Back to Genesis 1-3, in the bible reading plan. Genesis is an amazing passage that sort of lays out the whole picture of the story of God’s redemption, in just a few verses. Some thoughts:
- God created a perfect world, that didn’t include our total knowledge of good and evil. I always resented the fact that God didn’t want us to know everything about life…that His perfect world had us as innocent morons, who were just fat, dumb, and happy, like pigs on the farm.But then I look at my own children and think of all the things I don’t want them to know about life, at least for a very long time. I love that they are perfectly happy playing the wii, going to school is a thrill for them, the love of their mom and dad is all-satisfying.When they are this little, I don’t want them to know the horrors capable by the human heart, the pain that comes from rejection, or disease, or shame. I understand God’s design a little bit more. And I, honestly, would love to return to that kind of innocence, when I am totally delighted and satisfied by God and his creation. I think we all would.
God was not keeping us in the dark…he was keeping us in the light, protecting us from the ugly reality of sin. It was a perfect world.
- God himself made clothes for them. This is a fascinating image, of God hand-making clothes for his creations, who had just disobeyed him, betrayed him, turned their back on his perfect provision. They were ashamed, but not by God. This is an extremely important distinction: God was not ashamed of them! Their shame and the humiliation of being naked was due to their own sin. In fact, God even asked them, “who told you you were naked?”God’s first response to their sin was to get the facts, then curse the snake. He did not lash out against the humans in anger, they way I sometimes do to my kids when they disobey explicit instructions. He did, however, explain clearly the consequences they would face, but instead of piling onto their shame, he covered it. He covered their nakedness, restoring their dignity and affirming their worth to him.This is a picture of the Gospel, as God continually covers our sin, first through the law and sacrifical system, then he would eventually deal with sin finally, himself, on the cross.
- God protected us from dooming ourselves to an eternity of separation from him. In verse 22-23, God banished Adam and Eve from the garden, “lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” Again, on the surface, this seems like a wounded God who was hurt by Adam’s disobedience and wouldn’t let him have the perfect life again. A God who took his ball and went home, as it were. But if we read closer, we see a different picture.We have already seen God, with every right and every opportunity to pile on guilt and condemnation, respond by covering that shame. We have seen him curse the real cause of the sin (the snake) and we know from the rest of the Bible how he will deal finally with sin by sending his own son to a brutal cross, bringing reconciliation and restoring the perfect life he started with. We see a God with an intention of love and reconciliation.So why would this God prevent us from tasting eternal life? This seems like further punishment, until we see that God is only preventing eternal separation from him. He wants to be reonciled, and he will not allow us to taste eternal life, while we are separated by our sin. This would be a fate worse than death. This is hell. So, in his mercy, God put an angel as a guard around the tree of life and death so we wouldn’t lock in our fate forever.
Think again about our kids. When one strays away in disobedience, whether it’s the rebellion of a 2 year old, or drug addiction of a lost teenager, what is our reaction? A loving father would never settle for dooming his child to this life forever. Rather, he would cover his shame (without adding to it), even if their are consequences. A loving father would never close the door forever…never let their child go.
God will not allow us to remain in our sin and shame precisely because he loves us. He wants to restore that perfect world he started with, but he must deal with the sin that separates us from him.
As I reflect on these verses, I am reminded of my own sin, and the shame I bring on myself. I remember that God is not angry with me, and doesn’t add to that shame. He only wants me to be reconciled with him, reconnected to the eternal life he created for me from the beginning. I remember that he did come and deal decisively the sin that cast me out of the garden.
We can go back to the tree of life now. That’s the great work that Jesus did…he gave us access to that eternal life…the tree that was hidden for our temporary good, is now on full display for our great eternal joy.
There’s the good news of the gospel, the story of God’s love, the great purpose of our lives, all wrapped in a few verses at the beginning of the book. Pretty cool.