The First Home
May 21st, 1989 @ 8:15 AM
THE FIRST HOME
Dr. W. A. Criswell
5-21-89 8:15 a.m.
We welcome the uncounted throngs of you who share this hour on radio. The First Baptist Church of Dallas always is honored and encouraged when you listen to the service, and certainly am I, the pastor. God bless you wherever you are, listening to the preaching of the Word of God.
The baccalaureate tonight is addressed to our young people. And I am surprised at the service this morning. I was not aware of the fact that we would be honored with these young people who are being graduated from high school and are facing a tremendously blessed future in college and in life beyond. We are proud of you, grateful to God for you, and are persuaded we will have a new and a better day through you.
The sermon is in keeping with a request of the staff that between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day the pastor prepare messages from God’s Book on the home. So the sermon today is entitled The First Home. The background is in the passage that you just read under the direction of Dr. McLaughlin. It starts off, “And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him” [Genesis 2:18].
In the story, Adam looked at all of the creation of God’s omnipotent hand, and he gave names in a vocabulary that would include all the beasts of the field and of the fowls of the air and everything that the Lord God had made. Then the comment was made, “But for Adam there was no one meet for him” [Genesis 2:19-20]. There was no counterpart for him. There was no one like him. He’s different from all of the creation of God, whether in heaven above or earth beneath. He was unique, and alone. And God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone” [Genesis 2:18].
When God made the starry firmament, He said, “It is good” [Genesis 1:18]. When the Lord made the beautiful and verdant earth, He said, “It is very good” [Genesis 1:31]. But when the Lord saw the man living alone, He said, “It is not good. I will make a help meet for him—a counterpart for him, someone like him” [Genesis 2:18]. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and the King James Version out of which I always preach, says, “And God took one of his ribs” [Genesis 2:21]. That’s the beatenest thing that I ever read in the Bible.
That word, tsela, is used time and again in the Word of God, tsela. And everywhere, it is always translated, “side.” For example, in Exodus 25:12, “the side of the ark.” In [2 Samuel 16:13], “the side of a mountain.” In [1 Kings 6:8], “the side of a house.” But here the King James Version it’s translated, “a rib” [Genesis 2:21]. That’s crazy! God never took a rib out of Adam and made a woman. What it says, what the Bible says is that “God took from his side,” a part of his side. And out of that, He created the woman [Genesis 2:22]. That is, He didn’t take from Adam’s head that he might dominate over her. He did not take out of Adam’s foot that he might trample on her. But He took out of Adam’s side and created the woman that he might protect her and love her; a beautiful passage in the Word of God.
And I want to show you something else. And the side which the Lord God had taken from Adam, they translated it, “made He a woman” [Genesis 2:22]. The word is banah. And banah is “build.” And it doesn’t mean any other thing in the Bible but “build.” He took out of the side of the man, a part of him and “built He a woman” [Genesis 2:22]. And not only that, not only that, but let me tell you when Adam saw her, you have it translated here, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: you will be called Woman, because she is taken out of Man” [Genesis 2:23]. That is the lamest thing that you ever read in your life. What is actually there in the Hebrew is, when Adam saw that woman, he said, “Wow! What a creation!” That’s exactly what the Hebrew says. “Wow! Man, look at this! Never saw anything like that in my life.” It overwhelmed him. And I can understand. This is a marvelous thing! And I want to comment now on the Word of God that she was created to help the man, to stand by him [Genesis 2:18].
I took out of the Reader’s Digest, and it is condensed from one of the great magazines of the world, I took out an article for to read. And it is entitled “Nine Words that Can Stop Juvenile Delinquency”; and it’s from Judge Samuel Leibowitz, who is senior judge of Brooklyn’s highest criminal court. Now I want you to listen to what this judge says:
Every criminal court judge in this country is sickeningly aware of the terrible fact that teenagers—teenagers!—are replacing adults on the criminal dockets. It has seemed to me that something down deep, basic, must have disappeared from our way of life to have caused this revolt toward crime among our young people.
I have 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: “Put father back at the head of the family.”
