Yes, it rained before the flood.

How should we understand Gen 2:4-3:24?

There are several indications in the text that the passage is not a literal historical account:

(1)    No shrub had grown up when Adam was formed (Gen 2:5). But in Gen 1:12-13 plants were described as been created on the third day, three days before man and woman.

(2)    On the very day that Adam and Eve were formed, God planted an orchard and the plants were made with fruit already growing, because Adam was commanded which fruit he might and might not eat (Gen 2:8,9).

(3)    The animals and birds are described as being created after Adam was formed, but before Eve was formed (Gen 2:19). But in Gen 1:22-23 the birds are described as been created on the fifth day, a day before man and woman.

(4)    After God created them on that day, Adam named all the animals and birds. A very busy day indeed! And this was before Eve was formed on that same day. And then they were married that same day.

(5)    In Gen 2:12 the gold is described as pure. Why was gold important if there were not yet any people other than Adam?

(6)    The snake of Gen 3 could speak and reason. But this is unlikely to be literal because snakes are unable to speak and to reason. An animal that speaks is not a snake.

Of course it is possible to force answers to all these objections to a literal reading. However the natural reading of the text is to interpret this passage other than literally.

God has left us two books. These are God’s word, the Bible. And God’s work, his creation. We have already seen that a natural reading of God’s word does not encourage a literal interpretation. If we also look at the witness of God’s work, then it is also clear that the passage cannot be correctly understood literally for several reasons:

(1)    The first flowering plants are known to have existed about 140 million years ago, not 6000 years ago.

(2)    Ancient fossilised impressions from raindrops have been found.

(3)    Mammals were first seen early in the Jurassic period which was 200–145 million years ago.

(4)    Fossils of anatomically modern humans have been found about 200,000 years ago.

That is what the passage does not mean. What then does it mean? It contains spiritual principles :

(1)    The responsibility of humankind to care for the world.

(2)    The importance of marriage.

(3)    The relative positions of men and women. This may not suit modern ideas; but it is nevertheless an explanation.

(4)    Human sin leads to the sentence of death.

(5)    An implied prediction of the coming of Jesus Christ (Gen 3:15).

This list and these ideas could no doubt be extended.

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