The First Home
May 21st, 1989 @ 10:50 AM
THE FIRST HOME
Dr. W. A. Criswell
5-21-89 10:50 a.m.
You now are a part of our dear, precious, wonderful First Baptist Church in Dallas. And this is the pastor bringing the message entitled Our First Home. The staff asked me to preach a series of sermons between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day on the family, on the home and it is a joy and a gladness for me to do so.
The passage that you read out of the second chapter of Genesis is the background of our message. It starts off with, “And the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.'” [Genesis 2:18] Then it says that God formed out of the dust of the ground all of the living creatures, and “Adam gave names to all cattle and to the fowl of the air and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a help meet for him.” [Genesis 2:20] A literal translation might be, “But for Adam there was not found a counterpart for him,” there was not found one like him.
Now, the evolutionists would say, “Why, that couldn’t be because he had five thousand grandparents, the apes, and he had ten thousand grandmothers, the baboons, and he had a hundred thousand all kinds of monkeys, and they were all alike, and Adam was just one of them. That’s part of the idiocy of some of these evolutionists who would teach us that we came from all of those baboon/monkey ancestors. Not so. God made Adam unique, made him different, made him apart. And when Adam got through naming all of these animals and beasts, why, it still was for Adam there was not found anyone like him. Then God said, “It’s not good that he live alone. He needs somebody.”
When God made the starry firmament, He said, “It’s good.” And it is. When God made the beautiful and verdant earth, He said, “It is very good,” and it is. But when God saw that man, Adam, living alone, even in the Garden of Eden, He said, “It is not good.” And the Lord did a marvelous and wonderful thing. He made somebody like Adam. “And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept: and God took one of his ribs . . .” [Genesis 20:21]
That’s the beatenest translation I ever heard of in my life. I always preach out of the King James Version of the Bible. I believe next to the original text, the King James Version is inspired. But that is crazy. That’s funny. The word in Hebrew is tsela; God took out of Adam’s tsela. What is tsela? Tsela is the simple Hebrew word for “side.” In Exodus 25:12, the side, tsela of the ark. In 2 Samuel 16:13, tsela the side of a mountain. In 1 Kings 6:5, the side of a house, “the side.” Well, why do you want to translate that rib? That’s just somebody’s crazy idea. God took out of the side of Adam, and with that He wrought a woman. Out of his side, not out of his head so he could dominate her, and not out of his foot so he could trample on her, but from his side that he might protect her and love her.
And then another thing. He took out of the side of the man and banah. Good night! Banah, translated here made, “made He a woman,” banah is a simple word for build. “He built her a woman.” And when Adam saw her, “He said,” – now the translation here is just about as blah as anything you’ll ever read about in your life. – “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called ishshah, because she was taken out of man.” [Genesis 2:23] That doesn’t even approach it. And Adam said when he saw her he said, “Wow! What a creature! What a creation! What a thing God has done!”
I tell you, I did my best to translate this thing just as it is, and this is as near as you will ever come to it. He said, “This is it. This time God has really done it. This is my other self, or this is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. This God wrought by His genius to build one that I will call ishshah, because she is taken out of me. The word for man is ish, and the word in Hebrew given to the woman is ishshah, out of me He built this marvelous creature. Well, that’s just great. That’s just marvelous. God is always doing something wonderful, and He did it here.
Well, I want you to look again. “I will make him a help,” one like him, one that he needs, one fitting for him. The woman was created to be a helpmate for the man, to stand by him, hold up his hands, and make him effective in the choice of God in his place in the home, in the world.
Now, I took out of the Reader’s Digest an article entitled, “Nine Words That Can Stop Juvenile Delinquency.” It’s condensed from a famous magazine and reprinted in Reader’s Digest, and it’s by Judge Samuel S. Leibowitz, senior judge of Brooklyn’s highest criminal court. Here’s what the judge says,
Every criminal court judge in this country is sickeningly aware of the terrible fact that teenagers are replacing adults in the criminal dockets. It has seemed to me that something down deep, basic, must have disappeared from the way of life to cause this revolt toward crime among our young people. I found the nine-word principle that I think can do more for us than all of the committees, ordinances, and multi-million dollar programs combined.
