Read: Genesis 2:4-7
Right now, there are over seven billion people living on planet earth. Along with that, there are an estimated 8.7 million different species of animals, and over 300,000 species of plants. You and I are just one small drop in an ocean of life teaming on this planet in such a giant universe. Sometimes, big numbers like this can wring out the value of what it means to be human. There are times I walk the crowded streets of Chicago, and wonder if I really matter in a world that is so full.
While Genesis 1-2:3 gives us an eagle eye view of creation, Genesis 2:5-25 give us a zoomed in view of one of the days of creation. We are first given a setting which is an important part of the story in explaining the purpose of man. Verse 5 tells us that “no bush of the field was yet in the land” and that there had yet to be rain. Instead a mist covered the earth. It also says the bush hadn’t sprouted up because man had not been formed.
At first, this may seem confusing. Didn’t the big picture in Genesis 1 tells us that God created plants before people? So why does Genesis 2 seem to flip the order? If you look at the words for plants in Chapter 1 and Chapter 2, you’ll probably realize that your translation uses different phrases. That’s because the author actually uses different words. Theologians disagree on the exact nuances of what these words mean, but we can be sure that there is some kind of further cultivating effect that man has on the plants that God creates, whether that is a good kind from him working the ground, or a negative kind from the Fall.
While this seems like a small and boring detail, don’t overlook its significance. Of all the days to zoom in on, the writer decides to zoom into day six. And of all the things created, only one seems to have any kind of ability to effect the newly formed reality. These verses show that the creature being formed here is different from all the rest. Verse 7 seals this idea and gives us the DNA of what it means to be human.
First, we get this beautiful imagery of God forming man from the dust. The word used for formed gives the image of a potter forming clay. Don’t miss this, a potter has to get close and dirty to create a pot. Here God gets close. He gets into the earth, and forms these new creatures.
Man is given the breath of life which animates Him. The word for breath that is used here is ruah, the same word that is used in the previous chapter to describe the Spirit (or ruah) of God that is hovering over the waters. Here, we are not only identified with earth, but given something of the divine. God is the source of our life.
These truths set apart humankind from all the rest of creation. We were not created as equal to even the most stunning part of the created world that we can see. We were created above them. And yet, we are still connected to the earth. Take a moment to reflect upon these monumental truths and what they say about your value.