It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it, the world of Genesis 1 and 2? That world is a world where swarms of living creatures filled the earth and sky and water, where vegetation was fruitful, and where man and woman coexisted free of shame and grief and strife. That world doesn’t seem much like our world at all. After all, in our world, animals face the threat of extinction, droughts destroy our vegetation, and man and woman are caught up in a never-ending battle for power and dominance.
And while with its images of idyllic paradise, Genesis 1 and 2 can be hard to relate to—not to mention downright discouraging when we find ourselves living in what can be described as anything but paradise. If we’re going to understand the covenants, the relational contracts God makes with his people, we must begin by understanding something about the God who initiates them. And for that, there’s no better place to start than at the beginning.
If Genesis 1 teaches us anything, it’s that all that God does is good. He brought light into darkness, and it was good (vv. 3–4). He separated the waters from the land, and it was good (vv. 9–10). He made plants and trees to bear fruit, and it was good (vv. 11–12).God spoke an entire universe into existence, and it was very good indeed (v. 31).
Rather than focusing on a day-by-day retelling of how the world came to be, Genesis 2 draws us into the intimacy of God’s creation of humanity. Here, God forms the man out of the dust of the ground. He breathes life into him. He creates a woman out of the man’s rib and brings her to the man to be his indispensable companion. But what is most significant about this retelling of creation, what should stop us dead in our tracks, is that we see a God who took the time, took the trouble, took the energy to make humanity, not out of some feeling of loneliness or wanting for anything, but out of the overflowing abundance of his love.
We see in Genesis 2 that God acts to bring us into relationship with himself. From the light to the land to the animals to the vegetation, he formed all of creation in order to make a place where we could dwell in relationship with him. He created a world for us, a good world where we could be with him.
While our world may no longer resemble the unspoiled creation of Genesis 1 and 2, we can take comfort in knowing that these two truths—that all that God does is good and that all that God does is to bring us into relationship with himself—are not only true of every covenant God makes with his people but are also true of God himself. And that, we can always count on.