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Home Life with God

May 13, 2018 Speaker: Mitchel Kirchmeyer Series: Genesis: Beginning the Journey Home

Passage: Genesis 2:4–2:25

How can we experience the good life?

Everyday we live under the authority of others. At work, you’re under the authority of your boss. At home, kids are under the authority of their parents. While driving, we are under the authority of traffic laws. Everywhere we go, we are submitting ourselves to some kind of authority over us when we pay for things instead of stealing them, when don’t park in the handicap spot, when we wait in line and don’t budge, when we pay our taxes, when we sit in our desk at school. When we don’t submit to the authorities, we suffer the consequences and people who continually refuse to submit lose their place: you get detention or expelled from school, you get fired from your job, you go to jail away from society.

Sometimes our acceptance of one’s authority over us is based on their expertise on a topic where we have none. If someone is the authority on a topic, we listen to them. You put your life in your airplane pilot’s hands and do what they say because they are an authority on flying safely. When you go to the doctor or dentist, they are authorities on your health and teeth so you listen to them. They are the authorities on that topic so we submit to them.

Series Introduction
Today, we are continuing our series in Genesis, the first book of the Bible. Genesis is a book of beginnings. In these opening chapters, Genesis 1 and 2, we learn about the beginning of humanity’s home. Our home is where our God is. We are meant to be with God. But we will learn next week, our home with God becomes the first broken home in human history. Genesis is all about how God puts a plan into motion to bring us home. That’s why the name of this series is: Beginning the Journey Home.

Sermon Introduction
Last week in Genesis 1, God created a home for him to dwell in with humanity. This week in Genesis 2, we get to see what life at home looks like. What is home life between God and man like? What we see is a picture of everything as it is supposed to be. We see God and man relating to each other as God intended and we see man and woman relating to each other as God intended. What we see is a picture of the good life.

This would be especially relevant to the ancient Hebrews to whom this book was written. God had brought them out of slavery in Egypt to worship him alone - to fully devote themselves to him as their God. He promised to give them the land of Canaan and called them to obey him. If they obeyed him, they would experience the good life. Things would go well for them in the land he was giving them. They would enjoy God’s presence with them, they would enjoy healthy relationships with each other, and they would be a light shining in the world to show all other nations what the one, true God is like. God was returning them to this picture of the good life that we see in Genesis 2. He was calling them back to the home life with God for which he made them.

This leads us to the big question this passage answers. The big question is: how can we experience the good life? How can we experience the good life?

As we said last week, even though Genesis was not written to us, it was written for us. Just like ancient Israel, we also need the words of Genesis 2. We also need to be called back home to God and the life for which he made us.

We will go over this passage in two scenes then return to our big question. In scene 1, The LORD God Provides a Home for Man. In Scene 2, the LORD God Provides a Helper for Man.

Let’s begin with scene 1 in Genesis chapter 2, verses 4 through 17.

The LORD God Provides a Home for Man (2:4-17)

Verse 4 really is a title for chapters 2 through 4. It says:

4 These are the generations
of the heavens and the earth when they were created,
in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens. (Genesis 2:4)

After the initial creation in Genesis 1, there are eleven headings like this one we just in Genesis that break up the book. Each of them is a title beginning a new focus in the story. The phrase “these are the generations of” is sort of like saying: this is the story of. In this case, what follows in chapters 2 through 4 is the story of the heavens and the earth. These chapters are going to describe what becomes of the heavens and the earth God created.

Last week in Genesis 1, we saw a zoomed-out, panoramic view of God’s creation of all that exists. He created heaven and earth and everything in them. Then he created humanity in his image. This week in Genesis 2, the author, Moses, rewinds and slows down to gives us a zoomed-in, up close view of God’s creation of man and woman.

We see this clearly by the name used for God throughout this whole chapter. Look at verse 5:

5 When no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground, 6 and a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground— 7 then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. (Genesis 2:5-7)

“LORD God” is the title used for God throughout the chapter. “LORD” is how our Bible’s translate God’s personal name. In the original Hebrew, the word is “Yahweh.” It’s translated as LORD because the ancient Israelites would say “Lord” every time they saw God’s personal name instead of Yahweh because of his name’s holiness. They didn’t want to say his name because it was so holy and special. Using “Yahweh” or “LORD” here expresses that the God who creates everything is also personal and enters into relationship with humanity. He is the transcendent God and Creator of all things and the LORD who interacts in a personal way with his creation. God’s personal name is appropriate because this whole chapter shows God’s fatherly care for humanity. How does he show fatherly care for humanity?

