Category Archives: Bible passages

Genesis 3

Discussion question: Reflecting back on Genesis 2, what, if you were Adam or Eve, would you wish you had? Discuss why.

Context:

Genesis 1 and 2 describe the beginning of God’s activity in the world and the origin story of mankind. We are left with no doubt that God is the creator and has made man and woman with purpose: to govern and rule creation. Everything that is, is there because of God.

Creation is described as ‘very good’ at the end of Chapter 1 and Adam is given the perfect equal in Chapter 2. The world is filled with all kinds of animals and plants. There is a tree of life and a tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve are free to eat from anything they see and want. If they eat from the second tree, God warns them that they will die and his command was not to eat it.

They are both naked and they both see no problem with that.

Read Genesis 3

Observation:

Structure:

  • Fools speak
    • The serpent enters the garden (1-5)
    • Shame enters the garden (6-7)
    • The LORD enters the garden (8-9)
    • Fear, blame and deception are in the garden (10-13)
  • The LORD Speaks
    • The LORD speaks to the serpent (14-15)
    • The LORD speaks to the woman (16)
    • The LORD speaks to Adam (17-19)
  • Adam and Eve must leave the garden (20-24)

The serpent enters the garden (1-5)

Now” – a typical beginning to a change of scene. The sort of thing that marks a new section or idea in the bible (or any text).

“…the serpent…” Job 1:7 describes the habit of Satan to be roaming throughout the earth; Revelation 12:9 links the serpent to Satan and his vice of leading the world astray. While a study on the nature and motivation of Satan would be interesting, Genesis 3 simply tells us that the serpent was crafty – a signal of intelligence but sneaky and deceitful. The serpent stands out as different to the wild animals that God had made – not a citizen of God’s very good creation.

The bible gives no conclusive answer as to where and why this creature exists. We know that nothing is created outside of God and so he is a created thing (Colossians 1). Let’s move forward with the story and let that train of thought go.

Did God really say…?” The conversation that begins is about doubting the word of God. The fact is that God DID say you CAN eat from any tree in the garden (Gen 2:16). The restriction against ONE tree comes with a loving warning that when you eat from it you will die. Seems like a good tree to avoid at all costs.

“…you must not touch it…” Eve’s response to the question takes God’s words too far. His word has been questioned and then twisted by both people. They both speak about God’s word but neither are truly listening to Him. This reminds me that many who speak bible words are not necessarily listening to them.

“…you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Here is the trick. Satan would have Eve believe that God does not want the best for Eve – he is holding something back! What Satan says appears to be true when we read Gen 3:22. The plan of Satan is to deceive. He leads the world astray. He is described as crafty. His ways are cunning and sound awfully real.

We needn’t think of the fruit as a magical formulae that alters the quality of a person’s existance – that eating it makes them God. That is illogical since they ate it and did not become God. So how are they made ‘like’ God? The image of God is a description of rule (ie, made in God’s image to rule). The best relationship with God is one where we rule as an image-bearer and listen as obedient creatures (should the clay say to the potter: you work is not good!) Mankind, in this way, rules under God. When mankind takes what they were told not to, they become the rulers with their own authority. A process that Satan had already gone through and is sharing his freedom with mankind. But this ‘freedom’ becomes a bondage to sin. We become ‘like’ god in that we no longer regard him as authority over us but make ourselves like God and know, or decide what is good and evil.

Shame enters the garden (6-7)

“…and also desirable…” James 1:14-15 describes the progress toward sin. It doesn’t happen in a snap but in slow-motion.

“…her husband, who was with her…” Adam was with her but he said nothing. Adam was with her and he sinned with her.

“…they realised they were naked…” Titus 1:15 describes how something innocent can suddenly appear impure and shameful. They couldn’t look at each other freely like they had before.

The LORD enters the garden (8-9)

“…the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden…” The LORD was present and it seems like this was a familiar sound. It is curious to imagine a woman talking with a serpent and God walking in the garden. The mechanics of this are, perhaps, a mystery but the idea of God knowing Adam and Eve and them knowing Him in a very natural way is fantastic. One day friends, we will have this again.

