I want to read to you from Genesis 2. Verse 4 says,
"This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.
"When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens - 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, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground - 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."
Now let's read Verse 15:
"The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, 'You are free to eat of any tree in the garden; 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.'
"The LORD God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.'"
And Verse 24 says,
"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh."
Keep your Bible open. I want to talk about the making of man today. In Genesis Chapter 1 we have the headline news version. It simply says that God created male and female in his image. But in Chapter 2 we get some more detail about the creation of man and woman.
In Genesis Chapter 1 God is the subject. In Genesis Chapter 2 man is the subject. Chapter 1 is more generic (he "made them male and female"). In Genesis Chapter 2 it is specific and personal (he created Adam then Eve).
I love the language in Verse 7:
"The LORD God formed the man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living spirit."
I like that phrase: "He formed the man." In Chapter 1, God said "Let there be light" and there was light. God said, "Let there be an expanse between the heaven and the earth." God said, "Let the land produce vegetation." God said, "Let there be lights in the sky," etc. God said, "Let us make man in our image." But now in Chapter 2 the language changes—"God formed man." I get the image of a craftsman with a roll of materials in both hands. He deliberately and delicately and purposefully forms man. Not just said to create, but he forms man.
"The Lord has compassion on those who fear him, for he knows how we are formed and he remembers that we are dust."
The Making of Man
I want to talk about the making of man; about four things that are here in this chapter. First of all, we are physical. Secondly, we are spiritual. Thirdly, we are social. And fourthly, we are sexual. And those four things are all here in this chapter.
First of all, we are physical. Verse 7 says, "The LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground."
Now he called him Adam. He might as well have called him "Dusty," because that's how he was formed. The basic components of human physical life are things that we share in common with the rest of creation. As we often recite at funerals: "From dust we came and to dust we shall return." There is nothing unique about the physical components of a person. The physical atoms that make me me are atoms we share with all of creation.
In fact, my body standing here is recycled stuff. Everything that makes me me I originally ate, breathed, or drank. I ate myself into being. I wasn't born this way. And everything you see in front of you is recycled pig or recycled chicken or recycled vegetables or recycled bananas or recycled potatoes. I eat vegetables from the ground and they draw their nutrition from the soil. I eat meat that comes from cattle that eat the grass that comes from the ground. And when I am dead and gone the billions of atoms that make me me will simply move off elsewhere and it's very likely that one day they will become part of somebody else. Interesting thought!
I am an Englishman and it's suggested that there is a very good chance that I contain a billion atoms that once belonged to William Shakespeare. So there! Now I don't know what you've got-maybe a bit of John MacDonald or … I might also have a bit of Jack the Ripper of course as well.
Mind you, a billion isn't much, if that sounds a lot, because (and it's not part of my brain cells; I know that!) but if you had half a billion atoms that stood shoulder to shoulder in a row, they could hide behind the width of a human hair. So a billion isn't many.
But we are first and foremost, earthly. Physical. Firstly (chronologically I mean) before anything else. And it is true that we are carnivorous creatures who live alongside the animal kingdom. We share its resources; we share many things in common with the animal kingdom. We eat the same way, we sleep the same way, we mate the same way. We are physical beings.
Now if you believe in the Darwinian theory of natural selection, you will believe it's by the luck of the draw that humanity developed beyond the rest of the animal kingdom and became the dominant animal in a vast animal kingdom. And that's an attempt, of course, to explain from purely natural causes how we came to be what we are. But it is fundamentally flawed on one major count: that whereas it's true we are physical, we are not only physical; secondly we are spiritual beings.
Let me read you Verse 7 again.
"The LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground" [that's the physical] "and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul."
This is the spiritual element, and it is something which is unique to human beings. Animals have conscious life—they have a mind, they have emotions, they have a will—but this is something more than that.
