Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Early Earth Lesson #3

The Early Earth Lesson 3

What was early life like in Eden paradise? Can you imagine a world without death, no organisms which feed upon decay? A garden that is tended with work of completely unknown variety. When you tend your garden you pull weeds which are plants out of place; were there plants out of place in this paradise. We have years and years of weed seeds in every inch of our topsoil. Under the right conditions they germinate and grow. What about the grape vines in your garden most of us prune them back every year. Did Adam prune back the vines of his garden did he cut the branches and cry at the thought of the death he was inflicting upon the branch cut off. Or was there no death of that plant and Adam took each branch and tenderly planted it in barren ground if he could find any barren ground. Perhaps tending the garden simply involved weaving living vines into a structure. Maybe you can think of a few other activities but probably not too many.

What elements mentioned in verses 8 through 17 indicate that the garden home was an ideal model? (Note particularly the setting and the attention given to humanity's physical, mental, aesthetic, and moral needs.)

This Garden paradise is the model for living, not by what we know about living in the Garden but because of what we think of as ideal. A world without conflict, where nature is the friend of man, where work is merely enjoyment of nature, no need of shelter from storm or predators and only the man and the woman without neighbors to intrude in anyway. The beauty of the story is that it can be shaped however the reader wants, the paucity of information provides abundant fodder to create the moral teaching anyone may want to attach to the story. The story is not how they lived in Eden anymore then how God created the world, we don’t know how they lived and we don’t know how creation came into being, all we have is a simple outline of what life is.


Having dealt with how all of Creation came into being, Moses now focuses on human beings and their immediate environment. While Genesis 1 answered the question How did it all originate? Genesis 2 explains why we are what we are. Without the information provided by Genesis 2, the test of allegiance to God and the subsequent Fall described in Genesis 3 would, to a large extent, be unintelligible.

As we can remember from the previous lesson even the author does not know about the “how” of creation. When speaking of the Creation of the Sun, moon and stars he does not even understand the sequence of that day in the story.

Wednesday Oct 11

This is followed by the presence of the sun and the moon and the visible stars (why these are depicted here, in this manner, in this part of the sequence, is one of those questions we'll probably have to wait to get answered in heaven)

He has assumed most of what he feels is the “how” of the story of creation and he assumes that God places an allegiance test as part of the “why” we are here. This has been the problem since the first lesson on this subject. There is an assumption that the story is completely literal and purposefully only meant to be read literally. As we have already seen this literal unambiguous story is not even understood by those who make the claim that it is literal and unambiguous.


The intimate world of Adam and Eve surrounded by trees and animals in a garden complements the previous majestic account of Creation. Chapter 2 introduces the reader of the Bible to the social dimensions of humanity and gives some insight on prehistory and the original geography of the world.

What are the elements of the prehistory and the original geography of the world given in Chapter 2? In the lesson two days later the author gives us this:

TUESDAY October 17 The Garden Home (Gen. 2:8-17)

The specific geographical details presented in verses 10 through 14 indicate that, in the mind of the Bible writer, Eden was a specific locality rather than merely being a symbol or a metaphor. Several of the names mentioned in verses 11 through 14 are later applied to post-Flood localities and rivers. However, the Flood changed the surface features of our planet so radically that identification of pre-Flood geography with places and rivers known to us is impossible.

The location details in 10-14 are clearly written from a much later perspective trying to place the location of Eden. However as this is indeed written after the area destruction by the flood there is no way that this aside tells us anything about the geography of Eden as the author asserted on Saturday’s lesson. The reason for the location inclusion is consistent with the Exodus story where the Children of Israel are going back to the land of their forefather Abraham. As the Expositor’s Bible Commentary says:

Special care is given to locate the rivers and to describe the character of the lands through which they flowed. The lands were rich in gold and precious jewels (v. 12), and their location was closely aligned with the land later promised to Abraham and his descendants (see Ibn Ezra, Rashi)--another example of the author's continual interest in drawing comparisons between the early events in primeval history and specific events and places in the life of Israel. (Gen 2:9-10 Section)

Of course in the Garden of Eden Gold and precious jewels would be of no real value, only pretty rocks. However from the perspective of the writer of Genesis these are important aspects of the region. The region which was to become the Promised land to Israel, or depending upon when Genesis was written a reflection of the newly settled land of Israel. The lesson holds to the tradition that Moses was the writer of Genesis. This of course may or may not be true but we can be pretty sure that not all of the Pentateuch was written by Moses.

SUNDAY October 15 The Sabbath (Gen. 2:1-3)

Last week we saw a progression in the Creation account: from darkness to light, from only water to earth and water, to an atmosphere, to vegetation, and so forth, culminating in the creation of human beings, first the man and then the woman. Only after all these things were created do we get the words in Genesis 2:1—"Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them." God's work of Creation, at least as attested to here, was a finished work. This notion is implied in Genesis 2:2, 3, where both verses say that God "rested" from His work. Was God tired, or did He rest because His work was completed?

