In the Midst of the Garden|
Do you realize that many of life’s most important questions are answered in the first three chapters of the book of Genesis? This short reading tells us who God is, who we are, and why the world is the way it is. In all of man’s wisdom and discovery, nothing compares with the truth revealed in these three chapters of God’s word. How great and powerful is our Creator, the God of heaven!
One of the important events recorded in the early chapters of Genesis is the fall of man into sin. It is a tragic story that has affected every soul that has ever lived on earth. It is also a familiar story not only because we have read it often, but also because we have experienced the elements of the story personally. Deceit, temptation, rebellion, and disobedience were at work in the fall of man, and those experiences are common to all of mankind. This is why the story of Adam’s fall is so important to us, for it tells us about ourselves.
One of the lessons we learn in this story is how Satan operates. He still tells the same old lie that we read in Genesis 3:4 – “You surely shall not die!” If he can convince us that sin will not result in our death, then he accomplishes his goal and leads us to spiritual destruction. In his revelation, John saw the true nature of Satan when he saw a great dragon who was “the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world” (Rev. 12:9). Of course, Satan does not appear to us in the form of a serpent or a dragon, but he often “disguises himself as an angel of light” (2Cor. 11:14) in order to deceive us. Jesus has warned us of Satan’s great deceitful power, saying that Satan “was a murderer from the beginning” and that “whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies” (John 8:44). We must be on guard against Satan lest he devours us like a roaring lion (1Pet. 5:8-9).
Another priceless lesson we should take from this story is that we must not listen to anyone who speaks in defiance of God. The problems for Adam and Eve began when she listened to the serpent even though she knew that he contradicted God’s commandment. When Eve listened to the serpent, he created doubt in her mind regarding God’s intentions in prohibiting them from eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:16-17; 3:1-5). Eve was deceived by Satan’s words and tempted by the tree, and thus she fell into transgression (Gen. 3:6; 1Tim. 2:14; Jas. 1:14-15; 1John 2:16). Adam greatly multiplied the problems when he followed Eve into transgression. His failure was not only because he ate the forbidden fruit, but it was also that he listened to the voice of his wife rather than the voice of God (Gen. 3:17). She unwittingly had become an agent of Satan herself, and Adam willfully complied with her error. Adam failed in his role as a husband, for rather than acting as the authoritative head of his wife, he submitted to her. All of this demonstrates to us the folly of listening to anyone who speaks against God’s will regardless of who they may be.
One other lesson to consider is that there are many things within our reach that we must avoid in this world. Notice that God placed the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the midst of the garden (Gen. 2:9). He did not hide the tree or put it out of the reach of Adam and Eve. Nevertheless, He expected them to obey His commandment and abstain from the tree’s forbidden fruit. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, it was fully their own fault. Someone may errantly reason that if God did not want them to eat the fruit, then He should not have put the tree in the midst of the garden. Herein is the lesson: God does not protect us from our own foolish choices. He desires faithful obedience from us, which means that He allows us the choice between good and evil. If God prevented us from experiencing temptation, then we could never demonstrate the self-control, strength, and faith that He desires. Remember, “Without faith, it is impossible to please Him” (Heb. 11:6).
These lessons from the midst of the Garden of Eden demonstrate why we need to study often the story of the fall of man. Although thousands of years have passed, so much remains the same. God is still the same God He was when He made Adam and Eve, and His will for man is fundamentally the same. Adam and Eve were people just like we are, and our nature is the same as theirs was. Satan still works in deceit and temptations in order to lead us to destruction. The world still contains many “forbidden fruits” that we must avoid. Thankfully, we do have something that Adam and Eve did not have in their time, which is the full revelation of the Savior, whom God promised first in Genesis 3:15. It is through Him that the fall of man has been rectified and that we have the hope of “new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2Pet. 3:13).
Stacey E. Durham
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