“Most men would at least secretly like to be God. The trouble today is that so few of us see the sheer impossibility of it.” George Bernard Shaw
We must get it straight in our thinking. We do not break God’s law. We break ourselves against it. For instance, I can climb atop a three story building and shout to the crowd below, “Hey! Watch me! I’m going to break the law of gravity! I’m going to do a swan dive into the parking lot below!” After I do it you will discover that the law of gravity is not broken. It still works as well as ever. It is I who am broken. And it is the same with God’s moral law. One does not break God’s law. We demonstrate it. We break ourselves against it.
Perhaps you will recall the nursery rhyme “Humpty Dumpty” from your childhood. He’s the good egg that sat on a wall and had a great fall and all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put him together again. Parallel with Humpty’s woe is the story of the man and woman of Eden. In sinning the human race too had a great fall and experienced brokenness.
Brokenness With Self
One of the first ways Adam and Eve broke was in their relationship with themselves. Before the fall the Bible says, “The man and his wife were both naked, and they were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25). They could look upon themselves and agree with God that they were created good and in His image. After their disobedience and fall, however, the Bible says, “Then the eyes of both were opened and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons” (Genesis 3:7). This is clearly a loss of self-esteem. And this break is still with us today.
It is seen in inferiority complexes. “I’m just a nobody. I can’t do anything right!” One may see it as local high school annuals are published and that quiet pimply-faced sophomore languishes, “Oh! I take an awful picture. I can’t believe I look like that!”
Self-loathing is also evidenced in drug abuse. Look at it this way. If one doesn’t like the person he is seated beside he can get up and move. But if one doesn’t like himself, where can he go to get away? Drug abuse is one form of escape. And the very fact that alcohol and other drugs are so widely abused today is proof enough of our inability to get along with ourselves.
Self-hatred is also seen in the homosexual and transvestite. Here is a large group of people who reject God’s pattern in creating them. Dissatisfied with the “givens” of their lives they feverishly try to change and be something they are not.
Certainly the most extreme form of self-criticism is suicide. Last year at least 23,000 people in the United States destroyed themselves. Self-destruction ranks as the number three killer of people aged 12 to 24. Today, astonishing as it is, more people in America kill themselves than are murdered.
Broken With People
But not only did man fall and break in his relationship with himself, he also broke in his relationship with other people.
Before the fall Adam spoke poetry to his wife Eve. After the fall, however, the man blamed his wife for the sin and later their two sons, Cain and Abel, began to bicker. And Cain murdered his own brother while harvesting in the field.
This brokenness is still with us today as well. The story of Cain killing Abel has been told and retold in human relationships from ancient Babylon to modern Main Street. We see it in the racial tensions of India, South Africa and the United States. It’s there in the American family where divorces are averaging well over 40%.
And it is there in homicide. Nearly 20,000 murders a year occur in the United States. And most of them take place in the family. In fact, 80% of those murdered know the person killing them.
The most violent place in the world today is the female womb. Twenty-five percent of all pregnancies world-wide end in abortion, the killing of the unborn baby.
I could go on quoting the statistics of injustice, child abuse, and torture. But you likely need no convincing. Mankind is not kind. People are hard to live with.
During the last 100 years more people have died in wars than have died in all the other wars of human history put together. Eighty percent of all scientists who have ever lived are alive today and by far the most of them are involved in weapons development.
The largest business enterprise in the world today is the manufacture and sale of arms. And the world’s top doomsday salesman is the United States.
All this, and still the specter of nuclear warfare hangs by a thread over humanity. We are literally on trial for our lives!
Broken With the Environment
There is a third way man broke when he fell and that is in his relationship with creation. God cursed the ground because of man’s sin (Genesis 3:17). And the effects of that curse became immediately apparent. Thorns and thistles began to grow. Man began to suffer with his environment. Things like droughts, floods, earthquakes, windstorms, animal savagery, plagues, and deformities began to occur. Suffering and death entered the world.
But not only did creation fall and break. Man fell upon broken creation. God told man “to dress the…” (Genesis 2:15). But man began to pollute the earth. He corrupted his way upon it until the Lord had to wash it with a great flood (Genesis 6:11 and following). You might call this the first instance of ecological recycling.
We still find this brokenness with us today. The broken creation is still very much with us; our optimum human habitat is no more. Droughts, floods, tornadoes, cancer, earthquakes, birth defects— they all combine to make us suffer.
And man is still corrupting his way upon the earth. God said, “Dress the earth and keep it,” but we have raped it and left it unkept. We pour our chemical wastes into our rivers until they become poisoned and undrinkable. Oil is spilled into the sea. Precious top soil erodes. We consume and over-consume. There is air pollution, noise pollution, eye pollution; so much that the American Medical Association now estimates that 80% of all cancer in the human body is environmentally induced. We have raped and fouled the creation right up to the point of ecological disaster.
