“Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done” (Genesis 2:1-3).
When we use a word like “rest” today, we usually apply it in connection with the concept of sleep or the idea of taking a break because we’re tired. But God is someone who never gets tired. He never feels fatigued and He never needs to take a break. So why would this passage tell us that God “rested” from all His work on the seventh day when God is someone who never gets tired or needs to rest?
Well, the reason is that just because a word like “rest” can often refer to things like sleep or relaxation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it always refers to those things. You see, when the word “rested” is used in this passage, it means, “…to desist (from labor).” (1) In other words, God rested in the sense that He simply ended His creative labor. So it’s not like God was tired and needed to take a break after all His creative work; He just stopped creating and ceased from any more creative activity.
This passage also emphasizes the point that this rest occurred on the “the seventh day” by repeating it twice in two verses. This emphasis should alert us to the definite possibility that there may be some additional meaning or significance found within this passage. As it turns out, the word used for “seventh” in theses verses comes from an original word with a root meaning that conveys the idea of being, “…full, completed, entirely made up.” (2) This indicates that God had now finished everything that He set out to do as far as His creation of the universe and life.
So these verses tell us that all of the creation work that God performed throughout Genesis chapter one was now entirely complete. This pattern also provided humanity with a future model to follow by separating each week into it’s own seven-day period with the final day set aside as a time to rest.
(1) from The Online Bible Thayer’s Greek Lexicon and Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon, Copyright © 1993,
(2) Notes on Genesis 2005 Edition Copyright 2005 by Thomas L. Constable Pg 29 http://www.soniclight.com/constable/notes/pdf/genesis.pdf
Genesis 2:3 then tells us that God blessed this seventh day and set it apart from the other six days. It’s interesting to notice that the seventh day of each week is a day that is also separated and set apart in many cultures today.
For example, Sunday is a day that is set apart because it’s often seen as both the first and last day of the week. In many countries, Sunday represents the last day before the new school or work week begins but it also represents the first day of a new calendar week as well.
Of course, those people who start their week on Monday may see the seventh day as a day to do whatever they want without any consideration of God at all. Then there are others who are totally dedicated to following the “seventh day” rule stated in the Biblical book of Leviticus: “There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the LORD” (Leviticus 23:3).
Obviously, God considers this seventh day to be important, so how should Christians respond to Genesis 2:3 today? Well in looking at this question, we should remember something that Jesus mentioned in Matthew 5:17. In that passage, Jesus is quoted as saying, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”
A little later on in the New Testament, the book of Colossians also says, “…don’t let anyone criticize you for what you eat or drink, or for not celebrating Jewish holidays and feasts or new moon ceremonies or Sabbaths. For these were only temporary rules that ended when Christ came. They were only shadows of the real thing-of Christ himself” (Colossians 2:16-17 TLB).
These Scriptures tell us that the “no Sabbath day work” requirement that we see in the Old Testament was fulfilled by Jesus through His death on the cross. But this also means that every day can now be a day that’s set apart for God, not just one particular day anymore. It’s also important to remember that even though Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament requirements quoted above, Christians today still have a similar responsibility to worship and honor God by regularly setting apart some time that’s dedicated to Him (see also Hebrews 10:25).
This is why most churches traditionally have their main services on Sunday mornings. It’s a good way to show respect for God by setting aside the first part of the first day of the week to worship Him and learn from His Word. This is one way that people today can follow God’s good example as seen in Genesis 2:3.
“This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens…” (Genesis 2:4).
As we mentioned earlier, the Scriptures tell us that the human author of Genesis was a man named Moses. However, all of the events in the book of Genesis took place hundreds of years before Moses was born. So how did Moses know about all the things that he wrote about in this book?
Well, one possibility is that Moses took actual written historical documents from before his time and included them in the book of Genesis as guided by the Holy Spirit. One clue that indicates this possibility is seen in the way that the book of Genesis is structured. For example, there are a number of sections in the book of Genesis that begin with this kind of wording…
- “This is the history of…” (NKJV)
- “This is the account of…” (NIV)
- “These are the generations of…” (KJV)
We can find the first use of this type of wording right here in Genesis 2:4.
The original word that’s translated as “history,” “account,” or “generations” in this passage is the Hebrew word toledah. Scholar-types tell us that this word can refer to “an account of men and their descendants” or “the course of history (used of creation, etc).” (1) So if Moses used this kind of historical documentation to help construct the book of Genesis, then the phrase, “These are the generations of…” indicates where one written history ends and another begins.
