Posted by: St. Mark Lutheran Church | October 14, 2012

Sermon on Genesis 2:18-24

God makes everything very good

  • Order of Service:  Service of the Word, p38
  • Lessons: Genesis 2:18-24, Hebrews 2:9-11, Mark 10:2-16
  • Hymns: 504, 285 (1, 7, 11-12), 622, 603

Downloadable Version

In the name of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.

For all those out there who call the Bible a misogynistic book, that is, a book that hates women, please note that God withholds the words very good (Gen. 1:31, NIV84) from creation until He made the woman.

After creating all things visible and invisible, in heaven and on earth, in the land, the sea, and the sky, in our atmosphere and beyond, having created absolutely everything that exists except one teeny, tiny little thing, that female, that woman, God declared Himself unsatisfied.  He said, It is not good (Gen. 2:18, NIV84).  He didn’t mean that He screwed up. He wasn’t done yet.  He couldn’t rest and let man, so to speak, take over.

So the LORD God knocks Adam out and performs the first surgery, a transplant of sorts.  He opens the man up, removes one of His ribs and does what God does so well:  He forms it into the perfect companion, the God-ordained helper suitable (Gen. 2:18, NIV84), the woman.  Then the LORD God takes the woman to the man, and now things are, finally, very good, perfect, exactly as God desires.

Adam thinks so too.  He sees the woman and sings the first love song:  This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man (Gen. 2:23, NIV84).  Gets you all gooey inside, doesn’t it?  But Adam captured the mood.  He got the very-goodness of this moment.  If he were Jerry Maguire, he might have said, “You complete me.”  While naming the animals, perhaps Adam noticed all the pairs coming before him: the bears, the lions, the zebras, the elephants, all coming two by two, male and female. This doesn’t sadden or depress Adam, because you don’t get sad and depressed in sinless Eden, but he did note it well.  And so when he woke up from his deep sleep and saw this woman, everything clicked into place.  “This is mine!”  Not in the sense of ownership – “Finally, my meal-cooking, dish-washing, child-bearing slave!” – but in the sense of that which all the other creatures had:  “Here’s the one for me!”  Would it be an irreverent stretch to use the word “soulmate”?

If Adam were the girl from Jerry Maguire, he might have said to the woman, “You had me from hello.”  Because the LORD God brought this gift, this woman, to the man, nothing more need be said from Adam’s point of view.  He readily concurs with Solomon, who later writes, He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the LORD (Prov. 18:22, NIV84).

And then the LORD God ties the bow.  While Moses gives no indication of these words being spoken, Jesus say God spoke what came next, For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh (Gen. 2:24, cf. Matt. 19:5, NIV84).  In other words, God officiated at the first marriage and set the standard for every marriage to come.

Personally, I’m against outdoor marriages because of the logistical nightmares that can ensue, you know, like weather, but I’ll refrain from criticizing God.  He had the perfect setting to capture Adam and Eve’s attention.  In this paradise, this Eden, where the trees blossom with wholesome food (except that one tree God told Adam about); in this paradise, this Eden, where the animals serve and obey the people God created to rule over the garden; in this particular corner of this particular paradise, as the sun shines down without infecting Adam or Eve with skin cancer, where the temperature is a perfect 72 degrees; here God institutes marriage and the family.  He sets the tone and tells the man and the woman that this is what they and their children after them will do.

He does this with one eye to the future sin will bring.  Sin will wreck the harmony of Eden.  Sin will remove the very good label from creation and replace it with the word “broken.”  It will start in this marriage.  The wife will tempt the husband; the husband will turn on the wife; and in the end, God says, these two will fight and squabble “until one of you dies.”

But here, before sin comes, before Adam and Eve wreck everything, God lays out the natural order of things. “Someday you will have a son, and he’ll see a young girl, and he will start a new family under a new tree.  And ever shall be, world without end.  This is the natural order of things.”  And thus God implicitly declares other “orders” to be unnatural.  Again, God has one eye on future sin.  He knows about Lamech who will be the first to take more than one wife at the same time, creating polygamy.  He knows about the men of Sodom, who probably didn’t invent homosexuality, but certainly give it terrible prominence, permanently naming this unnatural perversion: “sodomy.”  He knows about Judah, the son of Jacob, who would get a little, shall we say, “itchy,” one day while traveling on business, and decide to scratch that itch by having sex with a prostitute.  He knows about that Samaritan woman with whom Jesus chats, the one who made her way through five husbands and then decided to defile marriage by shacking up with her latest boyfriend.  He knows about these Pharisees who will want to make use of Moses’ so-called “permission” to hand out certificates of divorce for any and every reason, thus breaking apart what God joined together until death.

And so God declares all those things out of bounds by simply saying, “A man will find a woman and they will unite to one another and become one flesh.”  And He said that already in what He created.  Seeking a suitable helper for Adam, He created a woman and nothing else.  He created no animal, no creature, no second man, no technological device, but the woman.  This helps the man.  Just as much as the man helps the woman.  We cannot, no matter how much we try, erase the distinctions that exist between the genders, or even erase the genders because God created them male and female and appointed male and female for marriage.

So the Matchmaker made His match, the perfect match, the only conceivable match.  But He did this not simply to set the standard for marriage and family to come.  He did this not simply to draw the line and raise the bar to the place where it needed to be when sin entered the world.  He did this also to prepare the way for that which would put an end to the sin that Adam and Eve brought into the world, to put an end to our sinful longing for such sinful, marriage breaking relationships as we find all around us and even in our own hearts.  He did this to save us from hell, in which all our defilements and abuses of marriage put us.  Because the LORD God brought this woman to this man and united them in marriage, He set the stage for Christ.

When Adam and Eve screwed everything up, the LORD God said, “One of your children will fix everything.  He will restore holiness.”  So now this one-fleshness served a purpose greater than simply filling the earth with people, but rather, this one-flesh behavior would bring forth that one child, the One who makes men holy by His holy life and death.  Hebrews said that today:  Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family.  So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers (Hebrews 2:11, NIV84).  Marriage after marriage throughout history finally culminated in the birth of Mary, who became the Mother of God (Ironically, outside of marriage, in a virgin birth, without an earthly father.).

Even more than just using the practical mechanics of marriage to produce a Savior, Paul tells us that what our Savior is is our Husband: the Husband looking for a bride to take home to Himself; the husband who offered Himself as the perfectly faithful Spouse; the husband who loved His wife so much that He died for her, to cleanse her of her sins, to wash her clean, to present her to His Father not as damaged goods, but as a holy, virginal bride.  In marriage as God instituted it, one man leaving his home to cling to his one wife, we get a prophetic picture of what God gives us in Christ.  That Son left His Father to find us.  To unite Himself to us.  To unite us to Him.  To make us holy and blameless and pure.  To return us to Eden.

Christ reverses the action of paradise.  In paradise, God brought the wife to the husband.  In paradise lost, the Husband, Jesus, brings His wife to God.  And washed clean in the blood of Christ, God looks at believers, looks at Christ’s bride, and says, “Very good.”  For this reason a man, one man, will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, one wife, for life, and the two will become one flesh.  Amen.

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