The Original Eden
A Finished Creation: The pre-fallen world
The creation account in Genesis chapter one concludes with verse 31: "Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day." The opening verses in chapter two affirm the completion of creation: "Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made" (Gen. 2:1-3).
These statements concluding the creation account are clear and definitive. There are six explicitly documented days of creation. These include not only "the heavens and the earth" but also "all the host of them." The scope of creation is defined, and the "host," that which is in them, are accounted for. This work is "finished." Then a very strong statement follows to emphasize the finished work: God "ended His work" and "rested." His resting is not because He was tired, but because the work ceased. God hallowed the seventh day because it represented a completed work that no longer needed any creative activity.
The Time before the Fall
This is a point of time in Scripture, at the end of Genesis 2:3, where the "heavens and earth" are in a state that is drastically different from our world today. There, the creation is said to be "very good" (Gen. 1:31). This cannot be said of today's world. There, there was no death, pain, or suffering. Today's world is filled with death, pain, and suffering. There, there was no sin or rebellion against God. This is not the case today. There, there was no violence of mankind fighting against himself, no murder, no theft, no oppression of one against another. In contrast, Paul the apostle describes today's world as "this present evil age" (Gal. 1:4).
What accounts for the change from the "very good" world of creation to our world of today? This is what Scripture presents beginning with Genesis 2:4 on through the end of the third chapter. Our present world situation cannot be understood without this necessary and critical passage of Scripture. This is the account of the Fall of mankind. This is a fall of mankind from a right and close relationship with God to one of separation and rebellion, with devastating consequences.
There is a demarcation line in Scripture that separates the very good world of creation from today's world of sin and death. This line is defined in Genesis 2:4-6: "This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground."
The demarcation line is agriculture, or more specifically, the start of agriculture. This is not a cause of today's fallen world, but a sign of it. The rebellion of Adam and Eve resulted in a curse on the earth, as we shall see in chapter three. This curse ended a world where the provision of food was abundant and freely obtainable from the plants and trees of the earth, and started an age where toil, hard work and sweat, would be required to obtain food. Genesis 2:4 begins an account of a time "before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown." The word "field" in this passage is referring to an agricultural field. This is speaking of a time before farming, as seen later in the passage: "and there was no man to till the ground." The plants and herbs in this case are not those in general, but those planted by a farmer.
The start of Genesis 2:4 speaks of an age before farming was necessary, for "a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground." This is a time where "the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth." Rain is a requirement for agriculture, but this passage speaks of a time before rain, before the planting of fields, and before the tilling of the ground. But before the curse there was no need for rain. The world was lush and watered by God with a "mist."
It is "before" the age of agriculture, before the curse that required agriculture, by implication before the Fall of Adam and Eve, that Genesis 2:4 begins with an account of "the history of the heavens and the earth." This is an account of what happened in the heavens and earth before the Fall, and what took place that caused it. The NKJV translation "history" is the Hebrew word "toledoth" which means "generations." As such this is an account of the generations of the heavens and earth before the Fall. Additional descriptions of the word are "family tree" or "genealogy." The account is one of the inhabitants of the heavens and earth. This is the history of those inhabitants, and line of descent. This is a social history, for it is the interaction of the pre-fallen world inhabitants that resulted in a world of today that is very different from that of the original creation.
This "history," or "genealogy," is not just of those in the earth, but in the heavens also. This entails "the Lord God," Satan, the first humans Adam and Eve, and even the animal kingdom. The interaction of these before the Fall would be a mystery except that Scripture records it. Scripture presents a detailed account of the history of those in the heavens and earth before the present fallen state of the world began. As such, this is an account of relationships. This covers the relationship of God and mankind, the relationship of mankind and beasts, the relationship of man and woman, and the relationship of the serpent, Satan, with mankind. The account continues on to describe the corruption of relationships, and a resulting curse.
The Relationship of God and Man
Genesis chapter two continues: "And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being" (Gen. 2:7). As a genealogy of the heavens and earth, this verse shows where man came from. Man has, at the beginning of his genealogy, God Himself. He is the offspring of God, as a creation of God. God is not only his Creator, but his Father, and he is God's child. We see this in one of the genealogies listed in Scripture: "the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, the son of God" (Luke 3:38). In this aspect God is referred to with a relational name, the compound "Lord God."
Previously in Genesis chapter one, God is referred to as only "God," with the Hebrew word "Elohim." This is the transcendent God, above and apart from His creation. In this there is no equality, but only the Creator and below Him His creation in another class.
But chapter two is about relationships, and verse seven is giving an account of God's relationship to man. God is referred to as "Lord God," or in the Hebrew as "Yahweh Elohim." This is a compound name of God, and the Bible presents a series of compound names, each beginning with "Yahweh," (or "Jehovah" as some would pronounce it,) to indicate an aspect of God's relationship to man. "Elohim" is a title: God. "Yahweh" is God's name. The compound name in verse seven is saying that the person Yahweh is God to man.
