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Worship Series: Genesis: Foundations of the Christian Faith
Worship Theme: Others
First Lesson & Sermon Text: Genesis 2:16-24 (EHV)
Gospel Lesson: Matthew 19:1-11 (EHV)
Music: CW 234 Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, How Deep the Father’s Love for Us, CW 490 Love in Christ Is Strong and Living, CW 332 Go, My Children, with My Blessing (in worship folder)
Message Notes & Growth Group Questions
Last week we talked about how the LORD God showed his free and faithful love to Adam in the garden of Eden. He gave him food, shelter, water, precious materials, and the blessing of satisfying work. On Father’s day we saw the Creator prove himself to be the ultimate Father that anyone could ever ask for. Today, we pick up where we left off in Genesis. We’ll see how God blesses the relationship between Adam and Eve and we’ll see that God empowers our own relationships.
Before we get to the set up for Eve’s creation, God gives us a bit of background information that will come in handy later on. We won’t spend too much time on it today, but this needs to be understood for next week’s sermon and the fall into sin. “16 The Lord God gave a command to the man. He said, ‘You may freely eat from every tree in the garden, 17 but you shall not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day that you eat from it, you will certainly die.’” I think this verse drives people nuts. Why would God do this? Why is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil even placed in the garden? First of all, it’s not like this is the only place to get food. Adam’s got like 8,000 other trees to choose from with varying types of food. They all taste awesome and I think we all know how great it feels to eat food. It’s a wonderful feeling. He’s not going to miss out because of this one tree.
Second, Adam was not like us. He didn’t have a sinful nature to start with. As soon as we hear anyone tell us not to do something, we want to do it. Even just reading this command, the sinful nature inside of me wants to taste what the fruit from that tree tastes like. I once knew an exasperated parent whom, when things really needed to get done, would tell his child to not do it. It was the only way he could be sure his daughter would do it. Adam is not like this. This would not be torture for him to avoid this tree.
One more thing. This Tree of the knowledge of good and evil is a gift and blessing. Adam wanted an opportunity to serve his God and show him he loved him. Here was his chance. This tree was like Adam’s church and he could give recognition to God’s sovereignty, thank God for everything he’s done, lean on God for aid, see God’s mercy, and respond by giving God glad obedience. I hope you don’t feel like you have to come to church, but rather that it’s a place you are blessed. This was Adam’s place for that. God never designed humans to be puppets or robots whom he regulates by pulling strings or pressing buttons. By placing the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the garden, God was giving Adam the opportunity of his own free will to obey God. How many of you have ever loved someone? You wanted to show that person how much you loved him or her. So maybe you got flowers or bought a gift to show how much you cared. This is what Adam is doing here. He wants to show love to God and here is his opportunity. This is not a hassle for him in the slightest. I know we could talk about this tree all day long, but we’re moving on because it’s not the point of our sermon today. We’ve now seen the garden of paradise and the LORD’s free and faithful love, the two trees. Finally, it’s time to introduce the woman to the scene.
It's still day 6 of the creation of the world and God isn’t quite done yet. Everything made is good, but it’s not quite complete. A suitable partner for Adam is missing. But God doesn’t want to just say this. He wants Adam to realize this for himself so he will know woman is his counterpart. Therefore, God brings a bunch of animals he had created earlier and shows them to Adam so Adam can name them. Adam names these creatures one by one. We don’t know what language he named them in, but we do know this wasn’t some sort of random naming like, “Spot, Cool thing with a trunk, sasquatch…” Instead Adam is naming them intelligently according to their nature. Each name was wisely and carefully chosen. Throughout this whole process, Adam realizes something is missing. He’s longing for that suitable companion, that counterpart. Every other creature seems to have one. Where is his?
God saved his best earthly gift for last. He causes man to fall into a deep sleep and then makes woman from one of his ribs. This woman will be a suitable partner and a helper for Adam. Now a lot of people get really upset when they see that women are labeled as helpers, as if that means women are somehow inferior to men. They are not. “Helper” is a term that has even been used in some cases to describe God. But it is easy to see how “helper” might have a poor connotation attached to it, so let me rephrase this. Women, do men need help? What would happen if only men were around to help other men?
I can just see God walking in the garden when he sees Adam. “What are you doing?” “Oh, hey God, I’m tying a string to myself and this elephant and we are going to run in opposite directions to see what happens.” “Whoa! It is not good for man to be alone. It is not good for man to be alone. I’m just going to put you in a deep sleep and make a suitable helper here.” I’m joking of course, but not about men needing women. If women weren’t on this earth, we’d be missing our counterpart and the earth wouldn’t be complete and neither would we.
God also has a designated role given to men. He obviously wants him to take care of her. Not because she can’t take care of herself, but because she’s worth taking care of. She is precious and beautiful. This is Adam’s task. He’s been instructed on what to do and not do in this garden. Now it is his responsibility to not just to watch out for his own well-being, but hers too. He is to lead, guide, guard, and protect. That doesn’t sound so bad to have someone like that in your life.
