Date: February 11, 2018
Text: Genesis 1-2
Speaker: Clint Nelson
Before sin, men and women related, ruled and rested together as equals. When men and women work together, a complete picture of the image of God is painted for our world to see. Let us be that picture to our world.
- This morning we continue our Biblical study of women. Last week was an introduction. Today, we will walk through Genesis 1-2.
- Genesis plays a critical part in understanding not only where we came from, how we were made, what we were made for and why we’re in the mess we’re in, but why God created male and female. Two genders, not one and not three.
- It is our origin story. And like any good origin story it provides context – the light of our origin/past illuminates our present and future.
- Our story, as it relates to the place and practice of gender, starts out in Genesis 1.
- Genesis 1 is an overarching retelling of our origin, purpose and practice.
- It covers the six days of creating, but the most attention is given to the 6th day when God created peoplekind. 😉 [That was a joke.. just not a very good one 😉 … that was another joke] … a sermon for another day…
- Genesis 1 provides the big picture mandate of humanity in which we must constantly remember when reading the rest of the Bible right through Revelation.
Genesis 1:26–28 (ESV)
26 Then God said, “Let us [note the plurality] make man [meaning humanity not males] in our image, after our likeness.
- us – most people skim by this, but its significance is paramount. This whole sentence is of foundational importance – we are reading the origin – the reason for why we exist. As a man or woman, let us never forget this.
- And when God describes Himself as “us” – some scholars think this is merely the plural of majesty, but there is something more to the context.
- Remember God is making mankind in His image. He is about to make male and female. Now how does a triune and eternal God make a limited being (constrained by the limitations of time and space and the natural world) in His image? The answer has to be diversity and multiplication… like each human will have a unique fingerprint, and be a unique reflection of an aspect of God that no other human can produce. Like Renee shared a couple weeks ago, when Christ shines through you, your life is like a prism that displays a colour arrangement of God that no other human can display. You are uniquely positioned and cut to refract the light of Christ.
- So an infinite God wants to display His splendor through physical beings… hello 7.442 billion people on the planet. Each one a unique glimpse at the splendor of God.
- It’s why abortion is so wrong and so costly – not only to the life of the individual but to the other 7 billion people that just lost another one-of-a-kind glimpse into the beauty of God.
- It’s why doctor-assisted-suicide is so wrong and costly – for because of our sin and free will, God has to allow pain and yet He uses pain as a window for the other 7 billion to see the beauty of God – to grieve the loss of what was or could have been if not for sin and to see the hope we have in Christ that our suffering will come to joyous end and be no more. That if all we have is Jesus – He is more than enough.
- Now what about not just an eternal God, but a triune God? How does a triune God make a species that can reflect His image and likeness? How does the personhood of Father, Son and Spirit become demonstrated in humanity? Gender.
- Equal, but different. But why not three genders? After all God is triune. I think the third member of this relational or more accurately fellowship of humanity between man and woman is God. That between God, man and woman, we have three unique entities who have fellowship, man to God, woman to God, and man to woman. Of course, it’s not an exact clone of the Trinity – mankind is not equal to God, but mankind is a reflection and representative of God on Earth.
- That’s what it means to be made in His image and likeness. That it will take both men and women in harmony with God and the other gender to accurately display the splendor of God and walk out His purposes for us.
- It’s why when my wife and I were upset with each other or when I trespassed against her, I couldn’t pray with her. Because of the distance between me and her, I felt a distance between me and God. My tongue wouldn’t work and more than that my heart seized up when I came before God in prayer. I would have to – I wanted to – needed to – confess my sin to her and receive her forgiveness so that the distance between us was removed. And in coming back to her, I also came back closer to God. That’s just one aspect of this relational community or fellowship between God, man and woman.
- And so as God’s redeemed people, if we want to accurately display the eternal and triune God, men and women must live in harmony and reproduce themselves billions of times over – best demonstrated in man and women, living in deep community (i.e. marriage), coming together as one flesh (knowing each other), and the result of deep community, life! A baby!
- And spoiler alert… it’s why when we get to chapter 3 we’ll see why conflict between men and women, pain in labour and pain in childbirth is so prominently mentioned as the effects of sin.
- The plurality continues in the second part of v.26…
“And let them [meaning humanity – both male and female] have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
- Humanity isn’t just made in the image and likeness of God which separates us from the animals by our design and function, but animals are not our equals. A human life is worth more than a dog. And yet humans are to rule over and steward the planet in the same way God rules over and stewards us. But we’ll leave the environmental aspects for another day.
