Summary: How did we get from the gorgeous garden of Eden to the mess of our current world? Is there any hope?
“When Heaven Comes Down – Our Longing is Fulfilled”
What a world! What peace! Everything was perfect and beautiful. Chapter 2 of Genesis ends: “The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.” Adam and Eve had total, perfect harmony with themselves, with each other, with God, and with their world. I like the way William Willimon put it: “Once upon a time, we had it all – with no business more pressing than ‘to be fruitful and multiply.’ Once upon a time we were like children, naked but unashamed, trusting and unafraid. We were a two-year old after his bath, romping gleefully naked through the living room, free of the unnatural restraint called clothing. So we were. Undiapered and unashamed. The unselfconscious, trusting simplicity of children is the way God created us, so the story says, once upon a time.” So what happened. Where did it all go wrong? What about the mess the world’s in? How did it get from the gorgeous Garden of Eden to where it is today? What happened to the peace? How did we lose it all? To fully answer this we return to Genesis, chapter 3.
Genesis 3 teaches us why life is so out of sync and out of sorts – why we struggle so hard to live in peace and harmony. It points, first, to OUR PROBLEM OF LONGING. God had placed Adam and Eve in that total paradise. But paradise didn’t last. The serpent, the representative of evil, challenged Eve to disobey God by eating fruit from the one tree God had made off limits. Verses 5-6: Satan said, “”For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 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.” They sinned. And as much as we’d like to blame them for our broken world, we cannot. We’re a part of the problem, which is that WE, too, LONG TO BE LIKE GOD. In part, that’s good - the Bible urges us to be God-like, to be godly in our character. But we want to be like God by being in charge like God. That was part of Satan’s ploy: "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." (5) God gives us assignments - we fail; God gives us boundaries - we cross them; God gives us rules - we break them. We do not like to be told what to do and what not to do. Have you ever seen a sign that said, “Wet Paint - Do Not touch?” What did you do? Admit it - you touched it. We do not like to be told, “Do not...!” We want what we want when we want it. And we especially want what we cannot or do not have! WE WANT TO DRAW THE BOUNDARIES AND MAKE THE RULES; WE WANT TO BE GOD.
How often have you succumbed to this desire? What is your forbidden fruit? What is the one thing that you cannot have but you crave so desperately? Someone else’s spouse, job, house, position, popularity or recognition? What is the one boundary you’re tempted to cross? Carrying out a dishonest but profitable business scheme? Getting an “A” by cheating on a test? Having just one more drink? Lying on your resume so you can get the job?
The reality is we do sin; we are sinners. WE ALL SIN. We sin because we’re sinners. Adam and Eve may have been the first, but we all sin. Genesis 3 could just as well have used our names. Why is that? One of the reasons we sin is WE DO NOT TAKE GOD SERIOUSLY. Notice that Satan began with God: “Did God really say, `You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?" In other words, “You take God too seriously; you interpret Him too narrowly, too strictly. God would not limit your potential and your freedom.” It’s like an employee who loves her boss and feels she is treated well by him. Then one day someone says, “Oh he just does that so he can be popular and get a promotion. He’s just using you. You should hear what he says about you behind your back!” The doubt is cast – the employee will never again be able to have full confidence in her boss. So Eve would never have signed a paper denouncing God; she was not abolishing belief in God – she was just ready to take him a little less seriously.