In the beginning, this was home.
The world, I mean.
Creation wasn’t just a series of unconnected events, a flashy display of building prowess. Yes, creation was intended to give God glory—which I guess you could say means that the creation was supposed to show the greatness—the weight—of God.
But how was it supposed to do that?
By its incomprehensible magnitude, yes.
By its unfathomable minute intricacy, surely.
Yet the shape of the Genesis 1 account indicates a progression: building materials created out of nothing; a stage-by-stage form-ing and fashioning process; and then filling and furnishing to complete the picture. All culminating with the creation of a man and a woman. That total sequence occurs very quickly—just six days—but it is a sequence nonetheless.
The fashioning of the woman brings something new. For the first time, blood is shed: the man’s flesh is opened, and God creates the woman out of his side. She is part of him in the most fundamental and dramatic sense.
All that God has already created is given to this man and this woman. The biblical terminology is indeed dominion, which of course gets a pretty bad rap, because it’s popularly taken to mean selfish pillaging.
But that’s the wrong picture. When God presented the man and the woman with the world he had created, he was giving them the keys to their home.
When you think home, do pillage and plunder come to mind? Surely not. You likely want to make the most of it, yes, but you do so by looking after it, by making it everything it can be. That’s how you treat your home.
In the beginning, this was home.
But it wasn’t just home for the man and the woman, Adam and Eve—it was home for God himself.
Or perhaps it’s better to say that man-and-woman-at-home were home for God himself. At any rate, in this living dream to which Adam and Eve awakened at their creation, God was at home with them. He was their father. (The Gospel writer Luke tells us this directly much later, but we can also learn as much from Genesis. Then too, God also walked the bride Eve “down the aisle” to Adam shortly after he formed her: throughout, the picture is a family portrait.)
I guess you could say it was a magical time. Celestial wonder was present, because the Celestial One, God himself, was with mankind, and they were with him. He walked with them (to put it literally) “in the spirit of the day,” we’re told—perhaps meaning by that, that at a particular time of the day God’s Holy Spirit was specially present to talk with them and commune with them.
Some people have thought that Adam needed to “earn his stripes” with God at the beginning. But although there was indeed a sort of test put to Adam, the idea of Adam earning something from God—whether a reward or a relationship or a status—is far from the case.
Truth be told, Adam was created from the dirt and was transferred “from glory to glory” (to use a phrase the Bible uses later) from the beginning. He started out with the gift of God’s favor, and it was all getting bigger and better from there. He started off as dirt; then was formed into God’s climactic creation; then was directly breathed into by God’s Holy Spirit; then was taken away from the parcel of ground out of which he had been formed, and was placed into a beautiful garden he had not planted; then was told that all its fruit was his (except for the fruit of one single tree) and was urged to eat it; and then—as if God was just topping himself again and again God pulled a rib out of Adam’s side and made for him a beautiful bride. Va-va-voom.
This is grace upon grace, favor upon favor, gift upon gift.
Tim Gallant (M. Div. 2000, Mid-America Reformed Seminary) is the author of numerous works in biblical studies, as well as a couple of novels.
This post is an excerpt from his book titled Metanarrative: The Bible’s One Story of Love, Truth, and Beauty.