We are studying Genesis and we are looking at the issue of origins. That is a very prominent subject in our world today. There’s a lot of interest in origins. And most of the answers to the origins are wrong; when we turn to the Word of God we get the right answer. And we’ve been looking at the origin of creation, the universe as we know it, chapter 1 of Genesis. Then in chapter 2 of Genesis, the original history of man.
We remember that man and woman were created on day six. Creation took place about six thousand years ago, that’s all; not billions and billions, but about six thousand or so years ago. God created the universe as it currently exists in six 24-hour days, as indicated in Genesis chapter 1. And on day six, He capped off His creation by creating man and woman in His own image. Chapter 1, verse 26 tells us about that on day six: God said, “Let Us make man in Our image.” And verse 27: “God created man in His image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
So it was on day six that God created man. And what makes man distinct, both male and female, is that he has created, and she as well, in the image of God; that is, with certain essential components, characteristics and attributes that belong to God. These make man like God in some ways and unlike the rest of creation. The image of God involves self-consciousness, rationality, personality, creativity, emotion, volition, and a capacity for relationships, for relationships, both with God and with other human beings. And as we come into chapter 2, starting in verse 4 through the end of the chapter, we have the original history of man, the details of the creation of man, which is given in chapter 1, as I just read, verses 26, 27, and 28. But here are the details of that creation that happened on day six.
We find in verses 5 to 7, the creation: “The Lord God forming man” – verse 7 – “of dust from the ground, and breathing into his nostrils the breath of life; and man becoming a living being.” That’s the creation. Then in verses 8 to 14, the location; and we learn about the paradise of God, the garden of Eden where man was placed; that was to be his home. And then the vocation of man in verse 15: “The Lord God took the man, put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate and to keep it.” And then the probation of man, verses 16 and 17: “He was able to eat of any tree of the garden with the exception of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In the day that he would eat of that he would die.”
And finally, coming to verses 18 to 25, the end of the chapter, we come to the relation of man; and this is really essential to his being created in the image of God. In fact, originally back in chapter 1, verse 26, God said, “Let Us make man in Our image,” and that is the first time God has spoken of Himself as a plural. As we know, God is a Trinity, but it isn’t until the creation of man that God identifies Himself in a relationship to Himself by using a plural pronoun. And that fits the creation of man, because man is also created to be essentially involved in relationships with God and with other people. So we come to verses 18 to 25 – and this takes up the largest part of the chapter – and it discusses man in his relationship to the helpmeet that God provides for him.
Now, last time we looked at this significant and primary element in the image of God. We are made for a relationship, a relationship like the relationship that God enjoys in the Trinity, a very deep, a very profound relationship that touches the very essence of our being. And I emphasize that, because there are some people who think they have a relationship with their cat, and they think they have a relationship with their dog, or their snake, or even their fish; and I want you to understand, that is not a deep relationship that touches the essential nature of the soul. It is superficial. In fact, it shouldn’t even be called a relationship.
Relationships have to do with essential compatibility at the truest level of personhood. We are capable of having relationships only with other people, and that is clear in this section. Verse 18: “The Lord God said, ‘It’s not good for the man to be alone.’” Bottom line: God had created a whole universe, and God had created a whole universe full of plants and full of animals, and man was alone, which was to say there was no real relationship for man.
So, “God said, ‘I’ll have to make a helper suitable for him.’ And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called the living creature, that was its name.” On that day, God paraded by Adam in rapid fire succession the creatures that He had made, and Adam could recognize because of his tremendous intelligence before the fall and before the effects of the fall cumulatively over six thousand years, to which we have all been made victims. His mind would have been greater than what we could even imagine, and he could notice some characteristic about the animal and give them an identifying name.
But it wasn’t just to name the animals that God paraded them by, otherwise God would have recorded all those names. It was really to show man that all of these creatures going by that could be identified by some unique characteristic which could be labeled. When all of them had gone by, and verse 20 says, “The man gave names to all the cattle, the birds of the sky,” – cattle being the domestic side of animals, and the non-domestic being every beast of the field – “when it was all said and done for Adam there wasn’t found a helper suitable for him.” He was still absolutely alone. There was no possibility of any meaningful relationship with any of that creation.
And that was the point, to show that man cannot be fulfilled, he cannot be satisfied relationally, which is essential to his nature, by any creative being other than one like himself. There was not found a helpmeet suitable for him. So then we meet God, the first anesthesiologist and the first surgeon, who caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept. He took one of his ribs it says. Actually, it means He took his side. He took some flesh and some bone, because verse 23, “The man said, ‘This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.’”
So took some of the side of Adam, bone and flesh, and out of that, after closing up the flesh at that place, the Lord God, verse 22, fashioned into a woman, the side which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man. After the man wakes up from the divine anesthetic, he finds that God delivers to him this most beautiful of all the creation that He has made, this most wondrous creature, this most exhilarating creature called woman; and He brings her to the man. And you can only imagine the thrill that entered into the heart of the man, because he has literally seen a parade of all the available relationships, and none of it matters to him and none of it can he identify with. There isn’t anything in the created universe that he can connect with in a relational fashion.
