This sermon is number 2 in a series of 3
Origins - Part 2
"The Origin Of Mankind"
by David Legge | Copyright © 2014 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
Evening to you all. Thank you for the welcome again, it's good to be with you. We're turning in our Bibles to Genesis chapter 2, and if you were with us last Sunday evening we began what will be quite a long series for yourselves, but I'm starting it off in these first three chapters for you. Chapter 1 last week, and tonight we're looking at most of chapter 2, and we're going to take up the reading at verse 4 and read the whole of the chapter from there.
So Genesis chapter 2, verse 4: "This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the LORD God made the earth and the heavens, before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the LORD God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground", I'm not going to mention that at all, really, but it's important to note that rain had not fallen as yet. We see an explanation for this, I will leave you to be inquisitive about it: "But a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground" - and many believe it wasn't until the flood of Noah that the skies opened, and rain fell from the sky, but that's for another day for you. Verse 7: "And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being", or soul. "The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden, and there He put the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the LORD God made every tree grow that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Now a river went out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it parted and became four riverheads. The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one which skirts the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold. And the gold of that land is good. Bdellium and the onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one which goes around the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Hiddekel; it is the one which goes toward the east of Assyria. The fourth river is the Euphrates. Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, 'Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 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'. And the LORD God said, 'It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him'. Out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam 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'. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed".
Let us pray together. As we come to the Lord in prayer, as I always do, I'm going to ask you if you might pray to the Lord that He would speak to you just now. Whatever situation you find yourself in tonight in relation to God, we want you to find an encounter tonight with the Lord who is here, we believe, and who is going to come in a special way upon His word by the Spirit. We want you to interact with that, we want you to be a part of this tonight. So let us all join together and seek God's face, and ask Him to really come personally and intimately to us, and be a part not just of this moment tonight but come and penetrate our lives. Let's all pray.
Almighty God, we bow before You tonight, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. We cry: 'Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord God Almighty, the whole Earth is filled with Your glory'. The heavens declare the glory of God, the firmament shows forth Your handiwork - and, Lord, we look around us, and every language on the face of the earth can understand the masterful artistry of creation, the wonderful palette of the spectrum that You have made with a word. Lord, we bow in awe and reverence, in wonder and in worship before the living God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Lord, we reverence You, we adore You, You are worthy of our praise - not just because You have made us, but You have redeemed us. We bless You for Your Son, the Lord Jesus, without whom nothing was made that has been made - but we thank You that He has also made a new and living way into Your presence by His own blood which He has shed. We thank You that we come right to You through the torn veil, and we pray tonight, Lord, that we would know what it is of that original created intent: that we might know God personally, in a very deep and tangible way. Lord, we ask that tonight we would experience an encounter with You through the living word by the power of the Spirit. Lord, whatever You have to say to us tonight, may we be ready - myself included - to be channels to both give and to receive, and to hear Your voice tonight, for the glory of this great God whom we extol and worship, but also for our own good. We need to hear from heaven, we need to hear that word from above, we need to feed on the manna from heaven tonight - so send us it, Lord, we pray, for the good of our souls. We pray for a very definite sense of Your presence with us tonight, that all of us would become present to Your presence. We bind, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, every other presence that would seek to distract and take away from the word. Lord, we come to You now, and we wait upon You, Lord. We're not here to hear mere exposition, or the thoughts of a man - Lord, we want to meet with You. So we ask You to come Lord, come to us now by you Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus' name we pray, Amen.
Last week we looked at chapter 1, 'In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth', and we spent some time looking at both the simplicity and the profundity of that statement and the following statements that outline for us - and we should say, I didn't last week, that it really is only an outline of the creation of the universe. There are as many questions as there are truths, and yet we saw last week that the imperative instrument, if you like, of understanding this passage of Scripture, and in fact the key to all spiritual life, is faith. Without faith it's impossible to please God, and faith is the evidence of things not seen, and by faith we understand that the earth and the heavens were framed. So we just accept what God has said - now, it's not blind faith, it's open-eyed faith. It's not a leap into the dark, it's a leap into the light, it is reasonable faith. It's not foolishness, we don't need to leave our brain at the door when we come to worship God - it is the most reasonable thing, and He is the objective real. Yet we have got to also realise that we cannot know everything, the secret things belong unto our God, and that which is revealed is for us. We need to be very careful in matters that are not clearly revealed.
