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1. The Divine Design (Genesis 2:18-23)

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Editor’s Note: This is a lightly edited transcription of the attached audio message.

Let’s turn in our Bibles for our scripture reading, please, to Genesis chapter two.

Now, for some time, I have been deeply concerned about a short series relating to marriage and we are going to start that this morning. We’re going to have a four week series that will be generally entitled “The Making of a Christian Marriage.” And I feel that this is one of the deep needs in our congregation, in that we have so many children and young people attending and I hope and trust that it will be a profit to those of us who are already married and save our homes from some problems that are so potential today.

So we’re beginning this morning by looking at Genesis chapter two and our title for our message is “The Divine Design.” Genesis chapter two, verse eighteen. Then the Lord God said, It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a helper suitable for him. Now you will note that I’m reading from the New American Standard Standard Bible, which is, I think, very helpful in the translation of that eighteenth verse.

Verse nineteen says:

“Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. 22 The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.

23 The man 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 although we’re going to save verse twenty four for our next message, we will read it for the connection.

“For this cause a man she leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife. And they shall become one flesh.”

And we trust that God shall bless this reading of his word, which deals with the basic elements involved in a marriage.

Lets join together in prayer, shall we? Our father, we’re thankful this morning for the word of God, which instructs us in the way that we ought to go, and we thank thee particularly for that word which contains therein a revelation of the Lord Jesus and his great love for us. We thank Him for the death he has died, for the salvation he provides, for the forgiveness that he offers, for the power that he gives. We thank thee Father for the eternal life that is found in him. We thank thee, each one of us, who have entered into enjoyment of that forgiveness and eternal life.

We pray, Lord, that we shall revel this morning in that position, and that we shall respond to thy matchless grace in giving to us such a full and free salvation, by loving thee deeply and by serving thee faithfully.

We pray for each one bowed before thee this morning, Lord, and ask especially for those who do not know the joy of salvation and their sins forgiven. We pray, Father, that thou shalt draw them to thyself this morning through the preaching of thy word. That thou shalt give to them thy faith to receive Jesus Christ personally as their savior.

We pray for those unable to be with us. Many, father, who are laid aside in bed because of sickness, we commit them to thee. We ask for thy blessing in their lives this morning; for each one who is toiling under the burden of anxieties of life, we ask for thy blessing.

We pray, Lord, that the truth of this lovely hymn shall dawn upon our hearts this morning as we remember how faithful thou art in every situation of life. We commit to thee Father, the ministry of this chapel, and especially as we launch into this radio ministry, we pray that thou will expand the outreach of the group of Christians meeting here that we may reach many in this city, around the city, and perhaps farther as thou dost open doors, even around the country. We ask that thou richly bless this ministry and use it to glorify thyself in building up thy people and in drawing to thyself those whom thou art speaking to.

We commit to thee our young people this morning and ask for blessing in their lives. And we pray Lord, as we launch into this series on Christian marriage, that thou shalt make it a particular blessing in each of our homes. We pray for homes that are straining under the problems of their marriage. We pray for young people who are anticipating marriage, for many young people who are in the dating area of their life. We pray, Lord that thou shalt use these messages and this ministry in the teaching of thy word to heal wounds and to preserve young people from tragic situations in their lives. We commit to thee not only this hour, but the hours to follow this morning, the meeting of the church this evening, the Bible teaching meetings during this week. We ask, Lord, that we shall have a consciousness of thy presence, as we sense the last days upon us. Help us Lord to redeem the time for thy glory. We commit this hour to thee and ask for a sense of thy presence. Glorify thyself, prepare our hearts to receive thy word and to respond to it; for we ask it in thy name, amen.

Our subject for this morning is, “The Divine Design.” “Compared with marriage, being born is a mere episode of our career. And dying is a trivial incident.” Those are the words of Dorthy Dix, one America’s foremost female counsellors. And what she is trying to say when she says that, is that there is no more critical and important and crucial step than the step into marriage. And of course, few of us would want to debate that point.

Marriage is a giant step into either a life of deep fulfillment or life of desperate frustration. And which of the two is largely determined by the concept we have of the nature of marriage. For that reason, this morning we want to turn to Genesis Chapter two. We want to discover the divine design for marriage. And our purpose is to create a correct concept of marriage in the minds of many of our children and young people, and perhaps to correct some corrupted concepts that have developed in our thinking as older folk, as we have viewed marriages in our lifetime and in our day and age.

