Slavery, Love, and the Garden of Eden–Genesis 2:8-9

Slavery Love Garden of Eden

(From the Archives…)

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. Genesis 2:8-9

The Garden

A little trivia to start: The Bible tells us that the land in which God’s garden is located is called Eden, however we are never actually given the name of the garden itself, only the name of the land in which it is located. But one thing’s for sure, the word Eden means delightful, and we do know from the Bible that without a doubt, whatever the name of the garden, God’s garden was a delightful place to live.

Notice that in the middle of His garden God puts both the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. “Why?” You may be asking. “Why include the forbidden tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, in the middle of the delightful garden? Why ruin a perfect place with a forbidden tree?” The answer is that God desired a meaningful relationship with Adam and Eve, and a meaningful relationship requires a choice.

Marriage and Slavery

Hadijatou Mani is a 24 year old woman from the Sahel region of Nigeria, on the Southern fringe of the Sahara. Hadijatou’s story is the story of someone who wasn’t given a choice. When she was just 12 years old she was sold to a man named Souleymane Naroua. When she was just 13 she was raped by her master and forced to bear his children. Continue reading

Marriage, and Mom and Dad: Genesis 2:24-25

Marriage, Mother and Father -- two one fleshFor this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.

The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. -Genesis 2:24-25

Cleaving Without Leaving

Many young people today are attempting the first part of Genesis 2:24, becoming one flesh, but leaving out the second part of the verse, leaving their father and mother. I believe many marriages suffer unnecessarily, or even fail, because without the second part, leaving father and mother, the first part, becoming one flesh, doesn’t work very well. Independence from mom and dad is a huge key to a healthy marriage. A husband and wife must form a team of three: the husband, the wife, and their God. When a dad and/or mom is involved it becomes a team of 4 or 5. Or if both sets of parents are involved, a team of seven! God’s way is the best way, and it’s up to us as parents to allow our kids to separate, to leave. Because if they don’t leave, emotionally as well as physically, then they won’t cleave. Parents, don’t fall into the trap of over involvement. Follow God’s plan. Too much involvement in our adult kids’ marriages will make things worse instead of better. Young married people, especially you husbands, insist on independence. Guard your marriage from your parent’s over involvement, in a loving and gracious manner, but with tenacity. For you to be successful in your marriage your spouse must come before your parents, and your God must come before your spouse.

Just Friends

And in case you’ve already successfully left your parents, be sure to leave others as well. Friendship with those of the opposite sex, the kind of friendship that involves time alone together, even small amounts of time alone together, is nearly always found at the beginning of an adulterous relationship. Don’t do it. Don’t invest in that relationship at work or at the gym, even if you don’t feel an attraction. As you invest your heart will inevitably follow as Jesus said in Luke 12:34. And as God says to us in Proverbs 6:27-28Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being burned? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched?

Jesus on Divorce

Jesus quoted from Genesis 2:24 when the Pharisees came to trap Him with a question. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” (Matthew 19:3) They probably thought, “If we can get Jesus to say that divorce is not permitted, not God’s will, then we can quote the law of Moses and, BOOM, the trap is shut, we’ve got him.” But Jesus went back to the beginning, to God’s original plan for marriage, before the law was given to Moses. Jesus from Genesis 2:24,

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6)

Perhaps at this point the Pharisees, realizing that they’d been out maneuvered, asked the following question, as a last ditch effort to salvage their trap…

“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?” (Matthew 19:7)

But Jesus replied,

“Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.” (Matthew 19:8-9)

Divorce Reality Check

Today we’ve seen a rather large cultural shift from divorce being such a negative to a new perception of divorce as a liberating, freeing, positive experience. A single parent household, a man and woman living together unmarried perhaps with children, these are seen as acceptable alternative lifestyles. What’s being completely ignored is the wellbeing of the children of divorce. The vast majority of children from divorced families surveyed say they’d like to see their original family back together. Have you heard that statistic before? Probably not. Five years after divorce more than a third of children experienced depression. Even at 10 years and 15 years after divorce, many of the children involved had significant problems. Children from divorced families were found to be less successful in life than children from intact families, particularly in the areas of relationships and careers.

Most of the time the custody of the children goes to the mother. What’s not a part of the public discussion is that about half of all single mothers live below the poverty line. And this desperate economic circumstance is not for the short haul — on average it lasts six years. For African American single mothers it’s much worse, 10 years after divorce only 33% of African American mothers were remarried and continued in financial distress. (McLanahan-Garfinkel)

So don’t close your eyes to the devastation caused by divorce. Build your marriage on the foundation of Jesus Christ and His word. Invest in your wife, invest in your husband and your heart will follow. Follow His ways, in life, and in your marriage.