“Where are you?” God knows all things. The question is deeper than a hide and seek question. Adam and Eve were hiding when they had never done that with God before. They could no longer look on him like they use to because shame has entered the garden.

Fear, blame and deception are in the garden (10-13)

“…and I was afraid because I was naked…” This is a new reaction for Adam. He heard God and was afraid – not because God was present, but because he was naked. It is not God who has changed but Adam. And now, rather than a casual chat in the cool of the day (Verse 8) he dreads the meeting. Exodus 19:16 describes a future moment when God turns up and the people trembled. There was no shame in Adam in 2:25 but his perception has changed. Sin and shame are closely connected.

“Who told you that you were naked?” This question is quickly followed by the question about eating from the tree they were told not to eat from. Notice the emphasis in this chapter about who speaks what to who. Forget who told them they were naked, remember who told you not to eat from the tree!? They have crossed the line of disobedience and now experiencing guilt and shame.

I think, perhaps, this verse is quite significant. The question of ‘who told you’ suggests that they should have trusted God alone. Later, God will say that mankind must not remain in this state of knowing good and evil forever – rather, we ought to trust God like little children, and not seek to know better than him.

“The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave me…’” The blame game has begun. It’s not so much that he speaks lies, cause he isn’t, but that he is quick to throw Eve under the bus. More than that, he reminds God that it was Him who put the woman there. Rather than a quick apology, Adam looks for loopholes and how he is justified in his actions. It’s not his fault! Sin decays everything about us, even our honesty.

“The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’” The woman points the finger at the serpent but she admits that she was deceived and acted on the deception. Eve was fed a lie. She bought it and now stands before God. Such a simple act of taking a fruit and eating, but the deception, the lingering, the craving and so on that leads up to it – followed by the eternal mark of being a sinner – it’s just not worth it. But it is done and it cannot be undone.

The LORD speaks to the serpent (14-15)

“So the LORD God said to the serpent…” God addresses the serpent first. In one sense, he seems to agree that the blame needs to begin there – but it won’t end with him alone. God lists the curse due to the serpent.

“Cursed are you above all livestock…” honestly, I’ve not resolved what to do with this image. The serpent remains treated like a creature in the garden and we have what feels like a Dreamtime story explaining why the snake has no legs. There is a strong tie between this creature and Satan. As part of the real narrative, Adam and Eve perceive that the serpent is cursed – they visually see the results of the serpent crawling after this moment. And on top of this, Satan gets his proverb or prophecy in Verse 15.

“…he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Famously pointing to Christ who is descended from Eve and who will crush Satan’s head – but not before Satan takes a sting. The final crush will occur when Christ returns (Romans 16:20) but the first blow which has mortally wounded Satan occurred at the cross (Hebrews 2:14).

The serpent has been condemned.

The LORD speaks to the woman (16)

“…I will make your pains in childbearing very severe…” Producing new life will come with pain.

“Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you.” A fascinating verse. Does this mean that she will love him but be dominated in return? Not quite. The change here is in contrast to how men and women were created to co-exist: there was equality, a solution to being alone and she was the right helper for him. These two were made for one another. ‘Bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh.’ But now, their existance will be a struggle. Inequality is not a problem of the creator but of our sin. I believe this speaks of losing trust with one another. She won’t simply be with Adam but will desire or crave something as if it is not quite there already, and he will not love her sacrificially but will rule. They won’t act as equals anymore. Now, look ahead to 4:7 and see how Cain’s struggle with sin is described. The language of the two verses are so close. Cain is going to have sin wanting to take over him but he must rule over it. That description of sin makes sense. Now apply that language to Adam and Eve: Eve will want to have Adam but Adam will rule over her.

The LORD speaks to Adam (17-19)

The work that Adam was created to do is not longer described as an opportunity but as a hard task. This world will not work for him easily – he must work hard to subdue it and it will bite back.

Adam and Eve must leave the garden (20-24)

“The LORD God made garments of skin…” Shame is a result of sin and yet God provides and loves his children. We see here a second moment of grace (the first hinted in 3:15). They do not die but are cared for. Notice, however, that they are clothed in skin – an animal died in order for their shame to be covered over. Remind you of anything (Jesus).

