Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
I. THE REST OF THE SABBATH IS NOT INACTION, BUT THE CESSATION FROM THE LOWER ORDER OF WORK FOE THE HIGHER. The idea of the first proclamation seems to be that creation was perfectly adjusted through the six days into a settled harmony which puts heaven and earth in their abiding relation to one another.
II. Then THERE IS NO MORE SAID OF EVENING AND MORNING. The seventh day is only light. God's rest is complacency in his works. The blessing on the seventh day which hallowed it is the blessing on that which the day represents - perfect peace between heaven and earth, God satisfied in his creation, and inviting his intelligent creatures to "enter into his rest by communion with him. It seems quite unnecessary to vindicate such a sanctification of the seventh day from the insinuations of critics that it was a late addition made by the Jewish legislator to support the fourth commandment. In that case the whole cosmogony must be renounced. Such an observance of a day of rest seems a natural antecedent to the patriarchal as well as the Mosaic economy. We have already intimated that the whole account of creation is placed at the commencement of revelation because it has a bearing upon the positive ordinances of religion. It is not either a scientific or poetic sketch of the universe; it is the broad, fundamental outline of a System of religious truth connected with a body of Divine commandments. The sabbath is thus described in its original breadth. The sanctification of it is -
1. Negative. It is separation from the lower conditions of work, which in the case of man are the characteristics of days which are sinful days - days of toil and conflict, of darkness and light mingled.
2. Positive. It is the restful enjoyment of a higher life, a life which is not laboring after emancipation from bondage, but perfect with a glorious liberty; the true day, sacred, high, eternal noon," God and man rejoicing m one another, the creature reflecting the glory of the Creator. - R. § 2. THE GENERATIONS OF THE HEAVENS AND OF THE EARTH (Genesis 2:4-4:26).
1. Life is a Divine bestowment.
2. Dust which is Divinely inspired is no longer mere dust; the true life is neither groveling on the earth, nor so much away from the earth as to be no longer the life of a living soul.
3. The creature who is last formed, and for whom all other things wait and are prepared, is made to be the interpreter of all, and the glory of God in them. - R.
I. The first fact in that history is a state of "PLEASANTNESS." The garden is planted by God. The trees are adapted to human life, to support it, to gratify it; and in the midst of the garden the two trees which represent the two most important facts with which revelation is about to deal, viz., immortality and sin.
II. OUTSPREAD BLESSING. The RIVER breaks into four fountains, whose description carries us over enormous regions of the world. It is the river which went out of Eden to water the garden; so that the conception before us is that of an abode of man specially prepared of God, not identical with Eden in extent, but in character; and the picture is carried out, as it were, by the channels of the outflowing streams, which bear the Eden life with them over the surface of the earth, so that the general effect of the whole is a prophecy of blessing. Eden-like beauty, and pleasantness, over the whole extent of the world.
III. THE PREPARED GARDEN WAITED FOR ITS INHABITANT. "And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden" (literally, made him to rest in the garden) "to dress it and to keep it." Perhaps the simplest view of these words is the most significant. Man is led into a life of pleasantness, with only such demands upon him as it will be no burden to meet; and in that life of pure happiness and free activity he is made conscious, not of mere dependence upon his Creator for existence, not of laws hanging over him like threatening swords, but of a Divine commandment which at once gave liberty and restrained it, which surrounded the one tree of knowledge of good and evil with its circle of prohibition, not as an arbitrary test of obedience, but as a Divine proclamation of eternal righteousness. "Evil is death." "Thou shalt not eat of it," for this reason, that "in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." It is not a subjection of a new-made creature to a test. It would be a harsh demand to make of Adam, unless he understood that it was founded on the nature of things.
IV. THE TREE OF LIFE AND THE TREE OF DEATH STAND TOGETHER in the midst of the garden. They hold the same position still in every sphere of human existence. But the book of Divine grace, as it teaches us how the sin-stricken, dying world is restored to a paradise of Divine blessedness, reveals at the last, in the vision of the Christian seer, only the tree of life beside the water of life; the evil cast out, and the death which it brought with it, and the new-made inhabitants "taking freely of the pleasures which are forevermore." - R.