Sex a Gift from God

Finally, notice in Genesis 2:25 that God provided that The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame. God very specifically tells us in Hebrews 13:4 that His plan for the marriage bed is for it to be undefiled. Sex inside of marriage is a gift from Him, and shame has no part in it. When you invest in your wife, when you invest in your husband, do so in all areas including your physical relationship. For God tells us in 1 Corinthians 7:4-5

The wife’s body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband’s body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.



References:

[Image via: Maria Rosaria - Creative Commons]

Blue Letter Bible

Bible Gateway

Jon Courson

The Atlantic

Single Mothers and Their Children, Sarah McLanahan and Irwin Garfinkel, 1986

Genesis 2:19-23 — But for Adam no suitable helper was found. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man.

Adam and Eve

Catacombs of Saints Marcellinus and Peter (first half fourth century)

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.

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.

Genesis 2:21-22

Notice that Adam didn’t settle for less than what God had in mind for him. As the animals were brought before him to name, Adam obediently named each creature but, because for Adam no suitable helper was found (Genesis 2:20) Adam didn’t take any of God’s creatures to be his help meet. Today it seems men and women try to find their future mate in the energy of their flesh — visiting bars, clubs, or subscribing to an online dating service. The results are usually dismal. Many of these who marry find themselves heartbroken later. If your single, make your requests known unto the Lord, during this single season of your life, with thanksgiving. (Phillipians 4:6-7) Don’t settle. As Matthew Henry said, “If we graciously rest in God, God will graciously work for us and work all for good.”

Men should take notice that while the man was created from the dust of the earth, the woman was created from the rib of the man. (Genesis 2:21-22) The woman is double refined and the very last of God’s creations on earth. Could it be that God saved the very best for last? While Adam is the first creature to be created in God’s image and the leader or the head, one could say that the woman is the crown that is to be worn upon the head.

Women should take notice that the man, while assigned to be the head, will never be everything you want him to be. As my pastor says, “A rib was taken from Adam and men have been missing something ever since!” The only man that will never let you down is the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Give your man a break, don’t put an expectation on him to fulfill your every need because he can’t. Put your hope in Jesus. The first Adam was commanded by God to name the animals, the last Adam was named “Jesus” when Joseph was commanded by God to do so in Matthew 1:21. The Hebrew form of the name Jesus is Yeshua which is a contraction of the Hebrew name Yahwehshua which means “Yahweh is salvation.” Your husband can’t completely satisfy or save you but Jesus can. Put your hope in Him.

Jesus said

“I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35) “For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40)



[Image: Catacombs of Saints Marcellinus and Peter (first half fourth century) by jimforest - Creative Commons]

References:

Blue Letter Bible

Bible Gateway

Matthew Henry

Jon Courson

Chuck Smith, Living Water, p. 38, Word for Today, 2007

Genesis 2:18 — It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.

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

The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18) Here we are in only the second chapter of the Bible and already God is declaring that it is not good to be isolated. God in His wisdom of course knows that isolation is associated with all kinds of problems. In fact, according to the Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine, isolation as a predictor of mortality is comparable with cigarette smoking — your risk of dying increases by 2 – 3 times if you’re isolated vs. if you’re socially connected. Besides mortality — depression, illness, and a host of other problems accompany isolation.

Your spiritual life is also very connected to the dynamic of isolation vs. social connection. Just watch the lives of those who attempt to walk their Christian walk apart from attending church vs. those who do attend. Pick someone you know who says that their way of connecting with God is through the enjoyment of nature, or by hanging out with Christian friends, or by self study. Of course there’s nothing wrong with any of those things, but, at the same time pick another who you know attends church, say, 2 or more times a week. You’ll find the difference in the depth of relationship with God between these two to be striking. By and large, you’ll find the church goer to be happier as well. According to author and speaker Dr. Kevin Gilmartin, those who attend church regularly are 40% more likely to be happy than those who don’t. (See previous posts: Congregate and Rest)