The nine words are: “Put father back at the head of the family.” The American teenager has been raised in a household where the word “obey” is an outlawed word. How many parents have stood before me after I have sentenced their children to prison and asked, “Judge, what did I do that was wrong? I sacrificed for him, gave him a good life, put him through school.” It’s not what they did. It’s what they did not do. They did not put father in charge of the family. They did not teach their child discipline. In my boyhood, I had that discipline, and I’m very glad I did.
I was raised in a dismal slum on New York’s Lower East Side. My father ran a little dry goods store that barely made enough for us to live on, but he was the head of the house, and I respected him. When I was 16, he told me to be home at a certain hour, and I got home. Many a teenager today roams until 2:00 or 3:00 o’clock in the morning and considers his parents impertinent.
A home where the father is not the recognized chief of the house is not much better off to my reckoning than a home that is broken by divorce. Every time mother overrules father, undermining his authority and standing in the child’s eyes, she knocks a piece off the foundation on which the child stands. If mothers would understand that much of their importance is in building up the father image for the child, they would achieve the deep satisfaction that comes from having children who turn out well, and no mother then would have to stand before me and ask, “Judge, what did I do that was wrong?’
After I got through preaching this morning, there came a big, strong young man. He looked to be in his middle twenties. He came up to me and shook me by the hand and he said, “I was reared in a single-parent home. I was reared by my mother. And I love my mother and I always will, and I’ll take care of her until she dies. But,” he said, “that does not mean I did not desperately miss my father.”
“My father;” God made it that way. The woman is to stand by his side and uphold his hands and give strength to his words and meaning and dedication to the commitment of his life. And where you have that, you have a strong family and children who are raised according to the will and judgment and choice of Almighty God.
Now, there was a deep purpose in the Lord’s creation of this home.
God said, Let us make man in our image, and after our likeness;,
So God created man in His own image,,male and female created He them.
And God blessed them, and God said, Be fruitful and multiply.
God made the home and He made it a man and a woman. God did not make it two men; God did not make it two women. God made it a man and a woman. And God made it that there might be a replenishing of the earth that there might be a continuation of the human family that we might not only people earth but someday people heaven. And when the wedding vow is exchanged and the unit is built, God is ready and prepared to bless the home and to bless the family in a precious and a beautiful way.
I have here in my Bible the story, and the Bible is so full of messages like this, I have the story of the unit that Abraham prepared for his son Isaac. Abraham sent Eliezer, his servant to Haran up there at the head of the Mesopotamian valley, to his brother’s house – Bethuel’s house – and there gave him commandment, this servant, to bring back a bride for his son Isaac.
So he went up there and was introduced to Rebekah, and they said to Rebekah, “Wilt thou go with this man?” She said, “I’ll go.” So he brought Rebekah to Isaac. “And Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife, and he loved her: and was comforted after his mother’s death.” [Genesis 24:67] That’s the program of God, and no finer commitment could any father or mother make than that they see in God’s will and providence that the children are beautifully married. [Genesis 24]
I don’t have anything that I do that pleases me more than to preside over the exchange of covenant vows that makes a fine Christian boy and a noble, beautiful Christian girl, husband and wife. And they build their home together. That magnifies the cause of Christ in the earth and honors our dear Lord. That home is sacred and hallowed.
And the tragedy of modern life, the day in which we live, is that we find on every side and on every hand, the broken home. Did you know for five hundred years – for five hundred years there was not one divorce among the Roman people? Not one. I’m talking about heathen people. I’m talking about pagan people. There was not one divorce in five hundred years of the beginning strength and might of those Romans who later built the Roman Empire.