So in Genesis Chapter two, we have the basic principles that relate to the institution of marriage. We want to look in verses 18 to 23 at four basic principles that will help us to appreciate something of the divine design for marriage.

The first and probably the most obvious of all in reading through our section this morning, is that marriage is a divine institution; it is an institution of God that is apparent from reading verses 18 to 23.

J. Adams has suggested that it is quite wrong for us to think of a number of years, a number of centuries, a number of ages ago, a group of previously promiscuous people sitting in a dark cave around a flickering fire, all of a sudden thinking of the idea of marriage. Marriage is not a social contract that was thought up by men and thought to be useful for a particular period of time. Marriage is an institution of God. It was God who made Adam. It was God who said It is not good for man to be alone. And then it was God who made Eve; and it was God who brought Eve to Adam; it was God who gave Eve to Adam; it was God who presided at the first marriage ceremony. Adam did not take a wife to himself. He received a wife. Society did not invent marriage, it received it as an institution from God. Now that is the apparent principal that emerges from the reading of our section. Now, if that is so, there are at least two implications that we cannot avoid this morning. If marriage is an institution of God, we cannot discard it—if we would wish to. But yet that is precisely what is happening in our generation.

In Sweden today, marriage is going out of style. In Mills College here in the United States, a survey taken last year on the part of senior students, showed forty percent of the women indicated that marriage was no longer important to them.

Many people are writing now in our magazines and newspapers, that because of the pill and legalized abortion, much of the usefulness of marriage has disappeared. And we are in a period of time where marriage is being discarded, like a garment that we have outgrown, or like an object that is no longer useful for us. Now, if marriage is an institution of God, no legislature, no society, no individual, has the right to set aside what God has set up, or to eliminate what God has established. Marriage is an institution of God! And only God can abrogate that institution. He has not done so.

The second implication of this is just as obvious. If marriage is an institution of God, we must define marriage in God’s terms. One of the remarkable things that is happening about us today is that marriage is being redefined. Newsweek magazine about a year or so ago spoke of the more than two million middle class Americans that are engaged in group sex. And then the comment from Newsweek magazine, was that from coast to coast, married swingers are experimenting with a radical redefinition of marriage.

Carol Cline in her book, “The Single Parent Experience,” again notes the trouble that families are in, and as a result, how people are redefining marriage. Speaking of single women, who have decided to have a baby, she says, these are girls in their late twenties, pushing thirty, not married. Rather than coercing the man they were with to marry someone they did not love, they became mothers independently. And one of the amazing phenomena that is happening about us today, is that single girls are adopting babies. And mothers are keeping their babies born out of wedlock. And there is an amazing trend toward women becoming purposefully pregnant without having a man that is committed to being a husband or father for the children. And what is happening today is that a radical redefinition of marriage is taking place.

I was astounded to discover, that since 1948, the religious leaders in Israel have granted to 802 Jewish men in Israel, the permission to take a second wife, without having divorced their first wife, or becoming a widow. Now that is very close to bigamy. And yet, that is exactly what is happening in Israel today. What is happening in our society today because of the failure of the homes, is a radical redefinition of marriage. And yet, we cannot allow ourselves to define marriage in terms of the popular paperback that we see in the corner drug store, or in terms of the perverted production that comes out of Hollywood, or in terms of the promiscuous person that works in the office, or that lives in the dormitory on campus.

If marriage is an institution of God, it must be defined in God’s terms. And God’s definition of marriage according to verse twenty four, which we shall study in detail in our next message, is that marriage, first of all and clearly, is a monogamous relationship. He says, “for this cause, a man should leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife.” It is just as clear that it is to be a permanent relationship. He says that he is to cleave to his wife. He is to cling to her. He is to be glued to her. And it is just as clear from this that marriage is to be an exclusive relationship between that man and that woman, because it says, “and they two shall become one flesh.” Those are the terms that God uses to define marriage. It is a monogamous, permanent, exclusive relationship.

And it is very clear to anyone who reads their Bible, that it is within that relationship that children are to be born. And children are to be raised in a home. That is God’s definition of marriage. If we are to recognize that it is an institution from God that we cannot discard, even though we should like to, we must define it in the terms that God uses for defining a marriage. Now that is the first principle that is very apparent from the passage that we have read.

