|Posted by Susan McGeown on January 1, 2018 at 2:30 PM|
In 2007, I published one of my first nonfiction attempts, BIBLICAL WOMEN AND WHO THEY HOOKED UP WITH. It's a great way to start a new year, so I thought I'd post it, chapter by chapter over the next few weeks for anyone who is interested in reading it. I'd love to hear your thoughts!! Enjoy.
If she couldn’t get it right, what hope is there for the rest of us?
A Heart of Perfection
You know Eve. The girl with the apple. The one Adam pointed to when God said, “Hey! Whose idea was it to eat the forbidden fruit?!” The person who consistently bears the brunt of the blame for the whole Garden of Eden debacle. Most famously remembered as the woman who caved when Satan decided to tempt, Eve’s punishment has affected womanhood to this day: to forever bear children with intense pain and suffering, and perpetually submit to men as their masters.
Salimbene, a 13th century Franciscan monk, compiled a collection of popular views of his day on women. Eve was definitely not thought of positively: “Woman was evil from the beginnings, a gate of death, a disciple of the servant, the devil’s accomplice, a fount of deception, a dogstart to godly labours, rust corrupting the saints; whose perilous face hath overgrown such as had already become almost angels. Lo, woman is the head of sin, a weapon of the devil, expulsion from Paradise, mother of guilt, corruption of the ancient law.” Whoa. How’s that for a thorough insult?
Personally, I think Eve got a bum rap. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not here to offer excuses or place blame in another location. I simply wish that the whole person of Eve, wasn’t defined by her famous moment of succumbing to temptation. (Look at it this way: How would you like to be remembered for your greatest personal disaster?)
The bottom line is that Eve was an ancestress of Christ. You and I can’t claim that. Nor can a lot of other women. She was unique, special, and chosen. At the time when God was recounting the consequences of both Eve and Adam’s poor choice, He also gave her a promise of redemption. She was the first person to be given the promise of the savior. It was her seed that was going to crush the head of the serpent, Satan. (Genesis 3:15)
Spend some time with me examining Eve, the person she was, and the guy she hooked up with. Take a peek into what it means to be perfect. Maybe, if we try, we’ll learn something new about her and ourselves in the process. After all, haven’t you always wanted to achieve perfection?
First Things First
- Scripture references you should check out: Genesis 1:26-31, Genesis 2-5
- Question to ask yourself before you read any further: What one thing would you like to change in your life that would ensure better circumstances for yourself?
- What her name means: God-given: “Adam” means “mankind” or “taken out of the earth” or “human being”
- Adam given (while in The Garden): “Woman” means “man-ess” or “taken out of man”
- Adam given (once they are thrown out of The Garden):“Eve” means “The Mother of All Who Have Life” or “Life-giving”
- Connections: Even though Eve was perfect, lived in paradise, and was hooked up with a heaven-made match, she had doubts about herself. Her lack of self-confidence in herself and her God-given abilities left her open for Satan’s treachery, causing disaster and misery for all.
- What the Bible says about being perfect: Regarding God and His Promises: Psalm 18:29-31
- Regarding Perfection: Psalm 119:96
- On Waiting For Perfection: Ecclesiastes 11:4
- On Our Own Personal Level of Perfection and What We Should Strive For: Matthew 5:46-48
- On Why We Cannot Judge What Is Perfect: 1 Corinthians 13:11-12
- Advice On How To Achieve It: Philippians 3:12-14
- Perfection On Earth: Hebrews 9:13-15
- What It’s All About: James 1:16-18
Questions We’ll Never Know The Answers To:
- How long were Adam and Eve in The Garden before The Fall?
- What was the perfect relationship like between man and woman?
- What was the earth like before God cursed it?
Did You Know? Interesting Biblical Facts About Eve
Equal: God did not name Eve “Eve.” Adam did that after God cast them out of The Garden. (Genesis 3:20) God named both human beings “Adam” (or, the translation, “Mankind”;). (Genesis 5:2) God made no distinction between the male and female (Genesis 1:27) in His perfectly created paradise.
First: Eve experienced everything for the very first time all on her own: childbirth (Genesis 4:1), temptation (Genesis 3:1), disobedience (Genesis 3:6), true love (Genesis 2:23-24), murder/loss of a child (Genesis 4:8), God’s fury (Genesis 3:16), homelessness (Genesis 3:23) … and those are just the one’s recorded in the Bible!
