God longs for us to experience the security that He has furnished through His grace. That is basking in His unconditional love; not being worried about our past or our future; and being wholeheartedly convinced that everything taking place in this life is good—for ourselves and for all other believers too. (That is Jews and non-Jews alike.)
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?”
Let’s start off with the exceptional example in Ephesians 5:25-32. Paul concluded that 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 believe that to be true.
The burden is on the husband to make a marriage ideal. As he demonstrates his selfless love for her, she can become secure and respond with dedication to him. “We love because God loved us first” (from 1 John 4:19).
After summarizing Jesus’ life and emphasizing the resurrection, Paul quoted Genesis 2:7 to correlate Adam (the source of limited, 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—and 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 tie 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’” (from 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 1:26).
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.” (Genesis 1:26)
Although He made us in His image and likeness, we are not nearly the same as Him. But we are His suitable helper, for producing spiritual life and ruling eternally (from Revelation 21).
In case it’s been forgotten somewhere along the way, Paul referred to 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 speculations. Paul’s teachings are all explanations of the Old Testament.
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 had just two options:
He chose the latter and ate the fruit; it was better to go through death 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 indeed 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 is where the allegory shines through and ties the two couples together.
Like Eve, we have 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 convicts everyone: “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (from Romans 3:23).
Even so, like Adam, Jesus chose to be joined with us so He left His kingdom just as we are 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 the allegory in 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?
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 and perpetuate life.
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)
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 merciful way toward us, saying to His Father “forgive them for they don’t know what they’re doing.” That is the ultimate proof of a faithful husband’s love.
Jesus hinted about Himself through the parable of The Prodigal Son (in Luke 15). As God’s Son, He collected His entire worth, left His home in heaven, lived here in this hate-filled pigsty, spent His life on us pigs, was welcomed back by His loving Father, was despised by his self-righteous, unbelieving brothers and was 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 is right and wrong, what is good and evil. It’s the source of our self-righteousness for justifying what we do. (We saw some about this in the story of “The Bronze Serpent” and we will 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 the parable about The Sower where God sows His seed for new life in our hearts (in Matthew chapter 13).
That connection also reveals Satan’s domain. He is searching our hearts to find out what we have determined is important so that he can repeat 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 believers have overcome it by trusting Him to have taken our place.
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 (the Bridegroom) over them.
The woman’s other consequence was excruciating pain in childbirth. That physical pain alludes to what believers undergo for spiritual birth, that second birth, being born-again—by God’s seed sprouting to life in us. It’s the most difficult and also the most fulfilling event that we will ever experience.
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 are 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.” (Revelation 19:6-7)
And there are some who refuse His proposal. He knew that would happen from the start. Yet, it’s all worth it for Him to have His perfect, eternal helpmate.