Monday, December 31, 2012

EJ100 #6 Genesis 3:1-24

Today's Essential Jesus reading: Genesis 3.

After a "very good" beginning (Gen 1), and the description of the creation of Adam, who was tasked with working and taking care of the garden of Eden, and that of Eve, who was made as a suitable helper for Adam (Gen 2), events take a sudden turn for the worse.

The basic story of Genesis 3 is that, confused and lied to by "the serpent",  Eve and Adam chose to disobey God, by eating the fruit of the one tree which God had told Adam not to eat. Thus sin entered the human realm.

The serpent is commonly identified with Satan, taking into account verses such as Revelation 12:9 and 20:2, which mention "The great dragon ... that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray." It is interesting to consider the possibility that the serpent in the garden may have been a dragon-serpent, perhaps similar to those of Chinese mythology, rather than a snake as often depicted in children's storybook Bibles ... but discussions of such nature miss the point.

One of the key features of this primeval story is that even before Eve and Adam sinned, at least one entity - the serpent - was in rebellion against God. CS Lewis presents this situation as a science fiction drama in Perelandra, the second book of his Cosmic Trilogy. Much of the novel is spent observing the devilish Dr Weston trying to convince the Queen of Venus to disobey her King, while Dr Ransom encourages her to stand firm.

In the biblical story of the Fall, the serpent used three main arguments to convince Eve to disobey God:

  1. 3:1 "Did God really say..." The serpent questioned Eve's knowledge and memory of God's actual words. In 3:2, Eve proved that she did not know or remember God's instructions accurately (compare 3:2 with 2:16-17). This may have been due to Adam's inaccurate teaching (or lack of any teaching), or simply the fault of Chinese Whispers style error. What is certain is that, although Adam was present "with her" (3:6), he did not correct Eve's error before the serpent took advantage of it with his next claim.
  2. 3:4 "You will not certainly die." The serpent claimed that God has lied to Adam (and by extension, to Eve). Eve was confused about the consequences of even touching the fruit, let alone eating it (3:3). Her lack of clear information about the choices and consequences God had given to Adam and Eve left her vulnerable to the serpent's lies.
  3. 3:5 "For God knows that when you eat ... you will be like God..." The serpent alleged that Eve could become like God. I mentioned the conundrum of the desire to be like God in my discussion of Philippians 2:1-11.
Ultimately, Eve and Adam chose to usurp the position of God; to choose for themselves what was right and what was wrong. That's why the tree bore its name: it was in eating the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil that Eve and Adam endeavoured to prove that they, not God, knew the difference between good and evil. In this endeavour, they failed miserably.

Suffice it to say that, unlike the Latter-day Saints (Mormons) would have you believe, it wasn't a benevolent act that the serpent performed when he convinced Eve to take up and eat the forbidden fruit of Eden. There were far reaching and overwhelmingly negative consequences from the Fall.

The only thing good to come out of the Fall is that God is glorified through Jesus' salvation of fallen, sinful mankind: the moment when the woman's seed-offspring finally crushed the head of the serpent (3:15).

My young children seemed to have grasped this problem of the serpent's existence and evil actions intuitively. They don't stop at asking, "Why did Adam and Eve sin?" Just tonight, 6-year-old Samuel asked me, not for the first time, "Why did God invent Satan?" Hard question, that one.

I guess it comes back to free will. God gave free will to the serpent, just as he gave it to Adam and Eve, and gives free will also to us. It is up to us to use it wisely.

> Are you wise in the choices you make, mindful of the consequences that God has warned you of in his word?

Why do I love and worship Jesus?
It's simple: I love Jesus because he undid the Fall.

Thank you Jesus for undoing the tragic consequences of the Fall.
I give you glory, because you have made an end to all my sin.

Tomorrow's reading: Exodus 32:1-33:6.

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