First, the LORD God provides life. Whereas in Genesis 1 we were not told the process by which God created man, here we learn that the LORD God formed him like a potter with clay from the dust of the ground and then breathed life into him. God is the source of all life, including humanity’s. We check to see if people are alive by seeing if they are breathing. Breathing is a sign of life and God is the one who gives it.

Second, the LORD God provides a home. Verse 8 says:

8 And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. (Genesis 2:8)

The word “Eden” means “delight.” In God’s delightful creation, he plants a garden for the man to live in. As a potter, God formed the man. As a gardener, he plants a home for him.

Third, the LORD God provides food. Verse 9 says:

9 And out of the ground the Lord God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. (Genesis 2:9a)

This is a home ripe with goodness.

Fourth, the LORD God provides his life-giving presence. The second half of verse 9 says:

The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:9b)

These two trees are packed with symbolism and meaning. We will come back to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil when more is said about it in verse 17. The tree of life represents the life that God gives. God gave man the breath of life and it is only in connection to God that life continues. In John 17:3, Jesus said:

3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:3)

We often think of “eternal life” is eternity in heaven. But Jesus says that “eternal life” is knowing God and Jesus Christ whom he has sent. Eternal life is found in relationship with God. Apart from him, we have no life in any respect, spiritually or physically. In the garden, God was present with man and in that presence, he find life.

Verses 10 through 14 provide details about Eden and the garden that seem out of place at first. Why do we care about this? One thing they show is that this garden was an actual place. Four rivers are mentioned. We don’t know where the Pishon or the Gihon were, but the Tigris and Euphrates still exist today. At the same time, we need to recognize that biblical authors, and especially those in the Old Testament, never give details without a reason. When we read books today, we are used to loads of detail telling us about what the characters look like, what they are thinking and feeling, what the setting look like. The ancient Hebrew writers did not do this. So when they give details, pay attention; it’s for a purpose.

In this case, two materials are mentioned: gold and onyx stone. Both of these were materials used in constructing Israel’s tabernacle then the temple and in the clothes of the priests who oversaw the care of the temple. When God chose Israel to be his people, he gave them instructions for creating a place in which he would dwell with them. Gold and onyx were to be used in the construction. In addition, the decorations in the tabernacle and temple used garden imagery. The author here is hinting to us that this story is preparing us for a later story. God dwelt with man in the beginning and when God creates a dwelling for himself with Israel, he is reminding them that this is how it was supposed to always be.

Continuing with the LORD God’s fatherly care, the fifth action he does is provides man with work. Verse 15 says:

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. (Genesis 2:15)

You could say God as Father provides man with chores. God doesn’t just plop him in this garden to hang out; he gives him a job to do. This echoes back to Day 6 of creation from last week where humans are given the role of subduing the earth. We are to cultivate the potential of God’s good creation.

This shows us that “work” is part of God’s good creation. Sometimes we think that “work” is a curse and imagine that when we live in the new heavens and new earth in the future, that we won’t work anymore. For most people, their view of heaven is sitting up in the clouds having a never-ending worship service. This is not how the Bible talks about it. We will live in a new creation. We will live on earth but in God’s presence again and God is going to give us work to do.

Here again, the words “work and keep” connect us to Israel’s tabernacle and temple. The job that the priests were given was to “work and keep” them. “Work” could also be translated as “serve.” The author is showing us over and over again that the whole creation is meant to be God’s temple where his presence dwells. Our home is supposed to be in God’s presence. We are to live in his temple - in his presence - serving him and enjoying all that he has provided.

Lastly, the LORD God provides instruction. Verse 16 says:

16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 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.” (Genesis 2:16-17)

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil represents a choice. It’s the choice to either decide good and evil for ourselves or to submit to God’s authority as the one who decides what is good and evil.

Who is the one that knows what is good and evil in chapter 1? God is. God “sees” and declares his creation “good.” “Seeing” implies evaluation. God is the one who evaluates and declares good. If man eats from a tree from which God has forbidden him to eat , it means man is evaluating what is good and evil for himself and disregarding what God has said is off limits. And there are consequences to that. God is King and that means we need to submit to him as King if we want to remain in his kingdom - in his presence.

