Updated on January 6, 2014
plain & simple: Week 2, Origins: The purpose of man…
There are times that knowing our purpose is a thorn rather than a revelation. In the writing of this study, this chapter has been like a finger poking me in the eye—because I struggle with my purpose. Do you?
I struggle with the notion that I am not my own. I struggle with the idea that in order to have the amazing life God has for me, to experience everything He desires for my life, I have to give it up. I have to let go of my timelines, my understandings, and my desires—and I have to trust that His concept for the best life is wiser, more thorough, and more fulfilling than anything I could create myself.
And in my weaker times, I justify my own wisdom (how ridiculous is that?!?), thinking that in so many areas of my life, I create something where there wasn’t that thing before. I write words where there weren’t any before, I create in the kitchen delicacies that were just ingredients before. So why can’t I create my own life? Right? Oh wait…
Those words, I may have typed them, but I didn’t create them. I do not give meaning to words or create understanding of language. That kitchen creation? Yeah, I did not create those ingredients—and many times I do not know how they came to be in the first place. This does not begin to touch the reality that I do not often understand the science behind the whole cooking/baking adventure.
So though I may be able to “create” text or meals, I am not the Creator. Like the child who believes they created a Lego tower by themselves without recognizing that someone else created the interlocking blocks, I sometimes get confused as to my place in the order of creation.
Before we move on, are there areas where you struggle with this? Acknowledge them now so you can move on through the study:
Think about a bridge. When we give someone directions, we do not think about the civil engineers who designed the bridge, the construction workers who poured the concrete and held the construction signs. We do not think of the chemists who created the compounds that made the paint
which prevents rust and wear. No, we simply say, “Go over the bridge and take a left.”
The presence of the bridge reveals the presence of someone who created that bridge. We do not go to a restaurant and believe that the food that miraculously appears simply existed in its current state. If nothing else, we at least believe there was an oven or microwave involved in creating the heated meal. Yet, we do not take the same perspective with ourselves. So many times, we choose to believe that our existence proves that we ourselves are great. We get so fascinated with ourselves, we forget there is One who created us.
Read Genesis 1:26. How was man created?
The truth of the matter is this: we exist, we did not create ourselves, so there must be something greater that brought us into being. We may not always see it, but God’s hand works even when we do not acknowledge it.
Take, for example, Esther. The entire book of Esther is 10 chapters, and the last one is only three verses. In this short book, we do not question the hand of God throughout.
Read Esther chapters 1-4. List out all the verses where God is mentioned by name.
With all that transpired in those four chapters, God was not mentioned by name at all. List at least two things that make you think God may have been involved in these happenings?
Mordecai and Esther were Jews, so therefore, part of the people of God. And in 4:15-17, Esther asks the Jews to fast and pray, saying she and her maids would do likewise. These are two strong indications that God was involved in this story. Yet, His name was never mentioned.
Our Christian culture can be obsessed with proclaiming the name of God. Yet here in Esther, God’s name was not directly proclaimed, we simply “know” He was there.
Read Esther chapters 5-10. List the ways in which God’s hand was or could have been directly involved in the situations.
One woman put in a place of power, under the wisdom of her uncle, takes life-threatening steps after submitting to fasting and prayer with her people and her maids. Her role was to take the steps that the Jews might be saved. The destruction of the enemies came at the physical hands of others.
Read the following passages and list the qualities of Esther that brought her into the position of power she held:
Esther was humble throughout this whole account of her life. She submitted herself to the wisdom and leading of Mordecai. She submitted herself to the wisdom Hegai the king’s eunuch before entering the king’s chamber the first time. She looked out for the interests of the king by sharing the assassination plot. She kept in touch with Mordecai, and tried to provide for him in his sackcloth and ashes. And then she listened and submitted to his request in chapter 4. And even when she broke the law by entering the king’s chambers uninvited, she humbled herself, spoke with honor and respect to her king, and then made a request to host a dinner. She hosted not only her husband, but the man responsible for the potential demise of her people. And she did so twice—without complaint—showing honor to even Haman as the king’s man to the point that Haman did not see what was coming. Rather than publicly humiliate Haman and the king, Esther honored them both by revealing the plot in private.
And though she had the king’s ultimate trust, as he had shown time and again, Esther, in chapter 9, still comes to him humbly. She makes requests, not demands—and she begins those requests
with the honor and dignity due to her husband, her king. She has the ear of the king, and yet she continues to honor him and remember her people.
She did not make demands in the public eye. She did not throw a fit. She did not embarrass the king or even the evil Haman. Esther worked on behalf of her people, telling the truth of the situations and letting the king make the choice.
We do not do that, do we? Esther’s behavior reflected God’s righteousness every step of the way. She did not need to wear a star of David around her neck, plaster one on her cart, and hang one in every room of the palace. Esther’s very life reflected the glory and holiness of God. her submission spoke of her faith. And her willingness to risk her life for the sake of God’s people speaks to her strength.
What areas of your life do you need to set aside the outward appearance/speech of a Christian and work on the internal qualities?
