John Piper – Why did God forbid one tree?

Of the many trees in the Garden, God banned Adam and Eve from eating from one — just one (Genesis 2:16–17, 3:1–3, 11). Why?

You can listen to the full episode here:

John Piper recently gave the question some fresh thinking, which he shares in today’s episode of Ask Pastor John:

The function of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is to make sure that the pleasures of all the other trees in the garden are supremely pleasures in God.

The command went like this: “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 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’” (Genesis 2:16–17).

So what was God saying in prohibiting the eating of one tree out of a million trees? He was saying, “I have given you life. I have given you a world full of pleasure, pleasures of taste and sight and sound and smell and feel and nourishment. Only one tree is forbidden to you. And the point of that prohibition is to preserve the pleasures of the world, because if you eat of that one you will be saying to me, ‘I’m smarter than you. I am more authoritative that you. I am wiser than you are. I think I can care for myself better than you care for me. You are not a very good Father. And so I am going to reject you.’ So don’t eat from the tree, because you will be rejecting me and all my good gifts and all my wisdom and all my care. Instead, keep on submitting to my will. Keep on affirming my wisdom. Keep on being thankful for my generosity. Keep on trusting me as a Father and keep on eating these trees as a way of enjoying me. There are 10,000 trees, every imaginable fruit. Just go eat. Be thankful. I have given them to you and see them as expressions of my goodness and savor them that way.”

And Satan comes along, and he takes that arrangement and says, “Hey, Eve, the meaning of that arrangement is: God is selfish. God is stingy. He is a skinflint.” So he took the prohibition of one suicidal tree and treated it as a prohibition of everything.

So the issue of the tree is this: Will we keep looking to God as the giver and lover and treasure of this garden so that all our eating is thanking and all our savoring is a savoring of God? Will we keep on experiencing every one of these tastes as a tasting of something like what God is, and in that sense a tasting of God? Will we keep on enjoying God in the enjoying of the trees?

That is what the forbidden tree was there to test.

I think a lot of people try to set that up as merely arbitrary: Will man obey? Or will he not obey? And they don’t put it in the context of his fatherly care and all the goods that he has given. I don’t think it is arbitrary like that.

It was a warning. “If you choose independence instead of God-dependence, you will lose the pleasure of the garden and God with it.”

“If you keep trusting me and enjoying me as your greatest delight and highest treasure, you will have this garden and I will be the pleasure of all your pleasures.”

The forbidding one tree is a way of securing that the pleasures of all the other trees in the garden are supremely pleasures in God.

Ask Pastor John is a daily podcast series of 3–8 minute conversations released each weekday at 10:30am (EST) through the DG Facebook and Twitter feeds. You can tune in to the new episodes through the free Ask Pastor John mobile app for iPhone and Android. We’re currently hosting all the recordings on SoundCloud, a website making it easy to listen to several of the podcasts in one sitting. They’re also archived on the DG website and syndicated in iTunes. To submit a question to Pastor John please include your first name, hometown, and question in an email to AskPastorJohn AT desiringGod DOT org.

By John Piper. ©2013 Desiring God Foundation. Website: desiringGod.org

Consequences of sin – Joseph’s story

Read also:

  1. Jacob – (1) father of Israel (and of Joseph) (Chart of the 12 tribes of Israel)
  2. The Story of Jacob (2) the Father of Israel) Genesis 25-33 (D A Carson on Jacob)

God forgives sin.  Besides the danger of becoming enslaved to our sin (Romans 6:16) and finding ourselves  separated from God (Isaiah 59:2), there are also some personal and physical consequences that we will suffer for our sinful actions even though God has forgiven our sin. (Photo on right wikipedia)

You can read the Bible’s story of Joseph in the book of Genesis in chapters 37-50.

Some of the consequences of the sin Joseph’s brothers committed when they sold him into slavery:

  • Their sin was constantly before them-the brother they were so jealous of and wanted to forget about was in their mind daily as their father Jacob’s unceasing grief did not abate. They also feared, lest anything should happen to the youngest son Benjamin, whom Jacob now loved and favored.
  • Uncertainty- They always wondered whether God was punishing them for what they had done to Joseph.
  • Physical hardship- They had to make the approx 250 mile trek to Egypt on foot  (that Joseph made as a slave) 6 times  (3 trips) with little provisions.  See Map 2)

Joseph was the 11th son born to Jacob (also called Israel) and Rachel(who died in childbirth when Benjamin, the 12th, and youngest son was born.Gen 37:2 states that Joseph brings a bad report to his father about his brothers, then we read how Jacob favors Joseph by making him a coat of many colors, and thirdly Joseph has special dreams (Genesis 39:5-11). All 3 factors lead to conflict in the family and the unbridled jealousy of his brothers leads to plans for murder.

„The final episode (Genesis 37:31-35) shows the desperate brothers concocting yet another scheme  to be rid of Joseph. Their plan to dispose of Joseph ended in a fiasco, now their plan to erase his memory from the family, by faking his death, fails miserably. In a powerfully ironic twist, although Jacob is deceived by the sight of Joseph’s special coat stained with goat’s blood, his unceasing grieving means that the brothers can never forget Joseph and his exalted position in the family”. (Biblica P. 125)

Although the brothers planned to kill Joseph, in the end, due to the influence of his older brothers Reuben and Judah, they decide instead to sell him to passing Ishmaelite/Midianite traders.

If being sold into slavery by your own brothers isn’t bad enough, look at the long road Joseph had to walk on foot in order to get to Egypt. (I have seen the distance between Dothan, Israel and Heliopolis or Cairo Egypt to be estimated at about 240 to 280 miles depending on the old (spice) routes taken by caravans back then.

