Mankind: The Beginning – Genesis 1:27-2:25

Where did we come from? Why were we made the way we are? What is our purpose? Why am I here? These and many other questions have been asked by every human being for centuries. There are those who claim that we evolved from some lesser life form. Sadly, this view has become the mainstream. However, as you study mankind and the world around him, you cannot intelligently deny the fact that there is an intelligent designer, there is a creator. The Genesis account of creation fits perfectly with the discoveries that has been made about man and the entire universe. Those who reject the Genesis account, do so simply because they do not like the idea of a God to whom they must be accountable to. The answer to the questions most common to man is clearly found in the Genesis account of the beginning of time. As we study this account, there are several things we learn concerning man such as: the creation of man, the home of man, and the responsibility of man.

The creation of man (1:26-27 ; 2:7, 18-25). In Genesis 1:26-27 we learn that God created mankind in His image. What does it mean to be created in the image of God? The New American Commentary says, “The crown of God’s handiwork is human life.”[1] Mankind is the pinnacle of God’s creation. “When we consider v. 26, we are faced with two interpretive dilemmas that have historically plagued ancient and modern commentators. First, what or who is the referent of the plural pronouns “let us” and “our image and our likeness”? Second, what is the significance of the terms “image” and “likeness” for understanding the unique place of human life in the divine scheme of creation? In what way can the author claim that mankind corresponds to God? The two issues are interrelated since in order to understand the “image” we must also hold before us the question of its Maker’s identity.”[2] The ‘us’ that is referred to in verse 26 is the Trinity. It is the totality of the Godhead. You and I were created in the image of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. To understand what is meant by being in the image and likeness of God, we must get to know God. The more we know of God, the more we know of ourselves. Think about it. God knows more about you than you know about yourself. So, to understand yourself and your purpose, you must get to know God. The closer you are to God, the more you will understand about yourself and your purpose in life. We are created in the image of God in that we have God-like characteristics that are completely different from the rest of creation. We have the ability to reason, to be creative, to make crucial decisions, to experience emotions, to have a moral conscience, and the list goes on and on. There is so much that separates us from the animal world, that it would be insane to deny that we are more than just animals; that we are truly created in the image of the Almighty God.

In Genesis 2:7 and 18-25 we see how God created mankind. All of the rest of creation, God spoke it into existence. However, when it came to mankind, God formed man with His very hands. He took the dust of the ground, and like a potter with clay, He molded and shaped man. He then did something that He did not do with any other creature. He breathed into man and man became a living soul. This breathe of life that God breathed into man is the breathe of eternal life. The soul of every human being will live forever. In verse 21-23 we see that God created male and female. He created the male from the dust of the earth and He created the female from a rib taken from the male’s side. In verses 23-25 we see how God intended the male and female to be together. Here we find the establishment of the institution of marriage (which we will study at a later time). Perhaps Matthew Henry, the Puritan Bible commentator, said it best: “The woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected by him, and near his heart to be beloved.”[3] The point here is that God created man in a unique and special way. We are not just highly evolved animals. We are created in the image of God. Because of our special rank in God’s creation we are uniquely loved by God and we have the opportunity to know God in a real and personal way.

The Home of Man (2:4-17). God created a special home for man. That home is called planet earth. The earth is the only planet that we know of that has the capability of supporting human life. The more you study our planet and its placement in the universe, the more you realize the fact that God created all things and He created the earth with just the right mix of ingredients to support human life. However, the first man and woman was given a special home on the earth. God created a special garden for them to live in, called, the Garden of Eden. The Commentary, Opening Up Genesis says, “Having created Adam in his own image, “the Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed” (2:8). The Garden of Eden was specially designed with Adam in mind. It was a home perfectly suited to Adam’s needs and capabilities—a reminder that it is a kind and loving God with whom we have to do. Think about the goodness of the home God provided for Adam. Eden was a bountiful land situated on a river delta (2:10), where the soil would have been rich and black like that in the cotton fields of northwest Mississippi. It was covered with the most beautiful orchards and the most sumptuous fruits (2:9)—apples, oranges, kiwis, plums, and peaches, all growing in Adam’s backyard. And the surrounding territory was rich in natural resources (2:12)—gold and onyx for beauty, aromatic gum (“bdellium”) for creativity and industry. Imagine a landscape unspoiled by human “progress,” unlimited by climatic conditions, and untainted by sin’s curse. That was Adam’s home—a home of which we can only dream in the present age but await eagerly in the age to come—a paradise! In this paradise, Adam had free reign. He could live anywhere he wanted; use anything he wanted; and eat anything he wanted, with only one restriction: “from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (2:17).”[4] The fact that God placed man in a special place on a special planet is a testimony to the love that God has for mankind. One lesson that we learn here is that since God gave a special home for Adam and Eve, God has a special place for you. You do not have to be lost in this world. You do have a reason for living. You do have a purpose. You do have a place in this world.

The Responsibility of Man (1:28-31 ; 2:15 , 24). There are three basic responsibilities that God gave to man: multiply, care for the earth, and take care of your family. In 1:28 God tells them to multiply and replenish the earth. This multiplication has to do with both the procreation of humankind and the development of the earth. God wanted Adam and Eve to use their time wisely. To be fruitful in all that they do. He wanted them to care for the earth in such a way that it multiplies and replenishes itself. He wanted them to be gardeners and plant new plants and be creative in their work. In addition to this, He wanted them to multiply the human race. Having children is one of the greatest joys known to man. God wanted man to experience the same joy that He had when He first created them. He wanted them to experience the joy of creating.

The second responsibility of man is to care for the earth. God has given man the responsibility of being a steward or lord over all other created things. He is to take care of the atmosphere, the plant life, the animal kingdom and so on. He is also to have dominion. The purpose for much of the plant and animal life is to provide food and other essentials for the life of man. Man’s quality of life on earth is dependent upon his care for the earth.

Man is also given the responsibility to take care of his family. In Genesis 2:24, we find the definition of marriage and the establishment of the institution of the home. Man is to care for the earth in general ways, but he is take special and specific care for his family. This is a natural instinct that God has put in man, to take care of his own. For example, as a pastor, I have a responsibility to lead, care for, protect, and nurture the flock that God has placed in my care. However, my immediate family (my wife and children), come way before my care for anyone or anything else. I have a responsibility to provide specific care for my family that is far greater than any of my other responsibilities. This care for family is something that we will look at more deeply when we discuss the institution of marriage and the home.

Man is indeed the pinnacle of God’s creation. We are created in the image of our creator. We hold a special place in His creation. With such a special position, we have a very special and important responsibility. May we all take our responsibilities seriously and be the people that God created us to be.

[1] Mathews, K. A. (1996). Genesis 1-11:26 (Vol. 1A, p. 160). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[2] Mathews, K. A. (1996). Genesis 1-11:26 (Vol. 1A, p. 160). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[3] Strassner, K. (2009). Opening up Genesis (p. 24). Leominster: Day One Publications.

[4] Strassner, K. (2009). Opening up Genesis (pp. 23–24). Leominster: Day One Publications.

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