Whenever we celebrate a wedding, it is right and proper for us to reflect on the first wedding. Jesus teaches us that we are supposed to understand what we are doing with regard to marriage by reflecting on how it was “from the beginning.” And so this is what we do. Given the nature of God’s Word, it should not be surprising that whenever we look again to this archetypical text in Genesis, we learn something new. We discover that God has designed this text on marriage to be very much like marriage itself. There are always surprises; there are always new joys.
We have often commented on the fact that as God was creating our world, He stopped and pronounced at various stages that it was all good. The only time He didn’t say this was when He had created a solitary male. Of him, He said “it is not good that man should be alone.” That point has been made repeatedly at these weddings of ours.
But notice the circumstances. This man by himself was a “not good” in the midst of a world that was entirely good. Everything was good and yet everything wasn’t. God had just finished declaring it all good. A perfect world, a perfect sun and moon, a perfect garden, a perfect selection of foods, a perfect climate, and yet God says that something was wrong. It was not good that Adam had no one like himself that he could talk with about it. God was there, of course—that was not part of the imperfection. There were angels above Adam, and beasts below him, but he was made, created, as a sociable creature . . . with no comparable society.
Adam was not vertically lonely in his submission. He could commune with God, and if the Lord had desired it, Adam could have conversed with any or all of the angels. Neither was he vertically lonely in his authority. He was given dominion over the animals, and this is companionship after a fashion. But something was still missing. Adam was horizontally lonely—there was no one to share his station with. He was lonely for an equal.
God knew what He was up to and declared His intention to create a helper, a companion, suitable to Adam (Gen. 2:18). This was obviously the plan all along, but Adam had to be brought along to understand this.
We can see how God was intending for Adam to grow up into maturity through the first task he was assigned, which was the naming of the animals. It is clear that Adam was not just arbitrarily attaching labels to the critters—he was classifying them. He was considering their nature, and their limits and boundaries, and naming them accordingly. When he was finished, he did not simply say, “Well, that’s done.” The conclusion of the naming was that “there was not a helper suitable to him” (Gen. 2:20). This means that through this process he was looking for a suitable helper. God knew all along that He was going to make a helper, but He wanted Adam to come to that same conclusion himself. God knew what Adam needed, but he did not just need a wife. He needed to know for himself that he needed a wife. The first task that was assigned to man was not to till the ground, or harvest the trees, or mine the mountains. The first task was to look for someone like and yet unlike himself. His first assigned task was to fix a problem.
Now Adam had been taken from the dust of the ground, and fashioned into a living man by God (Gen. 2:7). After the Fall, he was told that he would return to dust because that is what he was (Gen. 3:19). God said that he would return to dust because he was dust, not just because he used to be dust. This should not be taken as a necessarily negative image, because God uses the same word dust again when He is promising a great legacy of descendants to Abraham (Gen. 13:16). He says that the company of the saved would be beyond reckoning, like the dust of the ground.
So Adam was dust, taken from the ground. The word for ground is adamah—the same as Adam’s name, only with a feminine ending. Think of it as Adam being taken from Mother Earth’s side, and fashioned into a man, a small replica of the world. The world (or eternity) is placed in our hearts (Ecc. 3:11). Man is all things in microcosm. And then Adam was placed into a deep sleep, and a rib was taken from his side, and fashioned into a replica of him. As Adam was glorified dust, so the woman was glorified man. Woman is man in microcosm, and each generation of imaging increases the glory. This is why women are better looking.
Tyler, Matthew Henry describes God’s choice of a rib in this way:
“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.”
The apostle Peter says that husbands—whose ranks you are just now joining—must dwell with their wives with understanding. This requires reflection, study, humility, surrender, and the quiet assumption of authority—the authority of a servant leader. You have a lot to learn, and learning it will be a joy—if you receive the lessons from the hand of God. God is here—the Lord is always present among His people—and He is the one presenting you with your bride, every bit as much as He did in the Garden when He brought Eve to Adam. Receive this staggering gift in the fear of God. Congratulations—you are in way over your head. Fight it, or try to deny it, and it will remain that way. Receive it, and God will bless you beyond all you could imagine or think.
Stephanie, if there is anything more humbling than to receive the gift of a woman, it is to be the gift of that woman. It is a great gift from God to be overwhelmed, but it is a greater gift from God to be overwhelming. I just told Tyler that he needed to receive what God is up to in this, and not to fight it. You need to do the same thing, but from a different vantage. Don’t spare him—be overwhelming. You have not just been given away by your parents. They are stand-ins or proxies for God. When your dad said, “Her mother and I,” behind that statement was the voice of our Father in Heaven. “Who gives this woman to marry this man?” The Father says that He does. He did this because He wanted to give Tyler a responsibility that would make his knees want to buckle, but which, by His sustaining grace, would not buckle. The best thing you can do, the way to be the greatest help to your husband, is to be that gift. Accept what God is doing so that you can, together with your husband, find out what He is doing.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.