God’s Punishment: Genesis 3:14-19 records God’s “consequences” for Adam and Eve’s disobedience. The serpent was cursed, forever, destined to grovel in the dust, with its ultimate punishment being defeat by the woman’s offspring (Christ foretold for the first time in Genesis 3:15). For the woman, she was to have pain in childbirth and forever to be mastered by the man. (Genesis 3:16) Adam was punished to spend his entire life struggling to scratch a living from the ground to survive. And the ground itself was cursed. (Genesis 3:17-19)
Creation: Do you find the creation story hard to swallow? Is that whole “done in six days” concept too much for you? First, you must understand that a miracle is “an event that appears inexplicable by the laws of nature.” The fact that it goes beyond our comprehension is the whole purpose of a miracle. In addition we must remember two other things. First, the biblical account was not intended to be a scientific journal. Natural phenomenon’s only purpose in the biblical account was for the greater glory of God’s power and might. Second, “the indefinite meaning of day” (Lockyer, Illustrated Dictionary) causes literal objections to lose their validity. 2 Peter 3:8 states, “A day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day.” Translation: God doesn’t operate within our known timeframe. Creation was a miracle we cannot explain with our scientific know-how or our limited human intellect.
The Core Story
Paradise … Can we even begin to imagine it?
As beautiful and majestic as our world is today it cannot compare to the paradise of The Garden of Eden.
Physically, “water came up out of the ground and watered all the land … the Lord God planted all sorts of trees in the garden – beautiful trees that produced delicious fruit … a river flowed from the land of Eden, watering the garden … gold was found, exceptionally pure; aromatic resin and onyx stone are also found there … the Lord God formed from the soil every kind of animal and bird … livestock, birds, and wild animals …” (Genesis 2:6-20, pieces) The Garden was peaceful and lovely, filled with delicious fruit. It even smelled nice! No hurricanes or blizzards, perfect temperatures all year round. There were no thorns, no stinging bugs, no sickness or disease. Every item mankind needed to live and every condition required to make life comfortable was readily and easily available.
Man and woman did not spend their days playing and lazing in the sun. God gave them responsibilities: to multiply and fill the earth, to subdue the earth, and to be masters over the fish, birds and all animals. (Genesis 1:28) God allowed Adam to name all the animals, bringing them to him one by one. (Genesis 2:20) In doing so, Adam assumed a proprietary ownership over the creatures of The Garden just as we do when we name our pets. Mankind wasn’t simply the hired help. God gave us a significant position of authority - “masters over all life.” (Genesis 1:26) The required work was extensive enough that “a suitable companion” (Genesis 2:20) was required to help Adam fulfill all of the duties. These tasks required a dedicated effort to get things accomplished, otherwise the world would have gotten out of control. Mankind was originally created to be caretaker and gatherer, not farmer and hunter. Man and woman were created to work side by side, equally, sharing the load and responsibilities. Mankind would have felt a level of satisfaction of a job well done, a level of purpose for a profession tailor made for only them, and a constant level of accomplishment living within the “fruits of their labor.”
But there was more to paradise than just the physical aspect. It was a world of innocence in that there was no knowledge of pain, suffering, fear, anger, neglect, betrayal, hardship, sorrow, or hatred. Not only did these emotions not exist, but Adam and Eve had no concept of them. While I have never felt the pangs of starvation or the terror of rape, I am aware of the horror of such situations and live a life that is shaped by that knowledge. Adam and Eve were well and truly free. They worked for the joy of it, not because they feared homelessness and poverty. They spent time with each other, not because they feared loneliness but because the companionship was so perfect. They loved God not because they feared the consequences should they not, but because His presence was real, personal and vibrant. And they were obedient to the rules God had laid down before them, not because God had preprogrammed them to do so, but simply because they wanted to do so.
Paradise was not a life of idleness, sipping pina coladas and eating bon-bons. Paradise was a life perfectly aligned with all the things that God intended for us to have, be, and do. There were no doubts, no insecurities, and no fears. It was God’s place, filled with God’s creations, fulfilling God’s purpose in life: His pleasure.
I’m Perfect … What is the difference between Man and beast?
Eve was the only woman who could truly say, “I wouldn’t be with you if you were the only man on the planet” and really paint herself into a corner. Of course, after Eve was created, I don’t think she looked at Adam and thought, “Hmmm, maybe someone nicer lives in another part of The Garden.” As they were both God’s first creations “in His own image” both Adam and Eve were probably the most beautiful man and woman to set foot on this planet, and were absolutely and completely delighted with each other. Think about it, for a period of time the two of them were well and truly perfect. And when you think about it that way, you realize that even though Adam was the only man on the planet, he was exactly what Eve needed. He was her personally designed, one-of-a-kind match made in heaven.
