MARRIAGE #1- SHOWCASE OF COVENANT KEEPING
Next in this series on Marriage

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Genesis 2:18-25
(c) Copyright 2008 Rev. Bill Versteeg


18 The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him."

19 Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field.

But for Adam no suitable helper was found. 21 So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs (part of the man’s side) and closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib (part) he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

23 The man said,

"This is now bone of my bones

and flesh of my flesh;

she shall be called ‘woman, (sounds like "man" in Hebrew)

for she was taken out of man."

24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

25 The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

Brothers and sisters in Christ

If I remember right, it was about two years ago that our country was in a hot debate regarding the issue of same sex marriage. One Sunday evening during that period, I preached a sermon and my point was basically this: The term marriage has decayed so far from its original intent, maybe we should come up with a new word for marriage that reflects the true biblical meaning of what marriage is about. Let our government have the word marriage. My point did not sit well with some. And since no one has come forward with a new word for a distinctly creational and Christian understanding of marriage, it is time to resurrect the concept of marriage from pale of death.

This morning I want to start by giving credit to some of my sources for this series, especially the excellent preaching of Dr. John Piper on this topic available from www.desiringgod.org.

What the bible means by marriage, and what we commonly mean by marriage are two profoundly different realities. In our time and culture, marriage is at best an arrangement between two consenting adults, an arrangement that will last maybe as long as love lasts, maybe only as long as chemistry lasts, or maybe until something better comes along. Divorces are at an all time high. Unfaithfulness is a telephone call away. Marriage has little or nothing to do with God. Marriage is for selfish and sentimental reasons. Young people rightly ask "Why get married?" if all that it is is an arrangement for cohabitation. The truth is, we do not understand what the God ordained glorious biblical vision of marriage is any more, it is practically speaking unintelligible. And the perception that we have of marriage in the church is hardly any better. In fact, in Matthew 19, after Jesus had reminded his disciples of God’s meaning of marriage, the disciples got a glimpse of what God’s glorious vision for marriage is, and their response was "If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry." If they, being culturally much closer to the Jewish and Christian understanding of marriage, would say that it is better not to get married, hearing what Jesus meant, how much more we.

So this morning I am beginning with the assumption that we here at church have been so influenced by our culture that what I am about to say in terms of marriage might be shocking, my be difficult to take, and might be truly biblical. And my hope is that it might be the beginning of setting us free from our culturally decomposed self centered God ignoring romance intoxicated mundane and unbiblical understanding of marriage.

This morning from this passage, and we will continue it next week, I want to make just two points.

1. Marriage is from God

2. Marriage is for the display of God’s glory.

Four points in support of our first main point.

A. Marriage is from God, it is God’s work, it is his doing.

That is the foundation, the most basic and the most ultimate thing that can be said about marriage. To see how that arises out of Genesis two, we have to look at Genesis 1.

26 Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."

27 So God created man in his own image,

in the image of God he created him;

male and female he created them.

28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.

Notice here that at the very beginning of creation - God created them male and female for the purpose of community and building community. Just prior to this passage, God paraded the animals before Adam, and not a single one was found that was a suitable partner for him. He could not truly be community with them. Knowing that he made Adam for community, knowing that it was not good for him to be alone, God took from his side, or from his rib, whatever he took, and he created another one, a women, someone who was like him, had his essence, had his nature, God’s very image and likeness. It was to those two that he said "Be fruitful and increase in number."

The important point to notice here is that God created the two, male and female, and he created them for the purpose of becoming one in community, one flesh in community so that community could be multiplied. Marriage, you see, right from the very beginning is God’s doing. It is not a cultural adaptation to relationships. It is God’s work.

Let me drive the point home a little further. Chapter two repeats the creation story, but like chapter one, it ends with the man and the newly created women and then describes marriage

24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

25 The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

- that’s marriage. The crowning achievement of all of creation is a man and a women, both created in the image of God united in marriage!

Do you get a sense of how incredible this is. The crowning achievement of creation - a community of faithfulness and love reflecting the image of God in marriage! Marriage is God’s creation. It is not a human relational invention. It is not a cultural adaptation. It is God’s work. Marriage is from God.

B. Marriage is God’s doing because God performed the first marriage.

Notice verse 22

22 Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib (part) he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

God brought her to the man. God having fathered Eve, God having formed her out of the side of Adam took Eve, brought her down the isle so to speak, delivered her to the man for marriage. God took the honour of being the first father to give away his daughter to a man. This marriage is from God. He ordained it. He choose this relationship for a man and a women. He made it possible.

