The statistics are daunting. More and more young people raised in Christian homes abandon the faith when they leave for college. Growing up, they quoted Bible verses, worshiped every Sunday, and knew all the right things to say. So what went wrong? It’s because they’ve been living on a borrowed faith instead of making it their own. They had religion, but they never had a relationship with Christ. What about you? Is your faith your faith, or is it a borrowed faith?
The Day Man Met His Match
Explorers, sailors and hikers have described the feelings of isolation and fear from being lost and completely cut off miles from all human contact for days, or even weeks. But imagine if you were the only person on earth! Adam knew what that was like for a short while, until God created a partner for him, and that’s the day he met his perfect match. God is the creator of relationships, so He has more to teach us than anyone. Are we following His instructions in our relationships?
If you have your Bible, and I hope that you do, open it to Genesis chapter 2. We made it! Some wisecracker last week after the service, you know, I’ve been promoting this as a series through the Bible, and I don’t know how many weeks we’ve been in Genesis 1, and he said, “Hey, I’m really enjoying this Genesis series.” And I told that to one of our guys this morning, and he said, “You mean our Genesis 1 series.” I’m like, “Okay.” So for those of you maybe this is your first Sunday, let me just do a quick recap on how we’re going to divide this up. We’re doing this in six parts, six very large parts starting out in, well, Genesis. It’s amazing; we’ve divided the Bible up from Genesis to Revelation in six parts, and the first part of this series all takes place in the book of Genesis. This is such an important book. It’s such a big book that out of the 66 books in the Bible, one-sixth of it is in Genesis alone. That’s where we’re going to be for a while, and then we’ll move on to see how the people ended up in slavery and how they were called out of slavery by Moses, and God called them to a life of holiness, something brand new. He called them to a high standard. And then how they went from there to basically becoming a very proud people, and unfortunately, turned away from God. Then we’ll cross over into the New Testament. We’ll take some time to look at the life of Christ, and then we’ll look at the life of the Church, and we’ll get some very important things there. Then we’ll finish up by looking at the life to come. We’ll take a look through Revelation, see what the Bible has to say about what’s coming up. I’m very excited to be able to do that with you guys and very excited to make it to Genesis 2 today.
Last week, we looked at in Genesis 1, and over the last few weeks, we looked at how God created all things by His spoken Word, and we saw how everything in creation obeys the very Word of God. We saw how God is king over everything, down to the smallest molecule obeys His Word. God said, “Let there be,” and there was. It’s amazing how all of creation snaps to attention the minute God speaks, except for us. We’re the one thing in all of God’s creation who often says, “Nah, I don’t want to do that.” Somehow, God’s patience seems to be everlasting with us. He bears with us, and He puts up with our nonsense, and He is gracious, and we’ll certainly begin to see that next week when we get into Genesis chapter 3. Today, as we venture into chapter 2, we’re going to see the beginning of human relationships.
Who of us at some point in life has not stayed up all night tossing and turning because of a broken relationship? There’s something inside all of us that longs for, that craves relationship, even though we so often mess them up. God has created us to desire relationships, even someone like me who doesn’t think that being by yourself is being lonely. Just give me a good book and a cup of coffee and I’m good for hours. But even I crave relationships. God has made us this way and despite our many failures and problems as human beings, we all find a glimmer of hope in the prospect of a deep, meaningful, lasting relationship. We see this beginning to spark to life here in Genesis chapter 2. Before that happens, though, in verse 1 of chapter 2, we see this: Coming off all of the creation that we saw in chapter 1, chapter 2 verse 1 says this: “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished.” Boy, that’s quite a statement. All that they’re seeing with the Hubble telescope out there, hundreds of millions of light years away. That’s just the term we’ve come up with to try to put into reference the vast expanse out there. All of that, just in one statement. It says, oh yeah, by the way, the heavens and the earth, they’re all done now. They’re finished. God created them and all the host of them, or the vastness of them. “And on the seventh day God finished His work that He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all the work that He had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all His work that He had done in creation.”
