November 6, 2016
Praise be to God for his creation of Adam’s woman. And what a wonderful woman she was. She was a gift to Adam so that he would not be alone. She would provde a help for Adam that could not be found anywhere else in the world. She was perfectly fit for him. She truly completed him as they became one flesh. And she was, you could say, the finishing touch of all of God’s creation, the final brushstroke, so to speak, of the Lord’s masterpiece work. Praise be to God for his creation of woman. What an amazing moment by an amazing God!
But also: what an amazing marriage and wedding! It was the first wedding ever. And since it happened before the fall, it was - and technically still is to this day - the best wedding ever. There was no sin or death at the time. There was no “till death do us part.” There was no need for marriage counseling.
But what made the marriage really amazing was the fact that God did everything and that God put them together. Think about it. God created Adam’s bride. He didn’t know her. He didn’t go to college with her. He literally made her. God also brought her to Adam. There was no blind date. There was no eharmony. There was no random Korean drama moment where Adam and Eve bump into each other and first hate one another for 6 chapters. God just made the woman and brought her to the man. Furthermore, it was God who joined them together and married them. He was the wedding officiant. You could say that he was also the father of the bride. Aside from this, you have to give it up for the location: the garden in Eden. And you have to admit that Adam had it good. He didn’t have to save up months of salary for a ring. He just had to give up a rib - which I’m willing to bet he didn’t miss at all. And he didn’t have any in-laws to deal with. Hashtag best wedding ever. But joking aside, the glory of this marriage is the fact that God did everything. Praise God for this marriage.
Brothers and sisters, can you imagine the moment when Adam first saw Eve? Who knows what kind of emotions was going on inside of him. But the cool thing is that while we do not know what he felt, we do know what he said. The following words are the first recorded words of any human being in the universe. And they are one of the most fascinating words in all of Scripture: “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
Now, these words may seem a little strange to us modern folk today. I doubt any guy has ever gotten down on his knees and proposed by saying, “You are bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. Will you marry me?” But actually, such words are beautiful. Not because they are sentimental, but because they are covenantal. When Adam said, “You are bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh,” he wasn’t merely saying that the two had something in common. When Adam said, “You are bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh,” he was commiting himself to her. When Adam said, “You are bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh,” he wasn’t just saying “wow,” he was making a vow. It was covenantal, not sentimental. It was much less Etta James - “At last… my love has come along… my lonely days are over… and life is like a song” - and much more Deuteronomy - “You shall serve the Lord and hold fast to him” - much more Ruth - “Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her.” Adam’s words were covenantal.
And so that is why, for example, when all the tribes of Israel made a covenant with David as their king in 2 Samuel 5, they said, “Behold, we are your bone and flesh.” And that is why the author of today’s story makes a clear comment on Adam’s words and says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
This is huge. If you were an Israelite reflecting on this story, you would have been reminded of the God-given gift of marriage and the God-centered nature of the relationship between husband and wife. You would have been reminded that such was God’s design from the beginning. And you would have been reminded that things such as polygamy, divorce, homosexuality - or anything that didn’t follow the pattern and story of Genesis 2 - are contrary to God’s word and wicked in God’s sight.
This story was a profound lesson and reminder to Israel back then, and it is still a profound lesson and reminder for us today. We live in dark times. Divorce is all too common in the world. And it is thought of way too lightly. Homosexuality is becoming more and more prevalent in society - and even now in churches. It is too easy to get access to pornography. Rape culture is on the rise on college campuses. And the concept of gender is being challenged and redefined. But brothers and sisters, let us love God and his ways. Let us be vigilant and remain obedient to God’s Word. Let us not waver in our countercultural understandings of marriage and sexuality.
Most likely (and God-willing), you will not struggle much with these things. But one thing that I’m sure we struggle with now, or what we will struggle with later, is leaving one’s parents and holding fast to one another. It is hard to separate from your biological family - because family is family. And it is hard to hold fast to one another and be faithful and constand in your love for one another amidst all the stresses of life. But I say to you all three simple things. First, follow the model example that is given in Genesis 2. Second, remember your vows. And third, to all the brothers in the room who are married, you have your own family now, a family that is yours, a family that depends on you and is to be led by you. A family that you, and not anyone else on this planet, is responsible for. A family that God will hold you accountable for. It is okay and quite good to visit your parents and your in-laws. But your obligation to your wife and to your nuclear family is greater than your obligation to your parents and in-laws and old family. Again, it is written, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
In the beginning of this sermon, I said that the wedding between Adam and Eve was, theologically speaking, the best wedding ever. And it still is to this very day.
But when Jesus Christ comes back, there will be a wedding that will surpass that of Adam and Eve. I am talking about the marriage between Christ and his church. We can say this because Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:32 that the marriage union between a husband and a wife is meant to be a picture of the relationship between Christ and his church. Just as a husband is to love his wive and sacrifice himself for her, our Lord Jesus gave himself up for his church and loved her. He died for her. He lived for her. He saved her, even when she was unfaithful to him. And he sanctifies her in preparation for the last day when Christ returns to bring judgment, destroy sin, usher in his kingdom in the new heaven and new earth, and have perfect, face-to-face communion with his people. The book of Revelation gives us a glimpse of the future, and in chapter 19, it describes that glorious day as a marriage celebration. For it is written, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready…. Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And this wedding will be the start of a relationship that knows no sin. A relationship of perfect openness and oneness. A relationship with no nakedness or shame. Many people think that we’ll all be naked in heaven. No. Remember, we’re not going back to Eden. We’re going to the place beyond Eden. And in that greater place, the church will be clothed with the righteousness of Christ.
Brothers and sisters, if marriage points to the covenant love that Christ has for his church, then this means that marriage is not an end to itself. It’s ultimate purpose is for the glory of God and for the proclamation of his gospel. It is not, at the end of the day, for you. Husbands and wives who make marriage an end and not a means will go through tremendous stress while failing to see the bigger picture. Husbands and wives who make marriage the ultimate thing in life will miss the ultimate point.
Brothers and sisters, if we are the church, if we are the bride of Christ, then let us fix our eyes on him as we endure this old and fading world and as we wait for his return. It is mostly true that when the bride walks down the aisle, everyone looks at her. At that moment, the bride is arguably the most important person in the room.
But it should be true that when the bride walks down the aisle, she is looking at the groom. Unfortunately, the aisle is often very long for the church. And the church may lose focus and not be able to enjoy the moment and just genuinely smile. The church may not be happy how the decorations turned out.
Brothers and sisters, look at the groom. Consider his side of the story. And considering the arguable fact that the best moment in a wedding ceremony is watching the groom react to seeing the bride in all her beauty and splendor walking down the aisle, look at the groom and consider his anticipation of the last day - a day when he would say something along the lines of what Adam said a long time ago: “At last.”