We move on tonight to chapter 2. In chapter 1 God was central to the portion of Scripture, the creation of the universe - but here in chapter 2, we see man is the centre of the narrative. We're looking tonight at 'The Origin of Mankind'. Again, as I said to you last week, it is utterly impossible to do any justice to a passage such as this - it would take a lifetime really, to delve into the depths, and even then I don't think it would be possible to exhaust the stores of the riches, spiritually, of these portions of Scripture. So tonight I'm going to look at it very piecemeal, and more from a thematic perspective. We're going to look at mankind, and some attributes of mankind that we find here in his origination in Genesis chapter 2.
The first thing I want you to see is in verse 7, chapter 2 verse 7: 'And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being'. The two greatest gifts, I think, God can give men and women is to see Himself as He really is, and to see ourselves as we really are. Now, as I said last week, the whole of the Bible - not just the creation narrative, but the whole of Scripture - is a revelation of the character of God. Of course, the Lord Jesus Christ is the Living Word, the thought and the expression of heart of God, the express image of His person, and the Godhead is perfectly revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ come in the flesh. We know as Christians that it is imperative that we seek to get to grips with the revelation of Father, Son and Holy Spirit - I mean, that's really what it's all about, isn't it? We heard read for us at the Lord's Table this morning John chapter 17, and verse 3 in particular I feel is a vital verse to understand New Testament Christianity - we talk about eternal life as if it's a ticket to heaven when you die, and praise God there is the assurance of heaven when we are in Christ. But Jesus defined eternal life in this way: 'This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent'. So the essence of this life of faith which promises eternal life is to get to know God through the Lord Jesus Christ. It is relationship, so we want to try to get to know as much about God as we can - that, surely, is the primary adventure and search of every Christian soul.
Yet equally (well, not equally, but certainly secondarily), we need to know ourselves. We need to understand who we are and how we are made, how we relate to God, and how we relate to one another, and how we relate to our environment - but also how we relate to ourselves. I think what I'm going to share with you tonight with the help of God will be a benefit to you in that regard: of understanding who you are and how you are made.
The first thing I want you to see, particularly from verse 7, is: man is material. 'The LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground', and then He breathed breath into him - but the Lord took dust, took soil, earth. It appears that He made a clay model of our form, and then He breathed His life into it. Now if you've got an NIV edition of the scriptures, you might have in the footnote that the Hebrew word for 'man' is 'adam', and it sounds like and may be related to the Hebrew word for 'ground', 'adama'. Now, of course, it's also the name that God gave man, 'Adam', but it all appears to be intrinsically linked: that we are creatures of the earth. I'm told, and I'm not qualified of course in this area, but I'm told that men and earth have essentially the same ingredients. The same essential elements are found in the body of men and animals as in soil: nitrogen, oxygen, calcium, etc. So this is a part of man's make-up that previously existed - the Earth was created by the Lord, and then He takes that dust and He makes our physical material frame.
Now, what do you think about when you think of dust? It strikes us as something that is very common, ordinary. It's not nothing, but it's next to nothing. This is what God took as the fundamental basis of what He was going to make in mankind. We find dust everywhere, it's on the ground, I wouldn't dare to say that it's on some of the surfaces in your home - but it probably is! It's common, it's ordinary, it's almost nothing, but it communicates to us - even as a metaphor, though this is more than metaphor - it speaks of weakness and frailty.
As we turn to chapter 3, and we don't want to run ahead of ourselves to next week, but if you look at verse 19 you see that after the fall, after mankind falls headlong through temptation into sin, the consequence, the curse we read in verse 19 of chapter 3: 'In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return'. Boy, there's a leveller for all of us, isn't it? 'For dust you are, and to dust you shall return'. You wouldn't feel very high and mighty about yourself after reading that, would you? You're just dust.
