1-9-23  The Rise and Fall of Humanity

This week’s reading: Genesis 2:4— 3:24 

Hi Friends,

     Last week, we talked about how our Creator God made all that we can see and experience in this world. That was what I call a macro-view of Creation. This week we are going to zoom in, if you will, and look at an earthly viewpoint of the foundation God set. Remember God made things in stages. All was methodically made, on purpose for a purpose. God set all things into motion, then He rested to enjoy all He made. This is where we pick up this week in Genesis chapter 2, verse four and all the way through chapter 3, to the end in verse 24. Here is the Hope we have, even in the midst of the greatest Downfall:

“So the LORD God said to the serpent: ‘Because you have done this, You are cursed more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, And you shall eat dust All the days of your life. And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.’” Gen 3:14-15 NKJV

     Life is such a gift. When God created the Crown of His Creation, mankind, God first made the man. Again, remember we are now looking at the micro-view of Creation. So even though God had already planted every seed that would burst forth into trees and plants, none had yet appeared because there was no human on earth to nurture their growth. (Gen 2:5) As streams from the earth rose up, God made man out of the dust of the earth; think atoms and molecules here. God then breathed life into him, literally, and man became alive. You see, apart from this touch from God, no human could be a living being. Whether we are talking about this very first human, made from earth’s compounds, or a baby created in the womb of a mother, coming from two seeds, it is God alone Who gives life to each human, the moment that human is conceived. God does the same for man here: the earth’s molecules and God’s breath come together and He immediately creates a living human. The only thing that has changed since the first man and the rest of humanity is where the womb is located. Here the earth serves as man’s place of conception and life as we know it begins. 

     Two Trees. God then brings the man into his earthly home, a garden God had prepared for man to take care of called the Garden of Eden. In this place, God had planted two trees: the first He calls the Tree of Life, and the second is what I call the Tree of Discernment, since it is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. To know the difference between what God says is good, and what He proclaims is evil, requires godly discernment. We humans do not see things as God does, and so, we do not fully understand the distinction between these two. Things that we might think are good can really cause others a lot of harm. A quick, and sorrowful example is a morning sickness pill called thalidomide, that was thought to be good to help mothers get through their pregnancy. Sadly, it was found that this medication caused awful deformities in babies, and many did not even survive, dying only a few days after they were born. What humans thought was good, turned out to be tragically evil. My point? We need godly discernment as we live and move through life. The issue is not that this Second Tree was evil; everything God had created was very good, remember? (Gen 1:31) The problem is that God did not want humans to know evil. He did not want us to act upon this knowledge. He did not want us to become corrupt and fall away from Him. But if we are not given a choice, is that love? For love to be genuine, for it to be real, for it to not be forced on us, we must be able to choose love. Had God only planted the Tree of Life, we would all be little robots, just doing whatever we were programed to do. We would be nothing like God. We would not have made the choice to love Him in return, and so love would not be love. Remember God created us in His Image. God certainly has Free Will and exercises it a zillion times a second. The difference, of course, is that God, as the King of kings, also has Free Reign, while we created beings, thankfully, do not. But because God desires humans to be like Him, He has given us, and desires us to use, this ability to make choices for ourselves, certainly one as critical as whether we would freely and willingly choose to return love to our Creator. Love has nothing to do with coercion. “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails…” (1Co 13:4-8a) What part of this description of godly love makes us think that God would force Himself on us by giving us no choice? And so we have this Second Tree.