So, imagine being threatened by death from the hands of your own brothers, then being sold into slavery and then walking on foot through desert land, more than 250 miles to Egypt, and all this at the tender age of 17.

Map scanned from Biblica – The Bible Atlas. For a more detailed report on Joseph’s life click here.

And it doesn’t end there. Joseph is purchased by a wealthy man called Potiphar who was captain of the guards for Pharaoh. There Joseph prospered and found favor with Potiphar until Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him continuously. Joseph refused  the temptation on the grounds that it would be a sin against God. Potiphar’s wife framed Joseph with her household and Joseph was imprisoned. He spent 2 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Even in prison Joseph found favor with the warden and he interpreted Pharaoh’s baker and cupbearer’s dreams accurately. When the Pharaoh had a troubling dream, the cup bearer remembered Joseph’s correct interpretation of his dream and recommended Joseph to Pharaoh.  Joseph prophetically interpreted Pharaoh’s dream from God and 13 years after Joseph was sold into captivity by his brothers(and at the age of 30), Pharaoh makes Joseph Prime Minister, gives him his signet ring which made him second in command after Pharaoh and Joseph starts to gather the harvests in storehouses for 7 years as he prepares for the 7 lean years of famine to come (from Pharaoh’s dream).

Joseph then married Pharaoh’s priest’s daughter Asenath and had 2 sons-Manasseh and Ephraim. During the famine Joseph becomes the savior of the world with his surplus of stored grain. The famine reaches his father Jacob in Canaan, and Jacob is forced to send his sons to Egypt to buy food.

The brothers have 3 encounters with Joseph (read Genesis 42-45) before Joseph reveals to his brothers his true identity(Genesis 45:1-3).

The troubled and divided family is finally reunited in Egypt (Goshen in the northeastern Nile delta). With the family of Jacob/Israel safely in Egypt, the stage is set for the story of Israel in the book of Exodus.

Joseph’s brothers made 3 (round) trips, traveling the approx. 250 miles trek that Joseph was forced to take when they sold him into slavery. (Map scanned from Biblica – The Bible Atlas)

The Story of Jacob (2) the Father of Israel) Genesis 25-33

See Jacob – Father of Israel & Joseph(1)

Post includes charts of the 12 tribes of Israel and the lineage of Jesus, traced back to Jacob.

The Story of Jacob (2)

Click here to read Genesis 25-33, the Biblical account of the life of Jacob.

excerpts  from D.A.Carson’s ‘For the Love of God” Volume I:

by D.A Carson

Genesis 27 is in many ways a pathetic, grubby account. Earlier Esau had despised his birthright (25:34); now Jacob swindles him out of it. In this Jacob is guided by his mother Rebekah, who thus shows favoritism among her children and disloyalty to her husband. Esau throws a tantrum and takes no responsibility for his actions at all. indeed, he nurses his bitterness and plots the assassination of his brother. The family that constitutes the promised line is not doing very well.

Yet those who read the passage in the flow of the entire book remember that God himself had told Rebekah, before the twin brothers were born, that the older will serve the younger (25:23) Perhaps

Jacob blessed instead of Esau

that is one of the reasons she acted as she did: apparently she felt that God needed a little help in keeping his prediction, even immoral help. Yet behind these grubby and evil actions God is mysteriously working out his purposes to bring the promised line to the end he has determined. Certainly God could have arranged to have Jacob born first, if that was the man He wanted to carry on the line. Instead, Esau is born first, but Jacob is chosen, as if to say that the line is important, but God’s sovereign, intervening choosing is more important than mere human seniority, than mere primogeniture.

The name „Bethel” means House of God. The event that gave rise to the name (Gen. 28) was a mixed bag. There is Jacob, scurrying across the miles to the home of his uncle Laban. Ostensibly he is looking for a godly wife–but the previous chapter makes clear that he wishes to escape being assassinated by his own brother in the wake of his own tawdry act of betrayal and deceit. Judging by the requests he makes to God, he is in danger of having too little food and inadequate clothing, and he is already missing his own family (28:20-21)Yet here God meets him in a dream so vivid that Jacob declares,”How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, this is the gate of heaven” (28:17).

For his part, God reiterates the substance of the Abrahamic Covenant to this grandson of Abraham. The vision of the ladder opens up the prospect of access to God, of God’s immediate contact with a man who up to this point seems more driven by expedience than principle. God promises that his descendants will multiply and be given this land. The ulrimate expansion is also repeated: „All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring” (28:14). Even at the personal level, Jacob will not be abandoned, for God declares, „I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back over to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (28:15).

Awakened from his dream, Jacob erects an altar and calls the place Bethel. But in large measure he is still wheeler-dealer. He utters a vow: If God will do this and that and the other, if I get all that I want and I hope for out of this deal, „then the Lord will be my God” (28:20-21).

And God does not strike him down! The story moves on: God does all that he promised, and more. All of Jacob’s conditions are met. One of the great themes of Scripture is how God meets us where we are: in our insecurities, in our conditional obedience, in our mixture of faith and doubt, in our fusion of awe and self interest, in our understanding and foolishness. God does not disclose Himself only to the greatest and most stalwart, but to us, at our Bethel, the house of God.

When I was a child in Sunday School, I learned the names of the twelve tribes of Israel by singing a simple chorus: „These are the names of Jacob’s sons:/Gad and Asher and Simeon,/Reuben, Issachar, Levi,/Judah, Dan and Naphtali-/Twelve in all, but never a twin–/Zebulun, Joseph and Benjamin.”