And then God doesn’t just bring him another man, but a wonder of wonders, the perfect compliment, woman. And the man gives the first love song. It’s not real sentimental. “This is now bone of my bones,” – it’s a bit clinical – “and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” But I don’t know whether sentimentality had developed at that time; it was rather factual.
“As she shall be called woman because she was taken out of man.” She shall be called ishshah because she was taken out of ish. And he does a little play on words. There needs to be a similarity in the terms, because she came from him: he is ish and she is ishshah. That’s the creation of man and the creation of woman by God: man out of the dust of the earth, woman out of the side of man. That’s how it happened on day six according to Scripture.
And then in verse 24, there is a commentary by God on the relationship that is just established: “For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.” For the cause of this relationship, for the cause of this marriage, for the cause of this fulfillment, a man leaves his father, his mother, clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. And thus did God create marriage as the basic, primary, and essential relationship for man to be fulfilled and to fulfill his calling, which was to multiply and fill the earth, and subdue it and rule it. In order for him to do that over the whole face of the earth, he couldn’t do it alone, he had to populate the earth. In order to do that, he had to have a complimentary partner to make such a population possible.
So, this is marriage and marriage is designed by God. It is divine. It came on the first day of man’s creation, day six. In the creation week: one man, one woman, one bond for life. That is God’s pattern. One woman was meant to meet all of man’s needs: his physical needs; his emotional needs; his need for socialization, friendship at a personal, intimate level; and his need to have a partner for the divine creative process that would populate the world and subdue it.
Now, that is an affirmation statement that has inherent in it an exclusion. We conclude then from that that all other sexual relationships are outside God’s purpose and God’s will. That is, there is no provision for sex outside of marriage. There is no provision for people who are married having a sexual relationship with someone other than their spouse. There is no provision for homosexuality. There is no provision for bestiality – sexual relationship of any kind with animals.
The very statement that man was created, and out of the side came woman, and that God designed these two to come together and populate the earth, and that the design was this: a man leaves his father and mother, a wife comes to the man, they cleave together in a strong bond for life and become in that bond literally one flesh; and that one flesh intimacy is certainly manifested most clearly in the child born of them whose genetic code is the perfect combination of those two partners. This is God’s design.
Fornication, adultery, homosexuality, bestiality are outside of that design, and are labeled in Scripture later on as iniquities and sins. In fact, in 1 Corinthians chapter 6, people who do that as a pattern of life will not inherit the kingdom of God. Hebrews 13:4 says, “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled,” and God gives freedom to the married couple in the bed. But the same text says, “Fornicators and adulterers God will judge.” And Exodus 27 even says, “Don’t covet your neighbors wife.” And Jesus even said, “If you look on a woman to have lust for her, you have committed adultery in your heart.” That is a very serious thing.
So marriage is the one and only human relationship that includes sexual activity; and it is designed by God to be full of love, it is designed by God to be fulfilling, it is designed by God to accomplish a lot of things. In fact, I won’t take the time to develop in detail all of these things, but let me just give you a little outline.
According to Scripture, marriage was designed by God for procreation. Go back to chapter 1, verse 28: “God blessed them,” male and female. “God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it and rule.’” So marriage had by God’s design the purpose of procreation.
It also has the purpose of partnership, that’s why in chapter 2, verse 18, He says, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” A wife is more than just a partner for the purpose of having children, she is a partner for the purpose of companionship; and the most wonderful of all marriages are where both of those are in wonderful harmony.
It is also true that God designed marriage not only for procreation and partnership, but for pleasure. I’m always amused, and I don’t want to go into detail on it, by Genesis 26:8 – you don’t need to look it up. But Genesis 26:8 gives us a bit of an insight into the aspect of pleasure in the relationship between a man and a woman. It says in the Old King James version that, “Isaac was sporting with his wife Rebecca.”
Now, I don’t want to go into the details of sporting, I’ll leave that to your imagination. But there is an element within marriage that is for sheer pleasure. I think the NAS translates that same term “caressing.” And you could, perhaps, come up with other synonyms. But there is within marriage just the joy of touch, the joy of physical affection, as well as friendship and procreation.
There’s another reason why God designed marriage; He designed it for purity. That’s right, He designed it for purity. Most people are wired for marriage, and if they’re not married, that’s a problem. First Corinthians 7: “It is good” – he says, 1 Corinthians 7, verse 1 – “it is good for a man not to touch a woman.” It’s okay if you’re not married, it’s okay to be single. It’s okay not to get married; it’s not a bad thing, it’s a good thing. And there are some people who can do that. There are some people gifted by God to do that – we’ll see more about that later. That’s not bad. I mean, marriage isn’t an absolute command by God.