If that’s the case, then the next question would be, who provided the historical information that we’re about to see in Genesis chapter two? Well, one answer to that question involves looking at the differences in the way that God is described in Genesis 1 and the way that He is spoken of in Genesis 2. For example, did you notice that God is simply referred to as “God” in Genesis 1:1 but is now referred to as “LORD God” here in Genesis 2:4?
That may not seem a big difference at first, but it may be more important than you think. You see, when the word LORD appears in all capitals in the Old Testament, it refers to the personal name of God. That name would be Yahweh or Jehovah as some versions translate it. The phrase “LORD God” used here literally means, “Yahweh Elohim.” (2) “Yahweh” is the personal name of God and Elohim means “strong. great or mighty.”
This change from “God” in Genesis chapter one to “LORD God” in Genesis chapter two suggests that there may be a change of source material for this chapter. For example, let’s say that someone like Adam (or an early descendant) was originally responsible for providing the historical account that we see here in Genesis chapter two. We would normally expect to see a record of that person’s experiences begin with a statement like, “This is the account…” or something similar just as we see in Genesis 2:4.
We would also expect an early human author like Adam (or one of his descendants) to refer to his Creator as both LORD and God and use that language in documenting his experiences. So while this may be something of an educated guess, it would help to explain how this portion of Genesis came to us in the form that we know today.
(1) The Online Bible Thayer’s Greek Lexicon and Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon, Copyright © 1993,
(2) Interlinear Transliterated Bible. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved
“…and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground– the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:5-7).
While these verses begin with a quick pre-history of the world, we’re about to see the focus quickly shift to God’s creation of humanity. This change begins in verse seven where we get right to the good stuff: “The time came when the Lord God formed a man’s body from the dust of the ground and breathed into it the breath of life. And man became a living person” (Genesis 2:7 TLB).
We’re told here that God created the very first human being out of some basic elements, or the “dust of the ground” as it says above. The material that God used to create this first human being wasn’t anything extraordinary, but the way that this material was structured and organized was definitely special. Like a skilled musician who takes a basic instrument and makes it sound fantastic, God took a common element like dust and used it to create the most advanced life form on the planet.
To illustrate what God accomplished in doing this, let’s say that you wanted to create your very own human being as well. To do this, you’d need to begin with lots of water. Once you have that, you’d need to put in some carbon, salt, calcium, phosphorous, iron, and potassium. Then you’d mix all that up with some oxygen and hydrogen; add in a little nitrogen and a few other things and there you go- you’ve got yourself a human being. (1)
Of course, creating a human being is not as easy as that, is it? The truth is that the human body is infinitely more complicated than the most complex piece of hardware or software ever produced. However, God didn’t need to create any beta testers or prototypes like designers and engineers must do before building things today. God’s first human being worked perfectly right from the beginning.
But what God accomplished went far beyond the creation of a human machine. You see, when it says that God formed a man from the dust of the ground, the original language paints the word-picture of an artist designing, shaping, and forming a piece of sculpture. (2) So the idea is that God personally molded and formed the first human being much as an artist or sculptor might design and create a work of art today.
The material that God used to create humanity is also illustrated by the name given to the first human person. You see, the Old Testament word for “ground” is “adamah.” (3) This word refers to the soil and it is apparently the word that gave Adam his name. BTW, it’s interesting that Adam is never actually mentioned by name in these verses- he’s simply referred to as “the man” throughout this chapter until you get to verse 20 when he’s finally referred to as “Adam.”
(1) “What are the elements that make up the human body?” http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_are_the_elements_that_make_up_the_human_body
(2) The original word for “formed” is the Hebrew word Yatsar. “Yatsar is a technical potter’s word, and it is often used in connection with the potter at work… The word is sometimes used as a general term of ‘craftsmanship or handiwork,’ whether molding, carving, or casting…” (from Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)
(3) Biblesoft’s New Exhaustive Strong’s Numbers And Concordance With Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003, 2006 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc. All rights reserved.
“…the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7).
Perhaps you’ve seen a video portrayal of someone who was clinically dead but was brought back to life through mouth to mouth resuscitation. That image is probably as close as we can get to an illustration of what we see here in Genesis 2:7. In this verse we find that God not only gave consciousness to the first human being but He also “breathed life” into Adam, something that was not done with any of the other life forms that God had previously created.
“Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground–trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Asshur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates” (Genesis 2:8-14).
