Bill Blogsmith

Q. What is the chief end of man? A. Man's chief end is to glorify God, and enjoy him forever. Q. What is thy only comfort in life and death? A. That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ

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I write and illustrate, live in Oregon, love God and my family, and that's about all anyone really needs to know.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

WOMEN IN THE BIBLE 2: Eve b

Have you ever been caught doing something wrong? It just makes me want to sink into the floor, disappear so I don’t have to face the shame and guilt. Imagine directly and personally facing God’s wrath! Adam and The Woman knew better, they’d been warned, and they didn’t just have the good life, they had the perfect life. But the temptation by the serpent and the tree was too much for them, and now Adam and The Woman have fallen in sin, destroying their relationship not only with God, but with each other. God pronounced a curse upon the sinful couple for their rebellin and failure to trust and respect His holy and perfect will – a burden that we still suffer from today and all creation groans under until Jesus Christ returns in glory. Paul describes how this affects the world around us in terms of a woman experiencing labor pains, about to give birth. This picture is of something in anticipation of a wonderful event to come, but for now pain and desperation, aching for it to end with cries of agony and frustration.
For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. (Romans 8:22)
As we saw last lesson Adam and The Woman have had a terrible curse proclaimed over them, but this curse affects more than just those two. All of creation is under this curse, not simply the first couple and their descendants. Adam’s curse dooms him so that that his work will be difficult, yes, but also that “Cursed is the ground for your sake…” (Genesis 3:17a). Because of their sin, Adam and The Woman inflicted the entire world with the curse, for their sake and because of t their fall all the world suffers and groans waiting for redemption.

One way to look at the curse is to think of it like this: for every good thing, there is a bad side to it. Yes, we can light cities with atomic power, but flatten them as well. Poppies make beautiful flowers and their seeds tasty muffins, but opium is a terribly addictive drug. Knives help us whittle and skin animals and cut paper, but also can be used to kill each other. The Bible even describes how humanity invents sin: “Backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things…” (Romans 1:30a) as if the old list isn’t sufficient rebellion against God. The curse twists God’s good creation, tainting everything with sin, sadness, struggle, and pain. The book of Ecclesiastes is sometimes thought of as too depressing to read, what with all it’s “vanities” and “emptiness” comments, but it describes life on this earth all too well. Even the best moments seem to fall short of the ideal and ultimately mean nothing. Hard work, love, excitement, children, riches, passion, nothing ultimately can overcome the curse in this “veil of tears.” Cheery stuff, eh?

God does not stop with the curse, however. He’s got more to say: a promise, and he says it to the Serpent – about the woman and her children.
And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel." (Genesis 3:15)
God has plainly taught something to the first couple and the rest of the world, disobey God’s laws and you don’t just break against them, you break against them. God has declared the curse, laid a terrible doom on not only Adam and The Woman, but all creation – and the serpent, too. When all hope is lost, when Adam and The Woman are just letting what they’ve done sink in, God then gives them a promise. A redeemer is coming, someday, to destroy evil and set free all of creation from the curse. God makes this promise specifically about The Woman, by name. He tells Satan that through her this salvation will come, that the child she has will one day lead to a redeemer.

Notice how this is done. There’s been a natural conflict prepared here, an obvious war between those under the curse (Satan, creation, humanity) and the one who put the curse on it all: God. The Seed of The Woman should be at war with God. But God changes the entire dynamic, giving His children an awesome gift of friendship in place of animosity. Where the natural course of sinful man would be to take the side against, man, God says “I will put enmity between you and the woman….” God sets the rules of this conflict, and He makes the seed of the woman his allies against Satan and his offspring.

Now, Satan doesn’t have fat little red devil babies with tiny horns and hooves, but he does have kids of a sort. Jesus put it this way: “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.” (John 8:44a) They aren’t literal offspring of Satan, but they are the spiritual and ideological offspring. They do what Satan wants, they follow his desires and will. Even when people are the kind that would ordinarily want to do good in an earthly sense, they fill the role of what Josef Stalin, the brutal dictator of Russia during World War 2, called “Useful Idiots;” people who work for and support something they claim to be opposed to.

And here God gives us a fascinating and stunning glimpse at the drama behind the entire history of the world! A struggle will define the ages until the end, a fight between two “seeds” through all time. The Seed of the Woman is set against the Seed of the Serpent, a relationship that defines our world. The Seed of the Woman is given form again and again by individuals through time such as Noah, Moses, David, and so forth. Similarly the Seed of the Serpent is seen through time as individuals such as Pharaoh, Goliath, Saul, and Hitler.

Through the ages there’s a general sense of the wicked, the sinner and the God-hater against the righteous man. This is a theme that the Psalms bring up again and again. The Children of God face opposition and hate from the Children of Satan, and this fight is the spiritual warfare mentioned in 1 Corinthians 3:3-5: a war of ideals. Some people call this a contrast of “world views,” basic understandings of life that set ideas apart from each other. The entire story of our world is a struggle of two seeds, whether we have been aware of it or not.