I want to pause here. This isn’t our focus today, but I’m sure, maybe, you’ve had questions about this phrase. A lot of people get in a tizzy when they read this or they hear this, and I’ve had people throw this in my face over the years, not from LifePoint, but elsewhere. “Oh, so you believe your God is all powerful, but He had to rest after He created everything.” And it’s kind of a smirk. “So He got tired?” If they would only take the time to crack open a book and find out what the original language is actually saying. Any translator will tell you that trying to translate from the original Hebrew that this was written in, or in the New Testament, the original Greek, is very, very complex. There are words in Hebrew and Greek that there is no direct translation for to an English word, so it’s very difficult. Like for instance, in English, we have the word “love.” And I say, “I love my wife,” and she goes, “Aw.” And then I say, “Oh, I love pepperoni pizza,” and she goes, “Huh?” It’s the same word. I don’t mean it the same way, but in English it’s the same word. You get into Greek, and you have three different words for love, so it’s easily discernible which thing I’m talking about. But in our Bible, it’s all translated love. The word “rest” here, we think God had to lay down and take a nap because He was tired. That’s not at all what it’s saying. This word simply means “to cease, to stop doing something.” Here in these verses, when it says, “God rested from all the work He had done,” it simply means He ceased working; He stopped doing it.
We saw through Genesis 1, some of the principles that God put into place for man to live by, some of the boundaries that He set in place. Here we see another one of the principles that God wants man to follow. This is so easy just to read over and think, “Okay, well, God took a break from His work.” But this is a principle that God has put in place for mankind to follow, and I’ll tell you what, I think it’s one of the most overlooked for all of us out of the principles of the Bible. I can tell you, I have overlooked this one for far too long in my life. I’m the kind of guy, I told you last week or the week before, I’m just 100 miles an hour, full steam ahead, let’s go get it done. I thought that that equated to being faithful. I heard the phrase when I was growing up, “I’d rather burn out than rust out for God.” And you think, “Well, that’s really what I want to do in my life. I want to burn out for God.” Well, that’s not necessarily wise because it’s completely ignoring this principle that God demonstrated for us that is actually shown to us throughout the Bible.
As a matter of fact, this principle, this day of rest, shows up throughout the Bible, and it’s so important that it is one of the ten commandments. In Exodus 20, we see the ten commandments, and it says to us there, “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.” It tells us why: “For in six days”—now it’s referring back to Genesis 2—”For in six days, the Lord made the heavens and the earth… but He rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and He made it holy.” It also shows up in other places as not just one of the ten commandments, but Exodus 31, I believe it is, tells us that this day of rest is a covenant between God and man. All the way to near the very end of the Bible in Hebrews chapter 4, maybe verse 4, right around there, also reminds people of Genesis chapter 2. It says, “Don’t forget! God had a day of rest, and you need to remember the Sabbath, you need to remember it.” This runs all the way through the Bible. God is reminding us that it’s important.
I think another part of this resting that’s very important and that we need to keep in mind is not only did God stop from His work, not only is He modeling for us that you need to stop from your work for a day. It’s not just the ceasing part, but it’s the remembering part. It’s the looking back part. Remember in chapter 1, we saw that God created something on one day, and then He looked back over it and He said, “It is good.” And then he got to the end of it all and He looked over it, and He said, “It is very good.” God seems to be saying to us, “Are you able to get to the end of your day and the end of your week and cease from all the madness and look back and say, ‘What I’ve done is very good.’?” That’s something that I have tried to do over the last, less than a year actually, is try to be mindful of that and look back over each day and say, “Has it been good?” I take this to God, everything I did today, and say, “God inspect this. I think it’s good. I think You would be pleased with this.”
From verses 4 to verse 7 of Genesis 2, it’s a recap of the creation events, so I’ll let you go through that on your own time. Then from verse 8 to verse 17, it tells us how the Garden of Eden was put in place. It tells us about the two trees that were in the garden: the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That’s all described there. We’re actually going to pick up those verses next week because they tie directly into what happens in chapter 3, so I’m going to leave those alone today. Today, we’re going to focus on verses 18 to 25. Now, in Genesis chapter 2, verse 18, we read this: “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make a helper fit for him,'” or suitable for him. You’ll remember, as I just said, all the way through Genesis chapter 1, one of the things that was repeated again and again was “God looked at what He had done and said, ‘It is good, it is good, it is good.'” This is the first time in the Bible we ever see God saying something is not good. First time. There’s no sin in the world yet, so God is not saying, “This is not good, because it’s sinful.” It’s not evil, it’s not wrong, but rather God is saying that man’s environment, his state, his relationship, is not yet complete. It would be pretty hard for man to carry out the command that God gave him in chapter 1 to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. It’d be pretty hard for him to carry that out by himself. So God said, here in this verse, “I will make a helper fit for him, suitable for him.”
