These chapters of the Old Testament are linked by their dual portrayal of God’s wisdom in creation and in His instruction to humanity. Genesis 2 begins with a portrayal of the wisdom and power God displayed in creation. God’s creative work was so good (Gen 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31) that God rested for a day (Gen 2:1-3). God’s design had been accomplished and it could not be improved.
God’s wisdom in creation sets the stage for the wisdom of His instruction, noted in Genesis 2, Psalms 8 and 19, and Proverbs 8. In Gen 2:15-17 God commanded Adam concerning what he should eat and what was forbidden. This wise instruction was given so that Adam could continue to enjoy the intimate fellowship of God in the Garden. Proverbs 8 personifies God’s wisdom. God wants to be known and His wisdom seeks out those who long for His instruction. Psalm 19 further develops the connection between God’s wisdom in His creative acts (Ps 19:1-6) and His instruction (Ps 19:7-11). In Ps 19:4 the Psalmist describes the pervasive communicative power of the heavens writing, “Their message has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.” Paul saw in Ps 19:4 a fitting description of the pervasive prophetic instruction God sent to Israel—instruction they rejected (Rom 10:18).
Like Ps 19:4, Psalm 8 is also formative for the storyline of Scripture. In Psalm 8, the author reflects on the greatness of God’s creative power and the relative frailty of humanity: “What is man, that You remember him, or the son of man, that You care for him? You made him lower than the angels for a short time; You crowned him with glory and honor and subjected everything under his feet” (Ps 8:5-7). The author of Hebrews employed Ps 8:5-7 to help his audience understand Christ’s full humanity and dominion. While Jesus is superior to angels (the point of Hebrews 1), for a time, in accord with Psalm 8, Christ was made a little lower than the angels. Through Christ’s incarnation and death, God demonstrated His grace and crowned Jesus with glory (Heb 2:9). But Psalm 8 also signaled Jesus’ resurrection. To the Corinthians, Paul argued that even death, the last great enemy of humanity, has been put under Christ’s feet, subjected to Him (Ps 8:6b)—with the result that as Jesus was raised from the dead, so all those in Him will be raised as well (1 Cor 15:27).
Although Adam had perfect fellowship with God in the Garden in Genesis 2, there was yet no created helper found suitable for him from among the animals. “So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to come over the man, and he slept. God took one of his ribs and closed the flesh at that place. Then the LORD God made the rib He had taken from the man into a woman and brought her to the man” (Gen 2:21-22). In the creation of woman, God formed not only a distinct person but a distinct institution, marriage. “This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh” (Gen 2:24), the author of Genesis wrote. In the storyline of Scripture, God’s creation of male and female provides a framework for the enduring character of marriage. Both Jesus and Paul employed the marriage of Adam and Eve as a pattern to be followed in every generation.
(1) When some Pharisees approached Jesus to ask Him about rules for a husband to divorce his wife (Matt 19:1-9//Mark 10:1-12), Jesus replied with Gen 1:27 and Gen 2:24. Since God made distinct genders and brought Adam and Eve together in a permanent institution, for all ages marriage is the union of one man and one woman in a covenantal bond.
(2) Instructing the Ephesians about marriage, Paul employed Gen 2:24 when addressing husbands. Men should love their wives as Christ loves the church, the members of His body. In Eph 5:31, Paul argued that the fixed union of Christ and the church reflects the original union of man and woman described in Gen 2:24.