But of us, in our Christian inheritance, our Christian heritage, our Christian culture, did you know that about six years ago seventy percent of the homes in Dallas broke up in divorce? Seventy percent of them. Today, the rate in Dallas has fallen to the national average, fifty percent. One half of the homes in Dallas break up in divorce. What a tragedy. And what an unspeakable harbinger of what lies ahead of us! The criminal statistic rises and rises and rises and rises, and the end of it is not in sight.
There are two causes – whether it’s true or not, I don’t know – there are two causes that a survey says are mostly responsible for the breaking up of the home. The first one was troubles from the in-laws. I’d never guess that, but that’s what the survey said, troubles from the in-laws.
God says, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave unto his wife and they two shall be one flesh.” [Genesis 1:24] That’s what God says. And when the couple marries, they are a unit of their own and dad and mother and all the in-laws can pray for them, and love them, and help them, and encourage them. But they are on their own. They have their own life to live and they ought to be left alone, God bless them. That’s the first cause, they say, for divorce, for breaking up the family, because of in-laws.
The second one was likewise strange to me. There are troubles over money, financial problems. I’d never in the world have thought about that, that money was the second cause of divorce. I read where the most ideal couple, the ideal home you ever could think of in your life – so a reporter went to them and said, “What is it that you do that makes your home so paradisiacal, so beautiful, so marvelous, wonderful? What do you do in your home?” And the man replied,
Well, my wife and I made a covenant together that when we married; we were not going to have any trouble over finances, over money. I was going to take care of all the big things, and she’s going to take care of all the little things. So, “he said, “this worked out just great. I address all the big things in life, war and peace and the United Nations and NATO and all the things that are under of the universe of God. That’s what I do. And my wife takes care of all the little things, what we do with my salary and where we’re going on vacation and how the children are going to be reared and all the things like that.
Well, I thought, “Man that really would work!” Oh, dear. What a tragedy, to have a quarrel over money. Why couldn’t we just sit down and say, “This is how much that we have, and we’re going to live in this income, and we’re not going in debt”?
Debt is the most terrible thing that you could ever wrestle with! The only reason to go in debt is if you have a fine investment such as your house. Buy a home and pay it out, something like that. But to go in debt in your living is a disastrous thing to do. If you don’t have enough money to buy a dress, go naked. Just don’t wear anything. Don’t go in debt. Don’t go in debt.
Now, I’ve got to close, and I’m sorry. The big thing, the all-inclusive thing. When the man and the woman sinned and fell, were driven out of the Garden of Eden, in closing, the story closes with, “So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the Garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” [Genesis 3:24]
I wish I had time to expatiate on all of that. When it speaks of the Cherubims and of those angels of mercy and grace, wherever the cherubim are mentioned in the Bible they stand for God’s mercy and God’s love and God’s compassion and remembrance and God’s grace, the Cherubim. When the man was driven out of the Garden of Eden, on the east side, at the gate of the east side, He placed these emissaries of love and grace, teaching the man, teaching the man how to come back and how to approach the Lord. On the east side of the Garden of Eden there was an altar, and there were these Cherubim teaching the man how to approach the great Lord God.
Now, when I look at what they taught, there were two things above others that those angels of grace and mercy taught our human family when it began to multiply and to replenish the earth. The first one was an altar placed where they were to gather together to worship. And the second one was a minchah, an offering brought to the Lord; those two things.
And throughout all of the years and the centuries and the millennia since, there have always been those two things. One, an altar, a place where we gather together to call upon the name of the Lord. Later on it was called a tabernacle. Then still later it was called a temple. And then finally it was called a church. And in a den or in a dive or in a cave or in a house anywhere, there God’s people gather around the altar of the Lord, and there the Cherubim, God’s angels of grace and mercy, bless the people.
I feel that every time I’m here in this pulpit and in this sacred place, the angels of God’s love are here, the Cherubim. This is the place where we come to call upon the name of the Lord. This is the altar in God’s house.
