Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 7 years ago

The Goodness of God in the Creation of Man

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Rev. Christopher Chelpka

Let's turn our attention to genesis chapter two versus, beginning at Verse Four. I'm going to read through verse Seventeen Genesis Two verse for these are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that Jehovah God made the Heavens and the earth, when no Bush of the field was yet in the land, in no small plant of the field had yet sprung up, for Jehovah God had not caused it to reign on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, and a mist was coming up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground. Then Jehovah 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. And Jehovah God planted a Garden in Eden, in the East, and there he put the man whom he had formed. And Out of the Ground Jehovah God made to spring up from spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the river flowed out of Eden to water the garden, and there it divided and became four rivers. The name of the first was is the Pishon. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of Havlah, where there is gold, and the gold of that land is good, but delium and Onyx stoner there. The name of the second is the GIHON. It is the one that flowed around the whole land of cush and the name of the third river is the Tigress, which flows east of Assyria, and the fourth river is the Euphrates. Jehovah God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying you may surely eat of every tree in the garden, 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. This sends the reading of God's word. May bless it to us. Please be seated in our culture, and I think in every culture, we have various holidays which help us remember certain things. Mother's Day recently passed, Memorial Day is coming up. These holidays sort of mark for us these important events in our lives,...

...such as our birth or history, or the particular acts of particular people in history, the things that they have done and sacrificed for a good we remember these things and we take the time to remember them because they have a way of shaping us and shaping the way we feel and we think. It's not just a matter of giving honor to, let's say, our mothers or our soldiers, but it's a matter also of thinking about things, be it our life or our freedom, in a particular way, understanding the particular things about them. Well, the word of God and every passage of scripture is very much like this. It does these kinds of things. God expresses himself in these ways so that we might give do honor to God, but so that we also might frame our lives according to these greater truths, the truest truths, the truth the word of God. God gives us his word as a way to remind us of the things that we often the things that we often abstract ourselves from. In Genesis, to it is certainly true all these things I'm saying. Is Certainly true of Genesis Chapter two. Perhaps even in a special way. Here in Genesis Chapter Two we have the story, the account of God's creation of man, really a second account. We talked a little bit about this when we covered genesis one, but God addresses this again and gives us more details. He talks us about the talks to us about the creation of man and also the habitation of man, how God made man and where he put him and these kinds of things. In this account, in this story of creation, we begin to learn certain things which frame our lives, for example, and we'll get to these in a greater detailed way. But we often go about our lives thinking that things simply are as they are or always have been the way that they are. But the story tells us that that's not true, that things had a beginning, of a place in time where God began us, where creation began. These things remind us of our humble beginnings. We are not God's we were created even out of the dust, the scripture says. So many implications can be drawn from these kinds of things, and so it's in that spirit that we will come to genesis chapter two to hear God's word and hear what he has to say to us about how we are to think about ourselves and him and our lives together. The primary thing that I want to bring across and draw your attention to in...

...this chapters the goodness of God. The goodness of God is something that comes out very strong in chapter one, where we read and God made these things and they were good, good, good, even very good. But it comes out in this chapter as well, not only for the the explicit language of goodness, but also because there's something of a an argument going on here. In our fallen state we often attribute to God the evils in the world. We often see the world and we see the evils and the suffering and things that are around us and we say, well, surely this is because of the one who is in charge, this is because of God, who made things as they are. But these chapters are here in large part to remind us that God made us good and that he is himself good. So I want to focus on that goodness of God this morning as we look at this text. But let's begin with a brief reminder that the scriptures in many places, in many ways called God good. God, for example, is infinitely good. We might say Psalm one hundred forty five says, give thanks to him, bless His name, for Jehovah is good. We of thanks to God. We bless God's name because he is good. His steadfast love endures forever, because he is good. Well, not only as God infinitely good, he is abundantly good. Psalm one nineteen says, oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you? The scriptures also tell us that the doubts, doubts we have about God's goodness, are easily answered, at least in a certain sense. Listen to Psalm thirty four eight. Oh taste and see that Jehovah is good. Just taste and see, like grabbing a piece of fruit off your counter and simply enjoying it, and you will know that it is good, as simple as that. Oh taste and see. Well, how do we taste the goodness of God? Apart from his scriptures, God gives us many other ways in which we know his goodness, and we can start quite literally, with that piece of fruit on your counter. God is good and we taste it in the sweetness of fruit and in the nutrition of our bread axe fourteen seventeen makes this point explicitly when the apostles speak to these pagans and they say of God. Yet he did not leave himself without a witness, for he did good by giving you as from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness. See what he...

