************ Sermon on Genesis 2:18-25 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on June 30, 2012
Wedding of Bret Van Dyk & Lindsay Tuls
"Then the Lord God made a woman ... and he brought her to the man" (Gen 2:22). That's what Scripture says. This reminds me of the most dramatic moment of a wedding ceremony. The guests have been seated. The attendants have filed in. The music blares. And, the bride makes her first appearance. She is brought to the front on the arm of her father and is presented to the bridegroom. Brett & Lindsay, in your wedding text we see God presenting the woman to the man. We see God giving the bride away. We see God conducting the first wedding ceremony.
That was the first time Adam saw Eve. How different from your first time. Remember how you met? You arranged to meet at a restaurant in downtown Visalia. One of you said "Marco" and the other of you responded with "Polo." Adam & Eve did not have to play "Marco Polo" to meet each other because God presented Eve to Adam.
When Adam saw Eve for the first time he broke out into poetry and song. The creation of woman put a song into man's heart. Brett, I have never heard you sing but I hope and pray that the longer you know Lindsay the more you – like Adam – will sing about and to your bride.
As we look at your wedding text we notice four purposes for marriage, three principles for marriage, and two comments on the structure of marriage.
I Four Purposes for Marriage
A The LORD God, Who pronounced everything to be "good" or "very good" in Genesis 1, announces in your wedding 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? The problem is that man is alone.
Some people love being alone. They go into hiding far away from society or they avoid contact with the people around them. But God announces being alone is not His will. God's intent, since the beginning, is for humankind to be in relationship. Of course, man and woman are to be in relationship with God. That's why, in pre-marital counseling, I stressed the importance of Bible reading, prayer, devotions, and worship attendance; that's why we talked about the importance of a living relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. So, I repeat what I told you in my office – I hope you spend time with God every single day and that in your marriage you live for His glory. But man and woman are also to be in relationship with each other. That's the first purpose for marriage. God wants people who otherwise would be alone to be in relationship with one another.
I want you to notice what happens once God created Eve. What happens is that for the first time in the Biblical record we hear the man speak. Up to this point in time it is God – not man – Who does all the speaking. But, then, man hasn't had anyone with whom he could talk. The man is "alone." So, what need is there to speak? With whom does he speak? We 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, relationship, communication. Brett & Lindsay, never stop talking to and with one another. For in so doing you are fulfilling one of the purposes of marriage.
B 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. This here is the second reason for marriage.
In the creation of woman we see God continuing a pattern He started earlier. God made the sky and then He filled it with the sun, moon, stars, and birds. God made the seas and then He filled them with fish. God made the land and then He filled it with vegetation, animals, and living creatures. In each case, God brought to completion something that He started before. Can you imagine an empty sky, an empty sea, and an empty earth? Pretty bleak, isn't it?! 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.
C Brett & Lindsay, 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 in order to fill the earth and subdue it. This, then, is the third purpose of marriage.
D In the word "helper" we see a fourth purpose for marriage. God said, "I will make a helper suitable for him" (Gen 2:18). 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.
II Three Principles for Marriage
A Scripture also lays out three principles for marriage. 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 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 multiple partners and marriages.
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.
B Here is 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.
C Here is 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, Brett, make sure Lindsay knows and feels she is the most important and loved person in your life.
And, what happens as you cleave to one another or are united to one another? What happens is that you 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.
III Two Structures for Marriage
A Your text, Brett & Lindsay, also talks about the structure of marriage.
First, I've already hinted a this, but let me say it straight out: 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. 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.The woman, with the man, is made in the image of God. The woman, with the man, is called to rule and subdue the earth.
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 or don't dare to say what I am about to say. 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.
(Cf 1 Cor 11:8-10)
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.
All this means the husband is the spiritual 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.
Let me end by saying how special today is. Lindsay told me a couple of times she is getting married on her grandma's birthday. I learned that grandma had a couple of favorite Bible texts:
(Matt 19:26) With God all things are possible.As Lindsay was growing up, this godly woman was praying for something. She was praying that God would lead someone like Brett into Lindsay's life: someone good, someone Christian, someone Dutch. Today, grandma's prayer has been answered.
(Phil 4:13) I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
My prayer, with your grandma, is that the two of you live up to God's purposes, God's principles, and God's structures for marriage.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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