The second principle is just as apparent. It emerges from the first phrase in verse eighteen where we discover that marriage is a blessing from God. It says in that verse, “then the Lord God said, it is not good for the man to be alone.” At first thought, that is rather a remarkable statement. God is in the process of creation. This is the first not good thing that God has seen in all his creative work. When you read that verse, you think for a moment, that it seems somewhat contradictory to the phrase in verse thirty one of chapter one. Notice. It says, “and the Lord God saw all that he had made and behold, it was very good.”

Now it would appear for a moment then that verse eighteen is in contradiction to the thirty first verse of chapter one. Of course, we know that is not the case. You have two complementary accounts of creation, one in chapter one and one in chapter two, beginning with verse four. Now, these are not dual accounts taken from different sources, as the literary critics suggest, rather, they are complementary accounts. The one in Genesis chapter one is a panorama of the whole process of creation. And the account in chapter two is a particularization of one segment of that creative work. What is recorded in chapter one, verses twenty six and twenty seven, the creation of man and woman, is expanded in the particularization of chapter two. So the account in chapter two is that expansion, which really fits back into chapter one, verses twenty six and twenty seven.

Chronologically, then chapter two, verse eighteen comes before chapter one, verse thirty one. So if we work to pick the chronology of the sixth day up, we would see that at the beginning of the sixth day, God made the animals. And then he made man and he saw Adam alone, and he said, “it is not good for Adam to be alone.” And so he made the woman to be with Adam. And having made the woman, he completed his work and saw all that he had made and concluded it was very good. Now, one of the things included in that very good is marriage. Marriage is something that God says is very good. Now, may I repeat that? God says, “marriage is something that is very good.” It is one of the blessings that God has given to society.

Now, if that is so, there are at least three implications that touch every one of us in the audience this morning. If marriage is a blessing from God, if marriage is very good, then first of all, we ought to speak of marriage respectfully, When I was a young fellow, one of the things that used to go around our part of the country was something like this. “Marriage is a wonderful institution, if you want to spend the rest of your life in an institution.” The Germans have a proverb which says, “if you would have one happy year, marry. If you would have two, refrain.”

When we were up in Canada, we connected with a number of young couples who were going to a certain church that called their young couples class “The ball and chain class.” Donald G. Barnhouse used to say, “bite your tongue before you ever refer to your wife as your “ball and chain” or as your “jailer.”

Now, the jokes that have been made about marriage are legion, and we all say them very innocently. And, yet my friend, there is no such thing as joking innocently about marriage. Every such comment or joke, contaminates our children. With that type of conversation we are telling our children that what God has designed to be their happiest estate in life is all a big mistake. It sometimes has a way of destroying marriages, because it introduces wedges with those sarcastic remarks set out in public, often in a joking way, that leave wounds and scars and resentments that fester. Sometimes those jokes actually are exposing the very depths of our hearts and oftentimes many a true word has been said in jest.

But the most serious thing about jesting above marriage, is that you are contradicting God. God says it is very good and for you and for me to joke about it and jest about it with other couples in the presence of our partner, or in the presence of our children, is to say to them that what God says is very good I do not think is so good. Dr. Walter Meyer in his book, For Better, Not For Worse, has said “to speak disdainfully of married life, to invoke upon it sophisticated sarcasm, is to exalt the puny errors of pigmy minds over the eternal truth of heaven.” It is to blaspheme God. Now this is something that every parent, every husband, every wife, ought to be very sensitive to. If God says this is very good, this is a blessing from him, then we ought to speak of it respectfully. Secondly, we are to esteem it highly.

I have a close friend who for many years was the champion of celibacy. And his basis of course was the 1 Corinthians chapter seven passage where he thought that Paul clearly taught that celibacy was a higher estate than marriage was. It is true of course that Paul does say in that chapter, “he that marries does well, and he that does not marry does better.” The conclusion then is that celibacy is a higher state than the married state. Now is that what Paul was saying in that passage? Of course, the answer is “no.” That is not generally the case. In Paul’s case that was the case at that period of time because Paul says explicitly in verse 26 of that chapter, “because of the present distress.” He was anticipating a bloodbath. And so as he spoke to the Corinthians, he was speaking to an army of men who were about to enter into an unequal battle with an overwhelming foe on their own battleground for a prolonged period of time. What he was saying is, “this is not the time to get married.” That is exactly the point that he is making in chapter seven.

