GENESIS - CHAPTER 2
A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
Copyright 2000 James Melough
2:1. “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.”
The sixth day ended God’s work of remaking what had once been the perfect kingdom of Lucifer. Since the number six is connected with the span of man’s life on earth, as it is also with God’s preparation of that earth for man’s habitation, we are reminded that it is only while man is on earth that God offers to reclaim him from physical and spiritual ruin. He who rejects that offer must go out into eternity, a ruined creature forever beyond hope of redemption, to endure eternal torment in the lake of fire.
2:2. “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.”
Having completed His redemption of a ruined creation, God rested. That seventh day’s rest symbolizes the rest He will enjoy during the last thousand years of earth’s history (counting time from Adam). During that millennium, creation, redeemed through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ from the ruin wrought by the first Adam, will enjoy the beneficent reign of the last Adam.
Earth’s great “week” of seven millennia will end as did the first week of seven days: the redeeming Creator will rest and enjoy the results of His six “day’s” work. “He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied” (Isa 53:11).
But as that first sabbath rest of the Creator was broken, and the new creation marred and ruined again by the rebellion of the first Adam, that final great sabbath’s rest will also be broken by the final rebellion of Satan aided by Adam’s rebel sons who will have rejected the salvation offered in the Millennium. That rebellion, however, will end with the consignment of Satan and his demon hordes to eternal torment in the lake of fire, that dreadful lake becoming also the eternal abode of all who will have died in unbelief during the seven thousand years of earth’s history which began with Adam.
There will then be a new heavens and a new earth whose peace will be eternal, see Revelation 21.
“Which he had made,” in contrast with “created and made” of verse 3, reminds us that there is a distinction between making (changing the form of what already exists), and creating (bringing into existence what had not previously existed).
2:3. “And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”
Sanctify simply means to set apart. God set the seventh day apart from other days, endowing it with a special character: it was to be a day of rest. Its being invested with this special character long before the law was given reminds us that it has never been divested of that character. One seventh of the week - in this dispensation of grace, the first, rather than the seventh day - is to be kept as a day of rest. God Himself has set the example for the creature: He rested; we are to rest. Beyond the literal, however, is the spiritual lesson that God desires men to enter into eternal rest through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ Whose redeeming work has provided that rest.
2:4. “These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.”
We should note again the repeated distinction between creating and making. The word generations here is literally births, and is in harmony with what we have already learned. There was the first “birth” of the heavens and earth in a far distant pre-Adamite age, followed by the second “birth,” when out of the lifeless ruin of the first, God brought forth the second, the remade earth prepared for Adam. But that earth will also give place to another: the new earth described in Re 21:1 “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.”
It is instructive to note how the physical continues to portray the spiritual. As the original earth represents man as he first came from the hand of God; and the remade earth, man become a new creature in Christ, so does that future new earth represent what man will be in eternity. As there will be no sin in that new earth, neither will there be sin in the believer in the eternal state. Nor should we miss the significance of its being said that there will be no sea on that new earth, for since the sea represents earth’s rebellious human masses, the truth being declared symbolically is that there will be no rebels to disturb the peace of that new earth.
And again we should note that that new earth which portrays what man will be in resurrection, will be itself the third state of that earth, and three is the number of resurrection.
2:5. “And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew; for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.”
The beginning of this fifth verse is linked with the beginning of verse four, “These are the generations (births) of ... every plant, etc.” Again there is indicated reference to an original creation, followed by a remaking. There were two generations or births of vegetation. First, of every plant “before it was in the earth,” and then of every herb “before it grew” in resurrection on the renovated earth. From beginning to end of the Bible emphasis is laid upon the necessity of a second birth, “Ye must be born again” (Jn 3:7).
Without rain there could be no fruitfulness, and apart from “the water” of the Word, there can be no fruitfulness in a man’s life. It is only as that “water” falls into the life of a sinner through the Gospel, exposing first his ruin, and then revealing God’s remedy, that he can become a garden in which spiritual fruit can grow. And without that same “water” of the Word falling into his life through reading, study, and ministry, a saint will not produce that spiritual fruit so highly prized by God.
As that life-giving “water” falls from heaven, so He Who is the water of life came down from heaven two thousand years ago to bring life to ruined men, and as noted already, we who are symbolized by the fresh water suspended in the clouds, are also responsible to fall back to earth like rain, as it were, to bring to dying men the good news of regeneration through faith in a crucified and risen Savior.
