The Fall of Adam

The good magician Trumble had a very willful apprentice. Many were the times the apprentice had to be disciplined. After many headaches, the magician issued an ultimatum. Mess up one more time, and he'd be forced to experience the alarmingly short life of a castle rat. Several days later, Trumble found his apprentice throwing a party in the lab with a dozen goblins in attendance. The apprentice was crushed. His life as he knew it was over, and in a couple of years, he would die. He could not help but cry at he watched Trumble packing his belongings from his hole in the wall. Then it occurred to him that Trumble was packing his things, not throwing them away. The little rat squeaked his confusion.

"You're going to need these." replied the magician. "When your life as a rat is over, I expect you to report for duty. And maybe then, you'll be a little bit wiser."

First off, I'd like to apologize if the title of this sermon seems at all sexist. We all know that Eve fell the same day Adam did. I just wanted to avoid using the word "mankind".

By now, I'm sure that you all remember what we're looking for as we go through these history lessons. We're looking for affirmation of God's holiness, clues to His personality and keys to understanding the grand design.

But to understand what is really going on here, we have to undertand what preceded this event.

The garden of Eden is the first appearance of Satan, but it is not his origin story. We are not given that at this time, and for good reason. God doesn't want us to focus on Satan until we have enough knowledge of our God under our belt. Same reason you don't give first week police-academy cadets a course on mob bosses. It's more important to know your own side first. This is why I have waited until now to speak about Satan with any detail. Satan is quite real. His existance is acknowledged in seven books of the old testament and every book of the new testament. Jesus acknowledged and taught of Satan's existance. Some examples are Matthew 13:39, Luke 10:18 and 11:18. Satan is an intelligent being (2 Corinthians 11:3), has emotions (Revelation 12:17), has a will (2 Timothy 2:26) and is held morally accountable for his actions. (Matthew 25:41).

Before the time of Eden, Satan was known as Lucipher, and was THE arcangel. Ezekiel, prophecying to the king of Tyre, compares him to Lucipher thusly:

12 "Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: "'You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: ruby, topaz and emerald, chrysolite, onyx and jasper, sapphire, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared.
14 You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones.
15 You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you.
16 Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, O guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones.
17 Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth; I made a spectacle of you before kings.
18 By your many sins and dishonest trade you have desecrated your sanctuaries. So I made a fire come out from you, and it consumed you, and I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching. Isaiah tells us about the sin which Satan committed in Chapter 14 of his book. How he became proud and sought to set himself up in God's place.

12 How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!
13 You said in your heart, "I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.
14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High."

Other scriptures such as Revelation tell us that in seeking to overthrow God, Satan led a third of the host of Heaven in rebellion. Of course, he lost. That's a given. Nevertheless, Satan and most of his followers were allowed to roam about until the day of their judgement. I for one frequently wonder why. Unfortunately, I don't have an answer to that. None of the experts I have consulted has an answer. All I know is that it's part of God's plan. We know that He manipulates evil to achieve good. Again, I'm not saying that evil is good, only that good can result from evil.

That said, what can we learn from this chapter?

Concerning the holiness of God, this is demonstrated throughout the passage. In verse 2, Eve demonstrates God's authority, citing his one and only rule. In verse 5, Satan inadvertantly glorifies God. He tells Eve that if she eats the forbidden fruit, she will be like God, knowing good from evil. Satan is a very tallented liar, often using the truth to make someone believe something that isn't true by directing them toward the wrong conclusion. In this case, Satan rightly admits that God is the one person who at that time was able to discern right from wrong. As such, He is the only person fit to judge anyone, and that is exactly what He does from verse 11 through the end of the chapter. He conducts an investigation, gives everyone a chance to state their case, and doles out suitable punishments. God also demonstrates that He is still in charge of His creation when He makes the decision to withhold physical immortality from Adam and Eve. Lastly, we see a glimpse of God's inability to tolerate evil when He exiles the humans from His garden and bars the entrance.

But God is great. Not just in the sense that He's big or powerful, but He is good. To paraphrase both Third Day and King David, His love stretches to the Heavens, and His faithfulness stretches to the sky. God loved Adam. (Still does!) His walks with Adam in the Garden in the cool of the evening were the highlight of the day. Here is someone who can literally do anything. He could build Himself a 25-dimensional amusement park if He wanted to. Yet His pleasure was to visit with the groundskeeper. That's love.