     Man joins in Creation. God places man in the Garden of Eden so he can become a collaborating part of bringing about the beauty God had put into place. The first thing God does though is warn man about that Second Tree. Again, God never wanted any human to know and act upon evil, and so He tells man to not eat from that tree. Please note that God said he could eat from any other tree in the Garden…this includes the Tree of Life, doesn’t it? Yet like this first human, we also, often focus on the things we cannot have, instead of enjoying those we do have, huh? In Adam’s defense, he probably had no idea what death was. But the problem is a matter of obedience, not knowledge. That’s kind of the point. Faith says we obey God simply because He said so. You know, it’s that age old response we give to our children when they question us; we say, “Because I said so”! Parents love it when our children just do what we tell them to do, don’t we? Well, God is the same in this respect, but the reason He wants us to obey is not because we are bothering Him. It is not because He gets something from us when we obey. It is not because He has too many other things on His plate, and doesn’t have time to deal with us. No, of course not. The reason God wants us to obey is because obedience is what is best for US. I will continue to remind us that we were created in the Image of God, and so we can only have, enjoy and share the Life God has given us when we think, speak and act like He does. He is the Creator of Life so only He gets to say how this Life functions, right? When you make your own world, all from scratch by the way, then you get to make the rules…in the meantime, we children must learn to live the way God has designed Life to exist. If we do, we will experience all the goodness of Life…if we don’t, well I will talk about that in a moment. Even though God is all we need, because we are made in His Image, our capacity to love should know no bounds. Even though God is all we need, we also need to be able to relate to someone who is more like us. Even though God is all we need, God knows we also need other humans too, so that we have others to love and relate to. And so the first “not good” of humanity is declared by God. “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” (Gen 2:18) First, God brings to Adam all the animals He had created and let’s him choose their names. Again, this is God bringing mankind into Creation by allowing Adam to take part in it. Stirring his creative juices, whatever the man chose to call an animal, that was its name. God wants us to use our creativity to engage with, and find ways to care for all He has created. We are to be creative just as our Creator is creative. Yet none of these animals were anything like Adam. I am sure he enjoyed their company, but to be able to fully relate? So no suitable helper was found among these lower creatures. In comes Eve, the only human that was, sort of, birthed from man. God puts the man to sleep then takes a rib from Adam’s side and creates Eve. Note: God does not take a bone from Adam’s foot. Nor does God take a part of the top of Adam’s skull. It is a rib, from his side, that God removes and forms the only suitable helper for man. Woman was always meant to help man live a fulfilling life, as she walked by his side. She is neither his head nor the dirt under the man’s feet. The two, man and woman, are equal in importance, but not in position. The man came first and is supposed to be the spiritual leader, as well as the leader of the household. Hold tight women, don’t get upset with me, more on this in a moment. The second God presents the woman to the man, he falls deeply in love with her. He proclaims, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman’ for she was taken out of man.” (Gen 2:23) See the love? Adam states that she is one with him, bone of my bones. Adam says she is fearfully and wonderfully made, flesh of my flesh. Adam names her woman, as in she came out of him and now belongs to him. She is his sweetheart, the love of his life, the center of his world…hmmm…maybe this is where things start to go wrong, huh? Creation worshipping that which is created, instead of the Creator? That never goes well. What I do not hear is Adam praising God for Eve…anyway, let’s move on. God agrees that man and woman should be one, and that they should love each other…not more than Him, of course… but again, I digress. God states, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.” (Gen 2:24) Here we see the lovely institution of godly marriage. This is God’s Plan. And I will say it again, since God created Life, only He gets to say how it functions.

