In the Beginning, Part 3
We're continuing in our series, called The Story of God, today not looking first for how it applies to our lives, but looking at who God is, what He's doing, what He's like, and out of that, the place and significance of human life here on planet earth. Like the opening scenes of a movie or a book set the stage for everything that is to come, we are spending a big chunk of this series in the first couple chapters of Genesis, letting it set the stage for the rest of what is coming.
I want to keep reminding you of our author, because it's very important to our understanding of why Genesis is here. Moses is our author of Genesis, inspired and carried along by God as he wrote, and he is writing to help the nation of Israel understand what God is like, and who they are in relation to this God.
- We saw that Genesis 1 is about God's relationship to creation: He is the King, the mighty one, who speaks "Let there be" and it happens at his command. God creates and fills. He creates the sky from nothing, fills it with birds, planets, galaxies: calls it good. He creates the sea from nothing, fills it with whales and walruses and plankton and shrimp: calls it good. He creates land, fills it with animals, insects, vegetation, and last of all humans, male and female, made in the image of God and given the job of subduing, and partnering with God in his work of bringing chaos into order, and calls everything he has made VERY GOOD, and then he is done with the work of creation.
- Then, we saw in Chapter 2 God putting on the zoom lens, so to speak on the specific creation of man on the sixth day of creation, and we see up close the great care and delight that God put into creating humans, as he forms him out of the dust of the earth, fills him with the breath of God, and makes him both caretaker and worship leader. Both farmer and priest. Both co-ruler, and communicator.
This is going to require wisdom on several levels. On one hand, he'll need wisdom to bring order to the fish and birds and plants. On the other hand he will need wisdom on how to relate to God, and other humans, his wife, his kids, etc.
The man is given the choice between two ways of learning this wisdom.
• He can choose to let God define good and bad, or
• Adam can look to choose what is right and wrong, good and bad for himself.
And that choice is given in the form of two trees: the tree of life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and bad, what is beneficial and what is harmful. Both trees are beautiful, both trees good for food, but God says you can eat whatever you want here! Free reign! It's all yours! Just don't eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Let me define wisdom for you and you will continue in the abundance and peace and happiness and life. But if you eat from the tree that I said not to, and try to decide what is right for yourself and wrong for yourself, it's not going to end well. Dying you will die.
Still in chapter 2, we saw that man is not created only to work and be a co-ruler. He has not been created to be a slave. The work is part, but not all. He was also created for connection to God and relationship with him. The garden home that God has created for Adam is a temple where the King of creation and humans will meet and interact with each other. God speaking and listening to man; man speaking and listening to God. It's incredible that you can have a personal connection with God -- that's actually what God wants for all of us! Is to know him!
About a year ago, I was with a group of young pastors in our Network who were all in the process of planting a church one way or another, and one of our speakers for the day was a retired US Coast Guard officer, had worked with some really high profile church leaders, had an incredible wealth of wisdom and grace and patience, and I'm like this is one of the greatest men I have ever met. And then he gave us all his cell phone number.
Our eyes all got big, because we're like this guy wants to know us??? Are you kidding? I'm just a little peon, a scrawny farm kid from Pennsylvania, starting a church in a city of 1000 -- this dude has worked on staff at a multi site church that had 20,000 people -- how could he possibly have time for me? He gave me his personal cell phone number, AND the next time I saw him, he sat down with just Jodi and I and looked through our personal finances with us to help us find what we were doing wrong. ARE YOU KIDDING??? He cares about me?! My finances?!
Psalm 8 says, "Lord, how magnificent is your name in all the earth! When I look at the heavens and the rest of all that you have made, the sun, the moon, the stars... what is a human being that you remember him or look after him?"
This God who created everything wants you to know him!? That's what it means when we say the finish line is that the whole earth is filled with the knowledge of his glory -- that's the finish line, but he wants you to know him right now! And he's made a way for that to happen, through his word, through prayer, through Jesus's death to take away our sin AND give us the same right standing with God that he has.... all so we would know him. Why does that matter if we know him or we don't? Because that's the purpose for life!
There is a day coming when we will walk with God the same way Adam walked with God in Genesis. That's where all of life is headed...but only for those who have put their faith in Jesus alone. You can't get their on your own.
Lord our Lord, how majestic is your name!
And after calling all of creation good up until this point, it's almost the end of the sixth day, and God spots something in his good world that is not good. Turn with me in your Bibles to chapter 2, and we'll start in verse 18:
 Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper corresponding to him
Alone? What do you mean, alone? Isn't God himself there, walking and talking with Adam? He is, yes, and God said, "He's alone and it's not good."
Right out of the gate, I'm going to ask for participation here. Remember why Moses is writing this? To tell people what God is like. Look at that verse 18: What does that sentence tell you about God?