Since the word “Eden” means “pleasure,” (1) we can say that humanity’s first home was a place of enjoyment, contentment, and satisfaction. In other words, Eden was a paradise- it was the perfect place to live and God personally built it Himself.
So where was Eden located? Well, we’re told that Eden was located “in the east” but we really don’t know exactly what it was east of. It’s possible that Eden was located somewhere to the east of the place where Adam was originally created. Another possible clue to Eden’s location might be found in the four rivers that are identified for us in verses 11-14.
Since both the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers are known to us today, it might not seem too difficult to find out where the Garden of Eden originally existed. The problem is that just because we have rivers named “Tigris” and “Euphrates” today doesn’t necessarily mean that they are the same rivers that are mentioned here in Genesis chapter two.
We should also remember that the Garden of Eden existed well before the time of Noah’s flood. That event won’t happen until Genesis chapters 6-7, but for now, we can at least say that the world’s geography has probably changed a lot since that time. But if we had to take a guess, it seems that the most likely location for the Garden of Eden would be in the general area where the modern-day country of Iraq exists today.
Now before we move on, let’s take a moment to go over what we’ve seen in this chapter so far:
- We have a perfect environment
- It was personally built by God
- It was capable of meeting humanity’s needs both physically and artistically
- It was source of pleasure, just as the name implies.
In short, Eden was the perfect place to be. Keep those things in mind because we’re going to come back to them a little later when we get to Genesis chapter three.
(1) The Online Bible Thayer’s Greek Lexicon and Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon, Copyright © 1993,
“The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15).
How often have you heard people say things like, “I hate work. I wish I didn’t have school work, I wish I didn’t have homework. I wish I didn’t have to work a part time job after school. I wish that I didn’t have to do any chores. I hate work!” Perhaps you’ve often felt that way yourself.
But what if someone had the ability to offer you the chance to never have to do any work again. That means no chores to do, no tasks to perform, no labor, no toil, and no work of any kind. Would you do it? It certainly sounds like a great deal, right? Well, before you jump at that opportunity, let’s think for a moment about what life would be like if you never had to do any work.
For instance, if you never had to work for anything then you would never see any achievement, would you? If you never had to work, then you would never enjoy the personal satisfaction of passing a test, successfully playing a difficult musical piece, or making the game winning score.
Without work, your talents would go to waste because you would never work to develop them. If work did not exist then you would have very little sense of fulfillment, success, or accomplishment. When we take these things into consideration, we can see that a life without any work is really not as great as it may seem at first glance.
Now someone might say, Yeah, OK, but work is difficult- that’s why I don’t like it. While it’s certainly true that work is often difficult, remember that just because work can be difficult doesn’t necessarily mean that it must be difficult. For example, let’s say that you are working at something that you like to do. If you work at something that you like and enjoy, then work usually doesn’t feel like a chore or a burden despite all the effort that you put into it.
You see, it’s not necessarily “work” that people dislike- it’s the drudgery and toil and labor that often comes with it that we really object to. That’s the main difference between the work that Adam was given and the work that people often do today.
It’s clear that the perfect environment of Eden included work because Genesis 2:15 tells us, “The LORD God put the man in the Garden of Eden to take care of it and to look after it” (CEV). But the big difference between Adam’s work and the work that many people do today is that Adam had work but he didn’t have labor. (1)
In other words, there was work to do but it wasn’t exhausting, difficult labor that Adam toiled at and hated. Instead, work was something enjoyable back then- not like it often is today. And you know what? There’s going to come a time when work will become enjoyable once again, just like it was here in Genesis chapter two.
You see, everyone has dreams of what they’d really like to do if given the chance. Unfortunately, very few people ever realize those dreams because everyone has limitations. We each have physical limitations, financial limitations, time limitations, and other limitations that prevent us from doing what we’d really like to do.
Another problem (if we really want to be honest about it), is that most people probably lack the talent, skill, or ability to do the things that they would really like to do if they could.
The good news is that the time will come when there will be no more limitations like these. At that time, people will be free to work and express themselves without any restrictions to the glory of God. You see, Jesus once said, “…I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10 NIV).
In one sense, that time exists right now for every Christian. However, there will be an even greater fulfillment of that promise in the future when all work will once again become something to enjoy as we honor God with the full extent of the skills, talents, and abilities that He has given to us.
That’s part of what the Bible means when it refers to “eternal life” (see John 3:16 for one example). Eternal life doesn’t mean that Christians live forever and everybody else goes off into nothingness- it means “life in all it’s fullness.” It means being everything that God created you to be. It means living a totally God-honoring life without any limitations or restrictions.