“But” – the next verse says – “because of immoralities, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband.” In other words, it’s not wrong to be single, but it can be a problem that leads to immorality. Better to get married. And when you get married, “Let the husband” – verse 3 – “fulfill his duty to his wife,” – that’s the physical duty – “and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but her husband does. The husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.”
So he’s saying because of the potential for immorality, because God has wired us for physical fulfillment with a marriage partner, because of immoralities we ought to get married. Further on down in verse 9 he says, “Let them marry; it is better to marry than to burn,” and he means to burn with desire. So God is designed marriage for procreation and partnership and pleasure, and for purity.
We could go a step further into Ephesians chapter 5 and learn a little more about God’s design for marriage. That’s a wonderful section of Scripture, probably the premiere passage, along with Colossians chapter 3 defining marriage. But this is what it says in Ephesians 5:25, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”
Now, this we could call provision. God has designed marriage as a point of provision. The husband is to love his wife and make necessary sacrifices to give himself up to provide for her, in order that he might sanctify her, in order that he might make her holy, to make her pure. It’s just a beautiful, beautiful picture.
Verse 28 says he is to love her. “He is to love her the way he loves his own body.” He is to love his own wife in a manner that he reserves for himself. In other words, he’s to give her the same attention, the same care that he would give himself, which is very normal. He is to nourish her; he is to cherish her. What you find there is that the role of the husband is to be a provider. In fact, it says in Timothy, “If a man doesn’t provide for his household, he’s worse than an unbeliever.” So he is to be a provider, making necessary sacrifices to provide a home for her.
He’s also to be a protector. He is to protect her from anything unclean, anything defiling. He is to make sure that she is kept from whatever would be an impure, unclean influence. This is a wonderful, wonderful design by God for marriage: procreation, partnership, pleasure, purity, provision. He’s the provider; he nourishes, cherishes; and it pictures him sort of hovering over his wife, warming her and securing her, and protecting her.
First Peter 3 goes on to talk about that protection, and it says that you have to treat her like the weaker vessel, because physically the woman is weaker. Intellectually she’s not, spiritually she may not be, but she needs the protection of a man. And that is part of what God has designed into marriage. It is to provide a secure and warm place, a place of security, a place of protection for which the heart of woman longs, a place where she is provided for. And all of this is a picture, according to Ephesians 5:32, of Christ’s love for His church, and His church’s love for Him as the bridegroom.
So when you look at marriage you can see that this is indeed the relationship of all human relationships. This is the building block of society. This is the unit of human life which passes truth from one generation to the next, which passes righteousness from one generation to the next, which passes morality from one generation to the next, which passes virtue and character from one generation to the next.
This is marriage designed by God to provide procreation. And procreation isn’t just a duty. I don’t know about you, but my life to this very day as I speak has been enriched beyond words. I could never find words to begin to describe how my children have enriched my life. They are a consummate and constant and unending joy to me. To look at my children makes my heart thrill. To look at my wife, the same thing, because I see in her all that fulfills me, and all that she has contributed to the wonder of my children. And now together we are experiencing it all over again with ten little grandchildren.
Procreation turns out to be a level of wealth and human life that really has no equal. And it’s another good reason why being married to one woman is God’s design, because it’s clear who belongs to who; and all those rich relationships are secured for a lifetime if there’s no divorce and no chaos that occurs through marriages and remarriages and all of those things.
And I enjoy the friendship of marriage, the wonderful, joyous partnership of marriage, and the joys and pleasures of it. All that marriage is designed by God to be the world finds very difficult to experience, because, you know, it’s all been lost in the fall – and we’ll see that when we get to chapter 3. It’s all been destroyed and corrupted. And I think only through obedience to the Word of God, only through the power of Christ can we really enjoy again the paradise of marriage that was lost in the fall.
And our marriages can be like Christ’s relation to His church. He loves His church. He provides for His church. He protects His church. He provides pleasure for His church. He fulfills His church. And someday He brings His church into eternal glory. And we who are His church love Him in return, and embrace the wondrous things He’s done for us. This is marriage, and God has ordained it from the very beginning.
Now, we also saw in verse 25 that this section closes with a statement, “The man and his wife were both naked and not ashamed,” and that’s an important note. Periodically through chapter 2 there have been a couple of times where there had been notations that indicate we’re in a pre-fall condition here.
You remember back in verse 5, there was no siach of the field, and no eseb of the field had yet sprouted; and those were the kind of plants that came after the fall, after the earth was cursed. And there was no rain at that time either; but springs came up from underground and watered the earth in the pre-fall world. And another condition of it was there was no shame, because man had no concept of evil desire, he had no cognition of anything wrong. And so, consequently there was no idea that his desires could be twisted at all, and therefore there was absolutely no shame; and they could enjoy the wonder of God’s magnificent creation.
