God saw everything he had made: it was supremely good.” (Genesis 1:31)
The woman saw that the tree was beautiful with delicious food and that the tree would provide wisdom, so she took some of its fruit and ate it, and also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then they both saw clearly and knew that they were naked. So they sewed fig leaves together and made garments for themselves. (Genesis 3:6-7)
So there’s this tiny problem…
(Okay, well not really tiny…)
After God creates humanity, the garden is a “supremely good” place, and I can only believe that this is the way God wanted it to be: a place of growth, purpose, and relationship.
Unfortunately, that sublime perfection just doesn’t last long. At all.
There are lots and lots of questions about Genesis 3:
- Is Adam and Eve’s sin one of pride (“you will be like God”), or is it one of distrust (God places them in the center of the garden, and they lose faith in God’s ability to provide for them in every way)?
- Who put the snake there in the first place? Is the snake the devil? (The text actually never says that explicitly.)
- Is Eve more culpable than Adam? Is Adam more culpable than Eve?
There are plenty more books written on questions like these, but I want to focus on the essentials…
… Because something is broken now.
Something that God created.
What will He do? What would you do?
It’s easy for me to think that if I was a brilliant creator and had crafted a perfect place with and for my highest creations (humanity) that I would be, well, pretty darn angry if they either (a) tried to elevate themselves over me, or (b) mistrusted my ability to provide for them.
I’d be tempted to teach them a lesson. Or to just scrap the whole project.
But I am not this Creator.
Immediately after the man and woman realize that they are naked, and improvise the first fashion show, we are told that they “heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden; and the man and his wife hid themselves from the LORD God in the middle of the garden’s trees.” I can’t imagine the fear and hesitation that they were experiencing, but then God does something completely unexpected (as He often does): He asks a question.
No temper tantrum. No lightning bolts. No annihilation.
And not just any question.
“The LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”
In other words, this God comes looking for people. Even the ones who “screw everything up.”
In a bit of an interrogation/interview that follows, God hears the story and, while He pronounces that there will be consequences for this mistake, He still doesn’t “let them have it.” The garden—in fact everything in creation—is certainly now sideways, and in a way they can never go back, but then this God again surprises us.
“The man named his wife Eve because she is the mother of everyone who lives. The LORD God made the man and his wife leather clothes and dressed them” (3:20-21).
Outside of God playing in the mud and breathing into it to bring Adam to life, this may be the most astonishingly intimate portrait of God in the creation story, and it says an awful lot about who this God is. An awful lot. Nakedness in the Ancient Near East was shameful, and emphasized human vulnerability and frailty. In light of this, God “covers” the shame and vulnerability of humanity with clothes that He Himself makes.
That says a lot.
In a way He seems to be saying, “There is something in the world now—a sickness and a brokenness—that can’t be wished away, It is going to affect everything humanity touches or experiences, but there are two things that you need to know:
- I’m going to take care of this, and
- It’s time to get to work.
Before we leave this story, I want to point out something obvious. If you are a spiritual person who is even a little bit serious about the Jesus and Bible, it makes a lot of difference what your starting point is. To put it succinctly: there is a version of the Christian story that says it all essentially “starts” (or “ends”, depending on your perspective) with Genesis 3:1-7. It says, “We (humanity) ruined everything; see how wicked we are?”
However, if you start (or end) with Genesis 3:8-21, the story is slightly different: “We ruined everything, and God is going to restore it.”
… And that’s just what’s going to start next.
To see the Part 3 of The Bible Project, click here.