So Adam’s example in the garden of Eden tells us that God’s perfect ideal for humanity doesn’t involve hanging around on the couch all day eating ice cream and watching music videos. Instead, God’s perfect environment for humanity involves activity, responsibility, and things to do.
(1) We’ll get the confirmation for that when we get to Genesis chapter three. Or if you want to read ahead a little and see for yourself, take a look at Genesis 3:17
“And the LORD God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die'” (Genesis 2:16-17).
It’s easy to read this passage and assume that once someone ate some fruit from this tree, they would immediately know all about good and evil. In other words, we may read this verse and automatically assume that this fruit had some sort of power or ability to instill the knowledge of good and evil in someone.
But there’s something not quite right about that when you think about it. For instance, we could say that Adam already had a knowledge of good and evil before he ever touched that fruit. How? Well, that’s easy: Adam knew because God told him! You see, this verse tells us that Adam definitely knew at least two things about good and evil:
- He knew that it was good (or right, just, and appropriate) not to eat this fruit
- He also knew that it was bad (or evil, disobedient, and wrong) to eat this fruit
So Adam knew that the concepts of “good” and “evil” both existed and that they were two very different things. In fact, Adam had at least some knowledge of good and evil as soon as God told him, “…you must never eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because when you eat from it, you will certainly die” (GW).
To make this extremely complex and difficult idea easier to understand, let’s break it down like this…
- Eat fruit –bad!
- Not eat fruit –good!
Everybody got that? OK, let’s move on.
Now at this point, someone may be thinking, “Well, why did God even put that stupid tree there in the first place? If that tree was never there then we wouldn’t be in this mess right now.” That’s a really good question and to answer it, you first have to ask yourself this: What does God want from people? What is God really after in His relationship with humanity?
The one word answer to that question is love.
You see, the Bible tells us that the reason we are here is to love God and have a relationship with Him. Jesus talked about this in response to a question that was asked by a religious teacher of His day…
“One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment” (Matthew 22:35-38).
So Jesus said that our greatest responsibility is to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. Jesus also said in Revelation 3:20 that He will come and have fellowship with anyone who opens the door to Him. So we can see that God desires that we love Him and have a relationship with Him.
We’ll find out what all this has to do with Adam next.
Now here’s a funny thing about love: love involves choices. In any loving relationship, people must choose to love first.
This may become easier to understand if you think about it like this: Is it possible for one person to force another person to love him or her? Can you threaten someone else and make that person love another person? Of course not. Sure, you can make someone say that they love you. You might even get someone to act like they love you. But that’s not real love. The truth is that you cannot force someone else to love you because they must freely choose to do so.
Now let’s stop for a moment and think this through. Remember that love involves choices. So in order for people to love God and really have it mean something, people must be able to choose to do so. However, having a choice to love God also means that people must have the equal ability to choose not to love God as well.
After all, if there’s no ability to choose not to love God, then that means that there’s really no choice at all, is there? This would be like the person who tells you that you can choose any ice cream flavor you want as long as your choice is vanilla. Well, that’s really no choice at all, is it? In order for your choice to really mean something, then you must have the ability to choose from more than one ice cream flavor.
In a similar way, God allows for the potential that people will choose not to love Him in giving us the ability to return His love. But remember that having a free choice also makes it possible to make a bad choice- like rejecting or disobeying God. So in order to really love, we must have the ability to choose to love God but also have the ability to choose not to love God as well.
That’s why the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was there in the Garden of Eden. It was there to give humanity a choice. God created a human person and demonstrated His love by placing him in an area that was made especially for him. God also gave this person total authority and control over the other things that He created. God provided him with good things to eat and a beautiful environment live to in. He had a job that was satisfying and fulfilling.
All these things demonstrated God’s love for His creation. The existence of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil allowed Adam to demonstrate his love for God in return.
“The LORD God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him'” (Genesis 2:18).
As we’ve read through the book of Genesis so far, we’ve seen a certain phrase that’s been repeated over and over. That phrase is, “And God saw that it was good.” In fact, we’ve seen this phrase (or a variation of it) repeated six different times in Genesis chapter one.
But here in chapter two, we suddenly find something that isn’t good: “It is not good for the man to be alone.” In other words, Adam -as a single individual- didn’t completely serve the purpose that he was created for. God’s solution for this “not good” situation was to, “… make a helper suitable for him.” This word “suitable” means matching or corresponding and it refers to someone who was comparable and totally equipped to be a partner with Adam.
