By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. –Genesis 2:2-3 (NIV84)
God just spent six straight days creating everything in existence. We could understand him being a bit weary. But he wasn’t. We often get confused because we try and put God in a human-like box, expecting him to react and need in the same manner we do. But he is God. He doesn’t need rest.
You see, the reality is, even when he was resting, he was creating. By resting on the seventh day, he was adding to the created order of life that rest was a necessary part of things. Everyone is made to work hard and do their best work always, but no man is made to work without rest. God was setting an example that he wanted us to follow: To take one day of the week and rest in the good work you’ve done for the other six, to spend time in tandem with the Creator, and to rebuild your energy for the next week. If you don’t, your body, mind, willpower, and creativity will suffer and you risk burning out. God had that all figured out in the first week.
The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. –Genesis 2:7 (NIV84)
Though God had created all the animals of the Earth first, and certainly, he gave them life, the moment when God breathed life into Adam, and thus all of mankind, is the culmination of all the work God had done. He created everything in preparation for us to arrive.
This was the moment of birth, the first inhale and exhale of breath, the starting point for every man and woman living today. And the act of breathing life into man signifies a close, intimate relationship between Creator and creation. I imagine this must have felt the same as those moments when we can feel the Holy Spirit moving in us, only on such a grander scale.
And the first breath man took was not that of air, but of the breath of God. So, even today, each breath we take is a reaction from that very first breath. So breathe deeply my friends!
And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” –Genesis 2:16-17
Adam (and later Eve) are given everything in the Garden except the fruit of one tree. God warns Adam (and Eve) of death, the first mention of death ever.
God did not want blind followers. He wanted his children to choose to follow him, to want to commune with him, to praise him out of thanksgiving, not out of requirement. So, he gave his children free will, the ability to choose their own path. Though throughout the rest of the Bible, death is understood as a normal part of life, here it is related to obedience, where we learn that human actions have consequences. This, of course, is something we still struggle to understand today.
The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” –Genesis 2:18
From the very beginning, God knew that it was not good for a person to be alone. I don’t believe this is necessarily only referring to a spouse, but instead, the human condition. Loneliness is one of the most crippling and damaging feelings. It is the starting point for depression, which leads us down so many wrong paths in our lives.
This is why 12-step programs are so popular. People attend them because they are sick of being alone in their fight. God touches on this theme several times in the Bible, that life is better, pain is easier, and prayer is stronger when two or more gather in His name. This is also why weekly church meetings have become a staple of Christianity (and most other faiths, too). Church is just as much about worshiping God as it is about the fellowship of believers. It keeps us strong, encouraged, loved, and satisfied.
On a separate note, referring to the upcoming created woman as “a helper” for man has often been misunderstood as meaning that woman is less than man. That is false. The original term that is translated as “helper” literally translates to “one corresponding to.” Meaning, similar to and matched. Man and woman were always set up to be equal partners, but cultural issues and prejudices have always found a way to sneak into our religions. We need to correct this misunderstanding.
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. –Genesis 2:24
The idea of becoming one flesh was set in place right from the start, and yet we still don’t understand it even to this day when it comes to marriage. This is why God hates divorce and also why divorce is never just a clean break, but always a battle in one way or another. When a man and woman marry, they become two halves of a whole. When they divorce, they don’t go back to being two separate beings, they tear apart the whole and become two halves, ripped up and broken.
This is why marriage (and all the aspects of it, including living together and sex) was never supposed to be entered into lightly. Of course, you are hard-pressed to find people who did it correctly in the cast of characters within the Bible’s covers, which is also a testament to how difficult it is to do things right.
In Genesis 2, we find that a day of rest was created for the benefit of man, we find that we breathe the very breath of God, we find that our actions have consequences, we find that man needs companionship and community, and we find that marriage is not a bond to be entered into lightly.