Adam is probably one of the most famous men in history. Being the first man on earth is an impossible accomplishment to trump. But what do we really know about him? We know that he was the first man, his wife came from his rib, and he was kicked out of the Garden of Eden. Not much else is known or even wondered about. So, let us find out more about our oldest ancestor. (His story can be found in the first few chapters of Genesis.)
The Great Landscaper
It is true that Adam was the first human on earth. After all the universe was formed, God created Adam. His intention was to make man in His own image. What exactly did God mean by that? Was Adam a clone of the all-powerful creator? Was Adam God’s mirror image? Going back to study the Hebrew here clearly shows that that is not what our humble English interprets it as. When God created Adam, He did so with the intent of creating the only creature that could understand emotion and commune with God on a spiritual level. This creation He made was to understand love, care, jealousy, planning, desire, loneliness, companionship. This creature would be the only one God would spend time with to help grow closer to. That alone made mankind unique and special. Only mankind could even try to fathom his creator.
When God created Adam, He reached down to the very soil that man would walk upon and used it to form him. But once the unique and amazing body was formed, it was still useless. Only after God breathed into it did Adam come alive. God did not just give oxygen for Adam’s lungs to work. He did that with all the creatures, but according to the original scriptures it was much more than that. God breathed a deeper life into this creature. He breathed physical, emotional, and spiritual life. He breathed a soul.
It would be amazing to watch as Adam walked around learning about his own body. As he was exploring how his own limbs moved, God created a sanctuary on earth just for him. Known as the Garden of Eden, Adam lived in paradise. But it was not a place for Adam to lounge around in and enjoy the fruits of the trees. This was not a permanent vacation. It was the first job given to a man. He was to be the father of landscapers. His job was to tend to the garden and maintain the paradise characteristics of it. What an amazing and overwhelming job! All he had to do was to keep it looking good and tend the plants if they needed attention. As a result, all the fruit that was produced was his for the taking. Every apricot, plum, peach, berry. Well, all but one.
With every job and responsibility there are limitations and boundaries. That is not always a bad thing. In this paradise on earth, there was only one tree that the landscaper could not touch. We know it as the Tree of Knowledge, but that is an incorrect teaching we have spread. Scripture calls it the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. So many have cut off the last part and declared how mean God is to keep man dumb and not want him to truly be God’s equal. But let us put aside this knee-jerk reaction. God never suppressed knowledge. If that was His goal, He never would have made man in His image. What He was trying to protect His innocent creation from was what so many parents try to shield their own children from: knowing the difference between good and evil.
We only want our children to know good. We don’t want them to know about deception, betrayal, lies, theft, molestation, or any form of evil. We want to shield our children from the ugly aspects of this world. That was what God was doing for Adam here. Though Adam lived in paradise, evil was lurking about. But to shield him from that knowledge and keep him pure was God’s desire. Now, we come to the old argument about why the tree was even there in the first place. Evil was lurking about. Satan (aka the devil, Lucifer) could not stand to see such perfection. Want to make the devil wail in anguish? Gaze upon purity. He was determined to destroy paradise. He was determined to destroy this creature that God took such good care of. And God left Adam a chance to show his faith and love to God. Every time Adam walked by that tree and ignored it, God smiled. Adam’s reward was immortality. As long as he could remain pure, he could enjoy eternal life in the garden. Was the tree a test? You could argue that. But I prefer to see it as an opportunity for Adam to show his gratitude and love.
Adam had the life. He had no diseases. He had no issues with lack of sleep. He had no cell phones ringing constantly. He had no family members harping on him. He woke up every morning to the smell of sweet roses. What more could a guy ask for?
The Father of Zoology
How about something more to commune with in the garden besides the daffodils? Funny how even paradise is always lacking something. Since God created Adam, He knew what the man felt deep down inside even if he himself did not. God saw the loneliness in his child and decided that He would give him companionship and more to occupy his time. He gave Adam the job of zoologist. After God created all the animals, He brought to Adam and gave him his first assignment with them. He was to name them all!
Brad Stine, a Christian comedian, had a great skit about Adam’s job of naming the animals. He said that at first Adam had such a great imagination. He came up with names like hippopotamus, elephant, and the likes. After awhile, he just gave up and named them based on how they moved. That is why we have the “fly”. The duck is still trying to sort that one out. But in reality the number of animals that Adam had to name was a lot less than we have today. There are a number of reasons for that which is an article in itself. But let us sum it up that over the thousands of years since the Garden, many other varieties of animals have developed. Any genetics specialist will tell you that many of the dogs and cats of today have common features and probably came from common ancestors. Look at the new breeds we continue to develop today!
Adam had a time. He was busy. He was learning about the new creatures around him. He had a big responsibility. But there was still something missing. Though not alone, he was lonely. There was not a creature in the garden who could talk back to him. Even if the parrot could, it wasn’t the same. There was no exchange of feelings. There were no real discussions. He needed someone to compliment him. As usual this did not escape God’s notice. To show His love for Adam, He created another human to fulfill that need.
