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May 1 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

April 28, 2013 – Genesis 3:8-24

 From Intimacy to Alienation

They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Genesis 3:8

INTRO: Remember, we are in the garden with the man and the woman, but there’s trouble in paradise

They’ve crossed a threshold – what will be the nature of their new situation?

Something I appreciate about Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon:
– everyone knows they’re broken – and that we’re all broken
– a lot of people are unaware of that broken place inside
• some of them run around, looking for a magic formula to make their lives work
• others claim they have the magic formula
○ and they’re always trying to shove it down everyone else’s throat
○ it is, in fact, their brokenness that drives them
– Bob Dylan got it right, “Everything Is Broken”
• that was the new situation for the man and the woman

V. 8, There are a few very sad moments in the Bible

This is one of the saddest

The emphasis of the previous scene was on sight – “eyes” “saw” and were “opened”
– in this scene the emphasis shifts to sound – “they heard,” but they didn’t want to see or be seen
– so they went into hiding – “hid themselves from face of God”
• there are comic elements in this story, but it is not a comedy, but a tragedy
• God was not the problem, but the solution
○ only they don’t trust God
○ no matter what we’ve done, God is always the solution — turning to him is always our salvation

Vv 9-13, The interrogation

“Where are you?” – don’t get side-tracked by the anthropomorphism
– that is, when the form of God’s speech or actions looks very human-like 
• it is simply a matter of using human language to accommodate our understanding
– God is playing their game, as if they were well-hidden
• the point is the fact that they were trying to hide from God
there are several implications to the question
•  he’s going to let Adam tell him where he is and explain why he is there

The man and woman played the victim card
– the man pled, “Not guilty by reason of someone else’s influence”
– the woman pled, “Not guilty by reason of temptation”
• it is normal human behavior to want to avoid taking responsibility for the consequences of our actions
• but that is exactly what God does not allow
○ in fact, he places the burden of the consequences squarely on them
– this is one of the most difficult aspects of parenting
• allowing your child to learn by not stepping in – or softening the blow

Notice, God didn’t give the serpent an opportunity to speak
– God knew what Eve didn’t know
• that if you let the serpent talk, he’ll only fill the air with more poison — more deceit and venom
– but I wonder what the serpent would have said – would he have tried to pass the buck?
• was he smarter than that? Smarter than the humans?

“What?! — I’m a snake! This is what I do. Don’t look at me. Your design flaw is in these humans; they’re the ones who had a choice.”

– of course, that wouldn’t have worked either
• “I’m just a product of my genes” or “growing up in bad home”
○ make your choice, do the deed, pay the price
• the snake wasn’t punished for being a snake, but for acting like one

Vv. 14-15, The serpent is cursed

There are parallels between the sentence the serpent received and that of the man’s (vv. 14 & 17-19)
– “dust,” “eat,” “all the days of your life”

The serpent’s sentence also overlaps with the woman’s

V. 16, The woman is disciplined

Notice how her sentence is tied into the serpent’s
– it is also tied into the man’s sentence, but in a more subtle way
– the woman and serpent were the main characters in the earlier drama
• now there will be this ongoing tension between them
• her seed–offspring or child–will do in the serpent
– from this point on, history is going somewhere
• to a time when the one who caused so much evil to be unleashed will be crushed
○ the whole design is not laid out here, but the first step is taken in the restoration of humankind and creation
• and the woman will play a pivotal role in its fulfillment

Vv. 17-19, The man is disciplined

His blame-shifting didn’t work, “The woman whom You gave” — “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife”
– God responds, “you listened” – you had a choice, you made a decision

The ground was cursed – not in itself, but in relation to humans
– if the woman’s temptation was driven by discontent, now they will really know discontent
– they will carry it all their lives and then die with it
• this is their new destiny,

For you are dust,
And to dust you shall return.

The man and woman weren’t cursed, but disciplined (the serpent was cursed)
– the curse did not define them, it merely defined the new conditions of their lives

Let’s pause and think of what this mean to them

God sentenced the woman to intimacy goals
– is that a punishment? It is if they go forever unfulfilled
• her intimacy goals would be frustrated by pain in childbirth
○ pregnancy is one of a woman’s most intimate experiences with another human
○ but it also entails pain
• her intimacy goals would also be frustrated by the indifference of an uncooperative male
○ why “uncooperative”?

God sentenced the man with independence goals
– the responsibility of their survival fell to him
• his independence goals would be frustrated by the labor required to achieve independence
○ hardly a moment’s rest
• his independence goals would also be frustrated by uncooperative soil
– and at the end of years, struggling to survive, death would overtake him

Their goals are not opposite, but neither are they aligned
– they stand at the gates of the garden — his eyes on the horizon and her eyes on him

Vv. 20-21, Two issues had to be resolved before they left paradise

Why is it that Eve is not named until now?
– perhaps because now they know her destiny: mother of all life
– in other words, their one ray of hope in the face of death is that life would spring from her
• and ultimately, a life that would conquer death

God provided them more adequate covering
– it would be difficult to not see this as a maternal gesture
“Here, put your jackets on before you go outside. It’s cold out there.”

Vv. 22-24, There’s no going back

At least not by the way they left
– they’ve acquired a new potential, and it’s dangerous
• they can do good, but now they’re capable of doing evil
• that has to be limited
– God’s concern that they would “take also from the tree of life” – lay hold of, seize
• Adam was “taken” from ground – Eve, “taken” from his side
• she “took” the fruit – they had taken what was not theirs, and that is what got them into trouble
○ they were told not to eat of tree of knowledge, now they are not allowed to eat from the tree of life

A friend once told me, “This is the weakness of Evangelical Christianity, we’ve eaten from the tree of knowledge, but not the tree of life”

CONC: There is one central purpose to this story

To explain why the world is in this particular state and why we arrive here in our particular condition
– brokenness is the norm

What was lost?
innocence – and that cannot be recovered
intimacy – and the burden of that was placed on the woman
integrity – and the burden of that was placed on the man
• holding everything together became his assignment
• but if the man and woman can form an authentic and healthy partnership, they both will enjoy intimacy and independence

All this because they were estranged from God
– but were they? Were they really estranged from God?
• Was he less concerned or less caring? Less watchful or loving?
– the estrangement was on their side
• they made themselves strangers to God and paradise
– but whatever else we get from this story, the man and woman were no less unimportant or less valuable to God
• even now he is contemplating paying the ultimate price to rescue, recover, and restore them — to himself and paradise
• at every turn, they mean more than the world to God

What they lost also reveals what salvation restores – what it resolves — death, yes, but so much more
– reconciled to God, each other, and creation
– the restoration of wholeness – of intimacy and integrity

Last week a friend asked me what I was going to talk about today
– I wasn’t sure then, but I knew integrity would be part of it
• I explained that to me, integrity had to do with integer — wholeness, a whole number
• and also with integration the opposite of fragmentation
– he told me about a company he had looked into called IKON
• the acronym stands for, “I Know One Name” – it meant that every office supply need could be met by this one company
○ anyone who knew this one name, had access to all they needed
○ when I looked up the company, their mission statement said, “One brand. Infinite potential.”

To return to God–to the original intimacy–and wholeness, we only need to know one name
One name. Infinite potential

. . . Jesus Christ . . .
for there is no other name under heaven
that has been given among men
by which we must be saved.

Acts 4:10-12

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