And it was God's own breath that was the vital ingredient breathed into man. The word "breath" in the Hebrew from which our Old Testament comes, is the same word as the word for "spirit" - it's the word ruach. In fact the New Testament's Greek language is similar—it has the same word for breath and spirit—the word pneuma. So when it says that God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, we could read that equally "God breathed the spirit of life," that it was God's breath, it was the Spirit of God, it was the life of God that was implanted within Adam.
Now we have to be careful here because the term "breath of life" is used also of physical life. For example, in Genesis 7:22 of the days of Noah it says, "Everything on dry land that had the breath of life in its nostrils died." It's the same phrase—the breath of life.
But what is different here in Genesis 2:7 is that the breath of life is the breath of God. It is as though God kissed and gave man the kiss of breath, breathed his breath into man, his Spirit into man. And this is what makes humanity different to every other life form.
Job 32:8 picks this up: "It is the spirit of a man, the breath of the Almighty, that gives him understanding." It is the spirit of man; it is the breath of God, the Spirit of God that sets him apart from the rest of creation. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says: "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity into the hearts of men."
Now as God alone is eternal, this setting of eternity into our hearts is the fact that we were created to be a recipient of his presence within our lives. That's why we have an eternal sense within us.
Now I am going to talk about this a little bit more when we look in Chapter 3 at the Fall in the Garden of Eden and what happened on that occasion. But back here in Verse 16 of Chapter 2, having placed man in the Garden of Eden, it says:
"The LORD God commanded him, 'You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil' (listen to this) 'for when you eat of it you will surely die.'"
Now what does that mean—"when you eat of it you will die?" The King James puts it: "In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." The New American Standard says: "In the day that you eat from it you will surely die." The RSV says: "In the day that you eat of it you will die."
Now in what sense did they die in the day they ate? We will look at this in Chapter 3 but it is important to mention it now. They did not die physically that day. They went on living for a long time. But they did that day die spiritually. That is, in the words of Paul in Ephesians 4, they became separated from the life of God. So much so it is the state in which every one of us is born, because 1 Corinthians 15:22 says, "In Adam all die." That is, you and I were spiritually stillborn - physically alive when we were born but spiritually dead, separated from the life of God.
And that of course is what Paul calls in Romans 6:23, "the wages of sin." "The wages of sin is death," he says. Notice that is a present-tense statement. That is not about something that will happen in the future; it's something which is already true in the present. We are already the recipients of the wages of sin. We are already dead in sin, by nature. And the distinguishing mark of human existence was to be that we were indwelt by the life of God, the breath of God, the spirit of God. But of course the whole problem from the Fall is that we have been separated from the life of God.
And that is why the gospel is primarily about restoring this life. When the life of God is restored into human experience, the rest all begins to fall into place. The gospel is not about getting us into heaven when we die; it's getting God out of heaven into people now. In the present tense. We will go to heaven, but it's restoring what Adam lost in the Garden.
And that's why after Jesus' death and resurrection and just before his ascension and then the final act of his saving work, (which was the gift of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost) we can't divide that all up; it's the one saving work of Christ having died as our substitute, being raised again, the victor over death and sin. He ascended to pour out the Holy Spirit to indwell the people.
Before he ascended it says in John 20:22 that he breathed on his disciples and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit." He did what God did in the Garden of Eden when he breathed into Adam the breath of life. And he says, "At last now it will be possible," breathing on them the breath of Christ. "The life of Christ is going to be restored to you. Just hang around for a few days in Jerusalem and it'll take place." Which it did on the Day of Pentecost. This is the nature of the gospel.
And we need to keep these first two aspects in relationship to each other. We are both physical and spiritual. We are both temporal and eternal. We are earthly, but we're also heavenly. This is what lifts human beings above every other aspect of creation.
And by the way, one of those two areas will govern your life. You'll either be governed by what is earthly or you will be governed by what is heavenly, what is spiritual, what is eternal. There is no middle way to that.
We need to understand we are physical beings. Secondly we are spiritual beings. Thirdly we are social beings, because in Verse 18, it says, "It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."
