Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Lessons from the Garden

     Let's begin with a short timeline : Genesis 2:7 "Then the Lord formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and the man became a living being." Genesis 2 :15 tells us that God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. Verse 16 : And the Lord God commanded the man, "you are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die."  ( Side thought...God didn't say "if" you eat from it, HE said "when") Verse 18 : "The Lord God said, " It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." Verse 22 : "Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man."
     Ok, so Adam and Eve weren't born in the traditional sense. They weren't carried within a body. They didn't travel through a birth canal to be pushed out into the world as an infant.God created MAN and WOMAN. The came into this world as adults but, just as we have an earthly father, they had God to parent them. When a baby comes into this world, a parent tends to the needs of that baby. The same went for Adam and Eve. God provided for them the Garden of Eden, acres and acres of the largest all you can eat salad bar and a river running through it for water to wash it all down.
     We don't know how long Adam was alone before Eve joined him in the garden. We also don't now how long Adam and Eve were there together before being approached by Satan. All we know is that by chapter 3, Eve is approached by a serpent.
     Let's stop there for just a moment. Hasn't this ever freaked you out just a little? So imagine, if you will, Eve is taking a stroll in the garden, maybe stopping every once in a while to pick some berries and as she is plopping a few in her mouth, a serpent approached her and asks her a question.Wait ! What? Was this something that happened on a regular basis? I mean , I guess it is possible that they were so in tune with the animals that they conversed with them. Maybe it wasn't uncommon for a bird to fly overhead and chirp greetings. " Hey Adam, how goes it down there?" Let's just for the sake of argument agree that the answer is no. Assuming the animals didn't speak, I am disturbed at how unaffected Eve seems to be about this .
     Again, assuming, that the word "serpent" means the same as we understand it today, basically a snake speaks to Eve. A snake would have been a creature that Eve was accustomed to seeing, but talking to? Maybe I am overreacting here but shouldn't that have set off some internal alarm bells? Shouldn't that have been the moment that she yelled " Hey God, what's up with this ? " I suppose that God had explained to Adam and Eve that there was a certain talking serpent that could possibly approach them. If so, I guess my next question would be , would God not have also warned them about what this particular serpent was capable of?
     Anyway, Genesis 3 :1 " Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, " Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden?' " This is where it goes horribly horribly wrong because the answer is clearly "NO". Go back to Genesis 2:16-17 " And the Lord God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the Garden, but you must not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it, you will certainly die." On the timeline, God gave this command to Adam before Eve appeared on scene so somewhere down the line there was a breakdown in communication. Either God repeated this command to Eve and she misheard OR Adam passed it along and misspoke OR Adam passed it along and Eve misheard because the answer is NO. That is not what God said at all ! In Eve's attempt to correct the serpent, she begins strong. In 3:2, she tells the serpent , " We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden but God did say, "You must not eat fruit from the tree that is the middle of the garden.'' Boom ! 2 points for Eve. Then Eve adds , "and you must not touch it, or you will die."
     Hmmmm....I just re-read 2:16-17 and I don't see anything about TOUCHING the tree. What follows is a perfect example of what happens when children aren't really listening to their parents, don't respect authority, and do the opposite of what they  have been told not to do. Eve looks at the fruit and chapter 3 verse 16 says that it was pleasing to the eye. Let me remind you that she is standing right smack in the middle of the largest all you can eat salad bar buffet ever. What made this particular fruit so desirable? The answer is simply that , IT was the one fruit she had been told she could not have. If you take a 2 year old and sit him in the middle of a room containing 200 toys but tell him he cannot play with the train in the corner, the toddler will most certainly want to play with the train. Unfortunately , this characteristic applies to adults as well. Does the phrase, " The grass in greener on the other side" ring a bell?
     I digress, So, Eve takes some of the fruit and eats it. Chapter 3 verse 6 says " she also gave some to her husband who was with her and he ate it.' Whoa ! Rewind ! This isn't just a case of Eve taking the fruit back to camp and offering it to Adam who had no idea about what had just happened. He was with her ! Unlike Eve, Adam had been given the command not to eat from the tree first hand. Ummm...hello? Where are the objections? What Adam should have done is smack the fruit from her hand and yell " What are you thinking woman?" He doesn't even try to talk some sense into her. At the very least Adam could have given a gentle reminder , " but Eve, Daddy told us not to do that." Nope. She hands him forbidden fruit and he scarfs it down like he is starving.
     What transpires next would be comical if it weren't for the fact that "next" is a big part of the downfall of mankind. God, being God, knows exactly what just happened and in the same way most parents would, seeks out Adam to question him. God calls out to him and in in verse 10 Adam says " I heard you in the garden , and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid." Let's be real, Adam wasn't afraid because he was naked. Adam was afraid because he had disobeyed his Father , and just as most children would do in this situation, he hid. God doesn't waste any time though, He asks Adam straight up " Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?" As a parent, I often take this approach with my own children. I ask questions that I already know the answer to in hopes that they will take responsibility for their actions and answer truthfully.
     I find it interesting that God doesn't mention Eve in his question. The question was directed solely at Adam because the command was given to Adam. God asks a simple "yes" or "no" question. He already knew the answer. This was Adam's chance to redeem himself even if just a little. I assume, the correct response would have been to hang his head in shame , admit that he did indeed eat the fruit, that he knew that it was wrong even as he was doing it, and he was sorry...so so sorry. Instead, Adam doesn't even answer God , but immediately becomes the first person in history to avoid personal responsibility for his own actions. Verse 12 : The man said, " The woman you put here with me_ she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it." The way I read this : Adam blames the woman for giving him the fruit. In a smaller way, he also blames God for putting her there in the first place.
     Seeing that Adam isn't going to answer the way God wants him to, God transfers his attention to Eve. Verse 13 : Then the Lord God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" Taking Adam's lead, Eve blames the serpent. At this point, God does what most parents of more than one child do. When nobody is willing to take responsibility, all of them are punished..
     I believe that there are some lessons to be learned from the garden.
1. God, as your heavenly Father, loves you and only wants what is best for you. Know his word.  Respect  authority and follow the commands given to you.
2. Be content with what you have been given .  Partaking of forbidden fruit is just not worth it.
3. Run away from talking serpents. When temptation comes knocking, don't open the door and let it in.
4.Stand up for what you know is right. Just because the person next to you is sinning doesn't mean you have to join in.
5. Remember that you can run but you can't hide. No matter how hard you try to hide sin, God sees all and eventually you will answer for it
6. Blaming others for your actions doesn't keep you from being punished and sometimes by not taking personal responsibility , you take others down with you.
     I am sure there are more , these are just the ones that come to mind at this moment.