Today on Insight for Living from Chuck Swindoll. We can make a difference. Don't ever let someone tell you that because the times are like they are, we're sunk. Our God is in the heavens.
He does whatever He pleases. The one who has written history has to acknowledge that as He sees it through the eyes of divine perspective, God has His way, and He always works through a remnant. At the beginning of time, God instituted marriage as an integral part of His master plan. A man, a woman, helpmates joined together as partners in life. Well, today on Insight for Living, Chuck Swindoll is teaching from God's manual on marriage. Few would argue that this holy institution, the union of husband and wife, has been under attack.
Couples have felt overwhelming pressure from a culture that views their relationship as dispensable. Well, no matter where you are in the process, getting back to biblical basics can keep a relationship healthy and on course. If you brought a Bible with you this morning, turn to the first book, Genesis, and the second chapter, please. I want to read for you from Genesis 2, beginning at verse 21, through the end of the chapter, and then just a few verses across the column in chapter 3, 221 of Genesis. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept. Then he took one of his ribs and closed up the flesh at that place. The Lord God fashioned into a woman the rib which he had taken from the man and brought her to the man. 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. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. Verse 8 of chapter 3, they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Then the Lord God called to the man and said to him, where are you? He said, I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked.
So I hid myself. He said, who told you you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat? The man said, the woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree and I ate. Then the Lord God said to the woman, what is this you have done?
And the woman said, the serpent deceived me, and I ate. Sure is easy to become a prophet of doom when you just check the landscape and you talk about the family and you realize the erosion that is taking place over the last 30, 40, 50 years. Knowing that that kind of emotion would come, I made the Lord a promise when I dug into the series on the home and family in the 21st century, promised him I would not become just doom and gloom in my perspective.
I would not allow the statistics to get me down or the facts and figures that relate to erosion of a home and family to make me a person who just sees the dark side of life. I won't lose my sense of humor, Lord, I promise you. So keep me looking up as I look at what's really happening.
All that to say, I have a story to read you that my son sent me that just made me laugh out loud. Six retired Floridians were playing poker in their condo clubhouse when Meyerowitz loses $500 on a single hand, clutches his chest and drops dead at the table, showing respect for their fallen comrade, the other five continue playing standing up. Finkelstein looks around and asks, now who's going to tell his wife?
They draw straws and Goldberg picks the short one. They tell him to be discreet, be gentle, don't make a bad situation any worse. Discrete? I'm the most discreet person you'll ever meet.
Discretion is my middle name. Leave it to me, says Goldberg. He goes over to the Meyerowitz apartment, knocks on the door. The wife answers and asks, what do you want? Goldberg declares, your husband just lost $500 in our poker game and he's afraid to come home.
To which she said, tell him to drop dead. See how cynical you can become when you let it happen? I'm fully aware. I read all the stuff you read. I see all the things you see. I hear all the things you hear.
I am fully aware that the scene is tough. The setting is bad. We are not going from good to better. We're going from bad to worse.
And it will get only worse as time passes. However, however, I am convinced that the Lord is God. He still is working out his plan. We are still his people. He still wants to change our lives and our direction. And if we're married, our homes, our marriage and our families, if nothing else is changing, we're responsible for ours.
What is interesting is that this is not a new phenomenon. Matter of fact, I came across a remarkable book this past week by Dr. Carl Zimmerman of Harvard, who back in the 1940s was doing a study on the empires as they began to disintegrate, fall apart, and he noticed there was a correlation between the demise of the family and the home, like teeth in gears, with the demise of empires as they fell. He put all of his research together in a book titled Family and Civilization.
And he writes, publishing that book back over a half century ago, 1947, as he shows the family moving through three stages in its erosion. In the third stage, which he describes as the final phase occurring shortly before the empire fell apart, he points out several characteristics. I want to pass along some of those to you. He listed more than five, but I'm going to limit my comments to five. These are five conclusions that tie in with former empires as they ultimately crumbled, declined, and fell.
Here they are. Each is true of every one of the empires. By the way, he studied Roman and Greek empires. He studied the French and German and even the United States in the process of coming to these conclusions.
So this is across the board. He didn't read any of our current events. He didn't live at this time. He didn't see the movies we now see. He didn't watch the prime time television we now watch.
It wasn't such a thing. These are from his academic and professional observations. These are the five characteristics of the ultimate stage before the fall. One, marriage loses its sacredness. Matter of fact, marriage is frequently broken by divorce.
Alternative forms of marriage are introduced and advocated in each of these empires he studied. Number two, feminist movements flourish. Within this category, he states, women lose their inclination for child bearing and child rearing. Naturally, the birth rate decreases.
That's the second characteristic. Third, there is an increasing desire for an acceptance of adultery. Adultery was, in fact, celebrated rather than frowned upon. Number four, to be expected, there was a growing disrespect for parental authority. Matter of fact, for authority in general. Zimmerman adds, with this came an increase in juvenile delinquency, promiscuity, and a spirit of rebellion. Fifth, and finally, a greater tolerance for sexual perversions, and he named several. This, according to Carl Zimmerman, marked what he calls the final stage signaling the demise of a culture. See what I mean about how easy it is to become doom and gloom in one's perspective?