But many more years passed before I grasped how important are the twelve tribes in the Bible’s storyline. Many of the dynamics of the rest of  Genesis turn on their relationships. The organization of the nation of Israel depends on setting aside one tribe, the Levites, as priests. From another son, Judah, springs the Davidic dynasty that leads to the Messiah. Over the centuries, the tribe of Joseph would be divided into Ephraim and Manasseh; in substantial mesaure, Benjamin would merge with Judah. By the last  book in the Bible, Revelation, the twelve tribes of the old covenant constitute the counterpoint to the twelve apostles of the new covenant: this twelve by twelve matrix (i.e. 144, in the symbolism of this apocalyptic literature) embraces in principle the whole people of God.

Jacob meets Rachel by Raphael 1518

But, what tawdry beginnings they have in Genesis 30. The deceit of Laban in Genesis 29, which resulted in Jacob’s marrying both Leah and Rachel, now issues in one of the most unhealthy instances of sibling rivalry in holy Scripture. Each of these women from this family is so eager to outshine the other that she gives her handmaid to her husband rather than allow the other to get ahead in the race to bear children. So self-centered and impetuous are the relationships that another time Rachel is prepared to sell her husband’s sex time to her sister Leah for a few mandrakes. Polygamy has taken hold, and with it a mess of distorted relationships.

From these painful and frankly dysfunctional family relationships spring eleven sons and one daughter (the birth of the last son, Benjamin, is reported in chap. 35). Here are the origins of the twelve tribes of Israel, the foundations of the Israelite nation. Their origins are not worse than those of others; they are merely typical. But already it is becoming clear that God does not deal with this family because they are consistently a cut above other families. No, he uses them to keep his covenantal promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He graciously perseveres with them to bring about his grand, redemptive purposes. The tawdry family dynamics cannot possibly prevent the universe’s  sovereign from keeping his covenantal vows.

In Genesis 32 Jacob is returning home  and he is still frightened half to death of his brother…Jacob left the tents of his parents a single man, taking almost nothing with him, while here he returns home a rich, married man with many children.

But the deepest differences between the two journeys are reflected in Jacob’s changed attitude toward God. On the outbound trip, Jacob takes no initiative in matters divine. He simply goes to sleep (Gen 28). It is God who intervenes with a remarkable vision of a ladder reaching up to heaven. When Jacob awakens, he acknowledges that what he experienced was some sort of visitation from God (28:16-17), but his response is to barter with God: if God will grant him security, safety, prosperity, and ultimately a happy return home, Jacob for his part will acknowledge God and offer him a tithe.

Now it is rather different. True, God again takes the initiative: Jacob meets angelic messengers (32:1-2). Jacob decides to act prudently. He sends some of his people ahead to announce to Esau that his brother is returning. This spawns devastating news: Esau is coming to meet him, but with 400 men.

On the one hand, Jacob sets in motion a carefully orchestrated plan: successive waves of gifts for his brother are sent ahead, with each of the messengers carefully instructed to speak to Esau with the utmost courtesy and respect. On the other hand, Jacob admits that matters are out of his control. Bartering is gone; in „great fear and distress” (32:7) Jacob takes action, and then prays, begging for help. He reminds God of his covenantal promises, he pleads his own unworthiness, he acknowledges how many undeserved blessings he has received, he confesses his own terror (32:9-12). And then, in the darkest hours, he wrestles with this strange manifestation of God himself (32:22-30).

Twenty years or so have passed since Jacob’s outward-bound journey. Some people learn nothing in twenty years. Jacob has learned humility, tenacity, godly fear, reliance upon God’s covenantal promises, and how to pray. None of this means he is so paralyzed by fear that he does nothing but retreat into prayer. Rather, it means he does what he can, while believing utterly that salvation is of the Lord. By the time the sun rises, he may walk with a limp, but he is a stronger and better man.

Jacob’s story with his 12 children, who are the 12 tribes of Israel continues through Joseph. You can read Joseph’s story here (in English-including maps of Joseph’s journey when sold into slavery by his brothers) and you can read an English illustration of Joseph, the  foreshadow to the Savior here; also read a Romanian article (excerpt from book by Iosif Ton- Ce l-a tinut pe Iosif curat, aflat atit de departe de casa? Part 1 & 2). Lastly you can view the story of Joseph and his brothers in a film (English with Romanian subtitles)

The epilogue:

One of the most difficult things to grasp is that the God of the Bible is both personal–interacting with other persons–and transcendent (i.e. above space andtime–the domain in which all our personal interactions with God take place).As the transcendent Sovereign, he rules over everything without exception, as the personal Creator, he interacts in personal ways with those who bear his image, disclosing himself to be not only personal but flawlessly good. How to put those elements together is finally beyond us, however frequentlythey are frequently assumed in Scripture.

When Jacob hears that Joseph is alive, he offers sacrifices to God, who graciously discloses himself to Jacob, once again: „I am God, the God of your father. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes” (Gen 46:3-4).

The book of Genesis makes it clear that Jacob knew that God’s covenant with Abraham included the promise that the land where they were now settled would one day be given to him and his descendants. That is why Jacob needed the direct disclosure from God to induce him to leave the land. Jacob was reassured on three fronts: (a) God would make his descendants multiply into a „great nation” during their sojourn in Egypt, (b) God would eventually bring them out of Egypt, (c) at the personal level, Jacob is comforted to learn that his long-lost son Joseph will attend his father’s death.

All of this provides personal comfort. It also discloses something of the mysteries of God’s providential sovereignty, for readers of the Pentateuch know that this sojourn in Egypt will issue in slavery, that God will then be said to „hear” the cries of his people, that in the course of time he will raise up Moses, who will be God’s agent in the ten plagues, the crossing of the Red Sea, the granting of the Sinai covenant and the giving of the law, the wilderness wanderings, and the (re)entry into the Promised Land. The sovereign God who brings Joseph down to Egypt to prepare the way for this small community of seventy persons has a lot of complex plans in store. These are designed to bring his people to the next stage of redemptive history, and finally to teach them that God’s words are more important than food (Deut 8).