Now that is a very important verse. It's not good for man to be alone. We were not created to be independent or to be self-sufficient but to be inter-dependent. Self-sufficiency may be something people strive for, but self-sufficiency is not a strength; it is a weakness. It is not good for man to be alone.
Now I know that we have different temperaments and so we experience this differently. Some people need things around them and other people around them all the time and they derive energy from other people. And we call them extroverts. There are other people who derive energy from within themselves and we call them introverts. They say that for every one hour an introvert spends with other people, he or she needs two hours on their own. Introverts need time alone. I am an introvert. 25 percent of us are, apparently.
I read an article a while ago, which I found very interesting, published in Atlantic magazine. It was called "Caring for Your Introverts." And it apparently provoked more response and more correspondence than any other article that they had published. And this is how it begins. It says,
"Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day, who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas but can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but who seems awkward in small groups and useless at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? If so, do you regard him as aloof or arrogant or rude and redouble your efforts to draw him out? If you answered 'yes' to those questions, the chances are you have an introvert on your hands and you aren't looking after him properly.
"Science has learned a good deal in recent years about the habits and requirements of introverts. It's even learned by means of brain scan that introverts process information differently from other people. If you are behind the curve on this important matter, be reassured you are not alone. Introverts are among the most misunderstand and aggrieved groups in the world."
And some of you probably are as well. You know, introverts make up 25 percent of the population but they make up about 80 percent of public figures, interestingly. That article goes on to explain that where they have strengths, they are strong, but they have few strengths. But their energies are channeled. Whereas extroverts leak energy all over the place. Now of course none of us on a scale of one to ten are 10 extrovert or 10 introvert—maybe some are—lots of us are 8 of one and 2 of the other, 6 of one, 4 of the other, because we have bits of both within us. But the danger of course with introverts is they can live in an unreal world of their own. And introverts need to understand it's not good for man to be alone.
My wife Hilary said to me just this past week, "You're married on the outside but you're single on the inside." She didn't know she was giving me a line for this morning, but we are created to be social and relational beings. Actually a lot of introverts—at least put it this way: a lot of psychopaths are introverts, and criminals, and killers. You find they are aloof; they live in a private world and there is a dark, dangerous area to all our private worlds. And they can nurture negatively and destructively as well as constructively and positively.
We need other people and God said it's not good for man to be alone. And he said that after he had surveyed all he had created and it says at the end of Chapter 1 that "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." The Fall hasn't yet taken place so part of God's creation being very good is that it is not good for man to be alone. It is very good; it is not good for man to be alone. Does that make sense? This is not an aberration. This is not, "Oh no, everything is good except this: it's not good for man to be alone." No, that is good about man—it is not good for man to be alone; it is good that it is not good to be alone.
We were made to be interdependent. Let me read to you Verse 19. After God said "It's not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him," it says,
"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. 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."
Now when you first read that it looks as though it's saying that it's not good for man to be alone and so God first of all brought the animals before him to see if any of those would satisfy. And the monkey never sat still and the elephant trod on his foot and the giraffe gave him a stiff neck and the kangaroo gave him hiccups and the birds never hung around and the sheep were boring. The best he could find was a dog; that was his best friend. And so God scratched his head and said, "What shall I do now? I know what I'll do; I'll make a woman."
That isn't how we're to interpret this passage. It looks that way when you first read it. So why does it mention the animals at this point? "It's not good for man to be alone" and then it's about three verses about animals, animals, animals, and then he makes Eve. Why the animals come into here? I'll tell you why. Because animals are actually important and our relationship with animals are important. Anyone who has pets knows that.
The only unconditional love some of us get is from a dog. They bounce all over you. Cats don't of course; cats don't even notice you're missing. We have cats and when I come home—may have been away two weeks—the cats don't even notice I've not been there. They just like the same environment. Dogs relate to people; cats relate to environment. We kid ourselves about our cats loving us. Your lap just happens to be the warmest place in the room, that's all.
