This week was the 3rd week in our series “God’s Story”. This week followed an overview of the entire story (Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration) in week 1, and a lesson about Creation in week 2. The topic under consideration this week does not fit all that well with the rest. It is the outlier, as the other 3 involve God doing something great. The Fall, on the other hand involves Satan doing what Satan does and us doing something dumb. Imagine paradise, a place where the Almighty Being has set everything exactly how it is supposed to be. A place where people walk intimately with this Almighty Being and enjoy the work of their hands and the perfect company of each other. This is what Adam and Eve had in the Creation we read about in Genesis 1 and 2. But this is all lost in the Fall, certainly the dumbest action in human history. It is the action that made us as a human race impure before God, fractured our relationship with the earth, and fractured our relationships with each other. Certainly depressing, but not irreconcilable. Jesus came to set these things straight on the cross (Redemption), and He will come to fully set them straight some glorious day in the future (Restoration). In the meantime we fight against the results of the Fall while cherishing the glimpses we get of the Restoration. If we are going to fully appreciate what Jesus has done and how serious our condition is, we must look to the Fall.
We find the account of the Fall in Genesis 3. It should be familiar to people that have spent much time in church. The woman (Eve) is tempted by a serpent, which we later learn is Satan, and she eats of the tree that God commanded Adam not to eat. Eve then encourages Adam to eat of the tree, which he does, and then their eyes are opened to good and evil. In realizing good and evil, they realize that they are naked and try to make garments out of fig leaves. God then comes to them in the garden and questions them about what they have done (although He certainly already knows). God is not pleased with their disobedience and casts them out of the garden. Before casting them out of the garden, however, He describes consequences that they will face as a result of their rebellion and He makes them garments out of animal skins. It is these consequences that I want people to really take from this lesson. Largely because we are still living under these consequences.
The first consequence I want to touch is the consequence that was administered to Eve. Genesis 3:16 reads, “To the woman he said, ‘I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.'”. In this we see the consequences of the Fall in the area of family. It is interesting to note that humans seem to have much more pain in childbearing than any other animal. Females, you can blame this on the Fall. The last sentence in the punishment is all too real as well. History is littered with men ruling over women unjustly and treating them as mere property. As a high school teacher, my heart breaks to see high school girls wrap their self-esteem up in a boy who treats her as if she is meaningless. The girl desires deeply to be the boy’s princess and the boy gets some sort of power trip from treating her like garbage. This is the results of the Fall working. However, just because we are told this is a result, does not mean we should resign to the result. The rest of the Bible teaches that husbands should lead their wives, but they should lead them with a servant’s heart not a dictator’s sword.
The second consequence is with our work. Genesis 2:15 informs us that Adam worked before the Fall, but that work became much harder after the Fall. Genesis 3:17b-19 reads, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 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.”. This passage is very personal to me. In my first year out of college I had a horrible time adjusting to life in a career. I had an understanding that following Jesus should be relatively happy and pleasant, because to that point it had been. In reality, I simply hadn’t faced many challenges. Stepping into the workforce full-time was that challenge. Even if we are not working the land, we are still earning our food “by the sweat of our brow”. It is in the Fall that we learn why work is so bittersweet. We were created to work and be productive, but our work is going to bring thorns and thistles oftentimes because that is the result of the Fall. Teenagers you must be prepared for it, and while you are in school, if your schoolwork does not seem a little difficult, if it does not feel like you are pushing up against a little resistance, then you possibly are not trying hard enough.
The last and most important consequence of the Fall we will address is the consequences with God. When Adam and Eve were in the garden they were experiencing very close relationship with God. Even after they ate the fruit they could hear God walking through the garden. Such close proximity to the Almighty Creator is no simple thing to mess up, but mess it up they did. As a result of their disobedience God cast them out of the garden. Genesis 3 makes it sound like He did it for our good because otherwise Adam and Eve may have eaten of the tree of life and curse us all to eternal life in sin. Why exactly God cast us out of the garden is tough to answer, but the truth is that He did. Casting them out of the garden may seem harsh, but before He sent Adam and Eve out of the garden, He provided for them. And the truth, is He continues to provide for us. The entire universe is His creation. He can do whatever He pleases with it. He could have cast us aside as a failed project when we sinned, but He didn’t. He continued to desire relationship with us as the rest of the Old Testament illustrates. He created a nation for Himself and then He did the most selfless and perfect thing He could have done–He sent His Son to die for our sins. His Son died so that all of the consequences of the Fall could be partially fixed now and fully fixed in the future. We can aspire to God honoring work and families now, but everything will be restored when He comes back. And when He comes back, some of us will be saved because we have put faith in the only path back to God, His Son’s death on a tree in about 30 AD.