Day 9: The Lord God made garments of skin

Read Genesis 3:20-24

They could have chosen life.

There were two trees in the middle of the garden: the one they ate from, and the other – the tree of life (2:9). Both are still there while God sentences all creation to suffering. Maybe Adam and Eve can see them as they stand there. Maybe, if they reach out, they can touch them.

So, in addition to all the other good things they had enjoyed, there was the promise of even more. They could have had life that never ended – life like God’s. Instead they chose knowledge like God’s. I wonder whether, if they had chosen life, they would have got knowledge too, and no curse with it.

I wonder if the serpent knew that.

They had been given a choice of life or death. They chose wrong, and now God takes away the other option.

I’m so glad he did! Can you imagine if he didn’t?

Now that all creation suffers, now that the dance is over and life is hard work, how terrible it would be if it went on and on. It would be a forever punishment. So God takes away that choice. “He placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.”

But before he sends them away he sews them clothes and dresses them – imagine.

Imagine how it feels. Imagine standing there knowing you have wrecked everything he made; feeling naked and ashamed; trying to understand what has happened and why God seems so different, so frightening. And while all this is going on, you notice him doing something new, something awful – killing animals.

It’s the first time you’ve seen death.

What a horrible thing. Now he’s skinning them and doing something with the skins. He’s sewing them together just like you sewed fig leaves a little while ago. Now he’s holding it out to you, the thing he’s made. It’s for you, to cover your nakedness.

You put it on and you cry, knowing what it cost, knowing you don’t deserve it. But you feel better when it’s on, and you know something else: after all you’ve done, even though it was the worst thing you could possibly do, and even though God was angry – he still loves you.

He loves you enough to help you.

He loves you enough to kill for you.

Like a hero.

Day 8: The Lord God said

Read Genesis 3:14-19

Yesterday, I described Adam and Eve’s life – before they ate the fruit – as a dance. God was the singer, life was the song, and they were the dance: a glad and beautiful response to the music.

It was easy to be that way. Food was everywhere. It hung off the trees: sweet, juicy, and ready to eat. All creation sparkled, fresh. Their marriage was a thing of wonder and joy, and God loved being with them.

But then they listened to the serpent. Without realizing what they were doing, they actually joined sides with him – against God. That’s why everything changed for them. They went from being ‘in’ God, where the dance was, to being ‘against’ him – outside the dance.

Now, God judges them and hands down a sentence.

Notice that no-one questions his right to do this.

He is the creator, the owner. He has absolute right to judge his creation. If you make something, you have the right to decide – to judge – whether or not it is what you wanted. If it is, you judge it ‘good’. If it isn’t, you judge it ‘wrong’, ‘bad’, or a ‘disappointment’. Only you have that right. Only you have the right to destroy it if it doesn’t turn out how you wanted, or to change it, or to hide it in a corner.

You can do what you want with what you make.

So can God.

He curses the serpent (v. 14), and the earth (v. 17), but not the man and woman: to them, he gives difficulty.  She’ll have difficulty giving birth and he’ll have difficulty growing food. They’ll have difficulty with each other, too, and fight for power between themselves.

Everything is changed.

What was good is now cursed; what was joyful is now a power struggle; and what was abundant provision is now hard work. These changes are profound. They will affect all humans and all creation for all time.

But this is a story, and every story needs a problem, otherwise it’s boring. To be truly great, a story needs a great villain and a great weakness to be overcome.

In this story the villain is the serpent. Like a dragon he has shrieked in, darkening the sky with his huge, leathery, wings and wrecking all the good things.

He’s found our weakness.

Now, we need a hero.

Day 7: “The serpent deceived me”

Read Genesis 3:7-13

Tricked – the serpent tricked them.

He made them question the goodness of God, “Did God really say?” Then he contradicted God, “You will not die.” Finally, he lured them with a promise, “You will be like God.”

It was a toxic mix of truth, half-truth and untruth and it left them thinking it would be good to eat the fruit.

It wasn’t.

Now their eyes are opened: that part is true. But they don’t feel God-like, they feel … naked. A moment ago it hadn’t mattered at all. “Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame” (2:25). They hadn’t felt exposed, or vulnerable; as if they needed to cover or protect themselves. There was no need. Life was a song and they were the dance, moving in beautiful surrender to the music of God. Now it’s all changed.

It’s like me dancing.

When I dance, I want to lose myself in the music. I want to just let my body move with it – graceful. I have this sense that it should be that way: I was made to dance like that. But I can’t. Instead, I think about how I look, and worry about whether I’m doing it ‘right’. My fear and my body get in the way of the song, so my joy in the dance is lost.

Standing there in the garden, Adam and Eve have lost their joy too. In an instant they’ve moved from dancing to hiding. They can’t hear the music anymore, their thoughts are full of themselves – how they look, and who’s right and who’s wrong.

The song scratches to a stop while they sew clothes.

Then the Singer comes and they cower behind bushes, ashamed of themselves and afraid of him. Now they understand: they know the serpent lied – they can never be like God.

They can’t even face him.

You see, they know good and evil now. They know that God is good and they aren’t. Not like him. They’ve been changed, stained by evil.

The dance is ruined.

Day 6: “When you eat from it … you will be like God.”

Read Genesis 3:1-6

It’s hard, not being God.

Sometimes I hate not being able to do what I want when I want. I get frustrated when I have to wait – or do what someone else wants; and I especially don’t like not knowing things.

I like being in charge.

God made us ‘like’ him, but not as much as we sometimes wish. We’d like to have more of his power and knowledge. The first humans think so. When the serpent tells them that the forbidden fruit will make them ‘like God, knowing both good and evil,’ they want it.

Looking at the tree closely, maybe for the first time, they notice how beautiful it is and how delicious the fruit looks. As they think about it, they realize they want the wisdom it gives, the wisdom God doesn’t want them to have.

The serpent is very crafty.

Notice how he starts, “Did God really say you must not eat from any tree in the garden?” Of course God didn’t say that; but by suggesting it the serpent creates a question about the goodness of God. For the first time the humans wonder, can God really be trusted? Should he be? He seems … mean.

Why won’t he let us have this fruit?

God said they would die if they ate it, but now the serpent says they won’t. This serpent seems to want them to have wisdom. Maybe he’s the one they should listen to. He seems to care about them more than God does.

Any of this sound familiar?

Ever wanted something you knew God didn’t want you to have? Has it made you wonder about God: is he really good, or just a power-loving tyrant? It can feel that way when we’re torn between Him and the thing we want.

And the longer we dither, staring at the fruit, the better it looks.

“She took some and ate it.”

So simple.

She’s free to choose whether to obey God or not. God isn’t there holding her back.

He lets her defy him.

There isn’t even any thunder or lightning.

Who’s writing the story now?