“And there was not a man to till the ground.” Till is literally to do service, labor, work. Adam had not yet been created. Without his controlling hand, nature’s production was random: there was no man to intelligently control earth’s productivity so that it would yield the very best. The garden of Eden under the control of the first man, unfallen Adam, is a picture of the earth as it will be in the Millennium under the control of the second Man, the last Adam. Under the control of the divine Husbandman the productivity of the earth will be such, “that the ploughman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine” (Am 9:13).
The life that is yielded to the control of the man Christ Jesus will be equally fruitful.
2:6. “But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.”
That mist, going up from the earth, but returning again to water it and make it fruitful, is a picture of believers as spiritual men and women. Once of the earth, they have been lifted up from it, and have received a heavenly life and nature, and now have the responsibility and privilege of returning to their former sphere as witnesses for God to lead others to Christ.
The air, as already noted, speaks of the Holy Spirit, and since mist consists of droplets of water suspended in the air, the picture is of believers indwelt and upheld by the Spirit. It was the movement of the air that determined when and where those droplets would fructify the earth. To be of value, the believer’s service must be Spirit-directed.
2:7. “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”
As to his body man is only dust, and when his brief day of physical life is over, that body returns to dust. In his body man has world-consciousness. Like the animals, he has an awareness of the world he lives in. But he is more than just a physical body: he is also soul, and through his soul has self-consciousness. The soul is that part of him which thinks, reasons, loves, hates, etc., and in that too, he is like the animals. They also have souls, an awareness of self. Man and animal, because they have souls, have the common capacity to think, reason, experience pleasure, love, fear, trust, etc., the animal’s ability, however, being far below that of man.
But man has something the animal doesn’t have - spirit. By his spirit man has God-consciousness: he has an awareness of God, and that awareness is demonstrated by the fact that wherever man is found, be it in the Arctic wastes, the jungle, the desert, the hut, the palace; be his society primitive or sophisticated, he has religion, he is a worshipper, whether truly a worshipper of God, or falsely, of idols. His innate need to worship is the evidence that man has a spirit, and because he has, the lowest man is infinitely far above the highest animal. No animal has ever displayed this need to worship something. No man has ever been without it.
Few will have difficulty in understanding the difference between body and soul. Broadly speaking the former is tangible, the latter intangible. What is more difficult to determine is the point where the purely physical operation of the tangible brain may be separated from the intangible thoughts produced by it. The two are so delicately related that clear cut separation is impossible.
An equally great dilemma presents itself when the attempt is made to separate soul and spirit. Separation, in fact, is humanly impossible, as is emphasized in Heb 4:12, “... the word of God is ... sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit....” The separation can be made only by the word of God.
This makes it clear that Adam became a spirit also, at the instant when he became a soul, i.e., when God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and a question following logically from this is whether he originally possessed eternal life, and the answer will be more easily found if we recognize that eternal life and eternal existence are not necessarily synonymous. The unconverted will exist eternally, body, soul, and spirit, in a state of torment in the lake of fire, while those born again through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will live eternally, body, soul, and spirit, in the eternal enjoyment of heaven. Spiritual life, as distinguished from spiritual existence is inseparably linked to obedience, and is characterized by love, joy and peace resulting from the individual’s being in harmony with God, through faith in Christ as Savior.
The part of Adam which was spirit didn’t cease to exist when he sinned. Its relationship with God changed from one of harmony and love to one of fear and distrust. The new birth is that miraculous act of God which restores harmony between Him and the believing man.
When Adam sinned he died, not instantly, but death from that moment began working in his body, bringing him inexorably to the day when his body would return to the dust from which it came, to await either the resurrection of life or the resurrection of death. That his soul and spirit also continued to function is obvious, and it is equally apparent that in fallen man his spirit continues to be active, for fallen though he is, man still worships, even if his god be only an idol.
It seems that in his unfallen state man was controlled by his spirit, but that concurrent with his fall he came under the control of his soul which led him to live only to gratify fleshly desire.
The new birth restores the spirit to its rightful place, so that the believer is empowered to fulfill the aspirations of his spirit. It was by an act of his own will that Adam exchanged the dominion of the spirit for the inferior dominion of the soul. The new birth, brought about also by an act of man’s own will, not only restores the dominion of the spirit, but makes it impossible for that dominion ever again to be broken. It is interrupted when the believer submits to the promptings of his old nature instead of his new, but such interruptions are possible only while the believer is in the body. They cease for ever once the body ceases to function, and it must be remembered that it is by an act of his own will that the believer obeys those wrong impulses. He is not, as in his unconverted state, under their control. He has the power to resist them.
