Will you know the Answer before Time runs Out?
"Time is at once the most valuable and the most perishable of all our possessions.” -
With the introduction of the antagonist is the introduction of the timeline. Why? Well, something significant happens. Something bigger and more severe than it first appears. Now, doesn’t that sound like a good mystery? What happens? Subterfuge. We find this in Genesis chapter 3. Satan who conceals himself in the
form of a serpent deceives Eve. I’m sure most of you have heard the story, but you probably haven’t really thought about its significance. What did Satan do? The oldest trick in the book -create doubt. Such a small
question, “Did God really say...?” What would have gone through your mind? Would you have just been mater-of-fact, “Yes, God said not to eat of this tree and that settles it!” Or, would you, like Eve, defend what God said but then wonder, “Why did God say not to eat of this tree? Is He holding something back? How can I know? How can I find out?”
Doubt. Oh, such a little thing but with such ravenous capacity to grow. Faster than yeast in bread dough or cancer in a tissue, it grows - rapidly - and with nothing to keep it in check. It consumes. This is what happened with Eve. Doubt consumed her. Satan appealed to three of our basic instincts. First, her curiosity was raised. What would eating of this fruit achieve for her? Would it, as the serpent stated, make her like God? Second, it was very appealing. It looked good, it smelled wonderful. Could it really be that bad? What makes this fruit different from all of the other fruit in the garden of which she could eat? It looked as good, or better, than the other fruit. So, what’s the big deal about the restriction anyway? Third, it appealed to her intellectually. After all, God is the wisest being she knows. He seems to know everything about everything. Even if she could be half as wise as God wouldn’t that be neat? Why would God not want her to be wise? Couldn’t the two of them communicate better that way? Yes, the serpent was beginning to make sense. It was starting to formulate clearly in her mind now. This fruit was looking very appealing. Why had she not noticed it before? It is very appealing to look at. It looked better than some of the other fruits in the garden. Shouldn’t she be allowed to have the best? I bet it even tastes better than some of the other fruit. Oh, and the best part, I will be wiser and be able to reach God on a higher plane. Why, he will be so impressed with me. Eating this fruit can only make things better. And then she fell. Doubt to pride to sin. Such an easy step. Such a logical step. Such a deadly step! She ate.
No sirens, no bells, no whistles. No music either. Nothing. No big deal, really. She didn’t feel any different. Maybe God had made a bigger deal out of this than He needed to. The potential was still there. So she went to Adam. He ate. No scolding from him. No real resistance. The possibilities seemed to appeal to him
also. However, Adam did feel something. He began to feel that he knew something that he did not know before. He felt....naked. It wasn’t a feeling that he liked. He wanted to go back to the way he felt before eating the fruit, but that was now impossible. Wait a minute....Eve began to feel that also. They began to
feel like they should cover themselves. Strange. They had never even had that thought before. And then they heard it....God’s voice. It should have thrilled them. It always had. It was like none other. Before, hearing His voice would put a rush within their soul. They would run to him - like excited school kids. They
could not get enough of this teacher, this friend, this one with eyes of love - deep enveloping love. But now...now, they just wanted to run away! What happened? They just could not let God see them, not like this, not so...naked. It just did not seem right. Therefore, they ran and tried to cover themselves.
So, what had happened? Well, the Bible states that Eve was deceived, but Adam rebelled.[i] Really,
that was a rebellion? That seems a little harsh, doesn’t it? Well, let’s look at what had really happened, at
what was really lost. All this time that God had spent with Adam and Eve was not just a social occasion, although it was that, it was much more. Remember, God had given Adam and Eve dominion over the animals and all of the earth (Gn 1:28). These were not just words - not just a metaphor for a caretaker, but a ruler. Adam was supposed to rule over an earthly theocratic kingdom; one led by Adam but ruled by God.[ii] God had told Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply (Gn 1:28). They were to populate the entire earth. There would have been millions of people in this theocratic kingdom in this utopian society. Now all that was lost. Why? Because Adam disobeyed and ate fruit? Well, it is a little more serious than that. By eating the fruit, he was saying that he wanted what God offered but on his own terms. He, Adam, would be the one calling the shots.[iii]God would be in the background. Now, that sounds a little more like rebellion, doesn’t it?
So what did Satan gain that day and God lose? Satan won Adam’s kingdom.[iv] What? Really?
How? Previously, Satan had rebelled against God by wanting to be like God. Is that so bad? Well, as we had said before, God is unique, one of a kind. Therefore, Satan’s actions stated that God was not unique. If he became just like God, the uniqueness would be gone. It is not that Satan could be like God, but the very act of trying to do that is similar to what Adam did. Pride caused them to sin and put God in a secondary position which He cannot, just by His nature, ever be. I think you can relate to this. You know how destructive pride can be. You really cannot reason with someone who is so full of themselves. It is like reason has left the building. They can only see, and only focus, on what they want. They lose all perspective. They separate themselves from reality and from any who try to help them keep their
Something similar happened here. Adam had created a separation, more like a chasm, between himself and God. And, as usual with all kingdoms, the sin of the ruler affects his subjects as well (2Sa 24).
