man

Family 101-The Man

Today’s world hates the fact that there is a difference between a man and a woman. If the discussions of the day point to anything, they point to the desire to make man a woman and a woman a man. They do not want what they would call ‘inequality’ because we as human beings have tolerated that long enough. In the push for homosexual rights in “marriage,” adoption, social status, etc…, the basic disdain for God and His creation has begun to be exposed and accepted by far too many. To attempt to make a man equal in every way to a woman, or vice-versa, is tantamount to saying that the birds should come down and act like the hippo, or the shark should jump out of the sea and start soaring like an eagle. The reality is, God’s creation was a design of God, for His grand purpose, and it is a fixed state. Nothing can change it, except God Himself (and change it He will).

Today, I want to begin where the creation narrative concerning people begins-the creation of the man. It is my desire to explain the creation of the man, which will lead naturally to his responsibilities according to that creation, and thus help as many as possible to re-orient their lives to as to learn to measure up to these responsibilities.

 

THE CREATION OF A MAN

 

God has created the heavens, with all their hosts, and the earth with all of its hosts, minus two: the ones to rule over this creation on behalf of God. It is now time for God to do what He purposed to do in eternity past and that is to create a man to bear His image according to His likeness and a helper to accompany the man in his divine enterprise of bearing other images of God according to God’s image, through the man. I will attempt to explain that more in subsequent posts. This, you will see, is the starting point, and the consummation, of God’s purpose for the creation of the man. You see, a man is not just male. He is a replica of God if God were ever to become man. Let me explain.

God said,

Genesis 1:26–27

26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27  God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.

Notice what is being said here. God, after creating all the adornments of creation, now focuses His unified attention upon the creation of “man.” In Hebrew, “man” is a word that is typically, when it does not have the article “the” in front of it, translated “a man.” It can mean “man” in a collective sense, as in Genesis 5:2 where God, after creating the man and the woman together, and after having them presented before Him (Genesis 1:28), clearly gave them both the name “man.” That use of the word is a collective use including both the man and the woman. However, that is not the sense of the word in this passage, nor the creation narrative of Genesis 2-3. “Man” does not include the man and the woman in this narrative (which is evidenced by the fact that the singular masculine pronoun is used throughout). For example, God said, “Let us create man/a man to be our image according to our likeness.” He then proceeded to create that man and gave him specific examples follow and a specific commandment to obey. Then, after doing that, said “It is not good for man to be alone; I will make a helper suitable for him.” Notice that the creation of the woman is treated differently, and the man is still called the man. The woman is not called so, but simply a helper.

What does all this indicate? It indicates that when God said “Let Us make man in (or “to be”) our image, according to our likeness…” it was a direct reference to the man, Adam, primarily. That is, the result of this decree was the man, not the woman. That, then, indicates that what follows is primarily directed towards the responsibility of the man. Of course, there are things for the woman too, which will be summarized in Genesis 1:28 & 2:18-25. We will get there. However, for now, the man Adam needs to be addressed. We have already seen that the original responsibilities for Adam is for every man today as well. Nothing has changed. Let’s summarize those responsibilities.

First, as we go in order of the creation, we see that primarily the man is made to bear the image of God according to the likeness of God (Genesis 1:26). Paul tells us

1 Corinthians 11:7

7  For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.

Paul is echoing the very ordinance of God found here in Genesis 1:26. Adam, being made first and for God’s reason, is the image of God and most responsible for bearing that out in life. We will see how in the following. Some might object to this truth and assume that the woman cannot bear the image of God. Paul refers to that as well. He says that the “woman is the glory of man.” First, Paul makes it clear that the woman does not bear the weight of reflection of the image of God directly as does the man. She does it indirectly through the man. That is, the woman, being made directly from the man, is his image and likeness, and should be. Adam was not taken from another person but made directly by God without previous material as is the case of Eve, being made from Adam’s bone and flesh. This is why, barring obvious, adjustments, the woman and the man have such similar physical features created primarily by God for their respective purposes. Yet, the woman is the glory of the man who, in turn, is supposed to be the image and likeness of God. This also indicates a very important reality – leadership from the man will result in the continuity of the image and likeness of God through the family as the man properly reflects that image of God according to God’s likeness. That is leadership. The reflection of God seen in the man will pass to the rest of the family since part of that image is the wisdom to deal with sin and sinners carefully and possibly redemptively.

