Brief Guide to Life, the Universe and Everything
Genesis 2:1-25 : The Meaning of Life
find the missing link" was the bold front page headline in daily newspapers
recently. It was asserted most emphatically, "scientists had found man's
oldest ancestor, the long sought "missing link" that unites the family
trees of apes and humans." unquote. Today, in schools and colleges, universities
and research establishments evolution is taught as scientific fact, and the story
of Creation found in Genesis 1-2 is dismissed as ancient myth.
It may be unpopular to believe Genesis describes the creation of life in space-time history but, that is the position I take, and that is the premise I shall work from this evening. I want us to examine what Genesis 2 has to teach us about God our creator, the nature of human life, male and female, created in His image, and our relationship to him. Having said all that I want you to know that I do actually believe in a missing link, but more of that later. First of all, we need to recognize we all have presuppositions - assumptions.
The Alternatives - Choose your Premise
There are really only two alternatives. Either we were created by an infinite personal creator God or we were not. If not we are the product of impersonal random forces. The idea of scientific proof, or objectivity is a myth. Scientists are no more objective or unbiased than theologians. It is not a choice between science or religion, fact or faith. Both creation and evolution are mutually exclusive religious belief systems. Both require faith, both depend on evidence.
Its not a question of whether you are biased or not. Its a question of which bias best fits the evidence. Its a question of what is the basis of my belief system. And what are its consequences? What are the consequernces of believing in evolution? In his book Mein Kampf Hitler took evolution to its logical outcome. He asked why man cannot be as cruel as nature, if his aim is the survival of the fittest? How can you refute that argument? This is how Bernard Shaw describes the devastating effects of evolutionary humanism,
"When its whole significance dawns on you, your heart sinks into a heap of sand within you. There is a hideous fatalism about it, a ghastly and damnable reduction of beauty and intelligence, of strength and purpose, of honour and aspiration."
Without the belief that life was created by a personal infinite Creator God one is left with no reference point, no moral absolutes by which to judge society - and so society becomes absolute. The history fo the 20th century has been the history of the devastating consequences of people experimenting with political evolution in both Communism and Facism. This is how Francis Schaeffer put it,
"An impersonal beginning explains neither the form of the universe nor the personality of man. Hence it gives no basis for understanding human relationships, building just societies or engaging in any cultural effort".
Take God’s Word out of the equation and write off Genesis 1-12 and we are left with unanswered questions.
How did life on earth begin? What is the difference between people and animals? If God is good, why is there evil in the world?
Where did it come from? Why are men and women different?What is the origin of marriage? Ignore God’s word on the source of life and we are left with unanswered questions. The rest of the Bible, and above all Jesus relied on and assumed the truth of these early chapters of Genesis.
I believe that the first 11 Chapters of Genesis are probably the most important in the Bible, for they put mankind within a cosmic setting, they show our peculiar uniqueness, they explain man's wonder and yet his flaw. They reveal the reason why we are not what we ought to be. The source of personal identity, the origin of evil, purpose of work, the source of love, the meaning of marriage, all these vital truths are taught in these opening chapters. Without them, life does not make sense, and we are simply left with a mountain of unanswered and unanswerable questions. The alternatives then - a question of presupposition. Lets now look at the text, and see what it teaches.
By contract the Bible asserts with great clarity:
1. Created in Space Time History 2:4-6
The text makes clear that we are to see these events as taking place in history and at a definite location. We're virtually given the map references in verses 10-14. Many writers including Moses, Hosea, and Paul speak of Adam and Eve as real historical people, and depend upon this truth for their theological arguments. Jesus clearly regarded Adam and Eve as real historical people, truly the first human pair in space time history, (Matthew 19, Mark 10). Paul's is just as emphatic in Romans 5, 1 Corinthians 15 or 1 Timothy 2. His arguments about the space-time fall are meaningless without an historical Adam. Not evolved, but created supernaturally in space time history. Next please notice that we are,
2. Created with Tender Loving Care 2:7
is it that differentiates Adam and Eve from the rest of creation? How did God
create the world? Genesis 1:3 reads, "And God said...." God created
the earth and the birds and animals by the power of His word. God said, and God
created, the words come forth in monumental monotony, but now in chapter 2:7 it
is as if God halts and reflects. Read 1:26-27 and 2:7 This time God speaks not
to create but to reflect, "Let us make man in our own image" When God
paused before He composes man into His creation, its as if there is a risk connected
with it. Helmut Thielicke, the German theologian says at this point,
"Coronation or crucifixion of creation-that is the question here. And we understand why God pauses and hesitates, for He is facing a risk. What a breath-taking thought!"
God knew what was to happen, but He created us all the same.
The origin of human life is distinct from the rest of the animal world. This phrase "the image of God" is as important as anything in the whole of Scripture. Why ? because man cannot answer the crucial question, "Who am I?" without reference to what is taught here. It is a mistake to imagine that somehow God has a physical body and merely churned out little god clones of himself. That kind of nonsense is taught by many of the Word of Faith teachers like Maurice Cerrulo, Kenneth Copeland, and Benny Hinn who claim to be able to tell you how high God stands, the size of his hands, and even what He wears. What they have done is recreated God in their image. When the Scriptures speak of man being created in God's image, it is to be understood in terms of our having a soul or spirit, as well as a body. Compared with the animals we are self conscious, we have a unique personality and the power of abstract thought. We have a spiritual nature. We have the unique ability to reflect upon our self identity, we have moral choice, we have the capacity to worship and commune with our Creator, a sense of the eternal and longing for immortality. These are the ways in which we are to understand our creation in the image of God. These verses from Genesis 1 & 2 with profound simplicity, match, complement and complete each other. Two key words are used.
