Since the start of the new year, Deric has been walking the students through the 'main points' of Christianity. There's a lot of basics that really aren't very basic or simple to explain to someone else, especially if you don't understand them yourself. So he's been slowly reintroducing these concepts to the kids with equal emphasis on the 'why' of salvation, for example, and the 'what'. Why do we need to be saved? Who does the saving? What are we saved from?
Yesterday we looked at Genesis 3, the chapter entitled "The Fall of Man". I'm pretty sure everyone knows the story. Adam and Eve are living it up in the Garden of Eden. Everything is literally perfect. They only have one rule: "You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." (Gen. 2:17) One day, the serpent approaches Eve and asks her what God told her about that tree. Basically, the serpent convinces her she'll be fine if she eats from the tree-- actually, she'll be more than fine. She'll "be like God, knowing good and evil." (3:5) Eve looks at the tree, takes some fruit, and eats it. She hands it to her husband, and he eats it. Then they both realize they're naked, sew clothes from fig leaves, and hide from God because they're embarrassed by their nakedness. God knows what they've done, and he pronounces a curse on Adam, Eve, and the serpent. Now that Adam knows good and evil, God banishes him and Eve from the garden so that he will not also eat from the tree of life and live forever.
I didn't expect to learn anything new from this story because I've heard it so many times. But I did. And what I learned made me ask some questions that I'd never thought of before.
1. Eve changes what God said.
Satan asked Eve if God really said she couldn't eat from any tree in the garden.
Eve: "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, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'" (3:2-3)
God's commandment to Adam: "..You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die." (2:17)
God says that they will die if they eat from the tree.
Eve says they will die if they touch the tree.
Why did Eve change what God said? Did she just forget? Or did she change it on purpose? Did she make God sound more harsh than He really was? Do I make God sound more harsh than He really is so that I can rationalize my sin? If I make God sound more mean than He is, is it easier for me to say "that's not fair, so its okay to do such-and-such"?
2. Satan knows God's word (better than we do, I bet). He takes truth and twists it. Its much sneakier that way.
3. After talking with the serpent, Eve "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."(3:6) Basically, Eve noticed all the good qualities of the tree.
Did she, again, forget what God said-- that she could die? Did she consciously take notice of the good qualities and consciously forget about the bad? Do I purposefully look at the 'good' that can come of sin--the pleasure, the fun, the control over my own life? Do I do this to (again) rationalize my sin?
4. Why was the tree even in the garden in the first place?
The only reason I can think is because God gave Adam and Eve a choice. They could choose to love God and follow Him, or they could choose not to follow.
Did God put the tree in the garden so that his creation could have free will?
5. God isn't mentioned during Eve's conversation with the serpent. I assume He knew it was taking place because God is omniscient.
Was His choice to stay out of the conversation part of His desire to give Adam and Eve a choice? Could God have stepped in and prevented Eve from taking the fruit? Probably. But did He allow her to make her own choice? I think so.
6. After all was said and done, "God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them." (3:21)
Up to this point in Genesis, there is no mention of death. Adam and Eve were vegetarians: "Then God said, I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food." (1:29) Even the animals were vegetarians: "And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground--everything that has the breath of life in it--I give every green plant for food." (v. 30)
To make a garment of skin, an animal has to be killed. Adam's and Eve's sin brought about death. An animal died so that their shame in being naked could be covered.
But of course, this story isn't over. Our choices to go against God are sinful. Sin leads to death. But God loves us even when we choose not to love Him, and He graciously provided us a second chance through Jesus. Thank the Lord! (Seriously.)