Out of the Garden, part seven

After falling into temptation and eating of the one tree in the garden that God told them not to eat from, Adam and Eve receive a visit in the garden from God. They attempt to hide, aware for the first time of their nakedness. God of course knows where they are, and they come out and tell Him what they did. Here is the punishment that God pronounces on them.

Genesis 3:16-19 Then he said to the woman, “I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth. And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.” 17 And to the man he said, “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. 18 It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. 19 By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.”

It’s a tough bit of correction but I definitely understand it. One single commandment, and they broke it, and so the God of justice has to make it right. What really grabbed my attention as I was studying isn’t that God punished them, but his demeanor as He did it. There’s a gentleness as He searches for them in the garden before He gives them His correction that we just read. But what amazes me the most is what comes next.

Genesis 3:21 And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.

You learn something really beautiful about the heart and character of God in that scripture. You see, God punishes and corrects, but He’s always there to put us back together. Their awareness of their nakedness was a direct result of their sin. It was their brokenness, and it was well deserved. They broke themselves. God could’ve easily forced them to deal with their shameful nakedness as part of His punishment to them for breaking His commandment. But that’s not what He did, because that’s not who He is. He doesn’t punish for sport or for pleasure, and He doesn’t carry punishment beyond where it has to be. As he pronounced His judgment over them, He delivered it, and then immediately followed it up with an act of love and provision.

When you think about this display of love and care, you can’t help but see how this is model behavior for a parent. If you’re a parent and your child breaks a rule, you punish them, yes, but then you are still there to love and take care of them. The punishment doesn’t show a lack of love. It’s a parents job to set and enforce boundaries for their children, and when they fail to present consequences to a rebellious child they are doing nothing but harming the child. Good parents know the truth of this, and bad parents know the truth of it too, because they’re forced to deal with the consequences when their kids have further issues later on in life.

Behind God’s punishment and correction of His people is always love. Just as a child who had good parents realizes as they age, the wise and just correction of a parent is always in our best interest.

Psalm 94:12 Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O Lord, and whom you teach out of your law,

One of the most common complaints I find that non-Christians have against God is that He is cruel. They’ll list off a few things they remember from going to church as a kid or a few things they’ve heard or read. The flood, what happened to Job, Sodom and Gomorrah, there are several things that people often bring up to me as evidence of a cruel God that they could never ever follow. The longer I’m in the faith and the better I get to know God, the more silly that stance becomes to me. Imagine this. I come around the corner at a shopping mall just in time to see a parent punish their child. “When we get home you are grounded from video games and television for the rest of the day!” The child wails loudly, as the punishment was unpleasant for them. I turn and walk away and don’t look back. Is it fair for me to say that this parent is cruel? Of course not! It would be silly of me to presume any sort of judgment over them without knowing more about the situation. Yet there are so many people who harbor anger and resentment toward God for punishments and corrections He’s handed out throughout history even though they rarely know the details of the situation. What led to the punishment? What motivated God to do it? What did God do with these people after the punishment? Just as I would be wrong to judge the character of the parent in the mall, it’s wrong for someone who hasn’t invested any time into getting to know God to judge His character based off of the punishment of Adam and Eve or any other punishment in the Bible that they have very little information about.

One reason I love to encourage non-believers to dig deeper into these moments that they find so appalling and cruel is because I know what they’re going to be exposed to when they do it.

Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Jeremiah 31:3 The Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.

Psalm 86:15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

1 John 4:16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

The Bible is the story of God, and thus it is the greatest love story ever told. It’s the story of a being capable of anything, who loves His creation so much that He allows us to make our own decisions. A God so filled with love that even when His original two creations sinned against Him, when they broke the single commandment He put into place, He moved quickly to help them cover up their brokenness and shame. If you want to know the heart of God, you don’t have to look any further than Genesis 3:21. He was there to put His kids back together then, just as He’s there to put us back together now.
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That’s it for today. I hope all of you are doing well out there and that the week is treating you good so far! I love you and if you need any prayer or just need to talk please feel free to reach out to me via email at freejenkins@gmail.com

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