Text: Genesis 2:4b-25 (NIV)
This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.
Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Ashur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
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 from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. 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 in the sky and all the wild animals.
But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 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 then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he 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.”
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
In this second of the two creation stories in Genesis (the first one being in chapter 1), we find the emphasis placed upon relationship: relationship between God and human, between human and creation, and between human and human. There is an “earthy” feel to this text. You can sense the connection between the Creator, creature, and creation.
In fact, we gain an even greater sense of this relational connection through the Hebrew text, which is ripe with word play. When God creates the human being from the dust of the earth, God creates ha adam from ha adamah. In English, we miss the linguistic connection. A different translation that emphasizes this word play might be, God created the “human” from “humus.” We hear the connection between human beings and the rest of creation. We are all made of the same “stuff,” so to speak.
Furthermore, the text says that God breathed the breath of life into the human. Once again, the Hebrew reveals an idea that we might miss in English. In Hebrew, the word for breath, ruach, is also the same word for spirit and wind. The ruach hovered over the waters and was instrumental in creation in Genesis 1. Ruach is what God now gives to the human being that he might come alive.
When we read Genesis 2, we can’t help but to see that human beings are fundamentally created for relationship. We are created to be in relationship with our Creator, the one who gives us the ruach of life. We are created to be in relationship with the rest of creation, which God has commanded us to keep and to care for. And finally, we are created to be in relationship with one another. God creates human beings for one another, as demonstrated through that first relationship of Genesis 2. We, human creatures, are not meant to be alone. We need one another – we are part of one another.
The poet John Donne’s words ring true:
No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
Devotions upon Emergent Occasions
o What words, phrases, or images from the text speak to you? What thoughts or feelings do they evoke?
o Where in creation have you felt particularly connected to God?
o In what areas of your life do you need God to breathe new life into you?
o Even though as human beings we are created for relationship with one another, we all experience brokenness and struggle. With whom might God be calling you to reconcile, restore, or strengthen your relationship? To whom might God be calling you to reach out?
Spend some time in creation this week, whether it is sitting on your porch, listening to the birds sing, hiking a trail, or walking by the river. Give thanks to God for the beauty and wonder of God’s creation, and then do something to take care of it, whether it is picking up litter, reducing your use of one-time plastics, tending your garden, or anything else that God moves you to do.
Think of one person with whom you want to strengthen your relationship. Reach out. Make a call. Bake cookies. Stop by for a visit. Send a card. Let them know you are thinking of them. Listen to the promptings of the ruach!
Living God, you have created us all for relationship. Thank you for the beauty and goodness that you continually reveal in the world around me. Place your ‘ruach’ within me, that I might live and flourish in the world that you have created. May I grow in love of You, of your creation, and of all who have been created in your image. Place within my heart your desires; your impulses. Guide me each moment of this week, that your thoughts would be my thoughts, that your words would be my words, and that my deeds would be your deeds. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.