Posted by: Johnold Strey | October 20, 2015

Sermon on Genesis 2:18-24

A MATCH MADE IN HEAVEN

Text: Genesis 2:18-24

Introduction

The guests neatly and politely filed into their seats, wearing their best suits and dresses. The church was decorated beautifully in red and gold pew bows and freshly-cut roses on the altar that filled the air with their aroma. The bells began to ring through the building and into the streets announcing the start of the ceremony. The strings began to introduce Johann Pachelbel’s Canon in D as the bridesmaids slowly processed down the aisle in their red dresses, met by their corresponding groomsman halfway down the aisle. Everyone smiled and even chuckled politely as the bride’s four-year-old niece and the groom’s three-year-old nephew came down the aisle. Suddenly the crescendo in the music cued everyone to stand and turn to the back as the bride was escorted by her father, both smiling from ear to ear and holding back happy tears. They arrive at the front of the aisle, where dad gives his daughter a final kiss before placing her arm into the arm of her groom, as they make the final steps to the altar. The wedding service was stunning. Everything went off without a hitch—except the most important hitch: the couple getting married! The wedding ceremony could have been described as nothing short of divine. The day gleamed with so much beauty and the newlyweds beamed with so much happiness that it seemed like theirs was a match made in heaven.

Now fast-forward a few years. The baby cried from the nursery again—the third time so far, and the night wasn’t over. Their toddler was just getting over his cold that he brought home from preschool, and everyone else managed to get their share of it. Dad’s job had him working longer and longer hours, and neither mom nor dad felt like they could get on top of things. Mom dragged herself out of bed only to trip over some toys that had been left in the hallway on the way to the nursery. Then their toddler woke up early—the fifth time he had done that in the last week. They felt like they hadn’t slept a wink, and the exhaustion was making both mom and dad irritated at their kids, at each other, and especially at the telemarketer’s phone call that rang at quarter to seven. The day began badly before it had even started. What happened to the love and romance and excitement from their wedding day? Privately, in their own minds, each began to wonder if they were really a match made in heaven, or just another marriage mistake.

If there’s a mistake that many couples make, it’s that they spend a lot of time preparing for their wedding, but not nearly as much time preparing for their marriage. The wedding is a day—a special and memorable day, but still, just one day. The marriage is “till death parts us.” We can spend thousands of dollars on the wedding, but very little time and energy on the marriage. And then Satan begins to convince us that maybe this wasn’t God’s good plan all along.

Today’s Bible readings put the topics of marriage and family before us. We’re going to focus especially on the First Lesson from Genesis 2, where God not only created Adam and Eve but he also created the institution of marriage. Wherever you are in life, our study of the First Lesson will help us regain an appreciation for the fact that marriage by God’s design leads to a match made in heaven.

Exposition

If you are at all familiar with the creation account in the first chapter of the Bible, you know each day ends with the same basic refrain: “God saw all that he had made, and it was good.” So when God says what he does in the opening verse of our reading, it should make us sit up and take notice: “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” God was not only speaking about Adam, the first male, but he was also stating a general principle that is true in this world: “It is not good for the man to be alone.” God did not create humans to be hermits. God is not excluding the single life here, but he is saying that in general, men and women desire to be married and have a companion throughout life. So God carried out his plan to “make a helper suitable for him.” It is true and taught in Scripture that God wants the husband to be the loving leader of his family, but that does not mean that the wife’s role as helper makes her inferior or unimportant. The Hebrew word translated “helper” is a complimentary word, used in the psalms to describe God’s relationship to us. And the idea behind the word “suitable” is that God was going to create someone who would correspond with Adam. This was not a clone or replica of Adam, but another person who would complement him. They would “fit together” well as a couple. 

This was God’s plan all along. But God needed to bring Adam along with his plan. Perhaps this was the reason why God gave Adam the assignment to name all the creatures that he had created. We see how Adam, created in God’s image, had his mind and intelligence completely in sync with God, that he was able to name all of the creatures of God’s creation. But this assignment also led Adam to an unfortunate—albeit temporary—conclusion: “But for Adam no suitable helper was found.”

The description of the way God created Eve for Adam is both straightforward and mysterious. God puts Adam into a deep sleep and takes a rib from his side, and then fills all around that rib with the bones and veins and organs and skin of Adam’s perfect complement. Some have suggested that by taking Adam’s rib to form Eve, he was indicating that Adam and Eve would “stand alongside each other”—rib to rib, as it were—in love and harmony. That’s an interesting theory, but we can’t say with total certainty that that was God’s specifically intended message. What we can say with certainty is that the awakened Adam welcomed this gift of God with poetic exuberance: “The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called “woman,” for she was taken out of man.’”

Perhaps that’s not the most romantic expression you’ve ever heard between a husband and wife. I doubt Adam’s words would make a good poem in a Valentine’s Day card. But notice how Adam enthusiastically received God’s gift of his wife. After naming all sorts of other creatures with different kinds of skin and bones, Adam finally has someone who truly corresponds to him—as we said before, not a clone or replica, but another person who would truly complement him. Adam viewed his wife as a gift from God and a match made in heaven!