In these verses, we see the LORD God provide a home for man. It’s a home filled with delight and goodness. It’s a home filled with God’s personal presence. It’s a home where God gives life to those who live there. It’s a home filled with God-given responsibility. It’s a home where man is expected to trust and obey his Creator. If you are a parent, and especially a father, those are some good guidelines for how you ought to lead in your home. Let’s look at verses 18 through 24 where the LORD God provides a Helper for man.

The LORD God Provides a Helper for Man (2:18-24)

When God created all that exists in chapter 1, he declared it “good” six times. After he created man in his image, he looked over all that he created and declared it “very good.” Chapter 1 had six “goods” and one “very good.” In Chapter 2, we hear our first “not good.” Look at verse 18:

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” (Genesis 2:18)

God doesn’t immediately jump to creating a helper fit for the man. He builds some suspense and longing first. Verse 19 says:

19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. (Genesis 2:19-20)

God let’s the man do his job for a while. His job is to subdue creation and have dominion over it. In the ancient world and in our world today, one of the ways you show your authority over something is by naming it. People who find new stars or who found the elements in the periodic table named them. Our parents named us and we name our kids. Naming shows authority. The man, who we learned is named Adam in verse 20, named the animals and birds. But as he did so, there was not found a helper fit for him. In this parade of wildlife, he didn’t look at any of them and say, “That one’s like me.”

Then verse 21 says:

21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.” (Genesis 2:21-23)

God creates a helper fit specially for Adam and finally he exclaims, “This one is like me! This one is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh!”

There is a hint of marriage commitment here because in other passages where people say “you are bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh,” there is a pledge of loyalty involved. In 2 Samuel 5:1, when King David speaks to a group from the northern tribes of Israel, as a pledge of loyalty they say, “We are your bone and flesh.” The implication is of oneness - no matter what, I’m committed to you.

Which is why verse 24 then says:

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:24-25)

Based on Adam’s “one flesh” commitment to the woman, we get the model for marriage. In that culture, honor to parents was the next most important action after honoring God. So for a man to leave or forsake his parents and hold fast to his wife is a big statement. But this commitment is based on Adam’s original declaration concerning the woman God made for him. They should become one flesh - totally united. Their unity is shown in the fact that they were both naked and were not ashamed. That means there was total openness. No barriers stood between them. There were no walls of shame and shaming that separated them.

God made woman as a “helper fit for man.” This does not mean she is lesser because she’s a helper. In fact, in Scripture God is often called Israel’s “helper.” It also doesn’t mean man is lesser because he needs a helper. But the woman is made for Adam as a complementary partner. Genesis 1:27 told us both man and woman are made in the image of God. They are equal but complementary.

Jesus actually uses these verses to defend his view of marriage against a culture where men would quickly divorce their wives for petty reasons. In Matthew 19:6, Jesus quotes this verse and says: “So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” And even though the narrator is speaking in verse 24 and God isn’t, Jesus quotes this verse by saying “God said.” Jesus views Genesis as the very words of God and 1500 years after this verse was written, he uses it to explain marriage and now 3500 years after its writing, we still quote it at wedding ceremonies today. Pretty amazing.

How can we experience the good life?

The big question is: how can we experience the good life?

Before answering that, we need to ask: what is the good life? What picture of the good life does this passage give us?

Let’s draw a circle and put everything in it that represents the good life.

First, we learn that the good life means we are with God. The good life is with God. Humans are meant to live with God. Home is where our God is. God created this world to be his temple where he dwells with us in a close, personal way. The good life means we are with God.

Second, the good life means we are over creation. The good life is over creation. God has made a delightfully good world for us to dwell in. It is filled with potential and he commissions us to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, subdue it, and have dominion over it. This doesn’t mean we just do whatever we want and ruin it. We are supposed to cultivate the potential of this good world. We are to explore, invent new technology, build, farm, and garden. As God’s ambassadors made in his image, we are to take care of it like he would take care of it. He is the King and we are his representatives.

Third, the good life means we are with each other. The good life means with each other. God declares that it is not good for the man to be alone so he creates a wife for Adam. But we could expand that principle to say that it isn’t good for anyone to be alone. We were made for relationship with other people. It is not good for us to be in isolated and alone.

