Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take from the tree of life and eat, and live forever—therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken.

Genesis 3: 22, 23

 

You would think that perfection would be reward enough. That living in an environment that did not present any forms of threat or opposition would make us content and obedient to the one simple rule that God set out, “of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you shall not eat.”(2:17) Yet, that was not the case, for as we know all too well, our initial ancestors did, in fact, eat that forbidden fruit, and the results that issued forth from that decision are with us to this day. This planet that we dwell upon is very different from that safe and secure place where Adam and Eve were created to live. They experienced the violence and the grief that humanity brings upon our world and that nature itself also now generates. Within a mere blink of the eye in terms of human history they experienced malice, anger, and murder. After the passage of only a few generations the world was so corrupt that God was almost ready to wipe it clean and start over.

 

But God did not do that. Instead He left a remnant of His creation and recommitted Himself to the restoration of all that He had formed as His great handiwork. In the chaos that disobedience had caused, the Lord promised that He would provide a redeemer for us. The Lord committed to destroy the evil that was loose upon the earth and to bring about an eternal renewal that would recreate the state of peace and close relationship with Him that was at the center of God’s original design. Even now, after Christ has come to live with us for the first time, we continue to struggle with obedience to God. He commands us to worship Him alone, and we seek out other gods. The Lord shows us the way into His now and forever presence, and we push His Christ aside as we follow our worldly paths. Christ instructs us in the ways of peace and of caring for others, and we respond with aggression and acts that oppress those who are in need. Sadly, we humans have not yet entered into the truth of God’s position as our only sovereign Lord and eternal Father.

 

However, it is in our stubbornness and disobedience that God’s remarkable character is most on display. He seems to possess a form of patience that defies all understanding, and He also demonstrates the depth of His love for each and every one of us in the fact that He continues to pursue us without regard for what we have done or how badly we may have treated and spoken of Him. Christ gave all so that we all could be redeemed from the living death and the eternal separation that our own actions have deemed our just reward. In Christ we are granted the capacity to understand the deep peace of the soul that only comes when we are dwelling in the presence of our Creator. With Christ we are brought back to an earthly shadow of that great garden of community that God devised to be our home on earth. Now, with Christ residing within, we eat from that tree that brings life, not with our mouths but from the depths of our souls, and the life that God grants to us is one where obedience to God’s will provides peace, joy, and contentment that lasts forever.

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And to Adam he said, ”Because you have listened to your wife and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you, in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life.”

Genesis 3: 17

 

This text tells us something very important, and this message is not just for men and it does not target women as the cause of all of the trouble that comes our way in this world. I think that the most important aspect of what the Lord says to Adam and to Eve at this pivotal moment in the history of humanity is about trust and it relates to commitment. God had entrusted these first people with the caretaking of the earth, and He had committed to faithfully love and to care for them. As a part of that loving care there were certain laws for living that the people were to follow. These were not arbitrary or capricious on God’s part, and they did not cause an unreasonable burden for the people. They were an integral part of the concept of faith and trust that was foundational to the relationship between humanity and our Creator.

 

But Adam and Eve determined to do things differently, and in so doing, they defied God in an act of arrogant rebelliousness. The outcome of those sinful moments is one of the fundamental aspects of the reality of our world. This has been true since that day in our initial history, and it will continue to be so until Christ restores everything to the state of God’s original creative perfection. When we read this text, we men often focus on the words, “Because you listened to your wife” and stop thinking about anything beyond some concept of authority and power. I don’t think that God was saying that at all. Instead of wife being the focus word here, God’s real emphasis is on listened. God is concerned about whose voice we seek out when we desire wisdom and direction.

 

Adam is charged with a failing that is common to people. He sought out a second opinion when it came to matters in which God had already set out clear direction. It was just that Adam and Eve, like us, did not like what God said. They wanted a different outcome; so, they went to a source that was more comfortable and more closely aligned to that place of human desiring. However, what they heard was not God’s truth and following that earthly wisdom had disastrous results. What we do as a result of the counsel that we seek will not impact the world in the same sort of way that Adam’s decision did. We live within the economy of forgiveness and grace that comes through Jesus Christ. Yet, the decisions that we make do matter greatly, and seeking God’s wisdom and truth in all things is the only way to have our decisions be ones that honor the Lord and bring glory to His name.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

1 Peter 1: 3

 

The joy and the excitement of birth into new life are very rapidly replaced by the reality of death. We live only a few short years on this earth, and those years begin to be touched very early on by sin and the struggle against God and His way of truth that sin brings about. Its as if the air that we breathe in order to start life is a part of a subtly toxic atmosphere that will, over time, cause our souls to die. God not only knew this, but He responded to it. The poison that is present in this world was not a part of the creation handiwork of God. It came into being as the first people determined to defy God and strive to live independently of His will. The forbidden fruit was life when left on its tree, but its consumption poisoned the entire world.

 

Soon after this unfortunate eating, God’s mercy and His grace were vividly portrayed, for God did something that was extraordinary under the circumstances. He went after the shamed and concealed couple, and He called them into His presence where the Lord confronted them with the truth of their actions and also entered into the process for their redemption. This process is one that leads to the pouring out of that same redemptive grace upon me and upon anyone who desires to know God. Eve and Adam were granted the opportunity to live and to serve God through serving His purposes on this earth. We are granted that same merciful chance through the sacrificial death and the resurrection to life of Jesus Christ. We can enter into the redemption of our lives through this unimaginably great gift from God.

 

So, in Christ, you and I are made alive. We leave the death spiral that the toxic air of this world has caused, and we are granted the gift of new birth into an unending relationship with God. This new birth grants to us an eternity with God, and it also gives us a life of purpose for all of our remaining days. This opportunity to travel through life with God’s will as our guide and direction is as much a gift of His mercy and grace as is the eternal life that follows our days on the earth. I join with Peter in thanking God for the life that He has granted to me. I pray to Christ to show me His will for this day, this next hour, and even for the coming minutes. Christ has redeemed from death all of the time that I have in this life, and I desire to make each minute count as a blessing to Him.