As the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have always lived in relationship, so we were created to live in relationship—first with God and then with others who are made in the image of God. In other words, when God created mankind, He designed us to have relationships with Him and other image-bearers. Therefore, we must understand what those relationships are for.
Living according to God’s design for our relationships requires the ongoing affirmation of six fundamental truths which are revealed in Genesis 2:4-25.
- God formed man, personally, and breathed His life into him (vv. 4-7). These verses flashback to chapter one, providing more detailed information. Clearly the attention is now on the pinnacle of God’s creation—man. The rest of the Bible will now be about man and God’s relation to him. The Lord God formed the man. The word “formed” is from the Hebrew word meaning “to mold or shape a particular substance. The picture Moses paints is one of the personal, intimate creation of Adam. The potter molded the clay just as He wanted (Read Psalm 139:13-15).
- God planted the perfect environment for man to live with his Creator (vv. 8-14). Having created man in His image, God—the Gardener—planted an immaculate place for His most valuable creatures to live. Eden was a place of pristine beauty. Indescribable beauty. Made for the pure enjoyment of man (Read verses 8-14). There, in that place of impeccable beauty and inexhaustible delight, God would walk and talk with man.
- God designed man to work and live under the authority of God’s word (vv. 15-17). Work is good. It is not the result of the fall of man into sin. Genesis 2:15 makes that clear. After man and woman fell into sin, work became more difficult. However, work was created good, and remains good to the extent that it honors God. Adam and Eve were given abundant freedom to eat from the delightful garden, but one restriction was in place. This command was a test of man’s willingness to live under God’s authority. To trust Him by simply obeying His word.
- God identified man’s need for companionship with fellow image-bearers (vv. 18-20). For the first time, God says something is “not good.” Therefore, He made “a helper fit” for Adam. God knew it was not good for Adam to be alone, but He wanted Adam to realize this for himself. So God gave Adam another job—to name the animals. Through classifying and naming the animals, Adam came to an important realization: Animals were not made for companionship. We were not designed to have relationships with animals. And animals were not designed to have relationships with us. Only human beings are made in God’s image and, therefore, have the ability to relate to one another, to think, to communicate, to reason. We are designed to cultivate relationships with other image-bearers.
- God handmade a helper to meet man’s need for companionship (vv. 21-23). Here we have the first surgery in the Bible. The surgeon was God and the patient was Adam. A divine anesthetic was given to him as “God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man.” And while Adam slept, God opened up the man’s side, removed a rib, and closed up the wound. And from the bone, God built Eve. Just as Adam was custom-made from the dirt, so Eve was handmade by God for Adam.
- God established the pattern for a healthy marriage relationship (vv. 24-25). Since God created man and woman and brought them together, He alone has the right to define what that union should look like. Most commentators agree that verse 24 contains the words of God, which were spoken when He conducted the first wedding ceremony. Here we see six biblical truths concerning marriage.
- Marriage was instituted by God. It was God’s design, not man’s idea.
- Marriage is heterosexual and monogamous. One man with one woman.
- Marriage should be permanent; it should be ended only by death. Its original design is: one man with one woman, for
- Husband and wife are to be united spiritually and physically—one flesh.
- Both husband and wife are required to detach themselves from their parents. Physical, emotional, financial dependence should end. (Massive marriage problems are created when one or both partners do not cut the apron strings).
- The husband is the head of the wife. Adam was created first, then Eve. He then named her. Eve was created for Adam. The creation order is cited by the New Testament writers to affirm male leadership in the home and the church (Read 1 Corinthians 11:8-9; 1 Timothy 2:13).
When God created man and woman, and instituted marriage, He created the most basic unit (building block) of society. Every other institution builds on this foundation. The perfection of God’s design is made clear in the last verse. Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed. Nakedness in the Old Testament “is always connected with some form of humiliation” (Victor Hamilton). But there was no humiliation in Eden at this point. There was nothing between Adam and Eve. This pictures the purity of their relationship on every level. Spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically they were one. Sin had not yet entered the world. Therefore, they lived in perfect harmony. Without sin, there was no conflict. No guilt. No shame. No hiding the “real me” from the other person.
But this points us to Christ.
Though our relationship to Adam caused us to be born sinners, and our own sins have separated us from God, God has provided the remedy in Jesus Christ—the One who was sent to restore our relationship with God. He did this through His death and resurrection (1 Peter 3:18). Earthly marriage points us to the heavenly marriage between Christ and His bride, the church. Through God’s plan of redemption, He will restore to its original state all that was lost. But it will even be better, for we shall know God’s grace.
[Adapted from last Sunday’s sermon at Cornerstone Community Church in Mayfield Heights, Ohio]