Summary: Genesis 2:4-3:24 teaches us that God banishes sinners from Paradise with a view to restoring his perfect Paradise on earth.
We are currently in a series of sermons on Genesis 1-11 that I am calling, “In the Beginning.” I plan to preach only six sermons on these 11 chapters. It is just an overview of redemptive history.
Last week I preached a sermon on Genesis 1:1-2:3 about God creating the heavens and the earth. Moses wrote the book of Genesis (as well as the rest of the Pentateuch) during the forty years that the people of Israel wandered in the wilderness after they had left Egypt on their way to the Promised Land. By this time, the people knew a great deal about suffering in their lives. The narrative we are going to look at today, Genesis 2:4-3:24, is an explanation of how the world came to be the way it was.
Today, we are going to learn about Paradise lost in Genesis 2:4-3:24. I am not going to read the entire narrative, since we will be examining it in today’s sermon. I encourage you to follow along in your Bible. Let’s read just the opening verse, Genesis 2:4:
4 These are the generations
of the heavens and the earth
when they were created,
in the day that the Lord God made
the earth and the heavens. (Genesis 2:4-3:24)
A May 2013 article in The New York Times notes that “suicide rates among middle-aged Americans have risen sharply in the past decade.” Here are the stats behind this trend:
• From 1999 to 2010, the suicide rate among Americans ages 35 to 64 rose by nearly 30 percent.
• More Americans now die of suicide (38,364) than car accidents (33,687). That’s 3,026 more people who die from suicide each year than in car crashes.
• The most pronounced increases were seen among men in their 50s, a group in which suicides jumped by nearly 50 percent.
• The suicide rate for middle-aged men was three times higher than for middle-aged women.
Researchers claim that the reasons for suicide are often complex, but this article focused on two factors – the stress of the economic downturn and the widespread availability of prescription painkillers. But it also hinted that deeper issues, like failed expectations and a loss of hope, might be a root cause for the increase in suicides. Dr. Julie Phillips, a researcher from Rutgers University, says, “The boomers had great expectations for what their life would look like, but… it hasn’t turned out that way.” Dr. Phillips warns that future generations will be facing the same conditions that lead to this sense of despair.
The people of God in the time of Moses had this same loss of hope and sense of despair. They had spent 400 years in Egypt, and had given up hope of ever reaching the Promised Land again. Then, God led them out of Egypt through his servant Moses. However, even as they wandered through the wilderness with all its struggles and hardships, the people must have questioned how the world came to be as it is. So, Moses wrote today’s narrative to give God’s people hope.
The analysis of the Fall in Genesis 2:4-3:24 teaches us that God banishes sinners from Paradise with a view to restoring his perfect Paradise on earth.
Let’s use the following outline:
1. The Garden of God and the Creation of Man and Woman (2:4-25)
2. The Rebellion of Man and Woman, and Exile from the Garden of God (3:1-24)
I. The Garden of God and the Creation of Man and Woman (2:4-25)
First, let’s look at the garden of God and the creation of man and woman.
A. God Creates the Man (2:4-7)
The narrative begins in Genesis 2:4a, “These are the generations of….” The English phrase “These are the generations of…” (elleh toledot) occurs ten times in the book of Genesis. This verse introduces the first of ten sets of generations that traces Israel’s roots from creation to their enslavement in Egypt.
The second toledot is the toledot of Adam (Genesis 5:1-6:8). The third toledot is the toledot of Noah (Genesis 6:9-9:29). The fourth toledot is the toledot of Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth (Genesis 10:1-11:9). The fifth toledot is the toledot of Shem (Genesis 11:10-26). The sixth toledot is the toledot of Terah (Genesis 11:27-25:11). The seventh toledot is the toledot of Ishmael (Genesis 25:12-18). The eighth toledot is the toledot of Isaac (Genesis 25:19-35:29). The ninth toledot is the toledot of Esau (Genesis 36:1-37:1). And the tenth toledot is the toledot of Jacob (Genesis 37:2-50:26).
So, Genesis 2:4a-b, “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.” The first toledot begins in Genesis 2:4 and shows what happened to the good kingdom that God created, which he declared to be “very good” (1:31). “In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens,” (2:4c) the earth was barren. At that time “no bush of the field was yet in the land and no small plant of the field had yet sprung up – for the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the land, and there was no man to work the ground” (2:5).