In the Beginning…
Beginnings are important. Ask any abandoned child with no idea who his or her parents are. Or anyone who lost a parent in childhood. Charlie Daniels wrote a song called, “Simple Man”, in which he says, “You better watch out where you’re goin; remember where you been…”
Where we’re going is obvious: into hell with the throttle wide open.
Where have we been?
Scripture quotes will be a mix of several English translations: English Standard Version and Amplified primarily, with some paraphrasing and melding by me. So you’d better check the quotes in your own Bible to be sure I didn’t slip you a mickey finn. 😉
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, or a waste and emptiness, and darkness was upon the face of the deep [primeval ocean that covered the unformed earth].” (Genesis 1:1-2a)
The presence of the Father is obvious in that statement. Verse 2b says, “The Spirit of God was moving (hovering, brooding) over the face of the waters.” The Holy Spirit was there.
“In the beginning [before all time] was the Word (Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God Himself. He was [continually existing] in the beginning [co-eternally] with God. All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him not even one thing was made that has come into being.” (John 1:1-3) Jesus the Son, the 2nd Person of the Trinity, was there, and taking part throughout creation.
With three infinitely wise, infinitely powerful, truly good Beings creating a world, what could possibly go wrong?
“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, ‘Did God really say, “You must not eat from any tree in the garden”?’
The woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, “You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.” ‘ ” (Genesis 3:1-2)
Not trusting those three Beings is what went wrong:
“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.” (Genesis 3:6)
The results were immediately apparent: Sin – trying to avoid guilt by blame-shifting:
“… the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?’ He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.’
And God said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?’ The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.’ ”
That’s a switch. From Genesis 2, when God created Eve from one of Adam’s ribs, on being introduced to her, Adam said,
“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
From “at last I’ve found you!” to “It’s her fault, Lord!” Not to mention that Adam tried to snag God into the guilt too, by saying, “the woman that You gave to be with me…”
So God pronounced various punishments on Adam, Eve, and the serpent. But the worst punishment He gave was that Adam and Eve would no longer be able to walk and talk with Him. Because God is holy, and He will not be in the presence of sin. He withdrew His presence from them, until a way back to God could be made, in a very limited degree. And no one in our time will see God, or talk face to face with Him, until we leave this life. So we have all been severed from the most wonderful, helpful, wise, good friendship we could ever have had.
That wasn’t all, either. We all know about the other punishments – work becoming serious labor, childbirth becoming painful and dangerous, etc. But that was far from all: “... when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” (James 1:15)
“Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him.” (Genesis 4:8)
You remember why, right? Cain and Abel, brothers, the first and second children of Adam and Eve. Cain, the farmer, brought an offering of his produce to God. Abel, a livestock rancher, brought an offering of portions of some of his young livestock.
God “did not look with favor” – catch the meaning here – “on Cain and his offering.” At this time, there is no mention of a blood sacrifice being required. Apparently, Cain was doing something totally unconnected with his offering which displeased God. Cain got angry. God, instead of bashing him like the arrogant child he acted like, warned him, gently, even:
“Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Gen. 4:6-8)
But Cain rejected the warning, and murdered his own brother.
“… sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” Sin grew up in a hurry that time.
And the consequences weren’t limited to Cain and Abel. What heart-wrenching grief Eve must have felt!
“Now the man Adam knew Eve as his wife, and she conceived and gave birth to Cain, and she said, ‘With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.‘ ”
Cain was her first-born, her first experience of being a partner with her husband in the miracle that God gave us of being able to “create in our own image”. But Eve’s first-born acted as coldly, as cruelly, as the serpent himself.
We badly need to pay attention when God’s Word speaks. When we don’t someone dies. We can be forgiven, and it may not be that someone literally dies, but when we sin, we hurt other people. And hurt ourselves too. May God in His mercy keep us from damaging others and ourselves. May we remember we have no right to sin, because it damages and in the end kills. In Jesus’ name, amen.