As I pondered yesterday's sermon on Jesus' temptation, I had a bit of a realization. A few of them in fact. Today I'm going to focus on what went down in the garden of Eden. After the morning I've had, I'm finding that I need to write about this RIGHT NOW, for myself as much as anyone. Tomorrow I'll share my reflections on Jesus' temptation, the similarities in Satan's approach, the differences in Jesus' perfect responses, and a perspective that Satan may not have been counting on.
Satan came to Eve in the same way he came to Jesus in the desert, presenting himself unpretentiously. He approached her without pomp or circumstance through a serpent which, not yet being an adversary, did not immediately cause her to see evil and run. He came with nothing more then questions, but oh the questions! The questions were skillfully designed by a master manipulator. Satan started by purposefully misrepresenting God's word, Gen 3:1 "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the Garden?" Of course Satan knew this is not what God said, but he's going somewhere with this, namely putting Eve in a negative frame of reference. She is not thinking of everything that God has provided, this huge glorious garden that meets every one of her needs without so much as lifting a finger (or hoe). No, she's thinking of the one thing that was off limits.
We also don't see her taking time. Time to reorient herself to the abundance and blessings God had provided, or time to ponder how obeying God's command might be good for her, might strengthen her faith or give her the opportunity to show her love and gratefulness. How often do we think of accepting a "negative" as a way to show gratefulness? She did not even ponder the fact that a very loving and much wiser God with a vastly larger perspective than hers may know what's better for her than she did. Or that she doesn't really need to understand the "why" to trust and obey. Didn't I just have this conversation with a certain 8 year old, about perspectives and trusting and understanding that things Mom and Dad do and say are because we love our children and have a bigger perspective. Bigger than the small incident today to what it will teach them and how it will help them to become a loving, kind adult. Yep, pretty sure I did, and no I didn't miss the opportunity to point out how much larger God's perspective is then ours as parents.
Eve did not take the time. She didn't stop and think and Satan kept right on her. Gen 3:4 "You will not surely die," he said to Eve. Uh oh, there's the doubt, that tiny kernel of doubt. Doubt followed immediately by the temptation of knowledge. It sounds sweet yes? Do we see Eve take a moment to fully consider what this "knowledge" might entail? She doesn't even really know evil at this point (or that she's talking to it, ironic eh?). Does she take a moment to think about what having knowledge of evil would mean for her? We don't even need to be a party to evil to see how devastating and tragic and painful it is. Just imagine the heartache you feel when you hear about a child beaten to death. Who in their right mind would want the knowledge of evil to enter their world if they didn't have to? Eve didn't have our perspective either, she had never seen evil let alone experienced it. She didn't give herself any time to ponder her decision or it's repercussions. She let her desire for "knowledge", a knowledge she didn't even fully comprehend mind you, carry her along while Satan skillfully guided the way.
Desire. It doesn't seem to have taken Eve much more then a millisecond to move from desire to decision. Oh how many times have we trod this path ourselves!?!? Countless. The desire for the sweet taste of that donut over the health of our body. The desire for that car that we don't have the money for, so we sign a note instead of save the money. Everywhere you look you see temptations in the form of instant gratification. Death seems a much larger consequence for Eve then eating a donut is for us to be sure and I'm not sure you can put donut indulgence down as a sin per se. But we can see how Satan works surreptitiously, by tiny suggestions of doubt and desire. By the barbs of the word "if". Satan's goal, to pull us one little step, one tiny word at a time away from our God and our Savior. He doesn't work in big flashy ways, but with small and relentless pulling, pushing our buttons and stoking the coals of our desires.
Let's not forget that Eve and the serpent are not alone here in the garden either. Where is Eve's support structure? The head of her household? Adam was right there with her Gen. 3:6 "She also gave some to her husband, who was with her". Did he once interject with an, "I don't know about this" or "let's think about this first" or even better "let's pray about this". Nope. If there had been a TV in the garden would he have even paused the DVR to pay attention to what his wife was getting into? What we do know about Adam is that a) he was there and b) he didn't stop Eve or even object to eating the fruit himself. To be clear Eve did not pause and consult Adam
either, unless you count encouraging him to partake in their disobedience. Not once did she stop to ask, "What do you think honey, is this a good idea?" Spouses are a team, and Adam and Eve's team wasn't working very well that day.
Let's also not miss the fact that it's Adam, as the head of his household, the "team captain" who takes the blame for this, even though he may seem little more then an accomplice to most of the action. Rom 5:12 "Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man..." The Apostle Paul goes on to clarify and reiterate that point that sin entered the world through "one man" Adam and sin is cleansed by God's grace through "one man" Jesus Christ. It is full circle, to be sure, but there is no doubt that Adam carries the burden of that initial sin.
One might wonder how that could have gone down differently had Adam interceded and pleaded for his wife's forgiveness even after she ate the fruit. Some say that what if's are futile and pointless, but I disagree in that they give us an opportunity to reflect on better decisions. I firmly believe that the more times one "plays" circumstances out in ones mind, we are better prepared when we find ourselves in a situation and a split second action is necessary, ask any self defense instructor. It's at least worth considering that if we see our spouse going down a path contrary to God's commands, we should counsel with them, pray for and with them and not just willingly walk down that path of sin together.
So let us reflect on how this all went down. May Eve be that cautionary tale of the consequences of quick decision making. No doubt we've been there, no doubt we haven't handled things well either, no doubt we'll be there again but perhaps more prepared and more aware next time. Let us learn to work together as a team and seek the counsel of our spouse. Let us learn to take the time (speaking to myself here) to be still and listen and ponder and pray. Psalm 46:10