Sermon on Genesis 2:18–25 – “Communion Pointing to Christ”

Sermon on Genesis 2:18–25 -

SUNDAY AM SERVICE – 4/28/2024 – Genesis 2:18-25

Introduction

Marriage can evoke very different ideas. Some think first of the wedding ceremony and that day of celebration. Others think first of buying a house and a minivan and settling down. Regardless of how we consider it though, marriage is at rock bottom about communion. It is God’s appointed institution for joining two people’s lives together in the most intimate link between creatures.

Last time in Genesis, we thought about how God created humanity in such a way that we are made for communion. Firstly, we are made for communion with God. But we are also made so that we need fellowship with one another. We saw previously how that has a general aspect in that God’s people need one another in a general way. Further, this need has a specific application in how our need for communion has pointed expression in marriage. In Genesis 2:18–25, Scripture highlights how God designed man and woman for marriage in order to address the need that man should not be alone.

The main point is that marriage is fellowship pointing to the communion we have with Christ.

  1. Portraying Communion
  2. Practicing Communion
  3. Prioritizing Communion

Portraying Communion

Although the creation narrative implies many truths about marriage, it focused on how God appointed marriage primarily to address the issue of communion. In Genesis 2:18, God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Just as God had made a covenant relationship with Adam, now he created a partner for creaturely communion with Adam fit for the covenant of marriage.

Strikingly, Adam was not alone in the world in an absolute sense, since God had already formed the animals, and Adam had a relationship with them. It’s perhaps odd that God observed that it wasn’t good for man to be alone, but then brought the animals to him. The narrative builds suspense as we watch Adam learn that none of the animals were suitable as his partner. The point was to show Adam that he needed a fitting helper, one who didn’t yet exist.

We see why the animals were not fit partners for Adam from the relationship between them and humanity in verses 19–20. In Genesis 1:28, God declared that Adam was to “have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” In the ancient Near East, naming something entailed authority over it. God had named parts of the universe – day and night, etc. – and remains the supreme ruler even as he brought the animals to Adam. Still, Adam imitated God and his authority by naming the animals. The problem was that as he had authority over them all, he had no proper helper for his task of bearing the divine image in covenant with God.

Hence, Adam rejoiced when God made Eve because now he no longer needed to look for help among the animals, but had found the bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh. This was the partner fit for creaturely communion with him in covenant.

The communion by covenant that God entered with humanity was to be mirrored with an intimate relationship among creatures. God formed the two sexes, male and female, to mirror the communion of God and his image. God and humanity are different and distinct. Yet, humanity has a fitting likeness and correspondence to God so that they have the most intimate communion between God and creatures. In like manner, man and woman are different and distinct sexes. Yet, they have a fitting likeness and correspondence to one another so that they can have the most intimate communion among creatures.

The immutable difference between men and women reflects how humanity is different from God, yet meant for wonderful relationship with him. Marriage as the joining of two others – man and woman – is the fitting analogy of our relationship with God in that God and humanity are immutably and fundamentally different yet made for relationship. In that respect, marriage between man and woman, joined as distinct sexes in one communion – so a union of others – models how God who is distinct and different from us makes communion with us. It is vital to marriage that the parties be different from one another, else it is not properly illustrative of the communion with God that it means to reflect. Everything about humanity, was crafted for communion with God, and marriage was designed for portraying communion with God.

Practicing Communion

Marriage’s significance, as about illustrating our relationship with God, is visible and valuable to everyone, as proper and healthy marriage should portray vital communion as we can have with God. That makes the point of marriage meaningful to everyone, even if you are not married.

Marriage’s general value determines aspects of our sexual ethics. First, in our passage, Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed. I’m not sure that humanity holistically would never have made clothes if sin had not occurred, since we are to be dressed in fine white robes in the new creation. It seems rather that shameless nudity belonged by creation in the marital context. Either way, we know that because of sin, Adam and Eve were ashamed even when only the two of them were present. But marriage is that context where we should not be ashamed of our sexuality.

That point suggests why sex outside of marriage is sinful. The reason is grounded in our role as God’s image bearers and how God brought us forth from that intratrinitarian conversation. The Ten Commandments describe God’s character, and the seventh commandment forbids adultery because God is faithful only to those with whom he has formal communion. God did not make communion with bears and badgers, but with Adam and Eve. He spoke only to them. After the Fall, God grants his communion only to believers and not to those who do not belong to his people. So, as God’s image bearers, we grant the most intimate of communion only within the formal covenant of marriage as well.

But second, we saw last time how the communion of God’s intra-trinitarian conversation – “Let us make man in our own image” – brought forth a creature fit for communion with God and for creaturely communion. So, God’s self-deliberation of intra-trinitarian communion in order to create humanity makes clear that communion is the setting for reproduction.