So what does the account of Esther’s life have to do with the creation of man? Just as Esther’s life resonated with the presence and leadership of God, the creation reveals the same. God’s providence in our lives screams through the creation.
Review the overview of the days of creation you listed in your notebook during the past couple of weeks. What do you notice about the creative process?
Did God create man first or the environment first?
God did not create man and then ask him to wait around for God to create a place to live and food to eat. God created man, having already provided the place to live and the provision for nourishment. What was also there was a job to be done.
Read Genesis 2:15-25. What responsibility did man have in the garden?
Where God placed the created man was already teeming with opportunity for work. The imbedded responsibility immediately gave man a purpose in the garden. Man had animals to tend and vegetation to both grow and harvest. Even without his helper, there was work to be done.
Look at your own life. In what areas are you waiting for God to provide?
What responsibilities are already around you before this provision?
How are you doing tending to those responsibilities?
Are you doing well? Just okay? Or are you sitting on the curb waiting for God to give you what you want before tending to the things already around you? Sadly, I have to admit that I fall into that last category more often than I should.
In what areas do you fall into that last category?
God’s provision sometimes comes in ways we do not immediately see. We may want one thing, and He may be already putting into motion the things that will bring that desire into our lives. However, so often like kids waiting for Christmas, we get so focused on the thing we forget about all the other responsibilities God has already put in our lives. We allow other things to suffer as we, frankly, idolize the desired request.
God provided creation, then created man. In Genesis 3:8, we learn that God walked in the garden with man. So though man was alone in his man-ness, he was not alone in the garden. There was work to be done, and there was time of friendship spent with the Creator.
Read Genesis 2:15-25. Who identified the need in man’s life?
Man did not ask God for a partner—at that time, it would seem that man did not have a concept of a partner, the “helper” God would create. Man carried out responsibilities before him, and God stepped in to provide for him in a way he likely could not yet understand.
Looking back in your life, what ways has God provided for you in ways you didn’t know you needed at that time?
If you did not know you needed them, how could God have known?
This is an important point as we re-orient ourselves with the reality of living as a created being. Though we make requests, we do not know what is coming down the way in our lives. You may be praying and praying for the mortgage to be paid while God is preparing the way for you to move away and sell the house. You may be praying for resolution to a problem you are having with a friend, when the deeper reality is that God is allowing the tension to remain because you first need to see something in your own life, or in the lives of those around you, or in His character because dissipating that tension.
His ways are not our ways. His thoughts are not our thoughts. And you have to admit, that is a very good thing.
Spend some time re-orienting your thoughts and your perspectives to set Him back in the spot of all-knowing Creator and you back in the spot of obedient creation. Write your thoughts.
GOD CREATED A HELPER
What you are about to study may not be your cup of tea. It may not jive with your way of being, knowing, or doing. And you may disagree heartily with what is coming next. Frankly, that does not faze me. I spent over two decades trying to figure out the role of women—and though I may not be able to come to a conclusion on most of what gets discussed in both mainstream and Christian circles, I do know this: God created woman as a helper. Before you warm the tar and pluck the feathers, set aside your layered on notions of what we have been told about women, and let’s start from scratch.
Review Genesis 2:15-25. What stands out to you with regard to the woman?
Who made woman?
Who named woman?
Why was woman made?
Did man ask that he receive a helper?
Who decided that man needed a helper?
God knew that women were needed, so He created them. He created women for a purpose. Some say that being a “helper” lowers women to a sub-servient role to man, making her of less worth. God, however, holds a very different perspective.
The root of “helper” in Hebrew is “azar” (pronounced aw-ZAR), meaning to surround, protect, and aid. Women were created for this purpose—to surround, protect, and aid their husband. The image of a solider comes to mind. A soldier is a servant who surrounds, protects, and aids those they are serving—nobody would call a soldier a weaker human being, or worth less than anyone else. Yet, this society tells women that if they embody their God-given purpose of helper, the woman will be calling herself less, and making other women less in the process. Do not believe this lie.
The woman was fashioned from man’s rib. The rib surrounds and protects the vital organs responsible for breath and blood. So was the woman created. Women were not created as lesser than man—they were created with a specific purpose: to help man.
Women are not the only “helpers” in scripture. Read the following passages and write what stands out to you:
What word is used to describe God in these passages?
Who are we to shun a characteristic of our God just because this world says it is meager and meaningless? Women are gifts from God, created for a specific reason in a man’s life.
Read Psalm 121. What stands out to you?
Write out Psalm 121:1-2 in your notebook or journal.
Let me be abundantly clear. Women are not God. Women are not created to replace God in a man’s life. Women are not the Holy Spirit. And women are not perfect. God is the perfect Helper. Woman is created in His image. If a woman is to be an effective helper to her husband, she must follow the example of the perfect Helper. Woman cannot be man’s capital-H Helper—she was created to be his lowercase-h helper.
(What about single women? That is a great question, and beyond what we will explore in this section. If this is an interest of yours, please do search out the scriptures. Remember: the point of the study is to strip away exterior layers of Christianity and build our understandings based on scripture.)