Turn with me to Psalm 103, please, and keep the passage at Genesis 2. Psalm 103 is a wonderful Psalm, but we just want to pick on a verse or two here - verse 13: 'As a father pities his children, so the LORD pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust'. God remembers that you are dust. Can I ask you a question: do you ever forget what God remembers? God remembers you are dust, you are frail, you are weak, you are material. He knows your shortcomings, He knows your abilities and your lack of them - do you? Now sometimes, even in a spiritual capacity and in the life of faith, we are very, very hard on ourselves. We forget the capabilities and the capacities of material flesh. Sometimes we forget what God remembers. God is a good God, He's a merciful God, He's compassionate, and He remembers how frail we are - He knows our frame.
But, you know, we could look at dust in a negative way and not realise that it also speaks positively of great potential - because, you see, dust, though it might seem next to nothing, when it's in the hands of an omnipotent God it has great potential. You've heard the little chorus: 'Little is much when God is in it', well, this is no exception, because as God takes this clay, He makes from this dust - something that appears to be weak in itself, just like we are, it is strong in Him. That's what God wants us to remember: 'He knows our frame, and He remembers that we are dust', but God took this dust, made clay, and then took the clay and made man. Where there is dust, there is potential - but the potential is only there, I believe (and here's a great spiritual lesson), if we remember what we really are and how much we need Him. He is the Potter, and we are the clay.
So man is material, we do well to remember that just as the Lord does. God took of the dust of the ground to make man. If you have a New King James Version, in the margin of Psalm 103 verse 14 it says: 'He understands our constitution', He knows what we are. Now here's a question that begs, and we will have it answered, I believe, in this passage and throughout Scripture: do we understand our constitution? We started off by saying that it's vital to get to know God, but it's also imperative that we understand our own make-up - do we? The atheists or the materialists will say that man is only matter, but we read here - look down again at chapter 2 verse 7 - 'The LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being', or a living soul.
Now the word for 'breath' there in verse 7 is the word which is the same word for 'spirit' in Hebrew, 'ruach'. It's the same as the Greek word 'pneuma', and the Latin word 'spiritus', it's the word for 'spirit', 'wind', 'breath'. It's onomatopoeic, if you can remember your English lessons that speaks of a word that imitates the sound, and this imitates the sound of breath, 'ruach'. So God breathed spirit into this clay form, he breathed His breath, His 'ruach', and it became a living being, a living soul. Immediately I read that, I think of the Lord Jesus in the Upper Room in John chapter 20 and verse 22, and it says: 'He breathed on them, and said 'Receive the Holy Spirit''. This is spiritual. So there is a material part of man, we're made of the dust, but man is not only material, he is spiritual - and this is the spiritual part of man that was breathed into his form, it is part of what is the image of God. This is the part that relates to God, that is like God.
Now, some people will dispute this, even in the church - maybe even here! I want you to look at an interesting verse with me in Job, turn with me to Job 32, verse 8 of Job 32: 'But there is a spirit in man', now that's important, we are not just flesh, we are spirit - this is the part that God breathed, this 'ruach', into us. It's a human spirit that each of us has, whether you're saved or not you have got a human spirit, and that's important to understand. 'There is a spirit in man, and' - the NIV doesn't have the word 'and' - 'There is a spirit in man, the breath of the Almighty', there it is: the spirit of man, the human spirit, is the breath of the Almighty and gives him understanding. It's through this spirit that we understand ourselves, I believe it is in the human spirit that we have our own identity, not in the soul but in the spirit. I'll explain that a little bit later, but it's also the place where we know God, where we have understanding of the Almighty who is Spirit and Truth. This is the Divine connector, this is the Lamp of the Lord that searches our heart.