One can no more detach God’s sovereign transcendence from his personhood or vice versa, than one can safely detach one wing from an airplane and still expect it to fly.

Genesis vs. Revelation – Chuck Missler

Interesting contrast from Chuck Missler’s commentary on the book of Genesis. VIDEO by Koinonia House

Genesis                                     Revelation

  • Earth Created                           Earth passed away
  • Sun to govern day                  No need for sun
  • Darkness He called night-    No night there
  • Waters He called seas            No more sea
  • A river for earth’s blessing    A river for New Earth
  • Earth’s government mentioned – Earth’s judgment
  • Man made in God’s image    Man headed by Satan’s image
  • Entrance of sin                          End of sin
  • Curse pronounced                  No more curse
  • Death entered                          No more death
  • Man driven out of Eden        Man restored
  • Tree of life guarded                 Right to the tree of life
  • Sorrow & suffering enter       No more sorrow
  • Nimrod founds Babylon        Babylon falls
  • God’s flood to destroy evil generation – Satan’s flood to destroy the elect generation
  • A bow: God’s promise(9:13)  A bow for remembrance (4:3;10:1)
  • A confederation vs/ Abraham’s people – A confederation vs. Abraham’s seed
  • A bride for Abraham’s son    A bride for Abraham’s seed
  • Marriage of the first Adam   Marriage of the last Adam
  • Man’s dominion ceased & Satan’s begun – Satan’s domain ended and man’s restored

One integrated design from Genesis to Revelation. The New Testament is in the Old Testament concealed, the Old Testament is in the New Testament revealed.

The question of the historical Adam and why evangelicals are capitulating on this

by STEVEN WEDGEWORTH

creation of man

creation of man (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Modern evangelicalism has always had something of an identity problem. Wanting to be neither Fundamentalism nor Liberalism, it has often found itself unable to sit comfortably in the middle. More often than not, and sometimes with a bit of pressure from either side, it ends up swinging back and forth between the poles, often unable to explain why it isn’t one or the other. Traditionally a commitment to Biblical inerrancy was the one sure thing that all evangelicals could agree upon, but even that, in light of contemporary challenges, is proving inadequate. The question of hermeneutics must (again) be dealt with, as more and more professing evangelicals are re-reading the opening chapters of Genesis as myth. While the particulars of the discussion are not fully uniform (whether one must or should be a “literal” six-day creationist or not), the question of the historical Adam is now quite definitely the new lynchpin. We would like to here lay out some of the consequences of denying the historical Adam in order to substantiate our claim that this is a boundary of orthodoxy, but first a bit of context.

The reason that evangelicals are losing the historical Adam are several, but they all boil down to the dominance of the Darwinistic evolutionary theory, both in the academies and in the media. For both academic and cultural reasons, the denial of this evolutionary theory is shameful, and it is becoming increasingly clear that this theory also demands a sort of polygenesis. Thus the historical Adam cannot be retained. There are certainly those on both sides of the issue who hold out hope for a middle position, but as it currently stands, naturalistic science is basically agreed that the early chapters of Genesis cannot be historical. And so, in the face of this pressure, evangelicals are falling in line.

Read the entire article here – http://calvinistinternational.com/2013/05/10/what-depends-upon-an-historical-adam/

Also read Denny Burke’s article here –

More on the Poison Pill: Responding to Stanley, McKnight, and Bird – The doctrine of scripture is foundational, and at a time when it is so contested it is worth every effort to get it right

Ocean Explorer Robert Ballard Finds Evidence of Biblical Flood

photo from FOX news

news from http://www.christianpost.com

Ocean explorer Robert Ballard, who is responsible for the discovery of the Titanic shipwreck, says he may have discovered evidence of the Great Flood described in the Book of Genesis.

Ballard is now on a mission to find evidence that the „mother of all floods” actually occurred, he told Christiane Amanpour of ABC News.

„We went in there to look for the flood,” he told ABC News. „Not just a slow moving, advancing rise of sea level, but a really big flood that then stayed… The land that went under stayed under.”

The explorer’s mission was prompted by research conducted by Columbia University marine geologists William B.F. Ryan and Walter C. Pitman III. These men theorized that climate change during a glacial period caused the icecaps to melt, an article from The Earth Institute at Columbia University states, which led to widespread flooding.

Ryan and Pitman suggest the Bosporus strait, which served as a natural dam between the Mediterranean and Black seas, broke open at that time and caused salt water to flood the Black Sea with a force 200 times stronger than that of Niagara Falls. With the waters rising at the rate of about six inches per day, the flooding could have covered 60,000 square miles in less than a year, they theorize, causing humans to migrate away from the area and at the same time inspiring the stories of Gilgamesh and Noah’s ark. Ryan and Pitman’s theory can be found in their 1999 book, Noah‘s Flood: The New Scientific Discoveries About The Event That Changed History.

After deciding to explore this theory themselves, Ballard’s team found an ancient shoreline 400 feet below the surface, which suggests a flood catastrophe did occur there. After carbon dating shells from the shoreline, Ballard estimated the event occurred about 5,000 BC – around the time some believe the flood described in Genesis occurred.

Although natural evidence has given him confidence in his research, Ballard is also looking for more evidence of the civilizations that were affected by the disaster.

