Something Is Wrong Here: A Mediation on Genesis 3
The World as It Is
The opening message of the Bible is that God so loved that he created a very good world. We learn that God created women and men in his own image for the purpose of love and fellowship. We learned that From the Beginning God was and is loving, gracious and supremely good toward all his Creation. That is comforting and essential to know. That is however the world that was.
Moses tells us that the Story did not end in Genesis 2. Israel, like you and I, had experienced a world that is, at times, ANYTHING but good, friendly and loving! They had experienced the horrors of slavery: the beatings, the molestation, the toil in some one else’s vineyard, the loss of children sold to other slave holders. Israel's world was a frightening place indeed. They knew the existence of pain, suffering, and misery -- just as you and I do. Israel's question was something like this (it may even be one that you have entertained before): "If the world was created so good and God intended to be with us From the Beginning, then why all this slavery? why all this misery? why all this hate?" Sound like familiar questions.
Genesis 3 answers these questions. Moses explains that Something went Wrong in God's good world. That something is humankind! Humans went wrong! That is what Genesis 3 is all about, Genesis 3 tells us What went wrong in God's world.
The “Fall” Into Misery
Adam and Eve had been placed by Yahweh in a beautiful garden called Eden. Eden was a virtual paradise. God himself, in fulfillment of his intention from the beginning, walked with the first human couple in the cool of the day. Eden was in fact the first temple in the Bible, a place where deity and humanity come together in shalom. What a joyous place to be. Moses tells us that Man rebelled and sinned against God. We (and I say "we" for we ourselves did it in Adam) rejected Yahweh as our Lord. We sought to establish ourselves as our own god. That is what went wrong. When Sin (with a capital "S") entered the picture disaster struck God's good world. The destruction was the same as when Pearl Harbor was violently wrenched from sleep from the sounds of bombs. It destroyed what God had intended: the fellowship and holy love between him and his creation. Graffiti was smeared across God’s beautiful and loving world.
In our text in verses 1-6 we read of three temptations to Eve: 1) "You must not eat from any tree in the garden;" 2) You will not die" (v.4); 3) You will be like God" (v.5). These temptations employed by the Serpent are basic to his tactics against God's People to this very day and the results are just as deadly as ever. Eve's first temptation starts off with dissatisfaction with God's commands. James tells us that the Tempter uses what is already in us to lead us to sin. So Eve thought God's command was unfair and unreasonable. The Serpent seized upon her desire and used it against her. Notice the exaggeration of God's loving command: God had given ALL to Adam and Eve except one Tree. Satan's tactic is to get us to believe God is depriving us of something good.
Satan's second tactic is to get us to believe that God is not serious! God had declared that if the first Human couple disobeyed they would die. Satan tries to get us to believe "God would not punish you for this, would he?" Surely obedience to this command is not a matter of life and death. Satan's third tactic is, perhaps the root of them all, pandering to human pride. Humans believe they are autonomous. Man believes he is an entity unto himself. Thinking it is My way or the Highway! Brothers and sisters that is the basis of EVERY sin! It is automatic rebellion against the Lordship of God.
Eve caved in to the Serpent. She fell to the nonsense that God was somehow depriving her of something valuable and important (in spite of the fact that From the Beginning God has been good and loving). She was tricked into believing God was NOT serious about obedience to his commands. She asserted her autonomy in direct rebellion to God -- that is what pushed her thoughts of rebellion into action. So she took the forbidden fruit and ate. The text says, "She also
gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it" (v.6).
The picture that Moses paints is so authentic and true to our own experience with temptation. He paints a picture on not only how we sin, but of the subtly of Sin. For we see also in v.6 that the forbidden fruit looked "good." Eating it looked like the right thing to do. And how characteristic that is of our sin against God. Few of us set out deliberately to do evil. Most want to be "good" people. And sin often looks like the right thing to do; it looks like the "loving" thing to do; or the proper thing in that particular situation. Sometimes it looks like the least painful thing to do. The only difficulty is that the act is a violation of God's command and therefore brings unforeseen woe.
