Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Marriage: A Gift from Eden

First Quarter 2013 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
“Marriage: A Gift from Eden”
For the week of Mar. 2, 2013
Marriage: A Gift from Eden

The poem "Footprints in the Sand" paints a vivid picture of how our Christian walk should be; a walk in which Christ carries us instead of Him just strolling along with us.  In the poem, a man dreams that he is walking along a beach with Christ. Looking back, he noticed there were two sets of footprints in the sand corresponding to his life. As he did so, he discovered that throughout the darkest moments of his life, there was only one set of footprints in the sand. Assuming the set of prints were his, he commented to Jesus about his startling discovery. “Jesus, You promised me that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed during the most trying periods of my life, there have only been one set of footprints in the sand.  Why, when I needed you most, haven’t you been there for me?"  Then the Lord replied, "The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand, it was I carrying you."  

This man felt forsaken during his most difficult times.  Jesus, however, pointed out that He had never left.  He had fulfilled his promise quoted in Hebrews 13:5 - 6, which says,  “… for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord [is] my helper,”

You do not have to feel alone, because the Lord is always with you to help you.  The word for help in the Greek is boethos.  Boēthos is a compound noun composed of two root words which mean (i) “cry out” or “intense exclamation” and (ii) “run”.   The verb form, boētheō, means “come to the rescue” or “supply urgently needed help”. Some scholars give the meaning of boētheō as “to run to the aid of those who cry out for help.   In Matthew 15:25 and Mark 9:22-24 the noun form, boethos was used to demonstrate the urgency with which people cried to Jesus for help. In Acts 16:9, 21:28, 27:17 and Revelation 12:16, the authors used this term to indicate that strong help and support were required. Incidentally, Apostle Paul uses this term in one other context -- that of receiving divine help. (See: 2 Corinthians 6:2, Hebrews 2:18, 4:16 and 13:6).

God said in Genesis 2, “for Adam there was not found a help meet for him,” and that “It is not good that the man should be alone;” He continued, “I will make him an help meet for him…” In Hebrew, the term ‘help meet’ is used as one word and is often translated as ‘suitable help’.  In the Septuagint – the Greek version of the Old Testament - the words are separated; the word “meet,” is translated as “corresponding” in verse 18 and “similar” in verse 20.  Help is translated as boethos.  This means that although in a state of purity and perfection, Adam was crying out for help and God, therefore, brought Eve to his side to comfort him.  Therefore, Eve was Adam’s parakletos – the word used in Greek for the Holy Spirit that is translated as Comforter.  A parakletos is called to one's side, especially called to one's aid, as a helper, or succourer.  Ellen White expounds on this subject,

“Man was not made to dwell in solitude; he was to be a social being. Without companionship the beautiful scenes and delightful employments of Eden would have failed to yield perfect happiness. Even communion with angels could not have satisfied his desire for sympathy and companionship. There was none of the same nature to love and to be loved … God Himself gave Adam a companion. He provided "an help meet for him"--a helper corresponding to him--one who was fitted to be his companion, and who could be one with him in love and sympathy.” Patriarchs and Prophets p. 46

So, it is evident that before Eve, Adam was lacking something and God provided for that lack through Eve.  Which brings us to an important point: Adam in his state of perfection, innocence and purity lacked something and needed help.  Which begs the question: are we less perfect because we need help?  If in his perfect state, Adam lacked something, how much more do we lack in our fallen state?

This is perhaps better seen through the story of the rich young ruler.  The story is found in Matthew 19, Mark 10, and Luke 18.  In all three renditions, a young man came to Jesus and asked him a question - in Mark and Luke the question is similar, “…what should I do to inherit eternal life?”  Now an inheritance typically implies a gift which is bestowed upon an heir, and not a reward. Unfortunately, it seems that this young man did not consider himself a son (or heir), or at least not a favorable one.  Christ told the man to do the things which the law said to do, to which the ruler replied, “I have since my youth.”  This man was searching for something, because after doing all the things he did, he still was not certain about his eternal fate.  Christ went on to say – giving the man confirmation – “you do lack one thing.  “Sell all that you have, give it to the poor, so you may have treasure in Heaven, and pick up your cross and follow me” (Mark 10: 21).  In response, the young man left sorrowful because he was unwilling to lay down self.  This story makes evident the point that it does not matter what you do or own, in this life, you will always have something lacking.  

We may think, “I am not rich, therefore this does not apply to me.”  We may not be rich, but according to Christ, we do consider ourselves rich.  This young man represents our condition, which is also symbolized by the church of Laodicea.  Let’s read Revelation 3: 15 – 17.

“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.”

Notice, God is saying to us, that we lack something which only He can supply.  His counsel in verse 18 is, “…buy of Me …” “exchange your worthless goods for Mine.” “Give me your sin, your selfishness, your neediness, and let me supply your lack. Through Christ, I have already made provision. By faith, receive of me. Cry out to me, I will succour you. I will comfort you, uphold and carry you.” But, if like the young rich ruler, we do not acknowledge our need, or if we continue to hold onto what we consider precious, we cannot ever receive what He desires and has planned to give to us.  Friends, He knows the great and awesome plans He has for us – plans for a hope and a future! Let Him give it to us without delay, amen.
-Raul Diaz