1:27 nouns "image", "likeness" show our relation to God.
2:7 verbs "formed" "breathed" show how God created us in His image.
= Used to describe the way a craftsman fashions his material. The word implies both, = Skill (Ps.94:9 "He that formed the eye")
= Sovereignty (Is 29:16 "You turn things upside down")
Formed with skill and sovereignty.
= Warmly personal: with the face to face intimacy of a kiss.
= act of giving as well as making.
= act of self giving parallel (John 20:22 Jesus breathed on disciples)
Even at our making then, the pattern "God so loved...that He gave..." is already visible. Warmly personal, invested with significance, an act of self giving. Reread 2:7 Tender loving care. Created in space time history. Created with tender loving care.
3. Created with Fatherly Provision 2:8-17
The Lord God's provision is a model of parental care.
The fledgling is sheltered and protected but not smothered or pampered. On all sides discoveries and encounters await him to draw out his powers of discernment, understanding and choice. It was literally an earthly paradise. Notice in this earthly paradise there is:
3.1 Physical Comfort 2:8-9
Food and beauty abounded in the Garden of Eden.
Everything necessary for a full and meaningful life was provided.
There was no need for programmes like Desert Island Disks. Physical comfort. Secondly,
3.2 Cultural Development 2:10-14
Adam was called to be a gardener not a brute ape-man.
Adam was given responsibility to care for the Garden of Eden.
Not only are we given a clear geographic location for this Garden, evidence that this is to be seen as a real place, but we are told of the treasures and beauty of the lands beyond, a hint of the yearning for adventure and discovery, of research and exploration that makes us unique from the rest of creation as man would soon outgrow his nursery garden. Physical comfort, cultural development, thirdly.
3.3 Spiritual Awakening 2:16-17
Since made in God's image, he is given a divine word to live by, a command, double edged as it always is, "You are free to eat...but you must not eat..." Physical comfort, cultural development, spiritual awakening and fourthly,
3.4 Moral Choice 2:16-17
The animals with no such capacity and no such charge, are in contented bondage to their surroundings, their behaviour the product of inborn instinct. Man however is called to trust and obedience.
From the very beginning Adam was treated as morally responsible. His responsibility was to name the animals and supervise the animals. There is no sense of autonomy or dominance here, like the little boy given a kitten which he teases sadistically.
We can only stand above the other creatures, because we always kneel under God. Perhaps the animal rights movement is a legitimate reaction to much cruel exploitation of animal life, but there is surely something amiss when people care more for endangered whales that aborted babies. Created in space time history. Created with tender loving care - in God's image. Created with Fatherly Provision. Physical comfort, cultural development, spiritual awakening, moral choice.
4. Created Male and Female 2:19-23
The New Testament draws much of its teaching on the sexes from this paragraph hence its importance. The naming of the animals reveals that Adam and Eve were created as intelligent social beings, not primitive ape men. They were created for fellowship not power, to love and give. 2:20 "suitable" = a help as opposite him - corresponding to him The emphasis here is on the fact that Eve complemented Adam. That together they formed a unity not experienced before. When ever I take a wedding and the father gives me the hand of his daughter and I give it to the bridegroom, I remember this verse, for it was God who brought Eve to Adam. Most English translations lose something of the excitement in Adam's exclamation in the Hebrew. The Hebrew conveys something of what Adam felt "Wow... where have you been all my life!" I'm sure that Eve felt the same as she looked at the animals then with relief at Adam. God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. Male and female were created different to complement. Created in space time history. Created with tender loving care. Created with Fatherly Provision. Created male and female. Lastly,
5. Created for a Designer Marriage 2:24-25
At the very beginning of the Anglican marriage service are these words. "Marriage is a gift of God in creation, a means of His grace."
It was not dreamed up by some pre-historic marriage guidance counsellor. Marriage is the gift of God in creation, a means by which his grace is bestowed and distributed.
Four observations we can make about the purpose of marriage.
5.1 Exclusive "A man leaves"
5.2 Permanent "...be united"
5.3 God Sealed "...become one flesh"
5.4 Innocence "...they felt no shame"
Exclusive, permanent, God sealed, innocent.
The intriguing thing is that when Jesus quotes these words he refers to them as the very words of God. (Matthew 19:4-5)
Jesus quotes them to affirm the permanence of marriage because it is as much the work of God as was the creation of the first couple.
In two short verses then we have here the Christian understanding of the unity of mankind, of the uniqueness of man and woman, the equality and complementary nature of the sexes, and the sacred origin of marriage.
If we are not dealing with space time history but merely ancient myth then on what basis can we offer these realities with any authority in a god-forsaken world? No wonder when people reject the Makers Instructions, it invariably leads to promiscuity, adultery, polygamy, homosexuality, bestiality, child abuse, abortion, euthanasia, genocide, ethnic cleansing, and the gas chambers...
No - the world today is not what God intended and we shall examine the origin of that in two weeks time in Genesis 3.
We are unique, created with intrinsic dignity, value and worth. God has called us to be God's children, not his animals.
Created to know Him in a living relationship of discovery and dialogue. At the beginning, I said that I believed in a missing link.
Actually He is not missing, only hidden. Hidden only to people who are looking in the wrong place, for the wrong link. He is not under the earth, waiting to be discovered by some paleontologists, He is above, in heaven. He is not somewhere in our past, but is alive today. He is not the one who links us to the animals but the One who links us to our Creator. The one who is both God and man in the same person. The Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him alone we can know our Creator as our Father in heaven. I’d like to play a song about him and then I’ll pray.