“A Second Creation?

” (Genesis 2)

Can you trust what the Bible says? Yes, of course you can. It is as trustworthy as God is. But does being trustworthy mean that it will always be easy to understand? No. Sometimes the Bible is difficult to understand. Sometimes it even seems to contradict itself. But does it really? There are some who believe it does, even some who claim to be Christians. But if it did really contradict itself, could it be God’ Word? No. God only speaks the truth, and the truth can s never contradict itself. So knowing that it is God’ Word and that it can never contradict itself, s what should we do when we see two passages that seem to conflict with each other? We should believe that they can be reconciled and do what we can to reconcile them. Thomas Bridge once wrote, “You know how it was with Moses, when he saw two men fighting, one an Egyptian, and another an Israelite, he killed the Egyptian; but, when he saw two Hebrews fighting, Now, he said, I will go and reconcile them, for they are brethren. Why did Moses do this? Because he was a good and gracious man. So also it is with a gracious heart; when he sees the Scripture fighting with an Egyptian, a heathen author, or apocryphal writer, he comes and kills the heathen. . . . but when he sees two Scriptures fighting (only apparently, not really), Oh, he says, these are brethren, and they may be reconciled, I will do all I can to reconcile them. But when a man shall take advantage of every apparent difference in Scripture, to say, Do you see what contradictions there are in this book, and not labour to reconcile them, what does this argue, but that the corruption of a man’ nature, is boiled up to an unknown hatred against the word of the s Lord.” This shows us what our attitude should be towards God’ Word when it looks to us like it s is saying two different things. We need to remember that it all comes from one God, the God of truth. Therefore there must be some way to understand it so that it harmonizes and says the same thing. We need to keep this in mind as we look at the Creation account God gives us this evening in Genesis chapter 2. Now last week, we were looking at how God created the world and got everything ready in it before He created His living creatures. Remember, our illustration from last week: when you decide that you want to keep fish as pets, it is wiser to buy the aquarium, gravel, aerator, plants and food, and get everything ready first, before you bring the fish home. Otherwise, they might end up living in a plastic bag full of water while you are busy preparing their new habitat. This is what God did. He didn’ make the birds and fish, and the land animals and man, and then t put them somewhere in His universe in a bag or envelope while He was preparing the world for them to live in. He got the earth ready first by making the seas, skies, and dry land, and then by filling His world with plants for food. Now the reason I bring this up again is because of what we are going to look at this evening. As I read to you the account of the creation in Genesis chapter 2, you might have noticed that it seemed to give a different order than the account in Genesis 1. In Genesis 2, it looks like man was created before the plants, where in Genesis 1 the plants clearly came first. In Genesis 2, Moses said there were no shrubs of the field and no plants of the field, because there was no man. Then the Lord made Adam, and then planted a garden to put him in. Then it appears as if He created the animals next and brought them to Adam to see if he could find a helper among them, where in Genesis 1 the animals were clearly made before Adam. The order

2 of the events of this chapter seem to be so different than those of Genesis 1, that it has puzzled students of the Bible for centuries. There are still many today, in different denominations, who really don’ know how to understand these differences and don’ know which order is the right t t one. There are still others who believe that Genesis 1 and 2 simply contradict each other. But is God really giving us a different order of creation in Genesis 2? Or is He simply zeroing in on certain important events that happened during the creation week described for us in Genesis 1? I believe that the second option is the right one. Genesis 2 doesn’ contradict Genesis 1. It simply t focuses in on certain events during the creation week which were very important. This evening, I would like for us to consider what Genesis 2 actually says to see that it really doesn’ contradict Genesis 1 at all. The Scripture is always perfectly consistent with itself. t We can trust our Bibles, because the One who gave it to us is trustworthy. Moses picks up the story of Creation in Genesis 2, sometime during the sixth day, the day in which He made man. In verse 5, he tells us that at sometime on that day, there was no shrub of the field and no plant of the field, because the Lord had not yet sent rain and because there was no man to cultivate the ground. Now as I’ said, some understand this to mean that there ve were no plants on the earth at all. But of course, according to Genesis 1, the plants were made on day three, three days before God made man. Others understand this as referring to the third day, just before God made the plants. The problem with this view is that, if it is true, then man came before the plants, which does contradict Genesis 1. Remember, Moses said that there weren’ any plants, because there was no rain and no man! The easiest way to understand this t verse is to take it at face value. Moses is simply telling us here that there were certain kinds of plants that hadn’ grown yet, because certain things were missing. The kinds of plants that t hadn’ grown were “the shrub of the field” and “the plant of the field.” I think you’ be t ll interested to know that in Hebrew, the first kind of plant (x;yfi), refers to the kind that grow spontaneously after a rainfall. The second kind of plant (bf,[e), refers to the kind that needs to be cultivated by a man, such as standing fields of grain. Moses tells us that the first kind of plant wasn’ yet in the earth because it hadn’ rained. The second hadn’ sprouted because there was t t t no man to cultivate the ground. Not all of the plants God made fall into these two categories. There are also fruit trees and plants that grow next to rivers and streams. There are many kinds of plants that can live off the moisture in the ground, without having to be watered, and which don’ depend upon the rain or man. God made all the vegetation on the third day, only there t were certain kinds of seeds that He made that hadn’ yet germinated by the sixth day, because the t right conditions didn’ yet exist. But the Lord took care of that problem. He sent rain, and He t created man in verses 6 and 7. You see, there really is no contradiction. Now we run into another problem in verse 6. Look at what it says, “But a mist used to rise from the earth and water the whole surface of the ground.” Now here is an interesting thing: there weren’ any of the kinds of plants that grow after a rainfall, because there wasn’ any rain. t t But yet there was a mist that used to rise and water the whole surface of the ground. Why didn’ t this water make the seeds germinate? Some have said it’ because there wasn’ enough water. s t But is this right? Actually, Mark Futato has done an excellent job of figuring out a solution to this dilemma. He argues that verse 6 can be more accurately translated, “Then the Lord sent rain upon the earth, and it watered the whole surface of the ground.” He gives several reasons for translating it this way, of course, but they are rather technical, so I won’ bother to go into them. t This not only solves the problem of why these plants didn’ grow from the water the mist t

