Do you ever find yourself finding fault with God? It may sound extreme, but I would suggest that this tendency is present in every sin we commit. Each and every time you sin, you are looking at God and saying, in effect, “You should have given that to me. Since you didn’t, I’m taking it for myself.”
Or, “Since you didn’t—and since I can’t get it for myself—I’m going to go over here and take this for myself.”
In every case, when you sin, you are telling God that He and His way are not good, that you and your way are better. This is not a new problem for humanity—we see examples time and time again through the pages of Scripture of those who found fault with God (Job 9:22-23, 19:6-8; Jeremiah 2:5, 31; Ezekiel 18:25; Matthew 25:24).
What can cure our hearts of this corrupt and utterly backward way of thinking about God?
To correct our wrong thoughts about God, we must turn our attention—decisively and repeatedly—to the testimony of God’s own Word concerning His abundant and unrelenting goodness.
One of the earliest and most fundamental pieces of this testimony is found in the creation narrative in Genesis 2:10-25.
There are three gifts that God gives to man in this passage that teach us of the Lord’s goodness.
- God Gives Beautiful Goodness (vv. 10-14)
Genesis 2:10 says, “Now a river flowed out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it divided and became four rivers.”
The garden of Eden is the place where God had put Adam, and where He had caused trees to grow to provide food for him (v. 8). The most important thing necessary to sustain growth in the garden is water. And God graciously provides this most important need for life in the place where He put Adam to live.
More than that, we learn in this verse that this water flowed out of Eden to the rest of the world. When God first created, He made it so that the water needed to bless all creation with life welled up from one source in Eden, and from there it spread out.
That single water source divided to become four rivers—Pishon, Gihon, Tigris, and the Euphrates (vv. 11-14). The river and place names in these verses would have represented what was known to the Israelites (even if only somewhat vaguely) as the far reaches of the earth.
We also see in verses 11-14 some of the precious stones that were found in the lands that these rivers flowed to, namely gold, bdellium, and onyx stone. Why are those mentioned?
We’ve seen that God provided the basic need for water for the whole earth. For functional purposes, that would have been enough. Yet, God does not just austerely meet our basic needs, but willingly provides beauty that can thrill the heart and enrapture the soul. There are elements of creation that God intends for our exhilaration and excitement and wonder.
Have you stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon? How did that feel? Have you held in your hand (or had placed on your finger) a piece of jewelry made of the most precious metals and the hardest and yet most light-refracting stone?
God has given all things—including gold and gemstones and every other good thing He created—for us richly to enjoy, and He is glorified when we enjoy them for His sake.
God gives not just sufficient goodness—He gives beautiful goodness, and He gives it for our enjoyment! And yet compared with what we find in verse 15, water and precious stones are nothing.
Genesis 2:15 reads, “Then Yahweh God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.”
The way Yahweh is really going to show His covenant love for His whole creation is by placing man in Eden as His image, and—through His command to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth—to spread the blessing and goodness of His image to the whole creation—through the good and righteous reign and rule of man over the creation, spreading out across the whole earth.
Man, as the image of Yahweh, would spread out from the single source in Eden, to be a blessing to the whole earth.
2. God Gives Needful Wisdom
But with the opening words of verse 16, we find that there is something very basic man will need if he is to accomplish his purpose: Man needs instruction from God. Man needs basic wisdom to mediate the goodness of abundant life to the entire creation.
In verses 16-17, we read, “Yahweh God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.’”
The choice in front of Adam was basic. As basic as the choice of obedience was for Israel, or as basic as it is for you and I today.
Why does God make this so basic? The seemingly obvious choice between: The life of all the abundant trees and the death of the one forbidden tree? I think the answer lies in the fact that we were not made to be wise in ourselves. We are so simple that we require very basic instruction from God.
We have hands, but we don’t know what to do with them until God tells us. We have mouths and stomachs, but we don’t know what to do with them until God tells us.
Likewise, we have wills—and we don’t know what to do with them until God tells us.
In verse 17, we see that Adam, as the one who rules and reigns over the creation—in order to mediate God’s goodness to all the earth—must submit his will to the one who created him and loves him and will give him everything he needs and more.
With these instructions, God has perfectly met Adam’s need for wisdom. God’s needful wisdom is given to Adam in such simple and understandable and good terms. He was simply to delight in and to live by all of this goodness God was giving in His creation, submitting his will to God’s wisdom. And thereby, man as God’s image, living by God’s Word, would be God’s blessing that would spread from a single source in Eden out to all the world.
But there was still something missing.
3. God Gives Delightful Fellowship
Verse 18 says, “Then Yahweh God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.’”
According to God’s own evaluation, there is a deficiency in His creation—something that is not good—even before the fall. And then in verses 21 and 22 God wonderfully supplies the deficiency. He removes one of Adam’s ribs and fashions it (literally, “builds it”) into a woman.
Take a moment to consider why it is that Adam by himself was deficient.
There is the practical matter that Adam by himself couldn’t multiply. Adam physically needed Eve if he was to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, in order to mediate God’s goodness to the whole creation.
But one that’s maybe a little less obvious, I think is arguably more important. To understand it, we must consider who God is, eternally.
What was God doing before He created, so to speak?
For all eternity God has been a Father loving His Son through the fellowship of His Spirit (cf. John 17:24).
This, I think, is the fundamental reason why it is not good for man to be alone: By himself, Adam had no way to truly image a God of joyful, loving, self-giving fellowship. The only way Adam was really going to be like God is if he had another “corresponding to himself” to whom he could give himself in fellowship for their mutual enjoyment and delight.
Whereas Adam had been incomplete as God’s image bearer, the provision of the woman made man the unified whole he was meant to be. This truth applies to every person, married or single. Not just the fact that he had a wife—but more fundamentally the fact that he was no longer alone—meant that he was now suited in the fellowship of plurality to mediate God’s goodness to the whole earth.
But you know that isn’t the end of the story. Humanity fell into sin, and with that, we reversed and rejected God’s gifts—we corrupted them all:
God’s gifts of beautiful goodness soon became objects of sinful lust and coveting.
God’s gift of needful wisdom soon became the first and repeated object of our rejection and rebellion.
And God’s gift of delightful fellowship became an opportunity for blame-shifting in chapter 3—and then for the first murder in chapter 4.
Devastating, isn’t it? How do we get it back? I hope you’re as encouraged as I am to find that God has explicit plans—laid out in His Word—to restore His original design, and that these plans are well underway.
God says in Ezekiel 47 and Zechariah 14 that Jerusalem and (more specifically) the temple will be the single water source for all the earth during the Messiah’s future earthly reign. And in Revelation 22 that the river of the water of life will flow, clear as crystal, from the throne of God and of the lamb.
And—isn’t it glorious?—this hope of reversal has been applied by Jesus for us even now. As Jesus says, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water’” (John 7:38).
We who are given to thoughts like, “If only I had that,” or “If only this were taken away,” or “I wish I could escape”—
Christian, we who believe in Jesus have what we need to reverse the corruption of these thoughts even now. We have the Holy Spirit, who is closely connected to many (if not all) of the promises that God will make His people an eternal source of the water of life.
And how does the Spirit do this for us? He gives us texts like Genesis 2:10-25.
And He gives us instruction like, “Guard your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the streams of life.” And truth-filled commands like, “Taste and see that the Lord is good!” Or, even more simply, the exclamatory question “Isn’t God good?!”
Here is a basic encouragement: when life’s circumstances press in and you’re tempted to think that God is not being good, lean on the Spirit.
You don’t know what to do with your thoughts until God tells you! And God is telling you—especially through this text—that He is good!