“This is the account of the creation of the heavens and the earth.”
The Lord made the earth and the heavens, then he made water spring up from the ground to water the land. Then he made man from the dust and breathed life into him. Then he planted a garden and placed the man there, and made trees and fruit and plants for food in the garden. Next, he made all of the animals and birds and all of the livestock and crawling critters, so that the man would have a helper.
Something about this doesn’t sound quite right, does it? Is Genesis 2 contradicting the order of creation that we just read in Genesis 1?
Short answer: no, it’s not contradictory at all.
Are you ready for the longer answer?
The point of the creation narratives in Genesis 1 and 2 is not to give us a minute-by-minute update of how the Lord spent the first six days with his creation. The point is to draw our attention to his ability to bring order out of chaos, and to give us two different perspectives to see this truth from. There was nothing, and the Lord made…everything. All of it, from the tiniest single-cell organism to the largest expanse of the universe, only exists because the Lord bid it to exist.
I want us to back up a bit to the first verses of this chapter, with this idea in mind. Let’s look at verses 1 through 3:
“So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.”
After the Lord finished creating everything, he didn’t immediately launch into more work. No, instead, he rested. He doesn’t need to rest; he’s all-powerful and mighty and endless, so why did he rest? I believe it was to set an example for his creation, to show us—and all of the rest of the universe—that we were not simply created for the sake of our production or our output. We were created because God loves us and so that God could love us. And he showed Adam and Eve that this was true by resting on his first day with them. We were created for rhythms of rest with the Lord.
The creation narratives of other people groups living around the Israelites all paint this picture of humans being created by their gods to be slaves and work endlessly for the sake of the gods. So imagine how countercultural it would be to know that the real reason you were created wasn’t so that you could be worked to the bone and then die, but to exist in relationship with your God, who loves you.
It’s the day after New Year’s. Many of us are returning to work today after the holiday, and it can be easy to fall into a rut with our responsibilities at work, at home, and to our families the farther away we get from our break or our day off. So as you return to your job or school or whatever else you work at, I want you to think about this truth. Write it on a sticky note, put it on your mirror, repeat it to yourself, whatever you have to do to get this in your heart.
You were created to exist in relationship with your God, who loves you.