None of that sexist stuff you often hear is found here in Scripture. Our God is the real God and he says men and women are equal in value, despite being so very different. Back in our account, our God builds this elegant and extremely capable woman out of Adam’s rib and then brings the woman to the man. It is as though God were saying: “Here is the helper I have prepared for you to be your wife.” Notice that God does not say, “here is a wife to do your laundry, make you sandwiches, and be your maid so you can be a slob.” Women, if you don’t think men are made out of the right stuff that means you aren’t either. You were literally made from him. God brings Eve to Adam and notice what doesn’t happen. Adam doesn’t say. “Nuts, I had to give up a rib for that.” Eve doesn’t say, “Are you sure you didn’t take the backbone to make me because he seems spineless.” Instead, with deep interest and joy, the LORD God presented his precious gift to the man. Both Adam and Eve know what a gift this is. Adam immediately recognizes Eve for how beautiful she is, both inside and out. He starts reciting poetry. When’s the last time a member of the opposite sex quote poetry to you? Adam set the bar high. He then gives her a name that puts her above the animals and on par with man. She too is the crown of God’s creation.
Then in verse 24 God sets up marriage. This is how it works. There is one man and one woman. God did not make Adam and Steve the first couple. It’s Not Adam and Eve, Candy, Lola, and Lafonda. It’s one man and one woman. Who is God to say what marriage is? He made it. He invented it. He has every right to define it. We are then shown what accounts for this unique and powerful relationship. Man and woman become one. Oneness involves complete identification of one personality with the other, it involves a combining of interests and pursuits, companionship, caring and sharing in life. It also involves something I’m not going to tell you, but you are going to have to ask your parents about. It doesn’t mean a married couple stop being individuals, but they are joined in a unique union where they put each other’s needs above their own.
Look at their relationship and tell me you’re not just a little jealous. Mr. Perfect meets Mrs. Perfect in a perfect, romantic garden that they didn’t even need to reserve over a year ahead of time. He’s thoughtful. She’s sweet. They are the perfect complement to one another. How come our relationships don’t look like that?
If anything, this perfect image of a relationship just makes us feel so guilty. Or at least it should. You haven’t been the best spouse. You’ve taken your anger out on your other half even when they did nothing wrong. You’ve chosen yourself and your wants over your significant other again and again. Husbands have not cared for or treated their wives like they are precious. They have not used their role of headship in ways to be the first to say sorry or the first to be a good example or the first to take on the hard work, but instead used it as an excuse to dominate or get their way. Wives have refused to help or support their husbands even when they are crumbling under the weight of the world and just need a hand. What about your relationship with your children? You’ve taken the easy way out and didn’t do what was best for them, but instead did what was most convenient for you. What about your friends? Have you been there for them like they’ve been there for you? Or maybe you resent them because they can’t read your mind and don’t give you exactly what you want when you want it. Whether some of these are true for you or not, it’s obvious none of us have been anywhere close to perfect in our relationships. And we can’t be perfect even if we try. Sin makes all our righteous acts like filthy rags. Sin has pushed away the image of God from us.
Is it hopeless to even try in our relationships?
There are no perfect relationships anymore. Except one. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say except for ½ of many relationships. Jesus is still perfect in his relationship with each and every single one of us. I’ve gotten angry at him, I’ve cursed his name, I’ve been unfaithful to him, I’ve disobeyed his commands, I’ve questioned his motives, I’ve taken for granted his love. I’ve given him no reason to stay on as my God, and yet he has stayed, pouring out his free and faithful love. And he’s not going anywhere. That’s the thing about the LORD. He loves you and nothing can change that. And because of that there is hope. Better yet, a certainty. You see, Jesus saw we weren’t perfect and took our place to be perfect. Then he was a perfect sacrifice to give us perfection as a gift. The image of God is restored through Jesus. He not only shows us how to love in a sinful world, but he gives us the ability to. Without him, we are spiritually dead, unable to do anything pleasing in his sight. With him, now we can emulate the love of Christ. I can love my wife and she can love me back. We can forgive each others’ imperfections in Christ and grow together as he intended. I can love my kids and put their needs above my own. I can be a friend that is there when they need me. I can be a part of a church that serves and builds-up. I can even love someone I don’t know by sharing the message of Jesus’ sacrifice.
We’ve talked a lot about Adam and Eve in this text today, but where has God been throughout. He’s been right there the whole time helping them. Everything good between Adam and Eve came from God. Even after the fall, everything bad came from somewhere else. Everything truly good in their relationship still came from God. Even when sin destroyed their relationship with each other and him, he gave them the promise of a Savior who would fix all relationships. If he could fix our relationship with him, think of what he can do in our relationships too. The LORD is still here today, giving us good gifts, turning the bad things in our lives for good, allowing us to see each other as something truly valuable. We still hold onto the same promise of a Savior who fixes relationships and now we can see each other as saved and redeemed children of God. He teaches us how to love. Or as 1 John 4:19 states, “We love because he first loved us.” He teaches us how to forgive. The LORD continues empowering us in our relationships with one another. Amen.