And the other, a minchah. Abel brought to the Lord a minchah, and Cain brought to the Lord a minchah, a gift, an offering, a natural response. You can’t help being that way. If there’s someone that you deeply love, appreciate, thank God for, the first thing you want to do is to give them something. On a birthday, on an anniversary, at Easter time or Christmastime, you just will. You’re made that way. God made us that way. That’s the way we act before the Lord. We naturally, out of the deep of our hearts; we come before the Lord with a minchah, with an offering. “Lord, just loving You, thanking You, praising You.”
I’ll take a leaf out of my own life, if I could. I was born in Eldorado, Oklahoma. And when I was five years old we moved to the western part of the Texas panhandle. I speak of that because this vivid memory is in my heart, and it happened in Eldorado, Oklahoma. That means that this thing that has burned in my heart ever since happened when I was four years old or beginning to be five years of age. And as young as I was I have never gotten away from this thing that happened in my heart.
Every Sunday my father would give me a coin, and I’d take it to Sunday school. A little friend of mine in my Sunday school class said to me, he said, “When my daddy gives me my coin, I don’t give it to the Sunday school class. I keep it. And with it I buy an ice cream cone, or I buy a candy bar.” Well, I said, “What would your father say about that?” He said, “My father doesn’t know, and if he were to ask me, I’d tell him I gave it to Sunday school.” And then he said to me,
You do that. When your daddy gives you that coin to take to Sunday school, you put it in your pocket. You keep it. And then you buy you an ice cream cone, or you buy you a bar of candy, and your daddy will never know. And if he asks you, just tell him you gave it to Sunday school, but you keep it for yourself.
Isn’t it strange how sometimes little things create a battle in your heart? I was hardly five years old, and that was the first battle I can remember in my heart before God. When my father placed in my hand that coin to take it to Sunday school, I looked at it and I thought, “You know, I can put it in my pocket, and I can keep it, and my dad will never know it, and I can buy a candy bar or an ice cream cone.” And I fought that first battle in my soul, and I thank God to this day I won the war. I won the battle. I looked at it and I said, “I’ll not lie to my father. I will not. This belongs to God. This is for Sunday school. And when I come to Sunday school, I will place this gift for the Lord in my Sunday school class.”
How many of us today are like that boy who whispered to me? “You keep it. You keep it. You spend it on yourself. Don’t you give it to God. Don’t. Enjoy it. Waste it. Spend it.” And yet when you look at it, this is how much I have in my hands for the labor of this month or this week. When you look at it, it was God that gave me breath and life. It was God that gave me strength and life. It is God who has given me the ableness to make what little it may be, what I have, and I’ll not forget that I bring a minchah in His name.
My sweet people God will bless you if you’ll do that. He has blessed me through all of these years since and still remembers me for good. The same Lord God that I love and worship is your Lord God. He will not let us down or pass us by or cease to remember or bless if we’ll do those two things: one, before the altar of the Lord I bow with my dear people, I call on His name, and I will dedicate to Him a minchah, a portion of what the Lord has given me.
And dear people, who have listened to this service on television, God bless you within your heart and home and house where you live. You dedicate yourself to the blessed Jesus. To give your heart and life to Him is the greatest decision you could ever, ever make. I’ll see you in heaven someday, and we will rejoice together if you will just open your heart and love and accept and receive the precious Savior as your very own.
On the screen you’ll see a number; call that number and there will be a faithful, faithful Christian counselor. And if you don’t know how to accept Christ as your Savior, it will be our joy to point out the way. God bless you.
And to the throngs here in this great sanctuary, when we stand in a moment to sing our appeal, “Pastor, this is God’s day for me. I’m giving my heart and life to the Lord.” Or, “I’m putting my whole family life and circle in the membership of this precious church,” or, “I’m answering a call from God.” On the first note of the first stanza, come, and may angels attend you in the way while we stand and while we sing.