Does that put a little chill up your back when you look around? This is not just history on record. This speaks to our time and the nation we love. But let me add once again, with God, nothing is impossible. If he moves upon enough of us so that we realize he's speaking to us about where we are in this situation in which we find ourselves, and if he hears from us a repentance and a willingness to change wherever change is needed, there is hope. We can make a difference. Don't ever let someone tell you that because the times are like they are, we're sunk. Our God is in the heavens. He does whatever he pleases. The one who has written history has to acknowledge that as he sees it through the eyes of divine perspective, God has his way, and he always works through a remnant.
Always. Arnold Toynbee is perhaps right. It's doubtful the majority has ever been right, which is a little scary when you stop to think about it. God works through minority, remnant, godly people in the midst of an ungodly society.
Remember, it's never too late to start doing what is right. There is a future, there is a hope, and God is all about that. And with that in mind, I want to turn from history and the writings of Zimmerman to Genesis, God's word, and the writings of Moses, chapter two.
I mentioned earlier the civilizations, plural, and now call your attention to the fact we're looking at civilization, singular, as it begins. For the first time, there's homo sapien on the planet. God has made the animal kingdom. He has made the things about us as a planet. He's made the planet, and he has made the things within it.
Now he makes the man. There was a quick, broad-brush picture of that in chapter one. The zoom lens of the scriptures, or the Spirit of God, focuses on the man first and then the woman in the second chapter of the book of Genesis. And I want you to look at verse seven. It's sort of where it all starts. The Lord God formed man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul.
It's a great moment. In full adult form, there is a male that God has created. God places him in a pristine setting, the Garden of Eden, perfect environment. It's idyllic. There's no sin. There is no fear. There is no cover-up. There is no deception. There's no death. There isn't even a mention of death or a thought of death until God gives Adam instructions regarding one area of prohibition. Look at verse 15. Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and to keep it. That's his job description. The first occupation was farming, gardening.
There you have it. Cultivate and keep the garden. The Lord God then commanded the man, saying, from every tree of the garden you may eat freely.
How great it must have been. Every vine was loaded with fruit. The trees, beautiful fruit, abundant in growth. It must have been delicious just to look at, to say nothing, to find nourishment from. Of all of this, you may freely eat, but there is one tree you don't eat from.
Seventeen, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat. For in the day that you eat from it, dying, you will die, literally. Dying, you will die, literally. There will be a spiritual death immediately as you and I are alienated from each other, and there will begin the process of a physical death as you begin to die, age, grow old. It's often asked in hypothetical question, if Adam hadn't sinned, would he have lived forever?
Obviously. It is in the eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that death is introduced. If there is disobedience, Adam, there is an instant change in everything. God doesn't stumble or stammer over his words. He's clear, he's precise. Adam heard it.
Adam understood it. The Lord then takes a quick appraisal of the man in his aloneness, as we saw last time, and we read that the Lord God, verse 18, observes it is not good that he remain alone. Being the God of grace that he is, he immediately provides a solution to the dilemma. God says I will make him a helper suitable for him. I want to look at two words in the solution that are important enough to linger over.
Let's just hover here a few moments. See the word helper? To us, it's a word that sort of sounds like it's subordinate to. There is no subordination in the term helper. Matter of fact, it means one who is in a beneficial relationship to another, one who aids, supports, as a friend, as an ally.
How can I say there's no sense of subservience in the word or subordination? Because in Psalm 46, one, as well as other Psalms, God uses the term of himself. He says I am a very present, what, help in time of trouble. Same Hebrew derivative as the word trend rendered helper here. God says I'm a helper in time of trouble, and he is subservient.
He is subordinate to no one. It is a term that has to do with being an ally, a friend, a support, especially in time of need. The other term worth looking at is suitable. I will make him a companion suitable for him. The word could be rendered counterpart or complement, one who assists and, if you will, fills in the empty spaces, gives strength where there is weakness, provides answers to the answers where there are questions. There will be a completion in this life that is right now alone. And the beauty is that the Lord does exactly what he says he will do. Verse 21, he causes a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he closes up the flesh at that place, and he fashions into a woman the rib which is taken from the man, and then he brings her to the man.
I love this setting. Adam is, you know, just getting over surgery, and he is now realizing that that scar has yielded a a marvelous result, and standing before him for the first time in his entire existence is a woman, and he is just ravished in her presence. He just, he says, this is now bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh. Hebrew colloquialism for closeness, oneness, one in heart. This is the fulfillment is the idea, the completion. This is everything I would have ever wanted.
It's a magnificent scene, and in this idyllic setting, you just can't beat this for a love story. Now on the heels of that, verses 24 and 25, we have the first. Here is a passage of primary reference on principles for a marriage. They're timeless as they are true. They apply to the 10th century as they do the 21st.
