Genesis Chapter 2
Trees, Seeds and Wives.
by I Gordon
Genesis chapter 2 presents us with more great types and examples of Christ and the Christian life. There are a few little points I want to focus on for this chapter... namely rest, seeds, trees and wives. An odd collection but there you have it! Let's have a look.
The Two Rests
Genesis 2:1-3 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. 2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
The first point presented to us in Genesis chapter 2 concerns the rest. On the seventh day God had finished His work and He rested from further acts of creation. No command is given to mankind at this point to do likewise. It is simple a statement that God blessed this seventh day and made it holy. Now it is interesting how the rest of the Bible picks up on this verse. Do you know where it is quoted elsewhere in the Bible? I'll give you a clue... I'm thinking of one passage from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament. Okay, I need to be a little kinder! One is from the book of Exodus and the other is from the book of Hebrews. Let's have a look at the two passages and in doing so we may discover something concerning the two rests.
Exodus 20:8-11 'Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. 11 For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy .'
Hebrews 4:1-11 "Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. 2 For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. 3 Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, 'So I declared on oath in my anger, 'They shall never enter my rest.'' And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. 4 For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: 'And on the seventh day God rested from all his work .' 5 And again in the passage above he says, 'They shall never enter my rest.' 6 It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience. 7 Therefore God again set a certain day, calling it Today, when a long time later he spoke through David, as was said before: 'Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.' 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day. 9 There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; 10 for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. 11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience."
Now this is how our passage in Genesis 2:2-3 is quoted in both the Old and New Testaments. Please note how differently this passage is used between the two. The first, as one of the ten commandments, is very simple to understand. The passage is used to declare the law of the Sabbath. ie Just as God rested on the seventh day, so we should rest and do no work on the seventh day. The New Testament however does not concern itself with the outward law of the Sabbath and it is not repeated as something that is binding upon believers. It is concerned however with the spiritual reality and fulfilment of Genesis 2:2-3. And that reality is experienced not in physically resting one day a week but in resting spiritually 'Today'. That is, in the book of Hebrews it tells us that there is a rest available to all that would hear God's voice and apply faith to that which they hear. It is available everyday and, paradoxically, every effort should be made to enter into that rest! It is the rest of faith where we 'cease striving and know that He is God.'
The Dormant Seed...
Genesis 2:4-7 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens - 5 and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, 6 but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground - 7 the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
You might recall that in chapter 1 of Genesis that on the third day 'G od said, 'Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.' And it was so. The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds .'. Here in chapter two we read that even though the seeds of the shrubs and plants were all ready, no plant had yet sprung up because of two things:
1) There was no rain to water the ground
2) There was no man to work the ground.
So the seeds lay in the ground... waiting... patiently waiting, for the right time and conditions to occur. An interesting thing occurred in the land of Israel several years back. They had snow! Now this in itself is quite unusual for that area of the world but something else unusual occurred. All sorts of flowers and plants that they had not seen for many decades grew again once the snow had melted and cleared. You see, the seed from these flowers was in the ground, waiting like we read about in Genesis here, for the right time and conditions.
Now, you may know where I'm going with this. For the spiritual life mimics the natural in this regard. Jesus told us that the seed is the word of God that gets sown in the hearts of men. (Matt 13:1-23) The seeds that we sow normally won't show immediate results. But don't let that discourage you! From this chapter before us in Genesis you can see that the seed can still sprout and grow when watering and cultivation occurs at a later date. I have known people that have had the seed planted in their heart as a youngster and not make a commitment to the Lord Jesus until late in their life. But that initial seed was always there, waiting for the right time. From Genesis chapter 1 we see that all vegetation and plants produce after their own kind. The word of God (the spiritual seed) is the same. It will produce results! Listen again to a well know verse from Isaiah:
"As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."
There were two trees in the garden
Genesis 2:8-17 Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground - trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. ... The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, 'You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.'
Genesis chapter two also presents us with the first mention of two very important trees - the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. More shall be said about these trees in chapter 3 but for the mean time, let's just examine what these two trees stood for because even today men are still deciding from which of these two trees they shall eat.
The tree of life: In the middle of the garden stood the tree of life. We see this tree again in Revelation chapter 2 where the promise of the Lord to the church at Ephesus was that ' To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.' We read also of this tree in Revelation 22. The tree of life represents the life of God. It is the life we receive when we receive Him who is life - the Lord Jesus. Eating from this tree speaks of dependence upon God for His life to shine through us. Unfortunately, though this tree existed in the garden, it was not the tree that Adam and Eve choose to eat from.
The tree of the knowledge of good and evil: This was the only tree that God said specifically that they were not to eat from. The warning was clear enough - if you eat from this tree you will surely die. As we will see in the next chapter they ate anyway and the consequences are seen everywhere today. This tree speaks of independence from God. It speaks of going your own way and making your own choices. The knowledge of good and evil that came through this tree gave man that ability. It gave man the horrible idea that man could live making his own rules without God.
As mentioned, we will take up this thought more in Chapter 3, but for now it is worth noting that everyone, to this day, is still faced with the choice between these two trees. Are we going to live independently from God reliant upon our own will and strength, or did God create us to be dependent upon Him and His life? I'm sure you know the answer but it is good to be reminded... As Major Ian Thomas used to say - It takes God to be a man as God created man to be.
A wife for Adam, a bride for the Lord
Genesis 2:18-25 'The LORD God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.' 19 Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. 23 The man said, 'This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man.' 24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. 25 The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. '
Finally, as we close this chapter, we read above that the Lord saw that it wasn't good for Adam to be alone. Ray Comfort once commented on this passage that 'the Bible says that the Lord put man into a deep sleep and it doesn't say that He ever brought him out of it!' I'm sure some wives would agree with that but that aside, it is interesting to see what the New Testament says about this passage and event. For it tells us that there is a greater mystery represented to us here that just the relationship between Adam and Eve. Let's have a look.
Eph 5:25-32 'Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy , cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church - for we are members of his body. 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.' This is a profound mystery - but I am talking about Christ and the church.'
The Apostle Paul sees that in the love and union between Adam and Eve, God was giving us a greater picture of the relationship that He desires to have with us. He calls this union a profound mystery - Christ and the church. It is important to remember that for the Christian, Jesus is not only their Saviour, their healer, their brother, and their friend... but He is also the groom awaiting His bride, the Church. Both Old and New Testaments portray God as a jealous God (Ex 20:5, James 4:4-6). This is a holy and just jealousy expressed by a husband eagerly desiring the attention of a wayward wife. It is the same type spoken of by the Apostle Paul who wrote:
2 Cor 11:2-3 'I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent's cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ.'
So as we close, remember again that if you are a Christian, then you are in a 'divine romance'. Adam and Eve and all marriages that have taken place since that day are only a mere dim reflection of a fair greater marriage between Christ and His church. There is a great need to be faithful to this greater calling and relationship.