“And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”
And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.”
He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”
The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
(Gen. 3:8–14 ESVi)
The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.”
So, while engaging with reading the Scripture this morning, I had the following thoughts. And in other places, I have said these things before, but it may bear repeating.
There are preachers, teachers, and others who like to take Adam’s quote, “the woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me…, and I ate”, as a joke in sermons or teachings, saying, “and men have been blaming women ever since.”
But, if you will notice in the passage, does the Lord ever stop to sort out the interpersonal relational issues of mistrust or trauma at this moment. Not at all. Rather, what He does is respond not by saying “shame on you for blaming your wife, or passing the buck”.
He also does not ask the serpent for his side of the story, which tells you that He knows something about this serpent that we may not know.
A Bit Of Background For the Unaware
For those of you not familiar with the serpent described here, that term “serpent” is a reference to Satan.
In very simplified terms, Satan was a messenger who stood in the presence of the Divine Council.
He started a rebellion, and deceived many other created heavenly beings into following him, and they sought to overthrow God. He was beautiful at that time, before the rebellion began, and the pride and iniquity that was found in him twisted him into the serpent that we meet in Genesis 3.
Granted, there is more I can say, but that is a brief read on this critter. Below are a couple of good links that will discuss things like the Divine Council that will further you understanding on the serpent.
Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch
What God does is begin the process of responding to the situation in the garden by continuing from the story that was started before the garden.
He starts by addressing the serpent.
He does not start by addressing Eve’s behavior, or Adam’s behavior.
He starts with the serpent.
Let that sink in. When you screw up and do what the enemy gives you to do, the Lord is not going to burn you or beat you to begin with. He is going to handle the clowns first. He is then going to gather you up and because He is your Father, He is willing to coach you to a place of victory, and show you the process for undoing the mess in your life, piece by piece, and step by step. He is Father, not Slavedriver. A father instructs, counsels, and does not provoke their children to wrath ( Ephesians 6:4), and given God is the ultimate father, He is going to work according to that reality, and is not going to exasperate or provoke us to wrath.
Now, He might lead us in ways we do not understand, and some things we might question. But it is not God’s way to needlessly do things in order to frustrated or exasperate us as an end in themselves.
God responds to the situation, not by asking the serpent what he has done (God knows what the serpent has done, both in heaven, and on earth), but by telling the serpent what is going to happen in response to the serpent’s attempt at continuing the rebellion begun in heaven here on earth.
The Lord, for the moment in Genesis 3, is not interested in the squabbles and the jokes that we can make about how men are or how women are; rather, He starts by mentioning:
- That the serpent will ultimately be defeated,
- How the serpent will be defeated (using the fruit that came from the woman), and
- That the Lord will accomplish this using these fallen creatures.
Translation: we humans are still part of God’s purpose to transition all of creation from glory through fall into further glory.
To be sure, in our preaching and teaching of this passage, for us to take the points that are deemphasized, and to emphasize them at the expense of the areas that God emphasizes, is problematic.
For us to make a joke about how a woman is (gullible, easily deceived, led astray, unintelligent) or how a man is (liars, blame-shifters) is anything but redemptive.
And our instruction and dealing with the text must be wholly and finally redemptive.
And for us to further miss the punchline from God’s perspective, namely that He was still going to use Adam and Eve, and that they were still his A-Team, that He made for Himself no other choice than they, and that they were still part of His plan for redemption, is for us to miss the point of the story.
For Us, A Picture of The Redemptive Power of Our King and How He Deals With Us As Sons
Redemption takes place in the midst of our mess, in the midst of our blame-shifting and our shirking of responsibility. And in that truth we can celebrate and move into enjoying God and watching Him triumph over the foe and the avenger (Psalm 8:2), and watching Him choose to maintain a connection with Adam who was still the son of God.
Remember, you are God’s son. This day he has begotten you, dear one (Psalm 2:7).
Furthermore, I would exhort you to allow the Lord to decide how He wants to handle your adversaries.
And finally, realize that, even in the midst of your deep sin, Father stands with you and really adores you. There is a tenderness in Father that is runs toward you, and does not beat or abuse you maliciously.
Do not miss the forest of expounding on the extravagant fullness of God’s love and affection for the trees of a couple of callous and glib remarks on “how men are” or “how women are”.
And don’t make your life’s work a disproportionate mess of telling people how sinful they are, at the expense of exclaiming how unfathomably amazing our King is, gang.
He puts the focus on the many places where he wants to place the focus. He handles the serpent, and the man and woman’s failings, and then he reframed their perception of reality in accordance with the truth. Pertaining to the truth, I will continue this discussion in the next post.
Other Resources For Consideration
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The above is a link to a really good video on the Divine Council
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Above is the Bible Project video on Spiritual Beings: Mind you, two areas where I disagree with the BP authors of this video are the ideas that we are told to “rise above our dirty origins” and that we are “lowly humans”. Making fun of the fact that we were created from the red clay (Hebrew Adam) and calling the origins of our bodies as “ewww gross dirty” curses the dirt, and we need to learn as believers and followers and stewards of this planet not to curse the dirt. Otherwise, this is a very solid video.
This is a book by Michael Heiser discussing many of these topics and more in-depth.