“I will make a helper suitable for him.” God’s desire for Adam was to make a helper for him because Adam alone can’t live the blessed life that God has in mind for him without Eve. Furthermore man can’t execute his part of God’s plan for mankind here on earth without women. God gave Adam His plan and agenda, but both Adam and his wife Eve are to work together, as a team, to live out God’s plan and to advance God’s agenda. Adam, the husband, has been put in a position of leadership and Eve, the wife, has been put in a position of service. Not that Adam wouldn’t serve Eve because any great leader will serve those he leads. (Traveler and the Chaplain, p. 56), But Eve has been formally appointed, by God, to be Adam’s helper. In the world’s view this certainly has a negative connotation, but in Gods view, in Christ’s view, the helper is esteemed highly for Jesus said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:35)

They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said,

“If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”

Mark 9:33-35



References:

Blue Letter Bible

Bible Gateway

David Guzik

J. Vernon McGee

Jon Courson

Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine

Kurt Bennett, Traveler and the Chaplain, p. 56, Enoch Publishing 2009

Genesis 2:10-15 — God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work

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.

The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

Genesis 2:10-15

The second two rivers mentioned, the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, we know of today. We know their location, in fact, you can go to Bing Maps right now and find the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates, just to the North of Basrah, in Iraq, which I’ve marked on the map with an orange push pin. Interestingly, the headwaters of these two rivers are not very far apart — both are found in East Central Turkey. Although we don’t know the location of the other two rivers, perhaps, the location of the Tigris and Euphrates headwaters gives us a clue as to the location, or former location of the Garden of Eden.

In Genesis 2:15 we read, “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” I was reading an article recently on stress that listed the top 10 stressors in life. Guess what? Retirement made the top 10! Here in Genesis 2:15 we see that God has created this perfect environment for Adam and notice that, included in the perfect environment, is work! God has designed us to work. Over the years as I’ve watched friends deal with unemployment and retirement I’ve seen all kinds of problems as a result of leading a life without it, without work. According to the American Journal of Public Health men who are unemployed experience more somitization (similar to hypochondriasis), anxiety, and depression than those who are employed. The unemployed also take more medications, visit their doctors more, and spend more time in bed sick even when the unemployed and employed receive the same number of diagnoses.

In Mark chapter 1 Jesus saw some of the disciples working, they were fishing to be exact. As he passed by them He called to them and said, “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” (Mark 1:17) Perhaps God has blessed you in such a way that you’re in a position where you don’t have to work. That’s great! God is good. He’s given you time that most others don’t have. I want to encourage you to use it for His glory. I know of a number of people in this position — several use their time volunteering at a dump in Mexico, they minister to the impoverished people there, several others I know have dedicated themselves to helping in their church. Use your time to influence people for God’s kingdom. Use your time to fish for men!

If you are perhaps younger, and you have to work to provide for your family, as I do, then give thanks to God for your job if you’re employed. And if you’re not employed, I want to encourage you to work as God desires you to. A number of years ago a friend of mine worked a job in a cabinet shop for less money than what he would have made had he collected unemployment. Some said that he was a fool to take less money, just so he could continue to work, but during this time, I could see the Lord doing a work in this man. His attitude and his work ethic were growing. Conversely, I’ve watched friends take their unemployment and enter into a downward spiral of inactivity. Their initiative eroded away. If you can’t find work for pay, then work for free. Help in the children’s ministry, find a widow or someone fatherless who’s in need and help them — these are things that are pure and faultless in God’s sight. (James 1:27)

As with everything God directs us to do, we’ll be at our best, at our healthiest, and at our happiest when we’re in the flow of God’s will.

God wants you to work.



References:

Blue Letter Bible

Bible Gateway

American Journal of Public Health

Slavery, Love, and the Garden of Eden–Genesis 2:8-9

Slavery Love Garden of Eden

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. Genesis 2:8-9

The Garden

A little trivia to start: The Bible tells us that the land in which God’s garden is located is called Eden, however we are never actually given the name of the garden itself, only the name of the land in which it is located. But one thing’s for sure, the word Eden means delightful, and we do know from the Bible that without a doubt, whatever the name of the garden, God’s garden was a delightful place to live.

Notice that in the middle of His garden God puts both the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. “Why?” You may be asking. “Why include the forbidden tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, in the middle of the delightful garden? Why ruin a perfect place with a forbidden tree?” The answer is that God desired a meaningful relationship with Adam and Eve, and a meaningful relationship requires a choice.

