Sunday, November 08, 2015

Stray Thoughts from Genesis 2

“Is that ‘Bear’ with a ‘B’, Adam?”
Though the Lord made Adam first, and though he tasked Adam alone with naming all the animals he had created, it seems God always intended that Adam should have a wife. We read that he said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him”.

Now God doesn’t always “say”. Much of the time he simply thinks, and the universe is none the wiser as to what goes on in the recesses of the Infinite. God’s thoughts, one psalmist tells us, are “very deep”. Elsewhere David says God’s thoughts toward us are “incomparable” and “too numerous to count”. He does not share all his thoughts with us. He does not even share them all with the angels.

That should not be a big surprise. He is God, after all.

Not Good

So when the writer of Genesis reports that God “said” it was not good for Adam to be alone, I suspect he is doing more than clueing us in to some kind of evolving thought process in the mind of God about Adam’s needs (and by extension the need of all masculinity for a complement). This idea does not suddenly occur to God out of the blue. He is making a public declaration:
“It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
From the way it is phrased, this is not addressed to Adam. He does not say “you”, but “the man”. He is speaking to someone else. Perhaps we are reading of an exchange within the Godhead, such as the one we find at the end of Genesis 3, where God declares, “The man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil”. Or perhaps he is addressing the angels who wait upon him.

In any case, God knows the state of things is “not good” and, more importantly, he also lets that be known. Out loud.

Speaking Aloud

He didn’t have to mention it. And yet he did. That means something, I think. At least, it seems to make it just that little bit more official and serious than if the writer of Genesis had recorded that God had a whim and acted on it, assuming we can even imagine such a thing.

Note that he announces what he is planning to do before he ever tasks Adam with naming the animals. So whether it is only the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit who are engaged on Adam’s behalf (something I think we can be fairly sure of) or whether the angels in the presence of God have also gathered to observe what comes next, Heaven seems to have focused its attention on the man in his solitary and less-than-ideal state.

Crazy thought here: perhaps something similar happens when you and I experience need.

Bringing Man into the Loop

Then God brings man into the loop. The task he gives Adam is not an idle one, and it is not one he can perform in a few minutes. There is some serious work to be done. Even if there existed significantly fewer species in need of names than we see today (and there may well have been quite a few more), naming each one would certainly take time and more than a little creativity.

Further, since God has created each and every one of these creatures personally, he is perfectly cognizant of the fact that among the animals there will not be found a helper fit for Adam. In one sense, what he is giving Adam to do is what we call at the office “busy work”. It was undoubtedly convenient to have different names for each of the animals, but I suspect that wasn’t the primary purpose of the exercise. In fact, God has already announced to everyone observing that no solution to the needs of Adam is to be found among the animals. He intends to MAKE a helper fit for Adam.

But that is not the first thing he does.

At Last ...

He sets up the situation so that Adam will buy in. Maybe it even worked too well.

You see, while God is way ahead of him in assessing his needs and looking for a solution, Adam needs to come to that same place in his thinking. God doesn’t just make the woman and hand her over to the man in the knowledge that this will best address Adam’s loneliness, though he certainly could have done so. Instead, he lets Adam go through the whole lengthy process of examining every single beast and bird on God’s teeming planet for a solution and coming to the conclusion that not one of them will do for the purpose of being his “fit helper”. That may seem just a little bit frustrating to Adam.

God, for whom a thousand years is as one day, is untroubled by the delay.

So now when the man finally receives his wife from God, he says, “This AT LAST is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh”. At this point, Adam has come to understand his own need, a need God perceives from the beginning. At this point, he is tired of laboring to find a solution and coming up empty. At this point, he is not only prepared to accept the solution God is offering as the best possible, but to rejoice in it. He has come to see things the way God does. 

God and Adam, you might say, are enjoying fellowship.

Before You Ask Him

When you find yourself today with a perceived need — small and incidental, deep and keenly felt, short-term or long-term — keep this truth in mind. The Lord Jesus told his disciples, “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him”.

When we pray, we are not initiating a discussion with God about subject matter he has never before considered. Those around the throne in heaven may well have been amusing themselves for a day, a week, or a decade debating when the penny is going to drop and we are going to perceive a need in our lives that seems perfectly obvious to Heaven, and act upon it in the only way that ever makes any sense. I wonder if we are ever aware — in the middle of our flapping and fussing about the things that concern us, challenge us or make us fear — that we are standing centre stage in the universe, the spotlight directly on us, the script written, the happy ending assured and the Director waiting in the wings … for us to speak our next line.

Just a stray thought.

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