Our triune God confers communally about creating humanity in the divine image, which signals that communion and replication, and those joined together, are marks of God’s character. Communion is part of what it means to be God, so too should belong to what it means to be God’s image. So, God’s image bearers reproduce, and use the sexual intimacy that results in reproduction, only within the confines of special communion in marriage.

Important considerations also apply directly for married people. Most pointedly, if marriage is meant to portray the communion that we have with God, then are we conducting our marriages in a way that demonstrates lives of communion together? Sometimes we turn our marriages into contracts by which we get what we want from the relationship at the expense of the other person. Christians shouldn’t be that way in marriage. We shouldn’t be negligent, absent, overbearing, or nagging. We shouldn’t focus on our own interests, but on fermenting communion.

In this light, God formed the woman from the man’s rib to be Adam’s fitting partner in covenant. Matthew Henry famously noted, “Not made out of his head to top him, not out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.”

In this way, the text says that God made a helper for the man. “Helper” signifies how the woman would make an essential and needed contribution to the man’s life, not her inferiority or inadequacy. Sixteen of nineteen uses of the word “helper” in the Old Testament refer to God in relation us. Further, John 14 referred to the Holy Spirit as our Helper. Certainly, we are not superior to God, so “helper” does not denote inferiority about the woman at creation.

More pointedly for how we conduct our marriages, Adam does something striking upon meeting his wife. In verse 23, he said,

“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.”

The Hebrew word here for “man” is different from the one used in Genesis so far. “Adam” is a Hebrew word for man. God brought Adam from the ground, which in Hebrew is Adamah. Since Adam was a gardener, the narrative has been naming Adam in relation to his job, the ground. But now Adam named himself in relation to his wife: The man, Hebrew ’îsh, in relation to the women, ’îshsha in Hebrew.

Husbands especially, how often do we invert that relationship by defining ourselves by our work rather than by our relationship with our wife? Do you think of yourself foremost by connection to the task God has given you or by the communion God has granted you in marriage?

We should all remember that we easily let our relationships focus on the jobs we have, the house where we live, the activities in which we engage, the way that we do this and that. There are many distractions that can invade our marriages. We must remember that marriage is about communion. Just because work is draining does not mean that our time at home is for tuning out and vegging on television, or that we’ve ever done our part enough to tick the relationship box. Marriage is about communion. We need to live like it. Practicing communion means involving our full selves continually in the relationship of marriage.

Prioritizing Communion

Verse 24 makes a programmatic statement about marriage based on the fittingness of the woman for the man. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” As we’ve considered, it is in light of this bond that they were naked and unashamed together. 

More fundamentally, this verse shows that marriage takes precedent over earlier biological family relationships. Although certainly we maintain loving commitment to our parents and relatives, marriage relocates us from a primary connection to those relationships into a priority on the marriage relationship. Godly parents will remain continual fonts of wisdom, but we shouldn’t allow your biological links to create any division in your marriage or have any dominance over it.

The same goes for children as well. We love our children, undoubtedly, but your marriage is the bedrock of your family. A married couple is a family apart from children, so children need to see the strength of that foundation as the priority in any family. Just like our identity is shaped by marital communion over our work, it should be shaped by marriage over and before our role as parents.

The theological reason for this priority on marriage is because Scripture plainly states that marriage depicts Christ’s relationship to his church. Just like marriage relocates you from the primary link to your biological family into that covenantal bond, so too faith in Christ relocates you from a natural link to the world into that covenantal bond with the Savior. Marriage takes two people who were once separate and joins them together in communion by covenant.

Hence, our union with Christ is the most blessed reality that we can know. Christ is the faithful husband to his church, who came and died for every sin of every believer, so that he might cleanse us and make us blameless so to present us spotless on the last day at his return when we will have the wedding feast of the lamb and celebrate the consummate communion of Christ and his people. We are so often unfaithful to him, preferring the allures of the world and the lusts of the flesh. But Christ will never abandon us. He has joined us to himself by faith so that we will always be his.

It is not good for man to be alone, so marriage is good, but marriage to Christ is best, regardless of your earthly marital status. In Christ, we are never alone and have the very communion for which we were created; union with our God.

As Adam leaped for joy to claim Eve as his bride, Christ for the joy set before him endured the cross to claim us as his bride. The depth of communion that we see in faithful marriages was forged into creation in order to point us to the communion that we have with God in Christ. Every joy that is displayed for us all in marriage, as hard as it is to fathom, is dwarfed by the overwhelming love and communion that we have with our Maker because of Christ.