So the good life means we are with God, over creation, and with each other. The big question is: how can we experience the good life? The answer is: under God. We experience the good life when we are under God - when we submit to him as our highest authority, when we surrender all of life to him as our King and Creator, when we honor him as our heavenly Father.

Let’s draw a crown in the middle of the circle. Unless we make God the King of our lives, we cannot have the good life.

Know that God is the authority on the good life. He created us and thus he knows what is best for us. Just like when you get on a plane, the pilot is the authority on flying so you need to put yourself under his authority because you have no idea how to fly, so too God is the authority on the good life so you need to put yourself under his authority because we have no idea what is good for our lives.

The lie we believe is that the good life can be experienced apart from submission to God. Even worse, the lie we believe is that we need to get out from under God’s authority to have the good life - that only if we disobey God will we experience the good life. Most everyone believes there is some sort of god that exists and they want to be connected with him. Many people want to have meaning and purpose in their work and what they do. Everyone wants to have meaningful relationships where they can be themselves. The problem is we want all of this without God. We want to do it in our own terms. We want the good life without the King of the good life.

Lots of businesses have the sign on their door: no shirt, no shoes, no service. What happens if you try to walk in with no shirt and no shoes? You aren’t going to get service. You don’t get to enjoy whatever that business offers. God has a sign on the entrance to the good life: no surrender, no good life. You can’t have one without the other.

We want everything in the circle without surrendering to the King at the center. We want the goodness of the kingdom but not the King of the kingdom. But we cannot have the good life without being under God.

If we aren’t under God, we will be against each other instead of with each other. We will feel shame and hide from each other. We will see other people as our competition rather than God’s good gift as the cure to our loneliness. We will use people to validate ourselves through their affirmation, appreciation and praise of us. Only under God will our relationships with each other be right.

If we aren’t under God, we will be under creation instead of over creation. This means we worship the creation rather than the Creator. Instead of God on the throne and defining good and evil, we will let creation do it. We will worship work at the expense of our families. We will worship sex and get it through in appropriate means. We will worship other people and seek to please them more than we seek to please God. Only under God will our relationship with creation be right.

If we aren’t under God, we will be without God instead of with God. We will be separated from him and the life he gives. We are exiled from the garden home of his presence, alienated and estranged from him. Only under God will our relationship with God be right. He was meant to define what is good and evil and that means we need to obey him. We cannot have the good life if we are not willing to surrender our lives to God.

What’s an area of your life that you would describe as “not good”? Is it your relationship with another person? Your spouse? Your parent? Your kid? A friend? A coworker? Is there a relationship that is “not good” and needs fixing? Put yourself under God and ask him this week: what do you want me to do?

Is it your relationship with creation? Do say “yes” to work too much and “yes” to your family too little? Do you let your work define your life? Or do you hate work and see it as a curse and need to find God-given purpose in it? Put yourself under God and ask him this week: what do you want me to do?

Is it your relationship with God? Do you give him your leftovers? Do you squeeze him into your schedule instead of letting him define your schedule? Put yourself under God and ask him this week: what do you want me to do?

God intended to dwell with his creation.  But we can see that our world is a mess.  It doesn't look like the home of Genesis 2.  Jesus came to dwell among us in order to bring us back home to God.  He always lived under God's authority.  Therefore what he deserved was life.  He didn't deserve the consequence of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil but he took that punishment in our place.  He bore the penalty for defining good and evil on his own terms even though he never did.  And while on earth, he invited people into the kingdom of God.  He invited people to come home and make God the King of their lives so they can experience the good life.

The place where God is renewing creation to once again be his temple where life is experienced as it should be is the church.  It isn't a physical place like in the Old Testament but it's a people.  In the community of the church, God is returning us to that picture in Genesis 2.  But it isn't instant.  We are broken and rehab takes time.  When you break something, it takes time to heal.  We are going through rehab.  Our church DNA is like a crockpot of ingredients stewing together to create an environment where the good life can be experience.  We are being recreated by Jesus.

More in Genesis: Beginning the Journey Home

December 9, 2018

Jacob and the God More Powerful Than Him

December 2, 2018

Jacob and His Sons Fail to Walk with God

November 18, 2018

Jacob's Search for Acceptance