2. The Fall

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.

3.1 Adam and Eve

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.

1. In Eden

“God turned up” Meditations: 1 :  In Eden

Gen 3:8,9 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?”

I realised recently that there are many times in the Bible when human beings were just getting on with their lives – and then God turned up! Of course the truth is that He’s always here, everywhere; it’s just that He makes His presence known when He ‘turns up’. Now this first instance isn’t like most of the others, because the impression that is given is that God communicated with Adam and Eve on a regular basis and the reference in our verses above to Him “walking in the garden in the cool of the day” seems to have a regular habit feeling about it, i.e. it was something He did every day, to perhaps come and share with Adam and Eve at the end of the day to see how they had got on in the day.

Now this day was a unique day for it would suggest that whenever the Lord came into the Garden, Adam and Eve would be obvious and easily found, but this time when they heard the sound of Him coming (was He singing?) “they hid”. God ‘turning up’ today was obviously something they did not look forward to. For the first time ever they didn’t want to meet with the Lord.

Well of course we know the reason, for at the beginning of this chapter we have the account of the Fall, when Eve listened to Satan and disobeyed God for the first time, and then Adam listened to Eve and did the same thing. Suddenly there is a dimension to their lives which had never been there before – they were guilty.

Now perhaps many of us know this story so well that we have taken it for granted, but writing about God’s love recently I have come to see something about Adam and Eve’s response on this fateful evening that I have never realised before. Everything about their response to the Lord speaks of their guilt. They hid from the Lord and when they do meet Him and acknowledge what has happened, they move into a blame routine. Adam blames Eve and Eve blames the snake. Now all that is very obvious and which, I am sure I’ve written about at least a half a dozen times over the years but there is something else about this behaviour which is very challenging. It is that neither of them appreciated the fact of God’s love for them.

Now the apostle John teaches in his first letter, “God is love”. (1 Jn 4:8,16) When the Lord appeared to Moses in Exodus 34 we find Him revealing Himself as the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” (Ex 34:6,7) and this description of Him is repeated in many forms throughout the Bible. Everything about God is love. He didn’t just become that in Exodus; He has always been love, He always was that.

Now sin blinds us, the Bible tells us, and we either forget this or fail to see it, that everything about God is love. One of the expressions of this love (because love always wants the good for another) is forgiveness. The Lord is always looking to forgive sin and restore the sinner but to do that He needs the sinner to repent. Obviously while someone is still denying their guilt they cannot, living a lie, come close to the Lord to receive all His blessings. Ezekiel understood this as when, speaking from the Lord, he declared, “Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?” (Ezek 18:23) and then again, “For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!” (Ezek 18:32)

Now what is so terrible about this incident in the Garden of Eden, and the reason for their subsequent expulsion from it, was that neither Adam nor Eve appreciated this. If they had done, they would have simply come to God in humble contrition and said, “Lord, we have been utterly stupid. We did what you told us not to do, we are so sorry, please forgive us” – and I am utterly convinced He would have done! Why because He is love and He wants to forgive and already before creating the world the Godhead has decided that the Son will come to take the guilt and punishment for all sins. We see that in a number of Scriptures. But Adam and Eve don’t understand that and so they keep on making excuses and don’t face their guilt. While in this state they cannot carry on in the presence of the Lord and so they are expelled from the Garden.

The challenge comes to us – do we appreciate the love of God? Do we appreciate that He is constantly working to draw us back to Himself and is looking to forgive, cleanse, reconcile and bless rather than punish, as the enemy would have us believe. Please note as we start these meditations that the Lord did not come to them and confront them with, “Why did you sin?” He was not looking to blame. That may account for why the Lord is able to approach so many people in the Bible without blaming them. He knows they are guilty of sin and they know it deep down, but it will take many dealings with God before they (and we) realise that God is for them, God loves them. Keep this in the back of your mind as we examine the encounters God has with people. It will never be obvious, but it is there in the background, this incredible truth: God comes to guilty people to draw them to Himself. That is the wonder of the message of the Bible! Hallelujah!