Even though Eve and Adam for a period of time were absolutely perfect, you must understand something. Adam and Eve’s perfection had nothing to do with their external attributes and everything to do with whom they had allowed in the center of their hearts. For the period of time in which they allowed God and God alone to own that space they walked, talked, and communed with God, and in doing so enjoyed perfection. Being “perfect” means ‘lacking nothing essential to the whole; complete of its nature or kind.’ (www.freeonlinedictionary.com) Being perfect in the eyes of God meant fulfilling the ultimate purpose for which they were created.
What was mankind’s ultimate purpose? How would you answer that question if someone posed it to you? Why did God go to all that trouble to create everything in the first place? Revelations 4:11b says, “For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased.” How cool is that? God created us because it made Him happy to do so. Equate it to that bursting joy of giving birth to your child. But look closely at that verse; God created all things because it pleased him. So all living things on the earth were part of God’s joy and design. He’s the ultimate artist.
What makes human beings so exceptional, above and beyond all the other parts of God’s creation, is that we’re in God’s image and likeness. (Genesis 1:27) We have the ability to know God: love Him, worship Him, serve Him, and fellowship with Him. We above all the rest of creation have more responsibility in that we were designed to get closer and more personal with God than anything else on this planet. While Adam and Eve walked and talked and communed with God in The Garden with no other focus than to be obedient and godly centered, they were absolutly perfect.
What’s important about this level of perfection is that it was not something that God forced on Adam and Eve. God not only gave us the capability of getting to know Him, He gave Adam and Eve the ability to choose to do so. All living beings in The Garden received the preprogrammed chip that instinctually made them automatically recognize and honor God. Only mankind alone was given the ability to decide.
On the surface, Eve’s relationship with Adam speaks to all those people who either a) think they themselves are perfect, or b) think the person they are interested in is absolutely perfect. In addition, Adam and Eve completely dispel any wish that many of us have that starts with, “If only …” because their entire world was without flaw and still stuff went really, really bad. Which begs the question, “Why?” How could one perfect world plus two perfect people equal such disaster?
On first blush, of all the biblical characters, it is Eve that I have the most trouble associating with. I have no concept of what it feels like to be literally perfect, having never lived in a world towards which I was in total harmony, and having never felt I was the absolutely perfect mate for anyone. But (and this is one powerful ‘but’;), what I can associate with is the depths of her despair, the struggle with her self-doubt, and the magnitude of her failure. Talk about a reason to be depressed! When was the last time your big mistake doomed the entire future of the known world?
What a waste … Why did God even bother with all this?
It really bothers me when people (once they find out I’m interested in studying the Bible) ask me the question, “Why did God bother creating Adam and Eve? If He knows everything, then He knew they were going to mess everything up, right? Why did He go to all the trouble?” Now, don’t get me wrong: it’s a great question. The problem is that people who ask that question have a hard time understanding what I believe to be the answer. What would you say if someone posed that question to you?
God created mankind on day six of creation (Genesis 1:26). As day seven was God’s day of rest, mankind was His last and final creation. By the time God got around to creating human beings He had created all the beauty of the heavenly galaxies, all the mysteries of the ocean depths, all the magnificence of the animal kingdom, and all the glories of the world we live in. Then He got around to us, the epitome of all He wanted to do. The creation that would please Him the most. Only human beings were given God’s likeness. The Expository Dictionary of Bible Words (1985) notes that “… the creation story makes it clear that the likeness-image is not of physical form: material for man’s creation was taken from the earth. It is the inner nature of human beings that reflects something vital in the nature of God. Thus theologians generally agree that the likeness is rooted in all that is required to make a human being a person: in our intellectual, emotional, and moral resemblance to God, who has revealed Himself to us as a personal being. It is this likeness-image that sets human beings apart from the rest of the animal creation, and it is transmitted through the process of reproduction to succeeding generations (Genesis 5:1-3). It is this likeness-image of God that makes each human life so precious that nothing of however great value can possibly be offered in compensation for the taking of another’s life (Genesis 9:5-6).”
We were the crowning glory of His creation! The only creature God created that had the ability to choose whether it was going to obey, love and honor the Creator. He gave us the capacity to give Him the greatest of all joys: unconditional love. And in so doing, He gave us the privilege of causing Him the greatest of sorrows: rejection and disobedience.