     Naked and unashamed, until they weren’t. Think of Adam and Eve as innocent little children. I think sometimes they get a bad rep because we are viewing them as grown adults who should know better, but they were not. Newly made, freshly united and learning how to tend the earth God has given them, as well as how to relate to one another, I am sure they had a lot to process. I also like to believe there was plenty of time between chapters two and three of the Bible. These first two humans grew up, walking back and forth through the Garden, as they obeyed God and cared for nature. But then perhaps they began to pause a moment or two, and gazed upon that Tree of Discernment. Maybe at first they shook it off and continued about their business. Maybe they avoided the Second Tree altogether, but continued to think about it because they couldn’t stop themselves from wanting to know more about it. Maybe they even talked about this Tree to each other a little. Well, we kind of know they had probably several conversations about this Tree by the first response of Eve to that serpent. Either Adam added, or she added, that not only could they not eat from that Second Tree, but they couldn’t even touch it. When we add to God’s commands, trouble is not far behind. And when we try to reason things out, all by ourselves, tragedy can result. When Eve purposely took the time to speak to the serpent, we begin to recognize her fascination with that Second Tree. Curiosity does not only kill the cat, it causes The Downfall of Humanity! My Friends, lesson number one of the Bible: don’t talk to the serpent! The Bible is clear that this serpent is the devil himself. It also says that he is the craftiest of all creation. This means he knows how to twist truth around just enough that it won’t repel us, but instead, it will draw us in. He can take something so simple as, “Don’t do this for your own good,” and make it into the greatest temptation of our lives! Let’s take a moment again, and give these first two, very inexperienced humans a break as we examine ourselves. Is there any “second tree-like situation” in our lives that make us stop and gaze upon it? Do we try to shake the temptation off and go about our business? Do we try to avoid the situation, the person, the idea, but continue to allow our minds to think about it, because we just want to know more, we want to see what it feels like, we want to eat of that fruit? Maybe we even fantasize about it with a friend or two, as we discuss our own understanding of the situation? My Friends, I get it. I’m with you. There are so very many things we can be tempted about in this world. But even if we don’t speak to the serpent, we must learn the second lesson of the Bible: run to God with everything, especially when you are tempted! This includes when we feel confused about decisions, frustrated about our weaknesses, lonely for a mate, hungry for junk food, angry at others, depressed about our finances, anxious about our children, amorous but not towards our spouse…I think you get it. Whenever we are aware of any negative thoughts, whenever we sense any emotion that is having a wrong impact on us, whenever we want things that are just not for our best, we need to RUN to God, like our life depends on it, because often it does. This is where Adam and Eve go wrong. Eve continues to talk to that serpent, and Adam? Adam is not being the head of the household, much less the spiritual leader! The Bible is clear that he is right there, next to Eve, as I am sure he always was. (Gen 2:6) I imagine they were inseparable, enjoying life as one, the way God wanted it to be. But here, we start to see the shift. While Eve was focused on the serpent and the fruit he was using as a lure, Adam was focused on Eve, and not paying attention to anything else that was going on. Again, when we begin to worship Creation instead of the Creator, like a house of cards, it all comes crashing down. Eve did not turn to her husband for leadership and clarity on God’s command, and Adam did not turn to God for His help with this challenge either, and we know what happens. The Downfall becomes real for them and every human that has ever, and will ever, be born into this world. When we choose to live any way other than what God created, real and lasting problems is always the result.

