The OT Gospel: Genesis 2

The OT Gospel: Genesis 2

Passage: Genesis 2
Service Type:

The OT Gospel Part II
Text: Genesis 2


  • Last week we began our series on the Gospel in the Old Testament.
  • We looked at Genesis 1 and how God act of creation was a way to bring life and order out of darkness and chaos. Also, as we’re made in God’s image, we are called to be like God and create, bring life, and order for our broken world.
  • This week we are turning to Chapter 2.


Relationship Between Genesis 1 and 2.

  • Genesis 2 presents a different perspective on creation than Genesis 1.
    • Some people like to say that chapter 1 is a macro-big picture look at Creation and that chapter 2 is like a micro-detailed look at Creation. This is not entirely true.
      • Evidence #1: The order of creation is different.
        • In chapter 1, humans were made after the animals. In chapter 2, it is reversed.
        • In chapter 1, men and women were made at the same time. In chapter 2, women are made after men and after animals.
      • Evidence #2: In chapter 1, humanity is made in the image of God. In chapter 2, the emphasis is on how they are made from the earth.
      • Evidence #3: In chapter 1, God creates by speaking. In chapter 2, God creates with God’s hands and gives life by breathing into people. It’s very “hands on” and intimate.
    • So, there’s a bunch of clues that Genesis 2 is more like a second, totally different story.
      • It’s kind of like how there are multiple movies that tell the same story.
      • For example: these are all the Snow White movies.
        • The classic has Snow White as a person of kindness
        • The newer one shows Snow White as a strong warrior
        • Same, same, but very different.
      • The stories are different BUT the people who put the Bible together wanted us to read them side by side.
        • Evidence: Everything is good in Genesis 1, but when Adam is alone in chapter 2, “It is not good.” The theme is consistent.

Genesis 2 is about Working in a Garden (Setting)

  • Genesis 2 brings us into a time when the earth was just land, water, and trees. It even says that it has yet to rain.
  • Then God’s first creature is to make a man, Adam, out of “the dust of the ground” and then breathes into him.
    • So right away, we see that humans are intimately connected to the earth. We’re made of the same stuff.
  • God places Adam in the garden of Eden – which is full of beautiful trees, food, precious stones, rivers, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (which we will talk more about next week).
    • In 2:15, it says that the man was put in the garden to “till it and keep it.” The image is that of a farmer, gardener.
      • In Genesis 1, God also gave humans a mission to subdue the earth, have dominion over it, be fruitful, and multiply. It’s kind of a different picture. There’s a different feel to it.
      • Reading Genesis 1 & 2 together, we see that subduing the earth is not about manipulating the earth for our needs, but it is about stewarding the home that God has made for us.
    • And then God notices that something is wrong: Adam is alone. *dun dun dun!!*
      • So, God makes animals and has Adam name them, but no suitable helper or partner could be found.

God Provides Help

  • God says that it is not good for the man to be alone and that he needs a partner.
  • And we all know the end of this story: God makes a woman out of one of Adam’s “ribs.”
    • Hebrew: took one from his side.
  • So, when we think about this part of the story, it is easy for us to conclude that women are men’s helpers or assistants in fulfilling God’s purposes in the garden and consequently on earth.
    • It seems to support traditional views of males as breadwinners of the family and females as those who care for the family.
    • I mean, it certainly reads that way. It certainly is in line with Jewish culture and worldview.
    • But let’s dig a little deeper on this, maybe there’s more going on.
  • The phrase for “helper as his partner” in Hebrew is עֵזֶר כְּנֶגְדּוֹ (ezer kuh-neg-do)
    • It translated as “helper suitable for him” (NIV), “who is just right for him” (NLT), “fit for him” (ESV) “comparable for him” (NKJV), “perfect for him” (CEB)
      • It is literally “A helper like his opposite” …like you have two puzzle pieces.
      • Milk and Cereal. Donuts and Coffee. Burger and Fries. Steak and Lobster. Chicken and Waffles.
    • The main word is ezer. If there’s one thing you take away from today it is this word. Just say it 10x.
    • Ezer actually has a rather plain meaning. The root simply means helper, help, or assistance. But the depth of this word comes from its biblical usage.
    • Believe it or not, but you’ve heard this word before and sung it many times.
    • In the second verse of Come Thou Fount, we sing, “Here I raise my eben-ezer, hither by Thy help I come.”
      • “Eben” means rock and “ezer” means help. I raise my rock of help.
      • In 1 Sam. 7:10-12, Samuel lifted up a rock of help to memorialize how God saved them when the Philistines attacked. It was quite a miraculous saving too. God “thundered with a mighty voice” and confused the Philistines enough so that Israel could defeat them.
    • ACTIVITY: The word shows up over 100x in the OT, but let’s read a few passages together. The word shows
      • Exodus 18:4 – Origin of the name Eli-ezer, salvation from Egypt.
      • 33:26 - There is none like God, O Jeshurun, who rides through the heavens to your help, majestic through the skies.
      • Psalm 28:7 – The LORD is my strength and my shield
      • Psalm 121:1 “I lift my eyes to the hills – from where will my help come?”
      • Isaiah 44:1-2 In light of Babylonian exile…“Thus says the LORD who made you, who formed you in the womb and will help you: Do not fear, O Jacob my servant, Jeshurun whom I have chosen.”
    • So, what can we learn from this overview:
      • While the word sometimes does refer to humans who helping each other, many times the Bible uses it to refer to God when God helps Israel get out of some sort of mess.
        • Let me say this again, helper is a description of GOD – who is POWERFUL, STRONG enough to save. Helper is NOT a secretary or assistant.
          • Do not imagine reduce the helper to a dental assistant.
        • It actually describes someone who does the utterly impossible on your behalf.
        • Put in a more crude way: it is about saving someone’s butt.
        • ILLUSTRATION #1: Many of us are familiar with YWAM and there are many times when they could not pay the bills, but suddenly a donor arises that is willing to cover it all. That donor is YWAM’s ezer.
        • ILLUSTRATION #2: Car ride to OIL Conference.
      • And this is the Good News of Genesis 2: God does not leave us alone…on multiple levels.
        • It is NOT good for man to be alone, left alone they will probably get off track, get into a mess they cannot get out of.
        • It is NOT good for Israel or the Church to be alone, left alone we will muck it up.