The American teenager has been raised in a household where “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 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 our house, and I respected him. And when I was sixteen, and he told me to be home at a certain hour, I got home. Many a teenager today roams until 3:00 o’clock in the morning and considers his parents impertinent.
Every time mother overrules father, undermining his authority and standing in the child’s eyes, she knocks a piece off of 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 would have to stand before me and ask, “Judge, what did I do that was wrong?”
That’s right! That’s God! The Lord God made the woman to stand by the man, to bring honor and glory to him. Not to take his place; not to overrule him, but to be a help meet for him [Genesis 2:18]. And when the woman assumes—when the mother assumes that prerogative in the household, the children are going to be raised in a marvelous reverential manner. That’s God. That’s the Christian home.
May I speak now of the entity of the home? It is God’s purpose. It is God’s will that in the home, we are the fathers and mothers of children.
So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them.
And God blessed them, and said, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth.
They are to be a separate entity.
I have here marked in my Bible the beautiful story of Abraham, who looking upon his son Isaac who is now in the passing of years grown, and Abraham sends Eliezer to Haran up there in the top of the Mesopotamian valley, to find a wife for Isaac his son [Genesis 24]. And he came back with Rebekah. They said Rebekah, “Will thou goest with this man?” She said, “I will go” [Genesis 24:58], and [Eliezer] brought the woman 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 Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death” [Genesis 24:67]. That’s the will of God. Our children grow up and then we pray for them that they’ll find a worthy husband or a worthy wife and they build a new entity in the grace and goodness and purpose of God. What a wonderful thing, to build a Christian home.
I read an article, why homes break up. Why they divorce. Did you know about five years ago or six, seventy percent of the homes in Dallas broke up in divorce; seventy percent of them. Now we’re down to the national average. Fifty percent of all the homes in Dallas break up in divorce; fifty percent of them.
Well, I read an article—whether it’s true or not I don’t know—I read an article “Why Homes Break Up.” And the first reason was the interference of in-laws, in-laws. Well, that’s what God says we’re to do in the building of a home. The man or the woman is to leave father and mother and cleave unto his wife, or cleave unto her husband [Genesis 2:24]. They’re to leave the old home, leave father and mother. They have a new entity now. And the father and the mother can be loved and honored, but they’re not to enter into the home; this is a new entity.
And the second reason for the divorce, so this article and its survey said, was—the first one, the interference of in-laws, and the second one, financial. They don’t get along financially.
I read one of the craziest things I ever saw in my life. This fellow was describing a couple that had a marvelous home, a beautiful home. Oh, they just got along just gloriously together. So he asked them what is the secret of your beautiful home and your getting along so well together. And the father replied, “Well, when we married, we made a compact; we made an agreement. I’m going to take care of all the big things, and she’s going to take care of all of the little things. So,” he said, “it just worked great. I take care of all the big things—war and peace, and the United Nations, and exploring the moon, and all of the things that concern God’s creation in the world, and she takes care of all the little things—how I spend my salary, where our children are going on vacation, what we’re going to buy, what we’re going to keep. And we just get along beautifully.” Well, that’s marvelous. If you can get by with it, it’s just great.
Everything will find its place and its common denominator if we have it in our hearts to give our homes first to God. And that leads me to my last avowal. In this wonderful story of our first home, it closes with a marvelous, marvelous, marvelous grace and goodness of God. When sin came into the world [Genesis 3:1-6], and when the man and his wife were expelled, He drove out the man and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of eternal life [Genesis 3:23-24].
What that means is far more than we first would think, just reading the Scripture. At the east of the garden of Eden, God placed cherubim [Genesis 3:24]. Without exception, all through the Bible a cherub—cherubim—are symbols of God’s mercy and God’s grace. And they were there at the gate of the east of the garden of Eden to teach the man the way to God: God’s mercy, God’s love; God’s encompanying, compassionate remembrance of us.
Now there are two things that came into the heart and life and habit of the man that were taught him there at the gate of the garden of Eden; taught by the cherubim, the angels of mercy. One was a place of worship; you’d call it, say, an altar. And the other was a minchah, translated here in the next verse, translated “an offering”; a minchah, an offering, and an altar, a time and a place [Genesis 4:3-4].
