************ Sermon on Genesis 2:18-20 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on October 3, 2010
"The First Blind Date"
I Man Alone
A The LORD God, Who pronounced everything to be "good" or "very good" in Genesis 1, announces in this morning's text that something is NOT good:
(Gen 2:18) The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone."What is the problem? Our text tells us: "It is not good for the man to be alone." Alone. The problem is that man is alone.
The man is not even aware of his aloneness. Nor is man consulted for his thoughts on the matter. Nor does the man offer to God any complaint or grievance about his circumstances. It is God Who notices and says something about man's aloneness.
I have questions about this aloneness.
For whom is man's aloneness not good? Is it not good for the man? It is not good for the world around him? It is not good for God?
When is man's aloneness not good? Is it not good because of present circumstances? Or, is it not good because of the possibility of death by eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil?
Why is man's aloneness not good?
Everything depends on how we understand "aloneness."
It is common and appropriate to think that "alone" means lonely or in need of assistance. That is, aloneness is a sign of weakness. And, weakness cries out for help. But "alone" can also mean self-sufficient and independent. That is, aloneness is a sign of strength.
B Why is it not good for the man to be alone? Do you realize the major role of speech in Genesis 1? Ten times we read the same phrase in the Hebrew, "and God said" (Gen 1:3, 6, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26, 28, 29). God entered the account speaking. In His first recorded speech, God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God also created everything else through speech, named a few of the things He made, pronounced the goodness of what He had made, and spoke blessings to some of what He had made. From beginning to end, the creation story of Genesis 1 is filled with speech – God's speech.
In Genesis 2, the focus has moved from God to man. However, man – created in God's image – has not yet said a word. The human being as we have met him so far in the story of Eden has been silent. Man has offered no comment of any kind regarding the Garden. Man has said nothing about his appointed task to work the Garden and take care of it. Man has not even said anything about the first command.
That word "alone" explains why the man is silent. The man is "alone." So, what need is there to speak? With whom does he speak? We will hear him speak only after the creation of woman – when there is someone with whom he can talk. Which reminds us that one of the primary purposes of marriage is companionship and communication. So, I want to say to every husband and wife, there are problems if you do not talk with each other.
C Why is it not good for the man to be alone? I mentioned earlier that the LORD God, Who pronounced everything to be "good" or "very good" in Genesis 1, announces in this morning's text that something is NOT good. Actually, when we go back to Genesis 1, we notice there is one thing God does not pronounce to be "good" when it is first made. At the end of day two, God does not pronounce the sky to be good. Yet, at the end of day six, God pronounces everything to be "very good." What happened between day two and day six that the sky becomes good? What happened is day four and day five. What happened is the creation of the sun, moon, and stars. What happened is the creation of the birds. What happened is that an empty sky or heavens became a full sky or heavens.
When we think about it, the same thing can be said about the sea of day three; it went from good to very good when it became full of fish on day five. And, the same thing can be said about the land of day three; it went from good to very good when it became full of animals and man on day six.
In the same way as the sky without the luminaries and birds is incomplete, in the same way as the sea without the fish is incomplete, in the same way as the earth without mankind and animals is incomplete, so is man without a companion incomplete. As a matter of fact, every thing mentioned in Genesis 1 & 2, with the exception of God, is in need of something else to complete it.
The more extreme women's libbers want to believe they don't need men. That they are self-sufficient. A prominent woman's libber dismisses men with this comment: "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle." In other words, men are totally unnecessary. But that is not what the Bible says. Men and women need one another because they complete and complement one another.
D Why is it not good for the man to be alone? Do you remember the cultural mandate of Genesis 1?
(Gen 1:28) God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."As you know, man cannot be fruitful alone. Man cannot increase in number alone. Man cannot fill the earth alone. And, man cannot subdue the earth alone. Even in this day of test-tube babies, we still need male and female.
Furthermore, notice the word "them." "God blessed them and said to them." In other words, it isn't just men who are called to rule, fill, and subdue the earth. It isn't just men who are called to work the Garden and take care of it. Women are called to do all of this too.
Let's think about this a bit further. God's eternal plan demanded that Adam have a mate so children would be born. Children need to be born so a chosen people could be generated. A chosen people need to be generated so the Promised Seed – even Christ – would come. Doesn't this morning's baptism remind us of all this? An Adam "alone" means no Savior and no church and no covenant promise and no covenant sign.
E Why is it not good for the man to be alone? God says, "I will make a helper suitable for him." Implying, of course, that man alone has no "helper." In the Hebrew, the phrase "suitable for him" reads literally, "in front of him," or "opposite of him," or "counterpart to him," or "boldly in front of him," or "in his face." This suggests that what God creates for Adam will correspond to him, will be like him, will be (mostly) the same as him.
