Friday, July 7, 2017

7 July 2017
            I believe God’s intention all along was to live with us in the garden: “They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze…” (Ge. 3:8). Once God purposed to create humankind, He made a perfect environment to put us in, and pronounced it good. Why would it be any less perfect than the one He already inhabited with His heavenly court? Different to be sure, but no less perfect. This is, after all, His stated intent in Revelation 21:2: “See, the tabernacle of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them…”. Remember too God brings “every living creature” before the man; “whatever the man called [it] that was its name” (Ge 2:19). I am sure God took great delight in this adventure- “I can’t wait to see what he calls that one”.
            Now consider God’s response to Adam and Eve’s disobedience. “Where are you?” We can almost feel the sting of rejection in His voice (cf.1 Sa.8:7; Jn. 1:11; 19:15). God interrogates the first couple: “What is this that you have done?” (Ge.3:13). The couple explains; God pronounces judgement. But note-this is important-the serpent is cursed, and the ground is cursed. Adam and Eve are not. There will be consequences-Adam no longer tends the garden. Work becomes toil. “Eat freely of every tree” becomes “in the sweat of your face you shall eat bread”. They do not die immediately, but the promise of death- “till you return to the ground”-is now inescapable.
            But note carefully what God says to Eve- “I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing” (Ge.3:16, italics mine). There is hope here, and a very great promise. Adam sees it; he calls his wife “Eve, because she was the mother of all living” (3:20; italics mine). Focusing on the curse, we miss the promise-life will continue. God does not give up on His creatures, He does not curse them-He promises life and redemption (3:15; note this promise is to the serpent). Life will go on, but not in the garden. The tree of life is now off limits-at least for the time being.
            Note also the subtle change in the relationship between man and woman. What began as “a fit helper” now becomes “he shall rule over you”. The point here is not male dominance, or an excuse for male dominance or feminism or sexism or anything like that. The point is much subtler, much more profound-the relationship between man and woman is no longer modeled on the Trinity. A new model has come; one where self-interest and self-preservation will become the norm (cf. Ge.12:10-13; 20:2; 26:6-11). This is not what God intended for us; later He will take matters into His own hands, live with us again and show us how He intends for us to live.
            The point I am making here is, this seems to me to be the first indication of God’s nature and character; His holiness if you will. He does not give up on His creatures, He does not curse them. There were consequences which remain to this day, yet He promises life will continue and redemption will come. Later the promise of renewal will be added; for now life and redemption are enough. Don’t miss this. God’s nature, His character, His plan for us is revealed from the very beginning. God is for us, even and especially when we are not for ourselves. Or for Him, for that matter. To do anything else would be, for Him, impossible- “if we are faithless, He remains faithful-for He cannot deny Himself” (2 Ti 2:13). I do not believe He does this so He can observe us from a distance, or because He delights in judgement (although judgement will come), looking for any excuse to zap us into submission. I believe this kind of love demands hands-on involvement; we have only to ‘draw near” (Ps.73-28; Zech.1:3; Mal.3-7; He.4:16, 7:25; 10:22; Ja.4:8). Once we begin to get this ‘first relationship’ right, all other relationships should fall into place. That’s the theory, anyway. As Paul says, I’m not there yet. But, as Gibbs says, ‘I’m workin’ on it’.


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