Ballard and his team plan to return to Turkey in the summer of 2013.
Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/titanic-discoverer-finds-evidence-of-biblical-flood-86498/#PEMd8e0qsXO0lRkg.99

Revealing God’s Treasure – Noah’s Ark – Ron Wyatt

John Piper – What did manhood and womanhood look like before sin distorted them into what we see today?

you can listen to the mp3 here at desiringGod.org

Genesis 2:18-25

Then the Lord God said, „It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” So out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, 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. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper fit for him. 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; and the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 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.” Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.

Last week we focused on the mess that men and women are in because of sin. We saw that sinful men use their unique powers to exploit women for their evil purposes. And we saw that sinful women use their unique powers to exploit men for their evil purposes. There is at least one muscle that is probably equally strong in both men and women—the tongue. And you can hear sinful men and sinful women in their little pockets of derision wielding this weapon to tear each other down.

But we have seen for two weeks now that this is not the way God created the world. And so we asked, How were man and woman supposed to relate to each other before sin ruined things? What did manhood and womanhood look like before sin distorted them into what we see today?

Part of the answer, we said, was that man and woman were created in the image of God as male and female. And we stressed that this means, at least, that they are to enjoy equality of personhood, equality of dignity, mutual respect, harmony, complementarity, and a unified destiny. But we stressed that this is only part of the answer.

Do Men and Women Have Unique Responsibilities?

It leaves open this question: Within the equality of personhood and the equality of dignity might there not be some special responsibilities that man has because he is man and that woman has because she is woman? In showing mutual respect and care, might there not be some special ways that a man is to respect a woman and special ways that a woman is to respect a man? Does equality of personhood and mutuality of respect demand sameness of responsibilities or even equal access to all responsibilities? Or did God intend from the beginning that our equality be expressed differently in the way we relate to each other as man and woman?

That is the question we take up today. And we will stay with it for several weeks as we try to find what the Bible teaches about this matter of diversity and complementarity. Today we will look at the biblical description of manhood and womanhood as God intended them to be before sin ruined things.

The Question Raised by Genesis 2

I think this is a good question to ask for two reasons. One is that Genesis chapter 2 calls for this kind of question. In Genesis 1 Moses tells us how God sovereignly created all things out of nothing and put them together in an orderly way so that everything serves man. Then God creates man as male and female in his own image, and declares that everything is very good.

But in Genesis 2 Moses puts the zoom lens on his camera and comes in for a close up on that sixth day of creation. And as you come to the end of the chapter you realize that one of the reasons he has done this is to say something tremendously important about the relationship of man and woman. In Genesis 1 he had said something very important: both are created in the image of God. Now in chapter 2 he says something more specific. So chapter 2 calls for the question: how are manhood and womanhood different?

What Jesus and Paul Appealed To

The other reason I think this is a good question (i.e., God’s intention for manhood and womanhood before sin) is that in the New Testament Jesus and Paul, when they use the Old Testament to answer questions about how man and woman should relate to each other, go back to what things were supposed to be like before the fall. They don’t take the messed up relationships of Genesis 3 and make them normative. They come back to Genesis 2 and talk about how it should have been from the beginning.

So what I want to do is make four observations that begin to answer the question of whether man and woman, in their equality of personhood, are supposed to have some different responsibilities. Does Genesis teach that there are special responsibilities that come with being male and special responsibilities that come with being female?

1. The Man Is Created First

The first thing chapter 2 makes clear is that man was created first and then after some intervening events woman was created. Verse 7: „Then 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.” Verses 21f.: „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; and the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.”

In 1 Timothy 2:13 the apostle Paul simply says, „Adam was formed first, then Eve.”

Why This Order?

Now why did God create man and woman in this way? Why did he not create them both simultaneously from the same lump of clay? Would that not have established their equality of personhood more clearly? The answer is that he had already established that beyond all doubt in Genesis 1:27 where it says that both were created in his image.

Now God wants to say something more about the relationship between man and woman. And what he wants to say is that when it comes to their differing responsibilities, there is a „firstness” of responsibility that falls to the man. This is not an issue of superior value. That issue has been settled in Genesis 1:27. It’s an issue of a sinless man, in childlike dependence on God, being given a special role or responsibility. God makes him the initial half of the pair to say something about his responsibility in initiating. God makes him lead the way into being to say something about his responsibility of leadership.

Does the Order of Creation Mean Nothing?

Some teachers have said that the order of creation means nothing because in Genesis 1, for example, the animals were created first and then man. So if order implies responsibility for leadership, then the animals should lead man.

There are two answers to that objection. One is this: When the Hebrew people gave a special responsibility to the „firstborn” in the family, it never entered their minds that this responsibility would be nullified if the father happened to own cattle before he had sons. In other words when Moses wrote this, he knew that the first readers would not lump animals and humans together as equal candidates for the responsibilities of the „firstborn.” And we shouldn’t either.

The other answer to this objection is that the apostle Paul, who was inspired by the Holy Spirit in his handling of the Scripture did see significance in the man being created first (1 Timothy 2:13). We will talk about that in a couple weeks. We do well not to say there is no meaning in something where an inspired apostle finds significant meaning.

So the first observation is very significant: man was created first, then the woman. And this points to a leadership responsibility for the man, especially in view of the other observations that follow.

2. The Man Is Given the Moral Pattern

The second observation to make is this: One of the responsibilities that came with being there first was the primary responsibility (not the only, but the primary responsibility) to receive and teach and be accountable for the moral pattern of life in the garden of Eden.

Before woman was created, God came to man in verse 16 and said, „You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 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 die.”

After the woman was created, there is no record that this pattern of moral life for the garden was repeated by God to the woman. I think that Moses, as he writes, expects us to conclude that Adam is entrusted with the moral pattern of the garden and with the primary responsibility of sharing it with Eve and being accountable for it.