Imagine what it was like for God when He arrived in Eden and found that adam was hiding. Have you ever had a pet who hid from you? I've had many pets. My favorites by far were three rats by the names of David, Rita and Chahala. All three were highly intelligent. They came when they were called. They were allowed to enter and exit their cages as they pleased. Each of them took pleasure in my company, and because of that, I took joy in theirs. Other pets have decided to avoid me whenever I come near. I don't mind telling you that it makes me feel terrible. I have loved each and every one of them, and yet some of them have treated me like a carrier of the plague. What was it like for God when his best friend hid from Him for fear?

Now God would have been well within His rights to punish Adam, Eve and the snake by burrying them alive, burning them, turning them into salt, driving them mad, or even dropping a building on them. He used all of those punishments at one time or another. But that's not what He did.

The snake was the first to be punished. Allowing the devil to use him as he did was by far the worst infraction. And though the snake was not God's personal friend as far as we know, God did not afflict the creature with any sort of horrific disease. He did turn the species into slithering, wormlike creatures, but in doing so, He gave them a unique ecological niche and modified their bodies so that they could survive in their new condition. A snake's body has some very special modifications, such as one from each pair of organs being favored over the other in order to accomodate the snake's narrow shape. God also gave snakes two positions of honor in history. Once as the devourer of evil in Moses' staff and once as a precursor to Christ in the Caduseus. (And of course, there's the psalm-reading monk we all know and love.)

For Eve, God removed the natural processes which dull the pain of childbearing in many animals, and put her in a subordinate position to her husband. Some could look at this and say that women have been tortured and oppressed since Eden. That's one way of looking at it. But God never meant the relationship between husband and wife to be oppressive. He commanded husbands to love their wives as their own bodies, and as Christ loves His church. As for the pain, it serves to give us an understanding of the universe we live in. It was as a direct result of Eve's disobedience that the universe was corrupted, and now the entire universe waits and groans like a woman in labor as it anticipates the creation of the new Heaven and Earth. (Romans 8:22) It also drives home the truth that suffering is necessary for life. As a mother is willing to suffer great pain to give her child life, so Jesus suffered great pain to give us eternal life.

The punishment of Adam (and every human male after him) is hard work. It certainly didn't hurt the human race to learn a little responsibility. Being forced to expend blood sweat and tears to care for a family only brought us to a greater understanding to what it means to God to be creator and provider.

As for how this story fits into the river of history, I covered most of that in previous sermons, and not everyone received it well. God has always had a certain goal in mind for Adam and his offspring. He wants us to be His children, and to understand Him in all His goodness and holiness. But we can never understand how good He is without experiencing evil. Once again, I'm not saying that evil is good. Wrong is wrong and is to be avoided. But just like a parent must sometimes let their child be free to get himself into deep trouble so that he'll turn again to what is right, so God must let us be free to sin so that we can learn for ourselves why it's bad and why God's way is so good. We're all like the prodigal son to one degree or another. We've got to go off and do our own thing, and take ourselves to the point of hungering after pig slop so that we can appreciate how right God's way is and how much He loves us.

Tonight's challenge: Here's your chance to practice some optimism. When life gets hard, remember that yes, we are getting punished, and will be until Jesus reclaims and renews the world, but the punishment is more than simply to make us suffer. God loves us. Each one of us individually. If you are a Christian, you have the promise of Romnans 8:28 to assure you that everything you're going through is working together for your good. If you're not, God still loves you and his promise of salvation is only a prayer away. Your suffering doesn't have to be for nothing.

Next week: Cain and Abel.

Today's reading: Genesis 3
3:1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"
2 The woman said to the serpent, "We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,
3 but God did say, 'You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'"
4 "You will not surely die," the serpent said to the woman.
5 "For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
6 When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden.
9 But the LORD God called to the man, "Where are you?"
10 He answered, "I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid."
11 And he said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?"
12 The man said, "The woman you put here with me--she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it."
13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" The woman said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."
14 So the LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, "Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."
16 To the woman he said, "I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you."
17 To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, 'You must not eat of it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.
18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return."
20 Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.
21 The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.
22 And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever."
23 So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.
24 After he drove the man out, 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.