Genesis 1 is like when someone tells you about a movie they liked, or an interesting museum, or a cool place to explore. Genesis 2 is like when you finally get to see or experience it for yourself. We got the high level description of the Earth, God’s masterpiece, in the last chapter. Now we get to visit, explore, and see what we can see in the Garden of Eden.
We notice a lot of things as we walk throughout the garden. The sound of water follows us everywhere, thanks to the streams God strategically placed. Since there’s no rain, God designed an irrigation system to make sure every living thing gets the water it needs. As we follow the rivers, we notice gold and precious stones decorating the ground (verse 11-12). The ground is not the only thing decorated. There’s a different kind of tree or plant around every corner. They’re gorgeous, and some of them have fruits dangling from them. We take another right, and all of a sudden we’re at the middle of the garden staring at the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They’re huge and breathtaking – the kind of trees that would make the perfect backdrop for one of those travel Instagrams.
But God did more than create the most Instagrammable garden ever – there’s more to unpack in this short chapter.
The Treasures Within
God Has A Lot To Teach Us
Right off the bat, God teaches Adam and Eve (and us!) the basics about four important things: the Sabbath, marriage, sin and Him.
God really wasn’t tired when He rested in verse 2. He was setting an example for us. He didn’t skip even one week. He immediately began keeping the Sabbath because it’s what He wants us to do too. This is so cool because right off the bat one of the first things we learn about God is that He will never ask us to do something without first being our example. He doesn’t order us to do things for Him; He invites us to do things with Him. And doing something with someone else always makes it much more fun, right?
God loves love. He said that “it is not good for the man to be alone” (verse 18) and brought Adam the woman meant for him. How romantic. God knew Adam’s heart and what he needed. I think it’s also interesting that God specifically said that “it is not good for the man to be alone” (emphasis added). He didn’t say that it isn’t good for man as a whole to be alone. For some men and women, God says the opposite of what He said to Adam. “It is good for this man (or woman) to be alone.” Everyone is different. Even though marriage and sex may not be a part of someone’s life, it will still be good. God said so!
The single greatest threat to our happiness here on Earth is sin. God knows this, so He wasted no time giving mankind the very first lessons on sin and what it is like. I find it interesting that God chose trees and fruit to represent sin. He didn’t choose something menacing, like two dark caves or something. Trees, unlike caves, are inviting. They are innocent, as is the fruit hanging from their branches. I think this was one of God’s first lessons: sin may seem innocent on first glance, but it certainly isn’t. Also, a particular sin doesn’t need to be horrifying and repulsive to be bad. It might even seem beautiful, but it is still sin.
It almost seems irresponsible for God to leave the trees in the middle of the garden, exposed as they were. Perhaps that was God’s next lesson – He gives us free will, even when it comes to sin. God didn’t lock up the trees in a cage or put an electrical fence around them – He freely gave Adam and Eve the ability to choose to sin. He wants us to choose Him, but He is willing to take the risk that we might make the wrong choice. If any one of us knew a guy like that – willing to let his girlfriend or wife choose other guys instead of him, we would tell him to man up or dump the girl! Yet God has never dumped us, from the beginning to now. He is literally our day one.
It really is like we are in a relationship with God. And verse 25 gives us a small glimpse of just how intimate and freeing this relationship might be. Adam and Eve were “naked”, but “felt no shame”. Whether we like it or not, we truly are “naked” before God. He sees everything about us – our deepest fears, our best-kept secrets, the things that make us laugh and the things that make us cry. He knows what we did yesterday and what we’re planning to do this weekend. He knows our favorite sins and our worst habits. He sees and understands more of us than we do of ourselves. But despite this, we do not have to feel any shame. Some might say that Adam and Eve didn’t feel any shame because they hadn’t yet done anything wrong. But Adam and Eve had more than just a clean slate before God – they knew the deep, passionate love God had for them. Thus, they felt safe and accepted. They knew that He wouldn’t stop loving them. To know and believe in the love God has for us so much that we feel no shame before Him? That’s relationship goals.
God’s Message To Us
“I thought of everything”. God had streams ready to make sure no organism was without water. He had beautiful things at every turn – just to make us smile. He already knew that we needed people around us to keep us from being lonely. He knew we needed time each week to recharge and to renew. He even knew of the biggest hurdle we would face in this life and began to teach us how to face it. God truly thought of everything we would need to live life abundantly on this planet. He got excited. He planned it all out. Isn’t that what everyone wants in a significant other? Someone who thinks of your needs? Someone who does their best to make you happy? Everyone in the world embarks on a quest for love in some way at some point in their life. But Love has always been right before our eyes, waiting for us.
What about you? What did you learn from this chapter? When God wrote this chapter through His prophet, what do you think He was saying to you?