And, as I said last time as a footnote, the climate must have been wonderful if they could live like that. The seasons and the change in the weather is related to the fall of man and the flood, which changed the whole topography of the world and brought about the seasons, as we know today, when you wear something, because if you don’t, you’ll freeze to death. So, we’ve covered that in a basic way.
Now, I want to take you to a text in Matthew 19, and I want us to look at this – and it may take us tonight and next time – but it brings into play something that comes up and it has to be discussed, and that is the issue of divorce. We know what the Word of God says, we understand that, we have the testimony of the Word of God before us; and we know God’s Word, and He has spoken on these issues. The question arose among the Jews to Jesus, “What about divorce?” And this was a very volatile issue during the time of Jesus. I’ll tell you why.
The Jews were in an apostate condition. They were not really true believers in God, Yahweh, Jehovah. They were not truly devoted to obedience to God. Their religion was surfeited, it was superficial, it was shallow, and many cases it was apostate. They had a form of godliness without the power. They had a head knowledge of God, but not a heart commitment. “The name of God,” He says, “is on their lips, but their heart is far from Me.” In that condition, they couldn’t get their lives together, and so divorce was common. Divorce was common around the time of Jesus among the Jewish people.
And there were some rabbis who basically authorized divorce. There were some rabbis who said, frankly, “You can divorce your wife for absolutely any reason you want.” The most prominent of those was a man named Hillel. He had been dead about twenty years when Jesus showed up, but he’d left his mark on Jewish society. And Hillel had the perspective and taught that this is what God would authorize, that a man could divorce his wife for any reason. There was another rabbi by the name of Shammai who taught the opposite, but he wasn’t very popular, because when people want to get a divorce, they want to find an authority to approve it, right? So sort of the reigning viewpoint was the one developed by this popular rabbi by the name of Hillel.
And so, the people had come to the belief that you could divorce your wife for anything; didn’t matter what it was. You can read things in Jewish history that are really fascinating, like, “Divorce because she burned his breakfast.” “Divorce because he didn’t like the way she looked.” “Divorce because she said an unkind word to his mother,” et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.
So the Pharisees, the Jewish leaders are always trying to discredit Jesus in front of the people. Jesus is very popular because His teaching is profound. He’s compassionate; He’s sympathetic; He’s tender-hearted. He’s banished disease from Palestine. By the time you get to Matthew 19, for all intense and purposes, the power of Jesus to heal had banished disease form Palestine: massive healings everywhere demonstrating His power over the physical world, and massive deliverance from demons, demonstrating His power over the supernatural world, and even the ability to raise the dead.
So they know that Jesus is growing in popularity, and they want to discredit Him, and so they come to Jesus in an effort to do that. And in verse 3 of Matthew 19, they pick a subject that is a hot potato. “Some of the Pharisees came to Him, testing Him and said, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause at all?’” And they want to put Him on the spot, because there were lots of folks in the crowd no doubt.
Says in verse 2, “Great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them.” All these healings were going on in these massive crowds. And so, surely there’s a crowd around. And the Pharisees come up and they want to discredit Jesus, and they know that it’s popular to shed your wife for any reason. Women were largely second-class in that society, not by divine design, but by the corruption that had occurred in Judaism at that time. And they wanted to discredit Jesus.
And there was something else going on. They not only wanted to discredit Him, they wanted to destroy Him. When this happened, in Matthew 19, guess where they were? They were in an area called Pariah. And I mentioned a name this morning. Do you remember me mentioning Herod Antipas?
Herod Antipas ruled over Pariah, and he was having an adulterous affair with his brother’s wife. And John the Baptist, John the prophet the forerunner of Jesus, had confronted Herod Antipas for having an adulterous relationship with his own brother’s wife; and because John confronted him, John got his head chopped off. And the Pharisees are thinking, “Maybe we can sort of juxtapose Jesus into a situation where He condemns Herod Antipas; and we’ll get His head chopped off also.”
They’re very, very concerned about Jesus. They not only want to silence Him, they want Him dead, and this might be an angle they can use to get rid of Him. And so, they pose this question: “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause at all?” Verse 4, “He answered and said, ‘Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother and shall cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.’”
And He answers them point blank: “God never designed for divorce in the beginning,” and He goes right back to Genesis 2, and He recites precisely what we studied in Genesis chapter 2: “This is the way it is from the beginning. He created them male and female.”
And that’s a very important statement. There wasn’t anybody else running around loose. There’s no provision in the garden for polygamy. There’s no provision in the garden for divorce and remarriage, there’s nobody there. There’s no provision for homosexuality. There’s just a man and a woman, and that’s how God designed it. There were no spare people for adultery and homosexuality, divorce, polygamy, whatever.
