The Moral Choice

This lesson will examine how God created the impulse in man that is his will as well as his sense of need.
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So far in our series we have covered Genesis 1:1 to Genesis 2:7. In this section the Bible describes:

  1. The creation of the inanimate world. The non-living things.
  2. The creation of the animate world. Those things that live and breathe.
  3. The creation of man who is a combination of inanimate (the material of his body), animate (he lives and breathes) and the spiritual (he is aware of not only himself and others but God as well).
  4. Moses also gives some detailed description of the way God created man and a glimpse into the condition of the environment in a world where sin did not exist.

In the next section Moses will begin describing the location where Adam lived, the establishment of the principle of law and man's first interaction with his environment.

The Garden – 2:8-14

The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed.
- Genesis 2:8

This verse summarizes what God did with man once he was created: he put him in a special place, a place that would be his home. The term EDEN means delight.

Out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
- Genesis 2:9

In this place God Himself prepared a garden that would serve as Adam's home. Note that when God made the plants they simply appeared but God formed this garden Himself with the specific purpose of providing for Adam's needs.

Two trees are noted: the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

The tree of life could be symbolic of spiritual truth or God's word as well as an actual tree with health or life sustaining properties. (Idea that man was originally created to live forever).

The tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we know, was an actual tree because Eve and Adam actually ate fruit from it. The Bible does not say what kind of fruit.

10Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers. 11The name of the first is Pishon; it flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12The gold of that land is good; the bdellium and the onyx stone are there. 13The name of the second river is Gihon; it flows around the whole land of Cush. 14The name of the third river is Tigris; it flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates."
- Genesis 2:10-14

Moses describes rivers situated in this area. Remember that this was the geography that existed before the flood removed these ancient landmarks. There was one river through the garden that separated into four others. Hiddekel is later associated with Assyrian monuments and referred to as Tigris. Euphrates, Pishon and Gihon rivers are the others.

The geography described and the way the rivers flow does not match any known geography of our day and so it seems that Genesis is describing the pre-flood geography that was destroyed by the flood, as Peter says, "...the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished." (II Peter 3:6). The pre-flood names were kept to describe post-flood lands and rivers.

We know roughly the area because the artifacts of the earliest civilizations have been found there. There is also mention of precious stones. Many of these have no known comparisons today. Suffice to say that God prepared an earthly home for Adam that he describes, and we study this to capture another glimpse into a world that no longer exists.

The moral choice – 2:15-17

Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.
- Genesis 2:15

Man is now fully equipped: he has a body and he exists. He has a soul that animates his body and enables him to co-exist and relate to his environment. He has a spirit that enables him to co-exist and relate to God.

God must now create the environment within which man will co-exist with Him. Let me explain… As a physical being man dwells in the environment of the earth and depends upon and co-exists within this environment. But God is a spirit, how does man connect, meet and relate to God? The answer is that he connects with God in the moral realm. God is holy, pure, just and loving. Man will meet with and relate to God in these terms within these realities.

In order to bring these abstract or spiritual things into view, into man's world, God creates a moral framework or world into which He and man can meet and relate. This moral world is framed by a command:

16The Lord God commanded the man, saying, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.
- Genesis 2:16-17

The command is lived out in the physical world (eating or not eating the fruit). The response to the command is what brings God into view for man:

God lives in the world of absolute holiness, justice, love, peace, etc. How does man enter this world? He does so through the exercise of his will in response to God's command. To obey expresses trust, love and respect. Through obedience man experiences love, blessings, joy and peace. These are all things that have no material equivalent. These are the realities of the spiritual world where God lives, and made known by the moral choices that man must make.

To disobey signifies rebellion, ingratitude, hatred and the knowledge of death heretofore hidden from sight. Evil exists and can be experienced or "known" through disobedience just as peace, joy, love, etc. can be experienced or known through obedience.

