Meditations on “The Big Picture” 2. The Fall
Gen 3:6 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.
If the Creation is the first stepping stone on the path of human history, the Fall must be the second. The words ‘the fall’ are nowhere to be found in Scripture but they are simply used by us to describe what happened in the Garden of Eden at some specific time in history. There are those who suggest that the story of this couple is merely that, a made up story. Admittedly the name Eve only occurs twice in Genesis and twice in the New Testament but Adam’s name appears nine times in Genesis as an historical figure, once in a family tree in 1 Chron 1, once as an example in Hos 6:7, and then eight times in the New Testament. Although Jesus (at least in the records) referred to neither of them he did refer to Genesis 1 & 2 in an historical context (see Mt 19:4,5 referring to Gen 1:27 and Gen 2:24) implying an historical dimension to the book of Genesis from the beginning onwards.
The very existence of human beings, distinct from any other living creature, is a challenge. In Gen 1 we find God creating all living creatures and then human beings, “male and female he created them.” (Gen 1:27) Now I love the simplicity of this and especially the nightmare it creates for evolutionists. Did you know that the existence of sexual reproduction is almost certainly the biggest stumbling block in the theory of evolution. Even evolutionists acknowledge it is their biggest problem and no one has come up with a satisfactory answer to it. It is almost certainly the biggest challenge to the veracity of the theory of unguided, ‘survival of the fittest’ evolution.
So what do we find in the account of Adam and Eve? Why is it so significant? Let’s start with what we find in Genesis chapter 2:
First of all we find two living creatures that we now call human beings who are capable of communicating with complex language and capable of communicating with God.
Second, we find God giving this couple a mandate to reign over all other creatures (see Gen 1:28) thus placing them, contrary to the strange beliefs of some ‘green’ activists, above all other creatures, clearly superior to them.
Third, he gives them intellect of such magnitude that they can take and understand instructions and take responsibility for their actions. He makes them moral beings, although at that stage they had only one negative rule to follow – “you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” (Gen 2:17a) and note in the light of what we have just said about taking and understanding responsibility, “for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (v.17b).
Fourth, implied within all this is the existence of free will (it is meaningless to give an instruction and a warning if it is not possible to choose which path to take).
Very well, let’s move on to Gen 3. Put very simply a tempter challenges Eve over what God actually said and did He really mean it? Eve, you will remember from above, is an intellectual and moral being with free will. She chooses to use her free will to go against or disobey God’s one negative rule (Gen 3:6) and also draw her husband into her disobedience. As the apostle Paul would later say, “Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning.” (2 Cor 11:3)
But then we find a number of consequences following: a) self-awareness (3:7), b) a sense of guilt and shame (3:8), and then c) blame passing (3:12). These are the changes that took place in them. This is followed by the Lord’s corrective action in respect of them. Why some of these things is only open to speculation. Taking them in reverse order, we find the Lord bans them from His presence and from the Garden (3:23,24) and prevents their return. This is without doubt the most severe thing the Lord can impose on them – separation from Him, separation from His source of everlasting life. The human race needs to face what it means to be on your own – and then cry out for what was before. Until we realise our loss we will not cry out for God’s salvation. This separation, this exclusion, is not a spiteful one-off act of a touchy God but a careful act of loving compassion of a God who yearns for them to come to their senses – but it may take several millennia before that happens.
It is perhaps because of being on their own, separated from His ongoing daily blessing, that it means the world will be dysfunctional – work will be hard, having children will be hard, relationships will be hard – these are the things He speaks into being in chapter 3 verses 16 to 19, and they may all be like that because of the distance of God from mankind (although subsequent chapters reveal that He carried on having dealings with mankind.)
When we speak of ‘The Fall’ we are referring to an event that produced a fall from a wonderful relationship with God in a world of total peace, to a world where God seems at a distance and the world ‘goes wrong’. In the bigger picture? This is how it is and has been ever since that time, but it has been changed through the salvation that comes through Jesus’ death on the Cross, so that a relationship with God is made possible again, and His presence and His power will be available in a measure at least. Yes, it will not be fully experienced until we leave this present life but Jesus’ ministry was clearly to counter the works of this fallen world. Our role is somehow to join in with what he is doing so that we too may counter the broken works of this fallen world. Ponder on that.