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« The Relationship Broken | Main | God’s Relationship with the Angels »

God’s Relationship with Adam

If God could not find a fulfilling relationship with the angels, did He find it in man?  The first man, Adam, it seems obvious, could not possibly appreciate his unique relationship with God.  There were no other humans competing with him for an intimate closeness with his Creator.  Adam had God all to himself.  Added to that privileged status was the fact that this relationship was not encumbered with sin.  There were no transgressions, no rebellions, no lies, no sickness or disease, no pain, no tears, nothing to cause hurt or sorrow, nothing to corrupt, distract or inject separation into this divine companionship.  The Garden of Eden was a paradise on earth. 

How long was Adam in the Garden between the time of creation and his later transgression?  The Genesis account of the relationship between Adam, Eve and the Lord gives us enough information to piece together a description of its quality and length.  “Then God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’  And God said, ‘See, I have given you every herb that yields seed which is on the face of all the earth, and every tree whose fruit yields seed; to you it shall be for food. Also, to every beast of the earth, to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, in which there is life, I have given every green herb for food’; and it was so.  Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” Genesis 1:28-31. 

From the above scriptures, it is reasonable to assume that dialogue between God and Adam must have been in progress, and that there was time enough for Adam to respond to God’s instructions.  Then, at some point, a further development took place.  “And the LORD God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.’   Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.  So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.  And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place.  Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.  And Adam said: ‘This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.’” Genesis 2:18-23.

But, let’s start at the beginning.  I remember someone asking me once if Adam had a belly button.  A literal reading of Genesis makes me believe Adam started out as a full grown man, so no, he didn’t have an umbilical cord to sever because he didn’t emerge from a mother’s womb.  God fashioned an adult male from the dust of the earth.  “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7 (NKJV). Adam skipped the early stages of life that all of his descendants have experienced.  No helpless infancy, no toddler’s tribulations, no childhood, no adolescence and no teenage years.  Beginning life as an adult, however, meant that all of the motor skills, cognitive abilities and maturation necessary to life had to either be miraculously created and, shall we say “uploaded” into his brain, or else God had to painstakingly teach these things to him.  However it happened, Adam had a huge learning curve to negotiate.  Imagine the rigorous educational program he needed to equip him for the jobs God gave him, and for that to happen, he had to have time to absorb it all. 

Although we do not have a clear time frame in which these things developed, we are told in the very next verse that, after his creation, God placed the man in the Garden of Eden.  “The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed.” Genesis 2:8 (NKJV).  It is doubtful that God threw Adam into a confusing environment where he would be overwhelmed with the array of plants and animals.  God must have schooled him in his new surroundings.  “And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Genesis 2:9 (NKJV).  This educational program may have taken quite a few years, but, considering the fact that Adam lived to be 930 years old, there was plenty of time to learn.  We do know that at the birth of Seth, Adam and Eve’s third child, Adam was 130 years old.  It is possible that he was in the Garden for a hundred years or longer.  One hundred years is ample time for a relationship to flourish.

Adam’s schooling involved more than biology lessons.  He also learned the practical side of living.  “Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” Genesis 2:15 (NKJV).  The Lord wasted no time in emphasizing the value of work by immediately appointing Adam as caretaker of the Garden.  God also assigned him the task of inventorying all the animals and giving them names.  That meant Adam needed language, he needed skills to observe the animals and know the difference between all of them.  This was no small order.  Carl Jung identified eight cognitive processes that humans use to perceive themselves, the world around them and their perception of truth: experiencing, reviewing, interpreting, foreseeing, ordering, analyzing, connecting and valuing.  Adam need all of these to complete the work God had given him to do. 

Some may classify these acquired skills as a rather mundane to-do list.  To the contrary, it indicates the high level of interaction that God must have had with Adam.  The relationship between God and Adam was sophisticated and intimate.  The Bible doesn’t elaborate on the details of this relationship, but as we reflect on its breadth and complexity, the many roles that God had to play made it much more advanced than any relationship He had with the angels.  He was Adam’s teacher, mentor, advisor, tutor, counselor, coach, consultant and friend.  Also, remember that Adam had neither an earthly father nor mother.  That meant that he looked to God as his parent, a position that made the relationship even closer than any of the above roles.  In terms of relationship building, however, the key word here is … time!  It takes time to teach, to mentor, to advise, and to do all the things necessary to train a person.  God had to spend time with Adam in a close, affectionate, focused way.  Time together allows bonding and intimate interaction.

We will discuss the details of the fall in the next chapter, but Genesis 3:8 reveals the nature of the relationship.  “And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.”  In all probability, this sound was very familiar to the ears of Adam and Eve.  Before their transgression, they would have had no reason to hide among the trees.  It is only logical to believe that they welcomed this sound and perhaps looked forward to it on a regular basis.  Indeed, given the enormous void in his knowledge of life and the world, Adam absolutely needed this companionship.  At the same time, we may reasonably conclude that this relationship was as fulfilling to God as it was to His created being.  We may even posit this concept:  The relationship God had with Adam before the fall models the relationship He wants to have with us after our regeneration! 

Our analysis of God’s relationship with Adam yields truths far beyond the mere historical facts of man’s beginnings.  It reveals the richness of the nature of God’s heart.  When Jesus taught His disciples, he said, “’Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.’”  Matthew 12:33-35.  We may interpret our Lord’s words as saying, “You can know what is in a man’s heart by listening to his words and watching his actions.  His words and deeds are the truest measure of his character!” If we observe God interacting with Adam with such tenderness and closeness, it tells us as much about God as it does about Adam.  Thus, God desires to relate to mankind in a more personal way than just a cosmic force or an impersonal power.  He wants to teach us, guide us, overshadow us and, most importantly, love us if we will let him.  Yes, we are to worship Him, but He wants worship from us that never forgets to be in awe of Him, and simultaneously, never allows the awesomeness to cause us run away from Him.   Far too few believers enter into this intimate kind of relationship with Christ.

Finally, God had created in man a unique feature that He did not give to the angels: the capacity for growth.  If God teaches, that means we can learn.  If God mentors, that means we can develop.  If God advises, that means we can be persuaded.  If God walks with us, that means we can walk with Him.  We can become something or someone we have never been before.  We can change into a character that brings us into alignment with the God’s ideal for mankind.  We can grow!  It is promised, predicted, commissioned and expected.  In fact, it has been said that if on word could be selected that would characterize Christianity, it would be the word GROW!  This may be the most critical aspect of our relationship with God.  Even as a teacher, coach or parent looks intently to gauge the impact that he or she has on a subject, so also God looks for a transformational effect on each of us.  This is precisely the effect that the Apostle John articulated in his letter to the church.

“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.  Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” 1 John 3:1-2. 

Next, as we contemplate the fallout from Adam and Eve’s disobedience, we will see the biggest difference between God’s treatment of the angels and His treatment of mankind.  When the angels sinned, He cast them out with no possibility of repentance.  And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day.” Jude 1:6.  Also, Isaiah gives us the account of Satan’s plight when he rebelled against God in heaven.   ”’How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit.’” Isaiah 14:12-15. 

But Adam’s sin showed us a far different aspect of God.  He now revealed his role of Savior.  In so doing, He transfigured the redemption of lost mankind. 

“O what a Savior, O hallelujah!  His heart was broken on Calvary; His hands were nail scarred
His side was riven; He gave His life-blood for even me.”  (Marvin P. Dalton)

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