What the Bible’s First Couple has to teach us about deception, redemption and grace.
Three ageless life lessons from Adam and Eve.
Spoiler: Our sin can’t take us further than God’s grace can reach!
In my last two posts, I wound up profiling two of the Bible’s iconic brides: Esther and the Song of Solomon’s Shulamite. I didn’t really plan that :), but given our identity as the Bride of Christ, I guess the Biblical concept of “bride” ought to have deep meaning for us.
This week I felt the Lord challenging me to plunge in deeper and look at another iconic bride. What about Adam and Eve, and God’s initial plan for their union? The “mother of all marriages,” if you will. What can we learn?
It’s another very familiar story. Kind of like last week, I thought it might be helpful to extract some key messages. Although there are many, I’m going to focus here on three that struck me hardest.
Genesis 1 summarizes the creation of the human race in a couple of verses.
Then God (Elohim) said, “Let Us make man (adam) in Our image, according to Our likeness”… God (Elohim) created man (adam) in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male (zakar) and female He created them. (Gen 1:26-27)
So, a little fun with words. Adam is not only the proper name of the first man; it is also the general word in Hebrew for man. It is not the same as the word that specifically denotes male, although it is sometimes used that way. So when we run across adam, it may mean the first man, or all men, or all people. So which does it mean here? Gen 5:2 states, “He created them male and female, and He blessed them and named them Man (adam) in the day when they were created.” So here God has made a point of making it clear that in the creation account, the word adam includes the entire race.
All people are made in God’s image.
I hope that doesn’t surprise anyone! But sometimes people do misread this passage.
The Genesis narrative goes on to explore the creation of humanity in more detail.
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable* for him.” (Gen 2:18) (* or corresponding to)
Up to the point where God creates man, the Bible states six times that “God saw that it was good.” The first thing God sees in His entire creation that is not good is Adam, alone. Adam needs a “help” that corresponds to him.
A Helper Suitable
The word “help” here, ezer עֵ֖זֶר, is from a root meaning to surround, protect or aid. Adam may not think he’s vulnerable without a wife. After all he’s the Big Man in the Garden! But the Lord sees that he is.
While in English the word “helper” can imply a subordinate assistant (as in “the help”), this word in the Hebrew clearly does not have that implication. The Bible even uses it to refer to the Lord Himself (Hos 13:9: “…you are against Me, against your help.” Ex 18:4: “… the God of my father was my help.”)
After the Lord creates Eve as the precise “help” that corresponds to Adam, scripture decrees,
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. (Gen 2:23-24)
A Compound Unity
Back to the theme of “made in God’s image,” the word for “one” in “one flesh” is echad, אֶחָֽד׃. This is a word indicating a compound unity. It is used to describe God Himself, signifying the interrelatedness of the persons of the trinity. (“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!” Deut 6:4.) Jesus alludes to this verse in one of His most dramatic declarations of His deity: “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30).
Let’s also take a deeper look at the word Elohim אֱלֹהִ֖ים. This is the name the Hebrew scriptures use for God throughout the creation account, as well as in thousands of other places, and it’s fascinating. It’s actually a plural word—the –im (ם) is the plural ending in Hebrew. But when used to denote the one true God, it’s generally used with singular pronouns and verb conjugations. So from the very first sentence in scripture (“In the beginning, Elohim (plural) created (singular)…” Gen 1:1), God tells us He is somehow a compound unity—a fellowship in a single being!
The Bible is a bit mysterious as to exactly what it means that we are created in God’s image. What aspects of our nature precisely reflect His? There are varying ideas on the subject but I’m convinced this is part of it:
In the diversity of masculine and feminine there is also a compound unity that reflects the image of Elohim.
Humans are defined by our interrelatedness! As is Elohim Himself. And we are specifically defined by the interdependence between male and female.
“A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.”
No one seems quite sure who coined the phrase, but it was popular graffiti when I was a young woman, um, a few years ago. But God’s truth is that neither sex is complete without the other–men and women were designed for radical interdependence.
Sin, of course, takes a tragic toll on that beautiful intimacy for which God created us. With Him, and with our marriage partner. Note that as soon as their sin was discovered, Adam and Eve started blame-gaming! (Gen 3:12-13) But in every case we’ve looked at, restoration is available through repentance.
And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
So the Lord God said to the serpent:
“Because you have done this,
You are cursed more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you shall go,
And you shall eat dust
All the days of your life.
And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.” (Gen 3:13-15)
John J. Parsons on Hebrew4Christians.com makes some interesting points about this passage:
Adam and Eve were not yet judged for their sin when the Lord God gave the promise of the coming of the Redeemer. Before a word of judgment was directed toward them, God’s love and light was already revealed…. At the very dawn of human history, then, we see that “truth” apart from God leads to death….
In response to her teshuvah (repentance), God blessed Eve before he judged her… [with] the promise that she would take part in the birth of the Savior of mankind. The first promise of the gospel, then, focused on the woman and her role in the coming redemption. Notice that Adam later renamed his wife Eve (i.e., Chavah, the “mother of life”) as an expression of his faith that the promised seed would come through her.
And here’s another wonderful thing I hadn’t noticed about this passage. It seems Eve expected her own son to be the Seed God had promised!
