Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Fall of Man - Genesis 3 vs. 1 - 24

Wow, it’s been long. Hope this finds you all well.  I have been really busy of late with my very own flat that God has blessed me with so I’ve only really had time for quiet time and helping my church build a home for someone. Using power tools is so much fun. 

Anyway, before we move on to Genesis 3, I do want to touch on something briefly so that we can keep the right heart in this adventure.

Knowledge about God is fantastic and knowing His purpose for us in wonderful (i.e. the Bible, theology, devotionals) but there is no substitute for knowing God personally (i.e. to know God not know about Him).  So while we study God’s word we must not forget that personal knowledge such as prayer and spending time with God will change our lives.

One more thing I want to discuss before we begin is the devil / the serpent and his plan against us and God.  At one time satan had been a glorious angel but in his pride he rebelled against God and was cast out of heaven.  The devils plan can be summarised into the following 5 d’s:

          Doubt – Make you question God’s word and His goodness
          Discouragement – Makes you look at your problems rather than at God
Diversion – Makes wrong things seem attractive so that you will want them more than the good things
Defeat – Makes you feel like a failure so that you don’t even try
Delay – Makes you put off doing something so that it never gets done

However, as satan was created by God, he has definite limitations and God is much more powerful than satan is.  Also I am not saying you not allowed having doubts or any of the above feelings – looking at the Psalms of lament which express some of the above.  All I am saying it that don’t let the devil win.  Don’t let it lead to sin.

Also before we begin I would like you to keep in mind that Adam and Even were naked and unashamed, thus symbolizing the innocence of Eden and their pure relationship with God.

GEN 3: 1 – 6…  Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made.  He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”  The woman said to the serpent, “we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, “you must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, or you will die’.”  “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.  She also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate it.

Here we see satan’s strategy.  First he encourages wrong thinking by misinterpreting God’s word.  Next he entices us to desire evil in our hearts.  Lastly he makes the circumstances right for us to disobey God with our wills.

Disguised as a serpent, satan came to tempt Eve by getting her to doubt God’s goodness.  He implied that God was strict, stingy and selfish for not wanting humankind to share His knowledge of good and evil.  Satan made Eve forget all that God had given her and instead focus on what God had forbidden.  If she had focused on what she had and thanked God, then her doubts wouldn’t have led to sin.

Satan is still active in the world today, getting people to sin.  He even tempted Jesus but Jesus did not sin.  This brings us to a point I really want to emphasize again – being tempted is not a sin. We have not sinned until we give into temptation.

So how can we resist? Well first, and this should always be first in any situation, first is to pray. Second we should run and by this I mean figuratively but sometimes literally too. Lastly say “no” when confronted with what we know is wrong.  This is often easier said than done and that is why Christ has died for us but we should still try to the best of our imperfect abilities.

It is interesting to note that the Bible does not explain why fruit of the knowledge of good and evil should be forbidden to man.  Perhaps it simply expressed God’s mastery over His creation and man’s duty to obey Him.  However, next I want to discuss the fruit itself. As mentioned in my first blog, I have read the books at my disposal and there are many concepts about the fruit.  There are even some bible experts, especially in past centuries, that have speculated that the world first sin changed mankind’s DNA. But if it was a physical change then wouldn’t scientists one day be able to cure sin and then whose sins would Jesus have died for?  This doesn’t tie in with the New Testament which teaches that Jesus died to save us. In my opinion I don’t think the fruit changed the genetic make-up of man but by disobeying God and doing evil, they gained the intimate knowledge of both good and evil and it opened their eyes to other forms of evil doing. Sin already existed but through their first sin they became aware of it and their eyes were opened to other possibilities and so sin spread.

Freedom is not doing anything we want but it comes from obedience and knowing what not to do.  To become like God is not a sin – we are often told to be more Christ-like and Jesus came to set an example for us to follow.  But when you decide what is best for you, you run the risk of becoming you own God and not ‘more like God’.  There is a difference and satan misled Eve to believe it was the same thing.  In sinning she became her own God because she decided what was best for her life.  While we strive to become more like God we must remember this lesson.  Becoming like God is to reflect characteristics and to recognise that He has authority over your life. 

It’s no good having a worthy goal (i.e. Eve wanting to reflect more of God’s characteristics) if you are going to achieve it the wrong way (i.e. disobeying God and taking it your own way). Equally, there is a possibility of goals not being worthy but being masked that way (i.e. the fruit was pleasing to the eye).  Temptation often begins at seeing something we want and our sins often do not appear ugly to us but pleasant sins are the most difficult to avoid.  If you find yourself in a tempting situation, do what Jesus did by pouring scripture out.  If that doesn’t work for you then do as Paul said to do and run from those things that produce evil thoughts.

The last thing we should touch on in this verse is the point that Eve got Adam involved in her sin.  Sin is dangerous and can often spread.  It’s a way we sometimes eliminate feeling guilty.  Therefore, when you sin recognize it and confess your sin to God before you are tempted to pollute those around you.

GEN 3: 7 – 10 … Then they eyes of both of them were opened and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.  Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.  But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”  He answered, “I heard You in the garden, an I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

LOL. Hide from an all-seeing and all-knowing God? Well yes they tried it.
After sinning Adam and Eve felt guilty of their sin and embarrassed for their nakedness and it made them want to hide.  We should learn from this – don’t try to eliminate the guilty feelings and not the cause, be glad God gave us this warning signal when we’ve done something wrong  because they make you aware of your sin so you can ask God’s forgiveness and then correct your wrong doing.  Have the courage to share all you do and think with Him.  God’s love is unconditional.

