Saturday, March 21, 2015

Theft #17E - Stealin' Back Death: Discovery & Punishment: First Curse

      9 Then YHWH Elohim called out to Adam and said to him, "Where (are) you?" 10 So he said, "Your voice I heard in the garden and I was afraid. For naked (am) I, and I have hid myself." 11Then He said, "Who made known to you that naked (are) you? From the tree which I commanded you to not eat from it, did you eat?" 12 Then Adam said, "The woman which you gave with me, she gave to me from the tree and I ate." 13Then YHWH Elohim said to the woman, "What (is) this you did?" Then the woman said, "the serpent deceived me and I ate."

     14 Then YHWH Elohim said to the serpent, "That you did this: Cursed (are) you from all the beasts and from all the creatures of the field. Upon your belly you will walk, and dust you will eat all the days of your life.” (Genesis 3:9-14, URLV)

OK, back to the garden where we last saw the amazing strategy that Adam and Eve devised for avoiding punishment for their sin: “Oops!!! There’s Yahweh God!!! Let’s hide!!!” Hmmm . . . . they’ve got the Creator of EVERYTHING walking around their neighborhood, and they think they can duck behind some trees and maybe He’ll just go away?

Well, guess what? God is just a bit more determined than that, so He asks the obvious question: “Where are you?” Two things here: First, the text says he specifically called out to Adam, once again emphasizing Adam’s position of head, and also his direct accountability to God. Second, why does God bother to even ask when He knows everything? Why? Is it a trick or a game? What is He thinking? Well, I think it’s pretty clear that God is the type of Creator who always gives His highest creation (mankind, in case you doubt that right now) a chance to “come clean” before Him. God will always invite us to tell Him the truth voluntarily, even though He already knows. We usually call that “confession,” so, with Adam’s reply, we actually get the first (chronological) example of a “confession” for sin in the Bible. Strangely, Adam tells God more than He actually asked. My answer would have been, “Um, over here, behind the trees;” but Adam says not only that he is hiding from God, but he tells God the reason: “I was afraid . . . I am naked.” Guess what Adam? More questions!!!! “Who told you you’re naked? You didn’t eat from that one tree, did you? You know, the one, the ONLY ONE, I said you shouldn’t eat from? Hmmmm???”

Okay, I’m stressing the element of irony in God’s questions, but this conversation can only get worse for Adam, right? But, like any good husband, he’s got an answer: “That woman gave me some fruit, and I just ate it. You know the woman, right? I mean the one You gave me, the one You put here; that one!” Again, the irony is amazing. There is an extent to which Adam is offering a “confession” of sorts, in that he does say “I ate,” but really he blames his wife, and—as many, many commentators have noted, Adam really blames God for giving him that woman to begin with. After all, wasn’t he doing just fine just eating the other fruit and playing with all the great animals? Who came up with this “wife” idea, anyway?

At any rate, God doesn’t push Adam any further, but confronts the woman, simply saying “What have you done?” To the woman’s credit, she actually tells God exactly what happened: “The serpent deceived me and I ate.” Whatever we think of the woman, she really does tell God the truth, and she tells it in a more straightforward way than the man. After all, she could have said, “Well, why didn’t Mr. ‘created first' over there stop me? Hmm?” But she tells it as it happened, and she doesn’t avoid her part in the tragedy. (Again, I am just gritting my teeth to resist going to a New Testament passage that sums up perfectly division of blame in this episode, but, as I have vowed, we’re staying put in Genesis for now.)

Now God turns to the serpent, and ---wait a minute: No questions??? Not even a “why?” for the serpent? Nope! However God views the serpent’s role as the “deceiver” in this drama, the serpent doesn’t get a chance to talk. Probably God is thinking that the slimy devil (ahem) has already said enough, so God simply pronounces judgment: The serpent is cursed, will crawl on his “belly,” and eat dust forever. There seems to be an assumption that the serpent—previous to this—was not crawling around, but probably had feet, and maybe even hands. (That he had voice is a whole other study.) Furthermore, God says that this judgment is a “curse,” which simply means that it is one of those judgments of God that is pretty much not reversible. What God may choose to do to “save” or “redeem” or “restore” mankind, and the rest of creation, the serpent will be excluded. Stop there for a minute and consider what it means for a created being to be excluded from God’s grace in a fallen world. This is really, really serious. Aren’t you glad you’re human and not “serpent?” (Or at least glad that your human and not whatever being the serpent is really representing here?”)

I hadn’t planned on stopping at this point, but I think it’s a good idea, now that I’m here. Sin and death have entered the universe, and God is beginning to pronounce judgment, but seeing some creature curse and cast away from God’s grace as the first consequence requires some consideration, so, we’ll stop. Also, God’s next words to the serpent, and then to the woman and man carry a whole bunch of weight for the long future of the human race on earth, and those words deserve a separate post, I think.

Actually, as I look at this passage again, I’m thinking that verse 15 should probably have a post all to itself, because of its prophetic nature as what is sometimes called the “proto-evangelium” (that is, the “prototype gospel”). Now, if I can do a post like that and keep from bringing New Testament theology into it, I think I’ll give myself an “A” in Old Testament Biblical Theology. That is one really theologically “packed” verse, for sure. Until then.

Whew! Or, as our British cousins might say, “Blimey!”

Back soon;  grace and peace in Christ,
The Thief

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