This theme of the seed of The Woman is echoed and continued in the words of God to Abraham, describing his children and their following generation as “seed” and three times saying that through them the world will be blessed. “In your seed all the nations of the world shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” (Genesis 22:18, again in 26:4 and 28:14). This theme pops up again and again in the bible, reminding us of this central battle through all time, this “little” statement in the third chapter of Genesis. In one seed the world will be blessed while the other seed will fight against it.
Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ. (Galatians 3:16)
This battle came to a climax, however – a final showdown on the cross. Jesus Christ, the ultimate seed of The Woman, finally fell into the hands of the seed of Satan. Can you imagine the devil’s glee? Jesus, the hope of mankind, God’s plan of salvation, the redeemer, about to be executed at the hands of this devilish offspring! Dead, destroyed, all hope ended, God’s plan ruined! Things didn’t quite work out that way though, did they? No, Jesus rose again, and through his awful death paid the price for sin, the penalty that is clearly laid out by God… but more on that in a moment! For now, we can see the prediction that God made, the “little Gospel” that He gave when He said “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” to the Serpent in Genesis 3:15. Jesus’ death seemed like an awful, horrible end, but ended up being a glorious triumph that was total in its defeat, its crushing finality for Satan’s plans and efforts. Ultimately, when Christ died on the cross, He bruised His heel… but crushed Satan’s head.
And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed (Genesis 3:15a)
But wait. Why did God say “the seed of The Woman” here? Isn’t Christianity patronistic and man-centered, with men dominating women, and women of little consequence and importance, crushed under rules that command submission? Doesn’t the Bible focus on men and leave women at the periphery, cleaning and “begetting” children? Well, this whole study is at least in part an attempt to dispel that myth, but take a close look. God doesn’t say it is Adam’s mighty son that will destroy Satan, He doesn’t say it’s Adam’s work. He says the seed of The Woman, and nothing in the Bible is by accident, nothing is meaningless in God’s word.

Women are uniquely blessed with the bearing of children. Women historically and generally by nature and inclination raise children. Take it from a former boy, I loved and respected dad, but mom was dearest to my heart. The women have a heavy burden in child bearing and giving birth, but with it comes unspeakable joy. I’ve heard it said by many women that you forget all the pain and suffering and he long wearying birth process when you hold that baby in your arms the first time. And I believe them. That little new life that’s a part of you and your husband is all in your arms; all the work, discomfort, the long, sleepless hours, the painful birth suddenly has a reason. It gives all that a purpose, a finality. Remember when we looked at what Paul said above about birth pangs and creation “groaning?” That’s what history has been doing until Jesus Christ came. That final seed, tat ultimate expression of the plan of salvation, the keystone of all time in Jesus Christ made it all worthwhile. All the suffering, all the waiting, all the pain, all the fear, it found it’s purpose and end in ultimate loving perfection with Christ Jesus. Up to that point, the entire creation looked forward to Jesus’ arrival.

All of history before the cross looked forward to His coming, His work, His death, and His resurrection. All of history now looks both back at that climax of all time and history, and forward to Jesus’ coming again in glory. What Jesus earned at the cross as a start, we’ll have in it’s totality and perfection at His triumphant return. I think women and childbirth are perfect ways of understanding this wonderful truth. God chose the woman because through her the children are first taught and cared for, raide by. Because that is an image and a memory that will help us remember Jesus and the cross, and understand patience and he glory at the end of the struggle.
And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living (Genesis 3:20)
I told you she gets a real name this lesson! Adam names Eve like he’s named everything else before, changing her name from The Woman to Eve, the mother of all living. Not only because through her the population of the earth is told, but because through her the “life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4) came. Eve gives birth to Cain and in her hopes, he has this name because “I have acquired a man from the Lord.” Her dream is that this will be the seed, but he ends up being the wrong seed – the kind that serves Satan. He commits the world’s first recorded murder and is cast out on his own, bringing up children even more wicked than him. Nevertheless, the hope stays alive, and one day bears fruit in Jesus Christ.
but the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”(Genesis 2:17)
God warned Adam and The Woman what would happen if they violated His covenant. The terms were simple: work, rest, marry… and don’t eat this. As we saw last lesson, the first part they did, the second they couldn’t resist. God’s penalty for this was simple and without possibility of appeal: death. But… they didn’t die, did they? Adam and The Woman lived after the fall, they had several children and lived to an astonishing old age before death. So, die God lie? Was He mistaken? Did He have a change of heart, regretting His rash decision earlier? I worked in a grocery store in my youth and I remember hearing over and over a parent warning children in dire language what would happen if they didn’t stop whining or asking for things or fighting or grabbing things off the shelf, etc. But those warnings were never followed through, there was no spanking, they weren’t taken out and put in the car, and thankfully that one woman didn’t just leave her little son at the store. Too often I think it’s easy for parents to not follow through on a tough call because it’s just that tough, it seems too harsh, or it’s simply more trouble and effort than they have time or energy for.