“And the LORD God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.’” The knowing of good and evil is not something that God wants man to ‘enjoy’ forever (see 3:22). God makes arrangements for Adam and Eve never to eat from the tree of Life while they are in this state. They will leave the garden, not put to death, but death will come to them. And, in God’s wisdom, this is a mercy too. This life is full of curse and trouble – it is the next life that we long for, but we need to enter it with no shame over us. We need, as Revelation tells us, to have our names written in the Book of Life – then we’ll gain access again to the Tree of Life which stands in the heart of the city of God. We don’t want to be ‘like’ God. We want to ‘know’ God and relearn how to listen to Him because all his ways are good and just. Having this knowledge of good and evil is to live in a state of fear, blame, shame, guilt, double-mindedness and deceit. Never trusting fully.

Meaning

In one simple act of taking and eating, mankind turned their back on every good thing that had come from God – starting with what he had said! His command was clear and simply. They heard a twisted view of it but gave their ear to the deceiver. Sin brings conflict, fear and death but God brings grace and mercy. This is the account (known as The Fall) of why there is suffering in this world. This is the account of why we ought always to trust God and listen to Him.

Application

Application A: Consider all that we reckon to be normal and yet is only true because of The Fall. Eg, clothing, bad language, greed, climate issues, sickness. Now discuss how we can train ourselves to long for restoration in the kingdom of heaven.

Application B: Read James 1:13-18 with Genesis 3 ringing in your ear. Sin is a result of deception and turning good gifts into evil desires. Sin is not a sickness but a twisted nature. Sin is never an accident. Note the timeline of sin in Verses 14-15. How can we use Verses 16-18 to avoid sin?

Application C: Even at the origin of sin described in the bible (Genesis 3), grace is present. The promise of the serpent crusher in Verse 15, the provision of clothing to cover up their shame and finally, being cast out of the garden is to relieve Adam and Eve of eternal misery. God’s plan is to send Jesus to take away their sin and shame by becoming sin for us and so clothe us in righteousness and open up the way again to the Tree of Life. That is one way of describing the bible story. We are part of that story if we turn our ears away from the evil one and fix our eyes upon Jesus.

Genesis 2

Context:

Like Genesis 1; Genesis 2 continues to tell the story of creation with a zoomed in view on the relationship between God and humanity.  Like we saw in Revelation, this is a zoomed in retelling of the story.

Again, we need to consider genre.  This is NOT a historiographical account of creation.  Between the accounts of Genesis 1 and 2 there are differences (for example ordering humans are made before animals in Gen 2).  There is limited interested in the days of Genesis 1 in the Genesis 2 account.  Rather, we see what is best described as ‘anti-myth’ genre continuing into Genesis 2.  That is, God in Genesis 1 is telling people about himself – and God, in Genesis 2, is telling people about who they are, especially in relationship to him.

This is also not to sway too far in the opposite direction – liberal scholarship would have us look at this and dismiss the notion of any factual truth of Genesis 2 all-together.  We aren’t suggesting this has any validity at all.  It is simply to say – Genesis 2 is not designed to be read as a historical account of the creation of the earth (as we might consider modern historical accounts) – and so we need to let the passage speak for itself about the topic that it wants to speak on – and be careful not to attempt to force it to speak either in the way we want it to, OR as an answer to the questions we might pose about creation as modern readers.

Observations:

Verse 4 signals the shift between the first account of creation, focussed on the sovereignty of the one God who rules over all – to zoom in on the relationship between God and humanity.

Verse 5-6 set the scene: God has made a world, but he had not yet placed life on this earth.

Verse 7 zooms in to look at the pinnacle of God’s creation.  He made humanity.  Note the distinction of forming humanity out of clay and then breathing life into him.  The word for breath is also Spirit – God made humanity breathing his Spirit into him.  This foreshadows of course, what re-birth looks like… as God indwells us by his Holy Spirit.

God in the formation of humanity shows a level of care and intimacy and relationship which hints strongly at our purpose – to be in relationship with God.

