If we were approaching the Bible for the first time and began reading “In the beginning God...” we likely wouldn’t wonder at every word and parse every phrase. We would naturally follow the flow of the story that is unfolded before us. We would see God in this story, not only as the creator, but the creator of a good world and the giver of everything man needed. We would see man, created in the image of God, living in innocence and in fellowship with God.
As the story continues, the antagonist – the “bad guy,” Satan, in the form of a serpent – enters and the picture changes from one of idyllic serenity to one of conflict, violence and strife. The serpent deceived Eve using a slanderous misrepresentation of God, thus planting a seed of doubt in her mind as to His good intentions toward them. This doubt of God’s goodness led to her eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge if good and evil and getting Adam to eat also.
Whereas Adam and Eve began life in the paradise on earth God had given them where they had walked in harmony with God, after they transgressed they found themselves at odds with their creator. They knew they had done what was forbidden by God, that they were naked and therefore hid themselves from His presence. Whereas there had been closeness and fellowship with God, now there was separation and distance, fear and fleeing.
Because they had chosen to know evil as well as good, God drove them out of the garden and placed a curse on the earth so that they would know (experience) evil in all its sickness and strife, its toil and turmoil, its unpleasantness and ugliness, its vileness and violence. They would learn that all these things are the result of the greatest evil – being separated from God.
We need to remember that none of this was God’s fault. He didn’t leave man, man left Him. He didn’t choose for man to do evil, man chose it. He didn’t choose for man to suffer, man chose it. God didn’t choose death for them, they chose it. When we today suffer the ills of this fallen world, we need to remember that it is because of human choices that we suffer these things. Even to this day, we suffer the consequences of the choices made, not only by ourselves, but even those made by Adam and Eve. Sin entered the world as a result of their choice. We participate in sin because like them, we make wrong choices also.
This means that we are participants in this grand story. We are participants, not just of the ills and evils that came upon mankind because of the transgression of our first parents, but also in something wonderful that God has done and will do to undo the effects of the curse. We will see as the story unfolds that God had in mind before He ever created man that He would provide a way for man to escape the consequences of sin and be restored to fellowship with Him so that we might fully and finally experience life as it was always intended by our creator.
No, I am not getting ahead of myself. God’s promise to the serpent of his crushing defeat is the one bright spot in this whole dark chapter of human history. God said…
“I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15).
Although there is much more darkness to come, we must read the story with a view to this promise of God for the redemption of man. Since we are participants in this story, we read the book with great interest because we have a vested interest in its outcome. Since we have made wrong choices and participated in sin, our salvation – if we are to be saved from the consequences of our sin – will be found in its resolution.