"Yahweh" means "the Self-existent One." God is complete in Himself. There is nothing outside of Himself that He requires to exist. There is nothing outside of Himself that He requires to sustain Himself. He is not only self-existing, but also self-sustaining. He is complete, with all fullness in Himself. This is why God is revealed to man as "Yahweh Elohim." The God who created man, who is man's Maker, who is man's God, and who is man's Father, has all fullness in Himself and is able to provide all fullness to man. Man, who is not self-existing, who is not self-sustaining, was created as a needy creature. It is God's desire to be the fullness and sustenance of man, and for this to happen, man must cleave to and walk closely with God. This is man's perfect state, to walk as such with his God. There is an awful consequence to breaking this state, as we will see later in the account.
God "formed man of the dust of the ground." Man's physical makeup is composed of elements of the earth. From "dust" he came, and to "dust" he shall return, is described in chapter three. Yet man is not solely a composition of earthly elements. The mere assembly of these does not make a person. The Bible describes man as body, soul, and spirit. God formed a body out of the "dust of the ground," but in addition He also "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." Man's soul and spirit are not that which comes from below, but that which comes from above, from God. Man's body is temporary, and will one day return to the earth, but man's soul is eternal. The soul is that which is conscious, is self-aware, has thoughts and emotions, and makes choices. The spirit is that part of man that is alive to God, and can communicate with the spiritual dimension. God created man to have a relationship with Him, and these three parts of man were functioning properly when Adam was made.
The implication to man of having Yahweh as Creator and as God, is that man is answerable to, and responsible to obey, His commands. This is not a relationship of peers, but one of a Creator to His creation, and one of a created being to Him who created him. Yet Scripture shows Yahweh to be One who is loving, gracious, and merciful. God is willing to abundantly provide for, and share His love and joy with, those who will humble themselves before Him.
The Relationship of God and Man: God's provision
God's position as Provider to man is seen in the next few verses. Genesis continues: "The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads. The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good. Bdellium and the onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which goes around the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Hiddekel; it is the one which goes toward the east of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates" (Gen. 2:8-14).
These verses are not about creation, but about provision. In the relationship of God and man, this section shows God's provision for man. It adds detail to the creation account in Genesis chapter one. God's provision includes an environment to live in, food and water, and even material things valued by man such as gold and precious stones. The original environment is a garden. There is an innate appreciation by man of such a setting, for this was the design of God for His creation. The "Lord God planted a garden, and the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight." A lush garden setting with plenty of water has an appeal today that originates in Eden, but this is not a place possible without the Creator and His provision. A rejection of the Creator will ultimately result in the loss of the environment provided by the Creator.
God also made plants and trees that were "good for food." Included was the "tree of life." Man originally did not have to toil for food by hard work and sweat. God freely provided. This is a reflection of God's name as "Yahweh Elohim," the Self-existing and Self-sustaining One who is also "the Becoming One," the One who becomes to man all that he needs. The tree of life was one that if eaten of, would have caused man to live forever (see Gen. 3:22).
The rivers described in this section all have their origin in Eden: "Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads." There is one source for the rivers of the land. This design by God is a type, for there is a spiritual parallel. Without water man thirsts, and without spiritual water man spiritually thirsts. The physical act of satisfying one's thirst is a reflection of a need for man to satisfy a spiritual need. This is a need for God's presence. God is the one source for man's spiritual need. This is shown in the gospel of John: "On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.' But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:37-39). Man in union with God is described as a temple of the Holy Spirit: "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (1 Cor. 3:16). The Holy Spirit, God Himself, is "given" as "rivers of living water" to indwell those who believe in Jesus Christ.
The Relationship of God and Man: God's charge to man and his responsibility
The account in Genesis continues about man's relationship to his Creator, with a charge he is given: "Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, 'Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.'" (Gen. 2:15-17). This charge given to man is the Creator's prerogative, that to decide the order and government of His creation. Man, part of that creation, has a duty to obey Him from whom all things proceed. This charge is described in two ways: God's intention, and God's command to the man about that intention.
The intention is the commentary of Scripture. God put the man in the garden to "tend and keep it." The Hebrew word for "tend" means "to labour, work, do work," and also "to serve." The Hebrew word for "keep" means "to keep, guard, observe, give heed." This second word can also mean "to be on one's guard, take heed, take care, beware." The first observation about this passage is that God intended the man to have responsibility. Adam was not to just be passive about that place that God had placed him into. Adam was to serve God, an active work, a labor, to follow and do God's will. God's intention here is for the man to give heed to God in guarding with careful observation that which he was given. This shows he had a free will in answering to his responsibility.
