When God programmed humanity
According to the creation account Adam was created on day six. Just five days earlier, the God, the Master Artist, had begun with a blank canvas. By the end of the sixth day, the artist had created something truly amazing.
In our zoomed in account of the day six creation of humanity, in this passage, we are told God say these remarkable words before the Fall, “It is not good for man to be alone.”
8 The Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. 9 And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
10 Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads. 11 The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 And the gold of that land is good. Bdellium and the onyx stone are there. 13 The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which goes around the whole land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is Hiddekel; it is the one which goes toward the east of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates.
15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
18 And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.”
Every other part of God’s work was perfect. Yet, mid way through day six, after the Godhead had created the first man, Adam, God uttered,
“lo tov heyot ha’adam l’vado,”
One translation Hebrew translator renders this verse: “It is not good for the existence of the adam to be alone.” (Jeff Benner)
Let’s ponder this for a moment because it is quite a statement…
Here we have the first feeling referenced in the Bible: loneliness; not joy, not love, not peace, but loneliness or the flip side of these emotions. And this was before the Fall!
Let that sit for a while. Before the Fall there was something that was not right and that which was not right was caused by God.
God could have created Adam and Eve together in one creative act, just like he had done with the the other animals.
Creating Adam alone wasn’t some after thought where God suddenly realized that there was only one of them. This is God after all. God is perfect.
Have you heard about classical conditioning?
Classical human conditioning is learning through association. Phase 1: Before Conditioning. Phase 2: During Conditioning. Reenforcement Phase 3: After Conditioning. I want to propose to you that God classically conditioned humanity.
Phase 1: Before Conditioning
After God created Adam He placed him in the Paradise Garden. Eden was perfect in every sense of the word.
My family’s favourite holiday destination in New Zealand was beach town called Onemana. It was Eden to us. Onemana paled in comparison to Eden. Eden was teaming with life and vibrance in every sense of the word. The description of Eden in our passage today talks of a river flowing through it and splitting into four separate rivers which are named.
Pison = “increase.” Increase what? The river skirted the whole land of Havilah, where we are told there is gold. And the gold of that land was good. There is also Onyx which is a resin. Gihon = "bursting forth" gives idea of Overflowing banks. Overflowing banks create the flood plain. Flood plains are abundant for food. Hiddekel = “has the meaning of a rapid step”. The suddenly “Breakthrough” of God Euphrates = “fruitfulness."
These rivers were downstream to the one river that flowed through Eden. Eden had the full force of these attributes of the four other rivers. The picture we get is that Adam’s home town was a place of abundant, prosperous life. Heaven on earth.
Phase 2: During Conditioning. Reenforcement
We are told that God then:
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”…
18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
So God notes that the aloneness of man is not goodness. How does God reenforce this aloneness? “I will make a helper suitable for him.”
19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.
So how does God help establish Adam’s aloneness? He sets Adam to work. His first assignment is to name the animals. Every animal type is paraded in front of Adam. Whilst there are some 6.5 million different species of land animals, they can be grouped into approximately 950 family groupings of vertebrate animals.
So Adam would have had to name some 950 groups of animals. And how did they appear to him? In their mating pairs.
Mr & Mrs Bear
Mr & Mrs Lion
Mr & Mrs Bat
Mr & Mrs Turtle
Mr & Mrs …
Adam’s naming of the animals required an understanding of the inherent nature of the creatures before him. A person’s name in ancient culture was reflective of their character. Therefore, to name them, Adam would have had to peer into every animals soul to understand the nature of them. It wouldn’t have been a casual glance, but a deep seeing.
“That four legged creature that wags it tail and pants with its tongue out is fearcly loyal. I’ll name it ‘Dog,” because ‘Dog’ is ‘God’ backwards!”
“That smaller four legged creature that looks a bit like a dog but is more curious and which likes to eat small rodents and seems to have 9 lives, I will call ‘Cat…’”
And this exercise was repeated 950 times. And with every seeing Adam would have been hit with the same realization. Every animal had a companion of their own kind… and yet he didn’t. In all the planet there was stark realization, there was no companion like him. Adam alone, of all creatures, was really alone. “But for Adam no suitable helper was found” (Genesis 2:20).
Phase 3: After Conditioning.
The purpose of conditioning is to imprint a reaction to a stimulus through repeated imprinting.
The memory of the this would have been indelibly etched onto Adam’s soul. Every time he saw true connection from then on it would have pushed the ache button that would have cried out, “I am alone.” As the father of humanity, this aversion to aloneness would have been past down to every child born after him. In other words the rest of humanity.
Memories can be passed down to later generations through genetic switches that allow offspring to inherit the experience of their ancestors, according to new research that may explain how phobias can develop. Scientists have long assumed that memories and learned experiences built up during a lifetime must be passed on by teaching later generations or through personal experience.
However, new research has shown that it is possible for some information to be inherited biologically through chemical changes that occur in DNA.
Researchers at the Emory University School of Medicine, in Atlanta, found that mice can pass on learned information about traumatic or stressful experiences – in this case a fear of the smell of cherry blossom – to subsequent generations.