Verse 8 and 9 begin to fill out the shape fo that relationship – that humans are known by God.  God here starts providing for humanity’s needs: shelter, a garden, good food including the tree of life.  Trees which were not only functional, but pleasing to the human.

In verse 10-14 We see God providing water in the shape of rivers – rivers that would sustain life not just in the garden, but with provision towards a time where God knew that they would no longer be in his place.

In verse 15-20: The relationship between God and humanity is again returned to – this time focussing on our response towards God.  God gives humans a role – to work and care for the garden.  In verse 19-20 Humanity is involved in God’s creative process by naming the animals, part of his role of ruling over the creation placed under his care by God.  But 16-17 deserve careful attention.  God speaks to his human, leaving 1 rule.  God is in authority, and part of the right relationship with God is about rightly submitting to his authority and obeying his commands and his instructions for ‘ruling over animals and caring for his creation’ all of which fall apart in chapter 3.

Verse 18,20b-25: Then focus on God’s provision of human companionship.  God again knows his human and cares for him, by making another human to share in companionship with him.  The emphasis here is important – too often we jump to marriage analogies here about romance and intimacy because verse 23 gets poetic and verse 24 talks about the uniting as one in marriage.  But we need to see first and foremost that this is about companionship.  Verse 18highlights that it is because the man is alone.  Verse 20b it is because no suitable helper was found.  The distinction of man as Spirit breathed creation (as opposed to the rest of creation who was simply ‘formed’) means that God forms the woman out of that spirit breathed human – and so she also shares in all of the dignity which is afforded Adam as God’s special creation, made to know God and be known by him – made to alongside Adam ‘help’ in ruling God’s creation together.

There is also this lovely cyclic togetherness that happens as vs 22 the woman is brought out of the man and in verse 24 the man goes to his wife to be united as one flesh.

Suggested Application Questions:

What does this passage teach us about what relationships between God and humanity are supposed to look like?

What makes a human valuable to God in this passage?  Where do we sometimes make mistakes in how we viewwhat makes us valuable?

What does this teach us about our relationship with God’s world and our role with it?

What does it look like to rule, order and care for God’s world?  Where might we make mistakes in how we might treat this relationship?

What does this teach us about relationships with other humans?  What kind of role should companionship play as we consider how we live as a community under God?

CAC Growth Groups 2020 – Resources for the study of Genesis

As we begin studying these very familiar first 11 chapters of the Bible, people in our groups will have a variety of thoughts in mind, (much like they may have had as we were studying Revelation!). Some will be eager to put forward a pet theory about how Genesis is to be read. Some will be fearful that it will descend into arid philosophical arguments. Some will feel inadequate to understand it. Some already expect they will be offended by what they read about the roles of men and women, about fratricide, about gross immorality and about some aspects of the character of God. It won’t all be negative, however! Some will be delighted to fall in love all over again with our gracious and good God, with his explanation of the purpose of this world and human life and with his sheer greatness. And we must pray that all who study with us at this time will come to see Jesus more clearly in all his glory.

You will know your group and therefore how deeply to explore some of these issues. We are sure you will be aware of the need to ask people to put aside any pre-conceived ideas about Genesis in order to understand the text in its own terms, follow wherever it leads, and to acknowledge the reality that it points to the Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 24:44-49).

We suggest as leaders you would profit from reading this succinct essay on the type of literature Genesis’ creation accounts are, and perhaps sharing all or some of it with your group:

Background Briefing for Leaders, taken from Bruce Walkte’s Commentary, “Genesis”.

“What kind of literature is Genesis?

“The Spirit of God who spoke through them did not choose to teach about the heavens to men, as it was of no use for salvation.” AUGUSTINE

“The Bible tells us how to go to Heaven, not how the heavens go.” GALILEO GALILEI

“The function of setting up goals and passing statements of value transcends the domain of science.” ALBERT EINSTEIN

The historicity and scientific accuracy of the Genesis creation account has been the subject of much controversy and debate. Questions concerning the relationship of the Genesis creation account and science can only be addressed intelligently by determining the literary genre of Gen. 1:1–2:3. Generally, the creation account is slotted into one of four categories: myth, science, history, or theology. The determination of the genre of any passage must always be founded on the text, and careful textual analysis of Genesis 1 reveals that it is problematic to assign this passage to any one of these categories.