But before God takes action to do something about this situation, He has a job for Adam to take care of first…
“Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found” (Genesis 2:19-20).
Now put yourself in Adam’s position for a moment. Let’s say that God brought every animal and every bird to you and asked you to give each one a name. Could you do that? Most people would probably have a difficult time trying to come up with a different name for every different bird and animal on the planet. But Adam seems to be able to handle this task without any problems despite the fact that he has no apparent training in biology, zoology, or anything else. Adam’s ability to do this should tell us something important about how much human beings are really capable of when they’re in God’s plan.
Anyway, these verses also go on to say that, “…not one of them was a suitable companion to help him” (GNB). In giving this responsibility to Adam, it seems that God had something more in mind for him than simply just providing names for all the animals. You see, this responsibility demonstrated to Adam that every animal was both different and unequal to him.
We know that each animal brought to Adam also had a corresponding mate because God had already given them the command to reproduce (see Genesis 1:22). So while every animal had a companion that was just right, Adam could see that he was the only one without a mate who was comparable to him. In naming these animals, Adam could see that he was on his own without a corresponding, suitable companion.
But that’s soon about to change…
“So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man'” (Genesis 2:21-23).
Those of you who hope to enter the medical field should be interested to know that Genesis 2:21 describes the very first use of anesthesia as well as the very first surgical procedure ever performed. But more importantly, these verses also tell us about the very first marriage ever.
The word “rib” seen above can also be translated as “side” (1) which may explain why Adam later said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” Anyway, modern genetic research tells us that every cell with in a human being contains the complete genetic blueprint for that person. So if we wanted to speculate about what God does here using 21st century language, we might say that these verses describes how God manipulated this genetic blueprint to create another human being who was the same yet very different.
That’s the scientific side of these verses. The social and cultural part of these verses tell us some other important things about God’s intention for male-female relationships. The first thing we should notice is that it was God who took the initiative in forming this relationship between the man and the woman: “Then the LORD God made a woman… and he brought her to the man” (Genesis 2:22).
This tells you that the whole idea of a marriage relationship between a man and a woman is not something that people thought up on their own. The institution of marriage is something that was God’s idea all the way: “…he (speaking of God) brought her (speaking of the woman) to the man.” In other words, God was the one who began the whole idea of a husband/wife relationship.
These verses also tells us that God’s idea of an actual marriage relationship is supposed to be one man and one woman. It’s not two men or two women together. It’s not one man and many different women. It’s not one woman and many different men. It’s not two men, three women, and a pet goldfish. God’s ideal for a marriage relationship is demonstrated here in Genesis 2:21-23- it’s one man and one woman.
(1) The Online Bible Thayer’s Greek Lexicon and Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon, Copyright © 1993,
For instance, let’s say that we have that two unmarried people who are living together. This couple sleeps together and lives together just as if they were married, but they’ve never actually made a marriage commitment to each other.
If these two people are unwilling to commit to each other in marriage, then the question is, why? Why would these two people hold back from getting married, especially if they are in a situation where they both supposedly love one another?
Does either partner have a fear of commitment? If so, why? Is one partner offering the possibility of marriage “someday” but is unwilling to commit now because that person is really more interested in his or her own self-gratification?
Is this couple living together because one person feels that they have no other prospects for a relationship and he or she is afraid of losing the other person and being single? Or does each partner simply want the option to back out of the relationship because all they’re really looking for is a “friend with benefits.”
You see, without a marriage commitment, it’s very easy for each partner to think, “We’re going to stay together as long as it works out, or until you stop meeting my needs, or until I get tired of you, or until somebody better comes along.”
The problem is that this kind of relationship is not love, no matter what someone may call it. A relationship like this is really more like a business arrangement with one or both sides agreeing to stay together as long as they each can benefit.
Of course, two people who live together may like the fact that they have no commitments to each other. They may appreciate the ability to enjoy the benefits of a physical and emotional relationship without any of the obligations and responsibilities that go along with marriage. While it’s good to be honest about those motivations, the truth is that two people in this kind of relationship are really just using each other to meet their own needs. Again, that’s not love- that’s a business relationship.
OTOH, it’s the security of a God initiated, committed marriage relationship that provides a couple with the freedom to really trust each other and become one with each other.