So why did God go to all the trouble? L-O-V-E. For God’s crowning achievement of all He created here on earth, He wanted our love for Him to be freely given, just as His is to us, not instinctual or preprogrammed. Did He know that Adam and Eve were going to blow it big time in The Garden? Of course. I must conclude that the importance of our unconditional love and, consequently our obedience, will be worth it all to Him in the end.
Hi, I’m Eve … If I’m so perfect, why did I mess up?
Take a moment to think about the person that Eve was and the life that she lived. She was the most gorgeous female on earth, she’d hooked up with the perfect man, and she lived in paradise. Yet when Satan began to tempt her according to the Biblical account, she barely hesitated before doing what had been specifically forbidden: “But the Lord God gave him this warning: ‘You may freely eat any fruit in the garden except fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat of its fruit, you will surely die.’” (Genesis 2:16-17)
Hmmm. Seems pretty clear to me. Except … that warning was given to Adam. It’s not until four verses later in the biblical journal that God even creates Adam’s companion. (Genesis 2:21) Would that have been a good enough excuse? “Well, God told Adam, but He didn’t specifically tell me!” Eve said with an indignant huff. “How was I supposed to know?” It is to Eve’s credit that, after the fact, she does not use this argument. And it is, perhaps, the most powerful argument as to why Adam bears equal blame when everything bad goes down. The facts are when Satan tempted, both Adam and Eve were standing side-by-side listening to the sales pitch. Eve by her actions was wrong and Adam in his silence was equally culpable.
Did Eve, in her ‘clone-like’ creation from Adam’s rib, possess all the innate knowledge and skill that Adam was created with? Did the two of them cut a wide berth around The Tree because they both knew it was a big no-no? I suppose they could have been morbidly fascinated with the forbidden tree, always walking by it and thinking about it (just like little kids when you say, “Now don’t touch this, it’s breakable”;). Or did they not even think twice about the only forbidden plant in their magnificent paradise? Were they too busy having fun with all they had been blessed with to give it a second thought? Maybe Satan got frustrated with the two of them and their obedience, and that’s why he decided to make his famous serpentine appearance. Whatever the scenario, I am fairly certain that Eve knew not to touch or to eat from the tree. It is inconceivable to me that Adam, in his delight over the God’s final creation that was “bone of [Adam’s] bone and flesh of [Adam’s] flesh” (Genesis 2:23), neglected to warn Eve against eating the only thing in The Garden that could cause her death.
And while we’re asking questions, I’m compelled to wonder why God would warn Adam about the tree of knowledge and not about Satan? Hello? Doesn’t that seem like a really big omission? “Don’t go out in the open field … Oh, did I forget to mention the big, angry bull?”
My teenager has a rule that he can’t go in to other people’s homes unless an adult is present. Good rule, right? I haven’t elaborated on all of the possible scenarios that could happen should he disobey me. Why? Well, first, I’m the boss of him. I don’t really have to justify myself to a thirteen year old, now do I? Second, I’m more knowledgeable and know what’s wise and what’s not. I’ve got all kinds of experience that makes me better equipped to decide what’s safe and what’s not. Third, some of the scenarios are above and beyond his current level of understanding of the world and what … evilness is out there. To explain in detail what could happen would ratchet my son and his knowledge up to a level that I’m not ready for him to have.
But there’s a last piece to the whole “here’s the rule but I don’t need to explain myself concept.” There’s a level of trust I need to establish with my son so I know what I can trust him with in the future. With bigger and more important things. And my son needs to establish a complementary relationship where he knows I’m consistent, fair, wise, and trustworthy. (I know I’m these things, but my son needs to have some experiences so he comes to know it, too.) He goes out into the big, bad world and he watches, listens, learns, and experiences what is out there. He and I grow a relationship that is rooted in trust, love, and respect. He understands that I am who I say I am and worthy of his faith. I witness his obedience and give him greater responsibilities. And in the process, he proves to himself what his strengths are, what his weaknesses are, and whom he should and shouldn’t put his reliance in. Some lessons are easy and some lessons … are not.
God was doing the same thing with Adam and Eve. He put the Tree of Knowledge in The Garden and said, “Don’t touch or eat from it.” And while God knew how the whole thing was going to play out, Adam and Eve had to learn a really tough lesson.
The name “Satan” translated literally from the Hebrew means “adversary.” (Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry) Given a variety of names in the Bible such as Lucifer, The Prince of Darkness, and Beelzebub, he is most commonly referred to as the devil.