Second, the man is called to work. That is, God has created the man in His image and now the man is standing next to God beholding God’s handiwork and beginning to receive the Lord’s instructions. YHWH and Adam are standing together on the outskirts of the garden when God makes every tree to sprout that is pleasing to the eyes. He also makes the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil respectively (Genesis 2:9). Upon arriving there, the unspoken expectation, or created purpose for the man is that he is put into the Garden of Eden in order “to cultivate it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Since being in the garden God indicates to the man that first he is to “cultivate” the garden. What does that mean? This particular word means to “work” or “serve” and is used for religious service to YHWH (Exodus 3:12) as well as physical labor (Exodus 5:18). The idea is that of manual labor and exertion of effort toward some work that will produce either food or religious duty. In the case of Adam, it refers to manual labor as v. 5 indicates since no plant was to perpetually grow until the man “cultivates” (same word as v. 15) the ground. Thus, although God first created food for the man, and woman, the man would have to work in order to cultivate the ground continually in order to produce more food during the eons to come. Further, as is true for all things for which the man and woman would be responsible, they would also be required to train their children for faithfulness to these things as well so that they in turn can bear the image of God in the His likeness as well.

Third, the man would be called to worship. This is the second word in our couplet of v. 15. This word, “protect” (i.e. the Garden of Eden), is a word that means to “guard” from outside detriments. However, since there was no such detriment in the original creation, the best way to understand word is to consider it in the sense that Moses was told to remove his sandals once He was in the presence of the Lord on the mountain. Where God is, that place is instantly holy and pure. Thus, out of honor and dignity toward God, the man would be required to protect, as it were, that holy place where the man and YHWH would meet often. The word is used in Genesis 30:31 as Jacob describes his care for the flocks of Laban. It is also used, interestingly, in Genesis 18:19 to describe the care that Abram is to exercise over his household to ensure that they obey the commands of YHWH, e.g. “to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice…” The garden is a holy place as that is the location of the eternal fellowship of the man, his family, and YHWH, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We see something of this in the confrontation of Genesis 3:8ff.

Fourth, the man would be responsible for the Word of God. God tells Adam in Genesis 2:16-17 this statement:

Genesis 2:16–17

16  The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely;

17  but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

This is the only time that the word “command” is used in the creation narrative. Thus, as Paul indicates (Romans 5:15-21 wherein Paul talks about a transgression. That transgression was none other than disobeying this very simple command found in vv. 16-17). The man would be allowed access to every form of edible plant, or tree, including the Tree of Life. However, he was to refrain from eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. In eating from that tree, he would disobey God, something the Son of God would never do, and thus incur God’s judgment. That judgment would be punishment for sins by means of death. As we know, that occurred by the crafty, subtle, and complex deception of Satan toward the woman, and the woman toward the man. However, the man was ultimately responsible for the entire episode as evidenced by the Lord’s levels of accountability. This commandment, as well as all the rest of the responsibilities of the creation, would be the responsibility of Adam to instruct to his wife, which he did (Genesis 3:2-3), his children, and subsequent grandchildren, to the degree that they would be able to instruct their own children and grandchildren (Psalm 78:1-8; cf. Deuteronomy 4:9). This is the very pattern in the rest of Scripture, especially into the NT (Ephesians 6:1-4). But, Adam, and his sons, would be stewards of this Word bearing the authority, and responsibility, of teaching it and holding others accountable to its instructions. Imagine every time you approach the Tree of Life you also see the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and remember YHWH’s instructions as told through Adam. That would have been the daily occupation of the children of Adam and Eve, barring the Fall.

