Adam was enjoying himself. He buried his face in the thick mane of a golden beast, tangled with the leathery trunks of some enormous gray creatures, and occasionally bent over to stroke the animal with a constantly wagging tail that remained dutifully by his side. The line before him seemed endless, but as the animals stepped forward, “Adam gave names” to each kind, “to [the] cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field …” (Genesis 2:20).
As Adam worked he began to notice: There were multiples of each creature. The man looked closer and saw that in many cases there were minor but obvious differences between animals of the same kind. Each animal seemed to have a replicate, a complement, a mate that was the same but different. Adam naturally began to wonder: Where’s my mate? He gazed down the line, hoping to catch a glimpse of his partner and to see how long it would be before he would meet and name her. But sadly, “there was not found an help meet for him” (verse 20).
Isn’t it interesting that while God apparently created multiples of each animal at creation, He initially created only one human being? There is purpose in everything God does, even the seemingly minor things. Why did God create the man first?
When you read Genesis 2, it is obvious that God formed a relationship with Adam before Eve arrived. In verses 15-17, we read: “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it ….”
That is interesting too. The first round of instruction about the two trees—and the garden of Eden in general—was given to Adam before the woman was created. This was not an insignificant decision by God. Why did He do this? What was His purpose in establishing a relationship with Adam first?
The answer isn’t complicated. Think about the message inherent within God creating Adam alone, God initially instructing Adam alone, and God developing a relationship with Adam prior to Eve’s creation. The order of human creation is a plain and powerful endorsement of God’s view of marriage and the roles of husband and wife!
Think about it from Eve’s perspective. Eve knew that God loved her, and God made sure the woman understood that her potential (to become a God being) was equal to that of the man. But it was obvious to the first woman that when it came to her husband, to her family, and even to God’s relationship with man, God was working through her husband in a unique and special way.
We must realize the enormous significance of what God was doing here. The relationship between man and woman is the most important there is between humans. This relationship is central to human existence; it’s how we preserve and expand the human race! This relationship is at the core of every family, every town and village, every city, every nation. God didn’t just create the man and woman back in the garden of Eden; He created the pivotal relationship between man and woman.
Today there is so much confusion about marriage and family. The result is that our families are in a catastrophic state, and our communities and nations are rapidly disintegrating. From time to time, even some of God’s people become confused about marriage and family, and the roles of the man and woman. God is not the author of this confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33)—certainly not of chaotic, disunited families.
The subject foremost on Herbert W. Armstrong’s mind in his final years was Genesis and the two trees. Most of the Church at the time failed to understand that God put this subject on His apostle’s mind. We must not make this mistake. God wanted Mr. Armstrong, and subsequently His Church, to deeply consider and learn the lessons furnished by Genesis and the two trees.
Let’s consider some beautiful lessons from the garden of Eden about the most important institution on Earth: marriage
Husbands To Lead And Love
Genesis 1 is a summary of the first six days of creation; it includes a brief overview of man’s creation. Genesis 1 clearly shows that God created the material creation to function according to immutable laws. These laws—of chemistry, biology and physics, for example—are what hold our planet together.
In Genesis 2, God focuses our attention on the creation of humans. But it’s evident that just as He did with the non-human material creation, God created laws to govern the successful functioning of human beings. Paramount among these laws are those governing marriage and establishing the roles within the family.
It is clear that Adam and Eve were created separately. Genesis 2:7 shows that God created Adam alone. However, it was God’s plan all along that there would be two humans, male and female. Why? Because as God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him” (verse 18). The obvious and significant lesson here is that the woman was made after man because she was created for man. God reinforces the roles within marriage even within the chronology of creation.
Notice too that God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone.” Being single isn’t an ideal state. This doesn’t mean that being single is wrong or sinful—we are all single at some point. God has a carefully designed life-plan for each one of us, and if God is content with us remaining single, then we should be too. But in general, “it is not good that … man should be alone.”
There’s an important reason God said it wasn’t good that man was alone. Adam needed Eve to fulfill the earthly and spiritual goals God had set for him. And Eve needed Adam the same way. Each is incomplete without the other. Both roles are critical.
