Posts tagged Adam
In the book of Genesis, we read about the first couple, Adam and Eve, and their initiation of sin in the world. As the first humans to become defiled by sin, they would receive a great punishment – primarily the fact that the would be separated from God in the sense that the relationship they had enjoyed with him would be replaced by something less.
Here, in the book of Amos, we find God revisiting that original punishment when he speaks of a famine that is worse than a famine of food or water:
“The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord,
“when I will send a famine through the land—
not a famine of food or a thirst for water,
but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. (Amos 8:11)
Now, you might think that a group of people who had essentially turned their backs on God wouldn’t really be all that upset if he didn’t speak to them for a while. But history has shown us that the people of Israel would become greatly distressed by God’s silence. In fact, in the time period post-Old Testament and pre-New Testament, God withdrew from his people and quit speaking to them.
And it occurs to me that famine of relationship (that’s what God was actually warning against) really is the worst kind of famine. And it’s the kind of famine that you have no ability to control. If there is a shortage of food or water, you tell yourself, “If I travel far enough, I’ll come across some water or some food. With relational famine, you are completely at the mercy of the other person – or, in this case, deity.
God wants to have a strong relationship with us. He wants to have an intimate relationship with us. And yet, we turn our backs so often and so defiantly that every now and then, he decides to take a break from us – to severe that relationship. Of course, no matter how hardened we are, at our core, we were designed to be in a relationship with him. And so, suddenly, our relationship with God, which always took a back burner in the past, now becomes priority number one – front and center in our lives.
In a way, it’s a blessing when God distances himself, because it reminds us of our need for him and of his great love for us.
In the first seven chapters of the book of Genesis, I’ve noted a common theme – the loss of innocence – which leads to severe calamities for the human race. First, there was Adam & Eve eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. That led to the murder of one of their sons by one of their sons. Eventually, the whole world became full of wicked people who had to be destroyed in order for God to start over with his creation.
Now, in chapter 8, we find a new day dawning – a new era for the human race. With these 8 people and the animals that they rescued from the flood, God would start afresh. Of course, one problem remained. These people weren’t pure and perfect like Adam & Eve. And if the actions of the perfect first couple led to destruction, how in the world were these 8 going to have any better results?
That’s where God provides some reassurances. First, God promises not to destroy the earth by flood again. He takes that one off the table. Instead, he signals to Noah and his family that a new order is now in place. How does he do this? When God tells Noah and his family “Just as I gave you the green plants, I now give you everything,” he isn’t just saying that they can eat meat. He’s saying that they are now living under a different system entirely.
Meat would have been foreign to Noah and his family. They probably had no desire to eat it. It may have even been repulsive to them. But in his instructions, God creates a symbolic representation of the reality of the situation. He continues to build on the theme of innocence lost. The animals which, up to this point, had been simply for work or pleasure, now had an additional function in the world which was caused by the loss of innocence and the resultant choices that inevitably had to be made because of it.
The loss of innocence, then, would lead mankind to eat meat – a concept that wasn’t part of the original created world, but which was clearly acceptable to God in this new order of things. In fact, it was God’s suggestion.
In these 4 short chapters (especially short if you removed the genealogies) two very tragic events occur – events that would forever alter the course of humanity. First comes the very first instance of murder – and the murder of a brother at that – and then the ultimate destruction of nearly everything and everyone on the face of the earth.
It strikes me that this series of events is the inevitable result of sin. In my last post, I discussed the choice made by Adam & Eve and how the loss of innocence would ultimately lead to other choices and the stress of doing what was right. That choice would be visited on Adam & Eve in the worst imaginable way – one of their sons would take the life of another son.
That legacy would continue for 8 more generations and would escalate to the point that the world was full of wickedness.
The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. (Genesis 6:5)
God had to make the painful decision to start over and yet, this was not God’s fault. We brought this on ourselves and continue to bring it on ourselves. The inevitable result of consistently choosing the wrong path is complete and total destruction. The great flood, then, was the destination on a course that was charted by Adam & Eve several thousand years earlier. It was a course that could have been corrected by any number of people through the generations, but it wasn’t. And so, without any course correction, the human experiment careened off the cliff and God would be forced to go back to the basics.
And consider this about the flood: we understand that God wiped out every living thing from the earth except for Noah and his wife, his sons and their wives and the animals on the ark. But have you ever stopped to consider what that really meant for those who remained.
We are told that Noah’s father, Lamech, had Noah when he was 182 years old and that he lived to the ripe old age of 777 “and had other sons and daughters”. It stands to reason, then, that 600 years later, when Noah and his family boarded the ark, he had brothers and sisters watching him from the outside – brothers and sisters that would ultimately be killed by the flood waters. (Lamech, we’re told, died 595 years after Noah was born, so he witnessed the building of the ark, but was not killed by the flood.)
Then I started thinking: Not only did Noah have brothers and sisters who were being left behind. He likely had nieces and nephews, aunts and uncles, cousins, in-laws and friends. His wife had family and friends, his sons had family and friends and his sons’ wives had family and friends. What must it have been like when the flood waters actually came and, undoubtedly, some portion of those family and friends came to the ark begging to be brought on-board? What must it have been like when the waters receded and these 8 people were left with the stark realization that everyone they had ever known was gone?
The inevitable result of the choices made over the course of those first 10,000 years or so landed hard and heavy on the shoulders of Noah and his family – heavier, even, than it did on those who perished in the water. These chosen 8, after all, would be charged with the re-launch of the experiment and with the charge to get it right this time around.
As I embark on this journey of reading and blogging through the bible over the course of a year, I am confronted immediately with one of the most discussed and controversial portions of the Bible. Perhaps that’s because it involves the creation of the universe, or perhaps it’s because countless others have embarked on a journey to read through the bible and this is as far as they were able to get!
Whatever the case, I have no desire to dive into a discussion or debate about intelligent design. What I would like to point out instead is the very first case of “unintelligent decision-making”. In Genesis 2 and 3, we’re told all about this incredible garden that God had set up for Adam and Eve. The place was perfect – a real heaven on earth where human beings walked with God.
By all indications, this garden had only one rule – do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It was as if God, in his desire to offer free will to us, had to give Adam and Eve some kind of choice to make. Therefore, he made it really simple for them:
In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:9b)
Two trees. You choose which one to eat from: the tree of life, which comes with very little in the way of responsibility, a whole lot of freedom and an incredible, eternal life OR the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, which comes with all of the stress and struggle of knowing right from wrong and trying to choose what’s right. In other words, we were allowed to choose innocence or to choose a loss of innocence that brought with it a lot of baggage.
Ultimately, Eve, followed by Adam, chose the loss of innocence. Why? Perhaps it was the enticement of power offered by the serpent or the allure of having something they were told they couldn’t have. Whatever it was, that same choice faces us every day…and every day we make the same foolish decision that Adam & Eve made – we choose the loss of innocence.
Our desire for knowledge, power, esteem or whatever else we can get our hands on causes us to make a stupid decision that immediately opens us up to more stupid decisions. That is the history of the human race and we continually feed into it. That is why Jesus told us that we need to “become like little children” in order to experience the kingdom of heaven – to experience life as it was supposed to be – life as it was before that fateful day when “unintelligent decision-making” was born.