That Adam became a believer after his fall is beyond question, but conversion didn’t merely return him to the state of untried innocence from which he had fallen. Were that the case, he could and would have fallen again. Conversion brought him into the same state as it does every other man who is justified by faith, i.e., one from which he could never fall.
The basic difference therefore between the spiritual life possessed by Adam before the fall, and that which he obtained at conversion, appears to be that the first simply ensured eternal existence without regard to the quality of that existence; the second also ensured eternal existence, but in a state of perfect bliss in heaven.
2:8. “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.”
God’s desire for this man, not yet fallen, but standing before Him in the perfection of untried innocence, was that he should have a perfect environment in which to live. Accordingly He “planted a garden,” a place of fruitfulness, beauty, and pleasure.
Eastward, however, is a word that introduces, even though as a mere shadow, the intimation that between that day when Adam stood in the earthly Eden, and the day when, as a redeemed man, he will stand in the heavenly Eden, sin and death would come in, requiring the Lord Jesus Christ, the last Adam, to enter a garden and sweat great drops of blood; to enter a garden and be crucified; for contrary to the erroneous ideas spawned by the hymnists relative to the location of Calvary, Scripture informs us that, “In the place where He was crucified there was a garden” (Jn 19:41).
Contrary to the teaching of most expositors, the east, wherever mentioned in Scripture, is always associated with sin and departure from God. Eden’s being eastward, and being on earth rather than heaven, warns us that there is potential for harm, for it must not be forgotten that Satan remained the spiritual prince of the earth he had once ruled as Lucifer, even though physical dominion of that earth had now been vested in Adam. What is suggested simply by the mention of the east quickly became terrible reality.
2:9. “And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”
As noted already, this was not a creation of vegetation, but rather a resurrection of that which had clothed the pre-Adamic earth. And again we discover just the merest shadow already casting itself across the remade earth. The trees in the garden were “pleasant to the sight ... good for food,” and the tree of knowledge was there. In chapter 3:6 we encounter these same words again in connection with Satan’s seduction of Eve, and we’ll postpone examination of the significance of these words until our discussion of that chapter.
2:10. “And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became four heads.”
Whatever other significance there may be connected with this river, rising in Eden, first to water the garden, and then to flow out to water the earth, there is certainly one very obvious truth portrayed. It was from the garden where the last Adam was crucified for the transgression of the first, that the river of the water of life flows out to the four corners of the earth, bringing life to all who will drink.
The Church is viewed symbolically as a garden (see, e.g., Ca 4:12-16), and Eden, watered by the river, presents a picture of the Church watered by the Word, bringing forth the fruits of the Spirit, and then sending forth the water in four streams (the four Gospels), to bring life to a world of men dead in trespasses and sins.
2:11. “The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;”
As well as making a literal statement in regard to the name of the first branch of the river and the land it watered, God is also making a symbolic prophetic statement in regard to the activity of His Word in the world.
Pison means increase, and Havilah anguish (as travail pain). Beyond the boundary of Eden, beyond the borders of Havilah, the river of God’s Word (increase) flows out to water the whole world, the place of anguish and travail. But there is gold in Havilah, and in Scripture gold is the symbol of divine glory. In this vale of tears, this land of anguish and travail, the gold of divine glory will shine forth one day when the One Who is Himself the Increaser, the true Water of Life, the eternal Word, takes up the scepter and reigns from the river to the ends of the earth.
Israel is intimately connected with God’s glory, as she is also in Scripture frequently associated with the anguish of travail. It is out of her travail anguish in the Tribulation that she will bring forth earth’s rightful King, and glorify God by bringing forth also in that same day the new converted Israel as a nation “born in a day.”
2:12. “And the gold of that land is good; there is bdellium and the onyx stone.”
In that day all creation will join together to proclaim that, “the gold (glory) of that land is good.”
Bdellium is generally considered to have been either pearl or a precious stone the color of pearl, while the onyx is generally taken to refer to the green (color of life) beryl. At the beginning of human history God was thus symbolically declaring that out of earth’s travail anguish would come forth the “pearl” the Church, and out of the Tribulation travail, the “beryl”, the converted nation of Israel, both to be for His eternal glory. (Since the pearl is the product of the sea, and the sea is the symbol of earth’s unconverted masses, see Isa 57:20, it is a particularly appropriate symbol of the Church which is comprised of those who were once part of that great sea of the unconverted nations. The association of the onyx with Israel is easily seen when we remember that the tribal names were engraved on two onyx stones set in gold and fastened to the shoulders of the high priest’s ephod).
2:13. “And the name of the second river is Gihon; the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia.”
Gihon means breaking forth, and Ethiopia (Cush) means black. While the first division of the river points to earth’s blessings coming through Israel, the second seems to point more specifically to the work of the Word in bringing life to those who are dead in trespasses and sins. He Who is the Eternal Word “broke forth” from death, having voluntarily gone into it on our behalf, and now, as the Water of Life, flows in the Gospel through this earth, which lies in the dark shadow of death, to bring men out of its darkness into the light of eternal life.
2:14. And the name of the third river is Hidde-kel; that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.”
Hiddekel means riddle of the date palm: riddle of lightness, and in regard to the direction of this third branch of the river, it is more correctly “eastward to Assyria” which means a step.
As noted already, the east is always connected with departure from God, and in the river’s flowing eastward to Assyria we are being presented with the truth that just as that first step of disobedience has taken man away from God, He in grace sends the river of His Word to the very place where man’s rebellious steps have taken him. The Lord Jesus Christ came “to seek and to save that which was lost.” He came to the place where rebel man had gone spiritually - away from God into death.
Nor is the meaning of Hiddekel riddle of the date palm: riddle of lightness without its lesson. Man’s rebellion has carried him into the spiritual darkness of death, but God would bring him out into the light of life, and such grace is to the natural man a riddle - he can’t understand it.
But the other meaning riddle of the date palm conveys another truth. In Ps 92:12 it is written, “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree.” Those who are brought out of the darkness into the light of eternal life are also made righteous, Christ’s blood cleansing them from all sin. As such they shall flourish like the palm tree. The propriety of the symbol is apparent when we consider the palm tree. It grows in the desert close to the springs of water. The believer flourishes spiritually in the desert of this world only as he abides in the vicinity of the springs of God’s Word. Palm trees grow in groups. One is rare. Believers are to live in fellowship with one another. Palm trees advise the desert traveller of the presence of water, refreshment, shade, rest and food (dates). Believers, God’s “palm trees” planted in the desert of earth, close to the wells of the Word, have a similar privilege. Each local assembly is to be a group of “palm trees” in the desert of earth, advising travellers to eternity, of the refreshment and rest to be found in Christ.
Palm trees also grow in the sand by the sea, but since the sea is a Biblical symbol of earth’s unconverted masses, the lesson is that believers have the privilege and responsibility of standing by the great sea of unbelieving men, and presenting them with the Gospel of salvation through faith in a crucified and risen Savior.
Euphrates means fruitfulness, and while the name of the country through which it flows isn’t given, we know that it is Babylon, the land which is the Biblical symbol of false religion. (Apostasy, a deliberate rejection of the truth, is represented by Philistia). This fourth (number of earth and testing) branch of the river therefore, appears to point to the sad fact, already all too apparent, that at the end of the age, false religion would dominate the earth.
It is significant that here Scripture omits mention of the land watered by the Euphrates, and a careful reading of Scripture discloses that we may learn much from such deliberate omissions. In association with Babylon, the Euphrates represents the great river of false doctrine which waters the realm of false religion, but here God has been careful not to mention Babylon, so that divorced from that land, the Euphrates represents the Word before its corruption by the great harlot church.
Summing up then, the lesson of the river rising in Eden, and going out as four streams to water the earth: it is clearly a picture of the water of the Word. When the last Adam made Himself accountable for the sin of the first Adam, it was in a garden that he was crucified, see Jn 19:41, and when He had made full atonement for sin, “One of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith came there out blood and water” (Jn 19:34). That blood cleanses all the believer’s sin, and the fountain opened in that garden has flowed out through the four Gospels - a great river divided into four heads - bringing life and fruitfulness to all who will submit themselves through faith to its lifegiving “water.”
2:15. “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.”
It is obvious that man’s enjoyment of Eden wasn’t apart from work: he was “to dress (till) and keep (guard) it.” That this labor was pleasant, however, we may conclude from chapter 3:17-19 which describes, not only the earth now cursed for man’s sin, but which sets in sharp contrast the character of that work by which fallen man would wrest his bread from a reluctant earth. The very contrast points to the ease and pleasure of man’s work in Eden.
