Series on Genesis, I Creation, E The Covenant of Creation, Text: 2:4-14, Title: A Heart of Love


In this section of the creation account we are dealing with the most basic and fundamental truth concerning the meaning and destiny of the man God created. He made the man to be his partner, to be with him, and to superintend the portion of his creation which is at the center of the created universe. As the Sovereign King of all and the Creator of man God made a covenant with Adam which we shall examine in detail in our following studies. But, what we see today is the heart of the covenant which is God's heart of love and the promise of fellowship and relationship with his creature. Today we define a host of relations by contracts that specify delivery of goods or services in return for hard cash.  The Lord did not establish a contract with Israel or with the Church. He created a covenant.  Contracts are broken when one of the parties fails to keep his promise. When a patient fails to keep an appointment with a doctor, the doctor is not obligated to call and inquire, “where were you? He may try to charge you, but he then becomes an adversary rather than a friend. The Lord asks in Isaiah 49:15, Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! A Biblical covenant is more like the ties of a mother to her child than it is a doctor’s appointment. If the child fails to show up for dinner, the parent’s obligation, unlike the doctor’s, isn’t canceled. The parent finds out where the child is and makes sure he’s cared for. One member’s failure does not destroy the relationship. A covenant puts no conditions on faithfulness. it is the unconditional commitment to love and serve. Permit me a slight digression. In Genesis 2:4 the word generations appears. It is the word from which the book of Genesis gets its English name. It occurs thirteen times in Genesis but rarely after that and almost always in connection with a genealogy. This term breaks Genesis up into sections which are useful in the study of the book. We have the generations of Adam, Noah, Noah's sons, Shem, and Terah, the father of Abraham. So with each time the word appears the line of the covenant narrows down till it comes to the one who is the central human character of Genesis, Abraham. That covenant begins with Adam and ends with Jesus son of Abraham, and you. According to Hebrews 13:20 there is an eternal covenant between God the Father and the Son upon which all other covenants made with man are based. The God of peace through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus. This is the covenant of love between the Father and the Son. Now we see that extended to man in four respects. The love of God is revealed in the person, the position, the procedure and the place.

I The Person

In Genesis, chapter 1, the Generic name for God “Elohiym” is used. But, here for the first time appears in verse 4 the covenant name, Yahweh, sometimes transliterated Jehovah. We know that this name comes from the verb “to be” and contains the idea of God's self existence. He is the great "I AM". When Moses is at the burning bush in Exodus 3:14 and he asks whom he should say sent me? God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” But the words are also capable of being translated “I will be.” In fact in Exodus 3:12 it is the exact same word that God uses when he says to Moses, I will be with you. So in addition to asserting God's self-existence, this name also reminds us of His being with and for us. Thus the use of His covenant name establishes that the self-existent one is also the one who will be with his people. This is the heart of the covenant enshrined and also alas somewhat buried for most of us in the book of Leviticus, 26:12 I will walk among you and be your God and you will be my people. In the New Testament the word Lord is used to describe Jesus. This is the same word that was used by the scholars who translated the Hebrew Old Testament into Greek every time they came to the word Yahweh. When Lord is used as a translation of Yahweh it is always rendered all in capital letters, e.g. LORD, and not as Lord. When Paul says in Romans 10:9 that we must believe that Jesus is Lord, he refers to the fact that Jesus is Jahweh or the one that is and will be with and for his people. And, the New Testament opens with Matthew pointing out that Jesus is Immanuel, that is, God with us. It is this covenant love which is the foundation of everything else in scripture, but the love is also revealed in the position given to Adam in creation.

