In the Beginning, A River

9.12.22 Devo Image

“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, when the Lord God made the earth and the heavens. Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground. Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. 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. A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters.”—Genesis 2:2–10 (NIV)

I have a fairly strong track record of killing plants. In the past, I’ve tried many times to grow things, and they always end up dying. During the pandemic—and being the good Italian that I am—I decided I would try to grow basil. For months, I cared for this plant I had cultivated from a seed and eventually was able to enjoy the fruit of its leaves and my labor with a delicious Caprese salad. I was so proud of myself, until I left for vacation and didn’t create a plan to water this plant. When I arrived home, my beautiful blooming plant had died because it had no water. Water is essential for life.

In Genesis 2, we see God as Creator (the same story as in Genesis 1), but told from a different perspective. The chapter starts with the completion of the account of creation in Genesis 1 by God resting. This should not be overlooked. This pausing in time doesn’t mean God needed to rest (He’s all-powerful after all). Instead, it’s to demonstrate to us a rhythm of work and rest.

Then the narrative shifts to an agrarian emphasis, as the author notes that no plants or shrubs had grown because God had not sent rain. There were streams, or “mist,” that came from the earth to provide moisture to the ground. The ground itself doesn’t create life, but it holds water, nutrients, and the essentials for life to grow. And from that watered ground, man was created. God picked up the dust (something so worthless) and breathed life into it to create the most valuable thing in all of creation. 

What’s the most suitable place for God’s most prized creation to live? A garden of course. A garden planted and cultivated by the Master Gardener, God Himself. This perfect garden contained everything people needed to live—trees for beauty and trees for nourishment. And those trees were watered by a river that flowed from the land of Eden—not a stagnant river, but one that flowed and brought life

That river split into four streams, which saturated the entire region. I can’t help but picture the river coming from God Himself as a foreshadowing of how His Gospel would saturate the nations, as we see through the rest of the Bible and throughout history.

This is the earth’s beginning, man’s beginning, and this river’s beginning. It’s significant because it’s the first time water is mentioned and used, and God sets a precedent here. Water will continue to be used as a metaphor all throughout Scripture—from the first chapter all the way to the last chapter. 

In this series, we’ll explore more mentions of water in the Bible. You’ll begin to notice how in each instance the water brings life, healing, peace, and cleansing. Jesus even calls Himself the Living Water. Join us and be refreshed!

Pause: Have you ever seen something die without water? Maybe it was your lawn, a house plant, or a garden. Consider our designed dependence on water. Are you dependent on Jesus this way? Why or why not?

Practice: Go to your local hardware store and pick out a small plant, a bag of soil, and a pot. For the next few weeks, cultivate your plant: water it and watch it grow. Thank God for the miracle of life and growth, and ask Him to reveal more about His character through it.

Pray: Thank You God for this account of creation and what I can learn from it about You. Thank You for the water that brings life and refreshment to me. May I have a thirst to learn more about You and share this refreshment with others who need it. Saturate my city with Your presence through Your Church, Lord. Amen. 

About the Author

Denise Trio

Denise Trio has been on staff with Calvary for almost two years, serving as the Director of Strategic Development. She has 10 years of project management experience, with a Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and Engingeering from Lehigh University, Bethlehem, PA and a Master’s degree in Pastoral Counseling from Liberty University, Lynchburg, VA. When not on campus, Denise is either making her way through her book list at the beach, ordering tacos on any menu that serves them, or running her side business, The Rose Creative, which specializes in creating beautiful and meaningful products for her clients.