...says here in the in a psalm that I read earlier, and Psalm One nineteen, we read that God's abundant goodness is stored up for those who fear him, for his loved ones, for those called ones of his. But God, on top of that, also pours out his love on those that he had, that those whom he has not called, those who do not believe in him, those that rebel against him and fight against him and hate him and attribute goodness to other things and evil to him. But here, these apostles of God say, no, this is not the case. You, you who do not believe in God, know him because of his witness. He did good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness. So many other things we could look at, and but in all these things we see that in God's gifts, in his provisions, in his care, in his abundance, in his affinity, in his steadfast love. God is good, very good, even singularly good, uniquely good, as Jesus puts it in the Gospels. No one is good except for God. But despite God's infinite abundance and steadfast goodness, it's hard to believe this because of the evils in the world. The evils and the sins and the suffering that we feel and we face in our lives are like great big black rain clouds that cover up the sun. And when it happens for so long and in such a hard way, people begin to wonder. Has the goodness of God even disappeared, or was it ever there in the first place? When life, from beginning to end, feels like one vanity after another, would it feels like just one a crazy thing, one suffering thing, one dreadful thing after another, people begin to ask, perhaps you have begun to ask, where is God and if he is there, is he really good? You know what I'm talking about. All the lives, all the death, all the lust and covetousness which fills our world, and all of it we see, beginning right here in the opening chapters of Genesis, not genesis too, but genesis three, which will come to and do time. We're man's sins against God for the very first time and brings about all of these evils in the world. Perhaps all of them, or at least nearly all of them, can be seen early on in these first few chapters of Genesis. Blames, shifting riffs between men and women, between...

...brothers and if families, injustices, murder lies death. When you read these chapters of genesis and the descent of man in his newly fallen state, into that sin and misery, in this state of death, we see these big black clouds rolling in onto the earth, death itself, and it covers up the sun and it makes us ask is God good? But Genesis too is a reminder and an argument and a proof the God is good and that the sun is still there, though we may not always see it because of our sins, because of our evil, because we're often blinded by the darkness in our own hearts, the goodness of God is still there and always has been, always will be. Genesis too takes us back to the beginning of God's goodness in the world. And tells us that it hasn't always been this way, that the clouds, so to speak, rolled in the earth has not always been perpetually dark and evil, that the goodness of God in the world, that the goodness of God was in the world before our sins blinded us to the sun. And I want to draw your attention, and in this particular line of thinking, to two things, the goodness of God and his creation of Man. In the goodness of God, in the habitation of man, you all know, I hope, what a habitat is, place where a creature lives or dwells. Here we see God's creating a particular habitat for his chief among his creation for man. We see his goodness in that, in the habitation of man, and also in the creation of man. Let's look at the first one, God's creation of man, and see his goodness there. If you go back to chapter one, I'm you'll see several things there. Let me read, beginning at Verse Twenty Six. Then God said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish and the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. So God created man in his own image and the image of God. He created him male and female. He created them and God blessed them and God said to them be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and...

...over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth. And God said, behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth and every tree with seed and its fruit. You shall have them for food and to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens, and do everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant of food. And it was so. And God saw everything he had made and behold, it was very good. So here in chapter one, in this first account of God's creation of man, we see several things. We see unity and community within his creation, mirroring even the trinity itself. We see that he blessed them, he bestowed this goodness on them. We see that he gave them good commands commands which even now us or inspire us and and encourage us. He calls them to extend this goodness that they found in the garden throughout the whole world, so that the goodness that they enjoyed there would be multiplied and multiplied and multiplied and multiplied. And on top of Latte all of that, he gives them good provisions as well, good commands, a good blessings, good provisions, providing at every moment along the way. No wonder he declares at the end that all this was very good well, this creation of man. God's goodness in the creation of man continues in chapter two, when we see God's very special care in his creation of man. We hear of some, not all, but of some, of the details of how we were made. In Verse Seven we read that Jehovah, God formed the man of the dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living creature. We don't have with any other aspect of creation this kind of attention, this kind of hands on care that is being given here. God is showing a great nobility that he gives a to the human race, to mankind, he fashions us, he makes us personally and directly. He breathes into the man's nostrils life and in that breathing man becomes a living creature. This very special care on reminding means us of who we are, that we are those who are made beautiful, those who are made to carry and hold the glory of God, even though it may be in a jar of clay or dust. God's special creation of man reminds us of our great dependency on him. And that's...