     Order not value. I have to talk about marriage here for a moment. I know I have taught on this before, but what better place is there to have this conversation again than right here, with the very first couple? There is a godly order to the way a family is supposed to function. God created man first, and as I said before, he is supposed to be both the spiritual leader and the head of the household. The woman came next and she is supposed to be man’s helper. Not above him, but certainly not below him…remember the rib? A helper is someone who encourages. Someone who counsels. Someone who comforts, nurtures, guides and respects. I know this because the Bible talks about another Helper Who does all these things for humans, and so much more. (for instance see Jn 14:26) This does not mean the Holy Spirit has less value than us, does it? This does not make Him some kind of lowly servant that must hop to it when we snap our fingers, does it? Of course not! And so being given the role as helper of man, does not diminish the woman’s value either. Being called our Helper doesn’t even make the Holy Spirit any less important than the other two Persons of the Holy Trinity. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all one, yet each have their position so that all will go smoothly in that Holy union. Same thing here with marriage. A man and a woman must learn their roles so that the marriage will go smoothly for the good of everyone involved, including our Creator. This is important especially when couples begin to have children…if the marriage is not in proper order before they arrive, then it will only get more messed up after! Too many families now hold their children up so high, that the kids are leading the family! Parents cater to their every whim and disaster is the result. I say again, order NOT value. I worked so many years to lift my husband up into the position he should have always had in our family…and no, it was not easy… AT… ALL! But it was righteous…and the relationship we now have? Oh praise God! I wouldn’t trade it for anything! Yes it took humbling myself. Yes it took purposely looking for ways to elevate him. Yes it took time and effort…and it also took lots of love…godly love…which I am more than glad to give my husband…and what I have sown all these years is blooming into a man that I truly want to be with every moment of the day! Does that mean he is perfect now? Oh Lord no! But I am so far from perfect too, so it’s all good. We are perfectly imperfect for one another, and this union, lived out in God’s order, makes this life so much more abundantly fulfilling. One more thing, I know we live in a fallen world, filled with broken people. Not everyone is married to a gentleman like I am. Some men are abusive. Some men are prideful and refuse to submit to God, much less love their wives properly. The same is true for some women too, of course. If you or your children are in a life threatening situation, please get out. God does not want that for you. But in any other scenario, before you give up hope, please first run to God for guidance. Pray for your spouse, sincerely. Speak to godly friends who will help you endure, and who will join you in committing to pray for your marriage too. And maybe seek professional help, even if your spouse refuses to accompany you. As we can clearly see, marriages have been under attack from the beginning of Time. Divorce was never God’s Plan for a couple, yet there is Mercy and Grace for everyone. If this is your reality, won’t you choose to use the disappointment and heartbreak as a way to grow closer to God? Won’t you choose to learn from your experience and change anything in you that might have added to the problem? Won’t you choose to allow God to transform your wounded heart into something beautiful that He can use for your good and the good of others? Marriage is so very challenging because God is asking two different people to come together and be one…and the serpent can’t stand it! A healthy, growing marriage takes time. It takes intentional effort. It takes lots and lots of selfless love. It takes not talking to the serpent, and running head first to God…a lot. And I can honestly say, it is all so very worth it.

     The blame game. A big part of the problem with Pride is that it never takes responsibility for the wrong things it does. Pride screams it is always someone else’s fault. We choose to play the victim, because it is convenient for us, and never use our failures as a mean to propel us upward into more maturity, so we can experience the increase of peace and joy that comes with that growth. We see this Pride here with both Adam and Eve. Adam has the nerve to blame both God— the woman You gave me— and Eve— she made me do it. Eve points to the serpent, and at least admits he deceived her, but she doesn’t focus on the fact that she allowed him to deceive her, so again, she too shirks her responsibility and says, the devil made me do it. Here’s the truth, no one can make you do anything you do not already want to do, even that old serpent. He can suggest. He can twist truth to confuse you. He can distract and try to get you to focus on the temptation and forget the One Who can help you not fall into it. But he cannot make you do anything you have not already been thinking about doing. Even if someone puts a gun to your head, you can only fall for the tricks of the devil if the desire to hold on to the truth is less than the desire to save your own life. This reminds me of a most beautiful story about a young lady named Cassie Bernall. She was a victim of the Columbine shootings, yet an inspiration too. When asked by a heavily armed classmate if she believed in God, she timidly, yet loud enough for others to hear, responded, “Yes, I believe in God,” and was immediately killed for her Faith. I often wonder if I would be so bold, and then I humbly pray for God to strengthen me to never abandon Him. Again, our desire to hold on to God must be greater than our desire to preserve this fleeting life, or we will fall into sin. And many times, we will blame others for our fall. So I ask us, will we choose to take responsibility for our flaws, and work with God to weaken our weaknesses, and strengthen our strengths? Will we choose to hold on to our Faith, even if our life depends on it? Or will we fall into the pressure of temptation? Will we begin to blame others for our lack of resilience? Will we even disown Jesus to save our own temporary lives? Adam and Eve were children who made the wrong choice. And because of that, our God of Justice had no other choice but to take them out of the Garden of Eden, where that First Tree still stood, by the way. Had they decided to eat from that Tree of Life after The Downfall, they, and us, would have been stuck in that fallen, sinful nature for all Eternity. And so our Merciful God sees their immature hearts, He sees that they needed to appreciate the Light by spending some time in the darkness, and He removes them from Eden before things can no longer have the Hope of being restored. This is the Seed God promised. (Gen 3:15) The reason we still have Hope to be reconciled with God, despite our sinfulness, is because, right there, in the beginning, God had already planned to send His one and only Begotten Son to save us. This Seed of Eve would one day pay the penalty for this, and all of mankind’s wicked, selfish choices, so that we may have the opportunity to partake in that Tree of Life…more on this in a moment. Being removed from the Garden of Eden, now Adam and Eve must toil and learn to belong to God the hard way. This was their choice, my Friends, and it continues to be ours too. Instead of trusting and obeying, we too fight God and His Holy Will all the time, don’t we? But by God’s Grace, He has given us His Son. I imagine that Tree of Life must have been the most beautiful, full, radiant, life-given plant in all of the Garden of Eden. But sin has deformed it. Sin has taken its beauty and turned it into an ugly, painful, humiliating thing. We see this Tree of Life again in the Gospels, don’t we? It is the tree Jesus hangs on as He dies. The Cross is that withered and distorted and miserable tree. Our sin did that…but now, if we choose to eat from its Fruit, we will live forever. When we take Jesus into our hearts, when we place Him on His rightful throne in our lives, when we make our choices more about Him and less about MMI, we have Eternal Life. We can enjoy this New Life. And we can share this Abundant Life with others, drawing them to Jesus so that He may save them too. No more shame. No more guilt. And no more blame. (Ro 8:1) Only Eternal Freedom in our Lord and Savior. God’s Plan was very good. We humans make the wrong choices and made life very bad. But God’s Love and Grace has given us The Way to come back to the goodness God originally desired. That is God’s Plan. Will we make the right choice now?