When Eve called her son “Cain”… she was expressing her faith in God’s promise: “I have gotten a man–namely, the Lord” (Gen 4:1). Eve’s faith was obscured by the translators, however, who rendered the Hebrew as “I have gotten a man with the help of the Lord”…. The ancient Jewish targums [translations and commentaries], however, agree with the original Hebrew. For example, Targum Yonatan reads “I have gotten a man–the angel of YHVH”…. the straightforward reading of her words, then, expressed her hope that the Lord himself would be made a man….
This shows up again when you consider how Eve named her third son, Seth.
She bore a son and named him Seth (“appointed”), “For God has appointed another seed for me instead of Abel, whom Cain killed.” (Gen 4:25)
“Seed” in this verse is zera, זָ֫רַע, the same Hebrew word as in Gen 3:15.
While Seth wasn’t the Seed, the third time was the charm, and his line did prove faithful.
And as for Seth, to him also a son was born; and he named him Enos. Then men began to call on the name of the Lord. (Gen 4:26)
So bringing this home, what does Adam and Eve’s story say about the implication of being the “Bride of Christ”?
God designed us for radical interdependence—with our spouses and with Him.
…as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. (John 17:20-23)
Maybe our spouses are practice! If so, I’m afraid I’m falling down on the job! 🙁
About a year ago, I was doing a lot of waiting on the Lord regarding the publishing journey for my novel, The Plum Blooms in Winter, the fruit of several years of labor. (It’s now slated to launch from Mountain Brook Ink this coming October–did I mention that? 🙂 ) Naturally, I meditated on scriptures on waiting. Who doesn’t love this beautiful passage:
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint. (Is 40:31)
Did you know the word for “wait” here has a sense of being intertwined?
From the Complete Word Study Bible: קָוָה qāwāh, A verb meaning to wait for, to look for, to hope for. The root meaning is that of twisting or winding a strand of cord or rope….
The secret of waiting: I should be so intertwined with my Lord and His purposes that my will disappears into His!
Which also evokes Jesus’ idea of “abiding” (John 15:4), doesn’t it?
Here’s something I think and pray about a lot. As the Bride of Yeshua, we’re all in a stance of waiting on the Lord.
For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. (Rom 8:22-23)
… or to say it another way, we eagerly await our Heavenly Bridegroom.
But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, [Note: this phrase is a reference to the ancient Jewish marriage process, in which the groom would come “like a thief” to “snatch away” his bride] in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up…. But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth [NOTE: Our new eternal home with our Bridegroom], in which righteousness dwells.
Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless… (2 Pet 3:10-14 )
Do you see the picture of the bride who has made herself ready, eager for her long-awaited Bridegroom?
For the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. (Rev 19:7-8)
We are the beautiful bride He bought with a price. And what a price! But, to quote the ditty from Frozen, we’re “a bit of a fixer-upper”—to put it nicely. Only He can make us worth such an astonishing price. Only He can “present us to Himself… without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.”
But while “spotless” can only be His work, each of us has a role to play in making ourselves ready. A calling to “diligence.” To “pursue holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14). And when we inevitably fall short, a calling to keep short accounts with God.
So… you want to adorn yourself in white linen for the Marriage Supper of the Lamb?? Follow Eve’s example.
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
Such cleansing has always taken the form of blood sacrifice. God Himself performed the first sacrifice recorded in Scripture when He “made garments of skin” for Adam and Eve to cover their nakedness (Gen 3:21).
True Biblical repentance isn’t lip service, in case we’re tempted to visualize someone reciting their litany of sins in a confessional booth.
The Greek verb “to repent” is μετάνοια (metánoia). From metá (transform) plus noús (mind). Change your way of thinking to line up with God’s view of sin.
In Hebrew, the verb is שׁוּב (shuv), a primitive root. To turn back (hence, away), not necessarily with the idea of returning to the starting point. To retreat.
We can grieve over the consequences of our sin. But until we change our mind to line up with God’s view of it (“Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” Rom 12:2) and turn back from the path we’re on, we haven’t reached a point of Biblical repentance.
Joel Rosenburg tells a sort of parable to illustrate how Biblical repentance works. This one has stuck with me ever since I first heard it years ago. When Joel’s children were young he would play a game with them. He’d have them run away from him as hard as they could. When he yelled “Repent,” they were to turn immediately and run back to him—where they’d be welcomed back into the fold with a big hug.
Listen! The Lord says:
At the acceptable time I listened to you,
And on the day of salvation I helped you.
Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation”… (2 Cor 6:2)
I recently noticed something really cool! The passage Paul quotes here is Isaiah 49:8. Guess what the word for salvation in this passage is in the Hebrew? יְשׁוּעָה yešû‘āh: It’s a form of our Lord’s name! “…salvation, deliverance, help, victory, prosperity. The primary meaning is to rescue from distress or danger….” Isaiah told Israel to look for the “day of Yeshua”!
Brothers and sisters, He is near–right at the door! (Look here if you want to know why I’m confident of that.)
For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation,
He has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments,
And as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. (Is 61:10)
Are you clothed in His righteousness?
Our bridal canopy awaits!
If you’ve never opened God’s free gift of salvation through Jesus (Rom 3:23, 6:23), please please please be persuaded to do it now! It’s simple. Just tell God from your heart that you admit you’re a sinner that needs a Savior (“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Rom 3:23) that you’re done running your own life, and that you’re ready to make Jesus Lord of your life.
If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” (Rom 10:9-11)
The decision that saves you is that simple!
Simple… But no one said living it out will be easy. Especially now, in these last days.