Proper 22 • Genesis 2:18–25 • October 7, 2012
By Michael J. Redeker
There are many things that are basic in life. The basics are needed for a person to build on. Learning the ABCs is basic for education. Learning to boil water is a basic for culinary skills. And the great coach of the Green Bay Packers, Vince Lombardi, brought his team back to basics when he said, “Gentlemen, this is a football.”
Proper 22 is the first Sunday of the Church Militant period in the season of Pentecost. This is the time when the church remembers that, as we look forward to Christ’s return and the Church Triumphant, we remain in spiritual warfare against Satan, sin, and worldly ways. The battle that began in the Garden of Eden continues. What better way to enter this time of the church year than to remember that we need to get back to the basics, the basic relationship with Jesus Christ and with one another.
To be sure, this text speaks to marriage and God’s plan for marriage between one man and one woman. As tempting as it might be to preach solely on marriage, or to use this as an opportunity to preach against gay marriage with the general elections on the horizon, I would suggest a different approach.
Genesis 2 shows us the picture of God’s desire for his creation in the Garden of Eden. Everything was perfect as he intended. His desire was to have a perfect and harmonious relationship with creation, including humankind. However, that relationship was broken in Genesis 3 when both Adam and Eve disobeyed God, breaking that relationship. As sin entered the world, everything was turned on its head and was not the way God intended. Death, sickness, poverty, prejudice, and hunger became the new reality.
Sin affected the precious and sacred relationship between husband and wife, but it affected all other relationships as well. For instance sin corrupted relationships in the most basic form of governance—the family. How has sin changed the relationship between parents and children, and between siblings? Extending this out a further, how has sin affected relationships within local congregations, the family of God, the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, and the Christian church as a whole? And one more step, how has sin affected the Christian’s relationship with non-Christians? Genesis 2:18–25 is an opportunity for the preacher to help the hearer get back to the basics and understand the importance of Christ-centered relationships as the church continues in spiritual warfare.
Verse 18: Could something actually be “not good,” i.e. “bad” in the Garden of Eden prior to the fall? This might be one of the questions in the mind of the contemporary Christian. Nothing “bad” has entered into God’s creation at this point in the text. The question is from whose perspective is “not good” viewed? It is not Adam’s perspective because nothing “bad” exists yet to which he can compare “bad” and “good,” thus “not good” does not mean “bad.” “Not good” must be seen from God’s point of view after declaring days one through five “good.” This portion of Genesis 2 takes place later during the sixth day of creation. It fleshes out Genesis 1:24ff. In this context “not good” means “not yet complete.” “The skies without the luminaries and birds are incomplete. The seas without the fish are incomplete. Without mankind and land animals the earth is incomplete. As a matter of fact, every phenomenon in Genesis 1–2, God excepted, is in need of something else to complete it and to enable it to function.”1 God alone makes the judgment that it is not suitable for Adam to be alone.
bādad, “alone” or “solitude.” This word can have a positive, negative, or neutral connotation. Positively, this word is used for God’s uniqueness and incomparability. This word has a negative connotation when a human is abandoned by his or her community or by God. The preacher could use this as a gospel handle proclaiming Christ, who alone is God and was abandoned and forsaken by the Father while on the cross. The preacher could develop the “relationship” aspect of this text using the Father’s (creator’s) relationship with his Son, and yet the Father values and desires to have a relationship with humankind once again. He treasures this so much that he sent Jesus to die—abandoned and in solitude—so that we might be rescued and restored into a right relationship with the creator and our Father.
“I will make” shows divine intentionality. There are no accidents with God! Every living person is a part of God’s plan. And “God don’t make no junk.”
kaneyed, “fit” or “that which is opposite, or corresponds” to Adam. In other words, God intended to make an appropriate helper for Adam. Eve would be like him, and yet different in some way. This is not a word of subordination, nor is this a title of superiority. Simply put, God knew that it was not good that Adam should be alone. He needed someone to stand with him, and Eve needed someone to stand with her. kaneyed is found in 2:20 as well.
Verse 22: The bridegroom waits. The first marriage takes place as God brings Eve down the aisle as the greatest pastor ever to perform the ceremony. This could be developed using the illustration of Christ the bridegroom and the Church as his bride.
Verse 23: The image here is not that of Adam standing on a rock, beating his chest like a caveman waiting to drag Eve into the cave by her hair. Unfortunately, there are husbands who think of their wives in this way and worse, treating them as property rather than as a gift from God. The opposite can be true as well, regarding some wives’ attitudes toward their husbands. The image in this verse is one of sheer joy as Adam receives his gift. Not only did Adam and Eve receive each other as a gift to have and to hold, to love and to cherish, but they also received God’s gift of “relationship.” Neither would live alone in solitude because God gave the gift of another human being.
Suggested Sermon Direction
The preacher can develop a sermon based on the importance of relationship and our basic human need for relationships beginning with our relationship with Jesus Christ. The preacher could also bring in the importance of our relationship with Christ on the vertical level, and with one another on the horizontal level, as we live out our Christian faith during this time of spiritual warfare. We are to help one another and build up the body of Christ rather than tear relationships down. This might mean a call to repentance as the hearer examines his or her relationship with spouse, children, parents, and siblings. It might mean a call to repentance and forgiveness for some who are divorced and need to restore a relationship on a Christian level. The preacher can move the sermon into strained or broken relationships with fellow Christians, or groups within the congregation—obviously keeping it general and not naming names from the pulpit. Finally, the preacher could ask the hearer to examine his or her relationship with those at work or school, as well as with those in their circles who are not of the Christian faith. Getting back to basics with Christ at the center.
 Victor P. Hamilton, The Book of Genesis 1–17 (New International Commentary on the Old Testament Series; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1990), 175.