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June 28, 2020 Sermon

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Genesis 2:16-24

  At the end of days three, four, and five of creation God looked at what he had made and declared that it was good. On the sixth day, after God had created all the land animals and everything that creeps on the ground, God declared that it was good. But after he created Adam, he declared that something was not good. God said that it is not good for the man to be alone.

  God had in mind that humans would be blessed if they could enjoy a relationship with others. There is, after all, a wonderful relationship within the persons of the Trinity. As it was, Adam could enjoy a wonderful relationship with God, but he was not God’s equal. He was God’s creation. God knew what would be best for Adam was that he have someone who was his equal, a human being who shared the image of God with him, someone who was his perfect match, who complimented him emotionally and physically, and whom he would compliment emotionally and physically. But God didn’t remedy what was not good right away.

  As the creator, as the all-wise God, he knew it was not good for Adam to be the only human living on the face of the earth. But before he made another human who was a perfect match for Adam, he wanted Adam to realize what he was missing. That’s why God brought the birds and animals to Adam and asked him to name them.

  Adam was up to the task. God accepted the names that Adam gave the animals for it says, whatever the man called every living creature, that became its name. But just as God had planned, in the process of naming the animals Adam became aware that something was missing. Something wasn’t right. He felt his aloneness. He recognized that he was not an animal. He was different. He was unique. There was no one else on earth who was like him, who was human. He realized that all the animals had suitable partners. They were all able to be fruitful and multiply. Butthere was no suitable partner for him. Without a suitable partner there would be no human children. He would remain alone.

  Once Adam had recognized what God already knew, God quickly, on the same day, the sixth day of creation, provided a suitable partner for Adam. He caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep. He did some surgery, taking some bone and flesh from Adam. He took what he had taken from Adam and built a woman from it.

  These things are significant. Eve was not created from the ground. She was made from Adam. She was equally human. She was equally in the image of God. The Bible doesn’t say this, but some have suggested that the fact that God took a piece of Adam’s side instead of his head, or his feet is an indication of their equality. Adam was not to be ruled over by Eve and Eve was not to be trampled on by Adam. The thing that is absolutely important to remember is that neither was greater or more important than the other.

  When Adam woke up and God brought Eve to him as his bride, as his perfect match, as his suitable partner, Adam rejoiced in what God had done for him. He spoke his first recorded words. He said, now (implying, at last, here is a suitable partner for me) she is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She will be called “woman,” because she was taken out of man.

  Did you notice the perfect relationship that existed between God and Adam? God knew that Adam needed a suitable partner. He could have just made Eve right away. But he wanted what was best for Adam. He wanted him to experience his aloneness so that when God provided the solution for his loneliness, he would fully appreciate what he had done for him. He was providing an example for him that whatever he might need he could trust God to provide.

  Did you wonder about what Adam said? He had been asleep when God took some flesh and bone from his side. He didn’t see it happen. But as soon as he sees God bringing Eve to him, he perfectly understands what God had done for him. She was part of him, taken out of him, built by God out of his own flesh and bone. She was suitable, more than suitable, she was perfect, just what he needed, and he was just what she needed.

  Since the image of God has been lost, we don’t know what it’s like to have this perfect relationship with God. Our relationship with God is marred by sin. We think that we should be able to tell God what we need and expect that he will give it to us. But we are only clay pots. He is the potter. He is the one who knows better than we know ourselves what is good for us. In his grace, even though we don’t deserve anything from him, he still provides us with what we really need instead of what we think we need. As the image of God is being restored in us through faith, we grow more and more comfortable saying “Lord, not my will, but your will be done.” When we recognize a need we are more and more able to trust that God will provide for that need at just the right time in just the right way.

  Consider also the perfect relationship that Adam had with Eve. He recognized her as a precious gift from God. That’s the way every husband is to view their wife, the suitable partner that God has provided for them. He recognized her as his equal, as the one taken out of his side, as the one he would want to put his arm around to cherish and protect. He recognized that, although she was equally human, she was also different. They complemented each other perfectly. He saw them as two pieces of a puzzle that were meant to fit together perfectly, not just physically so that they could work together to fulfill God’s command to be fruitful and fill the earth, but also emotionally so that they could work together to build each other up and care for each other’s needs. He understood that having a wife meant leaving all others, literally sticking together, remaining united so that nothing and no one would come between them. It’s the same word that the Bible uses for Ruth who forsook family, home, parents, culture, and country  to stick to Naomi and say, wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you make your home, I will make my home. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God. As Jesus said, what God has joined together man must not separate. He understood that they were to become one flesh, to be untied perfectly in their goals, their desires, their service to their creator, as if they were not two, but one.

  We don’t hear anything from Eve, but since she was in the image of God, she too understood perfectly what God had done. She too was eager and willing to enjoy a perfect relationship with Adam. They both understood perfectly the interdependent and complementary partnership in which God had placed them.  They understood that they were created by God to serve each other in love in the roles that God had given them.

  Because of sin, perfect relationships no longer exist. None of us has a perfect relationship with God. We often ignore his will and insist on doing things our way, not his. None of us have perfect relationship with our spouse. Husbands don’t always see their wives as precious gifts of God. They don’t always cherish them or treat them as part of themselves. They let work, or hobbies, or other people come between them. They aren’t determined to protect and defend their wives and stick with them no matter what. Wives see their husband’s shortcomings. They don’t feel cherished and protected. They may resent their role as child-bearers. They fail to provide their husbands with the respect they need. They get involved with their own things, children, work, hobbies, other people, so that their husbands feel alone. All too often spouses think that someone else would be a more suitable partner than the one they have, and quickly turn to divorce which God forbids, except, as Jesus says, for unfaithfulness.

  So, what is the answer? Realize that as long as you live on earth there are no perfect relationships. Realize that imperfect relationships are healed only by confessing your sins to one another and granting forgiveness for Jesus sake, and then devoting yourselves again to selfless service to each other in the roles God has given.

  We heard the Apostle Paul remind us how to have the best possible relationship in this sinful world. As we are filled with the Spirit, we submit to each other out of reverence for Christ. We strive to serve each other God’s way, submitting ourselves to his will. As husbands we see that it is our responsibility to love, cherish, and protect our wives as Jesus loved, cherished and protected us when he sacrificed himself on the cross. Husbands can do this only as they take their sins and shortcomings to the cross of Jesus and rejoice daily in their forgiveness. Wives see that it is their responsibility to encourage and support their husbands and help them carry out what is an overwhelming responsibility, to be like Jesus. As spouses we recognize that we are one flesh, therefore whatever we do or say to our spouse we are doing or saying to ourselves.

  It should go without saying, but in this sinful world it has to be said. The perfect relationship that God created, the first marriage and the only thing that can be considered marriage in God’s eyes, is one man and one woman who have left father and mother, who remain united, clinging to each other for life, who see themselves as one flesh. Anything other than this God calls sinful perversion whether it is people living together outside of marriage, or having multiple partners, or homosexual acts, God says all these are a sinful perversion of what he created as a perfect relationship.

  All of us struggle in our relationship with God and with others. None of us is perfect. Each day we need to come to God in prayer confessing our sins, receiving his forgiveness for Jesus’ sake, and seeking his help to grow in faith. It is only as the image of God is being restored in us through faith in Jesus that our relationships with God and with others can improve. As long as we live in this imperfect world, we look forward in hope to that day when Jesus will return, when the image of God will be completely restored and we will enjoy what Adam and Eve had – a perfect relationship with God and with each other.