The results may help to explain why people suffer from seemingly irrational phobias – it may be based on the inherited experiences of their ancestors.
So a fear of spiders may in fact be an inherited defence mechanism laid down in a families genes by an ancestors’ frightening encounter with an arachnid.
Both lonely and alone are used to mean “by oneself” but there is a distinction. Being alone is voluntary, alone is by oneself and liking it.
Introverts understand the benefits of being alone. In fact they need it. There is something really healthy about being having alone time. Everyone should spend a chunk of time alone by themselves every day. We can sort through our hearts and connect with God. But lonely is different from being alone. Lonely is being by oneself but not out of your choice and not with our own consent.
It speaks of times when the need is for contact with other human beings. You can be with people and still feel lonely. You can have 1000 Facebook friends and still be alone.
We sit in these seats this morning, surrounded by family, friends, and fellow New Lifers whom we may or may not know. I can guarantee it that though there may be hundreds of people around us there are many here today that feel alone.
In fact you can feel lonely in places you might not expect, in your marriage, in your home, as the connections between those we love seem so distant. Our loneliness may stem from a recent or not so recent death of a loved one or the ending of a friendship or relationship. In this sense loneliness is not even about being alone; it’s about feeling ALONE. In other words, loneliness is not an external reality but an inner state of being. Loneliness stems not from being alone but instead from being disconnected.
The Plague of loneliness
There has been a steep rise in loneliness in our modern day society. In the 1970s and 1980s, the percentage of Americans over the age of 65 who responded that they regularly or frequently felt lonely was around 15%. Today that number is closer to 45%. Loneliness is not just a phenomenon among older individuals. Recent studies conclude that that older adults are not necessarily the loneliest among us. In fact, the prevalence of loneliness is highest among adolescents and young adults.
Loneliness is bad for your health.
People who feel lonely have a weakened immune system and increased inflammation, a combination that makes loneliness twice as dangerous as obesity, and as high a risk as smoking and can exacerbate symptoms of Alzheimer’s, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Dr. Vivek Murthy, the former Surgeon General, says that loneliness is as hazardous to our lifespan as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
We are actually biologically wired to fight loneliness: Just as when we’re hungry, and our body releases a hormone that triggers us to eat, so too when we are feeling sad or lonely, our brains release oxytocin, which triggers us to reach out and connect with someone else. It’s even stronger for adolescents, who actually feel isolation in their physical pain receptors. Loneliness hurts.
Sue Johnson, Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love
Scientific proves what the Bible tells us that it is not good to be alone.In fact I would go as far to say that loneliness and hell are connected. Catholic Priest and Theologian Jeffrey Sobasan says that
“Hell is a place of zero communication. Though you may try to get someone’s attention, no one gives you even passing notice. Everybody in hell is alone. There is absolutely no affection, caring, or understand from anyone.”
The famous renaissance painter Dante is famous for his depiction of hell. His depiction of hell is most know for the inferno depiction of fire and brimstone. But Dante’s Hell is actually divided into nine levels. The ninth level is the palce where God has sent Satan and the place where the worst of sinners are punished.
And how does Dante depict this level? It is a frozen land of ice. Here, these condemned souls, are each frozen in ice, completely unable to move or speak and are contorted into all sorts of fantastical shapes as a part of their punishment.
Hell lowest level is reserved for those that kept themselves from feeling any warmth or affection on earth. Their punishment is not fire, but a tomb of ice. Whilst they can see on another, they are totally unable to touch or communicate. Condemned to unending separation, they will never again experience any human warmth or kindness.
Hell, in other words, is being alone!
When God was not enough!
Before we look at God’s remedy for Adam’s aloneness, I want to point out something something that might at first sound blasphemous.
Here in the Paradise Garden, when everything was perfect and God had perfect t fellowship with Adam unaffected by the Fall, God apparently wasn’t enough for Adam’s aloneness!
Whilst God is everything, the All, the omniness of goodness, love, perfection and everything else that makes Him God. The fact that God said that Adam’s aloneness was not good, was a statement that He wasn’t enough for Adam’s need.
It wasn’t enough for Adam, or that God couldn’t be enough for Adam, and He could have easily made Adam so that He Himself alone could meet all of His needs. God limited Himself so that Adam needed more than just Himself. He held back to create this dynamic.
We often sing some that express that God be our everything, or “All I need is you.” Whilst I understand the sentiment of the lyrics in these songs being, “God, be my Lord of all,” they are not theologically correct. I often wonder if when we sing, “Be my everything,” if God echoes back, “Sorry! No. I won’t be. I can’t be. I need to leave you so that you need more than me. If I fully fill that part of your life, you cannot become fully human.”
“To be human is to need others, and this is no flaw or weakness.”
― Sue Johnson, The Love Secret: The revolutionary new science of romantic relationships
In part two we will look at God’s remedy for Adam’s aloneness.
Other Sermons In This Series
September 24, 2019
October 16, 2019
October 29, 2019