At the outset it is advisable that we should state that the variation in the Name divine found in these chapters is perfectly intentional. Fools may laugh and cite this admitted variation as a proof that Moses was a mere compiler, putting his narrative together from various shreds of tradition extant in his day. We know better. We know that this is the Word of God. True, that in chapter 1 this name is Elohim, or God; that in chapters 21 and 3 it is Jehovah-Elohim; whilst in chapter 4 it is Jehovah. This change of term to an intelligent reader of Scripture ought to be at once some clue to the history itself. For Elohim is His name as Creator; Jehovah-Elohim is the revelation of that Creator in relationship with His creature; whilst His name Jehovah reveals Him still, indeed, in relationship, but no longer on the ground of mere creation. Surely we may exclaim, “How beautifully exact is all this!”
Chapter 1 shows us God preparing a home, replete with every comfort and blessing for His creature; and then, secondly, His formation of that creature, and
His placing him in the home prepared for him. Even for the very cattle the earth was suitably adapted, ere those cattle were called into existence. It would be quite foreign to the subject assigned me, and to the limits within which it must be contained, to enlarge upon every verse. All that is proposed is to present a general survey of the entire book of Genesis as a whole. Let it therefore be perfectly understood that I refrain myself from remarking upon many expressions on which one might easily dilate. Suffice it to say that the six days’ work is subdivided into two threes, in which the light, the waters, and the earth, are severally addressed twice.
At length, since it is ever His wont to keep the best till the last, and to reveal His deepest purposes at the close, He forms man. There is here to be observed a consultation held about the making of man, such as there had not been of any other creature. And if it is asked, “With whom took He counsel?” a full answer is furnished us in Prov. 8 about Wisdom, who is the Word ere He had come forth; or, again, in John 1, about the Word, who is Wisdom after He had come forth from God. Also compare Gen. 1:2 and Job 33:4. And this very distinction, great and important as it evidently is, proves the difference to be vast indeed between man on the one hand, and all other animals on the other. To this add, that man was made in the image and likeness of God, and that, in chap. 2, we are told that the breath of Jehovah-Elohim was breathed into him. Then we can see the folly of those who would degrade man to the level of a brute, or maintain that his existence did not differ fundamentally from the existence of the brute. Were there no such difference, what would have become of the breath of God?
I only add here, that in verse 28 Eve is seen to be blessed in Adam ere she actually existed. This is a most exquisite picture when viewed typically. Again, even after his creation, and his being placed in Paradise, Adam was not entitled to anything that he beheld. Nothing was his until God had said to him, “Behold, I have given you,” etc. Once more, remark that the first three verses of chapter 2 may be conjoined here.2 Then you hear of God at rest as to His creation work, until the sin of His creature disturbed that rest, and led Him to commence to work again, that He might rest in redemption-rest, which rest none shall ever be able to disturb, because it does not depend on any goodness of the creature, as did that former rest (chap. 1:31). It depends altogether on the finished work of the Son of God upon the cross. Here, for the first time, we encounter that precious word “finished,” a word which ever and anon crops up as the great work of God’s Son looms more and more into view. So of His Tabernacle in Exod. 40, and of His Temple in 2 Chron. 7:11, this language is used, as well as by Christ in His address to His Father in John 17; as also when about to deliver His Spirit up to His Father (John 19). And presently, when all is fulfilled of that which He has spoken to us in His Word, He will once more sound this triumphant note (Rev. 21).
Chapter 2 brings before us three things—(1) Man’s relationship to God, with the duty incumbent on him of obeying implicitly that God in everything; (2) Also woman’s relationship to man; and (3) the other creatures’ relationship to man and woman. Thus throughout God’s work there is seen to be due subordination of one above another; also of God being over all, and of man in authority, His representative on earth. But man failing to recognize God as his superior, the sceptre fell from his hands, and chaos and sin, both in the world without and within, is the consequence. Instead of the spirit ruling the soul, and the soul the body, the flesh sways the soul; and the spirit of man, whereby he may commune with God, is set aside, is dead. But Christ, the Second Man, the Lord from Heaven, will yet in His time show on earth what beautiful rule is (1 Tim. 6:13). Only Christ’s authority as Man shall extend throughout the entire universe. For study how Psalm 8 is expanded in a manner far beyond what the Psalmist ever dreamt of in its application to Him by the Holy Ghost, in Heb. 2:8, 1 Cor. 15:25, and Eph. 1:22. Then shall be seen the heavens opened, and the angels of God ascending as well as descending unto the Son of Man. This is that reign of the Man of whom we read in Dan. 7. And in all this glory Christ will still act as the willing servant of God His Father.
The action of God, in bringing the animals to be named by Adam, was designed to signify the delegated ownership and authority over them entrusted to Adam (compare Isa. 43:1). But there was also another and profounder object effected likewise thereby; for thus was Adam made to feel his loneliness. So after Adam, created early on the sixth day, had been occupied in naming the animals brought to him throughout the day, then God caused a deep sleep to fall upon him. And during that night a rib was taken from his side, and “builded “(so Hebrew) into a woman. And thus was a helpmeet found for him. Likewise, whilst as to this world Christ appears to sleep, God is intent on building the Church, taken from Christ’s, body. A rib is taken from his side, as if a cedar-plank had been taken from the Temple, and formed into a splendid vessel for its service. For we are members of His body—out of His flesh, and out of His bones.