I. THEIR RECURRRNCE IN SCRIPTURE. They link the paradise of unfallen man to that of redeemed man. Actual channels of life and blessing, they were also figures of that salvation which the history of the world was gradually to unfold. But sin came, and death; present possession was lost. What remained was the promise of a Savior. We pass over much of preparation for his coming: the selection of a people; the care of God for his vineyard; the ordinances and services foreshadowing the gospel. Then a time of trouble: Jerusalem a desolation; the people in captivity; the temple destroyed; the ark gone; sacrifices at an end. "Where is now thy God?" Where thy hope? Such the state of the world when a vision given to Ezekiel (Ezekiel 47:1-12), reproducing the imagery of Eden, but adapted to the need of fallen man. Again we have the stream; now specially to heal. Its source the mercy-seat (comp. Ezekiel 43:1-7; Ezekiel 47:1; Revelation 22:1). And the trees; not different from the tree of life (Ezekiel 47:12: "It shall bring forth new fruit"); varied manifestations of grace; for food and for medicine. But observe, the vision is of a coming dispensation. Again a space. Our Savior's earthly ministry over. The Church is struggling on. The work committed to weak hands; the treasure in earthen vessels. But before the volume of revelation closed, the same symbols are shown in vision to St. John (Revelation 22:1, 2). The "river of water of life" (cf. "living water," John 4:10), and the tree whose fruit and leaves are for food and healing. Meanwhile our Lord had said, "Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness." A link to connect this with Genesis 2. is Revelation 2:7 (cf. also Revelation 12:11). And again, the word used for "tree" in all these passages is that used for the cross in Galatians 3:13 and 1 Peter 2:24.
II. THEIR SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE. The tree with its fruit and leaves are the manifestation of Christ to the soul - to sinners pardon, to the weak support and guidance, to saints communion. And the stream is the gospel (the four-parted river in Eden has been likened to the four Gospels), spreading throughout the world, bringing healing, light, and life; enabling men to rejoice in hope. But mark, the drops of which that stream is composed are living men. The gospel spreads from heart to heart, and from lip to lip (cf. John 7:38). Forming part of that healing flood are preachers of the gospel in every place and way; and thinkers contending for the faith; and men mighty in prayer; and those whose loving, useful lives set forth Christ; and the sick silently preaching patience; and the child in his little ministry. There is helping work for all. The Lord hath need of all. To each one the question comes, Art thou part of that stream? Hast thou realized the stream of mercy, the gift of salvation for thine own need? And cans, thou look at the many still unhealed and be content to do nothing? Thou couldst not cause the stream to flow; but it is thine to press the "living water" upon others, to help to save others Art thou doing this? Is there not within the circle of thy daily life some one in grief whom Christian sympathy may help, some anxious one whom a word of faith may strengthen, some undecided one who may be influenced? There is thy work. Let the reality of Christ's gift and his charge to thee so fill thy heart that real longing may lead to earnest prayer; then a way will be opened. - M.
he called every living creature was the name thereof." Nothing could better represent the organization of the earthly life upon the basis of man's supremacy. But there is no helpmeet for man ("as before him," the reflection of himself) in all the lower creation.
I. HUMAN SOCIETY MUST SPRING OUT OF SOMETHING HIGHER THAN ANIMAL LIFE AND MAN'S MERE EARTHLY POSITION. The deep sleep, the Divine manipulation of maws fleshly frame, the formation of the new creature, not out of the ground, but out of man, the exclamation of Adam, This is another self, my bone and my flesh, therefore she shall be called woman, because so closely akin to man - all this, whatever physical interpretation we give to it, represents the fact that companionship, family life, mail's intercourse with his fellow, all the relations which spring from the fleshly unity of the race, are of the most sacred character. As they are from God, and specially of God's appointment, so they should be for God.
II. There, in home life, torn off, as it were, from the larger sphere, that it may be THE NEW BEGINNING OF THE NEW WORLD TO US, should be the special recognition of God, the family altar, the house of man a house of God.
III. The Divine beginning of human life is the foundation on which we build up society. THE RELATIONS OF THE SEXES WILL BE PUREST AND NOBLEST the more the heart of man unfolds itself in the element of the heavenly love. - R.