It isn’t difficult to see in Adam’s work of tending that garden in Eden, a figure of the work assigned every believer the moment he trusts in the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior. From that instant his own life becomes the “garden” which he is responsible to dress and keep so that it will produce fruit for God’s glory: first, the fruits of the Spirit as listed in Ga 5:22, and then fruit in the Gospel - men and women led to the Savior.
The fact that he was also to keep, lit., guard the garden, implies the possibility of its being attacked, and reminds us that that possibility became terrible reality when Satan entered it and succeeded in leading man to disobey God, thus bringing death not only upon the transgressor, but also upon all his descendants. That same evil spirit broods over the “garden” of the believer’s life, seeking every opportunity to tempt the saint to sin.
One of the evidences of God’s regenerating power in a man’s life is that he begins to experience the truth of the Lord’s words recorded in Mt 11:28-30, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me: for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
I have never known any believer doing the Lord’s work, who complained of finding it irksome or of being wearied by it. Of all the work man does on earth, none is as easy and pleasant as that done for the Lord. Adam’s pleasant work in Eden, and the believer’s light toil for the Lord, both foreshadow that eternal day when the redeemed will be joyfully and tirelessly employed in doing His will in heaven.
2:16. “And the Lord commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:”
2:17. “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
Here the garden becomes a second symbolic picture: this time, not of the believer’s life, but of the written Word. As the garden furnished literal food for Adam, so does the Word furnish spiritual food for the new man in Christ, its books, chapters, and verses being the spiritual equivalents of the literal trees of Eden, God’s concern to supply food for the man He had just created reminding us that He has been no less careful to furnish believers (His new creation) with an equally abundant and varied supply to nurture their new lives.
It is instructive, in fact, to note that this pattern may be found throughout Scripture. When Noah and his family emerged from the ark, God’s first assurance was relative to their food, 8:22 and 9:3; and no sooner had Israel been redeemed by the blood of the Passover lamb, than they feasted on the carcass of that same lamb; and when God brought Israel out of Egypt, He fed them with manna for forty years; and when He brought them into Canaan, He caused them to eat the old corn of the land, as it is written, “neither had the children of Israel manna any more; but they did eat of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year” (Jos 5:11-12).
Sadly, that spiritual food, of which these others are but the symbols, is little valued today. As Israel loathed the manna (Nu 21:5), so do multitudes of professing Christians loathe the written Word. They don’t, of course, say so openly, but their neglect of it declares all too clearly their true attitude towards it. Dislike of the written Word, however, is nothing less than dislike of Christ, for it is He, the Living Word, Who is set before us in the Scriptures. It isn’t the words of his lips, but his hunger, or lack of hunger, for the written Word, which declares a man’s true spiritual state.
God’s gracious goodness spread before His creature all the bounty of Eden, divine love and wisdom withholding only the fruit of one tree, with the warning that the eating of that forbidden fruit would bring death. It was concern alone for man’s welfare that evoked the divine prohibition, and that should teach us a lesson in regard to God’s withholding from us here on earth some of the things we think should be given us. God withholds nothing that is good for us, that assurance being given in Ro 8:32, “He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him freely give us all things?”
Scripture makes it clear that even as he issued the warning, God knew that Adam would disobey, and this prompts the question, Why was the tree placed in the garden at all?
The answer is easily discovered. Having produced man as the masterpiece of His creation, God had endowed that creature with His own attributes of intelligence, emotion, and will, because He desired to have, in man, a creature with whom He could hold communion, a creature capable of intelligent love, choosing of his free will to love his Creator. Of necessity then, He must present man with the opportunity to make a choice. The forbidden tree of the knowledge of good and evil supplied that opportunity.
But the further question may be asked, Why should God present such opportunity in view of the ensuing foreknown failure of the creature? and again the answer is easily discovered.
Out of that very ruin into which man’s disobedience would plunge him, God would cause to shine forth His own love for His creature, so that man would know himself loved when he was unlovable. God’s love displayed in the giving of His Own Son to redeem fallen ruined man from the consequences of his folly, would provide a greater cause for the creature to love his Creator as he found that Creator to be also his Redeemer. He would be given a greater incentive to love, as he found his Creator’s love for him displayed in immeasurable degree at Calvary. And his choice would be placed on a higher plane, for he would now be able to exercise a godlike prerogative of determining his own eternal destiny, as well as determining whether he would love God.