- What we need to see here is not only do both male and female share in the same purpose, but a doubling of efforts to show that women are not to be treated like cattle or the dog.
- Women are to share in the work of ruling the planet. Many women need to step up. And men that are keeping their wife or daughters or female employees chained to the kitchen need to release them.
- And as we’ll continue to see, we need both (male and female) on the front lines to be successful. It would be impossible to fulfill our purpose with just men or just women.
27 So God created man [again meaning humanity] in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
- Jump to 31
Genesis 1:31a (ESV)
31 And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. …”
- “Very good” – that means every jot and tittle is in its place. It is complete. It is whole. Nothing is missing. The world is as it was meant to be. As it should.
- Now we move to Genesis 2. This chapter zooms in a bit to some of the intricacies of chapter 1.
- After God establishes and models the Sabbath, we are taken into life on the planet before women.
- God makes Adam from dust (it’s interesting that of our natural composition we really just start dust). Adam means out of dust. What microscopes can’t see is the breath of God.
- Adam receives instructions, tends the garden, names the animals, Adam notices that all the animals have helpers, but not him. He’s alone.
- Jump down to 2:18
18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
- Key in on what God said, “not good” … “that the man should be alone”.
- When God says something isn’t good, it means so much more than I’ll give some thought to correcting it when I have time. God is 100% good and only does good. He isn’t a good enough God. His standard is perfection. To have males only carrying out ruling and revealing God in this new dominion is not good.
- It also doesn’t mean that God’s plan was imperfect, and now that He sees Adam alone, He realizes the mistake – rather, He says this for our benefit. It emphasizes the necessity of women to bring a completeness to humanity’s purpose on the Earth – women: the perfect complement to men. And I don’t mean men were getting a “B” at 80% and needed women to make up the missing 20%; He means, men were only 50% (not 51%) of the picture and women would needed to make up the other 50%.
- It isn’t a man’s world. For humanity to do well, both men and women must be ruling and reigning equally, creating and making, harvesting and pruning, nurturing and instructing equally.
19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.
- I won’t spend much time here, but this word helper – doesn’t mean secretary or admin assistant or support role.
- Scripture describes God as the same word used here for helper. Imagine a stool with two legs… you need that third leg to have balance. You had God and men, but we need women to be that third leg – that’s what this term helper means.
- Helper is to be equated more like that of a rescuer.
- In short, God is saying, man can’t do this mission alone. He needs women at the table.
- It takes two to make a baby – it takes two to rule and reign this Earth – it takes two to reveal or manifest the image of God on this planet.
- Continuing on…
21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
- The fact that Eve was made out of the bone and flesh of Adam speaks to their oneness that is the result when men and women work together as equals – separate and different – yet made of the same stuff and same blood that flows.
- There are so many fascinating observations about this chunk of Scripture that we don’t have time for, but I’ll tease you with a few:
- The text doesn’t specifically say ribs – the literal translation is the middle of the body, which I think has some interesting ramifications – women weren’t made from the toe of Adam, nor do they share the same brain, but they do have a lot of middle ground to share.
- Yet the translation of rib isn’t a bad one. Scientists marvel how out of the over 200 bones in the body, the ribs are the only ones that grow back when properly, surgically removed.
- Why didn’t God make woman from dust like He made man? Can you imagine the distance between men and women after the fall if that were the case? And besides, look at Adam’s excitement – he can see with clarity and know in his heart of hearts that Eve is the one for him and him for her. There could be no disputing the bond they are to share.
- This text and thought is also fascinating on a chromosome level look at our gender. Women being XX and men XY.
- It also sets things up nicely for Jesus, our kinsmen redeemer, coming in the flesh, the piercing of his side and giving of His flesh and blood.
- Marriage to this day is a tangible expression, experience and metaphor of the necessity of men and women to make the world go round and the oneness we are to have with one another and God.
Now we don’t have time to get into Genesis 3 today, but it records the temptation and fall of mankind. And it will paint a very sharp contrast between the two worlds – where before the fall, man was excited to have woman as his equal to share in the task of relating, ruling and resting together. Things will go from good to bad.
Next week we’ll look more at this contrast to Genesis 3 and the Old Testament to make sense of sin and that time of patriarchy.
But what I want you, Parkside, to catch today is that as God’s redeemed people – called to be a city on a hill; salt and light; called to rise and shine; called to be a foretaste of Heaven; c