Genesis 2:7 tells us, “The Lord God formed a man from the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” With the rest of creation, God had simply spoken things into existence (Genesis 1:3, 14, 20, 24), but God does things differently with man.
Pilgrims tread on dusty paths. Pilgrims came from dust. Pilgrims return to dust. Seems so insignificant, but God is teaching me, or reminding me, that my dusty little frame is way more important to him than I realize.
Three important observations.
First, the fact that man was created from dust makes him unique among all of God’s creation. To create the sun, mountains, animal life, etc., God simply spoke. Human life, however, included the “dust of the earth” and the very breath of God. A unique combination of earthly, natural material and life-giving power from God Himself. Such a mode of creation highlights the importance and value of human life. Saying that “I matter to God” is not about me, its about him as the Creator, the Potter, the Author of life.
Second, the use of dust has to suggest a certain lowliness. God did not use gold or granite or gemstones to make man. He used dust, a humble substance. The origin of dust speaks of my dependence upon God and the fragile nature of my human life. And the life-giving power of God breathing into me, all from God. Every breath depends on him. Every breath that is taken speaks of that dependance on God and the power of life that he gives.
Third, the literary structure of the passage puts man’s creation from the dust of the earth in a place of significance. The structure of Genesis 2:5–9 can be broken down like this, in a chiastic pattern (a literary device in which a sequence of ideas is presented and then repeated in reverse order):
A No plant life (verse 5a)
…..B No intervention by God (verse 5b)
……..C No man to work the ground (verse 5c)
…………D Mist from God (verse 6)
…………….E God creates man (verse 7a)
………………X God gives life (verse 7a)
…………….E Man become a living creature (verse 7b)
…………D Garden from God (verse 8a)
……..C Man works the ground (verse 8b; cf. verse 15)
…..B God intervenes (verse 9)
A Plant life exists (verse 9)
The recipe of (dust of the earth) + (God’s breath) emphasizes the supernatural power of God and the fragile nature of humanity. Human life is completely dependent upon God.
Lord, the truth of creation and how you chose to create man, it boggles my mind. Yet Lord, this truth is meant to impact me and how I come to you, worship you, surrender to you. Help me, change me — words, requests that I do not speak lightly. I know that as Creator, you can accomplish the “help and change” requests in any way you choose. Help me to accept what you have….may you be glorified!