January 27, 2013

The Hole to Make One

Preacher: Randy Smith Series: Genesis Scripture: Genesis 2:4–25


The Hole to Make One

Genesis 2:4-25
Sunday, January 27, 2013
Pastor Randy Smith

Though the areas where most of us live are getting back to normal, the presence of many "yellow shirts" with us on a daily basis is weekly reminder that some pockets of our community are still seeking to recover from Hurricane Sandy. I'm sure our friends from North Carolina have received the two predominate questions we received when we were assisting devastated homeowners in our specific area.

One, if God is good, why did He permit this storm to happen? Thus questioning His omnipotence because He might not have wanted the storm, but He was unable to override the forces of nature. And two, if God is all-powerful, why did He permit this storm to happen? Thus questioning His goodness because if we conclude that God is sovereign over nature, how can we consider the pain and destruction of Sandy and walk away concluding that God is good?

So let's go down this road. If God is all-powerful, are a Hurricane Sandy and a good God compatible? There are many ways we can answer that question. We could say God uses calamity to bring about a greater goodness. We could say God's definition of goodness is much different than ours. And we could also look at examples that testify to God's goodness from His previous works recorded in the pages of Scripture.

Specifically, this is what I'd like to focus on this morning from our passage in Genesis 2. In my study this past week it was a theme that continually stood out to me. This morning we will look at the goodness of God in the creation of the Garden, the creation of the woman and the creation of marriage.

A few introductory comments and then we'll get rolling. Chapter 1 provides the entire creation account from a "wide angle lens." Chapter 2 now backs up and zooms in to provide the specific details as it pertains to the creation of humans, the man and the woman. Genesis 1:27, "male and female He created them." Two months ago I was filling out a government application and couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the choices under "gender" - male, female and other! Not according to the Bible!

We have already learned that humans were created in the very image of God (Gen. 1:26-27). In chapter 2, verse 7, we are given more specifics as to how humans are made much different than the rest of creation which was simply spoken into existence. For us, the comparison is to a potter who delicately and intimately shapes his art with the work of his hands. "Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." We spoke last week about how this points to the inherent dignity and value that we all share above the rest of creation.

Chapter 1 God is referred to as Elohim, the general name for Almighty King. In chapter 2 God is referred to as Yahweh Elohim, the Lord who is the personal covenant maker with His people. Chapter 1 shows us that humans are the crowning jewel of God's creation fully equal to each other in value and dignity and destiny. Chapter 2 will show us that while humans are equal in essence, men and women differ in roles in their relationship to each other. We'll see why these differences were intended and how men and women fit together like pieces in puzzle as we seek to complement each other for greater completeness.

1. God's Goodness in the Garden

So let's begin with the first point, God's goodness in the creation of the garden.

Before the woman was created, the Bible says man was placed in a garden. Verse 8, the garden was called Eden which means "delight." It was located in present day Turkey or Iraq. Verse 10-14, water was supplied by a river which flowed out of the garden and then branched off into four rivers. Only two of those we are familiar with today. Verse 15, the man had a responsibility to work in the garden. Work is not a curse. We were made for work. Though the joy of it has been somewhat spoiled by the fall, work is intended to be a part of who we are so long as we don't worship it! Give my young son a plastic shovel, a toy dump truck and a pile of dirt and he is satisfied for hours! I've seen it over and over as a pastor. When people don't work they get themselves into all kinds of trouble!

And then we have the famous trees. Verse 9, "Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." So we have a bunch of trees for the man to enjoy for food. And then we have two other trees particularly noted: the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Specific instructions followed. Verses 16 and 17, "The LORD God commanded the man, saying, 'From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die."

Alright, this is important to understand because it will set the stage for next week when we enter chapter 3. Man is alone in the garden. Though there are a bunch of animals, man at this time is a vegetarian and is supplied food from the trees that are bearing fruit.

The tree of life was in the garden that sustained the life of man. We know also from chapter 3 that man was kicked out of the garden when he sinned so he wouldn't have access to this tree and live forever in a perpetual state of sin (Gen. 3:22-24). Without the tree of life we all die which in turn is a good thing for those in Christ because heaven is a return to "paradise" in a place of beauty without the presence of sin. And in heaven what do we find? Revelation 22:2 and 14, the tree of life! Adam lost paradise. Christ regained it! More on that next week.

The expectation from God was simple. It's all yours, Adam! It's an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord. What a good God! Only one rule as it pertains to your dining. Don't eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The day you eat from that tree, you will die.

