Summary: a look at the Fall and the ongoing efforts of Satan to delude the world
Beginnings # 2
I invite you back to the Book of Beginnings this morning! I’ll be speaking to you from Genesis 3 today.
The Snake in the Grass - Speaking the Lies We Want to Believe
A friend picked up his 3 yr. old son from Christian Preschool. As they rode in the car, the Dad was talking about the fun things they could do in the Fall; walking in the colorful woods, getting pumpkins, going apple picking. When he mentioned apples, his little boy interrupted him with some urgency, "No, Dad, we can’t pick apples. That’s what the lady in the Bible did and God was really mad at her for doing it!" I hope that your understanding of Genesis 3 is a little more sophisticated than that’s child’s! This chapter lays a foundation for understanding sin, judgment, and human responsibility and, just for the record, it’s not about apple picking!
The question that I’m asked more than any other is - why does God allow all the suffering in this world?
It is a reasonable question! Let’s give it some context.
Why do friends become sworn enemies over a misunderstanding?
Why do kings resort to arms and kill young men and women in wars that devastate nations leave behind bitter seeds that grow into war in the next generation?
Why do pro athletes choose to sexually exploit naive teenage girls who are dazzled by their star power?
Why did you let your disappointment with someone migrate into a murderous rage?
Why do a man and woman who stood before God pledging fidelity and love to each other tear each other apart in divorce court?
Why do children suffer for the sins of their fathers?
Why did God allow Satan to exist?
The problem of evil’s origin is as old as humanity. Genesis 3 does not solve that problem! The Bible makes no attempt to explain it. Evil is presented as being real and present, as something we must deal with in our lives and as the enemy of God and good! What this text does talk about is CHOICE and CONSEQUENCE. Somehow the riddle of evil is partially explained by something called FREE WILL, but that is more implied than explained. As we read the text for today’s message, I’d like to steer you to ponder how it answers these two questions:
How does sin enter the world and our individual lives?
What can we do to overcome the power of sin and return to the purpose for which God created us- which are to know Him and to live to give glory to Him?
Take a look - Genesis 2:25 - 3:24 (Reading)
It is, at once, a simple and complex story. Told simply, it is about choice - to obey God or to reject Him in favor of our own autonomy; and the consequence of that choice.
There are four characters in God’s story about the entrance of evil into the world.
First we are introduced to Adam and Eve, the first parents, who are described with a phrase interesting for the symbolism in it. "They were naked and without shame." Think of a 2 year that delights in losing the restraint of his clothing before bath time. He does not care if there are guests in the house, whether he smells good, if his hair is a mess, or that he’s naked. He runs with abandon through the house. He has no self-consciousness and we often envy his innocence, don’t we?
Adam and Eve are child-like in their innocence. They live openly with each other and walk with God - needing no coverings - physical, spiritual, or emotional - because of their purity of heart, motive, and will. They have nothing to hide!
Incidentally, to misread this passage as somehow condemning human sexuality is a mistake. That is because we confuse nakedness with eroticism. It is almost impossible given our sensuality and highly sexualized culture to separate "naked" from "sex," but we must if we don’t want to read meaning into the text that is not there.
Next, we meet the snake. Imagine walking along, minding your own business, when a snake starts talking. Moses doesn’t tell how a snake talks! But that’s how the story is written and we accept it by faith. This account is built around a smart, talking snake. It is the result of much later interpretations of this story that we automatically read ’Satan’ for ’snake.’ It may will have been the Devil that manifested as the snake, but Moses doesn’t say that! He says that a snake talked to Eve! The only descriptive word for the snake is that it was "more crafty" than the other animals. Paul calls the serpent who deceived Eve ’cunning’ in 2 Cor. 11.3. The serpent became a universal symbol for the Devil later in Scripture and so we read that meaning back into the text as part of our understanding. However, if we do so, we obscure the meaning of the text which is about understanding the power of our choices even when we think we are pursuing something wonderful. IF we read the Devil into this story, we more easily fix responsibility on someone else, namely the Devil!