Satan was at one point in his career an angel of heaven who through his own greed fell from grace with God. Some scholars attribute Ezekiel’s message to the evil king of Tyre to Satan himself: “You were the perfection of wisdom and beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God. Your clothing was adorned with every precious stone – red carnelian, chrysolite, white moonstone, beryl, onyx, jasper, sapphire, turquoise, and emerald – all beautifully crafted for you and set in the finest gold. They were given to you on the day you were created. I ordained and anointed you as the mighty angelic guardian. You had access to the holy mountain of God and walked among the stones of fire. You were blameless in all you did from the day you were created until the day evil was found in you. Your great wealth filled you with violence, and you sinned. So I banished you from the mountain of God, I expelled you, O mighty guardian, from your place among the stones of fire. Your heart was filled with pride because of all your beauty. You corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth and exposed you to the curious gaze of kings. You defiled your sanctuaries with your many sins and your dishonest trade. So I brought fire from within you, and it consumed you. I let it burn you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were watching. All who knew you are appalled at your fate. You have come to a terrible end, and you are no more.” (Ezekiel 28:12-19)
Interesting, huh? We must assume, as God does not create anything but good, Satan must have originally been created good but, just as mankind was allowed a choice, so too were the angels. How many times have you thought to yourself, “If only I could see with my own two eyes … (fill in the blank) … then I would believe”? For me it is mind boggling that Satan, in the presence of God and seeing all of His majesty, still chose to reject Him. It vividly illustrates to me the level of malevolence that we are up against in our daily lives.
Satan, at this point in the biblical journal, chooses to possess a serpent “the shrewdest of all creatures the Lord God had made.” (Genesis 3:1) Shrewd means ‘characterized by keen awareness, sharp intelligence, and often a sense of the practical. Disposed to artful and cunning practices; tricky.’ (www.freeonlinedictionary.com) We must remember that the snakes we know today are not as the snake was in The Garden. After the fall, God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, you will be punished. You are singled out from all the domestic and wild animals of the whole earth to be cursed. You will grovel in the dust as long as you live, crawling along on your belly.” (Genesis 3:14) Now that’s the way I picture a snake! But during the time in The Garden, the snake would have been the antithesis of what we know today.
Eve does not seem surprised that it speaks to her, does she? Is it conceivable that they had had conversations before? Was the serpent so clever that the ability to communicate through speech was part of its design? Had both Adam and Eve had conversations in the past with the serpent, perhaps philosophical discussions and an occasional prank now and then? When the conversation commenced between Eve and the serpent it didn’t seem like anyone was surprised at the exchange.
Just what exactly was Satan’s lure? What could he have said to Eve that was enough to make her risk everything? What was Satan’s sales pitch that kept Adam silent and willing to risk all they currently had? Satan said to Eve, “You won't die. God knows that the moment you eat from that tree, you'll see what's really going on. You'll be just like God, knowing everything, ranging all the way from good to evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5, MSG) Had the possible previous philosophical discussions between Eve and the serpent caused her to have a level of trust of the serpent’s observations and conclusions? Was Satan all that more clever to entice Eve (and silent, observing Adam) with a venue that was comfortable and reliable from past experiences? Had the man and woman been careful to obey God’s instructions in every way until Satan used the one area where they were the weakest: a trusted source? The Bible records Eve’s thoughts as, “When the Woman saw that the tree looked like good eating and realized what she would get out of it - she'd know everything! - she took and ate the fruit.” (Genesis 3:6, MSG)
Seems like Eve, even though she was well and truly perfect, had a few doubts about herself. Because isn’t that what wanting something that you don’t have is all about? Things you don’t have but dream about or covet. But let’s not use that word as it gets us into the whole Ten Commandments thing. Temptation – ‘the desire to have or do something that you know you should avoid; the feeling that accompanies an unsatisfied state.’ (www.freeonlinedictionary.com)
These desires can be as big as another job, a better home, a fancier car, more cooperative children, an attentive husband … or as insignificant as the $100 gel tip manicure your girlfriend gets but you can’t afford … Even worse are those nonmaterial things that reflect what we perceive as lacking within ourselves and often desperately crave: beauty, intelligence, talents, or strengths. Wanting something at all costs. Needing something badly enough that you’re willing to bend the rules ‘just this once.’ Craving things that we cannot or do not have leads us open to temptations for things we don’t have and don’t need – at God’s design. The reality is anything that steers you away from God’s purpose and plan is wrong.
