Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26-27 ESV)
The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,
“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.”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. (Genesis 2:15-25 ESV)
It is International Women’s Day – a day when we should ponder with awe on the accomplishments of women across history and a day when we should thank the women in our lives for all they have done. It is also a time when we should praise God for women, created unique and in His image for His glory.
In Genesis chapter 1 we get a very cursory view of the creation of man and woman. We are presented with mankind’s unique position as created in the image of God – given dominion over the creation to tend it and care for it and given a mandate to fill that earth. But in chapter 2, Moses slows down and gives us a more detailed account of how God did this. We see that he creates the man, gives him his command, puts him in his place, but it seems man had been given a task that he was incapable of completing alone. A divine mandate in which something was missing. It wasn’t good, it wasn’t whole, it wasn’t the reflection of divine goodness which would reflect the diversity in unity that God displays in the Trinity, where separate persons of the same nature have distinct roles in perfect unity. Reflection of divine glory, you could say, was impossible without unity in diversity.
It is unlikely that Adam, with the amount of natural revelation he had, could have articulated the above but as he looked at the creation and as God brought the other creatures to him, it became clear that something wasn’t right. It seems that Adam needed to experience the reality that he had been called to do something that he was not capable of. A piece of the picture was missing. And it was. Woman was missing.
God, who is good and does what is good, allowed the man to see that it was not good for him to be alone – that something crucial was missing. So God took from the man and made a creature from his same substance, made in the Divine image, but gloriously unique. Like the man in many ways and yet made to display aspects of the divine glory that man was not equipped to.
By calling her a “helper”, God was not designating the woman as in any way inferior to man, but simply that she was the missing piece to the total goodness of creation. Man and woman, united as one, each fulfilling their distinct role in unity with each other would now be able to be faithful to their created purpose as image bearers of God.
The woman was of the same substance and nature as the man, yet she was gloriously unique. She was more than just the rest of the reproductive system, she was a helper suitable for his calling. Meaning that she fulfilled a role that she was uniquely made to fulfill, a glorious, image-bearing role that man was incapable of. In the Trinity, just as the Father is not the Son and the Son is not the Spirit and each operates in their own role in the radiance of one Divine glory, so also the man is not the woman and the woman not the man, their roles cannot be traded and together they reflect the divine glory they were created to reflect.
The glory of womanhood is found in the unique way the woman was created to reflect the image of the triune God.
This International Women’s Day, I hope that men will praise God for his wisdom and glory displayed in women and that women will be humbled by and rise to grasp the lofty purpose for which they were created.