Sermon on Genesis 2:18-24
Text: The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
19 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. 20 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. 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. 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.
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.”
24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
It is no secret that marriage is under attack in our world today. For example, look at the way that most marriages are portrayed on television or the movies. Often, marriages are shown to be a loveless state that one or both spouses want out of. There is often some sort of marital unfaithfulness that is portrayed and even glorified. I read a statistic that the divorce rate is down in the United States, from what had been a 50 percent rate. That sounds good until you factor in the fact that many couples don’t bother to get married in the first place. This gives both parties an easy out, if things don’t work out. Divorces happen for any reason at all. As a matter of fact, people even have trouble defining exactly what a marriage is. This morning, we have the wonderful opportunity to take some time and talk about THE HOLY ESTATE OF MARRIAGE. As we go back to the first marriage, we are reminded that it is 1. A Divine Institution as well as 2. A Human Commitment.
Our text begins with God speaking, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” (Verse 18) What makes this statement so startling is the fact that at the end of the previous five days of creation, we hear this refrain, “And God saw that it was good.” Earlier on this sixth day of creation, God had made all of the land-dwelling animals. He had taken special care in creating Adam from the dust of the earth and breathing life into him. Yet, at this point, God said that it was not good. Please don’t misunderstand what God is saying here, as if he is chiding himself for forgetting something. Rather, by means of these words, God is announcing that he is going to do something special for the crown of his creation, mankind.
God said, “I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Verse 18) God tells us the intent of the special creature that he was going to make. He was going to make someone who was suitable for him, literally corresponding to him. In other words, this creature that he was going to make was not going to be an exact copy of Adam. Rather, they would complement each other. Neither of the two was more important in God’s sight, but each would provide a complement to the other. Think of the basic differences between man and women. Each sex has its strengths and weaknesses. God was going to provide a creature that would walk hand in hand with Adam.
God gave Adam a task to do. “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.” (Verses 19, 20) God brought all of the animals that he had created to Adam and had him name them. (By the way, this goes completely against the popular notion that early man was some sort of grunting animal. He was an intelligent creature.) God did not give this task to Adam for some busy work to fill up his time. There was a very important reason that God had Adam do this.
As Adam named each animal, he quickly saw something. All of the animals had a mate. There were the bull and the cow. There were the ram and the ewe. There were the rooster and the hen. There was Adam and . . . there was no one. None of the animals could fulfill the need that Adam had for companionship. Adam very quickly came to a conclusion, “But for Adam no suitable helper was found.” (Verse 20) God wanted Adam to see a need that he didn’t even know that he had and to highlight the special thing that was going to happen.
Just as Adam was not formed merely by the command of God, but created by God’s hands, so also the creature that God was going to make. “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. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man.” (Verses 21, 22) There is all sorts of speculation why God chose a rib from Adam to create Eve. Some have said that God did not take from the head, so that she would rule over the man. He did not take from the feet so that she would be trampled by him. Rather, he took a rib, so that she would be protected by him and near the heart, so that she would be loved by him. God doesn’t tell us why he chose the rib. The “where” isn’t so important. The “why” is. God took from the man and made the helper suitable for Adam. This woman would be the one that would fulfill the needs of Adam.
Then, we read these beautiful words, “[God] brought her to the man.” (Verse 22) With love and joy, God presented Adam with this precious gift that he had made especially for him. This woman was one who could share with him all of the Creator’s blessings and be his wife. God was present at the first wedding. He officiated the first wedding. God gave mankind the blessing of marriage when the world was perfect. He wanted to show his love for people by giving them this gift. This flies in the face of so many people who say that marriage is some sort of societal evolution that took place over centuries. Nothing could be further from the truth. Marriage is an institution that God established out of love for mankind. When we are reminded of this, we take a high view of marriage. It is a gift that God has given to people.
What was Adam’s reaction to this lovely creature standing there in front of him? We have his words recorded for us. He 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.” (Verse 23) When God presented his gift to Adam, he joyfully acknowledged that this woman was the perfect answer to his need. She was different from him, yet of the same flesh. She was perfectly suited to be his helper and companion.
We, also, see how marriage was established. It involves an unconditional, mutual commitment of husband and wife, sincerely and freely given. God didn’t force Eve on Adam. He brought her to Adam so that he could choose her to be his wife. On that sixth day of creation, Adam and Eve committed themselves to one another.