Finally, Adam would be responsible for his wife, the woman. This particular privilege is of immense substance as she was a new creation, directly from the bone and flesh of Adam. In doing this, God has made a comparable mate, friend, and object of love, for the man. In doing this, the image of the Triune God would become complete as she now is one he can speak with, give command to, care for, and relate to physically as well as every other level. Further, in bearing children, they can replicate themselves, and thus the entire economy of the Garden, in them and maintain what God has commanded for them for His own glory. In being responsible for her, that is not to say that she is inept or unintelligent. That is to say, however, that she is precious, dear, and prized. She was made for the man, who is God’s image according to His likeness. As such, she would have received that care from Adam, the care of life-giving instruction from YHWH, the care of relations with Adam, the care of bearing children and training them in the commands of YHWH, the care of protection from anything that would harm her, etc… She would be in that wonderful position to have received from Adam his love, care, and relationship. His love for her would have been on display in his care for her. Her love for him would also be on display in her submission to that love of his. This is the display of the relationship of the Triune God as well-love.

From this, in conclusion, we have the basics of the man’s life. As he conforms to these creation standards, which reflect the Son of God, Adam would have perpetuated faithfulness. Today, and every age, these things are expected of every man. Men, you and I have responsibilities. To refuse these responsibilities is called laziness, which is pride (“Why do I  have to work so hard…?”) and is your greatest enemy. We must excel in our skills in displaying the image of YHWH according to His likeness. You must know Him, read about Him, submit to Him, love Him. We must work like Him (John 5:17). Our work is to be diligent, skillful (Psalm 104; Proverbs 8). We must worship YHWH in the way He has created appropriate worship. This is the New Covenant in Christ Jesus the Son. We must handle the Word of God with care and comprehensive accuracy. Finally, we must excel in our relationship to our wives. She must know that she is precious to us. She must be instructed in the Law of Christ. She must be given the tools to fulfill her responsibilities as well, and protected from the evil in the world.

Biblical Masculinity-pt.2

If you were asked to write a book, only one book, that you believe would summarize who God is in every way, what would be the topic of that book? Some might say, “holiness.” That is true, God is holy, immensely holy. Some might say, “Grace.” That is true, God is a God of grace. However, after considering a bit I believe that I would write it on the “Love of God.” Why the love of God? Because it is the love of God that bridges the distance from a sinner to a holy God. It is the love of God that motivated grace to be extended to me, a sinner. It is the love of God that defines the relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and has done so for eternity. God is love. Further, it is the love of God that summarizes the magnificent work of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, on the cross. Paul writes,

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

When a person considers all that occurred in the death of Jesus Christ, and to know that it was all motivated out of love, love for God and love for His neighbor, it must bring you to your knees. Why? Because that one act is so much unlike us. We do not love in that way. We should. We are made in the image and likeness of that God who is love. But we don’t. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Jesus Christ died for us.

There are a myriad of ways the love of God can be understood and observed. However, one of the best displays of that love, outside of the cross itself, is found in that little-known prophet of the Old Testament, Hosea.

Hosea ministered during the reigns of four kings of Judah and one king of Israel (Hosea1:1), a number of years before Israel’s exile into Assyria, and Judah’s into Babylon at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar. He is prophesying as a prophet of God toward both Israel and Judah. What God commands Hosea to do is very unusual and even irrational. However, Hosea obeys and thus speaks volumes about his character as a man of God, and God’s character as one who loves.

In chapter 1, verses 1-3, Hosea is told to go and take a harlot as a wife. Further, he is to have children by her also. This would signify Israel who is like that harlot and has gone after other gods and thus has offspring by those other gods/men. This would be highly illustrative of Israel’s waywardness, often spoken of in terms of adultery. So, Hosea went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, as his wife. This was extremely unusual because a priest was forbidden to take a harlot for a wife (Leviticus 21:7, 13-14). This level of consecration would, I assume, also extend to God’s prophets as well. He would not be expected to marry a known prostitute, yet God commands him to. Why? To demonstrate that love triumphs over law. Love establishes the law, fulfills the law, supersedes the law. Hosea would then demonstrate God’s love to an unfit woman.