Now let's leave that for a moment. Ecclesiastes 12 brings these two elements together, the material and the spiritual. We read there in Ecclesiastes 12:7: 'Then the dust', at death, 'will return to the earth as it was', just as we read from Genesis 3, 'and the spirit will return to God who gave it'. So man is material and spiritual. Now there's a bit of a debate, as you can imagine there is in most things when it comes to certain scriptural truths, and certainly in the church. There are those who believe that we are only body and soul, and they believe the word 'soul' is synonymous with 'spirit'. There is no doubt about it, in Scripture they are interchangeable terms at times and there is a bit of a crossover - they are called dichotomists. But I believe that man is tripartite, he is made up of three aspects - not just three, but there are three that are highlighted in Scripture over and over again, and I believe that spirit and soul are distinct. So man is made up of spirit, soul, and body - and, indeed, I think that reflects the tri-unity of the Godhead, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It's another way in which we are made reflecting God's image.
Let me just point out two passages of Scripture that would bear this out. First Thessalonians 5:23, you don't need to turn to it if you don't want to, I will read it to you: 'Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body' - note that God's order is not body, soul, and spirit, that's usually the way we quote this, God's order is spirit, soul, and body, but we tend to put body first because we can see it and we can touch it and know it, 'He wants to sanctify us wholly, spirit, soul, and body, and be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ'. Now some will say: 'Well, these are just metaphors for the inner and the outer part of man', there is no doubt about it, you could argue that, but there are other scriptures that seem to indicate that there are certain distinctions between these parts. One such is Hebrews chapter 4 and verse 12, again I will read it to you: 'For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow'. So, there we see clearly that it's very hard to divide marrow from bone, they are in unity just as man is in total unity, but there is a distinction in their role - so the word of God is able to divide soul and spirit, and the word of God is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
Now this is complicated stuff, but it is important. We need to be cautious, because it is dangerous to divide the unity of man. We are unified before God, but we also need to recognise that there are different aspects to our humanity. Just as there are different systems and organs in the body that have diverse functions, in the inner life there are different aspects between the spirit, the soul, the mind, and the heart at times - although they can cross over. I mean, even in Hebrews chapter 4 that we've just read the soul is likened to joints - I think that's the linguistics there. The soul is likened to the joints, and the spirit is likened to the marrow. If you like, the marrow is the source of the life, whereas the joint is the expression of the life, expressing movement and so on. That is exactly how I believe the Bible defines spirit, soul, and body.
Let me explain it: the spirit is the God-conscious part of us, the part that He breathed into us in His likeness, particularly in His likeness, but that part that can connect and relate to Him. The soul is the self-conscious part of us, I believe it's made up of three things also: the mind, the emotions, and the will. Then the body is the world-conscious part of us that relates to the world outside. God's intention in creation is that through the human spirit within us, that He should influence our minds, our emotions, and our wills in order that we should, in our bodies, serve Him and glorify Him forever. The soul is like the linchpin between the two, the connector.
Now obviously, as we will see next week, the fall of man has meant that he has been cut off from fellowship with God. He is now dead in his trespasses and sins. Now please do not make the mistake that some theologians make by believing that death means extermination, ceasing to exist. It doesn't, it means to be cut off, it means separation - that's why unbelievers have got spirits, that's why they can worship themselves, they can bow down to themselves, they can worship idols, they can worship false gods, they can enter into occultish things, spiritual practices, because they've got a spirit. But their spirit is cut off from God, the True and the Living God, they are in darkness. It's like - I think I've said this to you before - it's like an embryo in the womb, and it goes through gestation, and it's not born until it comes into the light. It's like our spirits, we exist in the darkness, but we are cut off from God - and we don't come to the light and life until we are born again.
Essentially what happened was, when the spirit was cut off from God, man - well, his soul in selfishness, that self-conscious part of him, brought influence to bear on the body and he became self-centred and he became fleshly. He did what he thought, and what he felt, and what he wanted, apart from God. But, you know, at the fall we know that - and we will see this next week - our relationship with God was attacked, yes, 'Has God really said?'. The serpent came and lied to Adam and Eve, and they believed, and their fellowship with God was broken and they hid in the garden for shame, and we see that their relationship with each other broke down - Adam blamed Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent. But what a lot of people don't realise is that mankind's relationship with himself was broken.
