************ Sermon on Genesis 2:20-24; 9:4-7; 11:10 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on January 15, 2012

Genesis 2:20-24; 9:4-7; 11:10
"Three Institutions"

Ask the boys and girls to come forward.

I am going to show you three things.
-HOLD UP FRONT OF OUR BULLETIN; of what is this a picture? GET ANSWER OF OUR BUILDING. What does this symbolize? GET ANSWER OF CHURCH.

I am going to talk about marriage, government, and church this morning.

HOLD UP WEDDING RING. Who lived in the first home? GET ANSWER OF ADAM AND EVE. Who performed the first wedding ceremony? GET ANSWER OF GOD. Marriage comes from God. It goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden.

HOLD UP OBAMA PLATE. This plate represents government. Where does government come from? GET ANSWER OF GOD. God has established the government. We will find out that God established government at the beginning of time.

HOLD UP FRONT OF OUR BULLETIN. This represents the church. When did the church begin? We will find out that the church began in the Garden of Eden already. It, too, was established by God.

Marriage. Government. Church. HOLD UP THREE ITEMS. They are God's gifts to mankind. They are three wonderful institutions for which we need to thank and praise God.

Pray with children. Read Scripture.

I The Blessing of Marriage
A At the very beginning of time, before the fall into sin, God graciously established marriage. As established by God, marriage is one of God's greatest blessings. As the wedding form puts it, marriage is a structure that enriches society and contributes to its orderly function. Marriage and home are foundational. They are the building blocks upon which all of life and society are built. We can distinguish three purposes for marriage.

First, do you remember God's announcement about Adam after He made the heavens and the earth and everything in them?
(Gen 2:18) The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."
But first God had Adam check the livestock, birds, and animals for a suitable helper. One-by-one they passed by Adam. Adam looked them over. Adam named them. "But," says Scripture, "for Adam no suitable helper was found" (Gen 2:20).

You know what God did next. He made woman from one of the man's ribs. In Eve, God gave Adam a suitable helper. In Eve, God gave Adam a companion so he would not be alone. As the wedding form at the back of the Psalter Hymnal puts it, marriage provides a context within which husband and wife can help and comfort each other and find companionship.

In our spouse, God has given us a companion. In our spouse, God has given us a friend. And, not just any friend, but our best friend. Someone we share with, cry with, pray with, and rejoice with. Someone who knows us better than any other person on earth and still loves us anyway.

Do you hear what I am saying? Once we are married, our best friend is not our mother or our brother. It is not our father or our sister. It is not our college room-mate or someone from grade school. Once we are married, our best friend and companion is our spouse. As Scripture puts it, "A man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh" (Gen 2:24).

Alarm bells start ringing in my head when parents are overly-involved in the marriage of their kids. Sirens go off when married children run to their parents about every little thing.

Everyday I pray for the marriages in our church. I pray for the young couples starting their life with such promise and hope and expectation. I pray for those marriages where the partners are enemies instead of friends. How sad. How lonely and bitter many of these people become. The stories I hear in my office, on my bike rides, and at Rotary make me want to cry. Yet, I rejoice when as one woman in the community recently told me her and her husband just got back together.

B Which bring us to the second purpose of marriage.

Someone recently asked me, "What do you think Adam thought when he first saw Eve?" Scripture tells us Adam took one look and broke out into song. The creation of woman made Adam say "Wow" and turned him into a poet. As our wedding form puts it, marriage provides a setting within which we may give loving and tender expression to the desires God gave us.

We have more than one marriage problem in our church. We talk about these marriage problems in the consistory room. Recently, one of the elders pronounced, "It is all about sex. Don't ever forget that. It is all about sex."

In our culture, sex is a selfish act, a quest for personal fulfillment. This is the mindset of most people in our culture regarding sex even if it is only subconscious. For the most part, our society celebrates the process of hook up, shack up, and break up. So, we should not be surprised that thousands of articles are churned out on how to cope with a past of multiple partners and how to find the next one. It also should not surprise us that pornography is a massive industry, generating $10 to $14 billion annually in revenues.

