Dr. Bruce Peters
WORLD REACH, Inc.
REFLECTIONS IN THE WORD: JUNE 2016
Text: Genesis 2 Title: THE PATH TO MARRIAGE…GOD’S WAY
JUNE is the month for brides…and grooms. With that in mind, my focus this month takes a look at marriage, or more specifically the FIRST marriage, recorded in Genesis 2. When God finished the creation of heaven and earth, He next planted a garden, eastward in Eden, the Scripture specifies. He established the man called Adam to manage it. But there were guidelines and restrictions, even for this sinless man in his perfect environment. The acts of creation were not yet complete….not imperfect, just waiting on God’s perfect timing for the fullness of His plan. A bride and marriage ceremony were in the offing.
In the meantime, what unfolds between verses 15 and 25 is God’s preparation of man for marriage, its privileges and responsibilities. I believe, as an inspiring “take-away”, Adam sets forth a timeless testimony, showing three essentials that ready a single person for matrimony – or position him (or her) for meaningful single life.
The account of the first couple is more than historical record (though it IS that). But in addition, Adam and Eve’s union established a pattern – God’s universal or timeless plan – for all marriage. The events predate the Law. And Jesus carries it into the N.T. when He echoes the words of Genesis in Matthew 19:5 about a groom (and bride) “leaving father and mother.” By the way, don’t you find this command in Genesis 2:24 rather strange? After all, Adam and Eve had no parents – God created each. And so this specific Genesis command, I feel, gives further proof that what is at work here is a timeless pattern for all marriage. Indeed, a sure sign of readiness for marriage’s responsibilities and not just its privileges, by the way, is the willingness and ability to cut the cord to Mom and Dad – emotionally, financially, and even geographically if called to do so. Engaged couples sometimes trepidatiously wonder what their prospective mate will be like in the future, asking themselves, “How will I be treated after the honeymoon and on down the road of life?” A fair question. A good looking glass into the future is examining how one’s intended treats his or her parents.
To the main point at hand, how did God prepare Adam for a wife and family? First and foundational, Adam had a personal and vital relationship with God. True of all healthy relationships, the two enjoyed open, intimate communication and union in spirit and word. Scripture would go on to warn, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3). Wisely applied to marriage, it means believers are to be united with believers, not linking the saved with the unsaved. The N.T. more bluntly states the point: “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14). Adam’s established and healthy vertical relationship steadied him for unfolding horizontal or earthly relationships, most especially with his Bride.
There is that “God-shaped” vacuum in every human heart. The most cruel expectation in relationships is expecting another person to fulfill what only God can satisfy. Furthermore, the Bible says “God is love” – and it is only through a personal relationship with the Heavenly Father that connects one with the love source that cannot be diminished, which feeds and supplements the heart quotient of every person. It enables the believer to love even when the other person acts without thanks or reciprocation. In other words, to love the unlovely, and so making love-relationships unconditional. Who can love like that? Only God, especially working in and through us. In my many years of pastoral counseling, too often I heard engaged couples extol a prospective mate for what that person can do for “me.” But I Corinthians 13 elevates love – God’s kind of love – to an act of giving, not receiving. To understand and experience this sacrificial kind of love, a man or woman needs a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ, as personal Savior and Lord. One cannot truly love another wholly without experiencing first the love of God.
God’s premarital course for Adam included, second, a job and sense of purpose and direction. The Creator deputized His man, Adam, to manage the Garden. Take note that man’s identity (including His sense of worth and purpose) came out of His personal relationship with God – a by-product, if you please, of that spiritual walk. Too many folk, young and old, enter into a relationship seeking to find purpose and identity, trying to find in a person what can only be found in God. God intends people, walking in spiritual maturity, to bring spiritual purpose and dynamics to their relationships. The relationship can fan the fire, but not ignite it.
A third trait that proved essential for success in marriage was discipline. Adam – even in his perfect state – lived with limitations: all the garden was his to enjoy and imbibe for the food of life….with one restriction. “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil…..” (Gen. 2:16-17) Character is built by doing what we do not want to do or by NOT doing what we want to do. Tyrants and dictators do not build healthy families, let alone satisfying marriage relationships. Key to success is character forged by self-discipline, mastering deeds, words and emotions for the well-fare of all. Discipline and devotion mutually feed the romance of marriage.
Finally, God still waited before He moved to create and usher into Adam’s life a “helpmeet suitable for him.” Something more had to happen first. What? Adam himself had to come to a personal recognition of the void in his life…the “something’s missing” self-discovery. If the devil cannot ruin God’s choice or will in a matter, the wicked one’s alternate plan is to mess with the timing of God’s will. What the Almighty recognized in verse 18 (it is not good for man to be alone), Adam did not recognize till later (v. 20). God’s plan was not impaired, just not yet completed. God did not rush Adam. He waited. In her book PASSION & PURITY, the late Elisabeth Elliot wrote about God and waiting: “I realized that the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end, but by His making us wait, bearing with us in love and patience until we are able to honestly to pray what He taught His disciples to pray: Thy will be done.”
It seems, according to the Genesis 2 text, that as Adam named all the animals of creation, he must have observed them . . . as couples, as family units. Feeding and frolicking. I can humorously imagine that it went like this: “Hmmm….Mr. Owl and Mrs. Owl. Mr. Tiger and Mrs. Tiger. But no ‘Mrs. Adam!’” What I admire about Adam, as he recognizes that someone is missing from his life, he does not pout or run from the call and place God has given him. Instead, he makes his heart’s desire known to God, continuing faithfully where God had planted and assigned him. And then God moves . . . and Eve enters the story . . . and a wedding follows. Dr. Seuss, beloved children’s author, saluted love by saying, “You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.” With the creation of Eve, God Himself the Match-maker, Adam’s reality became far beyond his dreams! ~ BRUCE PETERS