Constant Love

 

I recently attended the Aslan Roars conference in Selma which featured teaching sessions by Fr. Glenn Davis and Bishop Chuck Jones. Praise God, I had been looking at Genesis chapters 1-3 for a couple days before hearing Bishop Jones' first session which was focused on the fall of man in the garden of Eden and how it relates to who we are intended to be in Christ. As usual, a lot of this is just me relaying the information from great teachers to our Bible study.

The irony of Adam and Eve's tragic sin is that the devil offers them something that is already in their possession. The two of them are made in the image of God not only in appearance, but also in nature. God has given them management over the animals and plants of the garden and commanded them to multiply. Man is given the role of both a creator and an overseer like our Heavenly Father. The devil first encourages Eve to question the orders of God and alters his words when he asks if they were told they could not eat fruit from any tree. Eve correctly counters the devil's questions by repeating God word for word, but where she gets drawn in is when she chooses to believe that they will not in fact die after eating the forbidden fruit. The fruit is good for food, appealing to the eyes, and it can open her eyes to wisdom. When she considers the serpent's rebuttal, the temptation stirs within her and she gives in. In the garden, they already have plenty of fruit to eat from other trees, there is much beauty to behold there also, and she is already God-like having been made in his image. She also already knows good and evil because God told her what evil was: EATING FROM THE TREE HE TOLD THEM TO LEAVE ALONE. Not wanting to be alone in her sin, she gives some fruit to Adam thus leading him into disobedience with her. Adam's failure is that he asks no questions about the fruit or where she got it from. One would think he would recognize fruit from the forbidden tree, but he is either not paying attention or doesn't care. When they disobey, their eyes are opened and they now know evil intimately. For the first time, they are afraid of God's disapproval and hide from their father. This is exactly what the serpent wanted all along. 

Interestingly enough, God did not view their nakedness as a fault. They are his beautiful, perfectly created children just as he intended. Before the fall, there was no lust or rejection in the garden and the elements were not harsh so there was no need for clothes. When we are babies, we are not bothered by being naked and neither are our parents. The garden of Eden was a place of an incredibly intimate and simplistic relationship between our Father and us, his children. When he asks them where they are and what they've done, he knows full well, but is giving them a chance to confess. Adam blames Eve and Eve blames the serpent. God does not pronounce judgement until it is clear that no one is going to repent for what they've done. Perhaps things would have turned out differently had they take responsibility, but they were too afraid of God's rejection. To this day, the devil tempts us not just for the sake of making us do something that will break God's heart, but mainly so that we will focus on our sins and failures as opposed to God's love and mercy. We then continue struggling to earn God's approval when it is something we already possess. As a result, life becomes far more bitter for us in separation from God just as it was for them. God demotes all three of them from their original roles: Adam is now a miserable servant of the ground to which he will one day return and Even is placed under his leadership since she led him into sin. She is also given extreme pain in creating life and the snake is told to slither and eat dirt. A lot of this is speculation, but it is possible that the serpent was oringinally a great beast on legs like a dragon and intelligent enough to speak the human language. Who knows. The greatest punishment of all is that man is cast away from the presence of the Lord. The garden was a place where you could physically walk and talk with God as we do with each other. Just think about that. Let's jump way way ahead to Matthew 4:1-11.

We see Jesus being led by the Spirt into the desert to be tempted by Satan. It's an odd way for Jesus to begin his ministry to say the least. Why would God send him to suffer hunger and temptation in dangerous conditions for an extended period of time? Most likely for the same reason that he placed the forbidden tree in the garden: 

GOD WANTS US TO DOMINATE.

This is not an "Oh poor Jesus" moment in scripture. Jesus is going out into the desert to pick a fight and give Satan a curb-stomping. This is the kind of God we have. Jesus shows Satan who he's dealing with by ignoring his temptations and telling him to get lost. Again, the devil offers him things that are ultimately in his possession. He tempts him with bread that is good for food, the great kingdoms of the earth which are pleasing to the eyes, and an act of pride to show how God-like he is. Jesus quotes scripture word for word and orders the devil to leave his presence. As stated in 1 Corinthians 15:44-49, Jesus is the new Adam. He succeeds where Adam and Eve failed because of his deep trust in the Father. He knows that his father who loves him is making him to endure the starvation, granting him the kingdoms, and glorifying him in DUE time. We also possess this victory because we are no longer the fallen man cast out of God's presence. 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 states that we are now "a new creation" because of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. If we are baptized into him, we share in both experiences and we now have the same victorious Jesus living in us every day. Whether we are aware of it, there is not a single moment that we are not in the presence of God. You are a new kind of human in whom the Spirit of God constantly dwells. The point of this victory is so that one day, we will once again physically walk and talk with our Father of love in new bodies on the new earth. 

Scott HowardComment