Monday, October 15, 2012
In Search Of Truth, Genesis 2:15-25
Doing some catching up today. I realized that, although I've covered this section on the podcast already, I somehow forgot to post it here on the blog that week. So here is the "missing" segment of "In Search Of Truth". Stay tuned for this week's new segment coming soon!
This time we're taking a further look, our last look really, at the human race as it was just before a catastrophic change. In chapter 3 a few simple actions will take place that damage and corrupt humanity to the core, forever changing and redefining the human condition. But to understand that better, it helps to see who we were before that change came about, and what we were meant to be and do. Genesis chapter 2 gives us a few indications of that.
God placed Adam in the garden... to work! Working, producing and caring for resources is part of our intended purpose. We were made to do and accomplish.
Ever wonder why it feels so good to complete a side quest in a video game? I still get a strange excitement over harvesting ingredients and making potions in Skyrim or Kingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning. Or finding that uber-economic use of my cards in Thunderstone or the Mage Knight board game. And that's because I love being productive and accomplishing!
Many forms of geek entertainment are hints of the world we lost and foreshadows of the world to come, as they point directly to our intended purpose and give us a taste of the believer's destiny.
God is not a cosmic killjoy. We tend to jump to the prohibitive command of verse 17, but we shouldn't miss the gift given in verse 16. To put food in our mouths, we have to do work that is often hard and discouraging. But Adam was given all the food he needed without serving a daily 9 to 5 sentence of labor. None of it was poisonous, or caused allergic reactions. It didn't have to be processed or filtered somehow. It was ready and waiting to be eaten. Adam could give his time to working without frustration or the need for a paycheck hanging over his head, because he already had everything he needed. (Well almost, but we'll get to that.) In chapter 3 we'll see how work becomes a frustrating, difficult grind, as we know it today. But here in chapter 2 it hadn't become that yet.
God doesn't offer many details about the nature of The Tree Of The Knowledge Of Good And Evil. (Satan takes advantage of this later, as we'll see.) He simply says, "don't eat from it, or you'll die." A command and its consequences.
Sometimes, because I enjoy puzzling through the difficult mysteries of the Bible, I forget to be content with ignorance when God chooses not to provide all the answers, and simply accept and obey what God reveals. Now, for those skeptics out there, this isn't the same as saying "check your brain at the door and just have faith". I try to search for answers as far as the available data will take me. But when I run out of data, there are some things I have to be content not knowing. There are some commands that may seem strange that I just need to obey. In the end, God is asking me, and all of us, to trust that he knows, better than anyone, what is best for us.
This trust, which the Bible calls "faith", is the foundation of our relationship with God. The message from God that makes up the entire Bible could arguably be boiled down to "trust me". Trusting God is fundamental to being in relationship with him. And as we'll see, refusing to trust God breaks off that relationship, resulting in death.
God warned Adam that in the day he ate of that tree, he would die. The Hebrew word used for "day" here (the same used for "day" when describing the "days" of creation) is fairly malleable, and can refer to a 24-hour day, a year, a point in time or an undefined span of time. The Hebrews reading this would not have been surprised or confused (after Adam eats of this tree) to see that Adam does not die within 24-hours. This verse could also mean that when Adam eats the fruit of this tree, it will be the start of a new era for mankind. An era of death.
Adam was incomplete. God new it was "not good" for him to be alone. He needed a "helper" to complete him.
It should be noted here that "helper" does not mean or imply "servant". When I ask someone to "help" me carry a heavy box up the stairs, they aren't my servant. They become my partner in the endeavor, as we work together to get the job done. This is the sense meant here.
But before God provides Adam with a partner, he lets Adam examine the animal kingdom, looking at them and classifying them with names. God seems to be doing this to help Adam rule out any kind of animal as his partner. It may seem obvious to most, but we are not meant to have the greatest intamacy (either physical or emotional) with animals.
Instead, God created men to be partnered with women. Humanity started as one being. God separated a part of that being from him to make another, but the two become one again when they are brought back together in intimacy.
Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.
Genesis 2:25 indicates that the human body is not something to inherently be ashamed of. Sexuality is not evil. The Bible never teaches this. Yet today it is right and good that we cover our bodies and share them only with our marriage partners.
I can speculate (though I'd stress the word "speculate") on a few reasons why Adam and Eve were not ashamed of their nakedness at this time. I don't think it was simply because they were alone. I think it was because they had not been corrupted yet by a desire to live life their own way instead of God's way. Humanity was not yet clawing after constant gratification, and so was not subject to lust. Adam and Eve didn't feel the insecure need to impress each other with their bodies.
The absence of sin meant they were removed from the endless, diseased cycle of shallow lust and insecurity that causes us, rightly, to cover our bodies today.
There are certainly more thoughts out there on this topic, and a great place to strike up conversation is on our forums!
Next time: A talking snake? What's so bad about fruit?