Creation and Myth:  Is Genesis myth?

That question is complicated by the many definitions of the word myth. If by the word myth one means a story that explains phenomena and experience, an ideology that explains the cosmos, then the Genesis account of creation is myth. In this sense, myth addresses those metaphysical concerns that cannot be known by scientific discovery. However, most commonly the word myth is understood to represent things fanciful or untrue. In this case, the word myth misrepresents the Genesis account and does an injustice to the integrity of the narrator and undermines sound theology.

Creation and Science:  Is Genesis scientific?

As an account that describes life-support systems, heavenly bodies, species of flora and fauna, and other natural elements of earth, the creation account has a scientific dimension. But the Genesis creation account has distinct differences from a scientific document. First, Genesis and science discuss essentially different matters. The subject of the Genesis creation account is God, not the forces of nature. The transcendent God is a subject that science cannot discuss. Second, the language of Genesis and science is entirely different. The creation account is formed in everyday speech, non-theoretical terminology, rather than mathematics and technical terminology. More important, Genesis 1 is concerned with ultimate cause, not proximation. The intent of the creation account is not to specify the geological and genetic methods of creation but to definitively establish that creation is a result of God’s creative acts. When the psalmist says “You knit me together in my mother’s womb” (Ps. 139:13), he is not intending to comment on genetics or immediate cause. To suggest otherwise is to distort the text. This is a clear example of why scientific and theological accounts should not be pitted against one another. In Genesis, the narrator only tells us that God commands the earth to bring forth life. He does not explain how that bringing forth occurs. Third, the purposes of Genesis and science also differ. Genesis is prescriptive, answering the questions of who and why and what ought to be, whereas the purpose of science is to be descriptive, answering the questions of what and how. The narrator of the creation account is not particularly concerned with the questions a scientist asks; rather, he wants to provide answers to the questions science cannot answer—who has created this world and for what purpose? Fourth, since they are addressed to different types of communities, Genesis and science require distinct means for validation. Science, speaking to the academic scientific community, requires empirical testing for validation. Genesis, addressed to the covenant community of God, requires the validation of the witness of the Spirit to the heart (Rom. 8:16). For these reasons, the Genesis creation account cannot be delineated as a scientific text.

Creation and History: If not science, is Genesis history?

It certainly has historical elements. It is factual in the sense that God created the cosmos and all that is in it, and the genealogies that trace the history of Israel back to Adam and Eve speak to the narrator’s concern with historicity. However, Genesis bears little resemblance to modern conceptions of history. In short, it is not straightforward or positivistic history. The creation account is unlike any other history. History is generally humanity recounting its experiences. The Genesis creation account is not a record of human history, since no humans are present for these acts. Even in modern history, there is a tension between the historical referent and authorial creativity in the writing of history. The Bible gives great scope to creativity in interpreting and presenting the data. The biblical narrator even feels license to dischronologize the events. Certain “difficulties” in the order of the days seem clearly to represent a dischronologization. On the first day (1:5) God creates the evening and morning, but he does not create the luminaries to divide them until the fourth day (1:14). If this is a straightforward historical account, God created evening, morning, and days without luminaries and then created luminaries in order to affect them.  Are we really to conclude that the division occurs without the dividers? It seems reasonable to assume that the narrator has offered a dischronologized presentation of the events in order to emphasize a theological point. God is not dependent on the luminaries. The narrator also subtly suggests a dischronologization by speaking of each of the first five days as “a day,” not “the day.” The narrator’s concern is not scientific or historical but theological and indirectly polemical against pagan mythologies. The narrator wishes clearly to establish that it is God who has created all and has dominion over all, including the seas, sun, and moon. Other aspects of the Genesis creation account likewise suggest that it is not concerned with presenting a strict historical account. The symmetrical nature of the account and the similarities of patterns with ancient Near Eastern material, including the use of the widely attested seven-day typology of the ancient world, may suggest that the narrator is using a stereotypical formula to speak of divine activity and rest. Youngblood adds, “I would point out that the omission of the definite article (“the”) from all but the sixth day allows for the possibility of random or literary order.” The days of creation may also pose difficulties for a strict historical account. Contemporary scientists almost unanimously discount the possibility of creation in one week, and we cannot summarily discount the evidence of the earth sciences. General revelation in creation, as well as the special revelation of Scripture, is also the voice of God. We live in a “universe,” and all truth speaks with one voice. One of the key ways in which the text distances itself from a bare-facts retelling of the events of creation is its metaphorical language. As soon as we talk about God in heaven, we are in a realm that can only be represented by earthly figures. The narrator must use metaphor and anthropomorphic language so that the reader can comprehend. When the text says that God said, commanded, called, and saw, are we to understand that God has vocal cords, lips, and eyes? Obviously this language is anthropomorphic, representational of the truth that God creates. If the narrator’s descriptions of God are anthropomorphic, might not the days and other aspects also be anthropomorphic? The anthropomorphic allows us to enter into and identify with the creation account. The time of creation is presented in the anthropomorphic language of days so that humankind might mime the Creator. Since we cannot participate in vast stretches of time, how else could we imitate the creator, except with finite terms such as a week? In sum, the narrator has an agenda very different from the modern historian. He has a theological agenda: to tell us that God created the earth and that it is all very orderly.

