THE ORIGIN OF HUMANKIND

God’s final act of creation on day six was His greatest achievement. Now that the physical world was in place and He had filled it with animals and plants, He created Adam, the first human, to serve as its caretaker. The Creator account contains several clues that show Adam’s special status.

First, Adam was created not by God’s spoken word but by direct action from the Creator Himself. After shaping man from the dust of the earth, the Lord “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life” (Genesis 2:7). Made from common dirt-a preexisting material-Adam clearly was not divine. But he drew his life from God Himself, showing that he had favored status among all the creatures of the earth. (see sidebar, “Go Make Your Own Dirt.”)

A second clue about humankind’s special standing is the divine conference that God called before creating Adam: “And God said, “Let us make man’ ” (Genesis 1:26, italics added). This formula does not occur anywhere else in the Creation account. This is probably the Bible’s first reference to the triune nature of God. All three persons of the Trinity-Father, Son, and Spirit-participated in the creation of humankind.

The strongest clue about mankind’s special status is the declaration that “God creation man in his own image” (1:27). The most likely meaning of this phrase is that humans alone of all God’s creatures have the ability to enjoy a relationship with God. We are able to reason plan, think, and make moral decisions. These are elements of personhood that set us apart as a unique species.

Along with his favored status, Adam also received a special responsibility. He was to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen 1:28 NRSV). The King James Version goes on to add that man was to “have dominion” over the natural world. Taking care of the physical world was Adam’s privilege as well as his responsibility. Mankind alone was charged with this job-a duty that involved accountability to the Creator Himself.

Soon after God creator Adam, He saw something He didn’t like. He issued his first and only “not good” about His creation (Genesis 2:18). He noted that Adam was all alone in the world. His dominion over the physical world was not enough to bring him happiness and fulfillment. He needed a helper and companion. So God created Eve from a rib that He took from Adam’s own body (Genesis 2:21-22).

The message of the creation of Eve is that man and woman share the same physical nature. Because of their similarity, they can unite as husband and wife in a union that brings fulfillment to both. To become “one flesh” in the institution of marriage is to be joined together in a relationship that grows deeper and more meaningful with the passing years (Genesis 2:24-25). Through this one-flesh union, they cooperate with God in His creative actions by bringing children into the world.

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