God doesn’t do that. One of the most comforting and yet frightening things about God is that He keeps His word. If God says you’ll die for something… death will happen. And so it was with Adam and the Woman. They did die, immediately, in a spiritual sense. They were lost, cut off from God. Their instant feeling of shame and nakedness is the first sign of this, a recognition of their guilt. They were dead in sin, they were doomed to hell. But that’s not all that happened. The penalty of this sin was death, and simply being lost doesn’t fulfill that penalty, as awful as it is. For God to fudge like that, to find a loophole and play the lawyer would not be justice any more than it is in our courts when it happens there. And make no mistake, God is just. He does not cut corners on justice, he does not play games with truth.
Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them. (Genesis 3:21)
So what does Adam do? Something that is just a little passing note and somewhat obscure. It only gets one sentence at the end of the story of the fall, almost a P.S. at the end of the chapter. God kills some creatures and makes clothing of skin for Adam and The Woman. Remember, they felt naked and ashamed, and we looked over that last lesson as being more than simply embarrassed at being nude. God covers them, condescending to deal with His rebellious creation in their time of need; acting as seamstress for those who would naturally be His enemy. God does this at the expense of another’s life, spilling blood and using that blameless creature’s skins to cover them. That animal didn’t fall, it didn’t disobey God.

Now, some of you might be feeling a bit of deja vu here, a sense that this is familiar somehow. You might be thinking of other times when some innocent one died and through their blood, shame was covered. This happened millions of times in the Israelite temple worship with sacrifice after sacrifice, animals being put to death and their blood ceremonially used to show forgiveness for sin. And with Christ, all this symbolism and all those acts pointing to the real thing were finally fulfilled. Animals, no matter how innocent or outwardly pure and spotless cannot give anyone forgiveness for sins! But the perfect life of Jesus Christ and his innocent death in our place, well that’s another matter. Jesus Christ took our sin and paid the price for it; paying that price fully and forever. Through his blood we have forgiveness. In His body we have our shame and “nakedness” before God covered.

God shows just a glimpse, a just a tiny foreshadowing of the real event with this one sentence, this one act. That death did happen. It happened to a substitute, to someone innocent taking the place of Adam and the Woman.

Eve and Adam are a very troubled couple, but they really are not so very different form us today. They had the same hopes and sins and fears and triumphs. Through them came the line that brought salvation to the world because of God’s promise and providence. Eve truly was the mother of all living!

Discussion Questions
· Is the curse just on humanity?
· What does the curse do, what effect does it have?
· Who is the seed of Satan?
· How does this seed work through history?
· Who is the seed of The Woman?
· How does childbirth help us think of salvation and hope?
· Did Adam and Even die for breaking God’s law?
· What does the sacrifice of animals to clothe Adam and Eve point toward?
Questions for Deeper Study
· Why did God focus on Eve for the little gospel of the seed and the crushing of the serpent?
-This is covered above, but there may be some fresh thoughts from the class, things people have heard or read in the past, or ideas I missed or was not wise enough to find in Scripture!
· What does “Spirtual Death” mean?
-Ultimately, it means hell, but for the life of a lost person it means separation from God, an unbridgeable gulf between a rebellious, sinful human and the righteous holy God. It means not being in a relationship with God like Adam and Eve enjoyed before the fall.
· How is Jesus Christ the center of all history?
-All history before the cross looks forward to His coming, and all history since looks back at the cross and longs for His return. Jesus on the cross was the climax of the battle for all time, and His return is its finish.
· Why did God take so very long before Jesus came to save sinners?
-This we cannot really know for certain. The Bible tells us that God is patient and “longsuffering.” That is, He is willing to put up an awful lot of nonsense. Certainly history builds and God’s revelation of Himself and His will and plan is gradual, building step by step over years. This is called “progressive revelation” and the Bible clearly shows that God gently reveals a little at a time more and more about himself and what He is doing as if to very young children. Jesus repeatedly says that it is not time for something or that His time has not come yet, pointing us to the fact that God has a schedule and because He is perfect and all-wise, so the schedule must be as well. It can be hard for us to be patient, but we have every reason to hope for the end and wait prayerfully on His will.
· Why did Adam and Eve die eventually if their sins were covered and the price paid?
-This is a difficult question to answer. The sacrifices paid the price for Adam and Eve’s sins, but did not eliminate the curse that was on all mankind. That final triumph when the curse is finally lifted will not come until Jesus Christ returns in glory to take all God’s children home. Remember what it says in 1 Corinthians 15:26 “The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.” Certainly God gave Adam and Eve time on earth to live, raise children, and serve Him when what they truly deserved was death and hell.
Prayer
Father, when we look in the mirror, when we’re truly honest, we know that we’re at best sinful and rebellious children. We know that we reject your authority and your will, wanting our own way. We know that all too often, we act as the children of the Devil rather than children of God. Forgive us for our sin and our rebellion, Father, and thank you forever and always for your loving solution to this painful situation. Thank you for giving us your son to live the life we failed to live for us, and for His sinless death to pay for our sins so that we can be brought into your family.

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