Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Relationship Restoration Project – The Fall

“And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” – Genesis 2:25, ESV

“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.” – Genesis 3:6

“And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” – Genesis 3:8

Last week at church, one of the worship songs we sang was “In the Garden.” The lyrics go something like this, “I come to the garden alone, While the dew is still on the roses, And the voice I hear falling on my ear, The song of God discloses…He speaks and the sound of his voice, Is so sweet the birds hush their singing, And the melody that he gave to me, Within my heart is ringing” (Miles C. A., 1912). As I was singing along, I couldn’t help but thought, if we believe that the description of Adam and Eve’s behavior in Genesis 3:8 is the complete opposite to what it was before the Fall, then what is described in “In the Garden” must be pretty close to what Adam and Eve’s relationship with God was like. Every once a while, God would come to the Garden to take a walk with His two children. Adam and Eve would welcome Him joyously. They loved to spend time with their Father, and His voice was like honey to their ears. After all, this is why God created them – to be in loving relationship with Him.

In addition to the first men’s relationship with God, as I have previously mentioned, “the first man and woman were made to share in an intimate community as one, just like that of the triune community.” The scriptural evidences give us a glimpse into the pre-fall relationship between the first human beings. In Genesis 2:25 it was a picture of the first man and woman in which that they had nothing to hide from each other, and that they felt safe and secure being naked with each other. They were completely honest and transparent to each other. In Genesis 3:6, while most often the debate is on whether it is the man or the woman who was guiltier of sin, here, ironically, we find a picture of the oneness of the first man and woman. Wherever one went, the other went with; whatever one did, the other did with. Even as one sinned, the other sinned with.

While it is suggested by many Evangelical Christians that the pre-fall first man and woman enjoyed sex, I simply could not find any scriptural evidence to support this assumption. I suppose that they came to this conclusion by assuming that it was sex that defined the relationship between the first man and woman. However, from the two scriptural evidences presented above (Genesis 2:25 and 3:6), it seems to me that what defined the relationship between the first man and woman was intimacy rather than sex, and whether that intimacy was expressed through sex or not.

At any rate, this intimacy between the first men and God, and between the first man and woman is about to be shattered as the serpent approached. As introduced in Genesis 3, here the serpent, with its deceptive words, created in Eve a doubt about God. On the one hand, you have YHWH Elohiym – the Father Creator whom you loved and loved you, you trusted and shared intimate relationship with; on the other hand, you have this serpent fellow to whom your relation was a dominant one. And yet, the saddest and most devastating part of the Fall is that Adam and Eve chose the serpent over God! In addition, the desire to gain godlike knowledge of good and evil is to reject reliance on God for His judgment, and to say that “I want to be my own judge.”

The consequence of the eating of the forbidden fruit came instantly. The shame of this betrayal exposed Adam and Eve of their nakedness. They could no longer be vulnerable to each other and to God, and now they must sew fig leaves together to cover their nakedness. When God came to the garden, instead of welcoming Him joyously, their guilt drove them to hide themselves from Him. When the sound of God should be like honey to their ears, now the voice of God sounds like a harsh judgment. When Adam and Eve were supposed to be one, now when questioned by God, Adam immediately shifted the blame onto Eve. All of a sudden Eve is no longer the “bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh,” but she is now “The woman you put here with me” (Genesis 3:12, NIV)!

The doubt, the betrayal against God, the self-reliant knowledge of good and evil, the guilt and the shame inevitably separated mankind from God. As indicated in verse 24, now God must drive Adam and Eve out of Eden, where it was once the place they enjoyed loving relationship and fellowship with God. Being driven out of Eden denied them access to the tree of life, and thus death became inevitable. Moreover, the self-reliant knowledge of good and evil, the guilt and the shame also separated one mankind from another. The human tendency to be judgmental, which reinforces our walls against each other, is the most clear and direct consequence of the eating of the forbidden fruit.

Further, just like a child caught stealing cookies from the cookie jar, it was this sense of guilt that pushed her to lie to her parents, and to deny her own wrong doing. She’s so ashamed that she wishes to forget all about it as if nothing had ever happened. It is much the same way with Adam and Eve. Their sense of guilt and shame ultimately separated them from themselves. They wanted to go and hide themselves. They could no longer bear their own nakedness. People in our generation know how to hide from our own senses of guilt and shame the best. All we have to do is to keep ourselves busy. We over work, we over use the internet, and we over indulge our sensibilities, so that we don’t have to look into our problems and our hearts.

Finally, when mankind should be dominating over the rest of the creation, by choosing the serpent over God, the first men perverted the God sanctioned natural order. The first men gave away their dominion, just like Esau gave away his birthright. The perversion of the natural order separated mankind from the rest of the creation. When abundance should be easily nurtured by the loving care of men, it is now “in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread...” (Genesis 3:18-19, ESV). And in our fallen state, by trying so hard to regain our dominion and revert to the original abundance, we end up abusing the natural world.

The doubt, the betrayal against God, the self-reliant knowledge of good and evil, the guilt, the shame, death, the great separation between mankind and God, between one mankind and another, between one mankind and oneself, and between mankind and the rest of the creation…all these are the consequence of the Fall. This consequence entered through Adam, and flowed through the entirety of all mankind. This is the original sin. Yet in the midst of this brokenness and depravity, a seed of hope was sown by God, as hinted in Genesis 3:15 – a hope of salvation from this depravity, and a hope of redemption from all these separations and brokenness. If the consequence of the Fall is fundamentally relational, then the salvation and redemption must be fundamentally relational as well. The aim is ultimately to bring mankind back to that loving and intimate relationship with God and with each other.

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