They were created for each other and nobody else: a union complete, a union unbreakable, a union to be the pattern for all others to follow. This is the prototype union. This is the grace of life, as Peter calls it. The two become one flesh, and one is the indivisible number; it can’t be divided. And then He says, commenting on that, verse 6, “They are no longer two, but one flesh,” the indivisible number. “And what therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”
Bottom line: Who instituted marriage? God. If God puts people together like that, you better not separate them. Marriage then is defined as a creative work of God by which He puts two people together for life. And as you go through the Old Testament, that reality is confirmed repeatedly. Exodus, the Ten Commandments, chapter 20, verse 14: “Don’t covet your neighbor’s wife.” That’s outside God’s plan. That’s outside God’s creative design. You have your wife, your neighbor has his wife, and that’s how it should stay.
Turn with me for a moment to Proverbs chapter 2. In the book of Proverbs you have wisdom, the wisdom of God; and the early chapters of Proverbs are primarily around the idea that parents are instructing their sons. The sons have leadership in the family, in the home, and in the community, and so they’re the ones who need special teaching, special training. And, of course, it’s passed on to the daughters as well. In fact, occasionally the daughters are even been referred to. But in teaching these young people about life, one of the strongest emphasis in the whole early part of Proverbs is on being faithful to your own wife.
In chapter 2, verse 2, “Make your ear attentive to wisdom, incline your heart to understanding; if you cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding; if you seek her as silver, search for hers for hidden treasure; then you will discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright. He’s a shield to those who walk in integrity,” and so forth, and so forth. Verse 10: “Wisdom will enter your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; discretion will guard you, understanding will watch over you.” And those words really refer to the same thing: “You’re going to know truth, divine truth. You need to know this because it protects you.”
And then later in the chapter he applies it: “This wisdom” – verse 16 – “is able to deliver you from the strange woman, from the adulteress who flatters with her words; that leaves the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God.” In other words, she’s unfaithful to her husband.
“When you know divine wisdom, when you know the truth of God, the wisdom of God, the discretion of God, the discernment of God, the understanding of God, when you know what the Word of God teaches, it will deliver you from that strange woman,” strange in the sense that she doesn’t belong to you. “She is a foreigner to you, and she has left the companion of her youth,” her husband. They were married, remember, early, at the ages of 13, 14. “She has forgotten the covenant of her God,” that’s the marriage covenant that she made before God. And as a result, “Her house sinks down to death and her tracks lead to the dead.”
You know, you can’t break up a marriage, violate a covenant, tear up a home, without tremendous consequences; that’s what he’s saying. And it’s the wisdom of God that protects you from that, it’s understanding what God has given you, and it’s having the mind of God and the mind of Christ as you approach your marriage, and understanding the greatness of that gift from God. If you understand God’s will and what God desires and that God will bless your faithfulness and He’ll bless you if you stay faithful to that union, that will keep you from the flattering adulteress who has violated her own marriage covenant and torn her own house down to death and wants to do the same to yours. Not very flattering picture of the woman who breaks a covenant.
Again, the Father is instructing his son, and he says in verse 1, “Give attention that you may gain understanding. I’m giving you sound teaching; do not abandon my instruction. When I was a son to my father, tender and the only son in the sight of my mother, then he taught me.” Now, here’s a man saying, “Look, my Father taught me, and I’m teaching you, and you must give attention to what I am going to teach you.”
In verse 4 he says, “My Father taught me and said to me, ‘Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments and live; acquire wisdom! Acquire understanding! Do not forget nor turn away the words of my mouth. And if you do not forsake her,’ – that is wisdom personified – ‘if you do not forsake her, she’ll guard you; love her, she’ll watch over you.’” You know what that’s saying? Love the truth. Love the instruction of God. Love the wisdom of God.
“The beginning of wisdom” – verse 7 – “is: acquire wisdom.” That’s where you start; you acquire wisdom. Where are you going to go to get it? The Word of God. “And with all your acquiring, get understanding.” Boy, you have a world today of educated people with no wisdom, right? They know everything about the world and nothing about God.
“You prize wisdom,” – verse 8 – “she’ll exalt you; she’ll honor you if you embrace her. She’ll place on her head a garland of grace, and present you with a crown of beauty.” And he’s saying it every way he can say this. And this is what Jewish fathers still teach to their sons, these same proverbs.
Verse 10: “Hear, my son, accept my sayings and the years of your life will be many.” I don’t know how else you can say it. Do want to live long? Do you want a crown of beauty on your life, a garland of grace on your head? Do you want wisdom to embrace you? Do you want wisdom to exalt you? Then acquire wisdom. “And the fear of the Lord” – Proverbs 9:10 says – “is the beginning of wisdom.” “If you do this, my son, the years of your life will be many.”
Verse 12: “When you walk, your steps will not be impeded; and if you run, you won’t stumble.” This will stand by you your whole life, if you accept wisdom. If you guard wisdom,” – look at verse 13 – “if you take hold of instruction and don’t let go, it’ll guard you.” Boy, how basic this is, how critical it is; and he continues to say this all the way down through the chapter.
