This is the fourth in a series of character studies in Genesis by Dr. James T. Naismith of Peterborough, Ontario. These studies were first published in book form under the title, PERSONALITIES IN GENESIS.
Copyright by Everyday Publications; used by permission.
The first human character in our study of Genesis is, of course, Adam — the first character in human history. His name is not mentioned in Hebrews 11 — unlike all the other seven characters we shall study —because he did not exhibit the faith that characterized the others. Nevertheless, his name and excerpts from his story appear several times in the New Testament, and we can learn important and valuable lessons from a study of these chapters in Genesis that record his life. Much of the New Testament teaching from the story of Adam relates to the typical lessons that it presents. These will be considered later in our study of Christ in Genesis. We are now concerned with the historical account of Adam and the instruction it provides us.
1. Creation of Adam (Gen. 1:26, 27; 2:7)
There are evidently two accounts of man’s creation, quite distinct from one another, yet entirely consistent with one another and complementary to one another. The first, in Genesis records the creation of man in relation to the rest of creation; the second, in Genesis 2, describes the physical details and is concerned with man’s relationship with his immediate environment. The two are obviously not contradictory but complementary.
It is evident from both accounts —and from many other Scriptures —that man was made directly by his Creator, God, in a unique way, different from the rest of creation. He was the culmination and crown of creation. Note that the word “create” (Hebrew — “bra”) is used in three instances in Genesis 1 — v. 1, of the heaven and the earth; v. 21, of living creatures; and v. 27 — three times in one verse — of man.
The basic essentials of man’s nature can be learned from these two initial accounts of his creation.
Gen. 1:26, 27. “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” In these momentous words, we are privileged to listen in to a conversation within the Trinity, as Father, Son and Spirit take counsel together in formulating the divine plan for the creation of the head of the human race. Whatever may be meant by the expressions in our image and after our likeness — and doubtless our infinite minds cannot fully understand them — it is evident that they mark man out as different from the animate and inanimate creation around him. Of fish, birds and beasts, it is said that God made them after their kind, vv. 21, 24, 25. Only man was made in God’s image and after His likeness. Image in Scripture has the sense of representation — for example, the image on the coin presented to the Lord represented the emperor, Caesar (Matt. 22:20), and idols are frequently referred to as graven images — representing gods. God created man to represent Him on earth. Likeness indicates resemblance — man could only represent his Creator if he bore some resemblance to Him. This is obviously not a physical likeness, for God in spirit — Jn. 4:24, NIV), but rather moral and intellectual. See Colossians 3:10 (renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him) and Ephesians 4:23, 24 (created in righteousness and true holiness). Man’s personality and ability to exercise authority are expressed in the succeeding phrase of Genesis 1:26, Let them have dominion. Man was not created a superior animal, but a moral, intelligent being.
Genesis 2:7. This verse gives an account of the material and method God used in making man: material —the dust of the ground; method —the infusion of the divine breath. We can deduce from this that man is composed of two distinct parts. The physical, material part has come from the dust of the ground. The word dust is actually plural and could be translated “particles” or even “atoms”; man’s material body is composed of the same atoms as are found in the earth. It is interesting to note that the word man in Genesis 1:26, 27 and Genesis 2:7 in Hebrew is adam — the name of the first man—and is closely related to the Hebrew word adamah translated ground in Genesis 2:5, 6, 7, 9. Similarly, in Latin, the word for man—homo (from which the word “human” is derived) is cognate with “humus” — the ground.
But man is more than a body. He has also a spiritual, immaterial part. While the material part came from the ground, the spiritual part came from God. Not until God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life did man become a living soul. From the Scriptures such as 1 Thessalonians 5:23 and Hebrews 4:12, we learn that man is actually a tripartite being composed of spirit, soul and body, the spirit linking him with God, and the soul with the world of men.
2. Dominion of Adam (Gen. 1:26, 28; 2:19, 20)
Prior to the Fall, Adam had and exercised his God-given authority over the animal creation. David referred to it in Psalm 8:4-8, Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands. This has not been evident, however, since the Fall, and the writer to the Hebrews notes in 2:5-9, after quoting Psalm 8, we see not yet all things put under him. But God’s purposes for man will be fulfilled — in the last Adam — for we see Jesus … crowned with glory and honour.
3. Provision For Adam (Gen. 1:29; 2:23, 3, 8, 9, 15, 16)
God’s concern for the welfare of His creature, man, is very evident in Genesis 1 and 2. The whole record of creation in chapter 1 leading up to the creation of man is an account of the preparation of surroundings suited to man’s life on earth. Among the provisions God made for man’s material wellbeing, the following may be noted:
a. Food: The first provision made for man’s nutrition was entirely vegetarian; the provision of animal food was not indicated until Genesis 9:3 — after the flood.
b. Environment: 2:8, 9. God placed man in an ideal environment with no ecological problems. A beautiful garden, with adequate water — by a mist, 2:6, and a river, 2:10 —was man’s first delectable home. Note two characteristics of the trees of this garden: pleasant to the sight -aesthetic; good for food - nutritive . This is still characteristic of our environment.
c. Work: 2:15. Man was not created to be idle. God gave him work to do, and it is His purpose that His creatures should work and eat their own bread, 2 Thess. 3:10, 12,
It is interesting to note that man’s advances have created problems with regard to these three things that God provided: food—scarcity and famine, largely due to overpopulation; environment — pollution; work — diminishing work with automation.
d. Rest: God’s rest on the seventh day was not the rest of exhaustion but of satisfaction and completion of work. He has recorded it for a pattern for man — one day set apart in seven for his spiritual, mental and physical welfare. We do not now rest on the sabbath day, its place having been taken by the first day of the week. Just as the seventh day represented God’s satisfaction upon the completion of the work of creation, so the first day celebrates His satisfaction upon completion of the work of redemption — when His Son rose in triumph from the dead.
e. Tree of Life: 2:9. God thus reminded man of his dependence upon Him for life itself. Note that there will also be a tree of life in the new paradise, Rev. 22:2.