Marriage and Slavery

Hadijatou Mani is a 24 year old woman from the Sahel region of Nigeria, on the Southern fringe of the Sahara. Hadijatou’s story is the story of someone who wasn’t given a choice. When she was just 12 years old she was sold to a man named Souleymane Naroua. When she was just 13 she was raped by her master and forced to bear his children. A few years ago she tried to marry another man but her master took her to court, claiming that Hadijatou was already married — to him. Incredibly, the judge found Hadijatou guilty of bigamy! Where’s the meaning in the relationship between Hadijatou and her master? Where’s the love? There’s none to be found whatsoever.

Love and Choice

“In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:9) I don’t think it a coincidence that the tree of life and the forbidden tree, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, were positioned in the middle of the garden, in close proximity to each other. Central to the garden were the two trees, the tree of life and the forbidden tree. Central to a relationship with meaning is a choice. God had to provide a choice to make it possible for Adam and Eve to have a loving and meaningful relationship with Him.

Like the relationship between Hadijatou and her master, a relationship without a choice is slavery and rape.

Love requires a choice.

Adam and Eve had a choice.

So do you and I.

Choose God. Choose Jesus.

[Image via Richard Keen, Creative Commons]

Related articles and resources:

Blue Letter Bible

Bible Gateway

Ray Stedman

Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, Old Testament, Vol. 1, Nelson 2005

Damian Kyle

NY Times

How Does Jesus View the Old Testament? Genesis 2:4-7

This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created. When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens 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 2:4-7

I love these four verses. It’s as though God is moving us from the overview of creation in Genesis chapter 1, to the account of man in the rest of the Bible, by rotating His telephoto lens from wide angle to zoom. In chapter 1 of Genesis God’s word is at wide angle, in Genesis chapter 2, verse 8 the Bible zooms in to record that part of God’s creation that is mankind. Genesis 2:4-7 is the time of transition between the two.

“This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.” (Genesis 2:4) Christians have three options here. I don’t pretend to know how creation happened exactly, but I do have respect for all three options. The first is to believe the biblical account is literal, and actually occurred in six days. The second is to believe in a progressive creation that took millions of years. And the third is to believe in theistic evolution.

Whichever you believe, I think there’s a dynamic here that can be seductive to your soul. If you make the assumption that the Genesis account, including the record of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden, is 100% myth, then you have to make a judgment concerning the giving of manna from heaven, the fiery destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the account of Jonah and the whale. You might find yourself attempting to decide for yourself, where myth ends, and where truth and history begin. And when that happens, you begin to conform the bible to yourself, instead of conforming yourself to the likeness of Christ. (Romans 8:29)

Many people like to pretend they believe what they believe with complete objectivity when the reality is there are personal and social reasons for ascribing to any worldview. What I so often observe are people who conform the bible to their life, because they’re afraid of the opinions of their peers and even more afraid of letting go of the self-life.

Jesus himself spoke of the miracles, events, and people in the Old Testament as historical truth.

Jesus validated the account of the destruction of Sodom including the death of Lot’s wife. (Luke 17:29,32) Jesus confirmed that manna fell from heaven (John 6:31-51) Jesus spoke of Daniel of the Old Testament as a real and genuine prophet. (Matthew 24:15) Jesus validated the account of Jonah and the whale. (Matthew 12:39) And Jesus in Matthew 19:4-6 speaks of the Genesis account of the creation of Adam and Eve.

How does that all work? How is any of that possible?

I don’t know.

I don’t believe in blind faith, but I do believe in faith. I believe in the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life and words based on the assessment of those accounts by a former atheist and expert in ancient literature, C.S. Lewis. And if the gospels are true, then Jesus is real. And if he is who he said he is, the Son of God, then his words are the most important and most credible words there are. And he quoted from the Old Testament often, and as an authoritative source.

Jesus said directly, “The Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35) He called the Scripture, “the commandment of God.” And Jesus referred to the Old Testament as the the words of God and God’s final authority: “Have you not read that which was spoken to you by God?” Jesus said. (Matthew 22:31)

Some desire to accept Christ but to reject parts of the Bible but that doesn’t make sense. Because Jesus accepted the Old Testament as “spoken to you by God” (Matthew 22:31) then if you believe on Jesus you find yourself in a position where you have to give credibility to the Old Testament, or disagree with the Son of God. What you and I are left with is a choice: will you, I, we choose to believe the secular criticisms of the bible, or the authority of God’s word?

Will you believe the critics or Christ?

References:

Blue Letter Bible

Bible Gateway

Ray Stedman

Josh McDowell, How Did Jesus View the Old Testament?