Communicator or Not
At this point we see the first surgery ever. God puts Adam into a deep sleep. For this creation, God chose to use a part of Adam so that the two would truly be one and compatible. He took a rib from Adam and miraculously created another person. But God in His wisdom didn’t make her a mirror image. He created her where she would truly compliment Adam on all levels: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. She would complete him. Adam took the love gift from God and called her woman as she was a part of man. Giving her that title was a compliment and not a symbol of suppression. Adam was proud that he was used as a vessel to create such loveliness. He wanted all to know that they were partners in a sense that went beyond the word today.
At this point, Adam’s role has expanded. He is naturally the head of the household. It is not because he is a man and men rule. It was a logical need for him to be. He was the first one made and was given all instructions about his job and the Garden straight from God. It was now his responsibility to guide and direct Eve, his wife, on those same instructions. A lot hinges on how a manager relates information from the CEO to the workers on the floor. It is very important that everything is worded correctly. But we all know the “telephone game” in which a simple phrase is misconstrued by the end of the line. So is relating the instructions of the Garden of Eden. This becomes evident as evil rears its ugly head and Eve was not taught well enough to avoid the disaster laying before her.
When Satan in the guise of a serpent, or snake, brings the attractiveness of the forbidden fruit to Eve’s attention, the lack of good communication becomes apparent. When Eve responds to Satan’s silvery tongue (which is another article again) she adds the comment about not even touching the fruit. Originally, God did not tell Adam that. He just stated that the man was not to eat it. We don’t know if Adam added this phrase to emphasize the importance of it to Eve or if she added it herself because it just made sense. But we do know that communication was not clear. Little phrases can change the course of history. As Satan points out the holes in her statements which were there only because she was not repeating the correct instructions and was not as well-versed in the Garden rules, she begins to see it all in a different light. This is not always a good thing and in this case it was disastrous.
This is usually why all the problems of mankind fall on the naiveté or ignorance of a woman. But here is where the truth of Adam comes out. In verse six of chapter three of Genesis, it states that the woman gives the freshly sampled fruit to her husband who was with her all the time. The head of the household, the manager of the Garden, the first line of communication was right there all along. He could have corrected Eve. He could have corrected Satan. Instead, he stood there and listened. He didn’t once assert his authority as supervisor and keep the Garden pure. He didn’t pass the tree this time and say thank you for all that he could eat. He arrogantly stood there and watched as his wife ate the only thing forbidden to them. It was then that the innocence falls from their eyes. They are no longer children. They notice their naked bodies and realize that more might come of this. Purity was fleeing fast. So, what do they do? What we all do when we mess up, hide!
They hid from God, or at least they thought they were hidden. Adam should have known that God knew everything. He had such an intimate relationship with Him. But the loss of purity caused irrationality to take over. Here was the Creator that loved him and all he could think to do was hide. Much like the child that hides the empty cookie jar behind his back, deny eating the cookies, and crumbs all around his mouth. But then Adam compounds his error by pointing out that the very gift God gave him was the cause of it all. He shifted blame to the one he was responsible for and also to the One he answered to. He proved himself a horrible manager. The result was a new assignment with much fewer benefits.
God gave each of the humans a punishment for disobeying Him. They could no longer live in the Garden because they had lost their innocence and their days were now numbered since they rejected immortality. To Adam, he was given the assignment of continuing to care for the earth but the wonderful relationship that he originally possessed with it would no longer be there. The earth would need to be cultivated and only through the hard physical labor of man could that be done. Weeds would now be a problem in the fields and the gardens. Constant fighting with the “evils” of growing things would be his. If Adam and his family were to eat, then he had to work for it. No more of walking along the paths and picking whatever hit your fancy. And in the end, his very body would return to the ground in which it was made. The cycle of life would go on painfully.
From this time on we know less about Adam. We do know that his first two sons, Cain and Able, were involved in the first murder (Cain killed Able). He did have other sons and daughters and lived to the ripe old age of 930. But his legacy lives on.
We learn many things from Adam. He was the first zoologist, landscaper, husband, manager, farmer, and father. He was also the worst communicator and manager that many model themselves after. Not even the first husband managed his family well. He was a man given much and didn’t fully appreciate it till it was too late. Through Adam, pain and suffering entered the world. Through Adam, the line in which the One to right it all would come. Through Adam, we learn that we are special. We were created to enjoy a relationship with God. We were created above the other animals to take care of them instead of destroying them.
Adam is a story of growth, failures, humility, and redemption. God didn’t forsake him. He gave man the results of his actions but He also gave him the tools to cope and survive. We see so much of ourselves in Adam. We see arrogance, inefficient management, blame pushing. But we need to also see the destination we will find ourselves at if we imitate the history lesson intended to teach. Honor Adam as the first lovingly created man, but don’t make him your role model in life.