He who holds the view that God has predestinated some men for heaven and some for hell, advertises his ignorance, not only of the nature of God, but also of the nature of man. Both are infinitely higher than the Calvinist’s dim vision is able to perceive. He fails to distinguish between what God has predestinated, and what He has not. He also belittles God by leaving out of the reckoning God’s foreknowledge.
God has predestinated that unbelievers will be in the lake of fire eternally, and believers in heaven eternally, but He has not predestinated some to be believers, and others unbelievers. That choice he leaves with man.
The Calvinist, pointing to the millions who have never heard the Gospel, declares them to be incontrovertible proof that God has predestinated some to be saved, and others to be lost, but he fails to take account of God’s foreknowledge by which He knows what response each man will give to the Gospel, and sees fit in His sovereignty to permit its proclamation to many who will reject it, while by that same sovereignty, He withholds its proclamation to others because He knows that they too would reject it.
Faith takes cognizance of God’s foreknowledge without concluding that its operation requires Him to predestinate. The Calvinist, on the other hand, has no higher view of God than as a small Deity Who foreknows only because He has predestinated - a thesis, which in essence makes God’s foreknowledge redundant.
The God loved and worshipped by the Spirit-enlightened man is the God Whose foreknowledge is independent of, and separate from His predestinating power.
It is this God, Whose power, intelligence, and love transcend human thought, who “took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden,” and set before him a choice of life or death. This choice is available only to man, and it declares his superiority over any other creature on earth.
2:18. “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”
Only part of God’s truth is revealed in the literal language of the OT. By far the better part becomes the possession of the man who learns that the literal is also the vehicle by which the deeper, fuller, richer spiritual message is symbolically conveyed.
Going, then, beyond the literal language of this verse we learn much more. In declaring the insufficiency of Adam’s solitary state, God is declaring a much broader truth. Alone, Adam is representative of man in his natural state. Alone, he was without companionship, he was incomplete, he was unable to “be fruitful, and multiply.” (It is interesting to note that the command to be fruitful isn’t given until the woman was created. The obvious lesson is that God never gives man a command without supplying also the power that makes obedience possible. The divine fiat, “Be ye holy, for I am holy” is not impossible to obey, for, with Paul, the believer can say, “I can do all things through Christ Who strengtheneth me.”)
Of several truths conveyed in this verse, one is that Adam without Eve is a type of the last Adam without His bride, the Church. As it is said of Eve that she was bone of bone and flesh of flesh of Adam, so is it said of the Church, the bride of the last Adam, that we who comprise that Church are the members of His body, standing in a spiritual relationship to Him which is pictured in that of Eve to Adam, Ephesians 5:23-32. “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ;, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it: that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth it, even as the Lord the church: for we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”
The analogy extends even to the means of Eve’s creation as we shall see when we come to verse 21.
But the spiritual lesson extends beyond the presentation of Eve as a type of the Church, as we have already noticed. Coming back to that line of truth in which we see Adam’s solitary state to be a picture of man’s natural state, we learn that when Adam received his bride he then became a type of the born again man. Eve is more than just a type of the Church: she is also a type of the expression of the new nature which a man receives the moment he accepts Christ as Savior, and which becomes eternally a part of himself.
God’s prohibition against dissolution of the marriage bond is meant to portray the truth that man can never be separated from that new life received through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. When God said of Adam, “It is not good that the man should be alone,” He was expressing also the deeper spiritual truth that it isn’t good for man to be without the spiritual life whose expression Eve typifies.
The change in Adam’s state when he received his bride is indicative of the change that ensues when a man receives God’s gift of eternal life. Adam was then complete. So is the believer. The satisfaction and pleasure that were Adam’s in his newly created companion typify the peace and satisfaction the believer finds in his new nature. Barren and unfruitful alone, Adam could now be fruitful and beget his kind, sons and daughters. The believer enjoys the same privilege of being fruitful in begetting his kind, spiritual sons and daughters, born of the incorruptible seed of the Word sown in fruitful testimony in the Gospel.
In regard to being fruitful, it is to be noted that it wasn’t an option, it was a command. The NT counterpart of that command is the risen Lord’s commission, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature.” It too is a command, not an option.
2:19. “And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them; and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.”
2:20. “And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.”
