On January 4, 2009, Tim Keller preached a sermon called “The First Wedding Day” based on Genesis 2. Keller spoke,
“Indeed, you can’t understand the story line of the Bible unless you understand something about marriage, because the Bible begins with this marriage, and at the end, in Revelation, it ends with a marriage, the wedding supper of the Lamb.”
I remember in 2014, Keller also tweeted from this sermon again, “The Bible begins and ends with a marriage”. Without explaining much, some people went, “huh?”
But this statement is true and profound. Two months later after Keller’s sermon, Frank Viola published one of his best work, From Eternity to Here, which also stated this fact,
“In Genesis 1 and 2, the Bible opens up with a woman and a man. In Revelation 21 and 22, the Bible closes with a woman and a man. The Bible opens up with a wedding, and it ends with a wedding. It opens with a marriage, and it ends with a marriage. It opens with a boy and a girl, and it ends with a boy and a girl. Your Bible is essentially a love story.”
Both Keller and Viola have some wonderful things to say about this glorious picture of marriage.
In his sermon, Keller stated that Christ is not just a God we obey, but the husband who makes us complete,
“First of all, it’s teaching you need to have God in your life, not just as someone you believe in, not just as someone you try to obey; you need God in your life as your spouse. He’s the ultimate helpmeet you need. He’s like you but not you. He’s like you because you’re in his image. You’ll never become the person you’re supposed to be unless he comes into your life, not just as a kind of abstract principle of love or somebody you kind of obey in a general way. He has to be in your life as your lover. He has to be in your life intimately.”
He emphasized the intimacy between a husband and a wife,
“Do you know how close? One flesh. ‘A man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife. The two shall become one flesh.’ That word flesh is not what you think. It’s not talking about the bodies. When God says, ‘I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,’ he’s not saying, ‘I will pour out my Spirit on all bodies.’ He’s saying, ‘I will pour out my Spirit on all persons.'”.
In Keller’s words, when Adam referred Eve as “Bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.”, Adam was essentially saying, “As I see you, I now know who I am. I have found myself in you. I’m not just coming to another; I’m coming to someone who is helping me see who I am. At last, finally, by discovering you I have found out who I am.”. He used his personal testimony with Kathy, his wife, that, “She came into my life, and now I know who I am.”
Keller ended by reassuring us that in the end, a perfect marriage is the one between Christ, the true Adam, and the Church,
“The Bible begins with a wedding, and this wedding’s original purpose was to fill the world with children of God, and it failed. Why? Because the husband in that marriage failed to step in and help his wife when she needed him. But at the end of time there will be another wedding, the marriage supper of the Lamb, and its purpose is to fill the world with children of God, and it will succeed where the first marriage failed. Do you know why? Because the first husband failed, but the second husband will not. The true Adam, Jesus Christ, will never let his wife down.”
Let’s turn our attention to Viola’s teaching. In his book, Viola presents God’s eternal purpose (Ephesians 3:9-13) to bring forth a bride for Jesus Christ as the dwelling place of God, where His sons and daughters corporately express Him.
Frank Viola discusses how Adam’s passionate love for Eve, calling her “this is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh”, points to the love Christ has for us. In the same way, the wedding between Adam and Eve points to the wedding between Christ and the Church. For example,
- Eve was Adam’s body. She came out of his side. She was taken from his own anatomy. Therefore, she possessed the same life as Adam. She was inseparable from him, yet different.”
- “Adam was the source of Eve’s life. Adam was the basis for her existence. Eve could only exist because a part of Adam was in her. Without Adam, she had no existence.”
- “She was made wholly for Adam. God created Adam with a desire to unleash his passion. He desired to love and be loved. Eve was the answer to that desire.”
- “She was always in him. She preexisted in Adam before she made her appearance on earth. Adam roamed this earth with a girl hidden inside of him. His body constituted the womb from which she would one day come forth.”
If we see Jesus Christ as the second Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45), we can also view the Church as the second Eve.The idea of the Church presenting herself as the second Eve to the second Adam may not be commonly circulated, but it is one that has been passed on from the older generation saints such as Tertullian. This idea has also been explicitly introduced in The Divine Romance by Gene Edwards and The Glorious Church by Watchman Nee while contrasting drastically from the belief of some Catholics that, Mary is the second Eve.
A few more beautiful quotes from the book before I finish,
“In the timelessness of eternity past, the Father had someone upon whom to pour out the passion of His being. It was His Son. The Father was the Lover; the Son was the Beloved. The Father was the source; the Son was the recipient and the responder. Consequently, the Father loved the Son, and the Son reciprocated that love to the Father (John 17:24; 14:31). The Son, however, had no creature upon which to pour out the passion of His being. That is, there was no one to whom He could be the source of the torrential passion that flooded His own heart. While the Son certainly poured out His passion upon the Father, the Son was not the source of that passion. To put it another way, the Son Himself had no counterpart… In this highly specific sense, God the Son was alone, just like Adam was alone.” (p. 38)
Jesus Christ has surely poured out His love on us, making us able to love one another out of His love,“We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19).
The Son’s desire for a counterpart was not rooted in any deficiency within Himself. It was instead rooted in the overflowing excess of divine love. (p. 40)
As the famous saying goes, “God does not need us, but He wants us.”
“He had waited for ages to have His counterpart, so He guaranteed that once the romance began, it would never end. Therefore, when it comes to your Lord and His much-longed-for bride, He conquered the last enemy so that ‘death shall never do them part.'”(p. 43-44)
Does it not ring a bell of this verse? “When you make a vow to the Lord your God, be prompt in doing whatever you promised him. For the Lord your God demands that you promptly fulfill all your vows.” (Deuteronomy 23:21)
How we need to grasp a broader vision of Christ’s love for the Church. Some may not be aware, but almost half of the English translations today do indeed write in Ephesians 5:30 , “we are of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones;” (although the more popular versions such as ESV, NIV, NLT, and NASB do not do so). We are indeed of His body, of His flesh, of His bones. May our love for the Lord deepen day by day.