Out of Dust

Studies in Genesis 2

Then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. (Genesis 2:7 ESV)

God shaped the first Man out of the same stuff from which the earth is made. “Dust” is loose earth, clay or ore. “Ground” is a plot of land, the substance of the earth, soil. The dust of the earth is loose soil, which lies on top of the ground, easily gathered into your hand and tossed or moved about. God gathered up a pile of loose dirt and changed that pile into a Man.

“Formed” means to shape or mold, to squeeze into a shape, to manipulate. God formed the Man from the dust of the ground. He took a substance He had already made and from it He changed that substance into something completely different. He took something which was designed to sustain life and from it created that which is alive. Only God can do this.

But God didn’t just fashion the likeness of a Man and make him alive. He breathed into him the “breath of life.” God blew into the Man’s nostrils a puff of breath and Man came to life. God tells us what He has done singling out Man for special treatment. He sets Man apart from the rest of His creation. We assume God created every creature from the material on hand. We assume God gives breath to every creature. Yet, He is not telling us about every creature. He is telling us about ourselves.

A Scriptural illustration may help us understand what God has done. “But now, O LORD, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand” (Isaiah 64:8 ESV). The potter takes a lump of clay and prepares it, then fashions it according to his will and design. The clay has nothing to say about what is being done. “Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?” (Romans 9:21 ESV).

Some have suggested that because Paul uses the words for “honorable” and “dishonorable” use, God creating some people of more value and importance than others. Yet, God gives Man a dignity and place in creation He gives no other creature. He intimately knows each person yet places them in different circumstances and directs them in different ways but never makes one more valuable than another. All are created in God’s image and given a specific purpose. God’s purpose fits His character and all are created eternally valuable. There is no lesser or greater.

Then the word of the LORD came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter has done? declares the LORD. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel. (Jeremiah 18:5-6 ESV)

Adam and Eve were created to fulfill the purpose of God and given a nature for that end. Every person is given the same purpose and nature.

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