Unexpected Mercy

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, “You shall not eat of any tree in the garden”? “And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.”  

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.  For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

And 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.  But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”  

Then the  Lord  God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said,  “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”  The  Lord  God said to the serpent,  “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and  dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring  and  her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

To the woman he said,  “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” And to Adam he said,  “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, “You shall not eat of it,” cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and  to dust you shall return.”

The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.

And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.”

-Genesis 3:1-21

 

I know that that is a lot of text. It is a long verse, so here is the basic idea: The devil told Eve that eating the fruit that God told her not to eat would make her all kinds of smart. She believed him and got Adam to eat it too. Then, they realized that they were naked and became ashamed. Then, God came and asked what happened (even though he already knew). Once Adam ‘fessed up God told them what was up. He said life would be really hard for them now. Eve would have pain in childbirth, children would argue with parents, the husband would have a tendency to rule over the wife, they would work hard and come up fruitless, and a whole number of other inconveniences. 

After all of that, God put them in their place and was all “I made you out of dust and you will return to dust.” 

And then, the coolest thing ever happened. It happened because God is really awesome. 

Notice, I bolded the last line. If you remember, Adam and Eve recognized their nakedness and then they felt ashamed. 

Understanding that His children felt shame in their nakedness, God made them clothing!!!

Adam and Eve did the one thing that God told them they could not do-they had the whole Garden of Eden at their fingertips, and they broke the one rule. Yet God had mercy on them anyway. He loved them so much that, even after they had disobeyed him and he had punished them, he showed them grace. He reconciled their shame. This is the first instance in the Bible of God’s mercy with His children that really sticks out to me. I mean, they were in big trouble. They did everything wrong. But, God gave them something anyway.

Sometimes I have a hard time wrapping my head around the overwhelming patience, love, grace, and mercy that God gives me. So many times I have felt like Adam and Eve probably did. I have messed up. I have felt shame and guilt and regret. I have dealt with the consequences. All of these things have threatened to crush me, but then God gave me mercy. 

Adam and Eve had already made themselves clothing, but God knew that they needed more. He saw their state and gave them real clothing-clothing that would stand up to the elements and be conducive to their lifestyle. He outfitted them well. He provided for what they needed. He was probably angry at them, but I think he was also hurt by them and for them. 

Adam and Eve were in perfect communion with God, and they had ruined it. If you had that relationship with someone and they ruined it wouldn’t you feel hurt? Now here is where God differs from humans. Where we would feel hurt and then get angry and bitter about it God felt compassion.

God knew that Adam and Eve had dug their own grave. Their life was going to be hard. The life of perfect communion that they had, the cushy garden existence, was over. Everything God had created them for and wanted for them was over. In the same way that an earthly parent hurts for their children after they make a life changing bad decision, or they come home with hurt feelings, God hurts over His children’s hurts. 

I know that this chapter of Genesis makes it seem as though God isn’t all that nice (although, with the clothing bit I don’t know how anyone could accuse God of being awful). The reality is that this chapter highlights a moment that says a lot about our relationship with God. God always forgives us, but that does not mean that he will not judge our actions and punish us accordingly. We must reconcile our sin with God, but we must also reap the consequences of what we sow. Just as earthly parents forgive us but ground us anyway. 

Thankfully for us, the episode with Adam and Eve and God is descriptive and not prescriptive. The punishment that they received that would plague all humans forever was not prescriptive of our future relationship with God or with each other. Yes, sin entered our world and we will always be broken people; but, Jesus came and died for everyone while we were still sinners.

The Bible goes on to give us a guidebook for healthy marriages, good parenting, flourishing community, and communion with God. We will never be perfect in our application of the Bible, but God will not give up on us as we try. He did not forsake us after The Fall in the Garden. Instead, he went on to put into play the greatest story of all time. He wrote, orchestrated, and illustrated the most extraordinary love story there ever was.

Instead of leaving us in our sin, He loved us and gave us the tools and the freedom of choice to be in communion with Him once again. This communion is not perfect, but it is amazing and more merciful than we deserve. God does not want to see His children suffer. He wants us to choose to accept his love- a gift we cannot earn- and then he wants to hold us in his hands as we work to get as close to him as we can. 

 

Let God see you in your nakedness and shame.

Let Him give you clothes. Let Him give you clothes that are far greater than any you could create on your own. 

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