Day 3Genesis 3 ... The Crash

“The fall of man” theologians call it, but really it was more like a crash.  Adam and Eve, living in Paradise, had everything a person could want, and yet still a thought nagged them.  “Are we somehow missing out?  Is God keeping something from us?  Like any human being, like every human being who has ever lived, they could not resist the temptation to reach for what lay beyond them.

“There is only one doctrine that can be empirically verified,” said George Bernard Shaw, “the doctrine of original sin.”  Genesis gives few details about the first sin.  Only one thing mattered:  God had labeled one tree off-limit.  Many people mistakenly assume sex was involved, but in fact something far more basic was at stake.  The real issue was:  Who will set the rules-the humans or God?  Adam and Eve decided in favor of themselves, and the world has never been the same.

Adam and Eve reacted to their sin like anybody reacts to sin.  They rationalized, explained themselves, and looked for someone else to take the blame.  The author of Genesis pointedly notes that they also felt the need to hide.  They hid from each other, sensing for the first time a feeling of shame over their nakedness.  Perhaps the greatest change of all, however, occurred in their relationship with God.  Previously they had walked and talked with God in the Garden, as with a friend.  Now, when they heard his voice, they hid in the brush.

Genesis 3 tells of other profound changes that affected the world when the creatures chose against their Creator.  Suffering multiplied.  Work became harder, more like drudgery.  A new word, death, entered human vocabulary.  In short, the scene of perfection was permanently spoiled.

The underlying message of Genesis goes against some common assumptions about human history.  According to these chapters, the world and humanity have not been gradually evolving toward a better and better state.  Long ago, we wrecked against the rocks of our own pride and stubbornness.  We’re still bearing the consequences:  all wars, all violence, all broken relationships, all grief and sadness trace back to that one monumental day in the Garden of Eden.

Point to Ponder: Have you ever felt hemmed in or stifled by one of God's commands?  How did you respond?