HEY, I JUST REPORT THE NEWS

January 10, 2017

HEY, I JUST REPORT THE NEWS!

Eve,” the serpent inquires in astonishment and disbelief, “something is bothering me. Is it really true that God forbade you two to eat of any of these trees? That perplexes me. After all, didn’t He pronounce everything ‘very good’? And hasn’t He put both you and King Adam in charge of it all? Our loving Creator wouldn’t impose so severe a limitation on you, would He? I don’t understand, Eve. Would you please explain this problem to me?”

Eve hadn’t even known there was a “problem.” But the Serpent’s prejudiced question unsettles her. It knocks her back on her heels. And so the Serpent engages Eve in a reevaluation of her life on his terms. She begins to feel that God’s command, which Adam had shared with her, has to be defended: “We are allowed to eat of these trees, serpent. But there is this one tree here in the center of the Garden—God said, ‘Don’t eat of it; don’t even touch it, lest you die’.” God had actually said, “You shall freely eat from any tree, with only one exception.” But Eve’s misquote reduces the lavish generosity of God’s word to the level of mere, perhaps grudging, permission: “We may eat from the trees.” Already the Garden doesn’t look quite the same to Eve. No longer is the Tree of Life at the center of things (cf. 2:9). She doesn’t even mention it. Now, in her perception of reality, the forbidden tree is at the center. Life is taking on a new, ominous feel. Eve also enlarges God’s prohibition with her own addition, “you may not touch it.” In her mind, the limitation is growing in significance. At the same time, she tones down God’s threat of punishment: “you shall surely die” becomes the weaker “lest you die.”

With Eve’s view of the consequences of sin weakened, the Serpent springs on that point: “You will not surely die.” Now we see that he hasn’t been seeking information at all. He knows exactly what God had said. And then the Serpent pretends to let Eve in on an important secret:

“Eve, I’m going to do you a favor. I hate to be the one to break this to you, but you deserve to know. God has a motive other than love for this restriction. The truth is that God wants to hold you back, to frustrate your potential. Don’t you realize that God Himself has this knowledge of good and evil? He knows what will enrich life and what will ruin life. And He knows that this fruit will give you two that same knowledge, so that you will rise to His level of understanding and control. Eve, it may come as a shock to you, but God is holding out on you. He is not your friend; He is your rival. “Now, Eve, you have to outwit Him. I know this Garden seems pleasant enough; but, really, it is a gigantic ploy, to keep you in your place, because God feels threatened by what the two of you could become. This tree, Eve, is your only chance to reach your potential. In fact, Eve, if you don’t eat of this tree, you will surely die!”

It was a lie big enough to reinterpret all of life and attractive enough to redirect Eve’s loyalty from God to Self. The lie told her that obedience is a suicidal plunge, that humility is demeaning, and that service is servility. And so Eve begins to feel the aggravation of an injustice which, in reality, does not exist.

Having planted the lie in her mind, the serpent now falls silent and allows Eve’s new perception of reality to take its own course (3:6). With Moses’ enablement, we can imagine what her thoughts might have been:

“It doesn’t look deadly, does it? In fact, it makes my mouth water! How could a good God prohibit such a good thing? How could a just God put it right here in front of us and then expect us to deny ourselves its pleasures? It’s intriguingly beautiful, too. And with the insight it affords, I can liberate us from dependence upon our Creator. And who knows? If He finds out we’ve caught on to Him, He’ll take this tree away and we’ll be stuck in this prison forever! Let’s eat it now while we have the chance!”

After his careful, detailed description of Eve’s deception, Moses describes the actual act of Adam and Eve’s sin very simply, as a matter of fact, without a hint of shock: “… she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it” (3:6b).

Mark well what the text says and what it does not say. The text does not say, “… she took some and ate it. Her husband, who was with her, also took some and ate it.” What actually happened is full of meaning. Eve usurped Adam’s headship and led the way into sin. And Adam, who (it seems) had stood by passively, allowing the deception to progress without decisive intervention—Adam, for his part, abandoned his post as head. Eve was deceived; Adam forsook his responsibility. Both were wrong and together they pulled the human race down into sin and death.

Isn’t it striking that we fell upon an occasion of sex role reversal? Are we to repeat this confusion forever? Are we to institutionalize it in evangelicalism in the name of the God who condemned it in the beginning?

But if Adam and Eve fell into sin together, why does Paul blame Adam for our fall in Romans 5:12-21? Why doesn’t Paul blame both Adam and Eve? Why does Genesis 3:7 say that it was only after Adam joined in the rebellion that the eyes of both of them were opened to their condition? Why does God call out to Adam, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9)? Why doesn’t God summon both Adam and Eve to account together? Because, as the God-appointed head, Adam bore the primary responsibility to lead their partnership in a God-glorifying direction.

This may explain why Satan addressed Eve, rather than Adam, to begin with. Her calling was to help Adam as second-in-command in world rulership. If the roles had been reversed, if Eve had been created first and then Adam as her helper, the Serpent would doubtless have approached Adam. So Eve was not morally weaker than Adam. But Satan struck at Adam’s headship. His words had the effect of inviting Eve to assume primary responsibility at the moment of temptation: “You decide, Eve. You lead the way. Wouldn’t you rather be exercising headship?” Just as Satan himself fell through this very kind of reasoning, so he used it to great effect with Eve. Presumably, she really believed she could manage the partnership to both Adam’s and her own advantage, if she would only assert herself. Adam, by contrast, defied God with eyes wide open.

When confronted by God, Adam does not actually lie. He just shifts the blame to Eve: “The man said, ‘The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it’” (3:12). Why is it that we all feel Adam’s face—saving, despicable hypocrisy in his factual, but evasive, reply to God? Because we recognize, if only intuitively, that Adam bears the final responsibility for what happened. Eve, when challenged, can only hang her head and admit, “The serpent deceived me” (3:13).

In 3:14-15, God curses the Serpent, condemning him to humiliation and to ultimate defeat under the victorious offspring of the woman. Our only hope as a fallen race is God’s merciful promise to defeat our enemy.

God bless from scumlikeuschurch@gmail.com

Questions, comments and prayer requests to the email address above please

 

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