The creation of the woman as a helpmeet, or assistant, shows that God considered Adam the leader of this relationship. This was a team and each individual needed the other, but there were two distinct roles—there was government. It’s simple really: Adam was created to lead; Eve was created to help. What splendid clarity!
“And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man” (verses 21-22).
The manner of Eve’s creation highlights the intimate connection between man and woman. Adam was created from the “dust of the earth” and received life from the Word (verse 7). But the woman was created out of the man; her life was actually created from Adam. There is no evidence that any of the animals were created this way. In verse 24, God says Adam and Eve were to become “one flesh.” God created the woman from the body of man to emphasize the tremendous love and unity embodied by that term “one flesh.”
In Ephesians 5:28, the Apostle Paul wrote, “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.” It is hard for human beings, especially us men, to comprehend the depth of love (God’s love, agape) that God wants the husband to have for his wife. Of the many responsibilities a man has toward his wife, God in the marriage chapter identifies only one: love your wife. This is the hardest thing for a husband to do! God was emphasizing this even back in the garden of Eden. God wanted Adam to love Eve, and to take care of her as if she were his own body. This is an important reason why God created the woman from the man.
I love the scene in the last half of Genesis 2:22, the moment when God “brought [the woman] unto the man.” It’s like God was giving Adam a gift. As a father, I get a little excited when I occasionally give my children a present. I still remember the joy I experienced giving my daughter her first Bible, her name engraved in gold on the cover. Parents love making their children happy. This is probably nothing compared to the excitement God experienced when He gave Adam a mate. Imagine Adam waking from his induced sleep and hearing God say, Look what I’ve created for you, Adam! And then, right at that moment, seeing a gorgeous human being walk out from behind a tree!
Adam probably couldn’t contain himself. He’d watched the animals cavorting with each other all day, each with a partner. Now he had his own mate! In Paradise Lost, the poet John Milton invokes the image of Adam talking to Eve and calling her, “Heaven’s last best gift.” Eve was God’s final act of material creation (God had yet to create the Sabbath) and Adam probably received the woman—God’s “last best gift”—just before sunset. What an awesome start to the Sabbath for Adam.
What was going through Eve’s mind? She was probably full of questions. All she knew was that a man with a beaming smile was rushing toward her. Eve had already missed so much. She would have to rely on Adam to teach her, to lead her, and even to introduce her to God and His plan. Isn’t God amazing? The timing of Eve’s creation meant she would have to look to her husband. And Adam would have to love his wife and teach her.
Adam recognized the majesty of the moment. He saw the woman and stated, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man” (verse 23). Adam made a unilateral decision here. He didn’t solicit the woman’s advice or seek her approval on what he should name her. He was the leader and he was simply doing what God has tasked him to do.
Think about the beautiful lessons inherent within this history, especially the awesome love God desires between a husband and wife, as well as the leadership role of the husband
Wives To Submit And Help
“And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.” Genesis 2:18 shows that God created the woman to revolve around the man. Adam needed a helper, an assistant, a friend and confidant, a partner. He needed someone to talk to, someone to encourage him, to support and motivate him.
The last nine words of that verse—delivered by God Himself—utterly destroy the feminist movement. God didn’t create man and woman to live separate, independent lives. He didn’t create Eve to be Adam’s competitor. He didn’t intend for Eve to have her own set of values and beliefs, her own career liberated from her husband. God created Eve for the purpose of being a “help meet” to Adam. Eve’s career was Adam!
That statement is politically incorrect and many would say chauvinistic. But it’s exactly what the Bible says. Of course, God created the woman with the same spiritual potential as the man: to become a full-fledged member of God’s Family. But as far as the roles are concerned, God created woman first and foremost to be a “help meet” to the man. In fact, playing the helpmeet role was precisely how God intended for her to attain her incredible human potential. Being a helpmeet was how she would develop the grace and knowledge, the character, to be born into the Family of God (2 Peter 3:18).
