(God Created the Family)
Genesis 2:18-24; 4:1-2
Devotional Reading: Leviticus 19:11-18
Background Scripture: Genesis 2:18-24; 4:1-2
Keep in Mind:
“24Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
DISCOVER God’s intention for family;
AFFIRM sexual differences as part of God’s good creation; and
COMMIT to loving our families with mutual respect.
Genesis 2, beginning at verse 4, differs from chapter 1 in that it provides a narrative of the Creation that begins with humanity. God creates the first man, then the garden, animals, and the woman. Genesis 2 sets the stage for the story of humanity’s fall from grace. It provides an explanation of the human condition and why humanity has a troubled relationship with God. Genesis 2:15-17 explains the reason behind placing the man in the Garden of Eden. Adam had a vocation, (to till the land), a permit (to freely enjoy the fruit of the land), and a prohibition (against eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil). Genesis 1:26 presents humans as primarily spiritual and powerful, made in God’s image. In Genesis 2, however, we learn the spiritual and natural duality of humans. God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed life into his nostrils. His formation from dust anticipates his work as a tiller of soil and his return to the earth after death. The divine breath in his nostrils indicates that life-breath belongs to God; a person without life-breath returns to God.
We also learn God determined human relationships during Creation. Man needed a helper. In Genesis 4, we meet the second generation of humanity, the extension of the family. They arrive through the sexual relationship between members of the preceding generation, and they continue the behavior of transgression against God and each other found in the first generation.
1. How is your destiny intertwined with that of your relatives?
Humans Need Help (Genesis 2:18-20)
19Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to Adam to see what he would call them. And whatever Adam called each living creature, that was its name.
God created a complete world. The world included the ‘adam, the Garden, rivers, and trees. As a perfect God surveyed what should have been a perfect creation, something was missing. God formed every kind of animal and the birds of the air and brought them to the man. Humanity was designated to care for the rest of creation. The man was empowered by God to give each creature its name, but among all the animals, no suitable helpmate for the man was found. Man was himself an animal, but no animal was like the man. He had power over all the animals as evidenced by his ability to name them. Creation was incomplete until the man had another human to be his helper in carrying out his vocational and spiritual work. The human needed family to be complete.
1. How does the knowledge that God created humans to be helpers for one another help you understand your role in society differently?
Woman is Man’s Helpmate (Genesis 2:21-24)
21And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place.
23And Adam said:
“This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
She shall be called Woman,
Because she was taken out of Man.”
Woman is so named because she was taken from the man. For the first time in Scripture, we see the us e of gendered language to describe human beings. These gendered bodies are one, as the man explains, “This is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh” (from verse 23). They are both literally and figuratively one another’s kin. Genesis 2 does not indicate that the woman is to be subservient to the man; rather, they are partners in the work God had assigned to him. The creation of the woman’s body from the body of he man explains the motive or their sexuality. They were separated from one another, but she is part of the man. They are sexually complementary; the two physically reunite and again become one flesh. Together the man and the woman unite to form necessary and whole community. Through this positive bond, they are to bear children who, in turn, leave home and form new families fulfilling God’s command to be fruitful and multiply. They should leave to cleave. In Genesis 2:24, the man and the woman are aware of the sexual differences but their sexuality is yet to be expressed.
1. How can men and women better honor our divinely created connection to one another?
Family Matters (Genesis 4:1-2)
The man and woman carry out the physical relationship that was set up for them in the Garden. The word “know” as a euphemism for sexual relations furthers the concept that there is a connection between sexuality and knowledge. For the first time in Scripture, a sexual relationship is mentioned. They have two sons.
Throughout Genesis, first born sons do not fare well (e.g. Ishmael, Esau). Cain and Abel are the first examples of the tension between elder sons and their younger brothers. As the firstborn son, Cain embodied the family’s hope for the future. Abel’s name in Hebrew means “vapor” or “nothingness.” As the young son, he was dismissed. In the New Testament, however, Abel is called a man of faith (Hebrews 11:4), and Cain is described as evil (1 John 3:12; Jude 11). Cain and Abel split the purposeful work set out in the Garden. Cain was a worker of the land, and bel cared for the animals. The broken relationship that later develops between the brothers relates to the broken relationship that was developing between God and humanity.
1. How can we foster wholeness within our families?
2. How our family members relate to one another from parents to siblings to children impacts how we relate to people in our extended families, communities, and beyond. How can we be more intentional about giving and receiving love and respect and love?
3. How can we learn from negative experiences to relate well to the next generation?
Lesson to Live by:
Scripture teaches that without our human family, we are incomplete. We live in a world that prioritizes independence and self-sufficiency. We are celebrated when we can do things without help. Musical artists sing about their love of “independent women” or “self-made men” and many people follow suit, proudly proclaiming that in this life all we need is ourselves. No doubt, we all must learn the importance of self-respect and self-love, but the Genesis 2 passage is clear; it is through our relationship with other human beings that we more fully appreciate our humanity. We need God and one another, too, if we desire to thrive in this life.
Daily Bible Readings
Monday: Becoming One Flesh – Matthew 19:3-6
Tuesday: Married and Devoted to the Lord – 1 Corinthians
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