************ Sermon on Genesis 2:21-25 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on October 10, 2010
"The First Marriage"
Remember what we looked at last time? The man was alone. He was incomplete. He had no one to talk with. He had no one to help him rule the earth and take care of the Garden. He had no means of being fruitful and increasing in number. He had no one who was according to his kind. He had no helper.
So, what do we see today? We see God making a helper suitable for Adam (cf Gen 2:18). We see God making woman. Here, congregation, we see both the goodness and the graciousness of God. In woman, God gives the first man a companion, a helper, a friend, someone after his kind.
Do you see, in Genesis 1 & 2, man's total dependence upon God? Adam is "formed" by God as a potter might form clay. Adam receives his breath of life from God. Adam receives the Garden – his well-watered "home" – and his food from God. Adam receives his how-to-live and how-to-stay-alive instructions from God. Adam receives his authority and power over all living things from God. Finally, Adam receives his wife, his suitable helper, from God. All that Adam is and all that Adam has comes from God. So, let us never neglect to thank God for all of His gifts, including our marriage partners.
I The Provision of a Helper
A When was the woman made? The summary account of Genesis 1 gives the impression that man and woman were created at the same time (Gen 1:26-29). Genesis 2 makes clear that this was not the case. It is clear that man was made before woman (cf 1 Tim 2:13). And, it is clear that woman was the last of God's creative works. She made her appearance only after everything was in the highest state of readiness for her reception: a home, provision for her maintenance, and a husband who longed for her coming and appreciated her worth.
How different man and woman are from the rest of creation. Only with humans are we told that God created them "male and female" (Gen 1:27). Only with humans do we see the creation of the male and, then, the creation of the female. With every other species, male and female are not even mentioned. Leading us to conclude that among the fish and the birds and the living creatures, male and female were made at the same time.
B Who made the woman? She was made by the LORD God (Gen 2:21-22), YHWH Elohim. The same God Who made the light, sky, land, vegetation, sun, moon, stars, fish, birds, and animals also made the woman (Gen 1). The same God Who formed the man from the dust of the earth (Gen 2:7) now made woman.
Let's pause and think about this within the context of the ancient pagan mind with which both Moses and Israel were well acquainted. According to this pagan mind, how was the universe formed? It was born as a result of sexual acts of the gods. But that is not what we see in Genesis. Genesis proclaims that it is the God of the Bible Who formed the universe and created sex.
C From what was the woman made? The man was made from the dust of the earth (Gen 2:7). The woman was made from the rib or side of the man (Gen 2:21; cf 1 Cor 11:8). Just as the man was "taken" from the earth (Gen 3:19,23), so the woman was "taken" from the man. Both man and woman were made of something that existed prior to them.
Notice the difference between the man and the woman? Man was formed from inanimate dust; woman was made from another living being. The woman was made from man's rib. Which means she has a claim upon man for protection and affection. As Matthew Henry observed long ago:
She was not made out of his head, to rule over him; nor out of his feet, to be trampled on by him; but out of his side, to be equal with him; under his arm, to be protected; and near his heart, to be beloved.
D How was the woman made? Scripture tells us, "the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man ..." (Gen 2:22). The Hebrew word for "made" that is used here is used nowhere else in Genesis 1 & 2. The verb is used frequently in the Old Testament for completing an unfinished structure: an altar, a city, a family, the temple. Here is a reminder that man was incomplete until God made his helper.
The woman was "made" by God. The woman did not emerge whole from the man just as man did not emerge whole from the dust of the ground. The LORD God had to perform a creative act upon the rib even as He had to perform a creative act upon the dust.
With the man, God was the potter; He took the clay or dust, formed it and shaped it, and then breathed into it. With the woman, God was the builder; He took the rib, formed it and shaped it, and then – presumably – breathed into it as well.
II Union with the Helper
A Notice what God does once He has made the woman? "He brought her to the man" (Gen 2:22). Does this make you think of anything? "He brought her to the man" (Gen 2:22). It makes me think of the start of a wedding ceremony. I don't mean all the fluff with the seating of the grandparents and parents and lighting of the candles. I mean the start of the actual wedding ceremony. The doors open, we see the bride for the first time, she is brought to the front on the arm of her father, and she is presented to the bridegroom. In our text, we see God presenting the woman to the man as if at a wedding. We see God giving the bride away.