Celibacy is not a higher state than marriage. Marriage is the higher state. God says, “it is very good.” If God says that, we ought to esteem it as something that is very good.

Now the third implication of that is, that we are to regard marriage as honorable. Occasionally in our counselling ministry, we come across, a young lady, generally, who feels there is something a little defiling or inferior about marriage because of the physical relationship in marriage.

Now it’s very important to see, that the physical relationship within marriage was instituted before the fall of Man. After that relationship was instituted, God saw it and said that it was very good. And to underline it in Hebrews chapter 13, the apostle, or whoever is the writer, clearly asserts that marriage is to be regarded as honorable by all. And the marriage bed is undefiled. Now what the New Testament and the Old Testament are saying throughout the scriptures is that sex within marriage is very good. There is nothing inferior. There is nothing dirty about that. God says, “it is very good.” And we are to regard it as an honorable thing.

It is obvious from the fact that Paul parallels marriage with the relationship that exists between Christ and His church. God describes His relationship with His own in terms of a bridegroom’s relationship with the bride in the book of Revelation. It is very clear then that God does not consider marriage as being defiling or inferior in any state. He considers it as something that is holy and something that is very righteous. If God considers it that way, then we ought to.

I want to speak directly to many of you young people because you are subjected to all kinds of currents of thought today. I want to speak to you as simply as I can, so that you will be able to cultivate and develop attitudes toward marriage which are wholesome and biblical. I want to make it clear that God has given marriage to our society as one of His blessings upon men. He says it is very good and we ought to speak of it respectfully and esteem it very highly and regard it as something that is very honorable, because God does.

Now the third principle that emerges again from this saying in the 18th verse, is, I think very, very important for us to understand. And that is that marriage is a norm for society. That is clear from the 18th verse, which says, “then the Lord God said it is not good for man to be alone.” It is obvious, then, that the norm would be that man should not be alone. The marriage state is the normal state for men and women in our society. Now that is underlined surely by Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 7, verse 2, when he says, “let every man have his own wife and let every woman have her own husband.”

Marriage is the norm; celibacy is the exception. According to First Corinthians 7, it is for those who have been given the special gift, and it is for times of special distress. But apart from that, the norm is marriage. Now if that is true, again, there are three very important implications for many of us in the audience today. The first implication is that we ought to plan on marriage. We ought to plan on it.

If you are a young person in the audience this morning, then you ought to plan on marriage. It is the norm that God has laid down. Unless God makes it very clear that you are not to marry, then you ought to plan on entering into a marriage relationship, because that is the norm.

May I say a direct word to you mothers and fathers? We ought to plan on our children marrying. That is the norm. I’m astounded to discover how many parents refuse to talk to their young children, or to their teenage children, openly and freely and candidly about their marriage relationship with a young man or a young lady, for fear of putting ideas in the minds of their children. I have that told me often. “I would never say such a thing or I would never bring up such a thing for fear of putting an idea in my daughter’s mind that she might run off with some young fellow and get married.” Now that is a tragic mistake. I will have static for speaking as candidly as I am speaking this morning from some of you. You will fear that I am going to put some thoughts or some ideas in the minds of your children. I am speaking this way because I recognize that marriage is the norm, and your children are going to marry. And if you and I can plan on our children marrying, I am convinced that we will be much more concerned about giving them an example when they are four and five and six years of age, so that when they enter into marriage, they will be able to follow the example that we have given to them in our relationship with our wives.

I am convinced that if we develop the mentality of planning on our children marrying, that we will be much more diligent in training them and in teaching them for marriage. If we plan on our children marrying from the day that we look at them in that hospital nursery, then we will be much more prepared for the day when we have to give them away. And we will be able to give them away without interfering in their marriages, and in their homes, and being a great source of problems. You see, one of the reasons why we are so inefficient in training our children for marriage, and one of the reasons why we are such poor examples to our children for marriage, and one of the reasons why moms and dads on the day of a wedding, cannot come to give themselves away is because they have resisted all through the years, the idea that their child is going to marry. We need to plan for our children to marry.