     All life was in Eve. Adam names his wife Eve because “she would become the mother of all the living.” (Gen 3:20) Adam and Eve are our forefathers, all of us. Humans are all related through them. It is so sad how we continue to live our lives thinking that “others” have nothing to do with “me.” Yet we are one race: the human race. Yes we all have our glorious differences, but we are all the same. We all want to love and be loved. We all want to feel secure and belong. We all want to have purpose and peace in this world. But because the serpent is still talking and tempting humans, we will have division in this world. But surely in the Church, surely among those who claim to belong to Jesus, surely all who run to God and trust in Him every day, with every situation, we can live in peace and harmony, right? It is my prayer that I continue to humble myself before my Lord and learn to do the one thing He commanded us to do: to love one another as He has loved us. (Jn 13:34) Jesus loved us even when we were enemies of God. (Ro 5:10) Jesus loves us even when we rebel and seek our own way. Jesus loves us when we struggle to do the right thing. Jesus loves us all the time. I hope we can all see it is high time we choose to love Him in return. If you have not done so yet, choose to surrender your life to God and no longer be His enemy. Choose to stop rebelling and begin learning to lean on Him so you can be gratefully obedient instead. And when you struggle, because you will, don’t speak to the serpent, run to God’s waiting and open arms and take responsibility for your part in any bad decision. You will never regret following these simple lessons we can learn from the Garden of Eden. As I continue to work with my Jesus, He continues to reenforce these lessons in me, and my life? It becomes more and more abundant! Want that? Then won’t you join me?

     Until we meet again, keep lifting your eyes to God, He’s closer than you think.

<>< Peace, Diane

2 thoughts on “1-9-23  The Rise and Fall of Humanity”

  1. This is what I needed to hear today.
    I was divorced on Oct 13 2022 after 27 1/2 yrs.
    We were both to blame. But God guided me to the perfect moment.
    It is so difficult to let go. It is like a death
    God is my strong tower always
    Not one sister was kind enough to speak with me. Just judgement and gossip.
    Love you sister
    Laura finlaw

    1. Sadly, we tend to forget all of God’s Mercy and Grace…no one but Jesus will ever get things all right, this is yet one more reason to be so very grateful for God’s understanding heart! Love you, Sweet Sister!

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