How deeply do we realize this? If you are a woman, the role of wife is the primary vehicle God created by which you will qualify to become God. Likewise, for men, the role of husband is the primary vehicle by which you will qualify to become God. These roles exist only in marriage—the primary vehicle God gives us for qualifying as sons of God and the Bride of Christ!
If we really understand that our salvation depends on it, we’ll realize that our respective role is one of the most important subjects we could study. Satan hates the role of the helpmeet with a passion and has nearly extinguished it from this world. The same goes for the role of the husband. Frankly, it’s evident that he’s even had some success marginalizing both these roles in the minds of some of God’s people. (How do we measure up to the roles defined in passages like Proverbs 31; Ephesians 5; Titus 2:3-5; 1 Peter 3:1-7?)
The term “help meet” in Genesis 2:18 means “aid,” “succor” or “help.” Imagine how much tension and conflict, how many bitter arguments, would be solved if women today simply believed and embraced that instruction?
This doesn’t mean God intended the woman to be the husband’s slave. God didn’t create the woman to be a robot, devoid of intelligence and creativity, incapable of independent thought and decision-making. To the contrary, all these characteristics are necessary—empowered by the Holy Spirit—to develop the holy righteous character that God desires from the men and women He calls. God loves and desires intelligence, creativity and independent thinking in women, as long as it’s employed within the parameters of the “help meet” role He created.
Isn’t it incredible how God clearly defined the role of the woman all the way back there in the garden of Eden? So much confusion can be eradicated simply by seeing that Eve was created to be Adam’s helpmeet
Have you ever studied the marriage ceremony God inspired Mr. Armstrong to write? That ceremony is built around Genesis 2 and has a strong theme of two trees! The second sentence of that ceremony states: “Marriage is a natural union, but a divine institution, ordained of God.” Those words really come alive when you meditate on Genesis 2 and how much instruction God actually gave Adam and Eve about marriage and family.
When a woman gets married today she is often escorted down the aisle—“given away”—by her father, who smiles joyfully and proudly. This is basically what happened in the garden of Eden when God “brought [Eve] unto [Adam].” Like a human father, God was joyfully giving away something He had created. I’m sure seeing Adam happy gave God enormous joy, though God was exuberant for much more significant reasons.
Think about what He was really doing in that moment—not just for Adam and Eve, but for all mankind. God was creating marriage! God was creating family! He was creating the most beautiful and important institution on Earth—the institution that would guarantee the health and success of all the families and communities, cities and nations, that would come from Adam and Eve. God gave this man and woman, and all of mankind, the relationship that would enable them to “[b]e fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it …” (Genesis 1:28).
God was doing something even greater spiritually: He was introducing Adam and Eve to the gospel, which revolves around marriage and family! God was giving them the institution He would use to reproduce Himself!
“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Surely this is one of the most revealing scriptures in the Bible about marriage. The word cleave means “abide fast,” “fast together” or “pursue hard.” It implies the closest, most personal relationship. God intended that through marriage the husband and wife were to become “one flesh.”
There is obviously a physical dimension to the term “one flesh.” But the physical union of a couple through sex is simply a type of a much more important union—a mental, emotional and, most importantly, spiritual union. Ultimately, becoming “one flesh” as God intended requires the power of God’s Holy Spirit, which we must get from the tree of life. Christ showed this when He invoked the term used back in the garden of Eden: “For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matthew 19:5‑6). For a married couple to truly be “one flesh,” they need God to bind the marriage. And they both need to be using the power of God’s Holy Spirit.
Marriage did not exist prior to Adam and Eve. But this didn’t mean there wasn’t a relationship for the first man and woman to look to as an example. Recall the awesome relationship between God and the Word described in John 1:1-3: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”
In The God Family Vision, Gerald Flurry writes: “In this verse, the word with is not merely a preposition that denotes place or space, but rather refers to the closest spiritual relationship two beings can have!” God and the Word (now Jesus Christ) have perfect unity, perfect peace and perfect happiness. There is no closer relationship in the universe.