Some people hear this word “helper,” and they immediately think that it’s implying something inferior to women. They go off on tangents on this. It’s either a man who takes this as, “Yeah, that’s right, buddy, we men, you know.” And I’m like, “Really, dude? Seriously?” Or it’s a woman who either feels inferior by this or rises up in anger about this and says, “Yeah, you see, the Bible puts women down.” None of those views are correct. We need to be very careful not jumping to conclusions, but taking all of the Bible together in context. I’ve always told you, compare Scripture with Scripture, and we will eventually get the right picture here. The Bible is not saying that God wanted to create a woman for the man so that she could be a servant to him, a low-status helper. That’s not at all what it means, and I’ll show you quickly why that’s the case. This same Hebrew word “helper” here in this verse is exactly the same word that is used throughout the Old Testament referring to God being our helper.
That’s just one thing. You read through the Psalms, it says God is our help and our shield. God is our helper and our rock. Same word that God said He was going to make this helper for Adam. Not only is this not an inferior term, but it’s actually a term that implies that this one has tremendous strength and insight and resources, if anything. God knew exactly what man needed to make him whole so that he could function as God intended for him to function, and that missing thing was a woman. So if anything guys, we were lacking something. We were missing something and we needed that. This verse is saying God made the perfect match for man; He gave him exactly what he needed. Proverbs 18:22 reminds us, and so many other verses like this throughout the Bible, “Whoever finds a wife finds a good thing and receives favor from the Lord.”
Before God actually makes this helper for Adam, before God makes woman, He does something very interesting that we shouldn’t miss. You read verse 18, that we just looked at, God says, “It’s not good for the man to be alone. I’m going to make a helper for him,” and you go, “Alright, so let’s see how this unfolds.” Then you read the next verse, verse 19, and you go, “Did the writer lose his train of thought here?” Because he said God was going to make a partner for Adam, but in verse 19 he starts talking about something completely different. Look at this, verse 19: “Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens, and He brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all the livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field.” And you go, “What? What does that have to do with anything?” Look at the next phrase: “But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.” Same word again that refers to God: “There was not found a helper fit for him.” I see the genius in God’s plan here. I guess it goes without saying that God is a genius, but you look at what God does here: Adam is by himself and God parades all these animals by Adam and asks him to name them. Surely, after a while Adam can’t help but notice that all the animals have a partner. There’s a male and a female. They all come by and all the guys have a gal. He watches this one after the other, and he starts thinking, “That’s weird. They’ve all got somebody. They’re all going out on a date right after this, and I don’t have anybody.”
Again, this is important. It ties back to what I spent some time on in chapter 1 where God says He created everything after its own kind. He created birds after their own kind, fish after their own kind, the wild animals after their own kind, plants after their own kind, and then He told all those things to be fruitful and multiply. All creation had complimentary companions, except for Adam. As all these animals are going by, I’m sure Adam noticed this. Maybe he saw a male elephant kind of nuzzling up to a female elephant and he looked at that and he felt a twinge of something inside, something odd that he couldn’t explain. He felt something missing. I don’t know, something you couldn’t put into words.
Then Genesis 2:21 tells us this odd thing: “So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept, He took one of the ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib the Lord God had taken from the man, He made into a woman and brought her to the man.” Here we go, folks. I had somebody I worked with years and years ago, this was the verse that he used to say, “You know Phil, I consider you to be a fairly intelligent guy, but are you telling me you actually believe that God made a woman out of Adam’s rib?” This is what he used to try to make me look like a fool. “Seriously Phil, you actually believe that stuff in the Bible? Next, you’re going to tell me you believe in talking donkeys.” Do you understand why I told you a few weeks ago that if we don’t believe Genesis 1, we’ll never be able to believe the rest of Bible. This is why I spent so much time on Genesis 1, even Genesis 1:1. If we don’t believe Genesis 1, you might as well throw the rest of the Bible away because you will never believe it. But if I can come to terms with Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God … ” There is a God who always existed. He rules over everything. Then, “In the beginning, God created … ” If I can come to terms with that, and I believe that, that God created everything (it didn’t evolve out of a swamp), and then I move on and I come to terms with all of Genesis chapter 1 (of how God created all things, that He’s in charge of all things), the rest of the Bible is a cakewalk. I can believe that God parted the Red Sea. I can believe that God performed miracles. It’s no problem at all.