Adam was to keep his place in the garden, to keep it as his home. He was to be on guard about keeping it. He was to be actively endeavoring to remain in the garden and not lose it by being unobservant, careless, and off-guard. Ultimately Adam failed in this charge as seen in the next chapter, and he lost his place in the garden.
God's actual command to the man to fulfill God's intention is then given: "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die." Adam was to be active and diligent to obey God in this. He was to be on-guard and wary to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This was a direct command of God. All other trees he could eat, but not this one. If he did it would mean death, and as later seen, the loss of Eden. God gave this choice to Adam, and it was upon Adam to choose what he would do. But the consequences were clearly defined upfront. In a chapter about relationships this shows God set up a relationship with man where God is to be lord, but that man is given a choice to serve under that lordship.
A relationship with God today is based on this same concept. Mankind does not automatically, and without any due effort, have a place with God in His kingdom. There is an action required on the part of mankind, as there was upon Adam, one to "serve" the will of God, to be diligent and take heed to God's command to "keep" a place that God will give him. Jesus described this: "'Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him.' Then they said to Him, 'What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?' Jesus answered and said to them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent'" (John 6:27-29).
A belief in Jesus is one that must be active and not passive. As such, it is called a work. It is a labor to enter into faith. It is a labor to do that which God has called mankind to, one of trusting and believing in Jesus Christ. Faith must actively be held onto. The writer to the Hebrews said, "And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end" (Heb. 3:5-6). Such a faith must be "held fast," and also be guarded, as the apostle Paul charged Timothy, "O Timothy! Guard what was committed to your trust" (1 Tim. 6:20).
The Relationship of God and Man: God's plan for man's companionship
The account continues: "And the Lord God said, 'It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him'" (Gen. 2:18). Although God designed man to have a relationship with Him, He also desired man to have companionship with his own kind. There is a vast difference between an infinite Almighty God and a finite person. God created the man for a relationship with Him, but in addition He planned for the man to have a relationship with "a helper comparable to him."
The Relationship of Man and Beasts
To show Adam what he needed, God first showed him what would not meet that need: "Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him" (Gen. 2:19-20). This is not about creation or its sequence, but a history of social order and genealogies.
The origin of the animal kingdom is the Creator. God "formed," or at this point "had formed," all creatures. At the head of the genealogy of "every beast of the field" and "every bird of the air," and indeed every "kind" as stated in chapter one, is God. They do not have a common descent from one creature, but rather a common Creator.
God created both the animals and mankind, but they are not in the same category. Man is not simply another animal. He is a different creature altogether, and separate from animals. From a scientific point of view man is a mammal, classified with other mammals. This shows a common designer. But Scripture shows man was created in the image of God, with a soul and spirit to have a relationship with God. Scripture records in the creation account: "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth'" (Gen. 1:26).
Even in today's fallen world there remains an innate sense of responsibility in mankind to oversee the well-being of animals and nature. If mankind was simply another animal this sense would not exist, but it does exist because of the design of the Creator. Mankind was created above and apart from nature - "let them have dominion over." The common term "man-made" is used today to designate something not of nature.
These passages show nature does not provide mankind that which is "comparable to him." The natural world, apart from God, is not sufficient. Man needs something more, something provided by God according to God's plan.
The Relationship of Man and Woman
Scripture proceeds to describe God's creation of the woman: "And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: 'This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man'" (Gen. 2:21-23). Chapter one in Genesis accounts for the creation of the man and woman, but here detail is given that is relational. It is noteworthy that God did not just simply create two individuals. He first created the man, then out of his flesh He created the woman. Why? What is the purpose to do so?
The purpose is to emphasize a relationship. Adam knew that of all the animals "there was not found a helper comparable to him." But of the woman he knew "this is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh," and also, "she was taken out of man." Adam could relate to Eve not only as someone of like kind, but as someone who was a part of him.
This close relationship is the conclusion of the next verse: "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh" (Gen. 2:24). The man was not intended by God to be complete in himself, but the man and the woman together were to be "one flesh."
The Covering of God
Chapter two of Genesis concludes with this final verse: "And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed" (Gen. 2:25). In the perfect state that Adam and Eve were in, one in accordance with God's design, there was no sense of sin or shame. The "ashamed" in the passage is one of having failed to meet an expectation. This is a shame of failing to measure up to a certain standard. The word "naked" here points to an aspect of man: he is not sufficient in himself. He is not complete in himself. But Adam and Eve had the covering of God. He was their fullness and sufficiency. They were walking with their God Yahweh, who was to them all they needed. A person whose confidence is the all-sufficiency of God is one who is not ashamed.