Bible Text: Genesis 2:18-24 | Pastor: Daniel Stertz | Series: Genesis: A Study of Origins
How many of you have seen the Oliver Twist story? Oliver has been put into an orphanage workhouse where the boys get three small bowls of oatmeal gruel per day. The boys are starving and they have a “lottery” to decide who should ask for more. Oliver “loses” and the boys nudge him and tell him it’s time when all their bowls are empty. He cautiously and fearfully gets up and walks to the headmaster holding up his bowl and says, “Please sir, I want some more.”
The headmaster gets pale and says with a shriek, “What?!” Oliver repeats his request and suddenly there is utter chaos. The staff is horrified that a boy would dare ask for more. He is chased around the room while the boys are cheering until he is finally caught and summoned to pay for his “crime” of asking for more.
It’s hardly “news” today to say that the institution of marriage is in trouble. At first we saw a huge increase in the numbers of people walking away from their marriages. Then we saw a great number of people just choosing to “live together” without the commitment to marriage. Sometimes it is viewed as a “trial period” and for others just the way they want it.
So If you want to create a “stir” just tell the world that God has a Plan for Marriage and what society is doing is NOT what God planned. The world says, “What?!” when you say…
…God says that sexual purity before marriage is God’s Plan—fornication is sin.
…Living together instead of getting married or before you get married is sin.
…God’s Plan was one man to one woman, not two men or two women or multiple partners.
The world will be in an uproar. Typically we hear…
• That is impractical!
• It’s just a piece of paper!
• You are being judgmental!
• And now, that’s illegal! If you own a business you must follow the world’s redefinitions of marriage or be sued, fined, or both.
Matthew 19:3-12. By the way, this not something new. There has never been a generation that has had the right view of marriage. In Jesus’ day He was asked about Marriage (Matt 19:3ff). The question was supposed to get Him in trouble because the Pharisee assumed His answer would put Him in a “bad light” with His followers. What did Moses mean when he said “some uncleaness (Deut 24:1)?”
There were essentially two views. He could divorce his wife for any reason—whatever she did that displeased him. The other was the stricter view that it meant he suspected unfaithfulness.
Jesus’ response was to go back to Genesis 1 & 2 and state that God created male & female and joined them together in marriage. Jesus’ comment was, “What God has joined together, let not man divide.” In other words, He said marriage was a life-long bond.
It’s at this point we see the “WHAT?!!” of the Pharisees. “But Moses said….!” Jesus answered that with, “Moses gave an allowance because of your sinful hearts; but from the beginning it was not so.” Then Jesus answered the question they were asking and the only justifiable cause was immorality. But His point was made—what did God do in Genesis? Marriage was intended to be a life-long bond.
But this is not the end of the story because afterwards the Disciples asked Him about this. Their attitude was, “If this is the way it is, it’s better not to get married at all.” But Jesus said the “gift of singleness” was not given to every person.
The point is, Jesus demonstrated the great chasm there is between what God did and declared and what man does. And a “great chasm” it is. Society’s thinking about what marriage is to what God created is so far off you can fit the Grand Canyon in it.
Theme: So let’s go back to what God did and see what marriage is supposed to be like. We see what God DID and what God DECLARED in creating marriage.
Man Alone Was Not Good (2:18)
This was God’s declaration.
I can personally attest to this truth. My wife was gone all last week cleaning & painting our old house in Beloit. “It is not good for the man to be alone.”
But, we see this is God speaking. As we noted from Jesus’ words, there are those that God’s purpose for them is to be single. Paul advised in 1 Corinthians 7, that if his listeners could remain single, like himself, they could give more attention to the ministry. But that’s not the norm. One of the obvious reasons is there would be no one born if everyone remained single.
But we see back in Genesis 1:31 that God said at the conclusion of the 6th Day that “everything was very good.” So we know that as the story goes into detail here that this was still on that 6th day—God said it was “not good.”
A Suitable Helper – God said He would make a “helper” that was “meet” for Him. “Meet” means “a suitable counterpart.”
The Hebrew scholar, Delitzsch puts it this way, “a helper being which, as soon as he sees her, he may recognize himself.” He would know she was for him.
To Fulfill God’s Plan – We go back to Genesis 1:28. His plan was for mankind to multiply and fill the earth; and to govern the earth. Adam could not fulfill this by himself. This plan couldn’t even get off the ground without his mate.
Commentary. We have to pause and comment here. Two men or two women do not bring into this world a child. This is not “meanness.” It’s simple biology. Jesus noted this in Matt 19. God created them, MALE and FEMALE and joined them in holy matrimony. It is only through God’s order this will happen. While there are homosexual couples who have children, the only way they have children is either through adoption or through a surrogate parent. This should tell us what God has already told us—marriage and family is to start with one man and one woman.
Man Needed To See It Was Not Good (2:19-20)
We have noted already that the creation of humans was very different than the animals. We read in Gen 1..