Where do you stand on that? It’s okay to struggle with some of these things. It’s perfectly okay, but at some point, you’ve got to land somewhere. You’ve got to make up your mind. Yes, I believe Genesis 2:21 and 22. How did it work? I have no clue. I have no idea. And it doesn’t bother me at all. If we understand everything about God, He’s not God. There better be a lot of things we don’t understand about God, and we don’t need to venture into that territory. Someone said, “Don’t shout where the Bible is silent.” It’s good advice. Don’t get worked up about things God didn’t tell us. Don’t try to fill in the gaps. You realize that what we have in God’s Word is a fraction of a fraction of all the things He could have told us. This Genesis account, the Creation account, are you kidding me? One chapter covers all of Creation? It’s a condensed version. The last verse of John in the New Testament: John says, “Hey, look, guys, you got an abbreviated version of the life of Christ.” He says, “I suppose if all the things Christ did and said were written down, the world would not be able to contain the books.” So we come to a verse like Genesis 2:21, and we’ve got to file this away somewhere.
How’d this happen? I don’t know. I just know that God was the first anesthesiologist and the first surgeon. That’s all I can figure out. There’s arguments about what the word “rib” here means. In the original, it means “side.” It’s used, I think, 41 times in the rest of the Bible, the same word, and its always translated “side.” Sometimes it’s used in the end of Exodus when it talks about the building of the tabernacle. It’s used to describe the boards that were put on the side of the tabernacle and the rings that were put on the side of the altar. I don’t know, it means “his side.” Does it literally mean “a rib”? I don’t know. It’s translated “rib” here. It’s the only two times, in these two verses that it’s translated “rib.” You’ve got me; I don’t know. The point is, God took a part of man, and He made woman. God spoke everything else into existence, but it told us earlier that He fashioned man from the dust of the ground. What a remarkable scene that must have been. I wish I knew what that looked like. Did God sit cross-legged on the ground and scoop up dirt and add some water and mix it and mold it? I don’t know. Then He comes to make woman, and He doesn’t make woman out of the dirt of the ground; He makes woman out of man. This is a topic we could talk about for weeks. I won’t because I don’t want to start a Genesis 2 series.
But guys, you and I, we’re dirt. Our wives aren’t. They’re made out of us. The word here in Genesis 2, verse 22, “made a woman,” that word “made” is the word “build.” It’s the same word used in the rest of the Old Testament talking about building a city. You know how much time and effort and planning goes into building a city? And yet it’s the same word used to describe God building the woman. It just denotes effort and thought. I think maybe with the guy it was like, “I don’t know, slap on a nose, that’s fine.” But with the woman, it was like, care. It was this image of meticulous craftsmanship, time, and effort. He took her out of man’s side. Someone said this remarkable quote, I think it was Matthew Henry. He said “The woman was not made out of man’s head so that she might top him, she was not made out of man’s feet so that he might trample upon her. She was made out of his side, to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected by him and near to his heart, to be beloved by him.”
God creates this perfectly suited partner for a man. And then verse 22 says, “and God brought her to the man.” Isn’t it interesting, back in verse 19 it says, “God brought the animals to man,” and here in verse 22 it says, “God brought her to the man.” God brought the animals to man so that he could name them, and God brought the woman to man so that he could name her. Just picture this moment. Adam has been surrounded by animals. They all have partners created after their kind. He’s been surrounded by birds; they all have partners created after their kind. He’s been surrounded by plants and trees; even they can reproduce among their own kind. But Adam has had no one until now. So God brings the woman over to Adam to present her to Adam. I don’t know; this is not in the Bible. These are my thoughts, and it didn’t happen this way; I just have an imagination. Do you think God said, “Adam, close your eyes. No peeking.” Do you think when He presented her He said, “Ta da!” I don’t know. This was a big moment. Or maybe was Eve just standing there sort of standing over Adam, as Adam awoke from this surgery. And he blinked his eyes and everything was blurry for a little bit and he blinked and he looked up and he saw this thing there. He blinked a few more times, and things sort of started to clear up a little bit. And he looked and he saw in front of him the most beautiful creature he had ever seen. And he stared at her for an embarrassingly long time, with his mouth hanging open. I wonder if he turned to God and said, “Is that for me?” He was just like us except no sin at that time. Adam was blown away by what he saw. This was an epic moment in his life.
