the God created social need of man

October 26, 2016

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The Social Nature of Man, part of God’s plan for man

According to Genesis 1, when God surveyed His creation piece by piece He affirmed it as “good,” and when He had finished His work He said it was “very good.” But there was one fly in the ointment: “And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him'” (v. 18). For the first time God announces something is “not good,” and it has to do with man’s sense of isolation and his inability to reproduce himself according to the divine instructions.

The “helper comparable to him” was absolutely necessary. There are as many opinions as to how long Adam was alone as there are opinions as to the significance of his mate being created after him. Some say that woman was clearly an afterthought, and others insist that when God looked at the man He had made He knew He could do much better so He made woman! One suspects, and sincerely hopes, that such comments are made with tongue in cheek!

 

 

This account of the beginning of man-woman relationships, however, is deeply significant. It is in the context of Adam’s review of the animal kingdom that “there was not found a helper comparable to him” (v. 20). Man and animals had their origins in the ground (adāmāh ), but as one species after another passed before Adam’s inquisitive and insightful gaze, it was clear that while he and the animals had much in common, they all had their mates, yet he was very much alone. So the Lord “caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs … then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman” (vv. 21, 22).

This beautiful, perfect woman was then presented by God to the revived Adam who immediately recognized that she was uniquely part of him. The estrangement and distance which he had felt so poignantly as he reviewed the rest of creation was gone. They were truly meant for each other!

 

 

Theologians and commentators through the centuries have had a great time working on the significance of the “rib” and some of the results have been somewhat fanciful. But it is safe to see the ideas of Adam giving of himself for her and of her coming alongside him in his aloneness and limited-ness, when we realize that the Hebrew word for rib can also be translated “side.” This “alongside” relationship receives more support when we consider the famous expression “helpmeet” or “helper corresponding to him.” It is unfortunate that “helpmeet” has been used in such a way that its meaning has been obscured. The word “helper” occurs twenty-one times in the Old Testament and on fifteen of those occasions it refers to God helping man in one way or another—a fact which casts doubt on the common suggestion that woman as man’s helper was in some way subordinate and inferior.

 

 

When man saw woman he was so excited that he exclaimed “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man” (v. 23). The expression translated “this is now” is really an exclamation of delight meaning “at last,” or as some commentators suggest maybe even “Wow, look at that!” Up until this point ādām has been used for “man” but now the word used is ˒ı̂š and the word for woman ˒išâh—a connection as obvious in Hebrew as the connection between man and woman in English.

 

 

The summation of all this magnificent truth about the oneness, relatedness, along sidedness of male and female is: “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (v. 24). The words have a familiar ring, of course, not only because they are the basis for the Lord Jesus’ exposition of marriage in Mark 10:7-9 but also because they are usually quoted at some stage of the marriage service.

The social needs of mankind are to be met uniquely but not exclusively in the marriage bond. As surely as God built physical laws into the universe from the very beginning He incorporated societal laws, and as surely as we cannot ignore the former with impunity we cannot allow the latter to be disregarded and expect our society to survive unscathed. The “leaving” and “cleaving” may sound old-fashioned—and so it is—but it is still God’s societal law. The “one flesh” relationship of “a man” and “his wife” may sound very restrictive to a society bent on such high-sounding but low-living ideals as “sexual emancipation.” But the law stands today as surely as it did in the beginning, and when it is honored and practiced, the result is the same—man and woman in loving, mutual respect and support live in harmony and openness. It will be for them as it was when Moses wrote: they are “not ashamed” (v. 25).

 

 

Some years ago I picked up a hitchhiker who, in the course of conversation, told me he was “trying to find himself.” I told him somewhat facetiously that I knew exactly where he was; he was sitting next to me! He smiled rather warily but then we talked more seriously. He really meant that he was trying to find significance and meaning in his life. Like many other people I have met he needed to be told or reminded that man’s meaning is found in his relationship to God, and nowhere is it better explained than in these early chapters of Genesis.

Yes, Virginia, the bible is true, right down to Genesis chapter one, have you ever thought about that Genesis is mainly about Genes, the birth of man, the birth of the earth, and the beginning of the Scarlet Thread of Redemption, that blood red cord that intertwines the entire story into one great act.

Blessings from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

 

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