So the perfect woman wanted more. Can you believe it? She wanted to be even better than she already was. Think about it. Eve rejected the person that God had made her to be. She decided that she would take it upon herself to improve that which was already whole and good. Whoa. She corrected God. That’s pretty serious when you think of it that way.
Unfortunately, that is exactly where each and every one of us is identical to Eve. We’re her twin sisters in self-doubt and low self-esteem. Because the reality is, we are just as perfect or just as imperfect as we choose to be, just as Eve was. God, you see, does not make mistakes. He is the Rock; His deeds are perfect. Everything He does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright He is! (Deuteronomy 32:4) The person that you are, right now, is exactly the person God needs you to be to fulfill the mission that only you can complete. You see, what you must understand is that aside from the goal of your heart, you are already perfect in God’s eyes.
Things We Do For … What made Adam & Eve so special?
Why do you think that Eve turned to Adam with the forbidden fruit once she’d eaten it? I don’t think a lot of people realize that during Eve’s entire conversation with the serpent, Adam was standing right next to her. “She also gave some to her husband, who was with her.” (Genesis 3:6) Was it because Eve suddenly realized she’d screwed up big time and wanted the two of them to go down together? Maybe Adam had silently shaken his head ‘no’ during the entire episode, but Eve, stubborn and inherently the more evil of the two, refused his good advice? Is it possible that the two most precious examples of God’s creation fell hook, line, and sinker for Satan’s twisted logic? If Adam truly loved Eve (and I believe he did) and he thought she was doing something bad or dangerous, wouldn’t he have stopped her? How could Adam have stood there as silently as a stone if he believed that Eve was making such a horrible, life altering decision?
No, when Eve ate the fruit and then turned to give some to Adam, I think it was something more. Was Eve eager to share something with her lover, friend, and partner? Were they so close that one rarely did something without the other? What would it be like to be completely committed to someone with no knowledge of heartache, betrayal or sorrow? “Adam! It’s delicious! It’s terrific! You’ve got to have some, too!” That Adam ate the fruit without hesitation tells me that he had no concern over the right or wrong of it. He’d heard the serpent speak to Eve. Why should he question or doubt her? These two human beings were completely equal. There was no mistrust or deception, no calculated manipulation or unhealthy jealousy. Their heads and hearts, up to this time, had been simultaneously focused on godly pursuits. The concept of doubt or fear just didn’t exist.
I have a hard time factoring in disharmony with Adam and Eve. I suppose there was the awkward “getting to know you stage” and the “first misunderstanding” and, perhaps, the occasional “I thought you were going to do that …?” moment. But, in general, I think this was a true love match – from start to finish. They depended on each other for companionship, support, help, advice, and pleasure. Quite frankly, God joined this couple. It had to have been a true love match because God is love. Love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (I John 4:7-8)
Don’t all of us on our wedding days, have (or dream of) similar reactions of joy with each other as Adam had for Eve when he cried, “Finally! Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh! Name her Woman for she was made from Man." (Genesis 2:23-24 MSG). Or, the Sue Translation (ST), “At last! Someone who knows me inside and out! Someone who is absolutely perfect for me.” Don’t we all search for a love just like that? Happiness in a relationship is a perfect complement. I believe that Adam and Eve had that.
I also believe as Eve handed that fruit to Adam she genuinely wished to give him something wonderful. What about God’s decree? What about her obvious blatant disobedience? The great deceiver (AKA Satan) played all the cards right. He was so clever, so insidious, that Eve never realized how he’d played her. Adam, trusting and loving, never even questioned what Eve thrust into his hand and simply ate it as instructed. Having stood beside his mate for the whole conversation with the serpent, Adam obviously was as convinced as Eve. Their resulting newfound knowledge, real and terrible and amazing, caused them to realize things about themselves and their life and their situation that must have terrified them. By the time God appeared for His daily walk in The Garden with His two most amazing creations, Adam and Eve were hiding in the bushes.
Do you think God asked all His questions of Adam and Eve because He didn’t know the answers? “Where are you? … Who told you you were naked? … Did you eat from that tree I told you not to eat from? … What is this that you’ve done?” (Genesis 3:9-12 MSG) Doesn’t He sound like a disappointed parent dealing with a pair of disobedient children? Maybe God asked His questions not to find out what happened, but to hear how the two would answer.