Notice that word "helper." What God will make is called a "helper." There are some who look at that word "helper" and thereby conclude that a woman is subordinate or inferior to a man. But that is not what the word "helper" teaches. It does not teach that woman is man's subordinate, man's inferior, or man's servant. Because that word "helper" is most often used in Scripture to describe God's relationship to Israel. The LORD God is Israel's "helper." And God certainly is not subordinate or inferior to man. The word points to strength and wisdom. So, the woman who is truly fulfilling the role of helper to her mate is performing a God-like function to her husband. Woman helps man subdue the earth to the glory of God. This means that man is wrong who treats a woman as being less than him, as being inferior to him, as being subordinate to him. Men and women are equals; but, as we will find out in the next couple of weeks, this does not mean they are the same.
It is not good for man to be alone because then he has no helper. It is not good, because then man has no one who is opposite of him.
F Now, a point of clarification. God observed that "It is not good for the man to be alone." This should not be taken to mean that God intends for every person to marry. Nor does it mean that single people are less complete than those who are married. While marriage is highly regarded, other Scriptures indicate that singleness is valid and must be respected. And, there are times when it is better for a man or a woman to remain single. The Lord can meet the need for relationships through friends and family and the church even if a person never marries. So, if someone single you know seems to struggle with loneliness – and this includes the never-married, the widowed, the separated, and the divorced – then make an effort to befriend that person.
II The Animals
A The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him" (Gen 2:18). God is not only the evaluator; He is also the rectifier. God not only sees the problem; He also proposes the solution.
God starts off with the animal world. The Creator brings the different animals and birds to Adam in order that a suitable helper would be found. We are to imagine that Adam checked over each one carefully. Each time we are to imagine Adam asking the question, "Is this my helper? Is this my opposite? Is this the one with whom I am no longer alone? Is this the one to help me subdue the earth to the glory of God?" It is like a blind date – you don't know for sure what you are ending up with until you get to check them out for yourself.
So all the animals and birds are paraded before Adam. "But for Adam no suitable helper was found" (Gen 2:20).
Certainly God knew that none of these creatures would be right for man. However, God wants Adam to discover for himself his need for a "helper." God wants Adam to discover for himself that he is "alone." God wants Adam to discover for himself that he has no opposite in the animal world.
Why were none of the animals a "suitable helper"? Let's start with what we are told by Genesis 1. The animals were produced by the land whereas Adam was formed by God (Gen 1:24; 2:7). Unlike Adam, none of the animals were made in the image of God (Gen 1:26-27). Unlike Adam, none of the animals were given a command to subdue the earth and rule over the earth (Gen 1:28). Moving on to Genesis 2 we see that, unlike Adam, none of the animals were given a soul or spirit (Gen 2:7). Adam names the animals but the animals cannot name him. Adam has the power of speech but the animals do not. The animals were all made "according to their kinds." But when Adam looks at the animals and birds, none of them are according to his kind – none of the animals look the same as Adam or act the same as Adam. Adam looks at the animals and the birds and realizes none of them are bone of his bones or flesh or his flesh (Gen 2:23). Adam may not be alone but he is different from everything else in all of creation. So, for Adam "no suitable helper was found" (Gen 2:20).
B Notice what Adam was to do as he checked out each beast and bird? He was to "name" them.
In Genesis 1, it was God Who named the light "day" and the darkness "night" (Gen 1:5). It was God Who called the expanse "sky" (Gen 1:8) and the dry ground "land" (Gen 1:10). In Genesis 2, it is man who does the naming. In this way, man images God. Man, like God, assigns names. However, human speech is completely different from divine speech. God's speech summons the creation and its creatures into being. Human speech, in contrast, does not create the creatures of the world. Man creates only their names.
Now, I want you to consider what the act of naming implies. It implies reason. It implies speech – we are to imagine Adam saying the name of each creature out loud. It implies the ability to distinguish and combine. In other words, the first man was not a man in process. He was not the first or second link in the evolution scale. He was a fully developed human, someone like us. Saying NO, of course, to evolution. Saying NO to Charles Darwin. Saying NO to any idea of human development or change from primates to neanderthals to humans.
As we found out with the boys and girls, it isn't easy to name all the birds and animals. But Scripture indicates that Adam was absolutely correct in his assessment of the nature of each animal: "And whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name" (Gen 2:19). Unfortunately, we are not told what any of those names are. Wouldn't it be wonderful to know the exact names, the correct names, the perfect names, that Adam gave to each creature? "So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field" (Gen 2:20).
As I told the boys and girls, to name the birds and animals is to exercise authority over them. To name the birds and animals is to fulfil God's command to rule over the earth. So, Adam was being obedient to what God said in Genesis 1 when he named the animals. He was exercising rule, authority, power, and control.
"It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him" (Gen 2:18).
So, the animals are brought before Adam. Like a blind date, Adam discovers none of them are suitable.
Next week, we discover that woman – and woman alone – is man's suitable helper. She, alone, is not man's inferior. She alone gives man the kind of help that animals are not able to offer.
I've been talking about man and the animals. But behind all of this we are to see the LORD God, YHWH elohim. Isn't He great and awesome? Isn't His creation great and awesome? Isn't it wonderful how He made everything to fit together just so? This God we want to always thank and praise: as Creator, as Redeemer, and as Restorer in the new heaven and new earth.
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