And then he comes to chapter 5: “My son, give attention to my wisdom.” “Now, I’m going to get practical. I’ve told you every way I can tell you to pursue wisdom, to keep wisdom, to hold onto it; and now I’m going to tell you what it’ll do for you. It’ll give you discretion,” verse 2.
Verse 3: “For the lips of an adulteress drip honey and smoother than oil is her speech.” If you don’t have the wisdom of God, you’re going to get seduced. If you haven’t got a death grip on divine truth, if you haven’t made the wisdom of God your passion, you’re going to get seduced. My son, it’s everywhere out there; and the adulteress’ mouth drips honey and her speech is smoother than oil.” Nothing new under the sun. “But in the end” – verse 4 – “she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword. Her feet go down to death, her steps lay hold of sheol,” or the grave.
“She doesn’t ponder the path of life.” She doesn’t think about the future. She doesn’t realize what she’s doing. She doesn’t care about what’s to come. She has no regard for you, for her, for her husband, her covenant, her children, your wife, your children, or anybody else. “Her ways are unstable, and she doesn’t even know it. And they’re out there, son, they’re out there. If you hold onto wisdom, you’ll be protected.”
Verse 7: “Now then, my sons, listen to me and do not depart from the words of my mouth.” I’m going to give you some practical wisdom: “Keep your way far from her and do not go near the door of her house,” – get out of the vicinity, get out of the area – “lest you wind up giving your vigor to others,” your procreative abilities. “And you’re going to wind up giving your years to the cruel one;” – you’re going to waste your life; you’re going to ruin your life – “lest strangers be filled with your strength” – talking about illegitimate children – “and your hard-earned goods go to the house of an alien.” Now what have you got? You’ve got illegitimate children here, illegitimate children over there, and your resources are going into the house of an alien, not even your own wife.
Verse 11: “You groan at your latter end, when your flesh and your body are consumed.” You look back over your life at the end and you say, “Look what I did to my life.” Verse 12: “You say, ‘How I have hated instruction! And my heart spurned reproof!’ – what a fool, what a fool – ‘I haven’t listened to the voice of my teachers, nor inclined my ear to my instructors! I was almost in utter ruin, and I was right there in the midst of the assembly and congregation.’”
Let me tell you something that’s tragic. People who do this who are in the church, that’s tragic. That’s what he’s talking about. “I was in the assembly. I was sitting there. I was in the assembly of Israel. I was in the congregation when the law of God was read; I knew better. And there I was seduced by the honey lips, drawn in, giving my strength to others, fathering children here or there, and then having my hard-earned goods spread around to people I don’t even know. Come to the end of my life and I don’t even have a family, I don’t even have anybody around me. When it comes time to my flesh and my body to be consumed, all I can say is, ‘Boy, did I ever play the fool and hate instruction, spurned reproof and not listen to my teachers.’”
And then in verse 15 he takes the positive approach. The negative approach was, “Watch out for the adulteress.” Here’s the positive: “Drink water from your own cistern, fresh water from your own well.” That’s the typical, wonderful sort of euphemistic way the Bible speaks about things that you don’t speak about in public. He’s saying, “Look, everything you need physically is at home,” that’s what he’s saying. “You don’t need to do that. You don’t need to destroy your life. There’s nothing there for you that God didn’t provide in your own wife. The companionship is there. The emotion, the intimacy, the friendship, the wonder of children, the double-wonder of grandchildren, it’s all there.”
Verse 16: “Should your springs be dispersed abroad, streams of water in the streets?” That’s pretty vivid. “Let them be yours alone, not for strangers. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoiced in the wife of your youth. As the loving hind and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; be exhilarated always with her love. For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress and embrace the bosom of a foreigner?” That is absolute stupidity; it just destroys everything.
Not only is it destructive in itself, but God is watching. Verse 21: “The ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He watches all his paths. His own iniquities will capture the wicked, he will be held with the cords of his sin, and he will die for lack of” – and Hebrew says – “self-control. And in the greatness of his folly he wanders off.” This is the fool.
Everything that you could ever want is right there in your marriage. It is the grace of life; it is the best that God has to offer. And to love, and to be fulfilled, and to choose friendship is the purpose of marriage.
I said this somewhere, I don’t know where. I say so many things in so many places, I don’t know if I said it here or in Russia or France. But, I have a goal as a husband, and my goal is to make my wife happy. And I know there are times when I fall short of that goal, but that is never not my goal.
As a husband, my greatest joys come when my wife experiences her greatest joys. Have you noticed that? We have a little sign in the kitchen, it says this: “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” Now, you can identify with that. You are a fool husband if the happiness of your wife isn’t your number one priority, because it has wonderful benefits. That’s the way God designed it; and to wander off in the folly that’s been described here in chapter 5 is to play the fool.
I mean, I can’t imagine life could be any better than to have a loving wife, loving children, loving grandchildren, loving extended family on my side, loving extended family on her side. I don’t often think about dying, but occasionally when the thought passes my mind, I’ve imagine myself dying surrounded by those precious people who are my intimate family who have filled my life with such endless joy. I’m not going to come to the end of my life and say I played the fool. I don’t want an empty ending, I want to just see the mounting joy on the path that God has put me on through all these years.
