Whole Life Whole Bible Day 08

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Genesis 3:8 (NASB)

8 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.


7: The fruit of fruit-eating

John Milton, in the opening lines of his magnificent epic poem Paradise Lost, announces his intention to proclaim:

… man’s first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world, and all our woe.

Paradise lost, indeed. Inexorably, the consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin unfold. First they feel the new sensations of shame and fear; next come self-justification and mutual recrimination — shame and fear towards God, and recrimination towards each other. Thus, in a few masterful verses, the writer of Genesis records the breakdown of these two key relationships.

The banishment of Adam and Eve from the garden now seems inevitable. Gone is the intimacy with which they could relate to the creator. Worse still, perhaps, the prospect of their eating from the tree of life and thus living for ever is now unthinkable. The expulsion symbolises the gulf that, from that moment onwards, stood between humanity and God — God who is the source of life. As Paul says, ‘the wages of sin is death’ (Romans 6:23).

But the tragedy doesn’t stop with the man and the woman. The whole created order is in some way implicated — in the pain of childbirth, male domination, inhospitable land and toilsome work, which still dominate human experience here on earth. All of these — and many other ways in which the world has fallen from its original ‘goodness’ — are presented as the result of the humans’ initial rebellion. ‘All our woe,’ wrote Milton, blind, twice widowed and politically disillusioned.

Thus, as the Old Testament moves on, we see recurring cycles of disobedience and idolatry, hatred, pride and corruption. In the wider world, to this very day, human history has been beset by greed, ambition, cruelty, injustice, oppression, the corruption of creativity and the destruction of the environment.

Easy as it is to bewail the state of the world, we must all acknowledge that these destructive tendencies run through every human heart. Our first legacy is the image of God. Parasitic upon it — but not obliterating it — is the legacy of sin. But, as Milton goes on to remind us, the victory of sin could continue only:

… till one greater man
Restore us, and regain the blissful seat.


For further reflection and action

  1. ‘Inhospitable land and toilsome work.’ How far do we feel that this describes our own daily experience? What about the experience of family members, friends and colleagues?

  2. How would you evaluate the view that sees Genesis 3 as an unfortunate but minor ‘blip’ in the biblical story?

  3. Which aspect of the opening chapters of the Bible has had the greatest influence on the way you view life — creation or corruption?

    Visit LICC to find out more or get an overview of the Biblical narrative and the ways it can shape us by reading the Introduction to Whole Life, Whole Bible from the Whole Life, Whole Bible book.