The big question, will Adam trust in the goodness of God? Will Adam after having been given a beautiful garden with a fulfilling job be satisfied with what God has provided or will he doubt God's Word and goodness and believe he is better able to determine what is best for his life? It is the same for us today - freedom in Christ with a few commands. Do we believe God's commands will rob us of a good life or do we believe His commands are for our good because we believe that He is a good God?

Next week we'll discuss Adam's failure and next week we'll examine the goodness of God as He redeems Adam's transgression in Christ and provides for us a promised existence that even exceeds the goodness of Eden!

2. God's Goodness in the Woman

So God's goodness is abundantly seen in the creation of the garden. Now as we move to the second point, let's see how God's goodness is seen in the creation of the woman.

A very interesting statement in verse 18. "Then the LORD God said, 'It is not good for the man to be alone." Amazing - "good," "good," "good" and now "not good." No sin, man's perfect fellowship with God and God Himself declares that something is "not good." Adam was alone in the garden and before Adam even saw his need God declared that it was not good for him to be alone.

This is the classic bachelor story. The guy thinks he's just fine, but everybody around him, especially his mother, knows that he needs a wife. I remember those single days quite vividly. Eating frozen dinners every night, mismatching my clothes and nothing but pictures of myself scattered all over my virtual 2-bedroom "man cave." Did put up a spice rack - don't believe I opened a single bottle! Julie still teases me how my whole house was decorated in earth tones with very little light ever penetrating the inside of the building. I was in a pathetic state! I can imagine Eve, "Adam, you are doing a decent job with the animals, but the flower beds are a disgrace!"

But there is much more that a wife can do for a husband. There is a companion who serves as a best friend. An intimate partner to share life with until parted by death. A helper for spiritual accountability. You can have all the guy friends in the world, but there is a completeness that only a female can fill in the life of a man. Proverbs 18:22, "He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD." Most guys don't get this. Adam surely didn't, but God did. God's solution, "I will make him a helper suitable for him." And it was only then when both male and female were created that God in 1:31 completed His work and called His creation "very good."

So since Adam is oblivious of His need, God helped him out a bit and showed him his need for a "helper." Verse 19, God parades all the animals before man. Adam is told to name the animals. Probably not long after Adam comes to a clear conclusion, "Male and female horse, male and female lizard, male and female bird, male and… Hey I'm missing a female just like me!" Verse 20, "There was not found a suitable helper for him." It just wouldn't be the same to snuggle up to a rhinoceros before a fire on a cold night in Eden! God made us to desire the same of another kind - a complement and not a carbon copy. God first shows Adam his need, and then God fulfills the need He created in Adam's heart with a "suitable helper."

Those two words have really taken some heat especially in recent years. Does the woman created to be man's helper place her in an inferior situation? Absolutely not! God is repeatedly identified as our helper (Psm. 33:20; 70:5; 115:9). A name for the Holy Spirit is "helper" (Jn. 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7). It is not derogatory; it simply means man needs help! Though ultimately responsible for the spiritual direction of the family, (we see that here in the birth order (1 Ti. 2:12) and we'll definitely see that next week in chapter 3), but we can't deny that to rightly fulfill that responsibility we need a godly wife (like the one described in Proverbs 31) that will encourage when we need strength, provide wisdom when decisions need to be made and assist in managing the family since we can't hold a job and then raise the family by ourselves. Then through all this, there is a special unity among two diverse counterparts.

You know, you have shown much gratitude for my service to this church. Often what you fail to see is all the work Julie does around the house so I can be freed up to study and help shepherd the needs of over 600 people. Without an energetic and wise and cooperative helper like her, there is no way I would be the pastor you see today. You see my friends, it's not about our egos and personal needs. They take a backseat to the needs of God's people and our desire to serve our Lord faithfully. And Julie and I have found ourselves most effective when we humble ourselves and put the needs of Jesus Christ first. That is our creation purpose - to glorify Him. And only then do we enjoy the unity and peace that God intends for every marriage.

Verse 21, God performs some surgery. He knocks Adam out, carefully removes one of Adam's ribs and with that rib fashions the woman. He then brings the woman and presents her to man. You've heard the quote from the puritan Matthew Henry: "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." Woman was intended to be a blessing by man's side, not a pain in his side!

What was Adam's response when he sees Eve? Now let's remember that Adam has not been reading the Swimsuit issue of Sport's Illustrated. He had been working in the garden maybe plowing a field with his eyes on the bottom of a couple oxen for eight hours a day. How do you think he would have felt when he met Eve?

But it was more than the physical! It is the reality of God's design that one was made just like Adam, but of another kind to perfectly complement him. It wasn't a Hank or George or Steve, it was Eve! And Adam's response is predictable. He was "beside himself" (pun intended)! This was "prime rib!" He named her "woman." You've heard it before - "wo-man!" Ecstasy, delight and surprise! I can imagine Him saying, "Hey babe, we were meant to be, after all, look around all the other guys are animals!"