...okay, isn't it? Because, as we've been saying, God is good. You could finally and remark, just as a last thing, mark as a last thing, that God makes us in his image. If you're familiar with scripture and haven't thought a lot about this, they just may not seem like such a big deal, simply a point of fact. But consider the other things that God could have done. We could have been made in the image of the stars or in the image of the planets, or the image of fire or plants or a lion. Are All kinds of things within creation that God could have shaped us and formed us after marvelous things, wonderful things, majestic things, but God didn't choose the stars or lions or anything else. He made us in the image of himself. It's a marvelous thing to consider. It should humble us to a great degree, but it should also lift us up to know how much care and concern and how highly God has placed us in the world. But, as we will come to see, he placed us in a high position to be a servant to him, to bring glory to him and not to ourselves. This, of course, is the very essence of goodness, what it means to receive from a good God, depend on a good God and give back to a good God. It's what it means to be human, it's what it means to be good. Well, in addition to God's creation of man, we see God's goodness in his habitation of man in chapter two. I won't spend any time on chapter one here, but in chapter two there's so many obvious features. Take a look at verse nine or listen to it. And Out of the Ground Jehovah made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you have here God placing man not just in a place but in a garden, and not just in a garden, but a garden that has been cultivated by the master gardener himself, causing trees and things to rise up that serve this dual purpose of being pleasant and also being fruitful or providing food. Here man is placed in a wonderful place that isn't merely utilitarian. It doesn't just get the job done, and that even in a perfect way. But God says that they are pleasant to...

...the site. Are Reminder that beauty is important to God, not just getting things done. But here we have man, a placed in a habitation that is beautiful, that is pleasant to the site. There is there are these trees, there is a river to water the garden. We read in verse ten a river flowed out of Eden and into the garden, where it divided and then became a four rivers. On top of that, this river that is feeding and nourishing the garden so that it might never go dry, might never have a problem. That whole area is surrounded by precious stones. We read of a one place where the river pishon flows around the whole land of Havla where there is gold and bedelium and onyx stone. In this we have even outside of the guard and even outside of Eden, there are other lands in which God has placed beautiful and numerous, abundant good things and treasures, though the garden of Eden is a special place and a special care is made for man there. Man, as he begins to contemplate his command to have dominion over the whole Earth and spread out to the glory of God, he, even as he knows it, has a got, has an earth set before him that is that is good, that is full of resources and and precious metals and plants and trees. In all these things we see God's goodness in creating this habitation for man, a beautiful place, a pleasant place, a place that is well provided for and is indeed very wonderful. These are the obvious features of chapter two, but there are less obvious features as well, a number of things throughout this chapter that link what is going on here in the garden two things that will come up later in Israel and the peat that in Israel's history, in particular, the Temple of God and then again the new heavens and the new earth, or this final temple or heavenly Jerusalem that the New Testament speaks about. To put it another way, what we have here in genesis are the beginning, is the foreshadowing of the temples that God would make, the God would make and dwell with man. How do we see this? We see it in a number of ways. First, we see it in the detail that the garden was placed in the east. This is in Verse Eight and Jehovah, God planted a Garden in Eden, in the east. So in the east of Eden God placed this garden on...

...this the fact that it's in the East is important because this is the sun rises out of the East and throughout ancient Near Eastern literature, and in the Bible as well, often depicks a place. It's a symbol for the source of life, for the source of health and and even of God Ezekiel, and numerous chapter or numerous passages throughout his Ekiel we see he has a close relationship with the east. God, for example, calls him and places him in the east when he goes to speak with him, and there are other connections there in is ekiel with the temple in the east. So in addition to being the in the east. We also see that the garden of Eden is on a mountaintop. One way we know this from the text, is that these rivers are flowing down. Water flows down. These rivers are flowing down out of Eden, out of the garden, to these other lands to feed these lands. And we have this on this sense of this mountaintop image in which the garden has been placed. This comes up in a number of other portions of scripture, and Ezekiel Fourteen, for example, and we read that you are on the Holy Mountain of God when guard and imagery is used to condemn the king of tire. On top of that, throughout the scriptures, when God comes and visits with his people in communes with them, it's off and on mountain tops, at Horeb at Sinai, and then again in Hebrews and twenty two, even of ourselves and Mount Zion. You have come, Hebrews says, to Mount Zion, the city of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. We often think of heaven is being a sort of return to Eden, or perhaps a return to eden realized or actualized, a glorified Eden. Well, if it's true that are the new heavens and the new Earth are compared to Mount Zion. It would make sense that the original Eden was also on a mountain. In addition to these things, we also have the river of Eden mentioned. Psalm forty six four says there is a river whose streams make glad the city of God. Again, from Ezekiel forty seven, one and eight, we read that at river is said to flow out of the Temple and heal anything it touches. This is similar to the descriptions of the river we are given of the river in Eden, this water that is feeding the land and and nourishing it. Add on top of this, God's presence in a way that is very similar to his presence in the temple, his close communion with man, dwelling with him and being with him. The image of the angels, they're as also will be depicted in the temple. Here we will see angels later in the garden, shutting off and barring...

