God longs for us to experience the security that He’s furnished through His grace. That’s basking in His unconditional love; not being worried about our past or our future; and being wholeheartedly convinced (without anger or resentment) that everything taking place in this life is good . . . for ourselves and for all other believers too. (That’s Jews and non-Jews alike.)
This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (John 17:3)
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us. (1 John 4:18-19)
However, experiencing that security is dependent on comprehending the depths of His love. And the allegory of marriage offers a wonderful exploration into those depths.
You might be asking “Where does the Bible mention that marriage is intended to be an allegory to convey God’s love for us?”
(The Bible’s allegories and parables are mystery-stories that are intentionally missing their explanations. They are to intrigue the readers so that they ask God for the meanings. Over time, His Spirit will explain them.)
Let’s start off with the exceptional example in. It’s the passage where Paul concluded the narrative of an adoring husband and his perfect wife by saying that he was actually (allegorically) speaking about Christ and His bride.
By accepting that those two relationships are intentional parallels of one another, we can re-read the passage and know that Jesus sanctifies us, He cleanses us, He nurtures us, He cherishes us . . . and He presents us to Himself as His own absolutely flawless bride. All we have to do is let Him.
Of the famous Bible unions depicting that divine relationship, none tells it more heartrending than the first: Adam and Eve’s.
After summarizing Jesus’ life and emphasizing the resurrection, Paul quoted Genesis 2:7 to correlate Adam (the source of physical life) to Jesus (the source of eternal, spiritual life) . . . calling Jesus the “last Adam.”
The first man, Adam, became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. (1 Corinthians 15:45)
Similarly, after laying out the legal ramifications of Jesus’ accomplishments, Paul made an immensely important implication: Adam’s story presents an accurate (yet earthly) foreshadowing of what Jesus would do . . . it involves death and committing an offense.
Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. (Romans 5:14)
Let’s see how those fit into the allegory . . .
It begins with “Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him’” (Genesis 2:18).
Adam’s plight touches on Jesus’ situation. They each lived in the perfect place (Adam in the garden; Jesus in heaven) and each reigned over his kingdom (Adam over all the animals; Jesus over every living creature). And each longed for someone to share it all with . . . someone who was like-minded, like-bodied and like-hearted.
To fulfill Adam’s desire, Eve was made from him . . .
The man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:23-24)
Although she was made from both his bone and flesh, Eve wasn’t the same as Adam. But she was his suitable helper, and by their being joined together as “one flesh” Adam would produce life and rule the earth (from Genesis 1:28).
To fulfill His own desire, at least allegorically, God made mankind from Himself . . .
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (from Genesis 1:26)
Although He made us in His image and likeness, we’re not nearly the same as Him. But we are His suitable helper, for producing spiritual life and ruling eternally (from Revelation 20:6).
Allegorically, Adam equtates to Jesus . . . as Eve does to mankind (not just to believers).
In case it’s been forgotten somewhere along the way, Paul continued the allegory in his first letter to Timothy by restating the obvious: “For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression” (from 1 Timothy 2:13-15). These allegorical connections aren’t mere fabrications. When he was in prison, Paul asked Timothy to bring his Scriptures ( ). The Old Testament, particularly the first five books (the Pentateuch), is where his teachings come from.
Try putting yourself in Adam’s situation . . .
Eve had ignorantly accepted the consequences for elevating herself. (In her mind she had become the Ultimate Authority of good and evil.) There she was, standing before her devoted husband . . . wanting him, almost taunting him, to eat some of the deadly fruit that she had eaten.
We tend to think of him as a fool but he only had two options: He could remain there in his kingdom with all of its goodness, yet separated from the one who was made just for him . . . the one he cherished. Or he could be “joined together as one flesh” with her . . . and in spite of her misdeeds, he could protect and provide for her when she would allow it and suffer the supreme consequences for her. He chose the latter and ate the fruit; it was better to die for her than live alone without her.
The punishments were pronounced: Adam would work the ground with thorns and weeds fighting against him . . . and he would die. Eve would envy his position of authority and have trouble in childbirth. Then they were expelled from the garden (from Genesis 3:16-24).
Here’s where the allegory shines through and ties the two couples together . . .
Like Eve, we’ve rebelliously challenged God’s authority. The second half of Romans chapter one gives examples galore, along with the repercussion: we “deserve death.” Later, chapter three indicts everyone: “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (from Romans 3:9-18).