Actually, the first human words recorded in the Bible from Adam were not a grunt from a narrow-browed Neanderthal man, but poetry. He writes a song and sings it to her! Same today, these guys always get the girls! Verse 23, "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man."

As for Eve, I think it's safe to say she had a big day. In one day she was made, she met God, she got engaged and she got married. And since she had no earthly father it was her heavenly Father who gave her away in marriage.

What another clear demonstration of God's goodness. Giving us what we do not deserve and knowing our needs better than we do ourselves. Maybe that's why God knocked Adam out to show Him that the creation of his beloved Eve was not in any way a result of his doing. It was like our salvation in Christ, a good gift of God entirely on the basis of His work offered by grace.

3. God's goodness in Marriage

So God shows His goodness in the creation of the garden and the woman and now He shows His goodness in the creation of marriage.

Four clear components that are applicable to us today!

The first one is "receive." When Adam was presented to Eve she was received with great joy. We too must see our spouse though the lens of a God who is sovereign, wise and good. Beloved, your spouse is a gift from God perfectly designed for you. Regardless of their flaws, which we all have, an ongoing attitude of receiving your spouse until death is a sign that you trust a good God to provide good gifts.

The second one is "leave." Verse 24, "For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother." To fully enjoy the goodness of marriage, there needs to be a breaking away from the parents. We still love and honor our parents, but the new relationship must show ultimate human allegiance to itself if it wishes to honor God and be successful. A wife that depends more on her father than her husband will devastate her spouse's morale. A husband that refuses to grow up, get a job, support his family and get them involved in a church will leave his wife and children vulnerable of several fronts. And parents that want to control their children's marriage and continually provide for their every need are doing nothing to assist God's good plan of healthy independence.

The third one is "cleave." Still in verse 24, "And be joined to his wife." Literally this means that they are to "stick like glue." In the past year I have officiated a personal record of weddings. It seems, even among Christians, that many are moving away from all the traditional aspects of the ceremony. From the unity candle, we now have unity sand. From the church, we now have the beach. Frequently I'm asked, "What do we need to do?" And my response is simple, "The Bible gives you freedom to do whatever you want so long as I can share the Gospel and you say your vows to each other." For at that moment you are pledging before God to "stick like glue" to your spouse regardless of the circumstances until death do you part.

And the fourth one is "weave." Still in verse 24, "And they shall become one flesh." How close is this oneness? It is the same word ("Echad") Moses used in Deuteronomy 6:4 when he said, "The LORD is our God, the LORD is one." In a mysterious way God takes two distinct individuals and makes them one. It is a oneness demonstrated physically, spiritually, economically, experientially and logistically. One author said, it is a oneness that shares ideas, beliefs, joys, differences, triumphs, failures, possessions and bodies (Stuart Scott, The Exemplary Husband, p. 68).

Jesus affirmed this in Matthew 19, "Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, 'Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?' And He answered and said, 'Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?'' So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate" (Mt. 19:3-6) Therefore any monogamous marriage like the one in the garden between one man and one woman expresses the perfect plan of God and glorifies His goodness. Since God invented it, we would be wise to comply with His definition of marriage and not reject His goodness in the creative design.

And why did God design marriage in this way between one woman and one man with assigned roles based upon their genders? Because as Paul said in Ephesians 5 our marriages are to illustrate the ultimate marriage between Jesus Christ and His church. Our marriages are to show the world the unity and the love and the loyalty and the permanence that we enjoy as the bride of Christ being married to our great spiritual Husband who we receive on the basis of faith in God, we cleave to each other, Jesus becomes one with us and leads us with tenderness and provides the promise to never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5). Marriage is celebrating God's goodness in Christ!

There was wonderful harmony in the garden. Everything was still "very good." There was innocence. Verse 25 says, "And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed." Tragically that harmony was short lived. A new player is introduced in chapter 3 and a decision that questioned God's goodness was made that will send the whole thing into a tailspin and move God's good hand once again to now begin His work of redemption.

other sermons in this series

Oct 27


Providentially Secure - Part Four

Preacher: Randy Smith Scripture: Genesis 42:1– 50:26 Series: Genesis

Oct 20


Providentially Secure - Part Three

Preacher: Randy Smith Scripture: Genesis 41:1–57 Series: Genesis

Oct 13


Providentially Secure - Part Two

Preacher: Randy Smith Scripture: Genesis 38:1– 40:23 Series: Genesis