Are we on track here, or are we reading too much into Adam’s being given the moral instruction? The third observation is to me a very strong indication that we are on track.

3. The Man Is Interrogated First

After the moral pattern had been broken by both Adam and Eve, God came to call them to account in chapter 3. And even though the woman had eaten the forbidden fruit first, God came to Adam first, not Eve, to hold him accountable for the failure to live by the pattern he had given.

Verse 9: „But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?'” Adam, where are you? Verse 11 (still interrogating Adam first): „Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”

Adam Held Primarily Accountable

Why would God come to the man first, and call him to give and account instead of going to the woman first, especially since she ate the fruit first? The most natural answer is that God gave to the man a primary responsibility for the moral life of the garden and therefore man has a primary accountability for the failure to live by it.

Make no mistake: God does hold the woman accountable for her actions. She is a personal, morally accountable being in the very image of God. And what man does or fails to do relieves her of no personal, individual responsibility to know and to obey God. But in their relationship to each other God looks to the man and says, „Have you been the moral and spiritual leader you ought to have been?”

When a Husband/Father Abdicates His Responsibility

James Dobson (of „Focus on the Family”) has seen the tremendous importance of this truth very clearly and the terrible effects when a husband and father abdicates his responsibility. Here is what he said,

A Christian man is obligated to lead his family to the best of his ability . . . If his family has purchased too many items on credit, then the financial crunch is ultimately his fault. If the family never reads the Bible or seldom goes to church on Sunday, God holds the man to blame. If the children are disrespectful and disobedient, the primary responsibility lies with the father . . . not his wife . . . In my view [says Dobson], America’s greatest need is for husbands to begin guiding their families, rather than pouring every physical and emotional resource into the mere acquisition of money. (Straight Talk to Men and Their Wives, Word Books, 1980, pp. 64f.)

I agree with Dobson because I think that is what is being taught in these chapters. God brought man onto the scene first as the leader. He entrusted him first with the moral pattern of the garden. And he called him to account first for the failure of disobedience. Therefore even though man and woman bear equal individual responsibility before God for their own obedience (that’s what it means to be created in his image), nevertheless in relationship to each other man bears a greater responsibility for leadership than woman does.

The Pattern Before the Fall

This is the way God meant it to be before there was any sin in the world: sinless man, full of love, in his tender, strong, moral leadership in relation to woman; and sinless woman, full of love, in her joyful, responsive support for man’s leadership. No belittling from the man, no groveling from the woman. Two intelligent, humble, God-entranced beings living out, in beautiful harmony, their unique and different responsibilities.

Now Satan knows that this is a beautiful arrangement. He knows that God’s pattern of life is designed for man’s good. But Satan hates God and he hates man. He is a liar and a killer from the beginning. And so what does he do? This is the fourth observation.

4. Satan Attacks the Woman First

Satan assaults God’s pattern by attacking the woman instead of the man. If God means for man to bear special responsibility for leadership in the garden, then Satan will do what he can to destroy that pattern.

Why did he approach the woman in Genesis 3:1? Why did he draw her into discussion first and make her the spokesman for the couple? Why did he lure her into being the moral guardian of the garden? Was it because she was easier prey? Is woman more gullible than man? Or could the answer be: Satan drew the woman in first, and made her the spokesman and the moral guardian, because that is exactly what should not have been done?

In other words Satan spurns the order that God has established and simply ignores the man and takes up his subtle battle with the woman. And in doing that, he makes man into exactly what he wants him to be: a silent, withdrawn, weak, fearful, passive wimp. And a masculine wimp is a very dangerous person. One moment he’s passive and follows his woman; and the next moment he’s angry and blames her for all of his problems.

And Satan laughs to himself and says, „Now I have created such a confusion of roles they will never sort this out. They will look at the abusive man and tell him to be more passive with women. And they will look at the abused woman and tell her to be more assertive with men. And they will never get to the root of the problem.”

But in Genesis 3:17 God goes right to the root of the problem. He says to the man, „Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you.” In other words, „Adam, you were listening when you should have been leading.” God is not confused about what Satan did.

And he doesn’t want us to be confused either. He created man first; he gave him the moral pattern of the garden first; he held him accountable for failure first; and he punished him for falling right in line with God’s archenemy when Satan lured man and woman into a great role reversal at the fall.

What Should We Do?

So what should we do? Well, men, we should humble ourselves before God for our failures. All of us. This is not a call to exalt yourself over any woman. This is not a call to domineer, or belittle, or to put woman in her place. She is, after all, a fellow heir of God and destined for a glory that will blind us some day. This is a call to stoop down and to take the responsibility to be a leader—a servant leader in the various ways that are appropriate to every different relationship to women.

It’s a call to us men

  • that we should take the risk of getting egg on our faces;
  • that we should pray like we’ve never prayed for help in this tremendous responsibility;
  • that we should be in the Word more than we ever have been to know what God expects of us;
  • that we should plan things more than we do, and be intentional and thoughtful and less carried along by the mood of the moment;
  • that we should be disciplined and ordered in our lives;
  • that we should be tender-hearted and sensitive;
  • that we should take the initiative to make sure that there is a time and a place to talk to her about what needs to be talked about—this „her” could be a friend, a date, a colleague, a wife, a sister;
  • that we should be ready to lay down our lives in discharging this responsibility to be the leaders God is calling us to be.

May God continue to teach us and humble us and heal us in all our relationship for his great glory and for our joy.

