To reveal the glory of God

It was always the intention of the Elohim to create male and female, to show forth the glory of God upon the earth together. The proposal, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen 1:26; 5:1,2) is shown by the context to include woman and the Apostle Paul draws upon it in his writings with reference to the body of Christ:

“… Put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Col 3:10). The chapter goes on to speak of the character adopted by the “new man” and the relationship between husbands and wives in the context of our new life in Christ. Together we have freedom to shine forth the knowledge of the glory of God (as seen in Christ, even though we are earthen vessels – 2 Cor 3:18).

This was the opportunity offered to Adam and Eve at their creation. The blessing that followed, “Be fruitful, and multiply … and have dominion”, their employment in the Garden of Eden and the benefit of its pleasures were all offered in the context of God’s purpose in creating man and woman – to reveal His glory in the earth.

Bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh

Whether Elohim revealed to Adam their intention to create a companion for him before the formation of the woman is not clearly stated, but Adam certainly came to the realisation that no other of the animal creation could communicate, empathise or support him (2:20). Presented with his new wife, he expressed his feelings of completeness and gratitude: “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh” (2:23).

Moses’ commentary on this union reflects Adam’s understanding that God’s creative method was deliberately chosen to ensure a union of minds as well as bodies. We may ponder why Elohim created woman from the side of man in preference to any other part of his body. The record is clear as to the intention: “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.”

There was nobody but the angelic forms after which Eve was fashioned to compare herself with in physical appearance. No doubt, but for her later sin, she was as perfect as could be. Yet it is the same Creator Who has fashioned us. He considers our inward adorning to be of great price (1 Pet 3:1–12), and will ultimately “change our vile body that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body” (Phil 3:21; 1 John 3:2–3; Psa 17:15).

Paul enlightens us as to the parabolic significance of these events, telling the Ephesians of the “great mystery”, Christ and the Ecclesia. Every detail of the creation of Adam and Eve can be seen as typical of God’s greater purpose, culminating in the Marriage of the Lamb and his Bride. Perhaps we can, then, see in Adam’s wounded side a foreshadowing of the javelin piercing the side of our Lord as he hung upon the cross. He had earlier said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32). And his prayer to the Father (John 17) and his numerous declarations of love for those who would follow him tell us of his great love for his Bride, a love which led him to accept pain, suffering and a deep sleep as the good and perfect will of God.

The Law of God

It would appear that Adam’s placement in the Garden in Eden, God’s instruction to tend it and the commandment concerning “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” were given to Adam before the creation of the woman: and Adam, therefore, was responsible for communicating these things to her. “The one command He [God] gave to test the love and trust of the first pair was the simplest that could be given to such unsophisticated beings … it was clear and direct instruction with no possibility of misinterpretation” (Sister Joan Thomas, Women of the Bible, ‘Eve’).

Adam and Eve, having no acquired knowledge or experience, would be constantly learning from the angels: and they were in regular communication with them, as the text implies (3:8).

Jesus, when discoursing with the Jews (John 8) pointed out that to believe in him and in his Father would show whose seed they truly were. If they rejected him, their father was “the devil … a murderer from the beginning”. The Apostle Paul warns us against having “an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God … through the deceitfulness of sin”. On this occasion, the example of unbelief is those God tested in the wilderness (Heb 3:6–19). The result was that “they could not enter in [to the rest] because of unbelief”.

This was Eve’s ultimate challenge, and she failed the test. In her thought processes and actions Eve showed that she did not believe God, although in her very first recorded words she did relay to the serpent the command of God (Gen 3:2–3). Subsequently, however, she acted upon the serpent’s lie. We know only too well the disastrous, life-changing circumstances of the Fall. Indeed, we experience the power of sin in our own bodies.

But the extraordinary goodness of God is seen in what follows. When He pronounced judgment upon the man and the woman and exiled them from the Garden to be subject to mortality and all the ills it brought them, did He leave them hopeless and despairing? Certainly not! In the shedding of blood and the preservation of the way to the tree of life, they were inspired to live out their existence with the assurance that, despite their sin, God had provided some better thing for them and their children. God promised the woman a seed who would, at the appointed time, destroy the power of sin and show them the way back to Him.

Eve, the life-giver

It was at this point that Adam named his wife Chavah or Eve, the Hebrew name meaning “Lifegiver”. From her emerges the great living stream of humanity: prone to sin, in constant conflict with the Law of God, degenerating, dying at last. But through Eve would also come the great Deliverer.

It was the duty of Adam and Eve to educate their offspring in the ways of God. And surely central to their teaching would be the story we all know – just how this ‘war in our members’ came about, the inevitable alienation of God and man, the terrible curse of suffering and death – and over against these things, God’s wonderful promise.

A faith that endured through trial

Eve is mentioned by name on four occasions in Scripture: her initial naming by Adam (3:20), at the birth of Cain (4:1), and then twice in the New Testament.

Her initial naming by Adam and the conception of Cain may have coincided. Perhaps the physical consummation of their marriage coincided with the events of chapter 3. Certainly, as Cain’s life unfortunately shows, he was “of that wicked one” (1 John 3:4–15, see also Elpis Israel pp84–85, 93–94).

Eve’s declaration, “I have gotten a man from Yahweh” (4:1), suggests an expectation that God’s promise of salvation from death was now to be fulfilled. But the subsequent birth of Abel, whose name means “Vanity”, reflects the harsh reality of living under the law of sin and death.

Being the “mother of all living” she saw the cruel outworking of sin in her immediate offspring, the struggle between the will of man and the will of God, and the murder of the righteous Abel by evil Cain, who hated his brother for his righteousness. Seth was born when Eve was 130 (5:1–3), and her commentary, “God hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel” (4:25), shows her abiding faith that the promise of God (3:15) stood firm: that God would ensure His purpose in the face of sin and death.

Marriage choices

While Adam and Eve’s relationship in the Garden could develop without reference to peer pressure or negative role models, once thrust outside this idyllic environment they were subject to all the pressures that sin can bring to bear on human relationships.

Guilt, mistrust and retaliation were all present in their self-justifying words in the Garden: and these had to be put behind them if they were to deal with their reduced circumstances in a humble and godly way. Their relationship could only progress if they understood and acknowledged their sin to each other and accepted God’s way of salvation. They could only be effective parents and role models for their offspring if they outworked in their lives the love of God, His righteousness and His forgiveness.

Adam and Eve were literally made for each other, and a more compatible couple could not be found. Yet the same outworking of fleshly pride and self-interest could mar their companionship if they allowed it to, as it has so many human relationships since.

Let us take to heart the Apostle Paul’s message to “each esteem other better than self” (Phil 2:3), to please our neighbour for good unto edification: “for even Christ pleased not himself” (Rom 15:1–6). He is the benchmark of selflessness. To follow his example in marriage is to experience the great blessing of a selfless relationship, and the fruit of that is the glorifying of God with one voice.

Grace, courage and hope

To look to Eve as the first woman, wife and mother is to take courage. As a mother, Eve knew sorrow as we would never wish to know it – the death of one son by the hand of another. Yet she took comfort in the promise of God that “he being dead yet speaketh”: and Abel’s obedience of faith has him numbered among the faithful in Hebrews 11. “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful” (Heb 10:23 esv) and, like Eve, look to the new and living way.

To be burdened down with guilt, regret and resentment is to stifle the love of God in our hearts and to impede the outworking of His will in our lives. It would have been a terrible burden for Eve: but God invited her to put it down at the feet of the cherubim. “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb 4:16 esv)