In one sense, a marriage relationship is also supposed to be an example of the kind of relationship that God wants to have with people. If you want to see an example of this from the Scriptures, then you don’t have to look any further than Ephesians 5:31-32 where it quotes Genesis 2:24 and then adds this…
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery-but I am talking about Christ and the church.”
If you can imagine what a “perfect marriage” would be, then you’re thinking about that same kind of deep, intimate relationship that God wants to have with you.
“…she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (Genesis 2:23b-24).
Some other versions of the Bible translate Genesis 2:24 as, “…a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife” (KJV). These two ideas are also important for people to understand and apply in marriage relationships today.
For example, “leaving” your father and mother doesn’t mean that you go away from them and never come back. It doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a relationship with your parents after you get married. It doesn’t mean that you no longer have to honor your parents and or that you can’t get advice from them after your wedding. The idea of “leaving” in this sense means that your parents don’t make your decisions for you anymore like they did when you were growing up. It means that you and your husband or wife depart from your parents to begin your own separate family unit.
The word “cleave” carries the idea of clinging, adhering, and being joined or united together. (1) The word-picture here is that a married couple is now “glued” or fused together as one. This tells us that someone should never enter a marriage relationship with the idea that, “if this relationship doesn’t work out I’ll just go and find somebody else.” It means that when you decide to enter a marriage relationship with someone, you make the decision to stick with your marriage partner. (2)
So these verses tell us that God’s desire for two people in a marriage relationship is that they become “one flesh” as it says above. In other words, a marriage relationship combines two distinct people who become one emotionally, physically, and spiritually. This explains why someone can’t be in a marriage relationship and still have a girlfriend or boyfriend on the side. It also explains why someone can’t have multiple wives or husbands and still achieve God’s ideal.
You really can’t become “one” with another person if you’re giving part of yourself to someone else. When two people get married, each person makes the commitment to leave everyone else and have an intimate, exclusive relationship with their marriage partner alone.
This is also why you can’t live together without the commitment of marriage and really be “one” with another person. Now this can be a very controversial idea because two people living together may believe that a marriage certificate is nothing more than a piece of paper that has no real impact on the feelings that they have for each other.
Of course, it’s certainly true that a marriage certificate is just a piece of paper, but remember that we’re not talking about the paper itself- we’re talking about what that paper means or represents. A marriage certificate represents or demonstrates someone’s commitment, loyalty, and faithfulness to another person.
(1) Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers
(2) See Matthew 19:9 and 1st Corinthians 7:15 for potential exceptions to this rule
“The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame” (Genesis 2:25).
Obviously, the main idea behind this verse is that Adam and Eve didn’t feel any sense of embarrassment or self-conscious anxiety over the fact that they weren’t wearing any clothes. But this word “nakedness” actually refers to more than just a lack of clothing. You see, this concept of “nakedness” also carries the idea of being totally open and exposed as a person.
The idea of being completely open and exposed as an individual is something that’s almost impossible for us to imagine today. To illustrate why, let’s think about what it would be like if a total stranger suddenly came up to you and began to ask a lot of personal questions about your life.
For instance, let’s say that someone approached you and asked you the following questions:
- What is your shoe size?
- Where were you born?
- What is your favorite color?
How would you react to these questions? Well, if you are like most people, you’d probably think, “Who is this person and why do they want to know all these things about me?”
You see, most people become uncomfortable if they sense that someone else is trying to discover things about them- and often with good reason. The truth is that it’s not always safe or wise to let others know too much about us.
This is why we really don’t want to be totally open and exposed to other people. We want to remain hidden from others and only reveal to them what we want them to know about us. We want to let our private information out a little bit at a time and then only to certain people at certain times.
This concept can often be seen in dating relationships as well. For example, two people in a dating relationship may have a tendency to say, “I really want to impress the person that I’m dating so I’m going to be on my best behavior.” While it’s certainly good to be on your best behavior, there can often be a really big difference “best behavior” and “normal behavior.”
If someone feels the need to be on their “best behavior” in a dating relationship, it might suggest that he or she is concerned about how that other person might respond if they behaved normally. In other words, that person really doesn’t want their dating partner to see him or her the way they really are.
This is totally different from the kind of relationship that Adam and Eve originally enjoyed. Adam and Eve were free to be totally open and exposed to each other both physically and emotionally. There were no secrets, no head games, and no facades in their relationship.
Adam and Eve were not ashamed because there was nothing to be ashamed of. They had nothing to hide because there was nothing to hide. Adam and Eve had the complete freedom to explore and enjoy everything that their relationship could offer without any secrets.