Knowledge can be a terrible thing. It involves the loss of innocence and the understanding of the harsh realities of life. We protect our children from sexual predators, violence in the media, and drugs. And yet, when the unthinkable occurs and the knowledge breeches all of our carefully established boundaries, we cannot go back in time and replace the innocence lost. Once it is gone, it is gone forever. We know that today and God knew it back then. The event that He knew was coming - the loss of companionship with His precious creation - had happened. Now the damage control needed to be done. Stipulations and new rules needed to be written. New policies and accommodations made. Childhood innocence was forever vanished.
Despite all that love and perfection.
The Defining Moment … How can we survive tragedy?
Have you ever made a choice that resulted in joblessness, homelessness, and the complete destruction of everything you considered familiar? That is what Adam and Eve faced as they were forced by God to leave The Garden. Standing outside The Garden’s entrance, wearing clothes of animal skins, the realization of the consequences of their choice would have been crushing. Turning back to look at the entrance to The Garden they would have seen “mighty angelic beings” stationed as guards to keep them from ever returning. (Genesis 3:24) No second chances here.
I guess, had all this happened today and the choices a partner made in a relationship caused disasters such as homelessness, joblessness and unbelievable pain and suffering, the two could divorce citing “irreconcilable differences.” As it was, Adam and Eve had to stick together or die out in the harsh realities of the big, bad world, because they literally had no one to lean on but each other.
Which could lead to a second scenario where Adam spent their remaining years together making comments (blatant or subtle) about “how things used to be …,” and “remember how nice it was …,” and “before you got us in trouble ….” As a result Eve would have become angry, bitter, and resentful of his behavior: “Adam, are you ever going to let this go and just move on?” In addition, as life has a tendency to do, the life of Adam and Eve had a significant amount of additional sorrow and disaster ahead. Things were pretty bad, but they weren’t really going to get too much better. At least not like it had been when they were perfect and lived in paradise. This union, so wonderful and full of promise at the start, had the makings of one enormous train wreck.
But even though Adam and Eve sinned, got thrown out of paradise and faced innumerable additional hardships over the course of their lives, they were and always remained a couple expressly designed for each other by God. God did not design Eve from the dust of the earth as He did Adam, but from Adam himself. God intended for them to be as one. The creative work of the creation of mankind were not complete until there was both a male and female counterpart. (Genesis 2:18) Marriage is synonymous with the term oneness.
Adam and Eve showed all of us that even with the quality of being perfect, the ability to exercise free will does not guarantee a happily-ever-after ending. After their first big mistake, Adam and Eve had to decide to make their life together work. They could sit down in the dust and cry, waiting for death to claim them. And it would have. The consequences of our actions rarely disappear even once we clue in and get on the right path: prison sentences still must be served, children conceived out of wedlock do not disappear, sexually transmitted diseases don’t fade away, and reputations often live longer than we do. While God does forgive and completely forget, we must learn to live with the results of our actions.
And that is where new opportunities to shine arise. You see, at any point along the path we can change our hearts and renew our goals and begin to make God smile by our choices. At any point.
I particularly hold dear the part of the story in which Adam named Eve. You see, up until the point where the two exit The Garden they are both known to God simply as “Adam” – human. (Genesis 5:2) Adam, up until this point, had simply referred to Eve as “Woman.” (Genesis 2:23) But standing outside paradise, chastised and alone, facing absolute and complete uncertainty, Adam felt compelled to rename his woman.
What would you have named the person who caused your career to end, your house to burn to the ground, and the most precious relationship you could ever hope to have to be permanently altered? “Disaster?” “She Who Listens to Snakes?” “I Told You So?” No, Adam looked at his partner, the woman God had made expressly for him and him alone, and recommitted to her amidst the smoking rubble they were standing in. He called her Eve, “The Mother of All Living.” (Genesis 3:20) He recognized that they were in this together, this partnership was until death parted them, and that either one without the other was worthless. Adam loved Eve, he did not blame her, he was committed to her, and he acknowledged this with the name he gave her.
Consequences … Awww, do I have to?
Let’s take a look at the consequences of Adam and Eve’s disobedience in The Garden. God took each aspect of The Fall and dealt with it precisely and matter–of–factly.