Satan had won this battle gaining the world and all of Adam’s descendants. Really? The loss was that swift and that severe? Yes, sin always takes you farther than you wanted to go and plummets you deeper than you thought possible.
Well, wait a minute you may say. The account in Genesis does not actually say that. How do you know it was that way and that severe? Well, if we look at the New Testament when Satan tempted Christ - much like he did Eve, except failing miserably - Satan offered to give Christ all of the kingdoms of the world in exchange for worship (Mt 4:8-9). What was Christ’s response? Did he laugh and say, you’ve got to be joking; you can’t offer what you do not have? No, he quoted a passage in Deuteronomy saying to worship the Lord your God and serve Him only (Mt 4:10; Dt 6:13). Yes, this was a real temptation to Christ - and a real offer. It was Satan’s and legally available to him for this offer. Why was this a real temptation for Christ? One of the goals for Christ is to establish a world kingdom, so Satan was offering this to Him. It was an alternative: without going to the cross Christ could achieve this objective. Isn’t that worth pondering? Hmm….could that work? That was Eve’s flaw – she pondered Satan’s words. Christ did not ponder, did not give the words a chance to grow. Christ knew Satan was the father of lies (Jn 8:44), so no need to even listen. Christ used God’s words to rebuttal Satan. Eve should have done the same – quickly and decisively
– but she pondered. The pondered words produced the doubt. Christ did not let that happen. No, this would not have worked. Again, it was only a partial truth; it would not allow Him to restore the earth to its original
condition. It would have been the worst of outcomes. Yes, He may have a kingdom but at what price: Satan is elevated above the Godhead; sin is not atoned – unthinkable!
Wow, that sounds severe - very solemn. Yes, it is - very. As we stated, Adam created a chasm between
mankind and God. God cannot bless sin. Sin is against his nature. God cannot sin. Now, Adam and Eve had lost their innocence. They were now sinful. God had to separate himself from them. While God is a God of love, he is also a God of justice. He cannot ignore sin. This was hard for Adam. He would no longer have
those walks in the garden listening and talking over all of the plans God had for him, laughing with Him, looking into those eyes of love - getting lost in those eyes. All of that is now gone. This was hard for God, too. Even knowing it was going to happen did not detract from the pain, the sorrow that He, too, felt. His heart of love was aching. His heart of love created the timeline. A timeline that would weave through history, alerting those attune to it as to His plan while others would be oblivious to it yet wondering where God is and why He isn’t working in their lives. Yet, the timeline is there. Let’s see if we can find it - can understand it.
Well, this situation with Adam and Eve, and now with all mankind, was untenable to God. Mankind was hopeless on his own. There was nothing they could do to rectify the problem and re-establish the relationship with God. Sin had entered and was there to stay, unless.... Unless what? Unless a payment could be made that would satisfy God’s justice. What would that be? Well, mankind could not do anything that would make them worthy of God’s love or overcome the duty of justice. Justice demanded a payment - not a work order. The separation did not occur because mankind had become bad or displeased God; mankind could not work back into God’s graces. The separation was caused by sin. Therefore, we must get rid of the sin. How? God’s justice requires a payment. According to the Bible, that payment is blood (Hb 9:22). Why is that? Sin destroys life so a life is needed to destroy sin. But what kind of life? A sinless one. Who on earth can satisfy that requirement? No one. So what hope does mankind have? None, absolutely none, unless.... Unless what? Unless God Himself can do it. How is that possible? Yes, God is sinless. I can give you that, you say. But how can God die? How can He shed blood? Can’t only humans do that? Isn’t there a flaw in that plan? Yes, a huge flaw, unless..... Unless what? Unless God can be God and be man at the same time. Come on, you say, it’s against all natural law for something to be one thing in its entirety and be something else as well. You are most assuredly correct, unless.... Unless what? Unless God can exist as both. Can God do that? Well, yes, He can. God is Trinity, remember. Therefore, God can be totally God and become totally human. See, God, the Trinity is the most effective relationship builder - ever. See how that makes God unique? See why He is the hero? Would you want anything less form a hero - your hero?
[i]Renald E. Showers, The New Nature(United States, 1986), 23.
[ii]Alva J. McClain, The Greatness of the Kingdom (Winona Lake, IN: Moody Bible Press, 2001), 42-44.
[iii]Renald E. Showers, The New Nature(USA: self published, 1986), 22-28.
[iv]Renald E. Showers, What on Earth is God Doing? (Bellmawr, NJ: Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry,
Inc., 2005), 14-18.