And throughout all of these centuries since, those were the two ingredients, the two facets of our approach to God. One: an altar, a place; always that, an altar, a place. It came as the days past to be called a tabernacle. Then it came in days past later to be called a temple. Then it finally came in the providence of God to be called a church, a church. The cherubim are present in God’s house—angels of mercy, and of love, and of compassion, and of remembrance, and of grace—a church, a place where we gather and call upon the name of the Lord; always that.
Now the church may be in a house, in a home, maybe in a den, maybe in a dungeon, maybe in a cave. But always, in our approach to God, there is an altar, there is a place. And we gather there. “Two or three,” Jesus said, “even I am in the midst” [Matthew 18:20]. This is God’s house. This is God’s holy place. And His angels of mercy are here. This is where we confess our faith in Christ our Lord. This is where we give our lives to Jesus. This is where we’re baptized. This is where we’re taught the Word of the Lord; and the other, a minchah, translated “an offering”; coming before the Lord with an offering in our hands.
I take a leaf out of my life. I was born in Eldorado, Oklahoma. And at five years of age, we moved to the western side of the Panhandle of Texas. I remember this as vividly as if it were yesterday. And yet it happened in Eldorado, Oklahoma. So it means that this happened when I was barely five, or maybe four years of age, but I say I remember it as vividly as if it were yesterday, even though I was possibly four years old.
My father every Sunday would place in my hands a coin to give at Sunday school. Every Sunday he’d put that coin in my hand, and I’d take it to Sunday school and put it in the church; put it in the Sunday school collection. A little friend of mine in that Sunday school class said to me, he said to me, “You know what I do with the coin in my hand that my daddy gives me? You know what I do with it?” He says, “I keep it. I don’t turn it in to the Sunday school. I keep it. And I buy with it an ice cream cone or a candy bar or something that I can eat.”
Well, I said to him, “What does your father think about that?”
“Oh,” he says, “My father doesn’t know it, and I’m not going to tell him, and nobody’s going to know it. I’m just telling you. I take that minchah, I take that gift, and I keep it, and I buy with it a candy bar or an ice cream cone. And nobody knows about it.”
And he said to me, “Now you do that. You do that. That coin that your daddy places in your hand, instead of your giving it to the Sunday school, you keep it. And you buy something that you’d like to eat.”
Sweet people I never had a temptation in my life like that. I was just barely five years old or maybe four. And the temptation, “I won’t tell daddy anything about it. I won’t tell mother anything about it. And I’ll just keep this coin, and I’ll buy me something that I’ll enjoy to eat. And nobody will know any difference.” I can feel today the war in my heart over that coin. I can feel it today even though I was barely five.
And I can say in all humility, I thank God I won that battle in my soul. As I looked at that coin and thought of that boy’s advice to me to keep it and use it for myself, I said, “That’s not pleasing to God. And that’s not right. And I can’t lie to my father. This belongs to God. And when it’s in my hands, I’m going to take it to Sunday school and put it in the house of the Lord.”
Sweet people, that is a temptation that surrounds every step of the way of your pilgrimage life. Shall I take what God puts in my hands and use it for myself? Shall I take a minchah, the offering that belongs to God, and use it on myself? Shall I?
And if you’re able to win that battle, when God puts something in my hand, faithfully, prayerfully a proportion of it belongs to Him. And when I come into His presence in the house of the Lord, before the altar of the living God, I shall dedicate to Him a minchah. And when you do that, and it’s the pattern of your life, you’ll be blessed every step of the pilgrim way. God bless us as we in our Christian homes remember the Lord’s Day, and His holy altar, and the minchah that belongs to Him.
In this moment now we’re going to sing us a song. And while we sing the song, thus coming to give your heart to the Lord, to accept Him as your Savior; or a family you coming into the fellowship of His church; or a somebody you, dedicating your life to the call of Christ; as the Spirit of the living Lord presses the appeal to your heart, answer now with your life. “Pastor, here I am. Here I come. Here I stand.” And God bless you in the way, while we stand and while we sing our invitation hymn.