Sunday, 29 January 2017

U Turn - Genesis 3

Last week we heard how God has created, and in that creation He has made people. He has provided and given them vocation, and with that permission - a freedom in which to fulfil their vocation. Yet with that freedom comes risk, a risk that they will explore too far, take that which is unhealthy. So there is also prohibition, a healthy boundary set in place.

Into the woman's head is put a thought, a doubting of what God had said. Where was that from? One of God's creatures? It develops into a question: 'Did God really say you must not eat from any tree?'. The woman responds well - there were plenty of trees to choose from in God's provision, though one is off limits. Yet interestingly she goes further and says that for this one tree you must not even touch the fruit. God had only said 'do not eat' - she seems to have built a safety-fence around the tree.

Now God is infinite but the man is finite, so he cannot know everything. Unknowns can turn into anxiety, worrying about uncertainty. God in covenant grace has provided a clear, healthy boundary, but if we are not careful we can let anxiety take over from simple trust. And this opens the door for a direct lie: 'You certainly won't die ...'. The woman now looks at the one fruit differently, seeing it as good for food, attractive, offering something she and her husband can grasp for. Forgetting their reference to God they reach for something they now think will make them like God.

So they have a bite, and one gulp each later things really do look different! They now feel exposed, nakedness is a problem, and they scramble to cover themselves. Hearing God coming they hide - fear has replaced grace as the controlling force.

We all know with children that when someone has done something wrong and the are confronted, the first thing that happens is a blame game. Queue this behaviour in the story! Yet leaving the snake aside for a moment, the next thing to happen is actually quite scandalous. Whereas back in 2:18 the instruction was clear: 'you will surely die', God actually now lets them live (at least for a while). Yet that life will not be the same as before: it is limited, constrained, new boundaries and difficulty are all in the mix. They will return to dust, and they are moved out of the garden.

Yet even in this new environment God provides, and covers their shame. The God of grace is still at work, mopping up in the light of the consequences of freedom abused.

The man & woman had been in the covenant grace of God. Natural uncertainty that comes with being finite was distorted into anxiety and played on, such that they took actions to be like God. For this they must take responsibility. However you view the snake, it becomes clear that anything which is set against God and His purposes, which twists reality and gives outright lies will not be tolerated. Interestingly God will ultimately use mankind in the defeating of this opposition - but that is another story for later!

The man & woman blow it. This is not crossing an arbitrary line, but grasping to be like God. This introduces a new context where we years later find ourselves doing the same in a myriad of ways. We cannot simply turn the clock back, or work our way back to fix this ... but God has a way. We were all created through the Word - Jesus - and now all of us need to be brought back to trust in the Word.

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