The Original Human Family (Gen. 1:26, 27; 2:15–24)
Before sin entered our world, there was perfect harmony and unity in the Garden of Eden. Humanity was created in the image of God and perfectly reflected that image in all aspects of life (Gen. 1:26, 27). One of the few remaining institutions that existed before sin is the institution of marriage and the development of the family unit. When God formed Adam, He spent time with him, defining his work (Gen. 2:15, 19, 20), his diet (Gen. 2:16, 17), and his relationships (Gen. 2:21, 22).
Although our first parents fell, God has been trying to bless every family.
When Adam awoke from his deep sleep, he spoke in inspirational poetry. In his brief description of his wife, Adam described her value and association to him and the world. She was to be his helper, which is not to suggest that she was inferior, for God is even called our helper. This new creation was ke negdo (Hebrew): her own individual, unique, yet equal to Adam because they looked face to face with each other. He finished his introduction of his wife by describing what every future family will look like. The relationship is to be exclusive, permanent, and intimate (Gen. 2:24). Lastly, we learn that this new pair is to be united—“one flesh.”
By the time Adam and Eve had their first child, sin had entered the world. Our world had already experienced the results of distance from the presence of God (Gen. 3:24). Sin became the ultimate family separator (Isa. 59:2). And disunity with God brought about disunity with each other—blame would take the place of blessing (Gen. 3:12, 13). Life would never be the same as it had been in the Garden of Eden, and the results clearly have been seen. Humanity turned from worshiping the Creator to worshiping the created (Rom. 1:23). Now, every family has experienced the results of that first turning away from God. For example, consider Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, the twelve sons of Jacob/ Israel, Hophni and Phinehas, and the sons of David. Note also the numerous proverbs that deal with family relationships.
God’s desire was to bless all families of the earth. Although the world was imperfect and filled with imperfect families, He intended that through the Abrahamic line He would bless all families (Gen. 12:1–3; 28:14). We see this idea reinforced through the multiple promises God made “for the sake of David” (1 Kings 11; 2 Kings 8; 19; 20; Isa. 37:35). Ultimately, however, humanity would bear the image of man and become subject to death (1 Cor. 15:46–49). Although our first parents fell, God has been trying to bless every family. His way of doing this is by restoring in humanity the once perfect image of Himself. He knows that if this is done, we would have families that live like they are in heaven. They would reflect the oneness of the perfect family in heaven.
Jesus—the Family Unifier
Where, then, can the human family find hope? Although we are all subject to death because of Adam, we all have hope because of Jesus (1 Cor. 15:18–22). When Jesus walked on earth, He was tempted to sin like each of us is tempted, yet He did not sin (Heb. 4:15). He perfectly reflected the image of God. He “is the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15). How can we bring the image of God into our families? Only through the gospel that penetrates the heart of those who believe can we reflect the image of God again (2 Cor. 4:4). Jesus, “who being the brightness of his glory, and express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, . . . had by himself purged our sins” (Heb. 1:3). In fact, Paul, before speaking to husbands and wives in Colossians, precedes his statements by talking about conversion through Jesus. He specifically says that humanity can be “renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Col. 3:10).
Paul repeats this method when writing to the Ephesians. According to him, a renewed person will reflect a “new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Eph. 4:23, 24). He is a child of the light and bares the fruit of the Spirit in all “goodness and righteousness and truth” (Eph. 5:8, 9). After explaining the need for conversion, Paul goes on to describe how husbands and wives are to live in verses 22–33 and how parents are to govern their homes in Ephesians 6:1–9.
It is our destiny to be “conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29). As we behold the glory of the Lord, we are “changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (2 Cor. 3:18). Jesus then becomes the ultimate family unifier. He set the example in an imperfect world that love can overcome hate, that light can transcend darkness, and that peace can overcome war.
1. What aspects of my family hinder my relationship with Jesus? What aspects of my family aid my relationship with Jesus?
2. How can I reflect the image of God within my own family?