It’s no small thing to see God was the one who took the initiative here. It says God brought the woman to man, and He was the one who joined them together. Isn’t this exactly what you see taking place in wedding ceremonies? It’s the father who walks his daughter down the aisle. He is the one who brings the woman to the man and gives her away. He then lets go of his daughter, and she joins hands with the man, and the two of them become one. And boy, when the groom looks up and sees his bride, he’s like Adam on that day. He’s like, “Wow, what a beautiful sight.” I’ll never forget, Sandy and I did the traditional thing where I wasn’t allowed to see her all day. There’s just something about that moment. I looked back at the aisle there, and I saw her come in, and I was just like, “Wowzers, what an amazing sight.” This is what we see taking place in the garden.
Adam beams with joy. Verse 23, Adam just kind of bursts out into what most scholars think is kind of a song or a poem. He says, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; and she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of man.” Even the name, there’s such genius in this name. “Man,” the Hebrew word is “ish,” i-s-h. “Woman,” the Hebrew word is “ishsha,” i-s-h-s-h-a. In Hebrew and in English, they both sound alike. They both rhyme. It’s interesting, the union that God intended for man and woman, you can’t say one name without saying part of the other name: man, woman. Same in Hebrew. There’s meaning there behind that. And then come the words that we still hear at almost every wedding ceremony, even today. Verse 24: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to”—or cling to—”his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” What’s happening here in Genesis chapter 2 is God Himself is officiating the very first marriage. Talk about setting the bar high, right? “Who performed your ceremony?” “Oh, God.” But what He’s doing here, and we don’t have time to really get into this today, but He’s establishing the family as the building block of society. This is the first block upon which all the rest of humanity will eventually be built. What a wonderful, perfect provision this was for man. And what a wonderful provision it still is for us today, men.
Those of us for whom God has provided a godly wife, this is something we need not forget. I know marriage has its tough moments at times. Next month, Sandy and I will celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. We’ve been through our tough times, like every marriage has that goes the distance. But I can assure you, I would not be standing here today teaching, I would not be leading this church if it were not for Sandy. I can guarantee you that. She not only brings joy and fun and life to everything she does, me, I’m just the quiet guy who’s like, “I don’t care if I’m there or not.” I’m just like, “Fine, wherever, it’s fine.” She loves to be everywhere. “Okay, let’s go! Can we take 50 people with us?” That’s her, she just brings happiness everywhere. She has been such an encourager in my life in unbelievable ways. This church exists in part because of Sandy.
When I came home around midnight from the Bible study that night with the guys, and we had talked for four hours about starting this church, and the guys had been asking and asking me if I would start it. And I said, “Absolutely not.” And that night, we talked, and I just felt the Spirit really moving and prompting. I went home about midnight and Sandy was still up. She was on the couch reading with the lamp on and she goes, “Wow, you guys must have had a good night.” And I went and I sat down on the couch. I said, “I got to tell you what happened.” I said, “The guys want me to start a church in Greenville,” and she bolted up on the couch. She said, “Phil, you’ve got to do this!” I was like, “What? I thought you were on my side.” She’s like, “You’ve got to do this, Phil. You were made to do this.” And she was eager for me to leave the business world and leave my business and do this. How many women would do that? My wife has been a blessing from the Lord. Now make no mistake, when she got me, she got a pretty sweet deal. I mean, there’s two sides to this. Unfortunately, I’m out of time. I can’t go into all the ways that she’s been blessed. No, I tell you, it’s a pretty one-sided thing from where I stand. It really is.
Guys, if you have a godly wife, you have a gift from God. She’s not just a helper in your life. She’s not just there to wash the dishes for you. I knew a guy years ago—this is no kidding—when he was sitting on the couch, and his wife was in the living room, and even when they had company, this is how I saw it. He would do this. He would have a glass with ice in it with his drink in it, and when he wanted more drink when the glass was empty, he would rattle the ice cubes in the glass. That was his wife’s cue to get up and get him another drink. They’re not married anymore. Yeah, shocker. Listen, some men are our pigs in their home. They treat their wife like dirt. I hope none of us here do that, gentlemen. Our wives are a gift from God.
We see here in Genesis chapter 2 the beginning of human relationships. What a precious thing this is, what a precious gift from God. Next week, I may have time, I don’t know. I may try to squeeze in time to look at how our culture is doing everything it can to destroy Genesis chapter 1 and 2 by tearing apart the fact that Genesis 1 said, “God created male and female.” That’s it. How the Bible says that marriage is between a man and a woman. That’s it. We may have time to get into that next week, and God bless Dale for being so flexible. You know, I tell him what the sermon’s going to be about, and then by the time we get there, I’ve veered off into the field somewhere. So, thank you for that, Dale. Let’s pray.