Broken With God
Not only does Genesis 3 teach that the consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin was a broken relationship with self, other people, and the created order, it also teaches we have a broken relationship with God.
Before the fall man was full of the Spirit of God. The Lord Himself had breathed into Adam’s nostrils the breath of life and man had walked in close communion with his God. Commandments were given— “Dress and keep the earth,” “Be fruitful and multiply,” “You shall not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” — and orders were obeyed. A wife was given and a wife was accepted and loved. Then came sin. And the effects of that sin on man’s relationship with God were immediately apparent. Disobedience and disbelief became a part of Adam and Eve’s lifestyle. They were “afraid” of God (Genesis 3:10). The man and woman hid from God (Genesis 3:8). And Cain actually lied to God saying he had no knowledge as to his brother’s whereabouts even though he’d just murdered him (Genesis 4:8-10).
Today, disbelief, disobedience, fear and avoidance, and lying still reveal our own broken relationship with God. And so does pride.
Genesis 11 is the story of the tower of Babel. There humans gathered and began to build a tower back to God. Yet their efforts fell far short, ending in utter confusion. The same with our more recent religious efforts to rebuild our relationship with God on our own terms. Why, today it is nothing to find a middle-aged person who has been in and out of a half dozen religions. He’s tried to rebuild his relationship with God through doing good, self-denial, drugs, diet, meditation, self-assertiveness, philosophy, and the occult. Now spent, empty, and defeated, he is confused by it all.
Yet we still try! America has become a garden in which new religions spring up almost daily as modern man searches to bind himself favorably back to God.
What Is the Good News From Genesis?
One gets this horrible picture of man in the Bible. Genesis, an ancient book, thousands of years old, pictures human nature in no uncertain terms. And its description of man is as fresh and relevant as the daily newspaper.
Guru Maharji Visits Washington, Attracts Thousands…
Fish Kill In the James River Linked to Kepone Contamination…
Prominent Banker Here Takes His Own Life…
Police Report Homicide Rate Up Sharply For the Month of July…
But what is the good news from the Book of Genesis? Is there any hope for man so horribly broken? The good news comes in chapter three. And it is not in who people are but in who God is. You see, when we sinned, God did not ignore us. Nor did He seek to destroy us. In the cool of the evening God walked on the face of the earth and He said, “Adam, where art thou?” In other words, God came looking for us!
Right here is a major difference between Christianity and other religions. Religion is man looking for God. Christianity is God looking for man. Religion is man doing something for God. Christianity is God doing something for man. Religion is man-made. But the Christian faith is God-given.
As I said earlier, the word “religion” comes from the Latin root word meaning “to bind back.” It is an attempt by man to bind up his broken relationships, to bind himself back to God. It is Humpty Dumpty trying to put himself together again. Anthropologists studying ancient civilizations have yet to find even one society that was not devoutly religious. All men everywhere have struggled with religion. And did you know that all major religions agree on the fact that man once had a close communion with God but somehow he lost it? Where religions disagree is on how that relationship is restored. Some say you get back to God through philosophy, self-denial, and meditation. Others teach the way to God is through obedience to the law or do-goodism. The Christian faith teaches that man can do nothing to bind himself back to God. The Lord has to do it all Himself.
Man Hides Himself
So, in the cool of the evening God came looking. And the man and the woman, both terribly broken, ran and hid themselves from God (Genesis 3:8). They weren’t even making a pretense at being religious. They weren’t looking for God. They didn’t want God. They were “afraid.” And so they hid themselves in the trees.
The fact that man hid from God should not surprise us. This is where people still are today. We are broken in every way that Adam and Eve were broken, but rather than admit it and face the Lord for help, we hide ourselves behind questions of willful doubt, in busy crowds, and loud music where we won’t have to think, and in television and cheap literature that keeps us from the real issues. God talk is left out of polite conversation. And the Bible, unread as yet by most, is criticized and claimed to be full of contradictions. All of this is who we are.
God’s First Question
So, God, walking in the garden, began to search for Adam and Eve. And the twosome was probably not too difficult to find. Don’t you imagine the bushes were trembling there in a corner of Eden? “It is a woeful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!” Anyway, God came looking, and, as He looked, He asked, “Adam, where are you?” This is the first question God asks in the Bible. “Where are you, Adam? Are you in sin? Are you willing to admit your transgression and face me, or are you going to hide? Where are you?”
When the man and woman saw that they had been found out, they reluctantly ambled out of the bushes and stood before God. The Lord held the man accountable and so dealt with him first. “Adam, what is this you have done?” Quickly, the man passed the buck, blaming the sin entirely on his wife and on God Himself who made her.
“Lord,” he said, “the woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”
We still have this response of Adam with us today. “My father was too strict when I was a child. That’s why I am so wild today. It’s his fault!” Or, “I grew up on the wrong side of the tracks. My parents were ignorant. We were on welfare. I am the way I am today because of society.”
