Monday, September 14, 2015

Made in His image

My Sunday School lesson for Sept. 13, 2015 ...

FIRST THOUGHTS

Monday was Labor Day, and a survey this summer of workers showed that nearly 90 percent were either “not engaged” with or “actively disengaged” from their jobs. 9 out of 10 workers spend half their lives doing something they’d rather not be doing and in places they’d rather not be.

Why?

Do we just naturally dislike work?

While paradise for many people would seem to be turning off the alarm clock and sleeping in, God’s paradise for us included some labor.

Think about this, though. Retirees are busy at work, but doing stuff they’d rather do, such as play, spend time with family, tend their yards, etc. So maybe the key is that God created us to do work that we feel we are meant to do?

So maybe people just want work that is meaningful — that makes a difference to other people and thus ennobles us in at least some small way.

UNDERSTAND THE CONTEXT

Genesis 2:4-25

*** Last week we started a 13-week study of the first book in the Bible by describing God's creation of the heavens and the earth.

*** This week we'll look at God's purpose for men and women. We are the central act of creation. Genesis chapter 2 helps to answer the question of how we fit in the world.

*** In God’s perfect creation He gave man abundance and responsibility. As we'll see next week, man would turn to his own ways rather than to the ways of God.

MAN FORMED (Gen. 2:4-7)

4 These are the records of the heavens and the earth, concerning their creation at the time that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens. 5 No shrub of the field had yet grown on the land, and no plant of the field had yet sprouted, for the LORD God had not made it rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground. 6 But water would come out of the ground and water the entire surface of the land. 7 Then the LORD God formed the man out of the dust from the ground and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils, and the man became a living being.

*** Let's review.

--- Chapter 2 is a retelling of creation with an emphasis on day 6 and the creation of humanity.

*** You are not insignificant.

--- Have you ever thought, "I feel so small and insignificant"? Or seen people who seem to make a living off of telling everyone how meaningless their lives are?

--- These verses make that idea a lie. We are made with a purpose, by God, in His image, with the ability to reason, to be creative, to have a relationship with Him. We are necessary to this whole world.

*** Contradiction?

--- Why does verse 5 say that "no shrub of the field had yet grown," when God created vegetation on the third day? Because the shrubs and plants are different than those mentioned in chapter 1. Until God made man there was no one to cultivate plants, so they didn't come to be until after verse 7. Similarly, in chapter 3 after the fall, there was no cursed land such as thorns.

*** Water out of the ground.

--- It's unclear what this means, but the likely explanation is that there were natural springs that rose to the surfact to provide water for growing, since there was no rain yet.

--- No need for rain - this was paradise! Every farmer knows sometimes the rains come and sometimes they do not. Before the fall, plants always had just the right amount of water.

*** Dust to dust.

--- Notice man was made from the earth but his breath came from God. This signifies our value from God, more valuable than the rest of creation. When God made us He declared it “very good.”

--- The Hebrew word for man is “adam,” and the Hebrew word for ground is “adamah,” which shows our close connection with the ground. As Paul writes (1 Cor. 15:42-49) we have a natural body in an earthly existence. The new spiritual body comes later.

*** Question – Does knowing how God created us make you feel significant.

A PLACE TO CALL HOME (Gen. 2:8-9,15)

8 The LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there He placed the man He had formed. 9 The LORD God caused to grow out of the ground every tree pleasing in appearance and good for food, including the tree of life in the middle of the garden, as well as the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. 15 The LORD God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to work it and watch over it.

*** Movin’ on up.

--- Like the Jeffersons, humanity was living in style in the Garden of Eden. God showed His love for man and woman by furnishing a beautiful place to live and all the provisions they needed.

--- The Hebrew term eden refers to “delight” or “enjoyment.”

*** Your safe place.

--- The garden was a sanctuary where God invited humanity to enjoy fellowship and peace with Him.

--- However, faith and obedience were prerequisites for living in this place of special communion with God.

--- Clearly, after all of God’s blessings here, for Adam and Eve to rebel by eating from the forbidden tree was inexcusable.

*** Work is good for the soul.

--- Verse 15 says that man’s purpose in the garden was to work it and to watch over it - even before sin had taken over.

Work was not punishment for sin. Because God created and cares about people, and people need houses to live in, furniture to sit on, food to eat, and clothes to wear, when we work to provide those things we’re participating in God’s plan to provide for His creation as much as Adam was when he tilled the garden.

--- This included being a good steward for the environment. Which makes sense. Farmers and ranchers know more about their animals and their land than anyone, including groups like PETA.

*** Question - How can we honor God through our work? How is being productive an extension of the wise stewardship of God’s creation?

A WARNING ISSUED (Gen. 2:16-17)

16 And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die.”

*** You had one job.

--- God provided everything Adam needed. All God said to Adam was to avoid this one tree.

--- God's first words to man assumed Adam's ability to choose wisely and take responsibility.

--- God's command gave Adam the opportunity to demonstrate his devotion and obedience to God. God knows what's best for His creation.

--- We'll see next week just how badly Adam failed.

*** Question - Why do you think God put the tree there? If there's no tree, is there any tempation, and would there be any sin?

Every relationship has parameters—do’s and don’ts. Is the prohibition against the tree a warning or a demonstration of love by God? Man’s relationship with God was defined by the fact that God was the Creator and the man was only a creature. Why do people often regard prohibitions in negative terms or as an infringement?

A NEED ADDRESSED (Gen. 2:18)

18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper as his complement.”

*** What could go wrong?

--- Moses did some amazing foreshadowing here. In verse 17 God says, "Don't eat this." In verse 18 he writes, "So along comes a woman." And next week we'll see what happens next!

*** Woman = Whoa, man!

--- So far, God has provided for man's every need - food, fellowship with God and work - but mankind needs social interaction.

--- "Helper" doesn't mean woman was man's servant.

--- Woman was made equal to man and in God's image, equally important in God's purposes.

*** Question - How does God use relationships to enrich our lives? What does our need for relationships reveal about our need for God?

TAKE-AWAY POINTS

Why are people so curious about their ancestry?

We all have at least once common ancestor, way back in the Garden of Eden.

Something deep inside us yearns to know where we have come from, where we are headed, and why we exist.

God gave us a unique role during creation. God, in fact, placed all the world and its creatures under human stewardship. God expects us to be faithful in carrying out our responsibilities as stewards.

*** Approach your job as if you were created to work it by God.

*** Just as the man was required to obey God in that command, God’s people today are required to obey God’s commands in His Word.

*** Our love and our labor should demonstrate that we desire to honor and serve God above all.

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