Christian Doctrine 3 – Creation: God Makes

History has a beginning The Bible begins with God and the Creative act that sent time into motion. As we study the essential doctrines of the church we must address the origin of man and the universe itself. Scripture gives us the account of this origin in Genesis 1 and 2, These first chapters of the Bible have sparked many debates over the years inside and outside the church. As we begin our study, let us take care to be faithful to what scripture reveals about creation and be content with the mystery in the areas it is silent.

Theology: What does scripture say about Creation?

Which of the Christian views on Creation do you subscribe? Support your position with Scripture?
What are the non-negotiable issues with regard to creation and which should we hold in an open hand?
When you read Genesis 1-2, what do you take a way as the focus of the first two chapters of Scripture?
Are the 6 days of Creation literal 24 hour days? Support your answer.
What is the significance of Creation being made out of nothing (Heb 11:3)?

Implications: We will know discuss the implications of God revelation to our daily lives.

What is the personal significance to you that Genesis 1-2 are focused on the Creator vs. Creation?
How does this view effect the way that you look at other aspects of your life?
Why is understanding Creation an essential doctrine?
What have you learned about God from observing His creation?
How does you life look different with the perspective of God as Author and Subject of History?

Prayer: Reflect and meditate on the work of Creation and what it reveals about the glory of God.

Pray that we would worship the Creator and not Creation.
Pray for a God centered perspective of history.
Pray for those who do not yet know Jesus , that they would see the glory of God in Creation itself.

Staying Married is not about staying in love-John Piper Part 1

VIDEO by SermonIndex.net

all emphasis (bold type) is mine (not John Piper’s)  (Part 2 here)

Genesis 2:18-25

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 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. 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. 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.” 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Between our more substantial sermon series I am taking up a few subjects that seem to me to be urgent. Marriage is always urgent. There never has been a generation whose view of marriage is high enough. The chasm between the biblical vision of marriage and the human vision is, and has always been, gargantuan. Some cultures in history respect the importance and the permanence of marriage more than others. Some, like our own, have such low, casual, take-it-or-leave-it attitudes toward marriage as to make the biblical vision seem ludicrous to most people.

Jesus’ Vision of Marriage

That was the case in Jesus’ day as well, and ours is vastly worse. When Jesus gave a glimpse of the magnificent view of marriage that God willed for his people, the disciples said to him, “If such is the case of a man with his wife, it is better not to marry” (Matthew 19:10). In other words, Christ’s vision of the meaning of marriage was so enormously different from the disciples, they could not even imagine it to be a good thing. That such a vision could be good news was simply outside their categories.

If that was the case back then with the sober, Jewish world in which they lived, how much more will the magnificence of marriage in the mind of God seem unintelligible to the world we live in, where the main idol is self, and its main doctrine is autonomy, and its central act of worship is being entertained, and its two main shrines are the television and the cinema, and its most sacred genuflection is the uninhibited act of sexual intercourse. Such a culture will find the glory of marriage in the mind of Jesus virtually unintelligible. Jesus would very likely say to us today, when he had finished opening the mystery for us, the same thing he said in his day: “Not everyone can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. . . . Let the one who is able to receive this receive it” (Matthew 19:11-12).

The Biblical Vision of Marriage

So I start with the assumption that our own sin and selfishness and cultural bondage makes it almost impossible to feel the wonder of God’s purpose for marriage between a man and a woman. The fact that we live in a society that can even conceive of—let alone defend—two men or two women entering a relationship and with wild inconceivability calling it marriage, shows that the collapse of our culture into debauchery and barbarism and anarchy is probably not far away.

I mention all this in the hopes that it might possibly wake you up to consider a vision of marriage higher and deeper and stronger and more glorious than anything this culture—or perhaps you yourself—ever imagined. The greatness and glory of marriage is beyond our ability to think or feel without divine revelation and without the illumining and awakening work of the Holy Spirit. The world cannot know what marriage is without learning it from God. The natural man does not have the capacities to see or receive or feel the wonder of what God has designed for marriage to be. I pray that this message might be used by God to help set you free from small, worldly, culturally contaminated, self-centered, Christ-ignoring, God-neglecting, romance-intoxicated, unbiblical views of marriage.

Marriage Is the Display of God

The most foundational thing to see from the Bible about marriage is that it is God’s doing. And the most ultimate thing to see from the Bible about marriage is that it is for God’s glory. Those are the two points I have to make. Most foundationally, marriage is the doing of God. Most ultimately, marriage is the display of God. Let’s allow the Bible to impress these things on us one at a time.

1. Marriage Is God’s Doing

First, most foundationally, marriage is God’s doing. At least four ways to see this explicitly or implicitly are here in our text.

a) Marriage Was God’s Design

Marriage is God’s doing because it was his design in the creation of man as male and female. Of course, this was plain earlier in Genesis 1:27-28, “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.’”

But it is also clear here in the flow of thought in Genesis 2:18-25. In verse 18, it is God, not man, who decrees that man’s solitude is not good, and it is God himself who sets out to complete one of the central designs of creation, namely, woman and man in marriage. “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Don’t miss that central and all important statement: God himself will make a being perfectly suited for him—a wife.

Then he parades the animals before him so that he might see that there is no creature that qualifies. This creature must be made uniquely from man so that she will be of his essence as a human created in God’s image as Genesis 1:27 said. So we read in verses 21-22, “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. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman.” God made her.