Animals are important for us. It's important for children to learn to relate to animals. You know we have had a whole range of animals in our home and the first pet our kids had was a goldfish. It was a tiny, boring thing with a flayed tail who spent its day going in six-inch circles. And then one day we woke up in the morning and there he was lying upside down on the top of his little tank. He was dead. Well you would think the world had come to an end. I mean we broke the news very gently to our children, then we made a little casket and we had a little funeral. I dug a hole deep enough for the cat not to be able to reach it. We stood around the hole, we bowed our heads and amidst our tears we thanked God for the life of this little fish whose name I can't remember. And then we filled up the hole.
Kids learn to grieve firstly, usually, with their pets. It's a great way to teach people the facts of life, teach children the facts of life. I mean we had three guinea pigs at one stage—two female that belonged to our two daughters and one male that belonged to our son. And we entered the male—his name was Scruffy—in a local agricultural show. And Laura had listed on the side of his cage all the babies he had fathered in only about three years—it was 27 of them.
And when the judges were judging these pets, they were so impressed with the virility of this guinea pig that they gave him the "pet of the year" prize. And at the end of the day when they had a winners parade—they had horses and cattle and sheep and goats and then came Laura at the back holding the guinea pig out, pointing him in various directions to great applause for his great virility. But I tell you that was a good way to teach our kids the facts of life. Just put Scruffy in the cage, switch a light off and come back and see tomorrow.
Animals can teach us about birth, about death, about reproduction, about looking after something, and caring for something. Our relationship to the animal kingdom is an important one. It's not one of equals; animals were given to serve mankind. But that doesn't mean we have a license to be cruel or to make them extinct. We are invited to eat them, but we treat them—I was going to say humanely—that's not the right word—animal-manely, is probably the better word, if there is such a word. Jesus, you remember, was willing to sacrifice a whole herd of pigs in exchange for restoring the sanity to one man and putting him back with his family again.
Animals are important. But still no suitable helper was found. And so then in Verse 21 God created woman. It says in Verse 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.
"Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and brought her to the man.
"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.'"
You may remember a few weeks ago I commented on Verse 18, that says, "I will make a helper suitable for him," and I pointed out the word "helper" does not imply a secondary or a supporting role as such. That same word "helper" is used nine times in the Old Testament—twice of Eve, but every other time except one it is used of God being our helper. As for example, Deuteronomy 33:29: "The Lord is your shield and helper and your glorious sword."
That doesn't mean he is in any way subservient but rather we are mutually complimentary. It is a true partnership. "I will make a helper suitable for him." What that means is I will make someone corresponding to him, I will make someone complementary to him, I will make another piece of the jigsaw so that they fit together. She is made independently of Adam but she is not an extension of him. They are to be inter-dependent on one another. And the Lord caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep. He gave him a general anesthetic I presume and he took a rib from his side and formed the woman. Matthew Henry says about this passage that she was not made out of his head to rule over him nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, from under his arm to be protected by him, and near his heart to be loved by him. Now you think that's a bit sentimental but I like the poetry of that.
And the NIV says in Verse 23 that Adam says, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh." The Living Bible paraphrases it: "This is it!" You could re-paraphrase that as: "Wow!" when he saw her.
We talked earlier a few weeks ago about human beings being made in God's image. And I talked then about the moral image of God, the fact that there are things about God that are not true of human beings but there are things that are true about God which are true of human beings, and that is his moral character. God is love; we are to be loving. God is kind, he is just, he is merciful; we're to be all these things. We are to be an expression of his moral character.
But it is interesting that there is a plural element as well. God is himself Trinity (as we know); he is one God yet three—God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit. And as he made human beings in his image, we may ask the question "Why did he create human beings as a duality, if there is such a word (two of them) instead of a trinity (three of them)?
But I suggest to you that human beings are a trinity in that the third member is God himself. If you picture a triangle—on either side: man, woman, at the apex, God. And they are mutually inter-related to each other. As men need women and women need men, together we need God. We need God, the third member of that human experience.
