Thursday, November 1, 2012
In Search Of Truth, Genesis 3:8-13
As often happens, my study has taken a bit of a rabbit trail, or moved at a slower pace than I predicted. We won't be getting to "the consequences of sin for humanity" as I indicated last week, because we've hit another section I'd like to "zoom in on" before moving forward.
The focus of this journey we're taking through portions of the Old Testament is on the nature of God, the nature of humans and what the Old Testament and its customs tells us about the relationship between God and humanity. But now and then we may come across some things that don't fit those categories perfectly, but would feel like a major oversight if we just breezed on by them. So today and next week, although we're continuing in Genesis, we're going "off theme" a bit to tackle some unusual verses I just couldn't pretend not to see.
I enjoyed doing this week's study even more than usual, because it was an opportunity to force myself to find satisfying answers to questions about this material that have sat in the back of my mind for years. Such as, "How does an infinite God walk in a garden?" Or "Why does God curse the serpent if it was really Satan?" And "What is the significance of the serpent being cursed to crawl on its belly and eat dust?"
With these and a few other questions in mind, I dug into all of the best resources I could find and discovered some interesting answers. Not all of them are conclusive, but they certainly satisfied my curiosity and helped me better see the relevance this account has for my life today.
There are two explanations of this verse that I found compelling. The first, more popular explanation, is that God took on some kind of humanoid form while in relationship with Adam and Eve. He didn't give up any of his infinite nature, but rather temporarily added to it a finite representation of himself, in some ways similar to Christ being both fully God while also being fully man.
The second explanation involves some background info on the Hebrew words here. The Bible Background Commentary published by Inter-Varsity Press says, "Akkadian terminology has demonstrated that the word translated "day" also has the meaning "storm". This meaning can be seen also for the Hebrew word in Zephaniah 2:2. It is often connected to the deity coming in a storm of judgment. If this is the correct rendering of the word in this passage, they heard the thunder (the word translated "sound" is often connected to thunder) of the Lord moving about in the garden in the wind of the storm."
In my own examination of the text, I also noticed that the Hebrew word for "walking" used here to describe God's movement in the garden, is commonly used figuratively. And the Hebrew word for "cool" comes from the root word for "wind".
So another explanation is that God did not take physical form, but instead represented his presence by a storm that may have been frightening and appropriate to God's agenda for judgment.
Although God knows everything, he is likely asking about Adam's location in the same way that a parent asks a child caught in the act, "What are you doing?" In fact God's entire line of questioning parallels a parent's instructive discipline of a child, walking them through their actions to show them how and where they went wrong.
And like a child, a politician, or the average adult if we're honest with ourselves, Adam and Eve both attempt to deflect responsibility for their poor actions to someone else.
Next Time- Why did God curse the serpent?