Saturday, February 21, 2015

Imagining the Genesis 3 Story

When Lucifer persuaded one third of the angels in heaven to take a position against God, he was cast out of heaven. What did he do to warrant such severe punishment? He was cast out of the place where eternal life dwelled because of pride and what it produced in his life. (Ezekiel 28:17a)

Lucifer’s pride manifested itself in behavior that have become the hallmarks of his presence.  

·        He began to think more highly of himself than he should have. (Ezekiel 28:13-15, Romans 12:1-3; Psalms 10:4)
·        He began to murmur against God which led to his rebellion. (Isaiah 14:12-14. Numbers 14:27-30a)
·        He sowed deceit and false doctrine among the angels. (Revelations 12:7-9, 2 Corinthians 4:1-2)

Lucifer and his angels turned their backs on an eternity in the presence of God. Now their eternity is death – separation from God forever with no possible reinstatement of life.

Having been stripped of everything that was dear to him, Lucifer’s rage increased against his Creator. God had to pay for what he had done to him, he reasoned. So he waited.

Lucifer saw God create a universe and then the earth. Day after day he watched as God brought forth life – birds, fish, animals, plants. But it was on the day that God made man that Lucifer saw, once again, God’s heart.

He saw God’s love and tenderness as He formed, made and created man. And when man took his first breath Lucifer saw an expression on God’s face that he had never seen before. He saw the love of a Father for His son. (Genesis 2:7)

God had never looked at him that way, he thought, as he looked on with anger and disgust. “I was the cherub of cherubs. I was the one the other angels followed. I served God but He never looked at me that way,” he said.  

So he watched. The bond between Father and son began to grow so strong that the Father brought all of the animals to His son and said “I want you to name them and whatever you decide that will be its name.”

Lucifer saw the Father’s heart even more when He brought Eve to Adam. When His son saw his spouse and smiled, the Father smiled too. But someone else also smiled.

God had told Adam he could eat from every tree in the garden but one – the tree of knowledge of good and evil. “If you eat of that tree,” God said as He placed His hand on Adam’s chest, “one day the beating of your heart will stop and when it does you will die.”

Then God looks at Adam and said sternly, “But that’s not the most important reason my son. If you eat of the tree you will no longer be my son and I will no longer be your Father.”

Lucifer hears God’s instructions to His son. “Ah,” he said to himself, “now I know how I can hurt the one who is now a father. I will go after the son and his wife. I will make them like me.”

He watches the son and his wife and he sees how they interact and respond to each other. He’s fascinated by the humans. The more he studies them the more clearly he sees a pattern emerge. The woman can influence the man.

Lucifer, the serpent, approaches Eve with the same seductive prowess that he used to condemn one-third of God’s angels to eternal damnation. He is like the strange woman in Proverbs 7, who, from her window, smiles as she sees her unsuspecting prey.

The serpent woos Eve. His deadly doctrine is so easy to hear and seemed so right – “If you eat, you will not die but you will be like a god yourself,” he whispers to her over and over again. The more she listens, the more she begins to believe his lie. She looks at the fruit and images its sweetness and how it can make her more like God and she wants to be more like Him. So she yields. (Genesis 3:6)

Like the unsuspecting suitor in Proverbs 7, Eve never sees the deadly dart the serpent’s flattering lips produces until Adam eats the fruit from the forbidden tree. The dart strikes Adam and Eve, ripping through the very life of God.

When Adam and Eve believe the serpent’s doctrine of death that sound so much like life, they walk away from love. They walk away from an eternity that would have been lived in the presence of God into a death and into a place where eternal life did not dwell.

Eve was deceived because she listened to the voice from without that spoke deceit and death into her life. But to her, it didn’t sound like death at all. It sounded like “being more like God.”

I can see her letting the serpent’s words roll around in her mind and smiling. “I know God loves me. I can feel it when I’m in His presence. Why wouldn’t He want me to know more of His love and be more like Him? The serpent isn’t telling me I can’t be more like God. In fact, he’s saying I can be more like God just by eating of the tree.”

Eve chooses to listen to the voice from without that appeals to her soul and emotions. She is seduced and persuaded to believe in “a life” that was different from the life that God had “planned for her”. She is deceived into doing what pleases her rather than what pleases her Creator. In her mind, there was no difference.

The serpent had convinced Eve that “roaming from the safety of truth” – ignoring God’s command to not eat of the tree – was not really that unsafe when in fact, it was deadly. (Romans 2:13-15) The check in her spirit – the voice from within – went unnoticed. She didn’t hear the life in her screaming “Eve, don’t eat of the tree. Don’t do it.” She didn’t hear the life that was just like the life of her Creator.

However, with one simple act of obedience, Adam could have preserved the course of human history. He simply had to obey God’s command not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:15-17) He could have prevented the devil’s free and unrestrained access to man’s soul and emotions. Adam ignored the voice from within too. (I Timothy 2:13-14; Genesis 3:17)

Again, all it would have taken to preserve eternal life for man was one man’s simple act of obedience. Fortunately for us, our story doesn’t end with Genesis 3. It only pauses. Another man’s simple act of obedience gave us an opportunity to choose life. That man was Jesus Christ.

Now think about how different your life, lived through simple obedience to God through your born again spirit, can be from this day forward. I have!