Today at church, we reached chapter 3 in the current teaching series on Genesis (download the message from 11.18.2007 to listen). Genesis 3 recounts the fall – the original sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. To understand why our world today is so different from life in the perfection of God’s original creation, we need to understand this tragic day in Eden.
Why is it such a big deal that Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit? It was not an arbitrary transgression of an arbitrary rule; humanity committed outright rebellion against God himself. The first man and woman believed lies about God’s character, questioned God’s motive toward them, and denied God’s authority. This disobedience evoked a response of both judgment and mercy from God. The judgment lies in the bitter consequences of sin: estrangement and shame, pain in childbearing and in work, strife in marriage, the realities of decay and death, and being cast out from God’s presence.
Yet, there is mercy; God’s grace offers hope to fallen people. After the disobedience of Adam and Eve, who went looking for whom? God, rather than justly smiting the rebellious couple then and there, takes the initiative to seek out those broken human beings. He set up a plan for decisive victory of sin and its consequences. He promises a Savior to crush the serpent who led people astray. Eventually, Jesus comes to live a guiltless life, to resist all the temptations that Adam and Eve could not, to melt away the effects of sin (healing disease, softening hardened hearts). Then he is bruised mightily on the cross, bearing the curse in our place. One day, he will return to deal ultimately with sin and to restore to his people pure fellowship with God himself. “There is hope even in paradise lost” (R. Kent Hughes).
What does this story of the first couple eating forbidden fruit in the first garden have to do with us today? I had several personal reflections as I listened to this sermon. First, I thought about how the pain of infertility is tied to the curse of pain in childbearing; apart from the fall, conceiving and giving birth to children would have been effortless, but now the whole process is fraught with difficulty and suffering. I am so grateful that heaven promises an end to these sorrows! And second, I thought about my own depravity. I can be prone to think, “Gosh, Adam and Eve sure messed things up! If it weren’t for their mistakes, life would be perfect today.” But if I had been the one in the garden, I am sure that I would have made the same grave error. I am just as prone to question God’s character and motive, to wonder if he is really doing what is best for me. Thank the Lord that he seeks me out in my unbelief! What amazing mercy, that he offers me salvation and sanctification, and that he redeems my crooked heart and my broken body!