About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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The Death Of All Things


Genesis 1 and 2 is the story about the creation of  the physical universe.  If the story of Genesis 1 and 2 is the story of life as we know it, Genesis 3 is the story of  death. 


It is interesting to note that man's first day of existence was God's last day of work.  Or to put it another way, man's first full day of existence was God's first day of rest, upon completing the work of creation.  Man was created to live forever in the restful presence of God.  What a place to live.


God commanded Adam (not Eve) that he was "free to eat from any tree in the garden, but he must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when he ate of it, he would surely die (Genesis 1:16 & 17)."


Note how this command begins, "you are free…"  Now that's a very positive way to begin a strict command.  Adam was created to be free as well as to live in God's restful presence.   


 Beyond the opening phrase of this command God told Adam not to eat from the tree that would cause him to know the difference between good and evil.  For Adam, and later for Eve, everything was meant to be good, even their nakedness that I'm sure they enjoyed. 


Along with the command came the consequence if this command was broken.  God said, "when you eat of it you will surely die."   I admit that I might be making a bigger deal out of one word than originally intended, but I'll make my point anyway.  God didn't say, "if you eat from the tree."  He said, "when you eat from the tree."  Of course God knew Adam would partake from the tree, but even beyond knowing, I think God anticipated Adam eating the forbidden fruit.  Whatever the case with the word "when",  Adam put the fruit to his lips and immediately death entered the physical universe.  Did Adam die right away?  No.  So what did God mean when He told Adam that he would die?


As soon as Adam swallowed that first bite, the whole molecular structure of the universe went out of whack.  Suddenly, everything changed for the worse, and that's everything.  Nothing was left unchanged.  The presence of evil disrupted all things. 


The first thing we notice concerning this disruption is found in Genesis 3:7.  Immediately after eating the fruit a social or relational death fell over Adam and Eve like a wet, heavy blanket.  They looked at each other and saw that they were naked, and they were embarrassed.  Right away the enjoyable relationship that Adam and Eve had with each other died.  That which was pleasant and enjoyable was now corrupted, and it's been corrupted ever since.  I can't imagine how disheartened Adam and Eve felt at that moment.


Another thing we note in Genesis 3:10 to 13 about Adam and Eve's relationship is that the "blame game" began.  Adam blamed Eve for his disobedience, and Eve blamed the serpent.  Human relationships had taken a turn for the worse.  Good social relationships between humans had just died.  Man died socially.


Man also died spiritually.  In Genesis 3:8 Adam and Eve tried to hide from God.  Can you believe that?  I think man's good judgment died at that point too.  How could someone hide from God?  Well, they tried, and we've been trying ever since.  Man died spiritually as seen in the disruption between Adam and Eve's relationship with their God.  They were no longer comfortable with God.  They had lost the freedom, lost the rest.  Genesis 3:10 tells us that Adam was now "afraid" of God.  How sad.


Adam and Eve did eventually die physically, but I don't think physical death was the only thing God had in mind when He told Adam that he would die if he ate from this tree.  Beyond the physical death was social and spiritual death.


Eve was deceived by the serpent.  She thought she could be like God if she ate from the tree, but that was only so in one respect.  Yes, Adam and Eve did become like God.  They now understood the difference between good and evil, something from which God wanted to spare them.  Knowing the difference between good and evil was the only respect in which they became like God.  The serpent chose not to explain that to Eve. 


We note that Eve was deceived.  Adam was not deceived.  He willfully ate, knowing the command first hand.  There's no record that God commanded Eve not to eat from the tree.  She might not have even been in existence when the command was given.  I'm assuming Adam explained the command to her.  It was Adam's responsibility to make sure he and Eve obeyed God.  He defaulted on that responsibility.


Other things died as a result of man's sin as well.  Note in Genesis 3:17 that the ground was cursed.  Thorns and thistles would now grow.  Adam took the earth down with him, and it's my thinking he took all of creation down with him as well.  That's why Paul says in Romans 8:18 to 21 that all creation is eagerly waiting for the day when it will be liberated from the decay man caused it to experience.  I dare say that the whole molecular structure of the universe was severely shaken and disrupted to the core.   All of creation experienced death. 


Another thing to note is that Adam was to take care of and manage the affairs of the earth (Genesis 1:28), but he defaulted on that too.  He gave his responsibility over to satan, the one who inhabited the serpent. That's why the New Testament speaks of satan as being the "prince of this world."  Good management of God's creation had just died. 


Another aspect to the appearance of death concerns animal life.  Adam and Eve attempted to hide their nakedness with leaves.  God wasn't happy with the fig leaves.  He therefore killed an animal and from that animal made clothes of skin for Adam and Eve.  That poor, innocent animal died to cover man's nakedness.  Just imagine your pet puppy being killed so you could be clothed in his skin.  That doesn't sound very nice, but that's what happened.  And that's the gospel of Jesus told in advance.  The innocent Lamb of God would die to not only cover the nakedness of our sin, but to remove the sin completely from God's records.  The good news of Jesus is foretold by the killing of that first animal.  Death had now entered the animal world. More important than that was that death had entered into the world of God. God would become human in Jesus, and Jesus would experience the same death as this animal.      


So when God said Adam would die when he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, you might consider that an understatement.  Everything died.  Everything is now out of whack.  We were created to not know the difference between good and evil.  Everything was meant to be good for us.  That all changed, but this will pass.  God will restore all things in the new heaven and the new earth as seen at the end of the book of Revelation.  I'm looking forward to that day.  Until then, I trust Jesus with my life as I live in the depravity I find myself in.  I'm caught in a certain tension between heaven and hell, between rest and anxiety, between freedom and restriction, and between life and death. 




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