Even so, like Adam, Jesus chose to be joined with us so He left His kingdom just as we’re told a husband must do.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24 and Ephesians 5:31)
I noted above (with that Romans five passage) that Adam and Jesus were linked through an offense. Just what did Jesus commit spiritually that Adam committed physically?
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Each of those husbands did what was necessary to be joined with his bride. He willfully took on his cherished one’s sins and died in her place so that she could live.
Adam would have been justified in being angry with Eve. After all, she made his life’s work agonizing and caused his death. But nothing is recorded about that anger. And when Jesus was on the cross He responded in the same way toward us, saying to His Father “forgive them for they don’t know what they’re doing.” That’s the ultimate proof of a faithful husband’s love.
It was predicted in the Law regarding the Day of Atonement. That’s when all of the people’s sins were ceremonially transferred onto God’s goat so they could live (from Leviticus 16 and cited in 1 Peter 2:21-25).
And it’s what He foretold through the parable of “The Prodigal Son” (in Matthew 11 and Luke 15). God’s Son would collect all that belonged to Him, leave His home in heaven, give up everything for us pigs, live here in our hate-filled pigsty, be welcomed back by His loving Father, be despised by his jealous, self-righteous brother and be restored as King over His kingdom . . . where He is now.
Both Adam and Jesus chose dying so they could be with their brides rather than living alone without them.
Let’s take another look at the consequences listed in Genesis chapter three . . .
Only two curses were actually pronounced in that account. One was on the serpent and the other was on the ground. The one for the serpent is understandable, but why was there one for the inanimate ground?
It represents the human heart: the place where we keep our beliefs about what’s right and wrong, what’s good and evil. It’s the source of our self-righteousness for justifying what we do. (We saw some about this in Jesus fulfilling the story of “The Bronze Serpent” and we’ll see more about it later as it relates to our sin-nature.)
Just as Adam was opposed by thorns and weeds from the ground while working to support physical life, so Jesus is opposed by the natural inclinations of our hearts while working to produce eternal, spiritual life. He made that ground-heart connection when explaining a series of parables about “The Sower” where God sows His seed for new life in our hearts (they’re in Matthew chapter 13).
That connection also reveals Satan’s domain. He’s searching our hearts to find out what we believe is important so that he can do with us what he did with Eve . . . get us to question Jesus’ devotion and sovereignty.
Besides having to work the ground, did you notice that only Adam was told that he had to die? (Eve was told something else.) It’s a reference to the second death (spiritual death) that only Jesus had to suffer; we people can avoid it.
And what about the woman’s consequences? She wasn’t merely going to lust for her husband. She would want all that he was: his role as the ruler. “Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you” (from Genesis 3:16).
Those ambitions of ours to rule (to be like God) are characterized by an adulterous woman who doesn’t want to be her husband’s helpmate . . . but rather wants someone else over her (on top of her). It’s intentionally a sexual context, the Proverbs warn about her, the Prophets related Israel to her and Jesus referred to His people as an “adulterous generation.” Like the fulfillment of the Bronze Serpent in John chapter three, the only ones who live are those who have Jesus (our Bridegroom) over us.
The woman’s other consequence was excruciating pain in childbirth. That physical pain alludes to what a person undergoes for spiritual birth . . . that second birth . . . being born-again.
Here’s that First Timothy passage again. Beyond the instructions given for men and women’s behaviors, it continues the allegory by saying that women (referring to all of mankind) will be saved through childbirth (being born-again) if they do something . . .
And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint. (1 Timothy 2:14-15)
Paul was intimating that being a church-goer isn’t enough. If a person religiously seeks to please God by trusting Him, loving others, avoiding bad influences and being conscious of his own inconsistent behaviors; that person will find such a life impossible. Like being backed into a corner, failing to maintain those virtues is supposed to bring us to submission; then we can find God and be born-again.
In His conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus said “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)
Yes, I’m describing what takes place with each of us individually. Some fall in love with the One who gave His life for them and they accept His marriage proposal. Like an engagement ring, He puts His Holy Spirit within us as His promise of eternal life with Him. Now we’re merely waiting for the celebration to take place in heaven.
“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” (from Revelation 19:6-7)
And there are some who refuse His proposal. He knew that’s what would happen from the start. Yet, it’s all worth it for Him to have His perfect, eternal helpmate.