Updated: Nov 10
I really enjoy reading a good story. My favorite stories have colorful characters embedded in vividly described settings, surrounded by an intriguing plot. And if there’s a conflict, the story must conclude with a powerfully enlightening solution. Those stories make me sit back at the end smiling but longing for just a few more chapters.
This was my experience when reading and studying the stories about married couples in the bible. I noticed a reoccurring theme with God, always the central character, using marriage to illustrate His divine plans, generational promises, powerful proclamations, revelatory life principles or strategic positioning of couples for remarkable world impact.
Over the next several weeks I will share highlights from these marriage stories and point out several lessons learned which can serve as guideposts for building fulfilling marriages and relationships.
Adam and Eve
The Bible tells us that Adam and Eve were the first humans on the planet. Genesis 1:27 states, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
Mankind was the only part of creation made like God and having His true essence because He breathed into man the breath of life causing him to become a living person (Genesis 2:7). Immediately after making the male and female, He blessed, commissioned and authorized them in Genesis 1:28 to:
1. Be fruitful – produce many offspring
2. Multiply – increase greatly in number
3. Fill the earth – migrate; spread out
4. Subdue – bring under control
5. Rule – dominate (the fish, birds, and animals)
The story continues with God announcing, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him (Genesis 2:18).” Alone, meaning separate or by himself; thus, the need for a helper that was suitable to and for him. He then caused the man to fall into a deep sleep, removed a rib from his side, closed the area up with flesh, and with that rib made a woman. When he brought her to the man, he responded,
“This, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
Genesis 2 ends with, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”
When God placed the first married couple in the Garden of Eden, they had everything they needed: a beautiful environment, food, work, companionship, and fellowship with God, their Creator (Genesis 3:8). There was no guilt or shame, nothing missing or broken, and no hiding or blaming. God’s plan from the beginning was to create a universe, make mankind in His image and likeness, fellowship with them, instruct them in principles of how to relate to one another, give them dominion over His creation and watch them flourish.
What’s amazing about the creation story and the first marriage is that God’s plan remained the same even after the man and his wife chose to be disobedient; thus, alienating themselves from the Father. Nevertheless, Adam and Eve were still to be fruitful, multiply and replenish the earth and to subdue and rule. The location changed, but the plan didn’t. Furthermore, God demonstrated His unfailing love and infinite wisdom by requiring the first blood sacrifice which provided an adequate covering of animal skin for Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:21). As they say in the theater, “the show must go on” and so it did as the remainder of the Bible demonstrates God’s continued efforts to return His children back to the state he originally intended.
Joseph and Mary
God’s plan for humanity comes to its expected conclusion with Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. While sin entered the world through the man Adam, Jesus Christ, through the plan of redemption, bore our sins on the cross, became our substitute, and took the penalty so that we might live for righteousness (1 Peter 2:24). As Colossians 1:14 states, our sins have been forgiven and we are redeemed.
But let’s not forget that this redemption story started with a pregnant virgin betrothed to a carpenter. Joseph didn’t want to cause Mary any shame, so he was going to divorce her quietly. While he was considering what to do, he experienced the first of three dreams where an angel of the Lord appeared to give him instructions about his family.
Dream #1 instructed him to take Mary as his wife and to not be afraid because she was impregnated by the Holy Spirit. He was told she would have a son and to name him Jesus because he was going to save his people from their sins. Joseph woke up and obeyed.
The second dream came after Jesus was born. The angel appeared and told Joseph to go to Egypt because King Herod was trying to kill the baby. Joseph got up in the middle of the night, took the baby and Mary to Egypt, and stayed there until Herod died.
And finally, the third dream from the angel of the Lord was for Joseph to take his family back to Israel. An additional warning led him specifically to the city of Nazareth in the district of Galilee.
Every one of these dreams gave instructions to Joseph who undoubtedly shared the dreams with his wife and in obedience they cooperated. The obedience of Joseph and Mary to the angel of the Lord fulfilled Old Testament prophecy and ultimately led to the fulfilling God’s plan for redemption.
Hearing the voice of the Lord can sometimes be a challenge. Both of these couples heard the instructions from the Lord, but Joseph and Mary chose to obey. Disobedience led to sin while obedience led to redemption. God chose to use mankind to accomplish His plans with the full knowledge that His children could choose not to follow His instructions. In the end it didn’t change the final outcome and the greatest lesson we learn is that no matter what we choose, God’s plans always prosper.
For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11 NLT).