He Loved With A Love That Was More Than Love . . .
If you were asked for a brief summary of who God is, what would you say? This fourth lesson completes our study of Genesis 2 and helps us answer that question.
“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 1 John 4:8
1. 1 John 4:8 gives us the only single-word description of God in the entire Bible. What is it?
God is _________________________.
These are not simply nice words for a flowery wall plaque. They are a powerful truth. God is not just loving. He is Love. Love is his very essence. By definition, love cannot exist in isolation. It must have someone to love. Before the beginning of time, Elohim was a holy fellowship sharing love, three in one. In the creation stories, we glimpse that love expanding to include children.
The World’s first love Story
2. In Verse 18, Yahweh states that he will make a partner for Adam, but what does he actually do next? (Genesis 2:19,20)
God brings all the animals and birds for a visit. As the parade of birds and animals pass by in review, God instructs Adam to give them names. What fun they must have had together watching the antics of that menagerie and deciding what to call each creature.
3. Now if God was planning to create a partner for Adam that very day, why do you think he didn’t save this delightful activity for their first date? (Verse 20)
As Adam gives names to more and more of the pairs of animals, he realizes that something is missing. All other creatures have partners, but he does not. There is no one else like him on the planet. No other human to talk to. No other human to share his garden of delight. The Author of Love just crafted longing—a deep desire in Adam’s heart for someone like himself.
4. Just as the discomfort of loneliness begins to roil up inside Adam, what does God do? (Verse 21)
When Adam’s eyes next open, he beholds the most beautiful creature he has seen all day. He lunges to his feet, madly in love at first sight. Eve was not only made for him, but from him. They are intimate partners—incomplete separately, two complementary halves of one. Don’t let anyone hint that God doesn’t approve of human love and sex. He created it.
Yahweh is now finished with his creative work. He smiles and pronounces everything “very good.” Brain research and behavioral science studies are increasingly demonstrating that humans are hardwired from birth for love. To the degree that love is absent, humans malfunction. I don’t know how that fits with “survival of the fittest” theory, but it matches Bible teaching perfectly. God is Love and he created us in his image—to love and be loved.
A Celebration of Love
The Genesis 2 story of the intimate, relational Yahweh doesn’t actually begin until verse 4:
THIS is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created,
when the LORD God made the earth and the heavens.
5. Reread verses 1-3. What is the first word of Genesis 2?
“Thus” normally links a result to the action or actions that caused it. Verses 1-3, wrapping up the narrative of the powerful, plural Elohim at work, is the finale of chapter 1. “Creation is finished!—the words ring like a coda concluding an electrifying, forceful symphony. But why is it played here, not at the end of chapter one, but at the beginning of the quiet pastoral symphony of chapter two?
6. What does this “coda” tell us God did the day after he finished his magnificent creation? (Genesis 2:2-3)
Elohim doesn’t keep on frenetically creating more and more new things. He doesn’t return to a distant heaven to dream up a new project. He rested. In the original Hebrew language, he sabbathed on the seventh day. God didn’t need to rest because he was tired, either physically or mentally. He created a day to revel in his creation and he blessed it. Rest when we have worked hard is a blessing, but Adam and Eve did not need to rest. The seventh day of Creation week was their first full day and their Creator did not want to miss a moment of it, so he sabbathed with his children. That is the blessing of the Sabbath.
The brilliant theologian, Karl Barth, beautifully explains the purpose of God’s Sabbath rest like this:
“The reason why He refrains from further activity on the seventh day is that He has found the object of His love and has no need for any further works.”
The First Holiday
Verse 3 also tells us that God made the day holy. Throughout the Old Testament whenever God declared that some place or thing was holy—from the ground around Moses’ burning bush, to Mount Sinai at the giving of the Ten Commandments, to his holy Tabernacle—it was because God was present there. Those things were not somehow magically and deadly powerful in and of themselves like the ark discovered by Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark. When God declared the day holy, he announced that he would be fully present in it.
Can you just imagine God beaming in anticipation as the sun rises and he waits for his children to awake? He grins as they begin to explore their garden home, savoring the fruit he designed for their food. Their pleasure delights the heart of the Giver. He planted every tree in that garden to be a series of surprises for them and named the place Eden—pleasure. . . delight!
When they had eaten all they wanted, I can picture Adam and Eve running like children through meadows, romping with lions, gamboling with antelope and deer, eyes sparkling with sheer joy as they discover thrill after thrill. God sometimes showing them things, sometimes watching them discover for themselves, sometimes joining in the play. Then as the day winds down, I picture God and his children snuggling up for story time. Perhaps this was when they heard the creation stories for the first time.
Bridge to Love
The first three verses of Genesis 2 beautifully complete the creation story of Elohim, the God of ultimate power, while slowing the action and moving in close for our first view of the thoughtful, tender Yahweh. This coda becomes an artful segue moving us smoothly from one creation story to another, linking two creation accounts into one picture— a God longing for intimacy with creatures made in his image. Sabbath rest becomes a bridge connecting his power and love.
I think of a priceless piece of childish art in my memory box created by my daughter Melinda when she was five. It is a colorful crayon drawing of a princess holding an armful of brilliant flowers, but what makes it particularly charming are the words she crayoned at the bottom in bold, bright letters:
By Mindy. For Mindy.
I made it. I like it.
I’m thinking that is exactly how God felt at the end of the sixth day. Can you imagine him looking at you and saying, “By God. For God. I made you. I like you.” The Bible makes it clear that every person on earth is a dearly loved child of God. That means you. Don’t ever doubt it and don’t forget that he invites you to spend a holiday with him every week to celebrate his love and just rest in it. He’ll be waiting for you, delighted if you remember to show up!
- Asked him to name all the animals
- To create longing
- He caused the man to fall into a deep sleep
- God rested. (He blessed the Sabbath and made it holy.)
 Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics, vol III, part one, The Doctrine of Creation, trans. J. W. Edwards, O. Bussey, and Harold Knight (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1958) p. 215