- He knows our every need. He cares. He is concerned for his creation. GOD AS FATHER
- The Creator is defining what is good for his creation. He is exercising his eternal wisdom. GOD AS KING/RULER.
- God knows what is good for us, and ALONE is not good, and he needs a helper corresponding to him.
Moses explains: 19] The LORD God formed out of the ground every wild animal and every bird of the sky, and brought each to the man to see what he would call it. And whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.  The man gave names to all the livestock, to the birds of the sky, and to every wild animal; but for the man no helper was found corresponding to him.
Some observations from this text so far:
- Animals are not people too. Remember Moses is writing this in the desert to tell the Israelites what God is like and to instruct them away from the pagan practices of Egypt and the pagans in the Promised Land. Moses has de-glorified the sun, moon, and stars in chapter 1 by saying they are simply lights in the sky, and here I believe this is Moses's way of de-glorifying animals. Animals, which are a beautiful part of God's creation, are not created on the same level as humans, and are certainly not to be worshiped. We in America have some repenting to do in that area. Not only that, Genesis 2 implies that if an ape or gorilla paraded past a man, he would not have said, hey it's grandpa...that one looks kind of like me, or at least a distant relative. He was surrounded by animals and alone. Nothing looked like him or corresponded to him or was on the same level as he was.
- We must first be satisfied in God before we will be satisfied with his gifts.
- God has a solution to make a helper for him, but he wants Adam to see something (and by virtue of the fact that we are reading this, he wants us to see something too).
- So he brings all the animals to Adam for him to give them a name. This is partly Adam doing what God has created him to do as having authority, is he names the animals. To name something is to have authority over it. But it's also partly for Adam to get a rundown of all the animals that exist, and see that unlike the animals, which have male and female, he is in fact alone.
- Every animal has gone by and been named. These are the animals he is to impose his vision on and rule over. Adam notices he is the only one of his kind.
- HUGE: Adam is not complaining about being alone, because he is content with what he has in God.
- This week, I woke up one morning and before I even got dressed I was already anxious. My to-do list was running through my head, and I could feel anxiety starting to work its way into my heart. I caught myself, and prayed for grace and peace to take over instead. I took the kids to school, had an hour before my next appointment, and I prayed God I know what I want to do but I know what need to do. I need to be with you. I opened my Bible to Psalm 23, and verse 1 said: "The Lord is my shepherd; I have what I need."
- You will never be happy with any of God's good gifts in life, including a spouse, or kids, or a family, health, a great body, a great job, etc if you aren't first satisfied in God.
- God knows we need help: How many of you women are thrilled with the term "helper" right now? That sounds exactly like what all the feminist movements over the last 50 years have been pushing for, right? We want to be known as helpers! Fits right in there with hamburger helper, and asking little kids if they want to be mommy's little helper today, and things like, wow you were a big helper today! Let's look at this a little closer, and I think you're going to be okay. "A helper corresponding to him, or helper fit for him." First what helper means, then what fit for, or corresponding to means.
- The Hebrew word used here for "helper" is Ezer, doesn't only mean serving someone, but also means "furthering or advancing something or someone, supplying someone with what they don't have, including the strength to accomplish some task." The Word ezer is used multiple times throughout scripture and most often to describe God!
- Psalm 121:1,2 - "I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth." // would you say the Lord is lesser than a man, daddy's little helper? No, he's our deliverer, our savior, our rescue in time of need.
- Deuteronomy 32:29 - who is like you, a people saved by the shield of your help, the sword of your triumph // the Lord is our helper, our sword and shield in battle. Is our little helper? No, we die if we don't have him.
- Psalm 46:1: God is a refuge and strength, our ever present help in time of trouble.
- There are a ton more of those. But suffice it to say, when Moses uses the word ezer, or helper to describe the woman, which God is about to create in our text, he does not mean something insignificant or second rate. She is a type of savior, a rescue for the man, here to accomplish something he cannot accomplish on his own, as he looks to image the God who created him.
- God is our provider.
- He knows what we need before we ask. Adam wasn't complaining or begging for a helper, but he needed one. God knew and provided a helper corresponding to him. 21] So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to come over the man, and he slept. God took one of his ribs and closed the flesh at that place.  Then the LORD God made the rib he had taken from the man into a woman and brought her to the man.
- Adam was sleeping. He had zero input in what kind of help God should give him. Which means that everything a woman is created to be and do, is God's design for her, so that she not only is a type of savior for the man, she too is built for connection to and relationship with God.
- Matthew Henry: 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.
- And in Verse 23, Adam sees her coming through the garden and he explodes into joy -- THIS ONE! FINALLY! YES! She has bones like mine, and skin like mine. She corresponds to me!
- At the end of verse 23, we see God's design for this relationship between the woman and the man, in that Adam has the authority to name her. He has headship in the home, but not lordship. That belongs only to God.