The falling asleep of Adam, and then awaking, and finding his Eve, resemble the two Advents of the Lord, and prove that only from a slain and (as faith knows) a risen Christ can the Church be formed. And though she was “builded “in the silence of the night, yet in the morning did she appear in maturity, and in resurrection beauty. And Adam gladly recognized her. His words, “This is now,” etc., are equivalent to “She will do.” He saw the glad results of his sleep, and he was satisfied. He was not ashamed of her, nor Christ of us. But in all this the leading thought is evidently not of Eve, but of Adam. She was necessary to him, as we in resurrection (1 Cor. 15) are the fulness of Him that filleth all in all. “The woman is for the man “(1 Cor. 11:9). God is preparing “a marriage for His Son” (Matt. 22). God’s consent to this marriage was seen in bringing Eve, and Eve’s in coming to Adam. But in the divine reality His bride is not only taken out of Him, but is presented by Himself to Himself. That is to say, Christ is not only the One from Whom she is taken, and by Whom, as she comes into existence, she is nourished and cherished, but also He is the God Who makes the presentation, as well as the Man to Whom the presentation is made.
I am aware that some deny much of this. I am also assured how futile their objection is. But, alas! more and more of truth is assailed every year. Am I told that there is only one Scripture which seems to prove that the Church is Christ’s heavenly Bride, and that even it, when examined does not assert this? My reply is, it has ever been the custom, in all the centuries of this dispensation, of those inclined to fritter away and to surrender the truth of God, to attempt to weaken the force of any part of this truth, by maintaining that only such and such. Scriptures appear to support it. The more vehement those men are against any truth, the fewer Scriptures will they admit to bear upon it. Thus, for instance, acts the Unitarian with regard to the divinity of Christ. Such will tell you that only John 1 and Phil. 2 contain any semblance of proof thereof. How many more could simple Christians quote than these! And I am clear that several other Scriptures, besides Eph. 5, teach the bridal relationship of the Church to Christ, and that other Scriptures again assume it as a fact. But even if there was only the one in Eph. 5, this ought to be ample; and would be, to one who had no pretty novelty to support. Though the term Bride is not found in that passage, yet the sentiment is, very abundantly. It is possible to be caught by a word, so as to overlook the whole train of thought. Here the train of thought is denied, for the lack of that single word. Dare any one deny that the allusion throughout Eph. 5:23-32 is to the taking of Eve out of Adam’s body, in order to the building of a suitable bride for Adam thereupon? Will you maintain that the sentiment designed to be conveyed is of the Church being the Body, and not of the Church being the Bride of the Lamb? As well might any one dream of a man formally presenting his own body to himself! But the explanation at the close, by the inspired writer himself, ought to set aside all such notions. For he says, “I speak concerning Christ and the Church.” Now, were the leading thought in this Scripture, of the Bride as Christ’s Body, what would be the force of the word “and?” It is utterly superfluous; in fact, in another Scripture, where the same writer does speak of Christ with His Church, as one Body, his language is remarkably varied. Then his words are, “So also is the Christ” (1 Cor. 12:12). Here, you observe, there is no “and “added. For the two are assumed as one. But in Ephesians there is this “and,” for the one is assumed to be two. I mean, in the one Scripture (1 Cor. 12), it is taught that the twain are one; and in the other (Eph. 5), that the one is twain. The fact is, these two connected truths were designed to be counter truths. For the one reveals rather the grandeur of the Church’s position; the other, her subordination and His affection. The one places her on the throne with Christ; the other witnesses her as the leading, and yet the humblest, worshipper at His feet. Take away either truth, and you mar much the effect of the whole. How can you gladly bend before Him, if you only see your oneness with Him? How can you appreciate your calling, your position, if only at His feet you are prostrate? Revelation 5 pictures to us the Church in both her proper attitudes. Never there is she seen standing; at one time she is sitting by Him, at another worshipping before Him. As some old writer has quaintly said, “Eve was taken not from the head of Adam, that she might demean herself as lord; nor yet from his feet, as if she was to be trampled under foot; but from his side, that she might be his fit companion, and that his affection might be set upon her.”
