Saturday, September 7, 2013

Christ and the Garden of Eden

You may eat the fruit of any tree in the garden, except the tree that gives knowledge of what is good and what is bad. You must not eat the fruit of that tree; if you do, you will die the same day” (God said to Adam, Genesis 2:16-17, GNB)

In Genesis 3, the woman, Eve, was tempted to do something which had been forbidden by God. She gave in to the temptation and then involved the man, Adam, in her sin. Adam was responsible for this because God reminded Adam first. He ought to remind Eve because he is the head over her. As a result they were embarrassed and “sewed fig leaves together and covered themselves” (Genesis 3:7).

Then they heard God coming, and hid from him. They admitted their fear, but were unable to admit responsibility for what they had done. The man blamed the woman, and she blamed the tempter, Satan. For the first time, the holy God was face to face with sin, with disobedience, with deception, and with guilty, fearful human beings. What did God do?

God’s first response to sin is this: He punished them. The woman will suffer by increasing her “trouble in pregnancy and pain in giving birth” (3:16). The man will suffer by “work hard all [his] life to make [the soil] produce enough food” (3:17). They both lose their intimate relationship with God, and are expelled from the Garden of Eden. God’s second response however is that: He also provided for them. Instead of stripping the rebels of their fig leaves clothes, God graciously “made them clothes out of animal skins for Adam and his wife, and he clothed them” (3:21).  Human beings used leaves to cover themselves; but God covered them with something more permanent – animal skins.

Judgment was wrapped in grace and love. However, creature had to die to provide those clothes. Blood had to be shed. There in perfect Eden, God slaughtered what He had recently declared ‘good’, and used their skins to make the two sinners a permanent covering for their shame. The man and the woman recognized that what God had provided was superior to their efforts. They took off their leaves and put on God’s gift.

Here, right at the beginning of the story of the Bible, is the first inkling of forgiveness by blood. Because God the Almighty is utterly holy and righteous, He have to punish sin; but because He is also the most gracious and loving God, He have to provide for us the way to be in peace with Him again (what else could He do?). Now, the animal skins are no more needed. It is temporary and old. It’s a type of what-is-to-come. The blood of animals is never enough, only God-size sacrifice is enough and satisfied: Christ died for us. “[So] God does away with all the sacrifices and puts the sacrifice of Christ in their places. Because Jesus Christ did what God wanted him to do, we are all purified from sin by the offering that he made of his own body once and for all” (Hebrews 10:9-10, GNB). This is God’s free gift for us – a costly free gift!

God response to sin is – punishment and providence
What is your response to your sin?
What is your response to God’s grace in Christ?

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