3 provided, but it also fits the structure of this whole passage better. Notice that in verse 5, Moses tells us about two problems on day six: there were no plants that grow spontaneously after the rain, and there were no cultivated plants. So what did God do about it? Verses 6 and 7, “Then the Lord sent rain upon the earth, and it watered the whole surface of the ground. Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” God solved the problem by providing what was missing. This removes the apparent contradiction. Next the Lord planted a garden in Eden and put the man there to cultivate it and keep it (vv. 8-9, 15). Does this contradict Genesis 1 again? No. This was a special garden the Lord made. It was the place where His presence would dwell, and the place where the man would live. This was simply another creative act on the sixth day. He made this garden after He made Adam, but before He made Eve. So far, there are no contradictions between what Moses tells us in chapter one and what he tells us in chapter two. But there is still one more problem. We find it in verses 18-20. Moses writes, “Then the LORD God said, ‘ is not good for the man to be alone; I will make It him a helper suitable for him.’ And out 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. And the 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.” Here is looks as though after God made Adam, He saw that it wasn’ good for him to be alone. So He then made the animals and brought them to Adam to see t what he would name them. But finding that none of these creatures would really make a suitable companion for Adam, He then caused a deep sleep to fall upon him. Next He took one of his ribs, made it into a woman, and then brought her to Adam, and she became his wife. Now there appears to be at least one problem here, possibly two. The first is that Genesis 2 seems to say that Adam was created before the animals, but Genesis 1 clearly says that the animals were created first. The second problem comes from how some try to interpret this so that the two accounts harmonize with each other. They say that the animals created in Genesis 2 are like the garden of Eden: they are a special creation which is separate from the creation of the animals earlier in the day. The reason these were made was to show Adam that none of them would really make a good companion for him. But would God really create and parade all these animals before Adam, so that he could find a companion from them? Those who take this position say that God didn’ really want Adam to find a companion from the animals. He just t wanted to show Adam that nothing else would do except someone like him. He was just preparing Adam for what He was about to do. That might be possible, but there’ really no s reason why we would need to adopt this position. There is a better way to understand what really happened. Actually, this problem is very easy to solve. It has to do with the way the tenses of the verbs are used. There are really only two tenses in Hebrew -- one which is used for the present and future tenses, and one which is used for present and past tenses. The one that is used for the past tense can have several meanings, depending on the tenses of the verbs it is used with. All this is to say that there is another legitimate way to translate verses 18-21, which clears up all the misunderstandings. This is how it would read, “Then the LORD God said, ‘ is not good for the It man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.’ [And then in parentheses] (For out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and

4 had brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man had called a living creature, that was its name. And the man had given names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there had not been found a helper suitable for him) [close parenthesis]. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man . . .” The Lord made the animals earlier in the day, before He made Adam. Then after He made Adam, but before He had made Eve, He brought the animals to the man to see what he would call them. But among them, there weren’ any that were suitable for him. If we understand the t passage in this way, then there is no contradiction between Genesis 1 and 2 when it comes to the order of the Creation. As I’ said, the Bible is consistent with itself, if we will only take the time to understand ve what it says. Sometimes we can abandon what the Bible says at face value because it seems like it is contradicting itself. But can the Bible ever deny what it says? Can it be wrong? Not unless the God who gave it can make mistakes. Not unless God can contradict Himself. No the Bible is consistent in everything it says. We didn’ have to go through a lot of intellectual gymnastics t to figure out how to harmonize Genesis 1 and 2. We only needed to know a little bit about the words in the Hebrew and the way that the verb tenses are used. Now what do you do if you don’ if you don’ know any Greek or Hebrew? You go to those who do. Go to your pastor. Go t t to the Bible commentaries. Find some resources you can trust. All this is to say that you can trust the Bible. It is God’ Word. If you do sometimes s come to passages which don’ seem to make sense together, you can know that because God is t trustworthy and cannot lie, that somehow they can be reconciled. God’ Word can’ fail to be s t true. Next week, I would like for us to explore Genesis 1 and the early verses of Genesis 2 to look at another view which had become very popular in the OPC and other Reformed denominations, called the Framework Hypothesis, and to point out some of the problems I see with it. But for now, let’ bow in prayer and thank the Lord for giving us a Bible we can trust. s

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