Don't think for a moment that I am just talking about life out there. Wake up, congregation. I with sadness and regret am also talking about life in here. In this congregation we have men and women committing adultery. In this congregation we have men and women who are hooked on pornography. In this congregation we have men and women who are child sexual abusers. In this congregation we have men and women getting divorced for less than Biblical reasons. In this congregation we have Peeping Toms and flashers. In this congregation we have men with roaming eyes and women who dress to attract the sexual attention of others.

Just like one of our elders put it, it is all about sex.

The problem, however, is not sex. The problem is us. The problem is you and me. The problem is our sin and our sinful nature.

The point is this: as humans, we are all sinners and all in need of God's grace, given freely through Jesus. And apart from Jesus, we all pervert God's good gifts, such as marriage and sex. Thankfully, God is merciful and loving. This is why He sent us Jesus to save us from our sin.

In His Word, God gives us His will for sex and marriage so that it honors Him and gives us fulfilment. Let me list seven essentials about sex from the Bible (my thanks to Pastor Mark Driscoll for this list which I have edited and revised):
1. God created us male and female in His image and likeness with dignity, equality, value, and worth. Men and women are different and complement one another (Genesis 1:27-28).
2. Marriage is for one man and one woman by God's design (Genesis 2:24-25, Matthew 19:4).
3. God created sex. It is part of His "good" creation.
4. Sex outside of marriage is a sin. Sinful sex includes homosexuality, erotica, bestiality, bisexuality, pre-marital sex, friends with benefits, adultery, swinging, prostitution, incest, rape, polygamy, sinful lust, pornography, pedophilia, and sexual abuse (1 Corinthians 6:9-11,18-20; Hebrews 13:4).
5. Sex is to be done in such a way that there is no shame (Genesis 2:25; Proverbs 5:18-23). Many people experience shame in regard to sex. Sometimes shame is in response to our sexual sin and sometimes it is the devastating feeling we bear because we have been sexually sinned against.
6. Your standard of beauty is your spouse and not a swimsuit model or some movie star. God made one man and one woman. He did not ask them if they wanted someone cute; He did not ask if they wanted someone tall or short, light or heavy, pale or dark- skinned, with long or short hair. In short, He did not permit them to develop their own standard of beauty (Genesis 2:23, Proverbs 6:20-35).
7. Your standard of beauty should especially be inner character. As Peter puts it,
(1 Pet 3:3-4) Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. (4) Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.

C When God made us humans on the sixth day of creation, He gave us a blessing and a command. God said, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it" (Gen 1:28). This is the third reason for marriage. As the wedding form puts it, marriage provides a secure environment within which children may be born and taught to know and serve the Lord.

According to the latest statistics, fifty percent of the kids in our country now live in single parent homes most of these homes are a mom with children. And we wonder as a society why kids today are so messed up, why they turn to drugs and alcohol, why they join gangs, why they participate in violence and senseless destruction. The answer is right in front of us. From the beginning, God's will is for children to be born into a family, with a dad and a mom. From the beginning, God's will is for children to have two parents. An entire generation of children are being raised who don't have a clue what a dad is and what he is supposed to do as head of the family. An entire generation of children are being raised without the love, support, and discipline of a father.

Marriage is a gift from God. It is His gracious provision since the beginning for companionship, sex, and children. So, for marriage we must give God thanks.

II The Blessing of Government
A The second institution with which God has blessed us since the beginning is government.

You may wonder how or where we see the blessing of government in our Bible reading from Genesis 9. In this passage God uses the word "accounting"; in fact, He uses it three times. God says,
(Gen 9:5) And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man.
God says He holds us accountable for the shedding of human blood. In other words, God restrains the shedding of human blood. And, God punishes the shedding of human blood.

