The First Marriage
Reading Genesis 2:1-25
Remember what we looked at last time? The man was alone. He was incomplete. He had no one to talk with. He had no one to help him rule the earth and take care of the Garden. He had no means of being fruitful and increasing in number. He had no one who was according to his kind. He had no helper.
Today we see God making a helper suitable for Adam. We see God making woman. a companion, a helper, a friend, someone after his kind.
In Genesis 1 – 2, we see man’s total dependence on God. Adam is “formed” by God as a potter might form clay. He receives his breath of life from God. He receives the Garden – his well-watered “home” – and his food from God. He receives his instructions from God. He receives his authority and power over all living things from God. Finally, he receives his wife, his suitable helper, from God. All that Adam is and all that Adam has comes from God. So, let us never neglect to thank God for all of His gifts, including our marriage partners.
A Helper Provided
When was the woman made? On the sixth day. But not at the same time as Adam – Genesis 2 makes this clear. Man was made before woman (1 Tim. 2:13). Woman was the last of God’s creative works. She made her appearance only after everything was in the highest state of readiness for her reception: a home, provision for her maintenance, and a husband who longed for her coming and appreciated her worth.
The man was made from the dust of the earth (Gen.2:7). The woman was made from the rib or side of the man (Gen.2:21). Just as the man was “taken” from the earth (Gen.3:19,23), so the woman was “taken” from the man. Both man and woman were made of something that existed prior to them.
The woman was made from man’s rib. Which means she has a claim upon man for protection and affection. As Matthew Henry observed long ago: – She was not made out of his head, to rule over him; nor out of his feet, to be trampled on 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.
Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. V22 – The Hebrew word for “made” that is used here is used nowhere else in Genesis 1 – 2. The verb is used frequently in the Old Testament for completing an unfinished structure: an altar, a city, a family, the temple. Here is a reminder that man was incomplete until God made his helper.
A Helper Given
Notice what God does once He has made the woman? “He brought her to the man” v22. Does this make you think of anything? It makes me think of the start of a wedding ceremony. When the doors open, we see the bride for the first time, she is brought to the front on the arm of her father, and she is presented to the bridegroom. In our text, we see God presenting the woman to the man as if at a wedding. We see God giving the bride away.
Scripture notes for us Adam’s response. For the first time in Scripture the words of the first human are recorded for us: (v23) 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.”
Adam’s aloneness is ended, can you imagine the joy he was feeling? The creation of woman puts a song in the man’s heart!
The next words also speak of marriage, of the character of marriage – v24
Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
Adam received Eve from the hand of God as his wife. So, man and woman were united together as husband and wife with God, so to speak, performing the first wedding ceremony.
The Character of the Union between Man and woman
Adam pronounces that she is “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (v23). A study of similar expressions in the Old Testament suggest that this is a declaration of loyalty.
Laban used this expression to welcome Jacob into his home (Gen.29:14 Surely you are my bone and my flesh.).
Abimelech used this expression to tell the people of Shechem that they should follow him rather than any of the other 69 sons of Gideon (Judges 9:2Remember that I am your own flesh and bone.).
When representatives of the northern tribes of Israel say this expression to David, they are pledging support for him as king (2 Sam.5:1Then all the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and spoke, saying, “Indeed we are your bone and your flesh.).
So, Adam uses this expression to declare loyalty to the lovely creature formed from his rib or side.
Four principles for the marriage union.
1 It is between one man and one woman.v24 Notice, the singular. God’s intention from the beginning was NOT the polygamy of the heathen nations at the time of the Exodus; Adam was expected to have but one wife.
God’s intention from the beginning says “NO” to today’s attempt to expand the definition of marriage to include gay and lesbian couples; as one wit put it, God joined together Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.
2 A man “leaves” his parents. v24. The English word “leave” is way too weak. In the Hebrew, the word frequently describes Israel’s rejection of her covenant relationship with the LORD God (Jer 1:16; 2:13, 17, 19; 5:7; 16:11; 17:13; 19:4; 22:9). The idea here is NOT that a man will abandon his responsibilities to his parents. Nor, that a man must live a great distance from his family. Instead, the term indicates that a man’s primary obligations change in marriage. Prior to the wedding, a man is to be most concerned with his parents. Once married, however, his wife’s needs become his most important concern. So strong is the marriage bond that it supersedes the ties between parents and children. He who marries must leave father and mother – physically, emotionally, economically. Husbands, when you marry you leave your parents; and, I should add, your friends. And parents, from your side this means you must not meddle in the marriage of your children.
