The Majesty of Marriage
Marriage is by design majestic. As we will see in the next installment, marriage is majestic foremost because marriage is a picture of Christ and His Church. But marriage is first majestic by God’s design from the sixth day of the creation week. I begin my sub-series Marriage by the Book here in Genesis because marriage is the first institution and is the first institution ordained by God. Before God ordained work, before He ordained the home, even: He ordained marriage. And from its inception in the Garden of Eden, marriage is majestic.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them 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.”
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.
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.” (Genesis 1:26-28)
The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 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. 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. 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. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 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.” (Genesis 2:15-23)
Marriage Reflects God’s Nature (Genesis 1:26-28)
Notice first the record of the creation of the first man and woman in Genesis 1:26-28. Here we see that marriage reflects God’s nature. T. Desmond Alexander in the ESV Study Bible notes: “the resemblances (man is like God in a series of ways) allow mankind to represent God in ruling, and to establish worthy relationships with God, with one another, and with the rest of creation” (p. 51, emphasis in original).
Marriage specifically reflects God’s image relationally (the last of Alexander’s note about what it means to be made in God’s image). God Himself is relational; the One True God of the Bible is Triune (One God in Three Persons), and thus is able to have fully functional relationships within Himself. Marriage is the most intimate relationship in the universe next to the relationships within the Godhead Himself. Marriage thus reflects God’s image relationally.
Marriage Crowns God’s Creation (Genesis 2:15-23)
In addition to reflecting God’s nature, marriage crowns God’s creation. Before we see how marriage crowns God’s creation, though, let us examine first why Adam was in the Garden of Eden in the first place. The ESV, along with most other translations, says that man was in the Garden “to work it and keep it.” John H. Sailhamer, however, notes that this phrase is misleading because
the suffixed pronoun in the Hebrew text rendered “it” in English is feminine, whereas the noun “garden” is masculine. … Moreover, later in this same narrative (3:23), “to work the ground” is said to be a result of the fall, and the narrative suggests that the author had intended such a punishment to be seen as an ironic reversal of man’s original purpose. …
In light of these objections, a more suitable translation would be “to worship and to obey.” Man is put in the Garden to worship and to obey him.[i]
God then, of course, permits Adam to eat of every tree in the Garden except “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Had chapter 1 of Genesis not explicated the creation of a woman, the (more detailed) creation account (of day 6) could end here. But as it is, the reader somewhat anticipates what comes next. At the end of most days in the creation week, God had looked upon His creation and seen it to be good. (Only Day 2 was not explicitly “good.”) But now, suddenly, on Day 6, something is not good! “It is not good that the man should be alone.” Of all created beings, Adam was the only one with no comparable companion.
God, therefore, brings all the non-aquatic animals before Adam for him to name them. The fact that among these “there was not found a helper fit for him,” implies that the purpose of this parade (from Adam’s perspective, at least) was to find “a helper fit for him.” One can only imagine the growing disappointment in Adam as animal after animal passes before him.
Graciously, God sends Adam into a deep sleep and forms Eve from one of Adam’s ribs. Adam’s disappointment at not having “a helper fit for him” is swallowed up with the inexpressible joy of seeing Eve for the first time. “This at last,” he cries, “is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh!” You can almost hear the excitement in Adam’s voice as he looks on Eve for the first time and immediately realizes that God has given him “a helper fit for him,” a companion, a lifelong partner in serving God. The implicit marriage of Adam and Eve crowned God’s creation. Only after their marriage did God declare His creation to be “very good” as opposed to being merely “good.”
Marriage truly is majestic. Marriage both reflects God’s nature and crowns God’s creation. It is within marriage that people can faithfully obey God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply” as God intended (and intends!) it to be obeyed. As we recapture within our minds the inherent majesty of marriage, we begin to journey closer to God’s plan, as revealed in the Bible, for marriage.
[i] Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary: Volume 1: Old Testament (Zondervan: 1994), p. 8
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