 miles of blood vessels, 206 bones, 600 muscles, 9 major organ systems, 5 million hairs, with the ability to think, feel, reason, communicate, all formed by Creator God from the dust of the earth – And God BREATHED LIFE into man – in Hebrew, the breath of God and the Spirit of God are the word “ruach” – So, while God is bringing man to life, he is filling him with his Spirit, he has the image-bearing DNA of God filling up his lungs – VERY GOOD.
PLACE FOR MAN
V8-14 – God plants a garden in Eden, and in V10, a river flows from Eden to the garden , then flows from the garden out into the world - so we see that Eden and the garden are two different places – Cool imagery here of Eden being God’s dwelling place, and his presence is flowing into the garden, which is created for man to enjoy and cultivate, and the river of his presence flows out of the garden creating four large rivers, two of which are still geographical rivers today –
Ok, here is where my mind was blown in studying this week – Ezekiel 47:1-12, imagery of a river that brings life to everything it touches flowing out of the temple – Psalm 46:4, the river whose streams make glad, Revelation 22:1, the river of the water of life flowing from the throne of God – think about Jesus – John 4:13, Jesus offers the woman at the well living water that will quench eternal thirst and becomes an internal spring of eternal life – John 7:38, he repeats it to a crowd of Jews: Whoever believes will have rivers of living water flow from within – then, think about you and me – Proverbs 4:23: Guard your heart b/c it is the wellspring of life, everything FLOWS from it – 1 Cor. 6:19, in Christ, we are now the temple and the presence flows INTO and OUT OF us – So, this picture of Eden and the garden is really setting up the narrative of the rest of scripture – God is not distant but present, he sets up his home AMONG us (John 1:14), flows in and through us, and provides a PLACE for us to dwell with him – and what is in this PLACE?
When you think garden, think botanical garden – beautiful lush trees with fruit that was PLEASING to the eye and GOOD for food – that will be important later – but there are two trees in the middle of the garden – the TREE OF LIFE and the TREE of the KNOWLEDGE of GOOD and EVIL – let’s talk about these two trees
The TREE OF LIFE represents the life-giving sustenance of God- it is in the middle of the garden, and gives imagery of the Holy of Holies in the temple, the place where God dwells. And the invitation in V16 is to eat from any tree in the garden, which includes the TOL, except one – but the implication is that LIFE comes from this tree – however this is not an immortality tree, although the result of eating daily would be eternal, but rather ingesting the power and presence of God daily – It is synonymous with the tree in Psalm 1:3 and Jeremiah 17:8-9, life-giving, always fruit bearing and yielding prosperity – and, Revelation 22:2, lining the banks of the river, fruitful and healing
The other tree is the KNOWLEDGE of GOOD and EVIL – this is a false tree of life – eating from it would open their eyes to Proverbs 14:12 : It sounds good, but it is destructive – plugging into knowledge is taking control, now I know best – in effect, I become my own god – we will see the result of this flowing out of Genesis 3 – in fact, in V17, the only boundary God had in this paradise was not to eat of this tree – the result would be death, but it wasn’t immediate death – We will get more into this tree in chapter 3, but Adam and Eve will be banished from the Garden, and no longer have access to the TOL, which will ultimately lead to death – more in a couple of weeks – But here is the picture: God provided a PLACE for man to EXPERIENCE and ENJOY his presence – the river of his presence, the fruit of his presence – his perfection to be enjoyed.
V8 – God placed Adam in the garden – Adam didn’t have to find his way, not search for perfection, he was placed in it
V15 – What was Adam’s job? To work and take care of the garden – this is a picture of purpose – God didn’t just leave him to his own devices, he initiated partnership and relationship – he said, “Here, I am giving you this place to shepherd, cultivate, care for…” – But what is he cultivating? THE PRESENCE AND GLORY OF GOD – Adam was placed in the garden with the PURPOSE shepherding God’s purpose – the river of God is flowing in and sustaining the trees that are yielding fruit that Adam is consuming – his number one job was to ENJOY GOD and KEEP THE FLOW OF HIS PRESENCE FROM BEING RESTRICTED IN ANY WAY
John Piper put it this way: “ Man's chief aim is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.”
John 15:1-7, Jesus gives us a similar picture of our purpose – He is the vine, the tree of life, and we are branches – we bear fruit by remaining in HIM, but without him we are CUT OFF from the presence of God and our PURPOSE for living
Talking with Gavin this week - Three Latin phrases that sums up our collective calling:
Imago Dei – Made in the Image of God
Corum Dei – Living before or with God (relationship)
Missio Dei – Living the mission of God
The thought is moving from inward to outward – we live FROM our IDENTITY, not FOR our IDENTITY – Again, your PURPOSE is birthed out of being an Image-bearer of God, not earning your way –
Acts 17, Paul is in Athens, a highly polytheistic culture, speaking to a group of philosophers – listen to what he says:
Acts 17:22-28 – He made all of us from one man, and
appointed both places and purposes for all – In Him we live and move and have our being – SAME GOD OF GEN 2
In Genesis 2, God created a PLACE for Adam, and a PURPOSE for Adam - Close:
1. Where has God currently PLACED you?
- What is God’s PURPOSE in where he has PLACED you?
- How are you cultivating the presence and power of God in your life?
- Are you living FROM your identity or FOR your identity?