Genesis chapter two is a historic account. This happened in real time. But it is more than that. This is also the way God established the institution of marriage for this world. The last verse of our reading says, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” Lest we think these words are no big deal, Jesus himself said that this was God the Father’s commentary. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus said, “Haven’t you read…that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?” (Matthew 19:4-5). In a world and yes, in our nation, where the definition of marriage literally changed before us just a few months ago, God’s declaration about his design for marriage cannot be proclaimed too much. A man and woman leave their previous families and begin a new family together, united psychologically, physically, emotionally, and spiritually into a union by God that was intended to last for as long as both spouses are alive in this world.

Application

In my current Sunday morning Bible class, we have been studying the Old Testament book of Judges. There was a great deal of national turmoil and moral problems going through ancient Israel at the time of the Judges, and it seemed like a good book to consider as we see our nation’s own turmoil and moral issues. But there’s a danger we have to watch out for when we study a book like that. It’s easy to read about the turmoil and moral decay of another nation’s history, and then when we apply it to today, we see the sin and problems in everyone else but ourselves. It is so easy to point to the sins of others and not even acknowledge or perhaps even recognize similar sins in ourselves.

Is the Supreme Court’s decision from last summer to legalize same sex marriage a problem? It certainly runs contrary to the definition of marriage in God’s Word. Are the common attitudes about marriage and sexuality in our nation a problem? We certainly see a lack of respect for what God has to say in his Word. But do we really need to point fingers at the big, bad world to find examples of those who disregard God’s heavenly design for marriage? Or are there examples that hit much closer to home? Does sinful society tear down God’s design in courtrooms, or do we tear it down by broken promises, unloving homes, lustful eyes, and discontent minds that want to find contentment and love elsewhere? We may see far too many examples of our culture denying the design for marriage that was made in heaven but we can also see far too many examples even among Christians of people who doubt, deny, and disparage the heavenly match that God gives in our spouse.

I do not want to put unnecessary guilt on anyone who has repented of past sins and seeks to honor God by the way they live their lives today, but I also don’t want us to put on blinders that only acknowledge the Sixth Commandments sins of society but fail to confess the Sixth Commandment sins in our own lives and hearts and minds.

LSB wedding iconBut the discussion of God’s design for marriage hardly stops there. If it did, we would all walk away from the Word as if God has nothing but fault-finding and judgment against us. But the God who designed our marriages to be a match made in heaven also designed a plan of forgiveness and salvation that came directly from heaven. In today’s Second Lesson (Ephesians 5:21-6:4), the relationships of husbands and wives are described as reflections of the relationship between Christ and his Church. This was a match also made in heaven—not a match for marriage, but a match of a perfect Savior for imperfect and lost souls. And look at the brilliance of God’s heavenly plan of salvation! Jesus, the perfect groom, loved his bride, the Church, even when we were unlovable.

Our heavenly bride groom loved us not to get something from us but to give us the love and perfection that turned us into his pure and perfect bride. Our heavenly bridegroom loved us so much that he gave his life into death and then took back his life in triumph so that the future of his bride would be in heaven and not hell. Our heavenly bridegroom loved us with a perfect love that inspires us to love him and inspires Christian spouses to love one another with the same unconditional love we have received. Our heavenly Father has made us a part of his family with a perfect love that inspires us to love our families with the same commitment and care that he has shown us.

When we look at the heavenly plan of salvation that God perfectly planned and even more perfectly carried out for our forgiveness, how can we not look at the plan he has for our lives and homes and marriages and say, “Ah, this also is God’s divine plan for me. My spouse is God’s match for me—a match made in heaven!” How much easier it becomes to forgive, to be patient, to be understanding, to be slow to judge, and to be grateful for the unique contributions that husband and wife bring in each individual marriage.

Conclusion

The very first church service that I played the organ for was my sister’s wedding in August of 1989. I was 14 years old and just starting high school, and that was my public debut as church organist. There were better organists out there for sure, but I was family—and I was cheap! Even though that wedding was 26 years ago, I still remember the pastor’s introduction to their wedding sermon. It was similar to the introduction in this sermon. The pastor reminded us that when it comes to weddings, it is easy to be caught up in the details of the wedding day—flowers and decorations, dresses and tuxedoes, the meal and the cake, the reception and the dance. But by now I hope you’d agree that it’s far more important for any couple to be concerned not as much about their wedding as much as their marriage.

Fortunately, God has given us a beneficial reminder today in his Word. The heavenly bridegroom who loves you with an everlasting love and perfect commitment helps husband and wife to see each other as God’s gifts to each other. The God who planned your salvation from eternity helps you to see your marriage as a part of his good and heavenly plan for you. The God who reigns over all from heaven above helps us to see our marriages as a match made in heaven. Praise God for his heavenly blessing! Amen.

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