Take a look at this little bit of Genesis 3:
The serpent was the most subtle of all the wild beasts that God had made. It asked the woman, “Did God really say you were not to eat from any of the trees in the garden? The woman answered the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees in the garden. But of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden God said, “You must not eat it, nor touch it, under pain of death”.’ Then the serpent said to the woman, “Die? You will not die! God knows in fact that on the day you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil.” The woman saw that the tree was good to eat and pleasing to the eye, and that it was desirable for the knowledge that it could give. So she took some of its fruit and ate it. She gave some also to her husband who was with her and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened.
Doesn’t it seem like the story of God and man and woman should have started off a little better? I don’t know, maybe a little more reverent and worshipful, like, Oh, God, you’re so awesome, thank you so much for creating us, we’ll do whatever you say! But instead, our story starts with us doing something completely wacky and wrong, eating from that tree we weren’t supposed to. I love what Ecclesiasticus says about this:
God made people in the beginning, and then left them free to make their own decisions.
God left us free to make our own decisions. What a trusting God. It’s kinda crazy, if you ask me. Because look what Adam and Eve go and do with that decision making power. Oops.
And there are some pretty serious consequences to this, if we kept on reading in Genesis 3, we have a list of all those consequences. But what is AMAZING is that God is not just like, you know what? Forget you. I gave you this opportunity to please me, make good decisions, and you sucked, so now we are not friends anymore. Buh-bye. No. If that’s what had happened, um, there would not be the rest of this book.
I think part of the point of this story is to help us see that this is just part of how we are – we LEAN in this direction that makes keeping God’s instructions something that takes REAL EFFORT. I know that might sound bad – like – ooh – we are all made sinful and bad – but – even though that’s true – I think there is another piece of this story that gets overlooked. Because really, this story IS reassuring. I’m not going to ask for a show of hands or anything – but let me ask you, seriously – Don’t you struggle sometimes to follow God’s heart, God’s instructions? I know I do. I’ll gladly raise my hand. I struggle A LOT. This story is here for a lot of reasons, but one of them is to reassure us: It’s not just you. All your people are like this. From the beginning.
And guess what? God still keeps on walking with us. For an entire life’s worth of stuff. An entire Bible’s worth of people’s disobediences.
God keeps hoping that we will see that it would be better if we didn’t try to do it our own way. We’re like Eve, we look, and see that something LOOKS good – after all, it says there right in the Book– she looked, and saw that it was pleasing and desirable – but if God has asked us specifically not to do that thing that looks pleasing and desirable – really – it will go much better for us if we stay away from it. Whatever it might be.
The other day, I was thinking about doing something totally rotten. I mean really, really rotten, something totally against God’s heart. I was super, super mad at someone. This person was being really horrible to people that I love. And so, you know, super mature Christian that I am – I wanted them to suffer. And this was on my mind a lot. By a lot, I mean, um, all the time. Nice, huh? (I know, it’s nice.)
What was I doing? I was going completely against God’s word. How many times does God tell us in the Bible not to judge? HE is the judge. Of everybody. I was thinking that I was the judge. But God is the judge. Not me. I was just like Eve. I was all backwards. God knows that what I need in this area is not to punish this person, but to be free from worrying about it.
God knew who Eve and Adam were and what they needed. And God knows us and what we need.
This is reassurance.