Creation and Theology:  If the narrator has so clearly crafted the Genesis creation account around theological concerns, can we call the account theology? Once again the answer is yes and no. Genesis is theological in that it is concerned with divine matters and with teaching the covenant community important truths about God and his relationship with his world, but it is not theology as we usually understand it. The narrator does not systematically present abstract truths about the divine; rather, he tells us a story about the Creator and his creation. What, then, is the genre of the Genesis creation account? Following Henri Blocher, (“In the Beginning: The Opening Chapter of Genesis” InterVarsity, 1984, pp50-59) we can describe the creation account as an artistic, literary representation of creation intended to fortify God’s covenant with creation. It represents truths about origins in anthropomorphic language so that the covenant community may have a proper worldview and be wise unto salvation. It represents the world as coming into being through God’s proclamation so that the world depends on his will, purpose, and presence.””

Waltke, Bruce K.. Genesis (pp. 73-78). Zondervan Academic. Kindle Edition.

The first section we are studying is Genesis 1:1 – 2:4, found here: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+1&version=NIV

Some suggested discussion questions:

Think of a discussion you have been involved in over the Book of Genesis. How did it go? Were you happy with the way the discussion ended? Why? Why not?

What is the understanding of the purpose of human existence most of our contemporaries hold to? How does this play out in discussions about euthanasia, abortion, the purpose of education, relations between races, our view of ourselves?

Let’s look at the text:

  1. Summarize the main ideas of Genesis 1:1 – 2:4 under the following headings:

• God

              Help the group see that not only is God “there” (NOT created at some point), but he is the powerful creator of all things (compare Romans 1:20); that he created all things out of nothing; that he is a God of order; that he creates with a purpose in mind (cp Isaiah 45:18); that he creates by his word (cp Psalm 33:6)

• The creation

              Help the group see: the creation is dependent on its creator (Psalm 104); the creation is orderly and habitable; and the creation is good. Explore how different all this is from what so many religions teach and modern Westerners believe

• Humankind

              Help the group see the utter dependence of humankind as a creature: This is deeply offensive to us humans—especially 21st- century humans. We hate the idea that we are made by someone else, are dependent on someone else, and are given purpose and meaning by someone else.  Yet we cannot face the alternative—that we are an absurd accident, a cosmic joke occasioned by time plus matter plus chance.

              And help them see that Genesis portrays humankind as unique – explore what the image of God means (cp Psalm 8, Hebrews 2)

  • Help the group follow through the parallels to Genesis 1 found in the New Testament – e.g. John 1:1-14, Colossians 1:15 – 17
  • Help the group re-examine in the light of Genesis 1 how they think of
  1. God
  • Humankind – I.e. themselves
  • The creation