You see, there is a brokenness and a disorder in our own hearts, there is a fragmentation, a dislocation in our own beings, our inner life. We've got to realise this. Whether you're converted or not here this evening, this can be a problem. Now, ultimately, the biggest severance is between us and God when we're not born again, when we're still in the dark and we've never come into the light - but even when we are born again, we can have injuries, woundedness, and trauma in our human spirits. Proverbs bears that out, Proverbs 17:22: 'A merry heart does good, like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones'. There's the bone analogy again. Proverbs 18:14: 'The spirit of a man will sustain him in sickness, but who can bear a broken spirit?'. That's a whole other deep subject, but I want you to consider it, I want there to be ministry tonight that benefits you - not just in your head, but in your heart. Some of you here tonight - and I know what I'm talking about - could have a broken, wounded, bruised spirit, even as a Christian. If you do, that will manifest itself in your thoughts in the soul. You see, the spirit is the life, the soul is what expresses that life - like the marrow is the life of the bone, and the joints express it, the spirit is the life and the soul expresses it. So if you're wounded, or you're not well in your spirit, it will be expressed in your thought life, your feelings, and even your actions - and maybe even manifest in your body. You need deep healing.
But let's get back to our subject tonight: man is material and spiritual, and we bring these two together. There are celestial beings in this universe, you know what they are - angels and demons, principalities and powers - but there are also terrestrial, there are the heavenly beings, but there are terrestrial, earthly, fleshly, physical - the beasts. But humankind is different, unique, because the human being is both in the sense that man is an interface between both worlds, the material and the spiritual - both worlds interact upon us as an interface. That's why we are prey not only to the influence of God, but to the influence of the kingdom of darkness.
Can I leave you, before I move on, with 1 Thessalonians 5? I've already read it to you, but I want to read it to you in The Message, 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, it's a paraphrase but it bears this out well, listen: 'May God himself, the God who makes everything holy and whole, make you holy and whole, put you together - spirit, soul, and body - and keep you fit for the coming of our Master, Jesus Christ. The One who called you is completely dependable. If he said it, he’ll do it!'. I love that! God wants to make you holy and whole, you can't be holy without being whole - a lot of people want to be holy, but they're broken inside, and they need the grace of God and the power of God to make them holy. A lot of people want to be whole, they want to be fixed, but they don't necessarily want to be holy, set apart for God and for His use. God needs to do both with us, and He wants to do it by fixing what has been broken: the spirit, the soul, and the body, and the breakdown between these aspects.
So man, in his origin, is material and spiritual. But I want you to see a couple more things if time permits: he's responsible. Chapter 2 verse 16: 'The LORD God commanded the man, saying, 'Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 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''. He is created responsible, he has been given choice and free will, he has been made moral - man was made moral. This is a huge issue, and even though I think next week is billed as 'The Origin of Evil', that encompasses a huge philosophical and theological question that I'm surely not able to even begin to answer. But I spoke last week about the childish questions, the child asking, you know, 'Who created God? Where did God come from?', but another one that children often ask that we find difficult to answer is: 'Why did God put this tree in the middle of the garden in the first place? Why did God tempt them?'. Well, God didn't tempt them as such, but why did God put the tree there and open up the possibility for the serpent to come and to tempt? Behind such a question, perhaps not in children, but when we get up a bit, is the concept: 'Were they set up?'. I know there's a huge issue and debate of man's responsibility and God's sovereignty, and the relationship between the two, but there is a question here that is worth pondering from a very practical capacity.