God and the Word did not have a marriage relationship. However, there are principles of their relationship that God installed in the marriage relationship. First, God and the Word each have a specific role. The Word was God’s assistant, the Being through whom God made all things (Colossians 1:16). These roles were complementary; there has never been a single moment when either God or the Word was off doing His own thing, pursuing His own ambition independently. Second, there was government in this relationship. The Word submitted to God in everything. Think about what these two have been able to accomplish because each embraced His specific role and because there was government.
God wanted Adam and Eve to have this kind of unity. Ultimately, this is the unity envisioned in the term “one flesh.” Through marriage, Adam and Eve—and those of us married today—could experience a type of the relationship between God and the Word. As Mr. Armstrong always said, marriage is a God-plane relationship!
The marriage relationship pictures the binding, unselfish, loving relationship between Christ and the Church. When we marry Christ, we will have the same unity and love that God the Father and the Word have. If we’re married, this is our standard: God wants us to experience the depth of love and unity that He has with the Word!
Notice what Mr. Armstrong said in his Last Great Day sermon in 1979: “So God first instructed Adam, and He talked with Adam the very first Sabbath day. God did not allow Satan to have any contact with Adam until God had thoroughly instructed him about the government of God, about the coming Kingdom of God, which is the Family of God ruling with the government of God …. And He had shown him that God’s way, God’s government, is based on love—on the way of give and not on the way of get.”
You see, God married Adam and Eve, and then He educated them both in His plan and His laws—including the laws and purpose of marriage! God taught them about their respective roles. He told Adam he was to lead. He told Eve that she was to be Adam’s helpmeet. He told them that together, as a team, they were to fulfill their earthly and spiritual commissions. God equipped this couple with everything they needed to succeed in life.
But first, this couple would have to do something essential: They would have to choose the tree of life and receive God’s Holy Spirit! Only with this power, the power of the living God, could they ever reach their awesome potential, both as individuals and as a married couple.
It’s the same for us today: We attain our incredible human potential—and our incredible marriage potential—by using the power of God!
When you study Genesis 3 it becomes clear that Adam and Eve’s marriage, despite all their personal contact with God, deteriorated pretty quickly. There are lessons for us here too.
First, notice how Satan bypassed the man and went directly to the woman. “And he said unto the woman …” (Genesis 3:1). As we saw in Genesis 1 and 2, God worked through Adam. In Genesis 3, Satan worked to derail God’s plan through the woman. How many biblical examples are there of Satan trying to destroy the plan of God through a woman? Abraham, Samson, David, Solomon—they all had a weakness for women!
Where was Adam when Eve was off talking to Satan, and why wasn’t he with his wife? Was there a lack of leadership here on Adam’s part? Why didn’t Adam, the moment it became possible, grab Eve’s hand and sprint toward the tree of life? It’s clear that something wasn’t quite right. They sure weren’t behaving as “one flesh.”
What was Eve thinking? When approached by a talking snake, why didn’t she run immediately to her husband? Why didn’t she tell the snake, You need to check with my husband, or, I need to discuss this with my husband?
Mr. Armstrong believed Eve was struggling with a few things. In a Bible study in August 1980, he stated: “If someone doesn’t lead, and someone else is supposed to be equal, they want to go on ahead. Well, old mother Eve decided she ought to wear the pants. So, she’s the one who contacted Satan. She’s the one who decided on the experiment. She’s the one who took of the fruit that was forbidden and gave to her husband, and meekly he gave in, in his weakness, and took of the fruit and ate also with her. And he let the woman lead him. Adam, therefore, followed his wife and rejected God and rebelled against the government of God and the rulership of God.” That is a powerful observation.
Adam and Eve were having some major marriage problems. An upside-down marriage was partly to blame for the decision to eat of the tree of death!
The marriage quickly worsened after that fateful decision. In verse 9, God communicates specifically with Adam, as He always did. “And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?” Verse 10 shows that shame and guilt had entered, which is what happens when we sin: “And [Adam] said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” Listen to Adam—it’s I, I, I, I! It looks like Adam turned on his wife. What happened to the “we”? After all, they were supposed to be “one flesh.”