Dr. Hall from the University of Texas has said that, generally speaking, a successful or an unsuccessful marriage can be forecast in the childhood of a child. Now that is remarkable. And that means that our role as parents is very crucial in determining how successful the marriages will be of our children. If you and I are not doing the job that we ought to do with the four and five and six your old, then we are going to be directly responsible for the lack of leadership that boy will give when he is married. Or for the resistance of submission on the part of the wife when she enters into marriage. It is during those young days that we ought to be working with our children, planning on them entering into marriage.

The second implication is that we ought to be praying about marriage. Now I know that that sounds very mundane and almost simplistic. And yet may I ask you my dear parent, when was the last time you sat down with your child and prayed for their marriage?

My wife and I were deeply moved when we read the story of Billy Graham a number of years ago, when his daughters were young, taking them up into the mountains of Carolina and sitting down with them on the hills and praying individually, when those girls were very young, praying individually for the husband that God had made for those girls somewhere in this world.

And God has moved us to that very thing in our home. Now if marriage is the norm, then as parents we ought to be praying for our children’s marriages.

As soon as we discovered that we were expecting a child, we started to pray for the salvation of that child, and I am sure that that is true of many of you parents. I must say that I am ashamed. I have been rebuked by my preparation for this message this week, that I did not start praying at that same time for the marriage of that child. It is one of the things that I am going to make a high priority in my prayer life. We want to make it a practice in our home to sit down with our daughters and pray with them for the husband that God has made for them.

What we want to do is, even now, to begin to pray about that. Imagine what would happen if our children were reared to pray that God would give them the kind of partner they needed. That God would guide them to the very partner that God had made for them; that God would give them the patience to wait for the one of God’s making, and that God would give them the grace to keep themselves pure and clean until that one is brought into their life! That could revolutionize homes and marriages and lives. And it is all an outflow of recognizing that marriage is the norm for society. If it is the norm, we ought not only to plan on it and pray about it, but we ought to prepare for it.

And I would like to say some things directly to you young people very briefly out of my counselling files this morning. One of the ways that you can prepare for marriage is to determine never to date seriously a person that you are not prepared to marry. Now some of you 15 year olds will smile and say, “what on earth do you mean by that?” I mean exactly that. Never date seriously a young fellow that you would not be prepared to marry, and I say that out of great experience. Not my own personal experience, fortunately, but from observing many experiences right here in the congregation in Believers Chapel. I have seen Christian people marry unbelievers, marry alcoholics, marry social misfits, mary spiritual Pygmies, because they started dating them seriously, never intending to marry them, but ended up at the marriage altar.

If you are to prepare for marriage, never, never date seriously one that you are not prepared to marry. And as you are in that dating relationship with someone seriously, the way to prepare for marriage is to build that relationship, not upon physical involvement, not upon social compatibility, but upon a spiritual foundation. That kind of foundation can hold up a marriage and no other foundation can do it. That is the way you want to be preparing in your relationship as you date a young man or a young lady. Those are the implications of recognizing that marriage is simply the norm that God has ordained for society.

Now from the whole section that remains, there is a fourth principle that we want to develop in our closing minutes. And the fourth principle is that God clearly has indicated that marriage is a partnership, and I want you to know from verses 18 through 23 that there are aspects of this partnership that are brought before us.

The first aspect is that the planner of the partnership is God. God was the one who made Eve for Adam. God planned that partnership and brought the two of them together in the relationship that they had. God made the marriage of Adam and Eve. Now this is a very solid note. It underscores what the New Testament says when it writes, “let no man put asunder,” those whom God has put together. The marriage of Adam and Eve was made by God. So I believe very deeply my dear friend that your marriage was planned and made by God.

Now I had a very good friend just this week turn to me and say, “but Bill, isn’t it possible that I made a mistake and married the wrong woman?” Sometimes we think that, especially when we entered into marriage before we became Christians, or entered into it when we were backslidden, or in rebellion against the Lord and our parents. And we look upon the situation, and we have second thoughts down the road a little, and say, “isn’t it possible that I married the wrong one?” My friend, the answer to that question is Ephesians chapter 1 verse 11, which says that “our God works all things after the counsel of his will.”