But now the perfect way of the heavenly Bridegroom towards the Bride is set forth succinctly and yet most fully in that said Scripture, where the scene here receives its inspired parallel and antitypical interpretation. Also, with great propriety this is traced out for us in the epistle to the Ephesians. For that is the one epistle which definitely treats of the corporate standing of the Church as in the heavenlies. And the notable passage there in Ephesians 5:appears to be a designed climax of the entire teaching of that grand epistle. It is found here, indeed, in the midst of an exhortation to husbands to love their wives. But this apparently incidental way of its introduction is quite in the style of new testament Scripture as regards very many most important truths. And here we note seven things predicated of the Lord as to His behaviour towards His Bride. First, He loved her. Thus all His subsequent action is traced up to and interpreted in the light of its blessed source. For next to His love of the Father, comes His love of the Church as His motive-power in doing and suffering all for her that He has done. He beheld that Church in the glass of God’s decree, and His soul was enraptured with that sight. Hence, secondly, He gave Himself for her. And love beyond this is clearly impossible even for Him. Who ever heard of a love like this? And His love is still the same! He is risen, He is glorified. But unchanged, persisting in His love He is engaged in its display though now in other aspects. Having purchased her for Himself, He is intent on rendering her such an one as He desires her to be, as His eternal companion and the object of His love. No other bridegroom can render the bride of his choice what he would like. But this is precisely how the Lord is at present occupied with the Church. And this is enlarged upon in the next four particulars. For, thirdly, He sanctifies her unto the light and purity to which she has been called. Fourthly, He cleanses her from all iniquity, by the continually repeated application through the Spirit, of the water of the word of God. And these two—the sanctification and the cleansing—must ever be combined. A heavenly mind without simple, hearty obedience is of little value. Hence as water acts on the body, so the word is to act on the motives, thoughts, life, and walk by the energy of the Holy Ghost. But if these two involve sorrow whilst the work is only in process; so, fifthly and sixthly, the other corresponding two, to wit, the “nourishing” and the “cherishing” furnish heavenly support and comfort. In the Lord’s untiring attention to her sustentation and growth is the cause traced of every atom of spiritual strength she receives from the doctrines, the premises, and the truths of Scripture. And in His “cherishing” of her, and administration of warmth to her, is indicated from Whom comes all increasing spiritual apprehension and joy in God and in His love. And thus in process of time does she corporately, and the several members thereof individually, as they come into being during the night of this dispensation, grow in grace and in the distinct perception of whose hand is at work upon her, and of what He is doing with her. And, as morning neared, Eve would become quite conscious of her own actual existence; so the Church, after ages of slumber, is at last awaking up to the grandeur and the bliss of her calling, and to the imminence of her presentation in person to her divine Bridegroom.
This, of course, is the ultimate issue of this amazing and long-continued process in His work upon us now. And accordingly the words in verse 27 should be thus rendered:—”that He Himself might present her to Himself, the Church, glorious, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.” Compare Jude 24. And when the Bridegroom and Bride at length meet, each we know, will be mutually “satisfied “with the other. Isaiah 53:11; Psalm 17:15. And the first to gaze at ease and in full upon the unveiled glory and beauty of incarnate Deity will be the Church of God. “We shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3.)
And thus as the temple of God, this Church will have God dwelling in her; and as His Body, will have God above her; so as His Bride she will have Him with her. For as the Temple, God, even the Father, will fill it and every living stone thereof with Himself; and as the Bride, she is Christ’s; so as the Body she is filled with the Holy Ghost from her divine Head. And whilst these three combined, perfectly set forth her eternal relationship towards the three-one God; her name as the City, the New Jerusalem, sets forth her relationship to the universe below her.
In my Lectures on the book of Revelation I have already remarked on the two Trees of the knowledge and of the life, now combined in Christ, and on the River representing the Holy Ghost. For life from Him is undivided in the garden whilst man is unfallen; but outside thereof to man fallen it has four forms, as in the four Gospels, or as in the four cherubim.
Chapter 3. Obedience that may not be tested is no obedience at all. Here the question is simply one of God’s authority, and of man’s ready subjection to Him. The test was a perfect one. Had God made it to be in some question of moral evil, such would not have so distinctly asserted the authority of God. But here the partaking of the fruit was only evil, because God had forbidden it. There was no reason why the fruit should not be eaten, other than the plain command of God. Many now likewise judge of obedience after the flesh likewise. They can see some reason why they should live honestly; but such commands as relate to Baptism or to the Supper of the Lord, for instance, are stigmatized as unnecessary. There is no real perception of God, and of His will being supreme, in such cases.
Then Adam, having disobeyed God, the Lord begins to unfold the resources of grace. Satan is here termed “the serpent;” for the way of God is first to overcome him, and then to expose him. And mention having been made by God of the two seeds, and of their antagonism, and of the results to each of that antagonism, Adam so drinks in the truth conveyed in God’s announcement, that he calls his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. He apprehended that he was to live, as well as to die; but he also saw that this new life was to come through the woman and her seed, and not from himself. It is a truth to which all nature now bears witness, that “in the midst of life we are in death;” but it is a truth which only God can reveal, and faith can grasp, that in the midst of death we are in life. His very raiment (for innocence was lost for ever) would, in type, suffice to signify as well how his sin could be covered, as how life and holiness could be obtained. Meanwhile, better that the old Adam should die, than that it should be perpetuated. It would appear to be suggested as if access to the tree of life was even then, as it is now, by means of the tree of knowledge. For this is life eternal, to know God and Jesus Christ.
1 The word translated “generations,” in chap. 2:4, is ever prospective, and never retrospective, as see chaps. 6:9 and 11:17.
2 The word “thus,” in chap. 2:1, is more exactly rendered “and.”