PART 3: Judgements in Genesis
Meditating on the Judgements of God:
3.1 Adam and Eve
Gen 3:17-19 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,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
And so we move on to start considering the specific judgments of God. Judgments are first and foremost the decisions of God and our purpose in these studies is now to observe the judgments and try to find out why God decided in this particular way.
You might say in this instance it was fairly obvious. The Lord had told Adam and Eve, “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,” (Gen 2:16,17) and when they listened to Satan (Gen 3) they disobeyed God and ate of the tree and so death will follow. Simple. Hold on! Why? Isn’t death rather a strong punishment for eating a piece of fruit?
We need to go behind the ‘mechanics’ of life as revealed in the Bible. For example we find, “God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth” (Gen 1:22). Life exists and flourishes because God blesses it, i.e. He speaks His life-giving word and life is imparted and life flourishes. In the NT we find Jesus described as, “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” (Heb 1:3) Father and Son uphold and sustain this world by their will. They purpose good for it, and that is clear from the earliest words of Genesis. Their intent is that with the creation of mankind, a new form of relationship is opened up, between God and man, a relationship whereby the love of God can be expressed to man.
But then we realise there is a problem. Adam and Eve (and the rest of mankind) have free will and they have already exercised it to disobey once and it is therefore probable that they will continue to do that (and history conforms this is how we are). So suppose God continues to bless the created world and give more and more to Adam and Eve and their progeny, what will they do with it? The answer has to be on the basis of what we have seen so far, use it wrongly. The proof of this is obvious to see: “The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” (Gen 6:5) Man, in a very short time, had exercised his free will to do what he liked and it was all against the design of God – and that was with the restrictions we’re about to look at.
After God had interrogated Adam and Eve we find, “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 banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 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.” (Gen 3:22-24) Why did God cut off mankind from this ‘garden’ from this place where there had been the possibility of blessing and curse? He could have simply destroyed them and started off with some completely different creature, but instead He simply removes them from a place where they would have continually gone to seek blessing, to seek God’s life-force, to seek eternal life, to stop aging and to prevent dying.
Taking from that one tree would, according to God’s words, release life to them, life that would just keep on going. By eating of the other tree they revealed their free will and exercised it as sin. We so often define Sin as self-centred godlessness, and that is what they expressed when they took the forbidden fruit. Now God says, I’m going to remove you from this scene so that you will never have that choice again, of being able to snatch eternal life for yourself. This is what the death is that He spoke about in Gen 2:17, the removal of an unending source of life. That life will be available for those who seek the author of life (Acts 3:15) and before that becomes obvious, those who live to persist in doing good, seeking glory, honor and immortality (Rom 2:7) and when it comes, by obeying the Law of God (Rom 2:13).
So what have we seen as God declares his judgment on the case of Adam and Eve? In Gen 3:14-19 God declares the changes that will come about for Satan, Eve and Adam. For the two humans the changes will mean life is harder than before – but easy to cope with if they maintain a relationship with God. It then meant being taken away from the present place of blessing into the wider world that they were to populate and reign over. The evidence of history in the Old Testament reveals that God was still accessible to men and women and He was there still to bless those who would come to Him.
This judgment has prevented eternal life being an automatic provision but it has not destroyed mankind. allowing them to continue to enjoy the earth and reign over it as they populate it. It will be harder than before but that will not harm them, and God will still be there for them when they seek Him – but it will be a case of when they seek Him. Except it is not that simple for again and again what we find it is God who comes seeking man and seeks to develop a relationship whereby He can express His love towards mankind. That has not changed! This has been a firm judgment with strong reasoning and lots of mercy so the purpose of God can continue – to bless mankind.