C. Marriage is God’s doing because spoke it into existence.

Now that may seem fairly abstract. Let me flesh it our. Peter tells us that by God’s words the creation was created. Hebrews tell us that it is by God’s powerful word that creation is sustained. Existence arises from God speaking. In this passage, God says it like it is to be. Jesus makes it very clear in Matthew 19:4 - this is God speaking a relationship into existence.

24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

25 The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

God created marriage. This sacred relationship is not just something we agree with together, this is an incredible relationship that comes from God. It is his doing.

D. The fourth point that demonstrates that marriage is God’s doing... God actually put these two people together.

Jesus quotes verse 24 and 25 in Mark chapter 10. Notice what according to Jesus is the most important truth about marriage.. Look closely at verse 9

6 "But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ 7 ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8 and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

According to Jesus, marriage is a result of God’s work. God joins two people together. God is the matchmaker. God is the one who works in our hearts to attract us to one another. God is the one who unites a women and a man together in the bond of marriage. This is God at work. Don’t touch what God has done. Let the weight of what Jesus teaches here sink in. God brought you together. And he does not make mistakes no matter how difficult the relationship might become, it is God’s doing through and through. How dare we treat casually in our culture what God has done?

So to summarize my first point - Marriage is God’s doing because God created them male and female as the first community, he brought his daughter to the groom, he spoke the marriage relationship into existence and according to Jesus it is God’s work to bring the union together. So marriage is from him, and through him, and my final point this morning is that it is too him.

2. Marriage is for the display of God’s glory.

What finally is marriage? Is it a convenient government sanctioned tax saving relationship? Is it simply a recognition of love, companionship, romance and a place for safe sex? Is it a sentimental tradition that if things go wrong, it’s a ball and chain where men get whipped and women get angry? These words from Genesis 2:24 actually point to the true and biblical meaning of marriage implicit here - explicit in Ephesians 5. Listen to these words of Paul - notice Paul again quotes from this fundamental passage in Genesis 2

31 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.

Paul is saying that the purpose of marriage, the purpose of your marriage, the purpose of my marriage, the ultimate purpose of every marriage between a man and a women in this world and in our culture is to display the relationship between Christ and the church! And Jesus relationship with his church is from the foundation of the world, it precedes history for according to Ephesians 1, he choose us to be his bride from before the creation of the world. God made the marriage relationship between man and wife to display to the world the relationship between his son and the church. And this display is not an after thought. God did not decide that he would use marriage to teach his church a neat little lesson about the relationship with Christ and the church. The meaning of marriage in all of history is to display the glorious and magnificent relationship between Christ and the church. The meaning of marriage is to display the kind of forgiveness that Christ gives - his bride rebelled in sin, went after idols, other suitors, but our confession, if we are Christians, is that he pursued us, woed us, called us, won us over, and with his blood he bought us back, making us beautiful once again by the shedding of his blood and the washing of the word, making us his bride again and he comes to us with the words of covenant. Listen to these wonderful words from

Jeremiah 32

40 I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good to them, and I will inspire them to fear me, so that they will never turn away from me. 41 I will rejoice in doing them good and will assuredly plant them in this land with all my heart and soul.

What is that relationship? Jesus called it a new covenant in his blood. Next Sunday we will be celebrating the Lord’s supper together and once again we will be hearing those words of Jesus as he instituted the Lord’s supper. The meaning of the words is simply this.

Jesus has made a covenant with his bride - a covenant of forgiveness and grace, a covenant of faithfulness and love, a covenant which overcomes all the differences between the holy and the sinful, the divine and the human, the almighty and the weak, the faithful and the rebellious, the whole and the broken.

You see, staying married is not about being compatible although compatibility can make things easier. Staying married is not staying in love though love, staying married is about covenant faithfulness! Staying married is about having the staying power that comes from Christ because it is based on the work of God and designed to display the relationship Christ has with his church.

God hates divorce says the prophet Micah. He hates it, not only because of the pain we selfishly cause our spouse and our children, God hates divorce because by divorce defiles his work and his glory in this world.

Now this morning I have given you a fairly abstract and theological sermon and maybe it hasn’t solved any of your marriage problems. But my hope and prayer is that it has given you some backbone, some foundation for continuing on. I pray that it is a seed among our young people to see marriage as God’s work and God’s reputation is at stake because marriage is covenant keeping, like Christ keeps his covenant with his church. The mystery of marriage is about Christ and the church.

 

 

 

 

 





 


(NIV) Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

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