These two verses coming between verse 18 where God declares that Adam’s solitary state is not good, and verses 21 and 22, where He remedies that state, would seem to imply another purpose than that of having Adam name earth’s creatures, naming, incidentally, being indicative of ownership or control. An additional purpose seems to have been to reveal that among them all there wasn’t one fit to be a companion for him who was lord over them.
Verse 19 reminds us of the reason. All of them had been made out of the ground, and like their human lord, possessed body and soul, but the one thing needful to make any of them fit to be his companion was lacking. In addition to being body and soul, he was also spirit. They were not, and without spirit they were so far below him that companionship in the proper sense was impossible.
2:21. “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;”
Having established that there was no creature fit to be Adam’s companion and help, God proceeded to supply the lack, and in the method used, painted a symbolic miniature of Calvary.
The deep death-like sleep that fell upon Adam in the Garden of Eden typifies the sleep of death that fell upon the last Adam, for concerning the place where He died, it is written, “Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden” (Jn 19:41).
While Adam was in that death-like sleep, God opened his side. It wasn’t until He was dead that Christ’s side was opened, “But when they came to Jesus, and saw that He was dead already, they brake not His legs; but one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith came there out blood and water” (Jn 19:33-34). Only that blood can cleanse sin, and that water is a type of the written Word which brings to man awareness of his need of that blood. That Word believed, and that blood applied by faith, make men and women new creatures (as was Eve), and members of that mystical body the Church which is the bride of the last Adam.
2:22. “And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.”
As with the first Adam, so also with the Last. The head of the earthly creation must have a companion similar to himself, and the Head of all creation must also have a companion similar to Himself. During this dispensation or age of grace (from Pentecost till the Rapture), every believer becomes a member of that mystical body, the Church, the companion, the bride of Christ. And as Eve was presented to Adam so will the Church - some by resurrection, some by translation, 1 Co 15:51-52, 1 Thes 4:16-17 - be presented to Christ at the Rapture, to be His bride, His companion eternally. Her fitness to be that companion is because, like Eve made in nature like Adam, all believers are made in nature like Christ, for they possess His life, His nature, and are clothed in His righteousness at the moment of conversion, as Paul assures us, “Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Co 12:27), “For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery; but I speak concerning Christ and the church” (Eph 5:30-32).
It is interesting to note that the word “made” in this verse is literally “builded,” a fact which continues to emphasize the parallel between the making of the bride of the first Adam and that of the last Adam. The Church is also being builded of living stones, see 1 Pe 2:5, “Ye also, as lively (living) stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood....”
2:23. “And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
This stresses not simply similarity, but complete identification. She was in every aspect of her nature like Adam. The believer enjoys similar identification with Christ, as it is written, “For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones” (Ep 5:30), and at the Rapture when the spiritual body replaces the physical, the completeness of that affinity will be seen, for every believer is predestinated to be conformed to the image of Christ, Ro 8:29.
Having had all other creatures brought to him to be named, this new creature, the one perfectly suited to be his companion, was also brought, and he named her, “Woman because she was taken out of Man.” His own name becomes hers. On that day when the Church is presented to Christ, every believer will have the name of Christ upon him, see Re 3:12, “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God ... and I will write upon him the name of my God ... and I will write upon him my new name.”
2:24. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”
This final detail of the divine miniature isn’t difficult to interpret. It pictures the indissoluble bond that links the Redeemer and His redeemed.
2:25. “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”
In his unfallen state man needed no covering. It is sin that makes a covering necessary. The word atonement means literally covering or to cover, and by substituting these alternatives when we read the word atonement the meaning is made much clearer.
It is significant that man has the instinctive need to cover that part of his body which is related to reproduction. That God-given instinct which impels man to cover himself is the witness to his fallen and spiritually lifeless state. When man’s body dies, it is committed to the earth from which it came. In other words, just because it is dead, it is to be covered and put out of sight. The covering which man instinctively places over his body, particularly the parts involved in the reproduction of physical life, is the symbolic announcement that man is spiritually dead, and the offspring he begets are equally dead. It is the symbolic declaration of the truth that men are born sinners, spiritually dead. Men don’t become sinners by committing sin: they commit sin because they are sinners by birth. Adam and Eve needed no covering until they sinned. Then God Himself provided a covering which was itself the evidence of death. The skins that covered them came from two innocent lambs which had died as their substitutes, each lamb being the figure of the true Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who by His death on the cross, would provide a perfect covering for every sinner willing to accept it by faith.