Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens.
5 Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, 6 but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. 7 Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
8 Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground – trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
10 A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush.14 The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Ashur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.’
18 The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’
19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.
But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
23 The man said,
‘This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called “woman”,
for she was taken out of man.’
24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.
There is something about a new year that inspires hope. You can’t explain why, it just is! It’s that strange sense that the old is done with and there is hope for another go at life. Of course in reality it doesn’t always mean that we leave the troubles or stress of last year behind, often it’s still with us. But there is still the sense of a breath of fresh air as if stepping out into the morning.
I have something of this sense whenever I return to Genesis 1 and 2. I sense that God is not done, there is more to come and I have a renewed hope. This may seem strange commenting on a reading that presents the earth in all its perfection when our lived reality is anything but perfection. Yet it does inspire hope because it points us to the power and grace of God.
God’s power is displayed in His simply speaking everything into existence. Genesis 1:3: ‘And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.’ His voice echoing into the void transformed nothing into something. With each whisper a deafening formation of matter bringing into existence creation and life. What power is this, that it creates from nothing and lasts forever? I can hardly get a child’s room cleaned with a raised voice, but by His word He creates and brings order. This power inspires hope because it reminds us that God is still speaking, His word is at work creating things anew and one-day His word will bring everything back into order.
God’s grace is displayed because in creating this world He had in mind a people. A people to be loved, to reflect His very image and a people who would be the pinnacle of the created order. The psalmist asks the question, ’What is man that you are mindful of Him, the Son of man that you care’ (Psalm 8:4). He asks this on reflecting on the immense creation, and wonders why on earth God would care, why would God go through all this. Well, there’s a mystery here – we can’t know the full story but we can know that we live undeservedly, we are known undeservedly, and as long as we have breath, we, by grace, can respond to God our creator.
God is not finished, His power is at work through His word, His grace is available to us and we can realistically have a sense of hope. Because He is not finished there is always hope. Yes, life can be tough but there is always hope with our powerful and grace-filled God.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I praise You for Your glory and power in creation. Your glory spoke the world into existence and filled it with good things. Your word formed and shaped us in Your image to bring glory to You. Thank You, thank You, and I praise You with all my heart. Thank You for the grace You have given in being able to live and breathe, for the life Your Son has breathed into me, and the grace He gives me to live each day. Help me, O God, by Your Spirit, to reflect Your image faithfully today; to speak with grace, act in gentleness and treat people with respect. Help me to use what You have given me to serve people sacrificially and Your purposes with vigour. For Your glory and by Your grace I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen