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Genesis Series Gen. 2:18-25 In The Garden before it all went to pot (Part 1: The Marriage Covenan

February 9, 2014

Gen. 2:18-25           

In The Garden – before it all went to pot (Part 1: The Marriage Covenant)

 

Intro:  Today we will be looking at Gen 2:18-25 which is the account of the creation of the woman.  Before we begin, let’s think about how women and men are different.

  • A man has six items in his bathroom-a toothbrush, toothpaste, shaving cream, razor, a bar of Dial soap, and a towel from a Holiday Inn. The average number of items in the typical woman's bathroom is 437. A man would not be able to identify most of these items, and would only risk extreme confusion if he tried to.
  • A woman knows all about her children. She knows about dentist appointments and soccer games and romances and best friends and favourite foods and secret fears and hopes and dreams. A man is vaguely aware that there are some noisy short people living in the house.
  • A woman marries a man expecting he will change, but he doesn't. A man marries a woman expecting that she won't change, and she does.
  • Men see the telephone as a communication tool. They use the telephone to send short messages to other people. A woman can visit her girlfriend for two weeks, and upon returning home, she will call the same friend and they will talk for three hours.
  • Women look into mirrors for hours arranging makeup and doing a million things to their hair only to decide they are having a bad hair day. Men look into the mirror before they go out for no apparent reason.
  • When a woman says she'll be ready to go out in five more minutes, she's using the same meaning of time as when a man says the football games just got five minutes left. Neither of them is counting extra-time, commercials, or replays.

We’re different for a reason.  God created man out of the earth.  God created woman out of man’s side.  We are both created in the image of God, but we are different from one another.  Let’s look at what Scripture tells us.

Gen 2:18-25 reveals to us a lot about our humanity and God’s desire for us.  It shows that we are not meant to dwell alone but in community. It shows that being in community with just anything isn’t the same as being in community with someone who is like us.

V 18  The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Do you remember when we read through the creation story in chp. 1?  At the end of each day you read the response  “it was good”.  But not now!  What is it that is not good?  It’s not the man himself but the condition of being alone.  Henri Blocher asks:  “What was missing in God’s creation when his judgment fell: ‘It is not good . . . ‘?  What prevented him from feasting his eyes on his work and declaring it ‘very good’? The world was suffering from an absence: the absence of woman.”[1]

To be “suitable” suggests that “what God creates for (the man) will correspond to him.  Thus the new creation will be neither a superior nor an inferior, but an equal.” [2]  The other word used to describe this one who will take things from “not good” to “good” is “helper”.  The Hebrew word used is the same used in reference to God and His relationship to Israel.  In Hebrew, this helper is one who will save the man from danger and deliver him from death.  “The woman in Gen. 2 delivers or saves man from his solitude.[3]

God has always existed in community as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, all the same God but unique in function. Humanity, being made in the image of God, also needed to be in community.

V 19-20 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.  So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found.

Remember that man is made in the image of God?  Remember that we share qualities with God, we can do what God can do, to an extent.  It was God who created and then named the light day and the darkness night. God named the sky and the land and the seas.  And now he shares the task of naming with the man as he identifies every living creature.  But even after all that, the man does not find a creature to be in true community with.  There is no one like him.

Why do you think Moses went about telling the story this way?  What do you think he wanted those future readers of the story to know? Was it to point out mans God-likeness in naming?  Was it to point out that man had the freedom to choose and to act on his own?  Was it to make the point that as much as we love our pets they cannot take the place of the relationship that leads God to say “this is good”?

Do you think God was really waiting to see if man would pick an animal to be his counterpart so that instead of Adam and Eve there might have been Adam and Bambi? Or Adam and Simba?  You catch my drift.  God was shaping the mind of man to receive the gift of woman by allowing him to see that he had a need for someone like himself.  Like God, man needed to be at the place of saying, “This is not good.”

V 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh.  

Inquiring minds want to know:  Why didn’t God just create the woman out of the clay like he had the man?  Why did he take Adam’s rib?  The word used for what God did in making Eve is “build”.  So when a man says of a woman, “Baby, you are built!” It is a very biblical compliment!  The woman is the first thing that is created out of another living being.  “We need to note that it is not (the woman) herself but simply the raw material that is taken from the man.”[4]

V 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

Have you ever been responsible for introducing two people for the first time that you really hope like each other?  I wonder if that is how God felt as he presented the woman to the man?  It was a successful introduction as we see in the first words attributed to mankind since his creation

V. 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.”

 

What a moment!  If we look at how language was used at this time, it is important to note that “flesh” has two meanings throughout Scripture.  The first occasion for use is when one is illustrating their identity with another as when, later in Genesis we have the story of Joseph and his brothers as they sell him into slavery.  They decide not to kill him sighting that “after all, he is our brother our own flesh and blood”. (Gen 37:27)  So in announcing that the new creature is “flesh of my flesh”, man is identifying a kindred relationship with the woman.

 

The word “flesh” is also used in regard to human weakness.  Romans 8 has 15 verses dedicated to working through the opposing forces of life lived in the flesh versus the Spirit. Verse 13 says, For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live. This theme – that our flesh is the weakness wherein sin can take us captive – exists throughout the NT.  So perhaps in identifying the woman as kin he also acknowledges that she shares his weaknesses.  (I confess that may be reading a bit more into the text than is there, but it’s something to think about.)  This idea at least helps us to recall that we are both, men and women, prone to fall short of one another’s expectations.

 

Here’s the cool thing.  When the man states “This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh” he is not only stating a relationship, he is making a covenant.  It is a pledge (one that we see made elsewhere in Scripture) stating that “I will support you in all kinds of circumstances.  Whatever happens to you, happens to me.  We’re in this together.”  Any Downton Abbey fans?  We’re latecomers at our house and are just starting season 3.  But there are two characters, a maid and valet who are in love and want to be married but Bates, the valet has a messy past and is about to be charged with the murder of the ex-wife that would not let him go.  Anna pledges her love to him and insists on marriage so that she can be part of whatever happens to him whether it be life together, or prison, or death.  That’s the sort of commitment that is made in saying “you are bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.”  Have you got that in your marriage?  If you are dating, are you prepared to make that sort of commitment to the one you’re involved with?

 

One more bit about this passage.  I remember this from seminary.  In the Hebrew, the words for man and woman is a play on words.  The word for man is “ish” and the word for woman is “issha”.  “Perhaps by using two words which sound alike the narrator wished to emphasize the identity and equality of this primal couple.”[5]

 

V 24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

In other translations of this verse the language is stronger and probably closer to the original intent.  The man “forsakes” his parents and “clings” to his wife.  The verb used here for “forsake” is the same used when Israel breaks covenant with God.  So we see here a change in loyalties.  Of course, the first man did not have a family to forsake.  These are not the mans words but the writer, inspired by God, is setting up for us the marriage covenant.  The family of origin becomes secondary to the new family that is created when a man and woman come together in marriage.

So just an aside about marriage. If you there is a struggle in your household, check to see where your loyalties lie.  While there is responsibility to care for our parents, the relationship you have with your spouse must be the priority.  If you are the parent of a married couple, make sure you have let those children go!  Honor their covenant so that they are free to honor you without regret or frustration.

V 25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

Just one comment on this final verse.  Although I’m sure it was a beautiful thing to run free through the garden, today, I am glad, that we have clothes.

Concl.  God created woman to complete the man.  She was a suitable helper.  One who stood with the man.  The following quote has been attributed to a variety of people so I’m not sure of its original source but it is a great description of the relationship between a man and a woman.

“The woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon 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.”

Women and men are intended to be together in a unique relationship, ordained by God, declared by covenant from the first man.  So husbands, love and honor your wives.  Women, support and cherish your husbands.  Amen.

 

[1] Henri Blocher, In The Beginning: The Opening Chapters of Genesis, (Downers Grove:  Inter-Varsity Press, 1984), 95.

[2] Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1-17, (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1990), 175.

[3] Hamilton, 176.

[4] Hamilton, 179.

[5] Hamilton, 180.