The Fall: Adam and Eve, You and Me, and God’s Persistence
In the fall of Adam and Eve, humans stopped trusting God’s goodness, and they made their own decisions about what was right and wrong. Yet God continued pursuing the hearts of his image bearers….
Though they had been given the world and the privilege of being God’s image-bearers, Adam and Eve disobeyed a simple command from God (Gen. 3:22). They could have done all they pleased, so long as they respected God’s commandment: Do not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:17). Until this point in the creation story, God was the one with the knowledge of what was good and evil. God asked Adam and Eve to trust him. By commanding them not to eat of the tree, he gave them a choice. Either they could choose to obey God and trust that he knew what was good and evil, or they could disobey him and decide for themselves what was good and evil.
“Either they could trust that he knew what was good and evil, or they could disobey him and decide for themselves what was good and evil.”
Innocence, companionship, and reliance on God were qualities that Adam and Eve exhibited at first. They were unaware of their nakedness, and “they felt no shame” (Genesis 2:25, NIV). They enjoyed the garden that they were placed in, as they tended the ground and cultivated the land as they saw fit. They lived in perfect bliss, free to enjoy a loving and intimate relationship with Yahweh and with each other. There was no conflict. There was no need left unmet, as they lived in harmony with one another and with God. They were created to share in God’s kingdom work in the garden, and that is what they did.
Doubt and Disobedience
Adam and Eve lived in Eden’s garden paradise for a while, but the pleasant life of eternal community with each other and with God was quickly turned on its head. Their trust in God and faith in his knowledge of good and evil was brought into question when a serpent entered the story and caused them to doubt. “Did God really say you couldn’t eat from that tree?” The invitation to doubt God’s intent was an invitation to unravel faith in His perfect will and knowledge. It was these questions of doubt that led Adam and Eve into temptation, and ultimately into disobedience.
God soon realized their disobedience, and he loved them nonetheless. He could tell that they were now ashamed of their own nakedness, so he created clothes for them. He did not destroy them for their disobedience, but he did show them that their disobedience came at a cost.
“He did not destroy them for their disobedience, but he did show them that their disobedience came at a cost.”
To prevent them from eating from the tree of life—which would grant eternal life—God drove them out from the garden. This series of events is the Bible’s introduction to the rebellious nature of humans and their desire to sin. The whole of redemption history began when Adam and Eve chose not to trust God’s knowledge of good and evil, and chose for themselves what was good and what was evil.
Exchanging Glory Yet Receiving Grace
Throughout the rest of Genesis and the Bible, God continued to reach out to humankind even as they grew darker in their sin and rebellion.
“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and bird and animal and creeping things.” (Rom. 1:21-23, ESV)
Though they were supposed to bear God’s image and share in his kingdom work, they neither bore his image nor helped build his kingdom. Instead, they built idols and statues to worship instead of God, and “everyone did what was right in [their] own eyes” (Judg. 21:25, ESV). Time after time throughout Scripture we see God patiently reaching out to humankind—but he received rebellion, faithlessness, and arrogance in exchange.
“Time after time throughout Scripture we see God patiently reaching out to humankind.”
The biblical theme from beginning to end is that God loves his creation despite their arrogance, faithlessness, and greed.
After Adam and Eve came their sons Cain and Abel. Abel found favor in God’s eyes because he gave to God the best of his flock. However, Cain did not find favor from God. In Cain’s anger, he took matters in his own hands—and killed his brother. Instead of bearing God’s image and seeking to know and love him, Cain did whatever he pleased. Just as God called to Adam and Eve in the garden (Gen. 3:9), so he called out to Cain in this story looking for Abel (Gen. 4:9). God knows, in both instances, where they are. Yet still he patiently and lovingly provides opportunities for faithfulness.
In Genesis 11, the Tower of Babel is another example of the human condition that is illustrated all throughout the Bible. “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we can make a name for ourselves” (Gen. 11:4). Story after story, humans want to be the stars of the show, usurping God’s glory. Thanks be to God that he is “rich in mercy” (Eph. 2:4, NIV).
Still Bearing the Image
Now, thousands of years later, God still wants us to glorify him with our lives. He doesn’t want us to become distracted by fantasies of making a name for ourselves. Rather, he wants us to live by faith and to make faithful decisions that help to build his kingdom and bear his image.
We are all confronted with a decision of faith at some point in our lives. The choice is ours: we either decide to commune with our relational God, bear his image, and share in his kingdom work, or we choose to walk a path that is not of God. The first path requires faith in his sovereignty and power, and it requires that we trust his knowledge of good and evil, discoverable in his Word. It requires that we seek to know him and find out what pleases him. It requires that we trust in his goodness, patience, and love for us, even when it’s hard. The second path relies on self, and it seeks to see one’s own name exalted.
“God’s path requires that we trust in his goodness, patience, and love for us, even when it’s hard.”
What we see as we continue to dig deeper into the gospel and the triune God is that the one way to heaven, Jesus (John 14:6), is also the eternally rewarding way of life. There will be challenges and we will fall short, but the Scriptures shows us time and again that God is “compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love” (Ps. 103:8). The redemptive plan of Christ is God’s divine response to the fall of humankind. God’s original purpose in Genesis for Adam and Eve is still his purpose for humans today. The good news is that we have all we need to fully understand that plan, repent and place our faith in him (Mark 1:15), and to take action to join in his kingdom work.