God, seeing He could get nowhere with Adam, turned to the woman. And the woman, while being more honest than Adam, began to rationalize. “Lord, you know about the snake. He’s the most beguiling creature in all the earth. No one can resist him!”
Obviously, there are still rationalizers among us today. And here are a few of our favorite rationales…
“The devil made me do it!”
“After all, I’m only human!”
“But everybody else is doing it!”
“How can anything so beautiful be so wrong?”
Not once did Adam and Eve admit their disobedience. Nowhere do they come out of hiding and say, “I did it! It was wrong! Now just look at me! I am so broken. God, I am afraid of you. I don’t like myself. The poetry has gone out of my marriage. And look! I am corrupting the earth. Lord, help me! Forgive me!”
If the rebellious twosome of Eden had shown repentance and called on God to help them I feel certain the gospel would have begun right then and there. But no! Neither Adam nor Eve expressed remorse for sin or love toward God in their attitude.
Man’s greatest problem, you see, is in realizing he has a problem. Haven’t you known alcoholics who did not think they had a drinking problem? Man is like that. The words, “I’ve been wrong. Please forgive me. Please help me,” come hard to human lips.
President Harry Truman used to have a sign on his White House desk. It read, “The buck stops here!” This is where the Lord lets the blame rest also. It stops right with the individual. Daniel Webster once echoed this when he said, “The most important thought that ever occupied my mind is the thought of my own individual responsibility to God.”
Adam’s problem did not arise with Eve. Eve’s problem was not with the snake. Nor is your problem or mine with someone or something else. Our problem is us. For as with Adam and Eve we have each exercised our own free will and chosen to disbelieve and disobey God.
When the Lord saw that the man Adam and the woman Eve would not accept their own responsibility for sin, He sent them out of the Garden of Eden. Actually, the Bible says God “drove out the man” (Genesis 3:24).
So, the Bible says in Genesis 3:24, God “drove out the man; and at the east of the Garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.” Thus were Adam and Eve prevented from trying to reenter the garden on their own terms. An angel and a sword were there to prevent their return.
It is interesting that Ephesians 6:17 uses the same imagery of the sword and identifies it as “the word of God.” And furthermore, Revelation 2:12 and 16 identify Jesus Christ as having “the sharp two-edged sword” and He is able to “war against them with the sword of my mouth.” Clearly the way back into God’s presence then is through the sword or through the word of God who is Jesus Christ. And this presents a problem for us. For don’t we each want God but on our own terms?
“God, here are my terms for a new relationship with you! Diet, meditation, and Hinduism!”
Or “God, here’s my deal. The Islamic faith! Alms for the poor, prayer facing Mecca, a pilgrimage to the shrine at Mecca, and my sword for your holy wars!”
And the Bible is quite clear. If our relationship with God is to be restored it will be on God’s terms and not on our own, whatever religion it might be.
The First Promise
After the fall, after God found the man and the woman, and after they had passed the blame and rationalized their sin, God began to minister. And if Genesis 1-4 teaches who man is, it also teaches who God almighty Himself is.
Neither ignoring Adam and Eve or hating them, God came looking for them in love.
He called them to accountability to Himself in a series of questions. “Where are you?” “Who told you that you were naked?” “Have you eaten of the tree…?” “What is this that you have done?”
Furthermore, God ministered to Adam and Eve’s physical needs. Genesis 3:21 recounts how God made clothing for the man and the woman from the skins of animals. Evidently Eden’s environment was becoming harsh. Winter was coming on and garments made with fig leaves were not warm enough. So God gave them fur coats.
Then, too, an animal giving up his skin has to die. This is the first mention in the Bible of blood being shed to make provision for human sin. Already the Lord is preparing man’s understanding of a divine redeeming strategy that would lead from centuries of animal sacrifice to the greatest sacrifice of all— the death of Jesus upon the cross.
All of this, and God also made a promise. It is the first promise after the fall. And He made it in Genesis 3:15 to the serpent Satan. “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
“I will put enmity…” is a promise of conflict. And here in today’s world we have just that— domestic strife, racial turmoil, war, crime— social violence of every type. And it is our tenuous existence in such a troubled world that makes the consequences of sin so clear and makes us feel the need for God.
The other part of the promise of God is that a deliverer will come. From the seed or descendants of Adam and Eve would come a child who, quarreling with Satan, would strike a blow to Satan’s head while being wounded himself in the heel. Most Bible scholars believe this is the first prediction in Scripture of a Messiah, someone who would come from God and redeem his people from sins and Satan’s power.
It is interesting to study Luke 3:23-38 in this light. The author of Luke was a medical doctor interested in births and deaths, so it is only natural that he should provide us with a careful genealogy of Jesus Christ. He begins with Joseph and traces Christ’s ancestry back through David, Abraham and Noah, all the way back to Adam. Clearly Christ to New Testament writers is the promised one of God. It was He who would come to deliver His people. And to Jesus Christ, the deliverer, we now turn.
Lord, help me not to die until I’m dead! In Christ! Amen.