I don't know whether you've ever seen - I think it's quite a left-wing, feminist type slogan - I've seen it on T-shirts and bumper stickers: 'Eve was framed'. Have you seen that one, no? The idea is that it was a setup, the temptation was there and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was there. They could eat of everything (I think you can overlook that very quickly), they could eat of anything and everything but that one tree - why did God put it there? Well, I don't have all the answers, but one answer that certainly has satisfied me is this: all relationship is based on choice, all true relationship, all loving relationship. I believe this is no different: God did not create a robotic human, he was not preprogrammed, he wasn't some kind of mannequin to manipulate at will. God wants to be chosen, God wants to be loved, God wants us to know Him, and He will not force His love. Now don't misunderstand me here: He will certainly bring much loving influence to bear upon us - He will, He will bring all His power, but not in such a way that violates our personhood by force. Relationship is built on choice, and He gave them the choice. In fact, if you like, it was weighted very much - it was only one tree versus all the trees in the garden of the world - it was weighted very much in his favour, and yet man chose to disobey God.
So man is made spiritual, he's made material, but he's also made responsible - and that means that he is answerable for his choices. Man was made moral, but moral so he is answerable. Kenneth Woodward put it like this: 'Human freedom means the capacity to make moral decisions, which have radical and enduring consequences'. Speaking on hell, he says: 'Hell, then is not a place created by a God bent on getting even, but the alienation we choose for ourselves'. As C.S. Lewis put it: 'There are two kinds of people in the end, those who said to God 'Thy will be done', and those to whom God says, 'Thy will be done' - those who are in hell choose it'. What are you choosing tonight? 'Choose you this day whom you will serve', Moses says 'Choose life or choose death', Jesus says there is a narrow way and there's a broad way, and the narrow way leads to life.
Man was made material, spiritual, responsible, but also relational. Look at verse 18: 'The LORD God said, 'It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him'', and then down in verse 20 we see Adam named all the beasts of the field and the birds of the air, but 'there was not found a helper comparable', a helpmeet, 'for him'. So: 'The LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made', or He built, 'into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam 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'. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined', cling to, 'to his wife, and they shall become one flesh'.
Man was created relational. Now it's very interesting to note that this was before the fall into sin - I'm not suggesting that marriage came out of the fall by any means! But some might say in pious idealism: 'All you need is God', and that sounds good, like a lot of things sound good but they're not particularly biblical. 'All you need is God to be satisfied and fulfilled in life'. Well, yes, that is true, that ultimately and supremely we need God - but man needs more than God, man needs food, man needs water, and man needs woman. The point being: God created man, and in a perfect world to not only need food and water but to be relational, to need others. It's not a fault, it's a design, we are made to be relational. Before we even look very briefly at marriage, man needs social interaction with other human beings. We see here enshrined in the very first book of the Bible that community is important to our well-being. Right throughout the whole of biblical history we see how important God's dealings are with community - yes, He takes individuals and He does certain things with them, but often it's in relation to the community that is around them. In fact, we read that in the beginning God set the solitary, or the lonely, in families. We see that He calls out Abraham, but He wants to bring from Abraham a people, and we see the nation of Israel, and then we see God dealing with whole nations of people. Then we come to the New Testament and it's the community of the church, the Body of Christ.
I think God wants me to be reminded that none of us are to be lone rangers, we need one another. We might have different roles in the church, but we need each other - that's the way God intended it. But of course, here, what's specified is the deepest and most intimate relationship between a man and a woman, between Adam and Eve, this complementary relationship the woman was intended to have with the man, to be a helpmeet, a helper comparable to him. Now I don't have time tonight to delve into the subject of headship, and it's here, and the whole idea of submission is here. It's teased out by the other New Testament writers, especially Paul in 1 Corinthians 11 - but not only is there headship and specific roles here and submission, but there is also equality. I mean we can go back to chapter 1 verse 27: 'God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them'. I like Matthew Henry's quip in his commentary on this verse of Adam's rib being taken by God, and God building a woman out of the rib, he says: 'The woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved'.