Human nature, Satan’s nature, was now running rampant, and Adam and Eve were living according to their own rules. “And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat” (verse 12). How’s that for loving your wife, your companion created by God Himself to be your helpmeet? Adam blamed his wife even though he had consciously decided to eat the fruit (1 Timothy 2:14). Worse still, Adam blamed God, criticizing Him because He made the woman!
How easy it is for us men to think of ourselves as infallible. We’re in charge; we give orders and instructions; we have the final say. Sometimes it’s easy to think that makes us automatically right or above reproach. Isn’t it easy sometimes to put the blame for certain things on our wives, our children or even God, when the cause of the problem is our own lack of conversion or leadership?
Men: There are consequences when we don’t lead as God intended us to. God told Adam directly: “Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake …” (Genesis 3:17). God corrected Adam strongly: Because you listened to your wife; because you abandoned your role; because you didn’t love her like I told you to; because you had an upside-down marriage; because you got marriage wrong, you shall be cursed!
The Bible gives us no indication that Adam and Eve’s marriage ever recovered from this trauma. Resentment and bitterness likely crept in. They probably fought and argued a lot. Adam probably told Eve, If only you had stayed with me! Eve probably responded, If only you had led me properly! Adam probably never looked at Eve quite the same way again, certainly never with the excitement, pleasure and innocence he had the moment he first laid eyes on her. Eve’s resentment toward Adam probably welled up. And it may have been like this for hundreds of years.
The relationship worsened when children came along. Unless they are resolved, conflicts and resentments will often intensify when children enter the picture. Genesis 4:1 is interesting. When Cain was born, Eve said, “I have gotten a man from the Lord.” In a godly marriage, the response would be, Thank you, great and loving God, for giving US a child!
If you study into this verse, it is evident Eve believed Cain was the individual God prophesied in Genesis 3:15 who would dethrone Satan the devil. Basically, Eve thought her son was the Son of God. This belief resulted in a warped mother-son relationship. Eve put Cain before everything else, including her husband. This is a dangerous mistake. Cain was raised to believe he was “the man.” He had major issues with selfishness and vanity. No wonder Cain couldn’t handle it when God preferred Abel’s offering to his! He was a juvenile delinquent who ended up committing the first murder in human history. That act was the product of a bad marriage!
The final few verses of Genesis 3 show how God, following man’s sin, cut off access to the tree of life and ejected Adam and Eve from the garden. From this moment forward, as Mr. Armstrong taught, mankind has been in bondage to Satan.
When you consider this history, you could conclude that the entire course of human civilization was decided by a marriage that went horribly wrong! There is an obvious lesson here for us: If we don’t get marriage right, the consequences will be disastrous.
Build A Tree Of Life Marriage
Revelation 19:7 says, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.” Adam failed in his marriage. But Revelation 19:7 shows that Jesus Christ, the second Adam, is not going to fail. Christ will have a bride, and she will know how to be married God’s way. Your marriage today is helping you prepare to be born as a son of God and the Bride of Christ.
Once this marriage has occurred, Christ and His Bride will do to the universe what God intended Adam and Eve to do to the Earth. Following their wedding, Christ and His Bride are “going to be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.” After that, we are going to replenish the entire universe. All this work is going to be done through a marriage!
God’s Church today must realize how urgent and intense the need for godly marriages is in this world. Satan is waging a vicious and successful war on marriage and family. God’s people are all that stands to prevent Satan from wiping out marriage as God created it. What a weighty responsibility!
The world needs you to build a tree-of-life marriage!
God the Father and Jesus Christ need you to build a tree-of-life marriage!
Meditate on the beautiful lessons about marriage furnished by events in the garden of Eden. Let’s embrace the roles in marriage as God created them. Husbands, let’s lead our wives as God intended us to, and love her as if she came from our own body. Wives, embrace the role of helpmeet. Then together, using the power of God’s Holy Spirit, strive to build the “one flesh” unity God seeks in marriage—the unity that God and Jesus Christ have, and the unity that the Church will soon have with our Husband Jesus Christ.
Remember too, it all starts with the tree of life. To have the marriage God wants us to have, we must eat daily from the tree of life and obtain daily the power of God’s Holy Spirit!