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  • Writer's pictureRichard A. Jones

Eden Shattered

Eden Shattered

In my last post I attempted to unwrap the Imagery of the Genesis creation story of the Bible. I believe it is a window into the heart of God which reveals, in seed form, God’s purpose for life on earth. It is what God called “very good.” It is what Jesus called the kingdom of God.


But, as I have said, the highest good requires the greatest risk. And so, In the story, humanity is given a choice. Choose all the goodness that God has woven into creation and life: Choose relationship with our Creator, with one another, and with the good earth—Choose peace, harmony, equity, and community—Choose good work, renewing rest, and meaningful life. If we choose this, we take hold of our true humanity and all that is “very good.”….

…..Or, we could choose to ignore God, abandon God’s purpose, and live life for ourselves on our own terms. And if we choose this, we choose death. How do we know? We would either have to take God’s word for it, (The word of the image of God planted within us). Or, we could “taste” the truth for ourselves….Genesis tells us, and life in this world reminds us, that we chose to “take a big bite” of death.

Ecclesiastes 7:29, in a very blunt and succinct summary, tells us what happened: “This only have I found: God created mankind upright, but…….they have gone in search of many schemes.”

As I said last time, In the Bible, the kingdom of God is a long thread of God’s truth. It reaches from Genesis to Revelation, and from creation to eternity. As Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us ”…Everything God does endures forever…”

The kingdom of God has not disappeared. Wherever goodness is chosen in our world, the kingdom of God gains ground. However, much of the world today is not a reflection of God’s purpose, but of “humanity’s schemes.” Eden has been shattered.

In this post, I return to the imagery of Genesis, this time in chapter 3, to offer the longer version of the Ecclesiastes’ summary concerning what went wrong with life on earth. I believe that just as Genesis 1 and 2 reveal the seeds of all that can be good, Genesis 3 reveals the seeds of all that could go wrong.

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This part of the Genesis story begins with a serpent. A representative opposite to good. I’m not going to express my ideas about the origin of evil, however, I don’t believe that we live in a dualistic universe where good and evil are equal and opposite forces.

Evil can do nothing original. All of the temptations of Genesis 3 are simply a twisting, a distorting, or an exaggerating of something good.

As C.S. Lewis has said, “The truth is, that evil is not a real thing at all, like good. It is simply good spoiled….there can be good without evil, but there can not be evil without good….Evil is a parasite. It is there only because good is there for it to spoil and confuse.

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Genesis 3 reveals three temptations. I don’t think that they belong only to antiquity. They may have a familiar ring to them.

The first temptationDid God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?”


In other words, “You can’t trust God. God is a diminisher of life. He is not a giver, but a taker. He gives you what is good and then says no.”

But the woman catches this subtle twist of the truth.“We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.”…

The second temptation—“You will not certainly die,…“For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

“You won't really die…not today anyway, or tomorrow, or anytime soon.” And you don’t need God to tell you what is right and wrong. You can be your own God and decide right and wrong for yourself.

The third temptation— As the woman stares at what is forbidden, she lingers and ponders. 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.

“I have eyes, taste buds, a need for food, and a desire for knowledge. These are all good gifts from God. So, why not? If it looks good, tastes good, and feels good, it must be good. All I need to have a good life, is to follow the physical senses God gave me.”

Has anything really changed? These three temptations, in one form or another, still confront humanity…

—“Why should I trust God? If I do, he will make my life less.” God is always saying no to something.

—“Why do I need God at all? I can be my own God. I can decide what is right and wrong for me.”

—“Why should I believe anything that I can’t see, hear, touch, taste, or smell. All I need for life are my physical senses…”

The old temptations are the current temptations, and humanity is still biting into forbidden fruit. You see, this story of Genesis has been the human story on earth throughout the ages. Maybe it is our story too.

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And so.…(The woman) took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.

Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord called to the man, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.

I must not allow the imagery of the story to cause me to overlook its truth. Moral truth does exists. There is right and wrong in life, and it is not merely up to us and our physical senses to decide it.

I believe that being created in God’s image, we are given, what I would call, a common conscience, A baseline of what is good and true. It may be suppressed, ignored, or abandoned, but it is there.

This is stated in our American Declaration of Independence: It does not say “We hold these truths to be up to each individual.” It says,,…”We hold these truths to be self-evident…” In other words, these truths are within each of us, and everybody knows it.

...Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness..., these are not values to be decided by individuals or determined by culture…but “…endowed by our Creator.”

When Hitler’s Nazis were tried at Nuremburg, for their atrocities against the Jews, it was not on the basis of somebody’s personal view of right and wrong, and it was not an appeal to cultural norms. Nazi leaders were held accountable to a justice grounded in what was believed to be the universal, inherent, God given conscience of what is true and right.

This primal conscience was appealed to in Deuteronomy 30, in the giving of the Hebrew law. Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.

The man and the woman in the Genesis story did not merely experience guilt feelings which they needed to let go of. If Moral truth exists, and if that truth is violated, then Moral guilt is real. The man and the woman sensed that guilt. They felt vulnerable. And they hid from their Creator.

Has anything really changed? In the Genesis creation story their hiding from God was literal, but we still find ways to hide from God.


Our nakedness is to expose our real self, and we are afraid to do that, so…we hide from God and one another. We pretend. We hide behind our work and our busy-ness. We hide behind our image or our self-proclaimed goodness.

We hide behind ambition, accomplishment, and pride. We hide behind success and money. We hide behind science, technology, or psychology.

Or, like the pharisees and teachers of the law in the time of Jesus, we can even hide behind religion, theology, prayer, Bible study, and church.

Anything that keeps me from seeing God as he really is and seeing myself as I really am is my hiding place from God. This is why C.S. Lewis said, The prayer preceding all prayers is, ‘Lord, May it be the real I who speaks. May it be the real You that I speak to.’

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And God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat?”

The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”

Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

“Yes, I did it, the man said, but this woman, it’s really her fault. And, by the way God, you put her here, so maybe it’s your fault.”

“Yes, I did it, the woman said. But I was tempted, and it looked so good. How can something that good be wrong.”

Sound familiar? Has anything really changed? Yes I did it, but it really wasn’t my fault. I only did this, because my wife did that. It’s my upbringing, it’s my parent’s fault. It’s my boss’s fault. It’s my teacher’s fault. It’s the black people. It’s the white people. It’s the Democrats. It’s the Republicans. And on and on and on. So often we justify ourselves and our own actions by blaming someone else.

I wonder what would have happened in the story if the man and the woman would have simply taken responsibility for themselves and their own actions, and would have asked forgiveness…….But they didn’t.

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God’s kingdom on earth had been violated by those to whom God had entrusted it. Now what? God does not wave a magic wand to fix it and undo what had been done. That would be to retreat from his purpose of freely chosen love and obedience, and violate his own creation...

…And so, the consequences of human rebellion against their creator would ripple through creation and time like a tidal wave. And a new story-line would begin to unfold on earth.

The rest of Genesis 3 is prophetic. It give us a hint of what some of those ripples would be and what was in store for life on earth….I will leave that story for next time.

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B Long
B Long
28 de mai. de 2023

are Adam&Eve literal or a parable?

Curtir
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