The most obvious answer is that God no longer was creating the world. In other words with the arrival of man the process of creation was complete. You must remember that the Sabbath command was given at Sinai and it preceded the written account of Genesis. If the author of Genesis had wanted to place the Sabbath in the second chapter of Genesis he could have easily done it, however he does not. He only sets the stage for it to be later incorporated as he does in the Exodus account of the 10 commandments, though it is not incorporated into the account of the 10 Commandments in Deuteronomy. The likely reason he does not place the Sabbath in chapter 2 is because man has just been created and does not really have any need to rest from anything as he has done nothing. Not knowing of the biological diversity in the world he did not realize that Adam would have to have given a name to the mammals and the birds at a rate of every 15 seconds to get his task done by the end of 24 hours. If he had to name the number that scientists believe once existed he would have to name one every ½ second. And we are still only talking birds and mammals.

SUNDAY October 15

Although the noun sabbath is not mentioned in Genesis 2, the verb for "rested," from which the term sabbath is derived, proves that the Sabbath is meant (see Exod. 20:8-11). Just as six literal days came before it, the Sabbath is a literal day, as well.

No one argues that the Sabbath was a literal day, however does it find it’s meaning forever in a literal day? Clearly not as Hebrews 4 and as Paul sums up the idea that it is a shadow of Christ. (Col 2:16 NIV) Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day.17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

Notice, too, that the first thing God declared holy was time, the seventh day. Not a hill, not a river, not a shrine, but a segment of time itself was the first thing in God's new Creation specifically "set apart" (another way of expressing "to be made holy"). Thus, we see the Sabbath as something special, something universal, something not bounded by the limits of place or geography but as something that can reach every human being no matter where they live.

However of course that time in our world is defined by geography. In other words when it is Saturday in America it is Sunday in Israel. Of course in Free societies most people can hold a day as holy and do not work on it. In many societies that is not a freedom granted to all people, as was the case in the New Testament times there were people not free to rest upon their Sabbath.

MONDAY October 16 Nephesh Hayyah

Most people are surprised to learn that the phrase often translated "living soul" (Gen. 2:7) in the creation of humanity is the same one used to describe fish and birds and other creeping things. Though unlike these other creatures, humanity was made in the "image of God" (Gen. 1:27); in a purely physical sense humanity is tied to other life on earth. And, of course, we see this in the sense that, like other life on earth, we need certain physical things in order to stay alive.

How does this use of the word nephesh in Genesis 2:7 (often translated "soul") help us understand why the soul isn't immortal? (Ezek. 18:4, Matt. 10:28).

In fact if the author thought about it he would realize that soul here in Genesis is simply alive. It is not similar to soul or spirit used much later. This is reflected in the more modern translations Gen 2:7 NIV the LORD God formed the man n from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

I agree that the soul is not immortal but this does not come from Genesis.

WEDNESDAY October 18 The Woman in Adam's Life (Gen. 2:18-25)

Here's Adam, in a garden paradise, with rulership over the animals, with everything at his disposal except one tree (see Gen. 2:16, 17). And yet, still God has more for him.

What was God's purpose in giving woman to man? Gen. 2:18, 20.

What the lesson ignores here is that God after creating all the birds and animals male and female, He forgets to create a female for the man. Instead He searches through the animal world for a companion. Frankly again this does not sound like literal history. Instead it is a story to show the importance of the partnership between man and woman.

(Gen 2:18 NIV) The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." (Gen 2:19 NIV) 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. (Gen 2:20 NIV) 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.

You can read the statistics for that impressive feat of naming all the animals in a single day at But it is hard to believe that God would not know about the need for a male and female of the human species before checking out all the animals.

THURSDAY October 19 Eve Becomes Adam's Wife (Gen. 2:23, 24)

God's ideal for marriage is expounded in this verse. When the time came to leave those closest to him, his parents, man's first earthly loyalty was to be to his wife. She was to occupy the foremost place in his affections. In God's order the union of bodies between husband and wife is to follow their commitment in marriage. The biblical order "leave . . . cleave . . . and they shall be one flesh" tragically and defiantly has been turned upside down, with tragic results.

One can’t help but notice that in this verse the subject is not particularly appropriate to the story but is appropriate to those of the later societies.

(Gen 2:22 NIV) Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. (Gen 2:23 NIV) 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." (Gen 2:24 NIV) For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. (Gen 2:25 NIV) The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

Ribs of course are not very large bones and the creation of the woman was not really anymore dramatic then the creation of man out of the dust or mud (remember the name Adam also means red as in red mud). So why would Adam feel that this woman who was just created was from his bone. He was asleep then he awakes and knows exactly what God has done. More than that, he credits his own bone as being the basis of the woman’s existence. According to the story everything else was spoken into existence or formed from the dirt depending upon which part of the first two chapters. Then suddenly she is woman because she was taken from man. What is interesting is that all human beings actually come out of woman. Some what of a paradox that in the story the woman who begets all others comes from the man. Would Adam feel different toward the woman if she were created out of the dust like Adam? More likely both man and woman would feel equal, but with the story Adam takes the primary role as human and the integral part to the creation of the woman. In the story the Patriarchal system which would shortly be revealed as part of the curse is already set in place. As with the other elements in the story the point of the story is to identify the world that we see around us rather then the world of Eden.

This latter concept is the substance behind the creation story. For more information on this see Genesis in Symbol and Substance

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