II The Position

This entire second chapter is in our Bibles to enable us to have the proper focus on creation. We are concerned here not with order but importance. This is the account of the garden in which God placed man. God had already created plant life according to verses 4-6, When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens— and 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. Therefore Genesis 2:8 and 9 refers to the garden itself which was created as a loving place in which the man would live, Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. It is a paradise which is an ancient Middle Eastern word for a special garden. One may assume that the responsibility later assigned to the man, in verse 15, is initially limited to the garden alone because the garden is a place of probation,   The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. Later this responsibility is extended to the whole earth as in Genesis 1:26, And let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground, and also in Psalm 8:6-8, You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. Responsibility is the greatest indicator of faith and fellowship. The man is a trusted friend. That is why George McDonald wrote, “In God alone can man meet man.“ The whole story of our salvation in the Bible is the story of a friend seeking back one who has betrayed the confidence of love. Jesus called his disciples friends. Paul wrote that Christ died for sinners, his enemies, the ungodly, but he called them friends. That same love was portrayed by a humble pastor from Ephrata, PA, Peter Miller, during the revolutionary war. There was a man in his town that took every opportunity to abuse and oppose him who was later arrested as a traitor and sentenced to die. Miller traveled on foot to Philadelphia to see an acquaintance, George Washington and seek mercy for the man. The general said that he was sorry Peter had come so far because he could not pardon his friend. “He’s not my friend, he’s my worst enemy,” Miller replied. He took the man back to Ephrata with him. Jesus calls us in spite of what we are and because of what we shall be.

III The Procedure

God's procedure in the creation of the man as outlined in Chapter 2 also points to his special love in this relationship. In Chapter 1 all that is said about man’s creation is that he is “made” in God’s image, but in Chapter 2 we find a different word. In describing the precise detail of man's creation Moses says he was formed 2:7,  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. The word formed in the Hebrew often refers to plan or purpose. God formed the earth to be inhabited. He formed the eye to see, the ear to hear, and God formed Jacob to be His servant and Jeremiah to be His prophet. indeed the word formed is the word potter in Hebrew. Paul uses it in Romans 9:20 and 21, Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? And it is used often in the Old Testament as for example in Job 33:6, I also am formed out of the clay. Thus man was formed out of the dust of the ground which points to his humble origin, but not to any inherent weakness as he was made. The descendants of Abraham are said to be like the dust of the ground in number which suggests that God continues to metaphorically raise children to Abraham out of the dust. But it is the second part of this act of creation which is most significant. God breathes into man the breath of life. This is a terminology used exclusively of man. This is what connects us to the Creator, our spiritual capacity. It makes us like Him in a way that nothing else is like Him. The description “living soul or being” is indeed applied to other creatures as in Genesis 7:21, at the time of the flood, Every living thing that moved on the earth perished—birds, livestock, wild animals, all the creatures that swarm over the earth, and all mankind. The upshot of this is that the very act which constitutes man a living soul or a living creature like the other things God has made is the act which makes him different from everything else God has made. In this is expressed the love of God towards the man he has made. In Genesis 2:20 there is no helper found for Adam because nothing else is made like Adam until God makes Eve.

IV The Place

The place into which God puts the man is the last indication of this love which is the foundation of the covenant. The Lord not only makes a garden but a very special garden. The Hebrew word would not be used of your vegetable garden. it is used in extra-biblical sources primarily of gardens belonging to kings. In the LXX (Greek translation of the Old Testament) it is called paradise because the Greek translators of the Hebrew Old Testament knew that garden was too general a concept. Paradise is mentioned in the New Testament as the place where the repentant thief on the cross would join Jesus, as a place that Paul was caught up into and saw things which could not be repeated, and as the place in Revelation 2:7 where believers receive their reward and partake again of the tree of life. The point is that Paradise or the Garden of Eden was a place where everything was good and conducive to man's success. And, in this good place where there was nothing denied to the man which he needed, God walked and talked with him in a theophany, and He was his friend. The Bible makes clear that the restoration of this state is the whole aim of our salvation and therefore in Revelation 21, 22 the description of the eternal state, the new heavens and the new earth, is in terms defined by Genesis chapter 2.


What I hope we see from all of this is that from the beginning God's intention was to be a friend and to bless us by that friendship, and to do us good. It is this love which is the foundation for the covenant we shall be exploring in our future studies. It is fundamental not only to the unfolding of God's revelation but to our lives. Once a teacher gave his students the assignment to go out and find a small, unnoticed flower somewhere. He asked them to get a magnifying glass and study the delicate veins and symmetry of the leaves, and the nuances and shades of color, and remember that this flower might have gone unappreciated if they had not admired it. When the class returned, the teacher said, "people are like that. Each one is different, carefully crafted, uniquely endowed, but you have to spend time with them to know this. So many people go unnoticed and unappreciated because no one has ever taken time with them and admired their uniqueness." Do we understand what it means for our relationships to see that God is our friend?