"If one falls down, his friend can pick him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!
"Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?
"Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves." (And listen to this.) "A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."
Now the writer there is extolling the value of two over one, and then suddenly it says it's a cord of three strands that cannot be broken. Why does he suddenly talk about a three-fold cord? I suggest to you because the third, intertwining man and woman, is God himself.
This is of course what happened in the Fall, that men and women became separated from God. That was the first fragmentation. Then men and women became separate from each other. That's the second fragmentation. And the tension between the sexes, which Genesis Chapter 2 talks about, began at the Fall when all three parts of that relationship were broken.
We are physical—from the dust. We are spiritual—the breath of life breathed by God into the nostrils of man was to make him a spiritual being. We are social—it's not good to be alone; we need each other and we need God; we cannot survive independently. And the fourth thing in this passage is that we are sexual. Look at Verse 24: "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh."
Now, we're going to have to pick this up next time. Some of you are probably thinking, You just got to the interesting part; why finish now? But we probably need a whole session on this, as we could have used a whole session on each of those previous three.
The reason we need a whole session on this is because our generation is a sex-saturated generation. It's not just available everywhere you look. Advertisers want you to know its power in manipulating people. We've never been more confused than we are and probably never more damaged sexually. But sex is God's creation, created as good. And here you have a marriage in the Garden of Eden. You see, marriage is not a Christian ordinance; it's a creation ordinance. It goes right back to the very beginning.
And I want to talk about that next week and what we learn from it in the first marriage, because from then after they are called man and wife. And it includes: "A man will leave his father and mother." We need to understand what that means, because not all do. "Cleave to his wife … " What does that mean? "Become one flesh … " What does that mean?
I also need to talk in this regard about the single state. Paul in the New Testament in 1 Corinthians 7 talks about being single as being preferable to being married. Whatever he means by that, that is a very strong affirmation of the single state. And so we must affirm the single state, and why both marriage and singleness are good.
But for now, being physical, spiritual, and social—let's look at those first three as I close. God, who is our creator, is also the sustainer of our life. We are spiritual beings. He made us physically; he breathed his life into us; that life was forfeited at the Fall. In the day they ate, they died. And whereas we need each other, that is not a substitute for God—we need each other but we need also to be reconciled to God.
You see it's like having a car without gas if you're living life without God. You can have a car without gas. You can park it outside your house. It looks as good as any other car in the street. The only problem is it won't go anywhere. You can paint it any pretty color you like. You can polish it every day. But the best thing you can do with that is keep some rabbits in it but you can't go anywhere with it; it doesn't have gas. And God is the gas in the tank of human life. Now he is more than that—forgive if you don't like the nature of that illustration. But he is the energy, he is the source of power, and he is the source of living the way we were supposed to live.
And looking on the outside, I don't know who is indwelt by God any more than I know which car on the street has gas in it. Until you come to live and you find yourself struggling and fumbling and there's not meaning and there's no purpose, there's no dynamism to it.
And that's why the rest of the story, as I said earlier, that basically the Bible deals with two questions: What has gone wrong with the world? That's the first question. And the second question: How do we put it right?
The "What's gone wrong with the world?" we'll find in Genesis Chapter 3. "How do we put it right?" is the rest of the story. Ultimately in the sending of Christ to make it possible that we might be forgiven and restored to God and indwelt again by the Spirit that indwelt Adam. And then we're able to live as we were designed to live and we function, not just physically but spiritually, and we're able to function socially well, because it's a three-fold cord in our relationships that includes God himself.
Do you know Christ in this way? Have you been "born again" of the Spirit? Is the Spirit re-implanted within you? That's the invitation of the gospel—to come in confession and say,
"Lord, I need you. Forgive me for being separated from you and for living in independence of you. Forgive me. Come now by your Holy Spirit to live within me and restore to me what you intended when you first created man—spiritual life."
Charles Price is the Senior Pastor of The Peoples Church in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and the founder of Living Truth, an international teaching and preaching ministry.