This verse also shows God’s desire to have a close relationship with us but sin broke their close relationship just as its broken our relationship with God.  However, through honesty and Christ, we can repair the relationship and renew our friendship with Him.  But we must understand that God loves us regardless of our faults.  If we don’t realise this we will feel undeserving all the time and while we are undeserving, we must try to remove dread which prevents the close relationship and makes us try to hide from God.

GEN 3: 11-13… And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”  The man said, “The woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I at it.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”  The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

So first Eve involves Adam to make herself feel better that it was not only her that disobeyed, then they hid from God and now they blame the next person or God and don’t take any responsibility on themselves – see how sin works? 

Adam was right there while satan was talking to Eve and Adam knew exactly what God had said but he kept silent when he should have spoken up.  Keeping quite is sometimes just as bad as committing the sin itself but Adam tried to shift blame. Adam had ceased to fulfil his role as a man by denying his responsibility to look after his wife.  Adam even tried to make God part of it by saying, “the woman YOU put here with me.”  They tried to shift the blame but God knows the truth and holds each of us responsible and accountable for what we do.

When we do wrong we should confess our sins, face the consequences or repercussions of our actions and correct or learn from the wrong doing.

GEN 3: 14-19…  So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on you bellow and you will eat dust all the days of your life.  And I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” To the woman he said, “I will greatly increase you pain in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children.  Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you.”  To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it’

Here we see this side of God for the first time.  God hates sin.  God is holy and good and can’t let sin take place without passing judgement. Yes, there are consequences! So a question some of you who don’t know the Bible might be asking is … Man and woman ate from the tree and did not die, so … was the serpent right?  Just remember that sometimes temptation is subtle and has a hint of truth. So think of it this way, Genesis does hint at the fact that mankind was meant to live forever but God could not allow sin to be eternal so this act of disobedience made man become mortal. They didn’t die instantly but they eventually would. Additionally, in the figurative sense, they died spiritually.

Adam and Eve’s sin also set in motion the whole human race’s tendency to disobey God and so they were banished from Eden, from God’s presence and the possibility of eating from the tree of life.  Disobedience is sin and it breaks our relationship with God but fortunately when we disobey God is willing to forgive us and restore the relationship. 

The verse “he will crush your head and you will strike his heel” is interesting though and this refers to satan’s repeated attempts to defeat Christ and in my opinion this verse already refers to the coming of Jesus the Messiah and although satan is trying to tempt everyone away from God, he will not be the final victor. God promised that satan would be crushed by the woman’s offspring and Jesus did that by dying for our sins.

GEN 3: 20-23… Adam named his wife Eve, (probably means living) because she would become the mother of all the living.  The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.  And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.  He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat and live forever.”  So the Lord God basined them from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 

Paradise lost ... eternity with God lost … imagine how they must have felt, torn from the presence of God.  But after disobeying they no longer deserved paradise.  3 consequences arose for humankind.  Birth is painful, life is hard and death is certain.

Adam and Eve were created to live forever, animals were vegetarians living in peace with each other and crops grew in the wild but 1 act changed this all. Adam and Eve eventually die and humanity will only survive through painful childbirth.  Adam would continue as tiller of the soil but suddenly their survival will also depend on Adam’s hard work battling weeds, weather and critters to grow enough food to survive.  This single act of disobedience somehow changed life on this planet – for the worse.  The rest of the Bible is the story of God working to correct the damage and defeat sin. 

So in summary, Adam and Eve broke their relationship with God by becoming convinced their way was better, then by becoming self-conscious and trying to hide from God and then trying to defend themselves. 

So what can we learn? Drop our excuses and self-defences, stop trying to hide from God and understand that God’s way is better than our own.

GEN 3: 24 … After He drove the man out, He placed on the east side, of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.

Would you like to meet a cherub? They sound very cute and cuddly? Like a baby or small angel? It’s what modernism has done by using a cute, cuddly angel for advertisement.  But the biblical description of cherubim is nothing like this; rather it is much more frightening.

Some people call all heavenly beings a form of angel but God distinguishes between them.  There are the Angels of the Lord, archangels, cherubim and seraphim, morning stars, demons and satan.  Yes satan is a heavenly being that was cast out of heaven.

We’ll talk about some of the others at a later stage in our adventure but right now let’s talk about what the Bible tells us about cherubim.  Specifically Ezekiel 1 and 10 speaks about cherubim at length. This is therefore a description of the creature guarding the entrance to Eden:

·         Each Cherub has four faces – of an ox, a human, a lion and an eagle
·         Each has four wings and what looks like human hands under its wings. 
·         The moving wings of the cherubim sound like the roar of waves crashing against a shore or like the voice of the Lord God Almighty. When they stop they lower their wings.
·         The four wings are 2 pairs of wings. One pair of wings stretches out to touch the wings of other cherubim and the other pair covers their body.
·         They can move forward in any of the four directions they face and they go straight in the direction to which their heads are turned, without having to turn
·         They are covered with eyes all over their bodies, including their hands, backs and wings
·         Their legs are straight like human legs but their feet are split like calves feet and shine like polished bronze.
·         They look like bright coals of fire or brilliant torches as though lightning is flashing back and forth among them.
·         The dart back and forth among each other like flashes of lightning.

I think I’ve covered everything now but I leave you with some hope … Jesus Christ through whom we can have a restored relationship with God and be part of His eternal paradise and the new earth He is creating.  Remember satan cannot steal your soul; he can only have it if you give it to him.  Jesus will no steal your soul; He will have it only if you give it to Him.

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