3 A man is “Joined” to his wife. v24. The KJV translates this better than the modern versions – A man “cleaves” to his wife. This word is a covenant word. It describes how Israel is to hold fast to the LORD God (Deut 4:4; 10:20; 11:22; 13:4). Do you remember when your children were very young how they would wrap their arms and legs around you when you picked them up? That is the idea of cleaving – In the same way, a man is to cleave or cling or be united to his wife. He “leaves” his parents and he “cleaves” to his wife. He severs one loyalty and commences another.
His wife becomes the most important person in his life (apart from God, of course). She is more important than the parents. She is more important than the children. Understand this and you understand why adultery is desperately painful.
4 Husband and wife are to become “one flesh.”v24. The lives of husband and wife are woven together in marriage. They become one in every way possible: emotionally, sexually, spiritually, financially. They share everything: joys and sorrows, health and sickness, riches and poverty, life and death, good times and bad. To be one flesh is to be bonded together in a loving, supportive union that not only lasts but becomes deeper and more significant as the years pass.
Jesus reiterates this creation ordinance – (Matt.19:6) So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate..
The Structure of the Union between man and wife
First, the wife is the equal of the husband. According to our passage, the woman “was taken out of man” (v23). Adam recognized her as being the same as him – “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” ). She is as much the handiwork of God as is the man – he was “formed” by God from the clay and she was “made” by God from the rib.
Remember that word “helper”? I said last week that this word is often used for God. So, the word does not teach that woman is man’s subordinate, man’s inferior, or man’s servant. Rather, the word points to wisdom and strength.
Remember the first command? The command not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil applies to the woman as much as it applies to the man. She, too, was called to be obedient to the covenant of works.
Remember Adam’s calling, his job, in the Garden – to work it and take care of it? This calling applies to the woman as much as it applies to the man.
The woman, like the man, is made in God’s image. The woman, like the man, is given rule over the fish, the birds, the livestock, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. The woman, like the man, is told to fill and subdue the earth.
A wife is her husband’s equal. That is the first thing we need to say about the structure of the marriage relationship. A husband is not to dominate his wife and a wife is not to dominate her husband.
Scripture also teaches us that the husband is the spiritual head of the wife. You might wonder where I possibly get that from Genesis 2.
Consider this: who was made first – Adam or Eve? Among the Hebrews, the matter of being first was very significant. That is why to the firstborn was given authority, rank, status, and inheritance rights. Do you know what Paul says about this matter of firstness?
1 Tim.2:12-13 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve.
Consider also this: Adam named Eve. He said that she shall be called “woman” (v23). In Genesis 1, it is God Who does the naming. In Genesis 2, man images God by naming the animals. To name something is to exercise authority over them.
Finally, consider also this: Paul tells us that man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. For this reason, the woman comes under the man’s authority (1 Cor.11:8-10).
All this means the husband is the head and the wife must yield to this headship. He is responsible to God for the spiritual direction of the home. He is the one who must answer for neglect of devotions, attendance at worship, the spiritual instruction of the children, the priority of God’s kingdom and church, and so on. The husband is the head and the wife who refuses to submit to the husband’s headship is being disobedient to God.
How wonderful it would be if God gave away every bride and performed every wedding. Then, every home would be a paradise on earth. Since that is not the case, let me ask: How closely does your marriage imitate Adam and Eve’s relationship in the Garden?
We’ve been looking at the first marriage. But we could also be looking at the last marriage. Because marriage is a picture of the union of Christ and His church.
In this last marriage, Christ is the second Adam; He is the Bridegroom and the church is the bride
Rev.19:7 Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready.;
Even as Adam’s side was opened so woman could be formed, so Christ’s side was opened on the cross so the church could be formed (John 19:34).
And, husbands are to love their wives just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her (Eph.5:21ff). So, let me end by asking: Does your marriage imitate Christ’s relationship to and with the church? Is your marriage a foretaste of the eternal wedding feast of the Lamb and His bride?