Man and Woman

Genesis 2:15-25

15The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. 16And the LORD God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17but 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 die.” 18Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.” 19So out of the ground the LORD God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, 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. 20The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner. 21So 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 its place with flesh. 22And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman, for out of Man this one was taken.” 24Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. 25And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.

After God created the heavens and the earth, and all the plants and creatures, He created the garden of Eden with every tree that is good for food. Included were two special trees – the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Then he placed the man in it to till it and keep it. God than gave permission to the man to eat the fruit of any of the trees. But God also gave prohibition to the man against eating the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, with the warning that if he did, he would die.

Then God declared that it was not good for the man to be alone, and that he needed a partner. Every animal and bird were brought before the man so that he could name them. The man named all the animals and birds, but none was appropriate to be the man’s partner. So, God made an additional creation, the woman, to be the man’s partner.

The man, the woman and the forbidden fruit will come together to greatly change the world and the relationship between God and man, but that story is for the next time. In the meanwhile, there are some observations and learnings that we can glean from this chapter.

What we tend to remember in the narrative about Adam and Eve is the prohibition that God gave to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But it is important to remember that God also gave two other things before he gave the prohibition – Vocation and permission. The vocation that God gave to man was to work and take care of the garden. The permission was to freely eat of every tree of the garden. Vocation, permission and prohibition is what God gives to us also.

Since we live in a world after the prohibition was broken, we cannot go back into the garden and work it and take care of it. So, what is the vocation that God has given to us in today’s world? In Ephesians 2:10, Paul writes, “1For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” And what is this good works? It is to be witnesses to those near and far that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world.

As for permission or the freedom that Christ gives us, Romans 6 tells us that when we were slaves of sin, we could not pursue righteousness, which is the right relationship with God. But now that we have been freed from sin, through the works of Christ on the cross, we are now free to pursue righteousness. Before being saved, all we could do was sin. But now that we have been saved, we can choose not to sin and free to do the good works that God prepared for us.

As for the prohibition, Paul writes in the letter to the Ephesians to not grieve the Holy Spirit of God. He goes on to explain in Ephesians 4:31-32, “31Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice,   32and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. 

As for a helper for man, God decided not to play that role, so a different helper was needed. Of course God can and will help, but the day-to-day role of a partner/helper was going to be another creature – a created one. They went through all of the birds and animals, but none were appropriate for the role. So, another human was created. This is a good indicator that God planned man to not to be living through life solo, but in community with other humans. The partner, the wife or husband, that God has given to us, as well as our brothers and sisters in the faith – The church family – are the day-to-day helper/partner that God had intended from the beginning.

According to Genesis 2:9, there were two special trees that God planted in the garden – The tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The prohibition was that man was not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But we know from Genesis 3 that the reason Adam and Eve were ousted from the garden was so that they would not eat from the tree of life, now that they had eaten from the prohibited tree.

Why did God put these trees in the garden? If they were not put there, man could have stayed in the garden, since there would have been no prohibition that man would have been tempted to break. The text does not give a reason. However, it is clear that God has the right to do with His creation as He sees fit.

However, we can get an idea of the plans of God by how things are today. We are in the age between Jesus returning to heaven and Jesus coming back to earth again. The letter to the Romans makes it clear that once we are freed from the bondage of sin, we now have the choice of sinning or not. Before, we had no choice but to sin, but now we have been given the freedom not to sin. From this, we can surmise that God desires people who choose to fellowship with Him. People who will accept the vocation given to them, not because they have no choice, but because they have that choice.

But history proved that no human who has the freedom to sin or not to sin, could stay free of sin. So God sent Jesus, who was able to stay sin-free until the end, to go to the cross and take the punishment that we deserve. The proof of this was that Jesus was resurrected. Because of this, by accepting Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we can reestablish the right relationship with God, and are given eternal life.

We need to keep in mind that God designed it so that we are the helpers/partners to each other. We should be willing to partner with our wife, our husband, our brothers and sisters in Christ to do the work that God created us to do. So let us not find reasons not the help each other, but find reasons to partner with one another.

Let us not give in to the temptation to shirk our responsibilities from God and just pursue whatever pleases us. Let us support one another to spread the word that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the world.

(the above is a summary of the message shared with us by Shun Takano during our worship on February 5, 2023.)

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