Biblical Womanhood

  • So, before we move onto the next section, it is worth mentioning that God makes women – a partner who is there NOT to take care of the small stuff, but a powerful person capable doing amazing things, a person who SAVES.
  • If you think about it, the whole man and woman in the garden motif is really similar to Israel and God.
    • Adam has a job to keep the garden :: Israel has a job to be a kingdom of priests and people through whom God will bless the whole world.
    • Eve is created to help Adam :: God is able to save Israel’s butt, cover Israel’s mistakes, and help them fulfill God’s vision.
    • This is evidence that women are not lesser than men in any way. Just as Genesis 1 shows, both are made in the image of God and have important parts to play with regard to fulfilling God’s vision for the world.
  • Baseball Illustration: The closer gets the save.
    • Every game begins with a starting pitcher. They usually go 5-6-7 innings and rarely go all 9 innings.
    • If the team is winning by a small margin, they turn to a special pitcher on the team called a closer. This person is usually the best at getting outs when you need them. This person is usually the best in high pressure situations, they need to have ICE IN THEIR VEINS.
    • They do their job, the TEAM gets a win.
      • In the statistics, the starting pitcher gets credited with a Win and the Closer gets credited with the SAVE.
      • Both pitchers are equally important to the game. One starts, the other makes sure we win.
    • Maybe that’s a good way to describe what an ezer is.
  • Now some here might want to ask: Well, why can’t women be a starting pitcher? Why can’t the man be the helper/closer? I think they can and there’s a lot in the Bible that would support that.
    • A lot can be gleaned from the NT about the equality of men and women. (e.g., there’s a female apostle named in Romans Junia). Paul says some things in Galatians.
      • My favorite passage is in Joel 2:28 “Then afterward I will pour out my spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.”  the Holy Spirit empowers everyone.
      • So, yes, there should be more women in public teaching and preaching ministry, leading mission initiatives and everything. Church is not meant to be a boys club.
    • To dig into this more, we’ll have to talk about certain passages, culture, history and it’s a message of its own.

Blessing Through Difference

  • So how does this apply if I'm single? A man or woman without a partner?
  • It is interesting that God does not simply make another male. This helper must also be in God’s image, but different.
  • There is a fancy theological concept by R. Kendall Soulen called, “Economies of Difference and Mutual Dependence.” It simply says that God blesses the world through the partnership of different people/groups/things.
    • At the most basic level: Life happens through male and female.
    • Children & Parents: Children are raised by parents, w/o parents they will not live. Then parents are taken care of by children.
    • In the NT, the Church is composed of both Jews and Gentiles.
      • They are supposed to work in partnership to reach the world.
      • Then in Revelation, it’s not just some Gentiles, but it’s people from every tribe and tongue.
    • ILLUSTRATION: I see it in seminary too. I grew up in a conservative church through college. Then I went to YWAM and experienced more emphasis on the Holy Spirit and the active presence of God in this world. Now, I am at Fuller and learning about how God cares about race, politics, and ethics. You could say that I went from conservation  charismatic  And along the way I have appreciated what each group has to offer. Personally, I feel much more well-rounded than before. But corporately, I see how each group brings something to the table that will help the other.
  • And this is the second bit of Good News in Genesis 2: God gives us a helper who is not like us.
  • It reminds me of 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 and Paul’s one body metaphor.
    • We are not all eyes, we are not all ears. Lest we be deaf or blind.
    • But it is when our differences come together that we are able to be the Church and fulfill our purpose.


  • So, to summarize today:
    • God provides helpers.
    • Helpers are not assistants, but reflections of a powerful God.
    • Our helpers are different from us.
    • It through such partnerships that God blesses the world.
  • So, all of this points to one thing that we can do today: Each of us can meet someone different from us, different race, gender, etc. Get to know them. Learn their story.

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