Second Reformed Church

Sunday, September 14, 2008

"Created for One Another" Sermon: Genesis 2:18-25

“Created for One Another”
[Genesis 2:18-25]
September 14, 2008 Second Reformed Church

God created Adam out of the dust of the ground, and, sometime later, God created Eve. Why? Why didn’t God create Adam and Eve together? In verse eighteen, we see God say, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner” (NRSV). Much has been made of this latter phrase, so let me give a literal translation of it: “I will make him a helper in front of, corresponding to, equal to and adequate for him” (my translation). Eve was not created to be Adam’s maid, but his completion. But that doesn’t answer why they were not created at the same time.

It is obvious that God intended to created Eve, from what God said in verse eighteen. John Calvin comments that “man was formed to be a social animal” (John Calvin, Commentary on Genesis, 69, re: verse 18). And that would seem to give us an answer, wouldn’t it? God delayed the creation of Eve to make it clear to us that we are created for one another. Humans need each other, and most humans have need of a spouse.

God said it was not good for man to be alone. Humans need to be in fellowship with other humans. There must be a mutual regard among humans, and we are all commanded to love each other. Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 22:37-40, ESV). It is good for us to love each other – it is helpful to me to love you and it is helpful to you to love me. It is the right thing to do, and we show the love of God as we love each other by providing for each other in the ways that God has enabled us.

The closet and greatest fellowship two human beings can have is found in marriage. Paul responded to the Corinthians who wondered if it might be best for all Christians to be celibate: “Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: ‘It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.’ But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband. The husband should give his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband” (I Corinthians 7:1-3, ESV). One of the reasons most people ought to get married is that one’s spouse helps one keep from sexual immorality.

Another reason for the gift of marriage is that the human race cannot continue without women. Although the obligation and the status of the husband and wife is to be of mutuality, men and women are not the same – there is a difference of functionality. The most obvious is that only women can bear children. It is the joy of the husband to have children with his wife and the joy of the wife bear the children of their union.

There are certain advantages, also, to remaining single, but most persons are not given that gift. Most people are given the gift of marriage. And it is not right or pleasing to God for someone who has not been gifted with singleness to remain single. Most men were created for women and most women were created for men. We were created for love and fellowship.

Understanding this, it might seem very strange to see what God does next – in verse nineteen. After God says it is not good for a man to be alone – the implication being that humans are to be in human relationships – God brings all of the animals of the field and all of the birds of the air to come past Adam, and God told Adam to name them whatever he would name them. “But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him” (ESV).

Surely God didn’t think that Adam would find his equal – his partner – amongst the animals. Of course not. And that is the point of this interlude: humans were created with a special relationship to animals – we are to care for them, protect them, provide for them – to have dominion over them, as we discussed recently. Some of us have very dear animal companions. But no animal was every meant to be the husband of a women or the wife of a man. And we know that there have been people who have thought otherwise.

Animals fulfill a special role in the world and for humans, but they cannot be what a man or a woman needs in a marriage relationship. Only a man can love a woman and a woman love a man in the way that God intended men and women to complete each other.

And that is what we find in the final section of this morning’s Scripture: in verse twenty-one, God caused Adam to fall asleep, and while he slept, God took one of Adam’s ribs and fashioned Eve and brought her to Adam. And some of us may be tempted to say, “What nonsense – a fairytale!” It may be helpful to know that the word that is used here, tsela, may mean a human rib bone, but, more often it refers to a side of something. In the book of Jonah, this is the word that is used when we are told the boat rolled from side to side – from rib to rib. So, if it pleases you, don’t think of God removing a single rib from Adam, but dividing him into two human beings.

Which is the better understanding? I’m not sure it makes a difference. The point is this: in creating Eve out of Adam, not out of the dust like Adam, Adam and Eve were not merely like beings, they were two halves of the whole. John Calvin said that they “spring from one and the same origin” (Commentary on Genesis, 73, re: verse 21). This proves the equality of the man and the woman, they were created out of the same lump, as it were. They were both created in the Image of God. They were not created competitive beings, but two beings who complete each other as one. Thus we have Adam’s confession: “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man” (ESV).

And then we have Moses’ commentary in verses twenty-four and twenty-five. Moses tells us that since Adam and Eve, man and woman, are two halves of the one whole, for this reason and in this way, the man and the woman leave their parents’ home to make their own home (while not neglecting their responsibilities to their parents), and they join together in marriage and become one flesh. When a man and a woman join together, they recognize in each other a part of themselves that was missing, so we have in modern English the expression, “you complete me.” That is exactly what God is telling us: humans were created for one another, and in marriage, a man and a woman find completion in each other.

Again, that is not to say that singleness is a second class state of being. Some people are called to lives of singleness, and there are advantages to being single. But only those who have been gifted to singleness should live that life. Most persons ought to marry.

And in marriage, Moses comments, the unity is most profoundly exemplified in the physical union of a man and a woman. They were naked and unashamed, because their nakedness was for each other and pleasing to each other. Physical attraction is a good and wonderful thing. It is good and wonderful that a husband and a wife take joy in each others’ nakedness. In fact, Paul tells us that this is how we should understand the relationship between Jesus and the Church.

Paul wrote, “In the same way, husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes it and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This mystery is profound, and I am saying it refers to Christ and his church” (Ephesians 5:28-33, ESV).

In the way of some profound mystery, just as a man and a women are united into one flesh, so Christ and the Church are united in one flesh. And this is a place where we must leave that truth: Paul says it is a profound mystery, and it is. One of the reasons God created Adam and Eve out of Adam and gave them to each other in marriage, where they became one flesh, was to give us a picture of what it means to join together with Christ as His Church.

Sadly, we know that there is strife in many marriages, and some tragically end. But that was not God’s intention for us. No, we have brought this strife upon us through our sin – through the sin of our first parents and through our own sin in these last days. But it will not always be that way. We have a glorious picture of the marriage – the union – the fellowship which is soon coming:

John records: “Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of many peals of thunders, crying out, ‘Hallelujah For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure’ – for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints” (Revelation 19:6-8, ESV).

He continues, “”Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall their be mourning nor crying nor pain any more, for the former things have passed away’” (Revelation 21:1-4, ESV).

Brothers and sisters, the history of Adam and Eve is history. God created Adam out of the dust and created Eve out of Adam, to show us that we were created for one another, both for fellowship and love and, in a greater sense, to complete each other in marriage. We see there is a place for singleness and we have a special relationship with all of the other creatures of the Creation, but it is in marriage that most people find the fulness of themselves – their completion.

But all those who have believed in Jesus Alone for Salvation, whether they marry on earth or not, will know that completion on the last day, when Jesus descends with the new Jerusalem. Then all Christians, the Church, will be joined together with Christ in that mystery which is called the Marriage of the Lamb.

So, let us love and care for one another married and single. Let us care for the creation. And let all who believe look forward with great joy and expectation for the return of our God Jesus, our Bridegroom.

Let us pray:
Almighty God, we thank You for giving us each other – friends, family, brothers and sisters, husbands and wives. We thank You for creating us with a need for each other and with a fulfillment in each other. Yet even more we thank You for the witness that You are our True Fellowship and our Eternal Husband. May this mystery give us joy and hope as we wait for You and serve You until you call us home. For it is in Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.

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江美琪Maggie said...
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