Today’s Scripture: Genesis 2:4b-9
When the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, 5 neither wild plants nor grains were growing on the earth. For the Lord God had not yet sent rain to water the earth, and there were no people to cultivate the soil. 6 Instead, springs came up from the ground and watered all the land. 7 Then the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground. He breathed the breath of life into the man’s nostrils, and the man became a living person.
8 Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the east, and there he placed the man he had made. 9 The Lord God made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground—trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit. In the middle of the garden he placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Here in chapter 2 of Genesis we get the second creation story. This one is a little more raw, a little more technical, and a little more involved. God does not speak creation into existence like in the first story, but rather God’s hands get dirty making the world, and especially humans.
The Hebrew word for what God did in chapter one was bara’, create. The Hebrew word used in chapter two is yatsar. The NLT translates yatsar as “formed”. It’s a hands-on creating in which God uses a material, in this case dust, to fashion and form the result. (When God forms woman, he uses a rib.) In this telling of the creation story God is intimate with his own creation. You can envision God working it out, trying different ideas, sticking with it until it was right.
While I like the majesty and glory of the first telling of creation – there is something compelling about this one as well. There is something about knowing that God worked at creation the way and artist works a painting or the way a composer works a piece of music or a writer works a poem. There is a love that goes into that type of creation.
Throughout the history of theology there has been a push and pull between the transcendence of God and the imminence of God – between the glory of God and the nearness of God. In the first two chapters of Genesis we see both the God who is above and apart and full of glory and the God who is close and near and gets down in the dirt with us. So which one is it?
I think the answer is both. God is both above and near – apart from and a part of – independent and involved.
Sometimes we need to be reminded of God’s glory and transcendence. Other times we need to be reminded of God’s closeness and imminence. God can be both. God is both. Which do you need today?
God thank you for being holy and apart. Thank you for being close and intimate. Help us today to tap into the characteristic of you that we need to be reminded of.