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  • Writer's pictureRichard A. Jones

Ripples of Brokenness

Ripples of Brokenness

In my last post I looked at how human choice to reject God’s purpose would send life on earth in a skewed direction away from what God called “very good.” In this post I want to explore the ripples of brokenness that would spread through life and creation.


Note: Genesis 3:15—So the Lord God said to the serpent….I will take up this theme in my next post.)

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Genesis 3 reveals three seeds of brokenness that would grow and begin to infect life on earth. They would strike at the very heart of God’s purpose: Relationship between humans and their creator would grow distant, relationship among the human family would turn toxic. And relationship between humanity and the earth would become strained.

These broken relationships would weave their way through a large part of the human story bringing oppression, injustice, heartache, grief, and war.

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In the first part of Genesis 3, which I discussed in my last post, titled Eden Shattered, we had already begun to see the disintegration of our relationship with our creator.

We yielded to the temptation to be our own god, make up our own version of right and wrong, and live life on our own terms. We hid from God, and refused to take responsibility for our own actions.

Our hiding has pushed God into the shadow. However, I believe that the residue or echo of that relationship still exists. We are created in God’s likeness, and so, buried in our primal conscience and in our deepest longings, the remnant of knowing God remains.

And, If we have eyes to see, the creation itself also bears the mark of the nature and character of its creator.

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To the woman God said,

with painful labor you will give birth to children….

I don’t know what is really meant here. Maybe the physical pain of bringing a child into the world would be a reminder of the bitter sweet world the child would be entering. A world where great joy would be mingled with great pain.

Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you…

The man would rule over the woman. This was not God’s original intent. Remember God’s purpose:

in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

God blessed them and said to them…Let themRule….

As I have said, in the first two chapters of Genesis, their is no one named Eve? It is in Genesis 3:20, that the tragedy begins.The man named his wife Eve…And In Hebrew culture, it came to be that what a man named, a man owned, and what a man owned, a man ruled.

….And the ripples began to spread: Women would be traded, bartered, and sold. Kingdoms would be strengthened by the giving of wives to rulers. Marriage would become polygamy: A man named Lamech would marry two wives, and Solomon would have 700, plus 300 more women to do his bidding.

And this brokenness would weave its way through time. In some cultures women would be denied education. They would not be allowed to pray or worship with men or speak in church. And they would be dictated to, by men, in matters of dress, speech, work, and education.

Until 1848, Women could not own property in the United States. In Great Britain it wasn’t until 1926. And women could not vote in either country until the 1920’s.

It is really interesting to me how this scenario of Genesis was viewed later in the Bible by Paul, and how he used only one part of the Genesis story of creation to justify the cultural view of women.

In his first letter to Timothy, he wrote: I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.—And his reason— For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.

Yes, Paul was right? The woman was deceived… Maybe the man was the coward standing right beside the woman, who stood back and let her take the risk. And maybe, when she didn’t drop dead, he figured it was safe for him to eat some too.

But Paul explains it exactly the way Adam did, it’s the woman’s fault.

And this male / female tragedy would spread to all human relationships.

In an opening scene of the film version of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord to the Rings says it is said that “Humans desire power above all else.”

This hunger for power would infect business, politics, economies, and governments. It would contribute to poverty, slavery, oppression, racism, genocide, inequity, and war.

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To the man, God said,…“Cursed is the ground because of you;

through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you,….By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food…

Notice: it is not God who curses the earth. “Cursed is the ground because of you.” The abuse of the earth at the hands of humanity has been like a cannibal nibbling on himself, destroying the very thing that sustains life.

Listen to this story as it weaves its way through Scripture:

—Jeremiah 2:7—I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land…

—Ezekiel 34:18—Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet?

—Jeremiah 12:4—How long will the land lie parched and the grass of every field wither? Because those who live in it are wicked, the beasts and the birds are swept away…

—Isaiah 24:4-6—The earth dries up and withers,…The earth is defiled by its people; they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes, and broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore a curse consumes the earth; its people must bear their guilt.

Paul in Romans says, “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope…For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth… until now.” And if creation was groaning when Paul wrote these words, what must it be doing now?

God subjected the earth to humanity in the hope that they would be its caretakers. We violated that trust.

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And so, in Genesis 3, the three primal relationships of life begin to shift.

—They hide from God. Humanities relationship with God will become distant.

—The man begins to rule the woman. Human relationship will turn toxic.

—Relationship with the good earth will become strained.


And there is more: Through painful toil…by the sweat of your brow, you will eat your food. This brokenness of life would intrude into good and meaningful work.

Work which was meant to express human creativity, honor God, and meet human need, would gravitate toward painful toil, just to make a living.

Looking forward we know what happens. Work would turn to self-interest. It would become motivated by money. Jesus even warned that money could become a god demanding our worship

Some would become extremely wealthy while bringing poverty to others. People would be exploited and enslaved for the sake of personal profit.

Today, there seems to be a drivenness, an obsession with work. Day-planners are divided into fifteen minute segments. Busyness and hectic schedules have become a badge of honor. We hear mottos such as “24/7” and “The Best Never Rest.”

And in 1971, professor and psychologist Wayne Oates coined the term “workaholic” to describe this modern compulsion. And while some would be workaholics, others would turn toward laziness.

Rest would be distorted. Rather than creation’s model of rest bringing humility and perspective, rest has turned into a multi-billion dollar recreational industry.

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And what would become of worship? In the beginning, God intended worship to be like the air we breathe, a posture of life where God’s purpose would be infused into everything we did.

Recently, I saw a dictionary definition of worship that read, To participate in a religious service. That pretty much says where we have come since the beginning. Worship, rather than guiding each day, gets tucked into a little slot of time, maybe only an hour or so each week.

And so, it became, as someone has said, “We worship our work, we work at our play, and we play at our worship.”

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…until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

The implication of the Genesis creation story is that God’s original purpose was that life would be eternal. As Solomon said, in Ecclesiastes, “I know that everything God does will endure forever…

Death is the intruder into God’s good creation. We were made for forever. I think that deep within, we know this to be true.As Ecclesiastes says, …God has put eternity in our hearts. God’s hope—choose life, not death. We chose death.

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The Genesis story is our story.

In these past few posts I have tried to tell the story of the good news of the kingdom of God on earth, and the story of the bad news of human schemes on earth. I have tried to be brief. Much more could be said. I hope this has at least sparked a few questions and motivated a few seeking hearts.

The story of life on earth does not end with bad news. There is more to come. Or, for those of you old enough to remember Paul Harvey there will be “The Rest of the Story.”




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