Marriage is one of the creation ordinances, and has been with us from the very beginning. We therefore ought not to be surprised to find a description of its origin in the book of beginnings, in the book of Genesis. What I would like to do here is to take a brief walking tour of the second chapter of that glorious book, making just a few observations as we go.
“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”
The seventh day was the capstone of all the days, being the last day established. It was not the tail-end day, but rather the capstone day. Keep this in mind when we come to the creation of woman, the last creature to be fashioned by the Lord. She is not at the end of the line either, but rather the capstone. She is an animate, ensouled sabbath.
“These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.”
The world was lush and green, but yet untended. In order to have a garden, there must be a gardener. A man was needed to exercise dominion.
“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.”
First we had plants, then a gardener, and then after this the Lord planted a garden. First, untended plants, then someone to tend them, and then last, something tended to tend. Notice that what we would call wilderness was there, but also that the first template for cultivated gardens was part of the Lord’s work during the creation week. There is therefore nothing more natural than an artificial garden.
“And out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.”
This garden included orchards of delectable fruit. There were two trees in particular that should be remarked upon. They were the tree of life in the middle of the garden, which our first parents had immediate access to, along with all the other trees. And there was the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which was withheld from them as part of their probationary state. When they were ready for mature rule, when their training as king and queen had been completed, they would have been invited to this tree as well. But not yet. Part of the training for being able to command obedience is the lesson of learning how to render it.
“And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads. The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasseth the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone. And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasseth the whole land of Ethiopia. And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goeth toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.”
We still know one or two of these rivers today. Note only that God intended for our dominion of earth to include mining. Precious stones are located where they are for a reason. And so why did God run seams of rare ore under the earth? And why precious stones? Surely the answer is obvious? The answer is so that jewelry may be given to the women. As the woman adorns the man, so also men dig deep in the earth so that their women may be grown in that glory.
“And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
And so God took the man, and placed him in the garden that God had previously prepared. At this point, the fall has not yet occurred, and we see that Adam is given work to do. Work, like marriage, is another creation ordinance. It is not a consequence of the fall, antedating it. And not only is the man given work to do prior to the fall, he is also given work to do prior to the completion of the creation. Adam is put to work while God is still working. And Adam is given his instructions concerning the tree of knowledge of good and evil prior the creation of the woman. She was not there when the prohibition was issued, and Adam was.
“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”
We have a garden, and a gardener to tend the garden. But who will tend the gardener?
“And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.”
An early task given to Adam was that of naming the animals. This was done because it was something that had to be done, but it was also done so that Adam could see that there was no helper suitable for him to be found among the beasts. God said He would make a helper suitable to Adam, but when Adam named the animals, there was no helper suitable to him to be found among them.
“And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.”
God put Adam into a coma-like state. It was not death—there was not yet sin in the world—but Adam was put down into a death-like state. It is striking that Adam was not permitted to watch the creation of the first woman. Note also that this was the first blood that was shed in the history of the world. God took the rib, fashioned our common mother from it, and brought her to the man. This was the first wedding, and God Himself was the one who escorted the bride down the aisle.
“And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
And so then Adam spoke the first recorded words ever spoken by a human being, and these words were, in the first place, poetry, and secondly, about his girl.
“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”
The next words from this chapter of Genesis were quoted by our Lord Jesus, demonstrating conclusively that it was God’s intent that this first wedding be considered by all of us as archetypical. God here set the pattern for all human history. Divorce is excluded because of it. Homosexuality is out. Bestiality is impossible. Polygamy is not the pattern. And what this means is that we, here today, are self-consciously following the template or model set down for us. The bride is given away by a father. She completes the glory of the man. And she is assigned to tend the one who tends the world.
Josiah, my charge to you is this. God already set you to work before He was done with the work of completing you. He started you on your work before He was done working. And now you see something of what He was up to. The charge is to not let up. The initial work you were doing was good, but it was the kind of work that made God say He wanted to find a helper suitable for you. A helper in what? A helper in the task of dominion that God has assigned to all His people. You have a set of assigned tasks in that kingdom, and the charge is to receive the help that God has brought you, the help that has this day arrived.
Zoe, your charge is this. The central way you will help Josiah in his work is by glorifying it. You glorify him, and the work of your hands is to glorify the work of his hands. There is a deep satisfaction a man has in completing hard work, but there is a far deeper satisfaction for him when he sees what she is able to do with it. You are to be the splendor of glory, the weight of glory, the aroma of glory. And you do this by conforming to the pattern that God sets down in His Word.
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, amen.