Eve did what she thought was right even in her rebellion. But before we get to critical of the Mother of all the living we should notice the Man!! The whole time that grotesque Serpent was beguiling his Wife, Adam is standing RIGHT THERE. I never noticed that before. I had pictured in my head of Eve eating alone then tracking down her husband to give him some of the Fruit. But the text says Adam was "WITH her!" (v.6b). Men often joke about women leading men astray and doing so since the beginning. But men, nowhere in Scripture is guilt laid at the feet of Eve for leading the Human race into damnation -- Adam alone gets that honor!
One scholar argues that the first sin was not eating the fruit at all. Instead he argues that the first sin was Adam's failure to protect his wife from the onslaught of the Serpent. Think about it. When God commanded Adam not to eat of the Tree in 2.17 Even was not even created yet. Men are supposed to be the spiritual protectors of their families and Adam failed miserably. Adam failed to love his wife enough to intervene when she -- who is standing by his side -- is wrestling with the Serpent. That is why Adam is blamed for the Fall of the world and not Eve. Paul says, "For sin entered into the world through one man, Adam." Love means I am willing to take responsibility. Adam failed. Oh, how many men today are doing what Adam did in their families!! Their wives wrestle with spiritual warfare and to often husbands, like Adam, sit on the sidelines and do nothing while the one they claim to love is lead to the slaughter.
Why is the world like it is if God created a good world? Moses says man departed from God. Adam failed to be the spiritual leader in his family, so Eve had to wrestle with life and death issues alone. With no one to help Eve made the wrong choice. Worse that than Adam never wrestled at all -- he simply went along for the ride. In fact the only thing we read that Adam took the lead in was in passing the blame on to the wife he failed to protect. That rebellion against God brought drastic consequences.
Man did have a new knowledge. Did Humans gain a knowledge not known before? No. We did know of sin and its consequences, God had revealed that to us. Francis Schaeffer notes, insight fully, it was only experiential knowledge gained:
"It is only the knowledge of the child whose mother says, `Don't go near that fire because if you do you will get hurt. You will catch fire and be burned. But the little child goes on in disobedience, falls into the fire and spends the next three days dying in agony. The child has learned something that it wouldn't have known experientially if it had listened to the knowledge given by its mother. But what knowledge!" (Genesis in Space and Time, p.83).
Yes, humankind did gain knowledge. But what horrible knowledge. We now know what it FEELS like to be a sinner. We now know what it FEELS like to be alienated from the One we were created to experience fellowship with. That is a knowledge that has been passed down from our First Parents down to us to this very day. We now know what it FEELS like to be afraid of God. Humans now know they are on a different side than God. What knowledge!? Something is definitely wrong here!! Who wants that kind of knowledge?
Something Good in the Future
The world is cursed due to our sin. Death and misery and hate enter the picture. Pain in child birth, toil to eke out a life are now familiar to us. Here in Genesis 3 we have Humankind's declaration of War on God. We read here why the world is like it is and why Christ Jesus had to come to restore us to the place God intended From the Beginning.
God did not destroy Adam and Eve. Instead in his infinite mercy he spared them. We read that something took their place -- a substitute. Something died to provide clothing to hide their shame. God could have destroyed them. He would have been within his rights to destroy them. But God did not create Humans to destroy them rather he created them to be objects of his love and fellowship. Rather than destroy, God set in motion his eternal plan to redeem the world he knew would rebel -- that testifies to his love. We read in v.15, "And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and hers; he shall crush your head and you shall bruise his heel." This text testifies to the fact that God was prepared.
From the moment Adam sinned God had a way to restore that fellowship for which we were created. Genesis 3.15 is the kernel that culminates in the Cross of our Savior. There Satan came to the Tree again. There Satan cast all his hate against the Son of the Most High. There Satan thought he gained a great victory again. But Christ turned the Tree of Death into the real Tree of Life! Christ shattered the Serpent and his power through the great victory which is the Cross. There he reversed the curse set in motion by Human rebellion.
Moses tells us why God's good world is in a mess. But Moses also says our good and great God has a plan. He has a Son. Our Father is making a way for his children to come home again . . . He is making "all things" new once again. That is the story of the rest of the Bible.