Genesis 1:24 And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. (25) And God made the beast of the earth after his kind, and cattle after their kind, and every thing that creepeth upon the earth after his kind: and God saw that it was good.
God created the animals by His Creative Word—“Let the earth bring forth…” And it was so. But when it came to Man God did several things…
(26) And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. (27) So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
This is the general statement. It does not say, like the animal creation, “Let the earth bring forth…” It says He created them. It also says He created them in His own image. Chapter 2 then gives us the detail of that creation which we’ve already looked at…
• He created a home for man—a Garden place for food.
• He formed man from the dust and breathed life into him.
• All of this points to the uniqueness of man in God’s creation. Man is God’s divine image-bearer.
This background helps us understand why God took the steps that He did when creating Adam’s counterpart—the Female. As a rational being he would be shown not only why he needed a counterpart, but also the significance of her relationship to himself.
God gave Adam a job with a goal in it. He brings to Adam the animals to name them. Here again, note the intelligence.
Thursday night I played a short game with the men—Name Three Things—which they must do in 5 seconds. These are all things that have names, but they were recall them, not actually name them.
Think of Adam’s reasoning ability. Whatever he called them, that became the name. Instead of saying God brought every “beast of the earth” as in Gen 1:25, it says “field” here again (note 2:5). It is likely God brought to Adam only those animals dwelling in and around the Garden area. As Adam named them he soon realized he was different in that there was not a suitable helper for him. He didn’t have a female version like all the other creatures he named.
God Created The Suitable Helper (2:21-23)
Now that Adam is convinced, God performs surgery. He puts Adam to sleep, removes a piece of him—a rib. One might picture here a white, dried bone, but Adam says later, “she is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. God took some “meat” with that bone. And then God closed up Adam’s flesh. Again, we might picture that there was no evidence, but Adam knew after he awoke, what happened. It would be my understanding that he saw the scar. He knew a piece of himself had been removed. He probably would have felt a part was gone.
From that bone and flesh God creates a woman.
There is a major significance in this process.
• The entire human race comes from one man, Adam. We are all of one blood.
Paul, in his message to people not familiar with the Word of God declared that God…
Acts 17:26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;
Are there different cultures? Yes. God also determined their “bounds of habitation.” He determined where they would live. He determined where you would live and where you would be born. There are different cultures but only one human race. What we call “race” are only outward distinguishing physical features that came about because of the separation of the people groups from each other around the world. The possibilities for all those “minor” genetic differences existed in Adam to begin with.
I call them “minor” because they are. Skin color depends on the amount of melatonin in the skin. It’s a very minor genetic difference. Eye shape is different among all peoples of the world. Caucasians don’t have “neutral” eye shapes. Theirs is a distinct shape, but also vary from monolid, hooded, round, and almond-shaped. Cheek bones and an epicanthic fold above the eye also determine shapes. Again, these are extremely minor differences genetically. There can be less genetic differences between two people of different “races” than between a very large and a very small person of the same “race.”
All human beings are “one kind”. There is no Biblical prohibition of intermarrying between people groups. There may be cultural problems, but those relate to our understandings of one another. Every marriage brings into it the various cultures of different homes and families. (That’s why we have the proverbial mother-in-law jokes.)
• Romans 5 – Not only is this important to understand the human race, we also see it was in God’s plan for the salvation of man. While man was not a sinner at this point, we know that Jesus is the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Before man was ever created God knew man would become a sinner. God purposed that the Son would come into the world to die for sin. The God-Man, Jesus the Anointed One, would die for the sins of Adam and all his descendants.
Romans 5:12 Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
That last part could be (& should be in my opinion) translated “all sinned” no “have”. Note in context what is said. Sin entered the world by one man, Adam. Along with it came death because of sin. The conclusion is “death passed upon all mankind in that all sinned” in Adam. Because Adam became a sinner so did his descendants.
Infants do not die because they have sinned. Infants die because they are sinners—they are descendants of Adam. I posed the question to our teens recently. Do we sin because we’re sinners or are we sinners because we sin?”
We are sinners by nature, and yes, we will sin. That sin nature came from Adam.
Now note v.15ff
(15) But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. (16) And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification. (17) For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) (18) Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. (19) For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
God’s plan for redemption is based upon One Man, Christ, dying for the for sins produced by one man, Adam. As Adam’s sin brings death upon all, Jesus’s death extends God’s grace to all. Adam’s sin brought condemnation. Christ’s gift brings justification—legally the believer has his sin paid for by Christ’s death for it. Adam’s sin resulted in disobedient sinners. Christ’s obedience results in many being made righteous.
Invitation. Because we are descendants of Adam we are sinners. We are born with a sin nature and we choose to sin and disobey the Lord.
Psalms 58:3 The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.
Romans 3:10-12 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: (11) There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. (12) They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.