They will apply to the 24th century, if there is such, just as they applied to the first century and centuries before. As long as there has been marriage, there have been these four principles, which I will give you in one word terms. There are four of them. Each of these four is important enough to hold a marriage together. Every time I've worked with people who've struggled in their marriage, one or more of these four principles has been ignored or disobeyed.
When I find happy marriages, I find all four are clicking along on eight cylinders. They're working. The first is the word severance. For this reason, a man shall leave his father and mother.
Severance. Now don't misread that. Don't read into it more than God is saying. He's not to disrespect or she's not to disrespect parents. Parents are not to be ignored, forgotten, done away with in one's mind. It's the idea of leaning on and needing, clinging to, that will stop when you marry because you now lean on and cling to one another. It's amazing. I see people getting up in years that still haven't left mom and dad.
They're still hanging on, emotionally tied in to their parents, if not both to one of them. It occurred to me in the little folk song we sang when we were kids called Billy Boy. Perfect example. I did a little exposition of Billy Boy this past week, and I made an interesting discovery. Where have you been Billy Boy? Where have you been charming Billy?
I've been the secret wife. She's the joy of my life. She's a young thing and cannot leave her mother. Every one of the stanzas ends with she's a young thing and cannot leave her mother. So I thought, I wonder how old she is. And then when I read through the song, there it appeared.
Listen to one of the verses. How old is she Billy Boy, Billy Boy? How old is she charming Billy? Three times six, four times seven, 28 and 11. She's a young thing and cannot leave her mother.
So I got my calculator and I did the math. Billy Boy's girlfriend is 85 years old. Get a life, Billy Boy. She is not the one for you. I wonder how old her mother is if she's 85, by the way. And maybe she's taking care of her mother. I don't know. The point is, I don't want to go too far with this.
I'll make a whole sermon out of Billy Boy. But, you know, if you got a woman that you're dating and she can't leave her mother, you don't want her as a wife. I mean, duh. She's tied in. She's hanging on. She's clinging. And the same with the guy. And by the way, for whatever it's worth, I've seen guys cling tighter than than wives cling.
Guys, we're the ones that say it doesn't taste like mama's cooking, right? We're the ones that tend to do that. Stop doing that. You got to sever the ties. You love your parents and you still need your parents in many ways. You don't cling to them and your life doesn't survive because of them.
They played a vital role. But now that you're married, your relationship is now with your partner. There's a second word, permanence. Severance is followed naturally by permanence. See the word? And he will be joined to his wife. Same Hebrew word is used by Job when he describes his tongue cleaving to the top of his mouth in his sickness.
Remember our time in Job? When he was in the depths of sickness, his mouth was so parched, his tongue stuck to the top of his mouth. It's the idea of sticking to, clinging in affection and loyalty. This is not a clinging vine kind of clinging. This is a wonderful and healthy connection and linkage. A permanent bonding is the idea. Jesus goes a step further in Mark 10 verse 9 where he says, whom God has joined together, let no one put asunder or separate.
In other words, it's to be permanent. You're listening to Insight for Living, and we're midway through a message from pastor and author Chuck Swindoll titled Getting Back on Target. And if you'd like to learn more about this ministry, visit us online at insightworld.org. Well, it's been many years since we've addressed marriage and the family on this broadcast, and we know many in our listening family are prepared to make the most of this study. The series is called Marriage from Surviving to Thriving. As you heard Chuck teach today, perhaps you began to project your own marriage into this passage in Genesis.
Maybe you're ready to bring your relationship back into alignment with God's design. Well, I'll remind you Insight for Living has prepared a number of resources for you, including books, the online study notes called Searching the Scriptures, and even a daily devotional you can have sent directly to your inbox. Each item is designed to help you integrate spiritual truth into your daily life, even when relationships are in conflict.
To take advantage of these resources, go to insight.org. And then finally, as a compliment to your worship experience in your local church this coming Sunday morning, remember you can also celebrate with Chuck Swindoll by viewing the worship service at insight.org slash Sundays. This not only includes Chuck's full-length sermon, but the sacred music and congregational singing as well.
One of our viewers in Sacramento, California wrote, Chuck, because of illness, I've been unable to attend church. And when the pandemic hit, the live stream of your worship service has given me a church home. I love the full orchestra music, the fact that you sing hymns and have a full choir. And during the sermon, I even stand with the congregation when you read the Scriptures. Thank you, Pastor Chuck. Thank you for reminding me that Jesus is Lord, Christ is King, and God is in ultimate control. Well, we'd love to have you join us Sunday morning too. You'll find all the instructions for video streaming the weekly worship service at insight.org slash Sundays. Join us again Monday when Chuck Swindoll continues his message on marriage about getting back on target here on Insight for Living. The preceding message, Getting Back on Target, was copyrighted in 2004 and 2006, and the sound recording was copyrighted in 2006 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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