Have you ever read something, or heard something, that as you begin to ponder it, the truth of it completely breaks you? I have begun an online seminary class on the book of Genesis, it is my all time favorite book. I am to read it, study it. It has taken me a couple of weeks to process just a few verses in chapter 3.
Genesis 3. What a tangled conversation, Eve and the serpent. He asks Eve, (I paraphrase) “Did God really say, you can’t eat from any tree?’(v1) She responds, we can eat, ‘But God said we can’t eat from the tree in the middle, we can’t even touch it or we will die. (v3) Serpent responds, “You won’t DIE! (Can you hear the sarcasm?) God knows if you do eat from it, you will become like Him, knowing all the good and evil stuff.” (v5) Often we think of the Garden story as a huge snake lie. But did he lie?
First, did they physically die that day? No. They lived 900+ years longer. Their relationship with God however died through their disobedience. Sin. When they ate were their eyes opened and like God knowing good and evil? Yes. “The man has now become like one of Us, knowing good & evil.” (v22)
You see we ARE to become like God, but NOT like this! It was too much, they couldn’t handle it. God was protecting them with the command not to eat, not to know. But in God’s way, God’s timing: “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18)
The serpent folded truth in the deceitful conversation. In his ‘craftiness’, he got Eve to restate God’s word falsely. Interesting, Eve mentions the tree in the ‘middle’- there were two particular trees in the ‘middle’ (Tree of Life & Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil – Gen. 2:9) they were to tend the garden and care for it, (2:15) they HAD to touch – to tend, God said don’t eat, not don’t touch. “It’s not how much truth is in the lie, its how much lie is in the truth.” – Dr James Allman (Dallas Theological Seminary) The best lie is the one that has the most truth in it. Twisting, doubting, restating, God’s word (I’d have to say the 1st bible study was not so successful) Eve lacked discernment, Theologian C.H Spurgeon said, “Discernment is not knowing the difference between right & wrong, it is knowing the difference between right and almost right.” (Ouch!)
Reading on, I ran head on into God’s banishment. God’s banishment from the garden was not punishment or out of anger it was full of mercy, PURE mercy. God didn’t KICK them out; He graciously forced them to leave, before – before they could eat from the Tree of Life. God said, “He (man) must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the Tree of Life and eat and live forever. So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden…” (vss 22,23) Man had not eaten from the Tree of Life yet, he wasn’t in an eternal state, if he had eaten in his broken relationship with God, he (they) would be eternally out of relationship. They would be stuck in THAT condition, that spiritual position with God – FOREVER! God sent them out and what does He do? He places an angel with a flaming sword to guard against them going back to what, paradise? No, He guards against them going back to the Tree of Life. (see v24) Um, according to Eve, ‘Somewhere over there, in the middle I think.’ (HA!) Seriously, pretty serious stuff! They were sent away, out to the eventually ‘redeemed’ relationship. In THAT relationship, mankind is offered eternal life. Jesus. God loved man so much He wouldn’t leave them in the mess they got themselves in to. GOD IS GRACIOUS. We take pause and state God is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8) He is still in the business of redeeming back our messes! Can I get an AMEN!
While contemplating all this, (while folding clothes) I felt the Lord tell me, “It may have all started in Genesis, even in the first 3 chapters – but I AM A FINISHING GOD.”
Paul may have penned it, but right now, right here God is saying “Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6)
God is Gracious. Pondering and broken.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)
Recently I revisited Genesis 3, where God came to meet with Adam in the garden. It says “… He was walking in the garden in the cool of the day…” This said with such ease, as if it where a daily occurrence. Can you imagine God taking a stroll in YOUR backyard?
Yet today, this was no casual stroll. You see, Adam and Eve had just eaten from the only tree that God planted a sign in front of stating, ‘no eateth.’ Sure enough, our ancestors of all ancestors duth eat! Now they were hiding. Hiding from God.
“But the LORD God called to the man…” (verse 9) asking one of the most important questions ever stated in the Bible, in my estimation, “Where are you?” It does not describe the tone in which God said it, but I believe it was NOT a thunderous loud “WHERE ARE YOU!” (ok admit it, you hear Charleston Heston in your head don’t you.) God being all-knowing, He knew exactly where he was. The question was not intended to find the answer, it was intended for … Adam. “Where are you?” This spurred Adam to consider his location … he was hiding, placing intentional distance between he and his God. His situation… he disobeyed.
“But the LORD God called to the man, ‘Where are you?'” God was pursuing Adam, with tenderness, loving compassion. Sure He could have rigged the tree with a divine security system, that at the mere touch, heaven would zap Adam and Eve with enough force to turn them both back into dust. But He didn’t. He pursued them.
We know the rest of the story, banishment from paradise, consequences, sweat and pain. “But the LORD God called to the man…” God has ‘called’ throughout history. The Bible is the story of God’s pursuit of man. He pursues you, and pursues me. He has provided every avenue for us to respond to His call. God loves us so much, that at times there is the need for Him to ask us AGAIN, “where are you?”
Often our relationship with God, is one as a child, we cozy up in His lap, but there are times we squirm out and run off and play. “Where are you?” Another question has settled in my heart, “What would it look like, really look like, in God’s pursuit of me, if I allowed Him to catch me, ALL of me?” O to be caught of God!
King David penned the beloved Psalm 23, in the latter verse he closes with, “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.” This follow is not a mere meandering behind, it is a PURSUIT. God pursues us.
Found among other poetic venues of David, Psalm 139 “O Lord, You have searched me and You know me… You hem me in behind and before.” Saying also, “You are familiar with all my ways.” The Lord knows where we are, He would like US to know as well.
So where are we? Has God visited our backyard recently? Perhaps we are hiding. Do we hear Him calling? Can we stop and allow Him to catch us in the pursuit, and be caught of God, He then can enfold us in His love, goodness and mercy. The grace filled pursuit of God.
It doesn’t matter WHERE we are … “But the LORD God called to the man”
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love & good deeds.” ~ Heb. 10:24)