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                 When God finished creating the animals, he said, "Now we will make man. We will make man a copy of ourselves. Man will be like us."

                God did not create human beings the same way he had created other things. Instead of giving a command, God took some dust from the ground and shaped it into a body that had arms, legs, hands, feet, and a heart. This body also had a head with eyes, ears, a nose, a mouth, and a brain. Somehow, through God's mysterious power, the red clay was brought together to form a perfect human body. Then God breathed life into the man's nose and he became a living being. The man stood up before God, straight and tall. God called the man "Adam," meaning "earth," or "red clay."

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                The Lord God planted a garden in a place called Eden. The word "Eden" means "Pleasantness." The garden of Eden stretched hundreds of kilometers in every direction. It had green grass, colorful flowers, shade trees, and every fruit tree that was good for food. A river flowed through the garden of Eden and watered the grass, trees, and flowers.

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                In the middle of the garden, the Lord God put two special trees. One was "the tree of life"; the other was "the tree that gives knowledge about good and evil." No one knows exactly what these trees looked like. We only know they were very beautiful. The garden of Eden was like heaven on earth. Some people have called it "Paradise." Surely it was the kind of place where any man could be happy.

                The Lord God gave Adam a job. God put the man in the garden of Eden and told him to care for it and to gather its fruits.

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                God said to Adam, "I have given you all the plants that have seeds and all the trees that have fruit with seeds in it. These plants will be food for you." Then God said to the man, "You may eat from any tree in the garden. But you must not eat of the tree that gives knowledge about good and evil. You will die if you eat from that tree!"

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                Then the Lord God gave Adam another job. God brought every animal of the field and every bird of the air and told Adam to give each one a name. Adam was not afraid of the animals and they were not afraid of him.

                Adam must have studied the birds and animals carefully because he knew just the right name to give each one of them. One by one they came to him. Adam gave names to all the tame animals, to all the birds of the air, and to all the wild animals in the forest.

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                Even though Adam was surrounded by animals and other beautiful things in the garden, he was lonely. No animal in the garden could talk to him. Adam noticed that all the birds and animals had mates. There were male ducks and female ducks, and there were male and female elephants. Every animal had its mate, but Adam had no one to be his companion. He was all alone. He could not find a helper that was right for him.

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                The Lord God said, "I see that it is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper for him. That helper will be right for him."

                So the Lord God put Adam to sleep and took a rib from his body. From the rib, God made a woman. After Adam awoke, the Lord God brought the woman to him to be his wife.

                When Adam opened his eyes and looked at the woman that God had brought to him, he said, "Now, this is a person like me! Her bones came from my bones. Her body came from my body. I will name her Woman, because she was taken out of man." The woman was called "Eve," meaning "life." Eve became the mother of every human being on earth.

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                The Bible tells us about the beginning of human history and shows us what human beings were meant to be. What have we learned from this lesson about ourselves and other people? What have we discovered about human nature?

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                1. A human being is more than an animal. We may act like animals, snarling and snapping at one another and living for pleasure, but that is not what we were meant to be. We were created to live in a better way.

                It is clear in this story that the human being was God's greatest creation and that God had something special in mind for mankind. Earlier, when God created the plants and animals, he simply gave a command and they came into being. When he created a human being, however, God became personally involved. With great care he formed a human body out of the dust of the earth and breathed into the man's nose the breath of life. Here we see that a human being is above animals. We should not worship the animals that God created.

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                2. A human being is like God mentally. We are much less intelligent than God but more intelligent than animals. A human being can learn to speak a language, write letters, keep records, draw pictures, read books, solve mathematical problems, reason, and plan ahead. Human beings have invented the automobile, the airplane, the computer, and rockets to put people on the moon.

                The porpoise and killer whale have large brains and are quite intelligent, but they are not as intelligent as most human beings. They do not capture and tame people. They do not train men to jump through hoops or swim for the entertainment of other whales and porpoises. God gave human beings intelligence similar to his own and has made us responsible for ruling over all the animals of the earth.

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                3. A human being is like God in loving others. God is love, and God has given human beings a loving nature like his own. To be happy we must love and be loved. Without love, life is not worth living.

                Adam was unfulfilled in the garden of Eden until God gave him a mate. Eve was God's answer to Adam's need for companionship. The first couple entered an honorable love- relationship that was so strong and so satisfying that they were not like two individuals. They became as one. Love was like a rope that bound Adam and Eve together in perfect unity.

                It is reasonable to believe that God created human beings in his own image because he wanted to love someone, and because he wanted someone to love and honor him in return. It makes God very sad when we turn away from him and refuse to return his love.

                People, like God, want to be loved and honored.

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                4. A human being deserves honor and respect. God has created human beings in his own likeness. Because God is honorable, human beings are also worthy of honor and dignity. God loves and values everyone. He loves and values you. He also loves and values others. Therefore, we must not insult, curse, injure, or dishonor any human being. Everyone of every race is worthy of honor and respect.

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                5. A human being is capable of knowing God. Of all God's creatures, only the human being seeks after the Creator in order to know him. No animal yearns to walk and talk with God or to worship him. Adam and Eve talked with God as naturally as they talked with each other. What animal has ever bowed down before God in prayer or tried to communicate with him? Unlike animals, human beings have the ability to know God and to have a close relationship with him.

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                Our need to know God and to have a close relationship with him is the central message of the Bible. As we continue our study, we will see how the love-relationship between God and man was broken, and how God developed a plan to bring us back to him.

                The good news is that even when we fail to be the kind of people we were meant to be, God is eager to forgive us and to lift us up again. We are loved. We are valued.

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Scripture References: Genesis 1-2; Psalm 8; Luke 24:39; John 4:24; Colossians 3:12-14;



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