There is not one thing that transpires in your life that is out of God’s will. He is the one who works all things in this universe, and in your life according to His will. Now of course, it is possible that the young lady that you married wasn’t God’s perfect will for you. It is also possible that the young lady you married was in God’s permissive will for you. And there is a great difference. But the fact is, that whatever the case, it is God’s will. There is not one thing that God permits in your life that is out of His eternal plan or eternal decree. And the person that you are married to this morning is according to either the perfect will of God or the permissive will of God. But it is according to God’s will. God is the planner of marriages.

Now the second thing that emerges from our passage as we look at it, “why is it that God plans such marriages?” And so the purpose clearly is indicated, I think, as you come down through Verse 18, “the Lord God said, it is not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a helper.” Now, isn’t it remarkable that God made Eve for Adam so that Adam would not be alone. That my friend is the primary and most obvious purpose for marriage.

It is for the companionship of a man and woman, and that is one of the beautiful things about marriage. I must say that I find it a tremendously delightful thing to see a couple that has been married for a number of years; really friends; companions enjoying each other’s companionship. Now that is what a marriage is all about! God designed marriage for the companionship of Adam with his wife. And if he designed Adam’s marriage for that purpose, He designed your marriage for exactly the same purpose. That you would have a companion in life.

Isn’t it remarkable that He says of this companion, that “I will make him a helper” and that adds a perspective to the role of a wife that is oftentimes overlooked. The wife is to be the helper of the husband. She is to help him in his role as being the head of the home. She helps him in raising the children. Helps him in administering the household; she is to help him in his role of a businessman in our society. She entertains his business associates. She encourages him, provides a context in a home where he can get out of the pressure of that society. She is a helper to him, the businessman. She is a helper to him, a Christian. She encourages the development of his spiritual gift. She stands side by side with him, a helper in his ministry.

That is one of the reasons why, at Believers Chapel, we encourage husband and wife teams to teach Sunday school. We are convinced that a great team effort is where the wife becomes the helper of the husband in his spiritual ministry. And that is the purpose that God has designed marriage for. That there would be a companionship, whereby the wife becomes the helper of the husband in the role that God has given to him.

Where is God ever going to find such a companion? We move on and note that the partners in this partnership are in a remarkable way, made to be complementary to each other.

The next word that is used in verse 18 is, “it is not good for the man to be alone. I will make him a helper, suitable for him.” Now that is a very crucial word. The helper that God was going to make for Adam would be someone who would be suitable for him. The word means, in a sense, corresponding to him. As the reflection in the mirror corresponds to the object being reflected, so the woman corresponded to Adam. God made Eve in such a way that she would correspond to him. As Adam was a physical, intellectual, social, and emotional and spiritual person, God made Eve with all of those same capabilities to correspond to him. And God has been doing that down through the centuries. He makes women to correspond to men.

Animals from all of the creation were examined. Not one was found that would correspond to Adam in these areas, but a woman was made to correspond to him, and a woman still is made to be the corresponder to men in these particular characteristics. When God brought Eve to Adam, she completed him. And no longer were they two separate entities, but they became the male and female of a single entity. And that is what God does when He brings a wife to a man. The wife that he has made for that man completes that man, and they become one entity. And then, in that relationship having been completed by his wife, those two partners complement one another. The strengths of Adam were balanced by the weaknesses of Eve. The assets of Eve were balanced by the deficiencies of Adam. They were made to complement one another. Wouldn’t it be a horrible thing for two identical persons to live together in a home? I can’t imagine what would happen if two perfectionists ever married. It would be chaos in that home. Or two people who were totally impatient.

God makes a man and a woman. They are made to correspond to each other. When God brings those that He is made for each other together, they complete one another, and in that completed state, they complement each other in the design that God has made.

Now I want to say to you young people that if it is in God’s design for you to enter into marriage, God has made a partner to correspond to you, and in God’s time, He will bring that partner to you to complete you. And in that completion, there will be a complement between you and your partner. I oftentimes in counselling situations hear people tell their complaints about their partner, their personality, or their idiosyncrasies, or their habits. And you sit back and you smile and say, “boy I can see exactly why God brought that wife into your life.” It’s exactly what you needed. That is the complement to you. Because we do not recognize that that is the design that God has in marriage.

