God's End Game - Part 5
Series: My Preaching Bucket List
October 14, 2018
We are working hard to see if we can figure out God’s end game, what he’s up to when it comes to wrapping things up with us and the world.
Although God doesn’t give us all the details all at once, he does give us clues in his word, clues that help us see the big picture of where things are headed.
Details are important, but getting the big picture is more important-er. That’s why some may feel cheated a little in this series. They expect us to dial down hard on biblical interpretation issues like how old the earth is and whether the six days of creation were literal 24-hour days and exactly when the rapture takes place and who the antichrist is.
There’s value in carefully picking apart the Bible, but if that’s all we do, if that’s our main objective, it’s like looking at the world through a microscope. You might discover amazing things like how plant cells use photosynthesis to convert light into energy, but you will never see the beauty of a forest.
God’s end game is all about big picture stuff. So that’s our focus. And we are in the book of Genesis identifying this big picture stuff because to understand God’s end game you must go back to the beginning. Genesis is the book of beginnings.
Last week we looked at the one rule God gave Adam concerning a special tree in the Garden of Eden…
Genesis 2:16–17 (ESV) — 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 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.”
In the garden were lots and lots of trees, but two among them were special, supernatural even. Back in verse 9 we learned one was the tree of life, which gave Adam immortality. And the other, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, gave consciousness of things man was never intended to know.
Though we covered a number of ideas as to what this knowledge might be (details), what matters most is not what the knowledge of good and evil was but what God had commanded Adam concerning the tree: Do not eat of it. Ultimately, eating of that tree would equal rebellion against God, and rebellion would sever the beautiful, sweet, unhindered relationship between God and man.
That’s a kind of death all it’s own. The worst kind of death. The Bible calls eternal separation from God the second death, the first being physical.
The big question begging to be asked here, the elephant in the room as we called it was…
Why would God allow for the possibility of mankind disobeying him if it’s the consequences are so horrific? I mean one less tree and there’s nothing to worry about. Or, just make them incapable of disobeying.
We spent a little time on that too but left it like this…
- God allowed the fall.
- God has good reasons for everything he does, including what he allows.
- Therefore, God had good reasons for allowing the fall, whether or not we can discern them.
That’s not a cop-out. God, by the very definition, requires a dropping off point.
So, in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth and it was all good. And he planted a mountain/garden on the earth called Eden, his dwelling place from which he’d fellowship with and rule over the affairs of men.
He created Adam, the first man, and put him in the garden and it was very good. His job was to have dominion over God’s creation and work to make the rest of the earth like Eden. Eden had two special trees and one rule.
Now let’s pick back up in Genesis 2 and see what comes next.
Genesis 2:18–25 (ESV) — 18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”
Wait, what?! God has done all this amazing stuff and it’s all very good and Adam has an awesome place to live, and all this awesome fruit to eat (except for one tree), and this awesome job to work at, and God puts the brakes on everything and says, “Wait a minute. Something’s missing here. Man is alone.”
Was he really alone?
Genesis 1:20–25 (ESV) — 20 And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” 21 So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” 23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.
24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. 25 And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
According to the creation order in Genesis 1, the animals were created before Adam. Of those animals, there had to have been a dog. Man’s best friend. So he was not alone, but yet he was. Why?
All God created was good, very good even, but not perfect, at least not in the way God is perfect. What was missing? What would make it not “not good”? A helper.
Now a helper seems like an inconsequential thing, even an afterthought, like maybe Adam would have been okay by himself but it could be better.
Yet the Hebrew word for helper here is mostly associated with the need for military assistance in the OT. Guess who is referred to as Israel’s helper, the one who comes to their aid to deliver them? God.
God doesn’t mind being called a helper, and he’s the sovereign of the universe. Remember that. The idea of a helper is a way bigger deal than we realize. The implication is Adam can’t really make it without one.
Look back at verse 18. Adam needed a helper “fit for him.” A dog might have been a great helper in general, a nice companion, but it couldn’t have been a helper fit for Adam. Or God could even have made another man to be his companion and they could have high-fived and fist-bumped their way all over God’s creation, gitting’ ‘er done. But even that would not have been a helper “fit” for him.
Fit means “that which is opposite or corresponds to something.” Tim Keller explains…
“There are actually two Hebrew words there the word [fit] is trying to translate. The Hebrew word literally says, ‘I will make a helper like opposite him.’ Like opposite? Wait a minute. Make up your mind here. Is it like or is it opposite? You can’t be like and opposite. Oh yes, it can, if it’s a complement. See, two pieces of a puzzle fit together not if they’re identical. If they’re identical, they don’t fit. Right? On the other hand, they can’t just be different in general. They have to be rightly different. They have to be like opposite. They have to be perfectly complementary.]
That’s what Adam needed. That’s the only thing that could make the “not good” good.
Now God knew this, but Adam didn’t. How could he? It’s just him, and he’s just been created. He has nothing to compare his life to. So God, instead of just telling Adam this, shows him, let’s him discover it on his own, which is how God usually works.
19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.
Now Adam realizes out of all the creatures God made, he’s different. There aren’t any like him. And on top of that, the animals have counterparts and he doesn’t. For the first time, he feels lonely. Often God will lead us to a place of longing or unfulfillment or dissatisfaction so he can meet that longing, fulfill that need.
Look what our good God does…
21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.
Woman is God’s perfect answer for a fit helper. She was what was uniquely needed to complete the puzzle. It’s interesting to note Adam was formed from dirt, but Eve (as he will call her) was formed from Adam. One Bible scholar says:
[The significances of this are several and profound. Adam was not created ex nihilo (out of nothing) but out of the dust of the earth, and neither was Eve made ex nihilo. “The rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made [literally, “built”] into a woman” (v. 22a.).
She was made of the same stuff as the man—the same bone, the same flesh, the same DNA… Eve was the first person to be created from a living being. Because she came from Adam, she perfectly shared the image of God. Their mutual flesh lies behind 1:27: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
The woman’s creation out of Adam is the basis for her equality. As the Puritan Matthew Henry quaintly coined it: “not made out of his head to top him, not 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.” So here it is: Eve was taken out of Adam so that he might embrace with great love a part of himself.]
From the very beginning, women were never intended to be of lesser value or importance than men. In fact, their presence was required for man to obey God’s command to be fruitful and multiply, to subdue the earth and make it like Eden. This involved so much more than just bearing children!
We’ll cover this later as we wind down the bucket list series, but I will go ahead and advise you: any pastor or preacher, book or article, teaching or doctrine, church or ministry, attitude or implication that demeans women, makes them out to be less valuable than or inferior to men, or a second-class citizen in God’s kingdom is not of God. If it’s not of God there’s only one other place it can be from.
We’ll see men and women have different roles in God’s economy, but they are equal heirs to heaven and all it’s blessings right now.
Galatians 3:25–29 (ESV) — 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.
Back to our text. Verse 23. Adam speaks for the first time…
23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
“At last,” he said. In other words, “She is what I’ve been looking for all my life.”
We have the first man, the first woman, and now the first wedding…
24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
Nothing sums up what marriage is supposed to be better than this (it was God’s idea!). If you’re single, don’t read anything into this.
Conclusion: Now we have a fairly clear picture of what things were like in the beginning, which we need if we’re going to figure out God’s end game.
**** Back to illustration
One last thing. Let’s close with verse 25…
25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
Abbie running around shouting “Naked baby” when she was little…
That speaks of their innocence. They didn’t know any better than to not be ashamed of their nakedness. I wish we could just leave it like this.
Remember that tree of the knowledge of good and evil? And God’s command concerning it? Everything is about to change for the worse.
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