At some point, the woman returns to her wickedness, and leaves Hosea behind with the two children she bore to him. We know this because in chapter 3, Hosea is once again told to go find a woman who is loved by her husband and yet is an adulteress (v.1). That is the same woman, Gomer. He does find her…on the slave block. She would have been naked, chained, and being sold for slavery in order to repay her debts. It is a pitiful sight from a woman who had a godly man for a husband. Hosea gathers all that he had, some silver and barley to pay for her. He apparently used all the money he had, because he resorted to paying by barley, a valuable commodity. He pays everything he has to buy her back. Sold. She is his now. He makes a covenant with her, since he paid her price-you will remain faithful to me, and I to you (v. 3).

What a display of love. This woman deserved to be on that block. She was in flagrant sin, rejected her responsibilities at home, despised her husband and children, and rejected the Law of God. However, Hosea loved her. He loved her! He went to her in her worst, and paid the price for her freedom and purchased her from the slave market so that he could take her home and care for her. She would never again go after other men. She would never again be in debt. She would never again have to resort to wickedness for her needs. She would be cared for, protected. In short, she would be loved by a faithful husband.

This is the love of God. You obviously see the similarities between Hosea’s love for Gomer, and Christ’s love for the church (not to mention God’s love for Israel, which will culminate to her restoration in the future-2 Kings 13:23;14:27). To love a woman who is defiled, unlovely, and unfaithful is not the normal husband’s ideal bride. Normally, a man wants the most beautiful, the most lovely, the most respectful and faithful woman he can find. But, what about the woman who is none of those things? Would we love her? God did.

Men, if we are to be like God toward our wives, then this is the love that we are to exhibit. God’s love seeks to cleanse, restore, and sanctify. This kind of love understands the state of the other person. She may be defiled, disrespectful and dirty. But God’s love seeks to make her beautiful and holy.

All of this is in the powerful verse in Ephesians 5:25. This one verse sums up the motivation of the behavior of a godly husband. He loves his wife in the same manner as Christ loved the church-He gave Himself up for her. Jesus Christ “threw away”, so to speak, His life for the benefit of a people who were dirty, defiled, destined for destruction and unfaithful. However, He did not consider His high and lofty privileges in heaven something to hold onto, but rather left those behind out of obedience to the Father and benefit to the church, in order to purchase a bride off of the slave block, naked, destitute and unclean. Thus, making for Himself a cleansed bride who would be presented to Himself something glorious. In short, like Hosea, “He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor, so that [we] through His poverty, might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”

Husbands, do you love your wives? According to what standard? Do you love her when she does good to you? Do you love her when she respects you and agrees with your decisions? Do you have a harder time loving her when she is disagreeable, and defiant? Do you have a harder time loving her when she rejects you and maybe even slanders you? The world’s love would never hold up under such disrespect. But God’s will. If you doubt that, look at Christ. The love of God and man met at the cross. Jesus loved God with all of His heart, soul, mind, and strength and obeyed Him to the point of death. Jesus loved sinners as Himself and died so that they might be with Him forever and share in His glory and joy. This love endures. Love never fails (1 Corinthians 13:8).

So, men, the next time you think that you just can’t love a woman like that, remember the cross of Jesus Christ. What if Jesus used that excuse to the Father? “I can’t love a sinner like that. He despises Me, he disrespects Me, he will not do what I say, and he refuses to listen.” Remember, men, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for the ungodly, not the godly. He came to call the unrighteous to repentance, not the righteous. Men, you love your wives, because they are sinners; seek to cleanse them, in wisdom and love, and you will enter into the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, thus bearing His image and likeness.

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