B Scripture notes for us Adam's response. For the first time in Scripture the words of the first human are recorded for us:
(Gen 2:23) The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman, ' for she was taken out of man."Do you see the poetry and hear the joy? The creation of woman puts a song in the man's heart!
Inspired by the Spirit, Moses chose to follow these words with a statement about the character of marriage:
(Gen 2:24) For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.Unstated but understood is that Adam received Eve from the hand of God as his wife. So, man and woman were united together as husband and wife with God, so to speak, performing the first wedding ceremony.
III The Nature of the Union
A What is the nature of the union between husband and wife? The man pronounces that she is "bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh" (Gen 2:23). A study of similar expressions in the Old Testament suggest that this is a declaration of loyalty. Laban used this expression to welcome Jacob into his home (Gen 29:14). Abimelech used this expression to tell the people of Shechem that they should follow him rather than any of the other 69 sons of Gideon (Judges 9:2). When representatives of the northern tribes of Israel say this expression to David, they are pledging support for him as king (2 Sam 5:1). So, Adam uses this expression to declare loyalty to the lovely creature formed from his rib or side.
Moses, the human but inspired author of Genesis, thinks about Adam's expression of loyalty and lays down four principles for the marriage union.
B The first principle for marriage: it is between one man and one woman.
(Gen 2:24) For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.Notice, the singular. God's intention from the beginning was NOT the polygamy of the heathen nations at the time of the Exodus; Adam was expected to have but one wife.
Some years ago, the most married man in the world was found in Yugoslavia. It happened this way: A young woman confided to her girl cousin of her impending marriage to a man. The bridegroom was so shy and timid that he wanted to keep the marriage a secret. The cousin got curious. She got a glimpse of the bridegroom after the secret wedding, and recognized him as her own husband. He had also married her secretly, claiming to be shy and timid.God's intention from the beginning also is NOT the serial polygamy that we find in the U.S.; I am talking about the unbiblical divorce and remarriage that is so frequent in our culture. God's intention from the beginning says "NO" to today's attempt to expand the definition of marriage to include gay and lesbian couples; as one wit put it, God joined together Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.
That was only the beginning. A total of 50 women came forward and claimed that he had individually married them. In each case, he was the same shy, bashful bridegroom.
C The second principle of marriage: a man "leaves" his parents.
(Gen 2:24) For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.The English word "leave" is way too weak. In the Hebrew, the word frequently describes Israel's rejection of her covenant relationship with the LORD God (Jer 1:16; 2:13, 17, 19; 5:7; 16:11; 17:13; 19:4; 22:9). The idea here is NOT that a man will abandon his responsibilities to his parents. Nor, that a man must live a great distance from his family. Instead, the term indicates that a man's primary obligations change in marriage. Prior to the wedding, a man is to be most concerned with his parents. Once married, however, his wife's needs become his most important concern. So strong is the marriage bond that it supersedes the ties between parents and children. He who marries must leave father and mother – physically, emotionally, economically. Husbands, when you marry you leave your parents; and, I should add, your friends. And parents, from your side this means you must not meddle in the marriage of your children.
D The third principle of marriage: a man is "united" to his wife.
(Gen 2:24) For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. I think the old King James is far more vivid and picks up better the intent of the Hebrew. A man "cleaves" to his wife. This word is a covenant word. It describes how Israel is to hold fast to the LORD God (Deut 4:4; 10:20; 11:22; 13:4). I cannot think of this word without thinking of our son Joshua. When he was a little boy he had a way of wrapping himself around you with his long arms and legs – something like a snake around a pole or a branch. In the same way, a man is to cleave or cling or be united to his wife. He "leaves" his parents and he "cleaves" to his wife. He severs one loyalty and commences another.
A man "cleaves" to his wife. This means that in marriage the wife becomes the most important person in the man's life (apart from God, of course). She is more important than the parents. She is more important than the children. She is more important than a glamorous co-worker. She is more important than the boss. Every wife needs to know and feel that she is the most important person in her husband's life. Which is why adultery or polygamy causes so much hurt and pain. Because then someone else is vying for the husband's time, attention, and loyalty. So, husbands, make sure your wife knows and feels she is the most important and loved person in your life.