In chapter 6, there’s more. Look at verse 20. Here comes the instruction again: “My son, observe the commandment of your father, do not forsake the teaching of your mother.” In some ways you might think that whoever’s reading this is in need of a remedial reading class, because there is so much repetition. But the repetition is there to make the point.
So he says, “Don’t forsake the teaching, don’t forsake the commandments; tie them around your heart. Just wrap your heart in these truths.” Well, these are the things that are literally in your heart. “Tie them around your neck.” So what are you doing there? You’re putting them on the inside and you’re putting them on the outside. Your heart ought to be literally bound up with these truths, and your neck ought to be bound up with these truths as well.
“When you walk about, they’ll guide you. When you sleep, they’ll watch over you. When you wake, they’ll talk to you.” Now you’re talking about a person who is saturated with wisdom. The word of God is deep and it’s rich, and it’s down into your heart, and it’s around your neck, as if to say it’s deep in your soul and it’s right there accessible to your head. It’s the controlling influence.
In verse 23, he says, “It’s a lamp and it’s light; and it’s reproof.” The Word shows you the positive things; and it also stops you when you start into something, and the Word of God acts as a reproof. And look at verse 24. He brings up the same issue again: “It’ll keep you from the evil woman.” Who is the evil woman? The adulteress. Anybody who violates a marriage vow falls into this category.
“Don’t desire her beauty in your heart, nor let her catch you with her eyelids.” That’s an old feminine ploy. I love this, verse 26: “For on account of a harlot one is reduced to a loaf of bread.” When you think of a loaf of bread, what do you think of? Just a big blob without a brain. And I think that’s what Solomon had in mind, just a “poof,” just a big pile of flour.
Verse 26: “An adulteress hunts for the precious life.” Boy, that is just tragic. What the adulteresses is doing is hunting for the precious life. She doesn’t like what she has, that’s why she broke her covenant. She didn’t like her husband. She’s not happy. not happy in her marital condition. She wants something better, and you’re the fish, you’re the precious life. Oh, you’re so much more appealing than her own husband was.
You’re a fool if you respond. “Can a man take fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned? Can a man walk on hot coals” – verse 28 – “and his feet not be scorched. So is the one who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; whoever goes in and touches her” – touching, meaning in an intimate way – “will not go unpunished.” Boy, serious stuff.
One more chapter, chapter 7. But this is a drama played out here. Starts out again, “My son, keep my words, treasure my commandments within you. Keep my commandments, live, my teaching as the apple of your eye.” In other words, the apple of your eye was a Hebrew expression referring to the pupil. And when he says “my teaching as the apple of your eye,” he means “you need to guard it and protect it.” You protect the pupil of your eye. You have a blink mechanism that if your finger goes up there or an object comes up there, your eye blinks as an act of protection.
The apple of your eye is the pupil of your eye. It’s not something outside that you’re looking at, like an apple; it is the pupil. And so, he is saying, “You need to guard my commandments the way you protect your eye, understanding how valuable your eye is; and you do everything you can to protect it.” God has built in a blinking mechanism and a brow bone here – and even on the side and even below to encase your eye – to provide some protection for it. That’s the way you need to protect the truth of God.
“Bind them on your fingers;” – again right there, where you live and move and work – “and write them on the tablet of your heart.” It ought to be on the inside and the outside. “Say to wisdom, ‘You’re my sister,’ and call understanding your intimate friend;” – here comes again – “that they may keep you from an adulteress.”
It’s fascinating to me that there’s only one relationship defined in creation and that’s marriage. There’s not a section in Genesis 2 about friendship. There’s not a section in Genesis 2 about parenting. The key relationship of all relationships is the marriage relationship, and that’s why in Proverbs discussing wisdom and the matter of living wisdom, God knows that what really destroys a person’s life is not a bad stock market decision, it’s not a bad educational decision, it’s not a bad financial investment. What really destroys a life is a bad marriage perspective. It’s sin that violates a marriage. And so, he says, “If you say to wisdom, ‘You’re my sister,’ and you say, ‘Understanding, you’re my intimate friend,’ that they may keep you from an adulteress, from that alien woman who flatters with her words.”
And again the scene is the same. And you know that drama verse 6. Here is literally the drama played out: “At a window of my house I looked out through my lattice, and I saw among the naïve, I discerned among the youths.” Now, you’re going to see what a naïve person does, somebody with no maturity, no wisdom, no discretion, no understanding, who hasn’t bound the Word of God to his heart and to his neck and to his hands.