Man was made relational, but we do well to note that man was made matrimonial. This relationship was in marriage, and if ever our society and the church needs to be reminded of the fact that God invented marriage, and institutionalised marriage, and enshrined the intimate sexual relationship in the context of marriage, we need to be reminded. God invented sex, He had the first sex thought - it is pure, it is holy, it is ordained of God, but what is also ordained is that sexual expression is within the bounds of marriage as God intended. Sexual expression is a very powerful thing, and Satan likes to take powerful things and tap into that power and use it for his own ends. Another one is fear - you know, fear is a gift of God that protects us, it's meant to be our servant, but the problem comes when fear becomes our master. Equally, sex is a gift from God, but it is very powerful like fear - and if it's not submitted and subjected to God's order and principles of use, it will destroy us. Safe sex can only be experienced in the bounds that God has set for us, the only safe sex is within marriage. God invented it, therefore He defines it - and I should also say that man's relationship with woman was matrimonial, and it was also heterosexual. We as the church today, in a loving, gracious way, must stand up and be counted to declare what the intent of the Creator is: that a man and a woman should be united together in life before God. The marriage bed is holy and undefiled.
Finally, man is material, spiritual, responsible, relational, and also governmental - in verses 19 and 20 you see that: 'God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name. So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field'. Now I wouldn't just blame Adam on every single weird and wonderful name that animals get, but it's interesting - and it's a throwback, I think, to chapter 1 and verse 26, if you look at it again, in verse 28. 'God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth'', verse 28, 'Then God blessed them, and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth'. Man was given dominion, and it's expressed in God bringing creation to him to name the beasts and the birds.
We might have time to look at this a little bit more next week, I don't know, but we need to understand that God is sovereign and God is all-powerful - the omnipotent One. Yet in the very beginnings of revelation we see that God heavily dispenses so much of the welfare of this created realm to man, he is highly responsible. We now, of course, what will happen next week - he forfeits that when he effectively hands it over to the one who now becomes the god of this world, Satan. Praise God, our Lord Jesus Christ wrests from the grip of the evil one that authority, so that He can now say - resurrected from the grave, having died for our sins, and destroyed him who had the power over death, even the devil - He says to His own in resurrection life: 'All authority is given unto Me in heaven and on earth'. All authority is now given back to Him, and He will give it to His church if they want it! I believe that most Christians don't realise the restored authority that we have in Christ over the created realm. It's not going to be completely consummated until He returns, I know that, but in the spirit I don't think we have even begun to tap into what our Lord Jesus has done for us.
Could I close this evening by reading together Psalm 139, just, as it were, a response meditatively to all we have considered tonight. Psalm 139, please think of these words and apply them to yourself - do you know any better who you are? You're very complex, it has to be said - I'll not single anybody out in particular, but all of you are very complex! Look at verse 14 of Psalm 139, and even say this to God from your heart: 'I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvellous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them', I love this, 'How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with You'.
Let us pray: Lord, we thank You for all that we have tried to receive tonight from the depths - unfathomable, unplumbable depths - of Your word and truth in the Spirit. Lord, we thank You, amidst the things that we cannot begin to understand, we thank You for what the psalmist expressed when he said: 'How precious are Your thoughts to me! How great is the sum of them! If I could count them they would be more in number than the sand'. Lord, if we could only get to grips with this, if we could only attune our spirits with You, the Great Father of Spirits, as a receiver to pick up the myriad multitude thoughts that flow from Your being toward us. Lord, if we could receive the transmission we would be overwhelmed! Lord, some of us need to be overwhelmed tonight by Your love, by Your thoughts toward us. Lord, I pray for the broken tonight, those who know that primeval disconnection with themselves and with You. May there be healing tonight, or at least the road of healing begin. Lord, would You come by the power of the Gospel and bring light and immortality to life. We thank You that Your will is that we should be holy and whole, and knit together, spirit, soul, and body. No man can do this, Lord, but You - and so we wait for You, we wait for Your salvation, and we look to You alone. Thanking You in the blood of Jesus and in His resurrection, we have the victory, and by His stripes we are healed. We give You the praise and the glory tonight, and ask Your blessing upon us now as we go, and that nothing will be lost from what You have said to us - seal it into us tonight for good we pray, in Jesus' name, Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered in Scrabo Hall in Newtownards, Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the second recording in his 'Origins' series, entitled "The Origin Of Mankind" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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