What Is Man?

A daily devotion for April 11th

Read the Scripture: Genesis 2:4-17
Genesis 2:4-17

4 This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.
When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens- 5 and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, 6 but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground- 7the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

8 Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 9 And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

10 A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. 11 The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. 12 (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) 13 The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. 14 The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Asshur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

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 of it you will surely die."

New International Version

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

Here is a wonderfully condensed account of some tremendously significant things. I do not think we need to quibble over just how God formed the body of man. Did He pile dirt together, wet it with water to make a kind of a mud statue, and then breathe life into it? No one knows. Certainly when we consider the miracle of conception and birth, we need not ask about the ability of God to make man in His own remarkable way. Perhaps the event occurred along the line of the development of birth. I do not think we need to be concerned over some of the questions that people in the past have beat each other over the head with. Whether Adam had a navel is of little significance. What we are told here is that there are three divisions of man.

God first made the body of man, and He made it of the dust of the earth. Certainly it is true that the same elements that are found in the dust of the ground are found also in the body of humans. It is shown to be a fact, because it is to dust that we return.

We may not fully understand all that is involved in these pregnant sentences about the formation of man's body, but it is important to notice that though the body of man was evidently formed first, the text does not say the body but rather God formed man from the dust of the ground (italics added). I think that has significance. Man is more than a body. He is not merely an animated piece of beef steak, a hunk of meat with a nervous system. He is more than body; he is soul as well as body. The functions of the soul are wonderfully linked to those of the body in ways that we have not even begun to fathom.

For instance, the functions of the soul (largely reason, emotion, and will), are also functions of our physical life. Reason is related to the brain, for it is only as the brain operates that reason occurs. Glands have great power over our emotional life. Thus, the functions of the soul are tied most remarkably to the body, and no one fully understands the mystery of it. In the forming of man, God made body and soul together, with the capacities for function of the soul lying dormant within the body of man.

Then, into this body with an inactive soul, He breathed a living spirit through the nostrils. The phrase breath of life in the Hebrew means a spirit of life. The word for breath and spirit are the same, so that this is more than simply a picture of God's breathing into man's nostrils. This is not face-to-face resuscitation; it is the impartation of a spirit into man. The spirit is our essential nature. It is this that distinguishes man so remarkably from the animal creation. Thus, as man comes into being, he comes full-orbed, as a threefold being, existing in body, soul, and spirit.

I praise you, Lord, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made!

Life Application: Much like a light bulb requires electricity to function, so our threefold humanity is designed to use the living Spirit of Christ to function properly. How's our Light output?

We hope you were blessed by this daily devotion.

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