(Continued from last week ...)
II. Seeing People as God Sees Them: Created to Relate— Displeasure in Paradise
In Genesis 2:18, God uttered for the very first time this sobering phrase: “It is not good.” He declared that something was missing in the garden. Up to this point, everything in creation had been pronounced “good.” Eden was a perfect paradise.
A. Declaring Something “Not Good”
Now if you or I were to declare that something was “not good,” it might not make much of an impact. When God declares something to be “not good,” we must sit up and take notice because we have a serious problem. So what could have been “not good” about the garden of Eden?
A sovereign God, free to create Adam any way He desired, chose to fashion him in such a way that Adam needed to relate intimately not only with his Creator, but also with others.
Adam lived in a perfect world. There was no crime, no traffic, no pollution, no disease, and no war. It was a totally problem-free environment. Most notably, the fall of humanity had not yet occurred, so Adam was sinless, innocent in heart and mind. There was only good within the garden.
Adam also possessed everything he could possibly need or want. The garden of Eden and everything in it (with the exception of one unique tree) was his to use and enjoy. Adam had it all. He never suffered from a low bank balance, an empty pantry, or an investment loss. Adam was living a dream existence. He was in a perfect world, and almost every- thing in it was available for his use, enjoyment, and stewardship. What could have possibly been “not good”?
Adam had an exalted position. He had an excellent job with no competition for advancement. He was CEO 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” (Genesis 1:26). He had no problems with job security, jealousy from co-workers, or pressure to perform. Career-wise, he was at the top of the ladder. At this point, he was the only person on the ladder, but at least he was at the top! So where was the crisis? What could have been missing?
Adam even enjoyed an intimate relationship with God. Above all the earthly benefits and blessings in the garden, Adam walked and talked in perfect, uninterrupted fellowship with his Creator because sin had not yet come between them. Can you imagine the thrill of communing with God face-to-face? You and I might talk about our daily “quiet time” with God, but Adam was blessed to be with God every day. Yet something was still “not good.” What could have possibly been wrong in such an ideal setting?
There was just one thing missing, but apparently this one thing troubled God’s heart. In Genesis 2:18, God declared what was not good—Adam was alone. Adam needed a human relationship. A sovereign God, free to create Adam any way He desired, chose to fashion him in such a way that Adam needed to relate intimately not only with his Creator, but also with others.
B. Created to Relate but Alone and Fallen (Sinful)
God’s Original Design: Lost but Restored
Both Old and New Testament scriptures reveal that God’s original intent was that, in humble dependence and expectant faith, humankind would dwell in grateful communion with God and one another. Let’s go back to the garden of Eden, before man’s sin, in order to get a glimpse of this intimacy that God originally intended.
God’s Original Design: Humble Dependence
In the garden, Adam was totally dependent upon his Creator. Never once did Adam experience a need for something and find no supply. As Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides, our Creator provided abundantly for Adam.
God’s unchanging nature is to reveal man’s needs and then abundantly meet those needs. God now confirms this original facet of His intimate relationship with man through the revelation of His Word. The New Testament reveals that God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6). This humility of heart in response to God’s gracious provision was one crucial part of the Creator’s original intent for His relationship with man.
God’s Original Design: Expectant Faith
Next, imagine talking with Adam immediately after God declared his aloneness. The conversation might have gone something like this:
“Adam, how are you doing?”
“But Adam, what does that mean?”
“I don’t really know, but it’s not good.”
“How do you know it’s not good?”
“Because God said so.”
Adam’s heart was originally inclined to trust God and exercise expectant faith because of his confidence in God’s word. When God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food” (Genesis 1:29), Adam promptly received God’s provision. When God declared Adam’s dominion over the birds of the air and the beasts of the field, it was so (1:26, 28; 2:19, 20). When God showed Adam all the animals and there was not a suitable helper among them, Adam, by faith, received God’s provision. If we are to be a part of God’s original design for His relationship with man, we must exercise faith that comes from hearing God’s Word (Romans 10:17) and boldly trust in His provision. In so doing, we can be confident of an intimate relationship with our Creator. Thus, another element of God’s original design was for us to please Him with the demonstration of our faith, for “without faith, it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).
God’s Original Design: Abundant Gratitude
Finally, after God set Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, He personally blessed them (Genesis 1:28), gave them authority and dominion over all that they could see (vv. 28, 29), and pronounced the whole scene “very good” (v. 31). Their hearts must have been filled with gladness before the Tempter introduced insecurity and doubt. The Creator’s plan was to abundantly supply every need of His people, and as they offered thanks- giving for their provision, the path would be paved for an intimate relationship with Him. This gratitude in response to God’s lavish gifts and undeserved grace was the third element of God’s original design for His relationship with His creation, and this grateful love can come to constrain our lives and ministries as it did the apostle Paul’s (2 Corinthians 5:14 KJV).
To be continued next week . . .