E The fourth principle of marriage: husband and wife are to become "one flesh."
(Gen 2:24) For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. The lives of husband and wife are woven together in marriage. They become one in every way possible: emotionally, sexually, spiritually, financially. They share everything: joys and sorrows, health and sickness, riches and poverty, life and death, good times and bad. To be one flesh is to be bonded together in a loving, supportive union that not only lasts but becomes deeper and more significant as the years pass.
Do you know what Jesus said about this one-fleshness of the marriage relationship?
(Mt 19:6) So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.According to Jesus, the one fleshness of marriage teaches that marriage is forever, that marriage is not to end in divorce, that marriage is indissoluble.
IV The Structure of the Union
A What is the structure of the union of husband and wife?
First, the wife is the equal of the husband. According to our passage, the woman "was taken out of man" (Gen 2:23). Adam recognized her as being the same as him – "bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh" (Gen 2:23). She is as much the handiwork of God as is the man – he was "formed" by God from the clay and she was "made" by God from the rib.
Remember that word "helper"? I said last week that this word is often used for God. So, the word does not teach that woman is man's subordinate, man's inferior, or man's servant. Rather, the word points to wisdom and strength.
Remember the first command? The command not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil applies to the woman as much as it applies to the man. She, too, was called to be obedient to the covenant of works.
Remember Adam's calling, his job, in the Garden – to work it and take care of it? This calling applies to the woman as much as it applies to the man.
Go back to Genesis 1. The woman, like the man, is made in God's image. The woman, like the man, is given rule over the fish, the birds, the livestock, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. The woman, like the man, is told to fill and subdue the earth.
A wife is her husband's equal. That is the first thing we need to say about the structure of the marriage relationship. Any husband or wife who thinks otherwise is on the wrong path. Any husband who dominates or domineers or lords it over his wife is not following the Lord's revealed structure for marriage. Any wife who dominates or domineers or lords it over her husband is not following the Lord's revealed structure for marriage.
B There is also a second thing to say about the structure of the union between husband and wife. Some pastors are not allowed to say what I am about to say. A couple of months ago I was talking with the pastor of another denomination. He expressed frustration with his church and admiration for ours because I am allowed to say what the Bible says about men and women, male and female.
What is the structure of the union between husband and wife? Scripture teaches us that the husband is the spiritual head of the wife. You might wonder where I possibly get that from Genesis 2.
Consider this: who was made first – Adam or Eve? Among the Hebrews, the matter of being first was very significant. That is why to the firstborn was given authority, rank, status, and inheritance rights. Do you know what Paul says about this matter of firstness?
(1 Tim 2:12-13) I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. (13) For Adam was formed first, then Eve.
Consider also this: Adam named Eve. He said that she shall be called "woman" (Gen 2:23). In Genesis 1, it is God Who does the naming. In Genesis 2, man images God by naming the animals. To name something is to exercise authority over them.
Finally, consider also this: Paul tells us that man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. For this reason, the woman comes under the man's authority (1 Cor 11:8-10).
All this means the husband is the head and the wife must yield to this headship. He is responsible to God for the spiritual direction of the home. He is the one who must answer for neglect of devotions, attendance at worship, the spiritual instruction of the children, the priority of God's kingdom and church, and so on. The husband is the head and the wife who refuses to submit to the husband's headship is being disobedient to God.
How wonderful it would be if God gave away every bride and performed every wedding. Then, every home would be a paradise on earth. Since that is not the case, let me ask: How closely does your marriage imitate Adam and Eve's relationship in the Garden?
We've been looking at the first marriage. But we could also be looking at the last marriage. Because marriage is a picture of the union of Christ and His church. In this last marriage, Christ is the second Adam; He is the Bridegroom and the church is the bride (Rev 19:7; 21:2, 9; 22:17). Even as Adam's side was opened so woman could be formed, so Christ's side was opened on the cross so the church could be formed (Jn 19:34). And, husbands are to love their wives just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her (Eph 5:21ff). So, let me end by asking: Does your marriage imitate Christ's relationship to and with the church? Is your marriage a foretaste of the eternal wedding feast of the Lamb and His bride?
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