Saturday, March 26, 2005

Sneering Jawbones

Adam exhaled as life surged through his being. He opened his eyes, sat up and surveyed his surroundings. Although the garden was idyllic, it paled in comparison to the glorious presence of another being. Adam could only bow and fall on his face in awe, worship, and praise before the indescribable glory of God.

God commanded Adam to take care of the surrounding garden; to work it and to till it. For Adam, this work in service to God proved altogether pleasant and joyous.

God permitted Adam to eat of the fruit of any of the trees with which he worked, save one. Adam was specifically commanded not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In the joy of being in God’s great light, in the satisfaction of his work, in the total sufficiency of the permissible food, and in the ominous threat of death for disobedience, Adam unquestioningly complied with this simple edict.

The Lord God brought the animals to Adam to see what he would name them. While Adam was classifying them, his sense of humor began to develop. In remembering the forbidden fruit, he chuckled, “If I were to eat from that tree, there would be two sure things in life– Death and taxa.”

Since there was no helper suitable for the man, God put Adam in a semi-comatose state, removed one of his ribs, and formed a woman from it that was suitable for him. (Etymology intimates that the name Eve is not an abbreviation for evil, but, rather, a combining form of Evel, meaning a cause of men doing crazy things. cf. Kneivel.)

Late one morning while Adam and Eve were tilling near the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Eve became hungry and began to decide which fruit she would eat. The serpent, seeing his opportunity, spoke to her and questioned whether God really did forbid the fruit from this particular tree. Eve stated that, indeed, God did prohibit this action and added that they was not even to touch it. The serpent, seeing that the woman’s knowledge of God’s word was somewhat inaccurate, attacked with a frontal assault. He exclaimed with a sneer that if the fruit was eaten they would not die, but instead they would be like God and be able to exert the authority that He had usurped. Eve saw that the tree’s fruit was good for food, very pleasant to the eye, and desirable to gain wisdom. She took it and ate, then gave some to Adam who was with her.

When the time came to settle accounts with God and answer for their disobedience to His single command, Adam blamed Eve (and God since He gave Eve to him), Eve blamed the serpent, and the serpent sneered.

In His condemnation, God paints a picture of mankind’s fate instead of the delivering the expected lethal bolt of lightning. God bloodily butchers an animal to make clothing for the naked pair. He proclaims agony in childbirth for women while living under the rule of men. The man’s labor will retain little of the pleasantness and fruitfulness with which he has become accustomed. The creation will operate under the principles of entropy, requiring pain, sweat, and thorns and thistles. As Adam and Eve are evicted from The Garden and separated from fellowship with God, they also understand that they too will return to the dust in suffering and death. Man’s nature had become one of sinfulness, replacing the original righteousness.

Man’s inclinations now have become twisted beyond recognition. Whereas, at the first, Eve saw that a thing and perceived that it would ‘be good for food, very pleasant to the eye, and desirable to gain wisdom’ under the auspices of God, it had now become ‘the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life’ under the auspices of a sinful nature and corrupt world. At first, God was seen as the provider of all things. Now He is viewed as the enemy, who, if acknowledged at all, must be defined as something much different that He actually is; an imaginary creation of the hands or mind of man.

Mankind did now possess the knowledge of good and evil. He experienced the good in the Garden of Eden, and in fact, to this day, they still know of Him. But, man’s heart has chosen to neither give God glory nor give Him thanks. As a result of deeming God as worthless, and desiring, rather, to partake in ‘the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the boastful pride of life’ God gives what is so heartily coveted and with it gives leanness in their souls.

Men’s superficial souls enable them to willingly take blind leaps of faith and swallow any foolish idea that comes down the pike. The modern rational man replaces logic within the framework of God’s word with an illogic that is free to capriciously imagine any vain thing. If man is the measure of all things there are billions of inequitable standards informing men’s measurements and drawing fantastic conclusions from their amorphous data. He can irrationally call evil, ‘good’, and good, ‘evil’ and feel justified, ethical, and superior.

One can imagine the fiery darts that the serpent flung through Eve’s mind as he successfully deceived her to choose sin over obedience. When you first awoke, how do you know that Adam and God didn’t awake at the same time and God aggressively, albeit illegitimately took charge? Have you seen any miracles other than His ‘Wizard of Oz’ pomp and flash? Why does He want hold you down in your growth as a person? Why does He think He’s the ‘boss of you’? And Adam... couldn’t do his work by himself so needed your help? Pah-leez! Anything sound familiar?

After the deed was done and the accounting took place, so did the finger pointing. ‘It was that woman YOU gave me.’ ‘The serpent, he...’ Anything sound familiar?

Back in the time of Isaiah, a few thousand years ago, the situation was thus:

People will oppress each other–
man against man, neighbor against neighbor.
The young will rise up against the old,
the base against the honorable.”

The look on their faces testifies against them;
they parade their sin like Sodom;
they do not hide it.
Woe to them!
They have brought disaster upon themselves

Youths oppress my people,
women rule over them.
O my people, your guides lead you astray;
they turn you from the path.”

The women of Zion are haughty,
walking along with outstretched necks,
flirting with their eyes,
tripping along with mincing steps,
with ornament jingling on their ankles
(Isaiah 3:5, 9, 12, 16, NIV)

Anything sound familiar? There is nothing new under the sun. ‘Question Authority' did not originate in the '60's.

At any rate, since Man’s fall into sin, men have not been able to think logically. During the wilderness travellings, the Israelites directly experienced the parting of the Red Sea, the pillar of cloud by day, the pillar of fire by night, the daily manna, the quail, water from the rock, clothing and sandals that did not wear out... And yet they chose to always rebel and ‘question authority’. Jesus’ disciples saw all His works and miracles and heard all His words. Yet they were as dull as a box of rocks when it came to understanding, at least until the Holy Spirit enlightened them well after the crucifixion of Christ.

Even as believers, we must echo Paul’s statements:

So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God– through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.” (Romans 7:21-25, NIV)

The Lord is our only boast. In and of ourselves, we are nothing.

And what, then, of the unbelievers that pursue life on their own terms, choose to be the measure of all things, the masters of their fate, the captains of their own souls? Unless they, too, are graciously given life and repentance from the Lord, they will suffer the death promised to Adam and Eve for their sin, eternal death. “Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools...” and will suffer the just consequences.

And the serpent sneered.

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