Here’s what the naïve does. “He is a young man” – verse 7 says – “lacking sense, so he wanders through the street near her corner.” He goes to those areas, whether it’s a physical location, whether it’s a television program, whether it’s an Internet site or whatever it might be, in this case obviously an actual place in town. “He goes to her corner, he takes his way to her house, in the twilight,” – the worst time – “in the evening, in the middle of the night and in the darkness.” He is setting himself up.
“And behold, a woman comes to meet him, dressed as a harlot and cunning of heart. She’s boisterous, rebellious; her feet do not remain at home.” Again, a harlot is anybody unfaithful to her covenant who seeks another man. “She’s now in the streets, in the squares, lurks by every corner; seizes him and kisses him.” That’s what is called the direct approach. Boy, out of nowhere; but she knows what he’s looking for. “And with a brazen face she says to him: ‘I was due to offer peace offerings.’” She wants to have a religious discussion.
I was in Russia in Kiev at a book place, outside of some building we were looking at, one of my trips some years ago; and I was buying a book, sort of a book about the city. I think it was Kiev, I can’t remember. But there was a lady selling the book. And after I bought the book, she said to me, “Do you like books?” in broken English, and I said, “Yes, I like – I read books all the time; books are a very important part of my life.” And she said, “Oh, good.” She said, “Come to my house, I have many, many books.” I said, “I don’t want to come to your house.” I took my book and I got out of there. I wasn’t alone; there were other Russian pastors with me.
But again, this is the brazenness that you see here, only she appeals to him on a religious level, because this is a Jewish young boy, and peace offerings are good things. “And I paid my vows, and I’m going to offer my peace offerings to God. And so, I’ve come out to meet you to seek your presence earnestly, and I’ve found you.”
And then she gets to the real deal: “I’ve spread my couch with coverings, with colored linens of Egypt. I’ve sprinkled my bed with myrrh, aloes, and cinnamon.” This is a pretty elaborate deal. “Come, let us drink our fill of love until morning. I mean, God is a part of all of this, isn’t He? We’re going to do with a peace offering deal, and then we’re going to do this. We’ll delight ourselves with caresses.”
Now here it is: “The man is not at home, he’s gone on a long journey, and he’s taken a bag of money with him.” Now that indicated the journey would be a long time, because he needed a lot of money. There were no ATM machines. “He’s not coming back till full moon.”
“With her many persuasions she entices him; with her flattering lips she seduces him. He follows her” – I love this – “like an ox to slaughter, like one in chains to the discipline of a fool, until an arrow pierces through his liver; a bird hastening into the snare. He doesn’t know it will cost him his life.” It’s deadly stuff; it’ll destroy his life. Oh, he may not die on the spot; he may. He may die of venereal disease, ramped in those days all over the globe.
So verse 24 says, “Therefore, my sons, please listen to me; pay attention to the words of my mouth. Do not let your heart turn aside to her ways, do not stray into her paths. For many are the victims she has cast down, and numerous or all her slain. Her house is the way to sheol, descending to the chambers of death.” In ancient times, venereal disease decimated populations. It’s a building of judgment of God, isn’t it?
Well, marriage is God’s created design: one man, one woman, for life. That’s the best that God can give you; and it’s marvelous, and it’s glorious, and it’s fulfilling when you live out that marriage in obedience to Christ. Now you’re not going to marry a perfect person; very few of us have that privilege. But God will give you the grace to enjoy marriage to the fullest capacity that a Christian can enjoy it with all of its benefits. This is the best relationship that God could give to man. And what does man do? He just butchers it, doesn’t he?
I’m going to close with this. Before you get out of Genesis, before you get out of Genesis, you have polygamy, chapter 4; you have evil sexual thoughts, chapter 9; you have adultery, chapter 16; you have homosexuality, chapter 19; you have fornication and rape in chapter 34; you have incest in chapter 38, you have prostitution in chapter 38; and you have seduction in chapter 39. You’re not even out of Genesis and that’s the way it’s going. But Jesus said, “From the beginning” – what? – “it’s not so.” As Christians, we need to capture what God intended in the beginning by His wonderful design.
Well, I’m going to stop there. But that’s not the end of Matthew 19. Do you see the next question? “They said to Him, ‘Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate and divorce her?’” If this is God’s view, and as Malachi said, “God hates divorce,” then why did God provide for divorce, and on what terms? And that’s for next time. So stay married. Let’s pray.
Father, we thank You for Your Word; how powerful, how poignant, how direct. Lord, we want to live our lives to enjoy the fullness of the wonder of marriage. We thank You for it. And even though it may not be everything You want it to be and we are not all you want us to be, help us to understand that this is a gift. This is the best thing you could ever give us in human relationships.
There is no relationship like it, with its intimacy, with its joy,; with the product of it (children, grandchildren), with the sharing of all the vicissitudes and struggles and issues of life (the highs, the lows), with its tenderness and with its strength, with its provision and security and protection, with its cherishing and nourishing; it’s the best. And we pray that as Christian people we will enjoy the paradise regained that You can give us in Christ in our marriages. For that we thank You in His dear name. Amen.
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