By giving the command, therefore, God does several things:

  • He activates man's ability to use his intelligence in a moral context and not just to provide for food, etc., but also to deal with God, not simply the environment.
  • He puts man's destiny into his own hands. If we were absolutely free we would be God. Man never had unlimited freedom because ultimately God is there and we cannot destroy or rule over Him. But man is given the freedom to choose the very best life for himself with God or destroy his life in rejecting God. God gives man the power over his own life.
  • He makes possible a way for man to perceive Him. Man cannot perceive God merely through physical means, so God provides a moral environment where man can experience his relationship with God, for good and for evil.

In this passage God not only does this for Adam but by establishing the "principle of law" He does so for every other human that will live thereafter.

Man and the animals – 2:18-20

Now that man is a complete physical, spiritual and moral being, God will provide a partner to complete the creation. But first, God will educate Adam about the world and the creatures that inhabit it.

One thing the Bible does not do is establish any common ancestry between man and animals. The evolutionary idea that man is a descendant of animals, most likely "apes" is refuted by both the Bible and by many scientists as well. The "missing links" that would demonstrate a progression from apes to man are still missing today like they were in the day of Darwin who first proposed the idea.

Anthropologists and paleontologists have found fossils of both apes and man but have yet to discover anything in between to link the two.

In recent years some scientists have put forth the so-called AUSTRALOPITHECUS fossils as a possible missing link but more recent discoveries have shown that this "missing link" was probably an ape with smaller teeth and skull because of its peculiar diet. Drs. Leakey and Johanssen, both anthropologists tell us that fossils that were truly human and fossils that were truly ape-like were found as early as the time that Australopithecusor Homo Erectus existed. So far, as the research shows, man has always been man and apes have always been apes, just like the Bible says.

Then the Lord God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him."
- Genesis 2:18

God has already said that all He sees is very good so His pronouncement regarding Adam is not about evil but rather completeness. Adam is good but his status, alone, is not a good thing. How to convey this to Adam? He is alone and this is not according to God's complete design but how to make him aware of this? He does not know what he is missing. The Bible says that man should not be alone, this is not his natural state and so God will make a help meet for him.

Note that God is the one who declares that being alone is not good and God specifically determines the type of companion that man will have. The term is a help-meet for him, not a helpmeet. The original root of this word meant to surround or protect, the form in Genesis means to aid or help. The word "meet" is exactly the same Hebrew word but in a different form. Together you could say "a helper to help him" or an "aid to assist or save him" (the salvation is from loneliness).

However, before God can provide this, He must bring Adam to the realization of his need through interaction with the animal world.

19Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. 20The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him."
- Genesis 2:19-20

Therefore, God makes Adam review and name the animals that He has created. This suggests several things:

  1. Adam was created with some form of language that we are not aware of at this time but could be used for communication and understanding at that time. Language also was created by God and developed into many varieties.
  2. The fact that Adam gave names suggests that he was an intelligent being who understood the nature and role of the animals in creation and named them based on his intuitive knowledge.
  3. The review of the animal world taught Adam three very important things:
    • He was superior to the creation in which he lived; the animals did not talk back.
    • He was alone: the animals were in pairs, he was singular.
    • He could rule over the animal world, as God had told him, but he could not have fellowship with them. For this he realized he would need a special companion. This prepared him for God's final act of creation.

Discussion Questions

  1. Summarize the events of Genesis 2:8-14 and answer the following questions:
    1. What is significant about the Garden?
    2. What two specific trees were placed in the garden and what were their significance?
    3. Why are the geographical properties described in Genesis 2:10-14 not present today?
  2. Why did God place man in the garden and what is the implication for us today (Genesis 2:15)?
  3. Why did God give man a choice rather than simply creating a being without free will?
  4. Why did God bring every creature before Adam to name?
  5. What is the significance of Eve being created from Adam rather than the earth as Adam was?
  6. How can you use this lesson to grow spiritually and help others come into a relationship with Jesus?
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