What does this type of commitment look like in marriage? In today’s society, commitment often means that we will stay together, as long as things are going well for us. As long as you make me happy, we will be together. However, if you no longer make me happy, I will find someone else who will. That isn’t commitment, at all. Rather, God tells us about the human commitment that makes the basis of a blessed marriage. We have this footnote at the end of our text, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” (Verse 24) Let’s take a few moments to break this down.
First of all, it says, “A man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife.” Up until this moment, the most important family relationship is between parent and child. However, when a marriage occurs, that changes. A new family unit is formed. This is now the most important relationship that either has. The husband and wife are obligated, first and foremost, to each other. This is not to say that there is no relationship between them and their parents. God still wants us to honor our parents. However, the husband and wife relationship is to be of the higher importance. This would also speak about friends. While they may still be near and dear to our hearts, our spouse is of greater importance. We are committed to each other.
Secondly, it says, “They become one flesh.” This unity is expressed in several different ways. There is the physical intimacy that God blesses the marriage with. The bodies of the husband and wife belong to each other for mutual satisfaction. This wonderful gift is not to be shared with anyone else.
However, the “one flesh” idea goes beyond the physical intimacy. It demands a oneness of interests and pursuits. This is not to say that both of you have to like exactly the same things and do everything together. You are still, after all, unique individuals with your own likes and dislikes. However, how many marriages end up in disharmony and, at times, divorce, because the husband and wife do not walk together but go their own separate ways. Being one in flesh means that you are there as your spouse’s companion during life’s journey.
Of course, for the Christian couple, being one in flesh also means that they have the same faith in a Savior who loved them so much that he came to the world to be their Savior. It means having a shared hope of eternal life in heaven.
Being one in flesh demands a caring and a sharing love. It also demands a permanence in marriage. In other words, it means that we say to our spouse, “I am committed to you. I am going to love you no matter what. I am going to love you when things are going well in our lives and when things are difficult. I am going to love you when you do things that make me happy and I am going to love you, even when you sin against me. You can count on me, no matter what.” Being one in flesh involves a daily commitment to your spouse.
This is the ideal. This is the way that God intended it to be when he brought Eve to Adam and they made their commitments when the world was perfect. However, we know that sin entered the world. Right away, the perfect relationship was destroyed. We see this as Adam blames Eve for the sin that had been committed. As Adam and Eve’s descendants, we see it also in our marriage relationships, as well. It is so easy to be selfish and self-absorbed. We say things and do things that hurt each other. Instead of fostering the one flesh idea, we look out for ourselves. Where God wants to bless us with loving companionship, we throw that out of the window. We have sinned against each other and we have sinned against God.
How blessed we are that Jesus is the perfect husband to us, his Church. The apostle Paul, in speaking to the Ephesians about marriage reminds us, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5:25-27) Jesus was completely committed to us. He did not want us to spend our eternity apart from him. So, he did everything necessary for our salvation. He lived a perfect life for us. He took all of our sins, including those sins that we have committed against our spouses, and paid for every single one of them on the cross. His resurrection tells us that all has been forgiven. The day you were brought to faith, you became part of his Bride, whom he did everything for. Because of this, we have both our motivation and our example of what it means to be completely committed to our spouses.
While this sermon has dealt mainly with those who are currently married, God also speaks to those who are not married at this time. If you are single, this text teaches what marriage is all about and what to look for when looking for that person that we want to spend the rest of our lives with. If you were married, but the Lord has taken your loved one to himself in heaven, God still has opportunities for you, as well. You can serve as a mentor for couples that are just getting started. You can teach your grandchildren what marriage is all about. May God bless each of us as we do all that we can to uphold the precious gift of marriage that he has given to mankind.
God was present at the first marriage, that of Adam and Eve. Even though that marriage took place thousands of years ago, the principles stated that day still apply today. Marriage is still God’s institution, established for all mankind and for the good of all mankind. It is not for mankind to change the rules of marriage. Marriage, as God instituted it, is still a good thing. May God help us to see the blessings that he intends to give us in marriage. As Solomon wrote in Proverbs 18:22, “He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD.” The same holds true for those who find a husband, as well. May God bless us as we enjoy his gift of marriage and may he help us to share what marriage is all about with those around us. Amen.
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