August Reading from The Message

August 1, 2023

Living in an orderly utopia sounds lovely (for a time), but we can only ever live in an actual place, inevitably full of messiness. Thankfully, that is where God designed us to be. But are we meant to live in a garden or the wilderness?

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.


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.

Scripture Insight

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.

Slow Down and Connect with God

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