This is a message from pastor and teacher Bill Serjak from the Genesis series “In Beginning”
Flesh of My Flesh
The events of this morning’s passage came from the first time God said something was not good. After each thing God created, He pronounced it good. The Hebrew word for good has the idea that something works, that it fits together well, that it is finished. God finally proclaimed something not good when He said that it was “not good for the man to be alone.” I don’t think Adam merely had that sense of loneliness we all feel at one time or another; it went deeper than that. It was more like God sought to fulfill and finish Adam. It was not good that Adam just stayed inside himself and was a self-contained creature. It is very easy for us to just stay inside ourselves and become completely selfish. Selfishness can even make us happy. C. S. Lewis was once asked if the Christian faith would make someone happy. He said that happiness was not the goal for the Christian faith and went on to say that one of the most selfish men he knew also seemed to be quite happy. However, it is not good for man to be alone. It is not good for us to live completely in ourselves; something is needed to bring us out into the world. God implied that Adam needed motivation to do that.
This first thing God did was to have Adam name all the animals. These animals were created from the dust of the earth as Adam had been. When Adam named the animals, he wasn’t just naming the genus and species of each classification of animal. I grew up on a working farm and we did not name the animals. We might name a dairy cow, but did not name a cow that we might end up eating. You did not want to make a personal tie with the animals. If we had a dog or a cat as a pet, we would name them, but we did not enter into any sort of personal relationship with the animals that we raised for food. However, Adam named all the animals; it was like each animal became a personal pet and none of them was close enough to Adam to cause him to grow outside himself. Relating to the animals would not stretch his soul; it would not require much of him. No suitable helper was found for him. When some people think of a helper, they think of someone who is lesser than the one being helped. Women don’t like being thought of as a lesser creation and that is not really the sense of the Hebrew word used here. The word is used twenty-one times in the Old Testament. Fifteen times it refers to God being a helper for mankind, and God is certainly not lesser than man. It could even imply that the helper is greater than the one being helped.
Even after Adam faced and named all the animals, no suitable helper was found for him. None of the animals was strong enough to bring him outside himself. There are many times when our dog is very comforting and good to be around. One reason is that she doesn’t require much of us. She responds to our feelings and doesn’t require us to respond to her moods. She is always positive toward us and as long as we feed her and pet her, she is quite willing to show affection toward us. Adam probably enjoyed all the animals that he named, but the problem may well have been that they didn’t require that much of him. They weren’t enough like Adam to bring out the best in him.
The Bible then says that God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam. I don’t know why God did it that way. It is reasonable to think that He would create Eve the same way He created Adam and form her from the dust of the earth and then breathe into her the breath of God. Instead, He took a part of what Adam already was and used that to form woman. God wanted a oneness of man and woman; they would be separate, but one, just like he was separate, but one. God did not want the ideal to be two perfect human beings, but two people who were of the same essence. The ideal is not to be separate creatures but, through love, to be made one. We are not made one through being co-dependant, living only to please someone. In our essence we are made one through love.
God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam when He created Eve. I don’t know why He brought on the deep sleep. Some commentators thought God wanted to create Eve without causing pain to Adam, unlike the way births that would follow would cause pain to women. It may have been that God didn’t want any advice while He was creating Eve. He didn’t want her to be the product of a committee made up of Adam and God. He wanted her to be His creation. Works of art are very seldom done by a group of people; they are done by a creative individual and, in this case, the creative individual was God and no one else. If the artist who had created Adam signed His work, it would be signed God; if the artist who created Eve signed His work, it would be signed God. No one else was involved in that work of creation. Adam was only a sleeping rib donor. Both were God’s unique creation.
Eve would be the one who would bring Adam outside himself. Adam would now begin to fulfill all that he was created to be. It worked. Adam had been asleep while God worked and created Eve. When Adam saw Eve, he said, “Now this is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” I don’t know if Adam knew how Eve had been created, but he immediately knew that she was completely like him. She was one he could fully and completely love, one with whom he would become one. That is what God meant to happen. Much later, when Jesus was on the earth, people asked Him what marriage is supposed to be. He pointed back to these verses and said that “a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and they become one flesh.” That is what God had meant to happen from the very beginning. A husband and wife influence each other like nothing else can.
Our parents have a powerful influence on what we become as people. I am continually amazed at how much my relationship with my parents molded me. However, there comes a time when you leave your father and mother, cleave unto your wife and become one with her. I see God doing that in my life. He is not finished and the journey has not been easy, but now only the Lord Himself has a more powerful influence on me than Sandy. When she tells me that I have done something well, I feel better than when anyone else tells me. There is a deep connection there and when Sandy is feeling low, it brings me down. We are tied to each other in that way. I feel sorry for her because I am more morose than she is and am more likely to drag her down. In a marriage, we are tied together.
Marriage in Old Testament times was absolutely necessary. When Jesus and Paul lifted up the possibility of staying single, that was a change from how it had been in the Old Testament. Being married was required of all good Jewish men. Paul said that he was a Pharisee and not lacking in any of the requirements of the law. Pharisees were supposed to be married; so, at some time, Paul must have been married. It was very important that all should marry at that time, because each person’s relationship to God couldn’t be intimate. It was necessary to become married so the intimate relationship of marriage would bring out the fullness of what everyone should be. It was easier for a man or woman to remain self-centered if he did not marry. In the New Testament, it could be considered good to be single, probably because an intimate relationship was now possible with God. Then, that intimacy with God could bring out what each man and woman should be, even without the help of marriage. A man or a woman would not be alone because each person could walk intimately with the Lord and that intimacy is needed so we can become all we are supposed to be.