As noted, you are condemned already. Not only is the sentence of physical death upon us, but after death comes the judgment. Without our sins being paid for, the result will be the Second Death—cast into the Lake of Fire.
But God purposed from the beginning a Second Adam—a second Man—Who would die for sins.
1 Corinthians 15:45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
The words of John 3 declare:
John 3:17-18 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (18) He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
The condition is faith—belief. God’s salvation is a gift of grace. A sinner cannot pay for his sin. God paid for it through the death of His Son. One must put his whole weight of belief on what Jesus Christ did. Note, as we said, to not belief is to remain condemned because you are condemned already.
Coming back to Genesis…
The Woman is Brought To Adam – Notice here that God gives away the first bride. Our tradition is the father of the bride gives her to her new husband. God did it first.
Note also the word “man” misses some of the significance. The word most of the time is Heb. adam, which is also Adam’s name. But when Adam makes this declaration he uses the word iysh. The woman is called iyshah. These would be equivalent to male & female or husband and wife.
The Commentary (2:24)
The next words are not the words of Adam. This is a conclusion provided under inspiration from God of what just happened. He created the bond of marriage pictured as a one-flesh relationship. And while my wife was not made from my flesh, the joining of the two make them one flesh as though she is bone of my bone & flesh of my flesh. Paul used this reference in Ephesians 5 when he said:
Ephesians 5:28-31 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. (29) For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: (30) For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. (31) For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
We see also in this declaration that even though Adam & Eve did not have parents, it says, “therefore shall a man leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife.” The understanding is this bond of marriage supersedes the bond of the parent/child. The husband and wife belong to each other and the parent/child relationship changes. The parents don’t interfere in this union.
That is not to say we don’t help and advise. Paul admonished in the church the older women were to teach the younger women how to keep their homes and how to love their husbands.
But this new bond that is formed are charged by the Lord to have their part in multiplying to fill the earth and in their part to subdue the earth.
We said earlier, that no society has ever done this perfectly. Certainly those who have not known the truth have been far from it. Even in Biblical cultures there has been departure from God’s plan. Israel followed the pattern of cultures where had multiple wives. Christian men have emphasized their authority as the head of the home while minimizing the command to love their wives like Christ loved the church.
And we see also the redefinition of marriage.
But in the end people are not happier. Relationships are not better. Families are not stronger. Children have more problems. And, most importantly, God is not pleased.
What shall we come away with?
First, to all of us, we must esteem marriage. Because God created it. He had a purpose and design for marriage that undergirds our society.
How shall we uphold marriage?
Young people must reserve what was intended for marriage until they are married. The one-flesh picture is portrayed in the physical union of husband and wife. Throughout Scripture God warns against fornication. It is a sin against one’s future mate. Besides much of the associated illnesses, it brings burdens and barriers into marriage that are very harmful.
Married persons need to be morally faithful. The Bible condemns adultery as a serious sin. It is serious because it attacks the bond of marriage. That “one-flesh” relationship is critically damaged. While all sin can be forgiven, the consequential wounds are so deep that God created an allowance, divorce, because the weight of that sin is hardly bearable. It calls for the greatest of grace to overcome. I believe it usually can be overcome and it’s better if it is than to divorce, but it just shows us how hard God knows it would be.
As well married people need to emphasize “cleaving”. That word means “to be joined” or “to hold fast.” Marriage takes work but the blessings are unlike any relationship in this world. It is a Momentary Blessing because it is noted in Scripture that there is not marriage in the future. But in this life it is a never-ending project. It is a Garden that must be continually cultivated.
Note the last verse of this chapter. They were naked and not ashamed. No shame comes from two things—one is perfection. There was nothing to hide. In Adam & Eve’s case that would be true. This verse is probably a lead-in to the next thing when sin enters. Because once they sinned they felt shame and knew they were naked.
The other place where there is no shame is when even though there is plenty of imperfection, there is a trust of not being disapproved of by our spouse. This verse is so important to the statement in v.25 because what married people need to cultivate is that sense of “you can trust me.” “I am for you and for no other.”
The problem here, though, is when sin entered the picture there entered into the heart a “me-first.” The sin nature makes it so that if we don’t get what we want—if we don’t like what we see—we may not be for our husband or our wife. And the problem is there are plenty of faults to not like. Sin also brings with it a lack of trust. Where Adam & Eve once trusted God fully, they turned in sin to think God is untrustworthy. Those feelings get spread around to others. Sin also brings guilt into the picture so that even when one’s spouse might be for his/her mate, guilt causes questions.
So in the cleaving aspect, husbands and wives need to cleave in this area of “no shame.” They must develop a “you first” attitude. They must seek to build each other up in deed as well as Word. Certainly there has to be an emphasis on learning how to forgive. This is something believers should be good at when we have been forgiven ourselves.
Proverbs 10:12 Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.
1 Peter 4:8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.