How does God do this accounting? When does God do this accounting? It is not enough to say God does the accounting when we appear before His throne. Unbelievers and atheists and the heathen do not listen to the warnings and threats of a God they do not believe in. So, when does this happen? And, how does this happen?

We go on to the next verse and God promises punishment for the shedding of precious human blood.
(Gen 9:6) "Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man."
Again, I ask the question: When does this happen? How does this happen?

These two texts lay down the foundation for human government. It is the job, calling, task of government to preserve law and order. To punish crime. To restrain evil. They are God's agent, God's tool, to carry out what God says already in Genesis 9. So, the job of Pharaoh in Egypt was to preserve law and order. The job of the judges and kings in Israel was to preserve law and order. The job of Washington and London and Moscow is to preserve law and order. And, woe to those governments that fail to do this. Woe to those governments that encourage sin and evil instead of restrain them. Woe to those governments that add to lawlessness instead of restrain lawlessness.

B How do you think these verses in Genesis 9 made Moses feel? Remember what Moses did? Moses shed human blood. And, not only did he shed human blood, he killed an agent of the government, one of the Egyptian overseers (Exodus 2:12).

In his Spirit-inspired letter to the church at Rome Paul writes above the governing authorities. Paul writes,
(Rom 13:1) Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
Paul was writing to believers at the very heart of the Roman Empire. Paul was writing about authorities that soon would start a time of great persecution against the church. Paul was writing about authorities that soon would execute him. It soon would reach the point that the claim Jesus is Lord would not be tolerated because Caesar claimed the same title for himself.

Do you see the connection, the similarity between Paul and Moses? Whether we agree or disagree with the governing authorities, the governing authorities have been established by God. Whether we agree or disagree with the governing authorities, their job is law and order. Whether we agree or disagree with the governing authorities, we are to respect them and obey them.

Government is a gift from God. It is how God protects human life in a sin-filled earth. It is how God restrains sin and evil. It is how God preserves law and order. So, for government we must give God thanks.

III The Blessing of Church
A The last time we looked at Genesis I focused on the genealogy of chapter 11. I raised the point that we see God's choosing. But not everyone gets chosen. Noah is chosen but not the many others alive at that time. Shem is chosen, but not Ham or Japheth. Arphaxad gets chosen but not Shem's other sons and daughters. Abraham is chosen, but not his brothers Nahor and Haran. What we see are God's elect.

These elect are looking for something, waiting for something, praying for something. They are looking, waiting, and praying for the coming of the promised seed of the woman, the one who would crush Satan and all the forces of evil and darkness.

But there is more. These elect, like Noah, preached against the sin and evil of their day and called upon all men to repent. Like Abraham and Noah, these elect believed God and it was credited to them as righteousness. They looked forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. These elect knew their sin and sinfulness. They knew they were inadequate to their calling. They learned to rely upon God rather than themselves.

B Is any of this sounding familiar? Isn't this the New Testament description of the church? Do you remember what we confess about "the holy catholic church"?
I believe that the Son of God
through his Spirit and word,
out of the entire human race,
from the beginning of the world to its end,
gathers, protects, and preserves for himself
a community chosen for eternal life
and united in true faith.
(Heidelberg Catechism, A54)

The church, too, is a gift from God since the beginning. For her we must give thanks because to her is entrusted the good news of the Gospel that salvation is by grace through faith because of Christ's one sacrifice upon the cross.

Marriage, government, church three wonderful and glorious gifts from God since the beginning of time.

Why? Why does God give us these gifts? God wants a world where couples serve Him and children are taught to know and fear Him. God wants a world where sin and evil are restrained. God wants a world where the seed of the Word is spread.

Why? Why does God give us these gifts? God wants us to be happy. God wants us to live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. Or, to take an even broader view, God wants a world that advances the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.

Especially, though, God wants a world that glorifies Him. Marriage, government, and church all have a part to play in this plan.

So, thanks be to God for His wonderful gifts. Thanks be to God for His gifts of marriage, government, and church.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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