This text terminates in verses 24b-25 with the words, “They shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” In other words, it is all moving toward marriage. So the first thing to say about marriage being God’s doing is that marriage was his design in creating man male and female.

b) God Gave Away the First Bride

Marriage is God’s doing because he personally took the dignity of being the first Father to give away the bride. Genesis 2:22, “And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.” He didn’t hide her and make Adam seek. He made her; then he brought her. In a profound sense, he had fathered her. And now, though she was his by virtue of creation, he gave her to the man in this absolutely new kind of relationship called marriage, unlike every other relationship in the world.

c) God Spoke the Design of Marriage into Existence

Marriage is God’s doing because God not only created the woman with this design and brought her to the man like a Father brings his daughter to her husband, but also because God spoke the design of marriage into existence. He did this in verse 24: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Who is talking in verse 24? The writer of Genesis is talking. And what did Jesus believe about the writer of Genesis? He believed it was Moses (Luke 24:44) and that Moses was inspired by God so that what Moses said, God said. Listen carefully to Matthew 19:4-5: “[Jesus] answered, ‘Have you not read that he [God] who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said [Note: God said!], “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”’”? Jesus said that Genesis 2:24 is the word of God. Therefore, marriage is God’s doing because he spoke the earliest design of it into existence—“A man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”

d) God Performs the One-Flesh Union

Which leads us to the fourth way that marriage is God’s doing: Becoming one flesh, which is at the heart of what marriage is, is a union that God himself performs.
Verse 24 is God’s words of institution for marriage. But just as it was God who took the woman from the flesh of man (Genesis 2:21), it is God who in each marriage ordains and performs a uniting called one flesh that is not in man’s power to destroy. This is implicit here in Genesis 2:24, but Jesus makes it explicit in Mark 10:8-9. He quotes Genesis 2:24 then adds a comment that explodes like thunder with the glory of marriage. “‘The two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

When a couple speaks their vows and consummates their vows with sexual union, it is not man or woman or pastor or parent who is the main actor. God is. God joins a husband and a wife into a one-flesh union. God does that. God does that! The world does not know this. Which is one of the reasons why marriage is treated so casually. And Christians often act like they don’t know it, which is one of the reasons marriage in the church is not seen as the wonder it is. Marriage is God’s doing because it is a one-flesh union that God himself performs.

So, in sum, the most foundational thing we can say about marriage is that it is God’s doing. It was his doing:

  1. because it was his design in creation;
  2. because he personally gave away the first bride in marriage;
  3. because he spoke the design of marriage into existence: leave parents, cleave to your wife, become one flesh;
  4. and because this one-flesh union is established by God himself in each marriage.

A glimpse into the magnificence of marriage comes from seeing in God’s word that God himself is the great doer. Marriage is his doing. It is from him and through him. That is the most foundational thing we can say about marriage. And now we will see that it is to him.

2. Marriage Is for God’s Glory

The most ultimate thing to see in the Bible about marriage is that it exists for God’s glory. Most foundationally, marriage is the doing of God. Most ultimately, marriage is the display of God. It is designed by God to display his glory in a way that no other event or institution is.

The way to see this most clearly is to connect Genesis 2:24 with its use in Ephesians 5:31-32. In Genesis 2:24, God says, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” What kind of relationship is this? How are these two people held together? Can they walk away from this relationship? Can they go from spouse to spouse? Is this relationship rooted in romance? Sexual desire? Need for companionship? Cultural convenience? What is this? What holds it together?

The Mystery of Marriage Revealed

The words “hold fast to his wife” and the words “they shall become one flesh” point to something far deeper and more permanent than serial marriages and occasional adultery. What these words point to is marriage as a sacred covenant rooted in covenant commitments that stand against every storm of “as long as we both shall live.” But that is only implicit here. It becomes explicit when the mystery of marriage is more fully revealed in Ephesians 5:31-32.

Paul quotes Genesis 2:24 in verse 31, “‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’” And then he gives it this all-important interpretation in verse 32: “This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” In other words, marriage is patterned after Christ’s covenant commitment to his church. Christ thought of himself as the bridegroom coming for his bride, the true people of God (Matthew 9:15; 25:1ff; John 3:29). Paul knew his ministry was to gather the bride—the true people of God who would trust Christ—and betroth us to him. He says in 2 Corinthians 11:2, “I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.”

Christ knew he would have to pay the dowry of his own blood for his redeemed bride. He called this relationship the new covenant—“This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood” (Luke 22:20). This is what Paul is referring to when he says that marriage is a great mystery: “I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” Christ obtained the church by his blood and formed a new covenant with her, an unbreakable “marriage.”

The most ultimate thing we can say about marriage is that it exists for God’s glory. That is, it exists to display God. Now we see how: Marriage is patterned after Christ’s covenant relationship to the church. And therefore the highest meaning and the most ultimate purpose of marriage is to put the covenant relationship of Christ and his church on display. That is why marriage exists. If you are married, that is why you are married.

Christ Will Never Leave His Wife

Staying married, therefore, is not about staying in love. It is about keeping covenant. “Till death do us part,” or, “As long as we both shall live” is sacred covenant promise—the same kind Jesus made with his bride when he died for her. Therefore, what makes divorce and remarriage so horrific in God’s eyes is not merely that it involves covenant breaking to the spouse, but that it involves misrepresenting Christ and his covenant. Christ will never leave his wife. Ever. There may be times of painful distance and tragic backsliding on our part. But Christ keeps his covenant forever. Marriage is a display of that! That is the most ultimate thing we can say about it.

I have so much more I want to say at this point. So I have decided to stay with this topic next week. Here is where we will go, Lord willing. Genesis 2:25 says, “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” Why does the biblical story of the foundation of marriage end on that note just before the Fall? The answer will lead us, I think, to some very practical counsel that I pray will help us in our marriages fulfill the great purposes God has for us.

For now, would you pray with me that God will replace in the church and in our land self-exalting, marriage-destroying, unbiblical commitments to cater to our emotional desires with Christ-exalting, marriage-honoring, biblical commitments to keep our covenants?

(Part 2 here)

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