August Reading from The Message
The story of creation is one of the infinite becoming tangible, the limitless becoming defined. When God placed man in the garden it was not a wilderness. It had boundaries and intention. It was local. The work God is looking to do in us and through us will not be in an ethereal utopia. It will always be in a real place, with real people.
1 Heaven and Earth were finished, down to the last detail.
2-4 By the seventh day God had finished his work. On the seventh day he rested from all his work. God blessed the seventh day. He made it a Holy Day because on that day he rested from his work, all the creating God had done. This is the story of how it all started, of Heaven and Earth when they were created.
ADAM AND EVE
5-7 At the time God made Earth and Heaven, before any grasses or shrubs had sprouted from the ground—God hadn’t yet sent rain on Earth, nor was there anyone around to work the ground (the whole Earth was watered by underground springs)—God formed Man out of dirt from the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life. The Man came alive—a living soul!
8-9 Then God planted a garden in Eden, in the east. He put the Man he had just made in it. God made all kinds of trees grow from the ground, trees beautiful to look at and good to eat. The Tree-of-Life was in the middle of the garden, also the Tree-of-Knowledge-of-Good-and-Evil.
10-14 A river flows out of Eden to water the garden and from there divides into four rivers. The first is named Pishon; it flows through Havilah where there is gold. The gold of this land is good. The land is also known for a sweet-scented resin and the onyx stone. The second river is named Gihon; it flows through the land of Cush. The third river is named Hiddekel and flows east of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates.
15 God took the Man and set him down in the Garden of Eden to work the ground and keep it in order.
16-17 God commanded the Man, “You can eat from any tree in the garden, except from the Tree-of-Knowledge-of-Good-and-Evil. Don’t eat from it. The moment you eat from that tree, you’re dead.”
18-20 God said, “It’s not good for the Man to be alone; I’ll make him a helper, a companion.” So God formed from the dirt of the ground all the animals of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the Man to see what he would name them. Whatever the Man called each living creature, that was its name. The Man named the cattle, named the birds of the air, named the wild animals; but he didn’t find a suitable companion.
21-22 God put the Man into a deep sleep. As he slept he removed one of his ribs and replaced it with flesh. God then used the rib that he had taken from the Man to make Woman and presented her to the Man.
23-25 The Man said,
“Finally! Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh! Name her Woman for she was made from Man.”
Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and embraces his wife. They become one flesh. The two of them, the Man and his Wife, were naked, but they felt no shame.
People of a Place
While Genesis 1 is structured by time, Genesis 2 is structured by place. Place is a companion gift to go with time; it locates us on the Earth where we become oriented, find work, experience freedom in obedience, and find companionship in a community of others.
The place in these early chapters of Genesis is defined as a garden as opposed to a wilderness. A garden implies boundaries and intention. It isn’t a limitless “everywhere” or “anywhere.” It’s local: “God planted a garden in Eden, in the east” (2:8).
Everything that the Creator God does in forming us humans is done in a place.
One of the seductions that bedevils Christian formation is the construction of utopias—ideal places where the righteous life can be lived unimpeded. The word utopia literally means “no place.” But we can live our lives only in an actual place, not in an artificial place. Once in time past, that place was Eden. But ever since the Fall, that place has been east of Eden (see 3:24; 4:16), in a land of thorned resistance that opposes not only the work of our own hands but also the work of God’s hands as he labors to form Christ in us.
To keep reading along with Scripture and Eugene Peterson’s insight, check out The Message Devotional Bible.