- FOR THIS REASON: There is absolutely no place in a Christian home for abuse of any kind. Men and boys: There is no place for you to belittle, demean, or insult your wife, your mom, or any other women in your life, and women/younger girls: there is no place in a Christian home for you to belittle, demean or insult your husband, your dad, or the other men in your life. We are equally created in the image of God, with equal access to a personal connection and relationship to God, and we were designed for connection with each other, with a wisdom that God determines.
- There is no place in a Christian home for pornography, sexual abuse, or physical/verbal/spiritual or emotional abuse. This is a call to humility and repentance, men especially.
- Single people -- there is no place in a Christian male/female relationship for sex outside of marriage, consensual or not. It is not honoring the God who created us in his image. 24] This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh. If you want to be joined sexually with your girlfriend, then you leave your family, your home, your previous alliances with any other friends, and you marry her.
- Women -- we need you. We need you for all the things that you are and the things you do, but we also need your voice. If you are currently experiencing abuse in your home, you don't feel safe, we want you to know that at River City, while we are new to this and won't always do things perfectly, you have a voice and we want to be elders that listen and respond. So come see Toby or myself, or our wives, and we'll do our best to walk with you to healing and safety.
Why does all this matter? Because God is foreshadowing in his initial creation what he would do in the work of re-creation in the Church.
When God started creation, he called things into existence with his words; then, he formed the man out of dirt and now he puts the man to sleep, opens his side, and pulls out a rib that he would fashion into a bride for the man.
This points to the day, only a few thousand years later, when God would become a man, and would hang on a Roman cross, sleep the sleep of death for those who trust in him. His side would be burst open by a Roman spear, blood and water pouring out for the forgiveness of sin, and under the blood of Jesus the bride of Christ, the Church herself, was formed.
 Both the man and his wife were naked, yet felt no shame.
The word for naked means "no barriers". It's so important that we see in this sinless state, there is not an ounce of shame in either of them. There is no shame in the man for the things his dad said to him, no shame for not being man enough for his wife or not being able to provide, or finish remodeling the bathroom -- his rest is in his Father God, his infinitely wise provider who is perfectly enough for the both of them. There is no shame in the woman for the way she looks. There is no shame in not being enough for her husband. There is no shame that comes from not measuring up to social status or cultural definitions of beauty or motherhood. Her rest is in her Creator, the one who defines her as valued and approved and completely loved.
Oh how much shame we feel today. How often shame has crushed us and left us bleeding out. Yet how often shame has kept us in hiding, hoping no one finds out how inadequate we actually are. Oh how shame spurs us on, like spurs to a horse, moving us away from true rest, forcing us to try again, try harder, work longer, sleep less and instead of experiencing the abundance of God's provision, we diminish ourselves in the process. More on that next week as we get into chapter 3.
But I want you to see that that's not how God created us. We were not designed for shame. We were designed for abundance of joy and fellowship and connection to God, growing more and more and more in our delight and fascination with our Creator. That's what it means to be an image-bearer.
Today as we close, we've spent these last four weeks talking about God, and his purposes for creation. We've see how God and humans relate to each other. We've seen how humans and God relate to creation. And we've seen that we cannot image God in isolation. Men need women. Women need men. Men need brothers. Women need sisters.
And above it all we see God's marvelous provision for us; knowing and meeting our needs (Matthew 6:8) even before we ask him.
- Maybe you're here today and you realize you've blown it. You've been living a life full of shame from decisions you've made in the past; You haven't been concerned with being an image-carrier of God, being connected to him in relationship with him, and you've been more about doing. Gotta try harder, do more, gotta do better. The good news of Jesus's life and death and resurrection says that the things that matter most have been accomplished for you. There is forgiveness for every. Single. sin of your past. There is grace for every single day. Our shame was nailed to the cross of Christ so that we would find grace and forgiveness.
- Maybe you've been anxious and fearful because of all the things in life that you don't have. You feel like God hasn't provided for you, and that he's disappeared on vacation or something and forgot about you. The scripture today as well as Philippians 4:19 says that our God will supply all our needs according to his riches in glory in Christ. He knows what we need before we ask, and he's working to provide it even as we sleep.
- Maybe you're a guy and you haven't been treating your wife as an equal. You've been more of a lord than a head. More of a Ruler than a teammate. Man, it's time to humble yourself and repent.
- Maybe you're a woman and you haven't been treating your man like you've been created to do what he can't, but you've treated him more like you can do what he's supposed to do but better, or that if he would just seek your wisdom things would go smoother. And maybe you're right, but you've done it in pride instead of grace and humility. Time to humble yourself and repent.
1 Peter 5:5 invites us to get dressed with humility, put it on like a coat -- clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the proper time.
Topics: Creation, God's Will, God’s character, God’s love, Lordship, Sovereignty, Story of God