This is the message I preached at the first wedding I performed. Brian and Ariana D’Angelo were married July 26, 2008 in Colgate Chapel at Colgate Rochester Divinity School in Rochester, NY. You couldn’t ask for a better setting.
In the beginning, after the Lord God had spoken all of creation into being; After He had set the sun and the moon and the stars in the sky; After he had made man in his image and after he had given him a place and a purpose, “the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’”
I know what you’re thinking. Then He made Eve, right? Then God made Adam fall asleep. He took one of his ribs and he formed Eve. Right? That’s how the story goes, isn’t it?
Not exactly. Something else had to happen first.
Genesis 2:19 tells us that the next thing God did was create all the birds and animals. Then he brought them to Adam so he could name them, and whatever Adam called them, that was their name. This is an often overlooked but amazing example of the Lord God, the Creator of all things, inviting man to be more than just a created being, inviting him to share in a relationship with him, to be a steward, a caretaker, and an heir.
And he was preparing him for the better part that was yet to come.
Verse twenty tells us that even after Adam had named all the animals “there was not found a helper fit for him.” Some might look at this and think that it was God’s first failed attempt to meet this need in Adam for a companion, but they would be wrong. The One who knows the beginning from the end, the Alpha and the Omega, the Author and the Finisher of Our Faith can’t be fooled like that. He knew what he was doing, and he was slyly bringing the story around to the good part.
We have no idea how long this naming process took. I mean, there were a lot of animals to name. Maybe Adam would get done naming one animal, and before he turned to look at the next, maybe he thought, “Is this the one? Will this be my companion?” Then he’d turn back to look a hippo in the eyes.
But God wasn’t done. God wasn’t done until Adam was ready. Now, when Adam was ready, He made him fall asleep. Now he took a rib, closed up the flesh and made a woman. Now when Adam woke up…WOW! Now, he sings a love song.
“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”
God didn’t screw up when he made Adam. God didn’t make him as half a person and then need to go back and correct His mistake. He wasn’t experimenting when he had Adam name the animals. God was getting Adam ready for the greater gift. Adam went through the whole naming of the animals process so that when he saw Eve there would be no doubt in his mind that this was the one he had been waiting for. This was his companion, his soul mate, the wife of his youth, the joy of his day and the only response to Eve that he could manage was to open his mouth and sing with all the passion of his being over his beloved.
This isn’t an origin story. It’s not a textbook rendition of the lives of our first father and mother. It’s not a dead history, and anyone who leaves it at that misses the bigger picture. The story of Adam and Eve is a God story. It is the first of many that God gave to his people as a picture of His love for us. For the early Hebrews, marriage served as a reminder that God loved them, that He would act to redeem them, that he would sing over them with joy. Even today, the covenant of marriage speaks of God’s great, unending love and care for us. And in Jesus’ redemptive act, God sings over us with all the passion of his being.
©2007 David A. Peck and G.L. Baldman Media, Ltd. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to print and share this writing with others with proper citation of authorship. Use in any publication requires written permission prior to use.