4. Companion For Adam (Gen. 2:18, 20-24)
These verses record the divine institution of marriage at the dawn of human history, and illustrate “the law of first mention”: “The very first words on any subject on which the Holy Spirit is going to treat are the keystone of the whole matter.” It is highly significant that our Lord quoted from this passage, and His words (Mt. 19:4-6) are His authoritative stamp on the sanctity and inviolability of the marriage bond. Note some Purposes of Marriage deduced from these verse:
a. Companionship and Fellowship: “Not good that man should be alone,” v. 18. Verses 19 and 20 point out that in all the animal creation, man had many subjects — But conclude that he had no companion.
b. Help and support: “Help meet for him.”
c. Affection and Protection, v. 21. The woman was taken from the side of the man; not from the head to lord it over him, nor from the foot to be trampled under him, but from the side — under the arm, for his protection; close to his heart, for his affection.
d. Physical Union: expressed in the phrase, they shall be one flesh. In this is implied the physical enjoyment and satisfaction experienced within the marriage bond. See 1 Cor. 6:16. Note the expression of oneness of husband and wife, male and female, in the first account of man’s creation —Gen. 1:27, In the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.
e. Reproduction: indicated in God’s first command to man in Genesis 1:28, Be fruitful and multiply.
5. Probation of Adam (Gen. 2:17)
God, the Creator and Provider, is also the Sovereign, to whom His subjects should give absolute obedience. In Genesis 3:1 Satan emphasized the restriction placed on man’s liberty, but note that verse 16 — God’s sufficient provision —precedes verse 17 — God’s single prohibition. This one restriction placed on man’s liberty was to teach him to recognize his responsibility to his Creator and to acknowledge God’s authority by his obedience. Piety untested is piety unproved. Disobedience would lead to death, not only physical, but also spiritual, in separating man from his Creator.
6. Temptation of Adam (Gen. 3:1-6)
a. Its source: Satanic, through the woman.
b. It significance: In the first temptation lies the seed of all subsequent temptations. Note that the three enemies of man’s soul all play their parts.
1. The devil, with consumate subtility, uses:
2. The flesh — note how the woman saw the tree in verse 6; and
3. The world. John describes three elements in the world, 1 John 2:16. These are all evident in the temptation in Eden: the lust of the flesh — good for food; the lust of the eyes —pleasant to the eyes; the pride of life — to be desired to make one wise. The last Adam was confronted by similar temptations, but in a wilderness, not a garden. See Luke 4:3, 4 — lust of the flesh; vv. 5-8, lust of the eyes; vv. 9-12, pride of life. Only as we are filled with His Spirit and follow His example of strict adherence to God’s Word (which Adam and Eve disregarded) can we overcome, as He did.
c. Its success: end of verse 6.7.
Transgression of Adam (Gen. 3:6)
This is described in three of the most tragic words of Scripture: he did eat. True, the woman, being deceived, was in the transgression, 1 Tim. 2:14, but Adam followed close behind. In these words, the first occurrence of human sin in the Bible, we have the seed of all sin. As it was in Eden, so sin is always.
a. Distrust of the purposes of God. See verse 5.
b. Disobedience to the Command of God. See 2:17.
c. Defiance of the Authority of God, and recognition of another authority — here, that of Satan.
d. Displacement of the Person of God from the centre of life. Note that they were allured by Satan’s false objective to be as gods, or, better, as God. They partook of the forbidden fruit with a view to taking the place of God — just as Satan before them determined to be like the most High, Isa. 14:14.
8. Realization of Adam (Gen. 3:7-10)
Be sure your sin will find you out, Num. 32:23. How quickly does this principle operate — as it did in Eden! Verse 7 reveals that already they had obtained some of the knowledge of good and evil — they knew — but it led to:
a. Shame. Previously they were unashamed, 2:25; now, in their shame, they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.
b. Guilt. They hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God. Conscience was now at work.
c. Fear. “I was afraid,” v. 10. Adam’s first recorded feeling has been one of man’s greatest problems through the centuries. Even in this “enlightened” twentieth century, fear grips the hearts of millions of God’s creatures.
9. Condemnation of Adam (Gen. 3:17-19)
God is now seen as Judge, passing His sentence on those who have broken His Law. This judgement is in three phases:
a. The Serpent: vv. 14, 15.
b. The woman: v. 16; (1) Sorrow in childbearing; (2) Subjection to her husband. Herein is the basis of the Scriptural teaching of the place of the woman in the home and in the church —see 1 Tim. 2:11-15; 1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:22-24.
c. The Man: vv. 17-19. The result of man’s disobedience was to be sorrow, sweat, and separation — death.
10. Separation of Adam (Gen. 3:24)
Sin had broken the fellowship of man with God, and Adam was driven out of the garden into the place of separation. Physical death was to come later — Gen. 5:5. But spiritual death had already begun when man was separated from God. That broken communion could only be restored when the “sword” that guarded the way of the tree of life was awakened to smite the Shepherd, Zech. 13:7, who suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, 1 Pet. 3:18.
Note, in Genesis, chapter 3, several important words which sum up the chapter:
· Serpent, v. 1, a great Power;
· Sin (not actually mentioned in the chapter, but obviously recorded here for the first time in human history), v. 6, a great Problem;
· Sorrow and Sword (indicating Separation), vv. 16-19, 24, a great Punishment;
· Seed, v. 15, a great Promise; and
· Skins, v. 21 a great Provision. They were obviously the result of sacrifice and death and prefigured the provision of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God.