...the garden from man that he might not enter it. Lots of the plant many of the plant imagery, from the tree of life to the plants and the gardens and other animals. This kind of Eden, sort of imagery will be depicted in the temple in the curtain, in the minorahs, in the in the lights, in the engravings, in the sea and the bowls and all kinds of things. Many, many connections are made between the Temple and Eden. You add on top of all of this man's God's command to man to work and keep the garden. This is a command that will be used in numbers three of the priests that are car called to guard and keep the temple. All this to say, all these connections begin to show US something very important. The atom is not just a gardener. Adam is not just a man who has been placed down in a garden and called to be a farmer the days of his life, but he is being styled after a priest, after a king, who is to rule in a city, who is to lead worship in this temple. He is being brought into close communion with God, communion that here is brought into the garden and is doing extend over the whole earth, but later will be contracted into a smaller form in the Tabernacle and the temple. These things teach us our main point of the goodness of God. God doesn't just set man on earth and call him to complete some kind of random task gardening, I guess no. He calls him to work in the earth and to do these things to the glory of God, as one who is acting even as a priest, one who is worshiping, one who is leading as a king and ruling according to God's law, all in close connection with him, as we will read later when it comes to eve, that they spent time in the garden together with God, hearing him, walking with him, talking with him, knowing this close communion with God. Everything we see here a speaks of the goodness. And so when we can look at our lives and we consider the evils that are in the world, the suffering that is in the world, we cannot go back to God and say, look at what you have done, because God made the world good. He put us in this beautiful place to work and to worship, to be close to him and and all of our lives and to be close with each other. He calls us to be united with him and and to...

...and to enjoy his presence, to feed off of his goodness and to know the sweetness of his presence. The sins and the evils and the suffering that we have and we face in this world doesn't come from God, as we know from genesis to it comes from man, as we know from Genesis Chapter Three. The last verse I read, Verse Eighteen, says, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat, for the day that you eat of it you shall surely die. We're going to focus on this tree and the the curse that fell out from it when we get to chapter three. But here we get the command, the very clear command, that God says you shall not do this. But man does the thing that he shall not and he does die. He enters into a state of death on which eventually ends in his physical death and continues on in eternal spiritual death. But it's not just at the point of his death that death begins, but and his whole life is now untainted and covered and polluted by death and deathly things, by cursed things, by suffering things, by evil things. Life on earth becomes difficult and hard. The goodness of God should not be in question. In fact it should be made all the more clear when it's put in relief against the sinfulness of man. Another way you could put that is when you think about genesis chapter two and the great goodness of God. It should also cause you to think of the great evil that man did when he fell and the great evils we commit when we commit against a God who has made us in this way. But I want to tell you that, as genesis goes on and as God's revelation goes on, we see these expressions of his goodness unending. We see expressions of his goodness not only in the creation of man but also in the salvation of Man. We see it in this creation and habitation in a new way. Despite Man's evil, despite man's fall, despite man's rebellion and all the evils that we now face in this world because of it, God, in his goodness, enters into the world again through his son and brings about what we call new creation and new habitation. That's what Hebrews was talking about that I read to you. You have now come to Mount Zion, the city of the Living God,...

...the heavenly Jerusalem. It's what revelation talks about when it pictures the new heavens and the new earth and this kind of garden of Eden like language. Well, how do we get to that point? We get to that point through the great king of this new creation, this new heavens and the new earth. Jesus Christ. Jesus comes, and when he comes, he doesn't just demonstrate his goodness and this miracle or that miracle, providing wine for a wedding feast or food for people who are hungry out in the desert. He shows us these things to point to his ultimate goodness and being willing to die for us so that we might regain the communion with the God desires for us. God takes this curse upon himself. The dark clouds of evil and sin come over Jesus Christ on the Cross so that they might not come over us anymore, so that the sting would be taken out of death, so that the evils and the suffering that we face might be finally subdued, so that the evil one who tempts eve and Causes Adam to fall would be put to an end, destroyed and ruined forever. This is why God comes into the world and so we see his goodness displayed yet again and in this wonderful and saving way, in Jesus Christ. So when we think about the things that we face in this world, the evils and the suffering, the curse and the death, we cannot go to God and blame him when he is one good and to he has saved us from evil and has brought about all good and promised us all good that we might live and drest and dwell and reign with him forever and ever and Jesus Christ, we have the answer to evil, provided by God himself. This we should praise God for, we should thank him for, even as we are humbled by our own sinfulness. Let us pray.

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