When we see a partner who is a little different in certain areas, we react against it instead of recognizing that that is God’s design to complement us and to fill in areas of weakness and deficiency in our lives. Perhaps to cultivate qualities in our character that need to be cultivated. And so it is a very beautiful design that God has made as He has designed. The provision for Adam’s partner came from himself. Where was such a partner to complement him, to complete him, and to correspond to him, ever to be found? From all of the animals of creation, not one was found. So God took a rib from Adam, and the provision of the partner came from Adam himself. It was a part of himself.

The Jewish rabbis used to say that Eve was not made from the foot because she was not to be trampled down. She was not made from a head because she was not to rule over her husband. She was made from a rib; close to the heart of Adam, to be loved by him, and under the arm of Adam to be protected by him.

Whether that is really the essence of the message or not, I am not sure, but surely the point is that Adam recognizes, as Eve comes to him, that here is one who was actually part of him.

And that is re-echoed in the New Testament, when husbands are told to love their wives as part of themselves. And that is our responsibility as husbands: to recognize our wives as part of ourselves, and to nourish them and to cherish them as we do other parts of our own body.

Now that is the provision that God made for Adam. From his own self, He made that partner. The remarkable thing is, as you conclude through the passage and come through the New Testament, you discover that the partnership was sealed by a pledge between the two individuals.

There were three things that made marriage in the Old Testament:

  1. the giving of a dowry
  2. and then the making of a covenant or contract
  3. and then the consummation of it

All three were essential for the making of a marriage. Now the center one was the making of a covenant. Malachi chapter 2 verse 14 says that we “make a covenant with our wives” when we enter into marriage with them. And that covenant is witnessed by God. The marriage covenant is simply the Covenant to be faithful to that person, and to live with that person for the rest of their life.

That marriage covenant is expressed in the marriage vows. It is legalized in the marriage license. And the point of Malachi 2:14 is that it is witnessed by God Himself. Now that makes the marriage vow a very, very solemn thing. Do not ever pledge to be faithful to an individual for the rest of your life, unless my dear friend you are committed to that, because to make that pledge is to make it in the presence of God Himself as your witness, and to break that oath, to violate that pledge, is to bring the consequences that inevitably come in violating a pledge or an oath to God! And many of us have made such pledges. We stood at the altar and we stood before that official and we made a pledge to be faithful to our wives. We made a pledge to live with that person for the rest of our life until death shall separate us. My friend, the day that you made that, God was standing between you and your wife and He was the witness of that pledge.

May God help us to be faithful to the pledge that we have made in that marriage covenant. It’s a remarkable thing then to see the design that God has for marriage. It is a partnership that God has instituted and He’s instituted it for the companionship of men and women; and therefore it is normative in our society. That covenant that exists between a male and a female is a beautiful picture, my friend, of the salvation covenant that a person enters into.

Just as the husband takes the initiative in loving that young lady and winning her love to himself, so Jesus Christ has taken the initiative in expressing His love to you and to me by giving His life and dying for us. And just as the young woman responds to the love of that young man, and by a deliberate act of her will, receives him to be her husband, so you and I are invited to respond to the love of Jesus Christ in dying for our sin. And by a deliberate act of our will to receive Jesus Christ personally as our savior. And just as the product of that initiation, and of that response, is a union for the rest of life. So the product of Jesus Christ, and your response in receiving Him personally as your savior will be a union not for the rest of life, but for all eternity, when you will be His. And his alone. That kind of relationship is the only relationship that is above and beyond the marriage relationship.

If entering into marriage is a gigantic step that leads into either a life of deep fulfillment or desperate frustration, receiving Jesus Christ is a more gigantic step. Because that is the step that leads into a life of Eternal blessing as a child of God.

If you have never received Him as your savior, we invite you to do so this morning. And if you have received Him, may God challenge us in relation to His plan and pattern for our lives in marriage.

Let’s stand, shall we, for our closing prayer. Father we do ask this morning that Thou will take the teaching of Thy word, the applications of Thy word, the exhortations of the Holy Spirit, and that Thou shalt apply them directly to each individual. Young and old, male and female, parent and child, husband and wife. Oh God, we pray that by Thy Spirit, we shall receive the word that You have for us individually this morning and respond to that word at this moment. For Christ’s sake. Amen.

Related Topics: Marriage

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