Eve pointed a finger at the serpent when God inquired as to how she could have so blatantly disobeyed Him. “The serpent tricked me,” she said, “that’s why I ate it.” (Genesis 3:13)
To the serpent, God said, "Because you've done this, you're cursed, cursed beyond all cattle and wild animals, cursed to slink on your belly and eat dirt all your life.” (Genesis 3:14 MSG) What do you take from this? Since God is completely fair, I’m forced to conclude that the serpent, “shrewdest of all the creatures the Lord God had made” (Genesis 3:1) had some fault in all this. It was not an innocent creature, possessed by Satan, unable to withstand being used. However, it was in paradise that consequences for its involvement with Satan’s deception resulted in its absolute reversal of fortunes. No longer shrewd, no longer above cattle and wild animals, no longer superior in appearance or style of living, the punishment for the serpent removed all traces of its ability for an advanced state. If God did that to an animal of limited intellectual knowledge, we can begin to understand how He feels with wicked and disobedient human beings gifted with His very own image.
To the woman, God said, “You will suffer terribly when you give birth. But you will still desire your husband, and he will rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16 CEV) Pain and pleasure: that desire to be unified and one with your mate will result in pain and possible death giving birth to the children you conceive. Still charged with the responsibility to “be fruitful and multiply” and ingrained with all the physical and emotional qualities that go along with those desires, the final difficult result of childbirth will rest only with the woman. How could it have been in paradise before the fall if this is the revision after the fall? Man, wouldn’t I just love to know!
Additionally, the equality initiated in paradise between man and woman will shift. No longer will male and female work easily in a unified, identical position, but forever there will be the concept of one being better, stronger, more superior and powerful. Women will always seem to get the short end of the stick and man will always seem to be control the rules. Remember the next time someone implies a woman shouldn’t teach a man or become a minister … this was not God’s plan for us. (Christ, during His ministry here on earth was an outspoken supporter of women and their importance in His plan.)
For Adam, God said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate the fruit I told you not to eat, I have placed a curse on the ground. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. All your life you will sweat to produce food, until your dying day. Then you will return to the ground from which you came. For you were made from dust, and to the dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:17-19) No longer will work be a joyful, fulfilling experience. Now it will become a difficult job and absolutely necessary for survival. Besides life-sustaining fruits and vegetables, weeds and thorns will infiltrate your harvest causing complications and disasters. The pressures of providing, the fear of starvation, the specter of failure will haunt you right up until the moment of your death. Welcome to the school of hard knocks.
What cannot be overlooked, however, amid the smoking ruins of paradise lost, is the first glimpse of a way out. Yes, yes the path is much longer, dangerous, and tortuous now. Yes, had we been obedient and remained God-focused we would have achieved this glorious end with much more joy and efficiency. But, hey, Adam and Eve were given the ability to pick Door Number One or Door Number Two and they chose … the wrong door. To the serpent, God says, “I'm declaring war between you and the Woman, between your offspring and hers. He'll wound your head, you'll wound his heel." (Genesis 3:15 MSG)
Did you catch that? God issued a formal declaration of war on Satan in The Garden. Satan may have thrown down his gauntlet, he may have succeeded in successfully tempting God’s precious creations, but God was not willing to concede anything. “You may cause pain and discomfort to Eve and her descendants, but Eve’s offspring will deliver a death blow to you.” (ST) Did Satan’s fall begin when he moved to encourage Eve to disobey? Was Satan’s fall sometime before all this, but was the instance in The Garden Satan’s first blatant adversarial confrontation with God? Had the battle between Satan and God begun long before the creation of The Garden with Satan taking one third of the angels of heaven with him? (Revelations 12:3-4) More questions we’ll never know the answers to, probably.
Always remember this: no matter how bad things seem to be (and for Adam and Eve you’ve got to admit things were just about as horrible as they could get), God is in charge.
Relax, everyone. It’s all under control.
The End … Or is it the beginning?
And how did Eve react? I suppose she could have gotten righteously indignant once the dust settled and Adam and she stared at each other outside The Garden’s gates. Hand on hip and finger pointed in accusation, Eve could have shouted, “Why didn’t you stop me?” “Why didn’t you remind me not to touch the fruit?” “Why did you tell God I gave you the fruit?” In addition, Eve could have whined, “Why couldn’t He have given us a second chance?” “All the hard work, all the obedience, all we’ve faithfully done for Him and we mess up once and this is what we get?” “The punishment is too harsh! I was only trying to better myself!” “I hate God.” “I’m done with God.” Eve could have done the blame game and spent countless years refusing to face reality. She made a choice despite clear instructions to the contrary, and now she must deal with the consequences.
I don’t think Eve did that. I believe that Adam and Eve, no longer perfect but still a team, trudged off into the sunset determined to recommit and determined to refocus. Let’s face it, they knew exactly what they had lost. Faced with the inevitability of their situation they began to work towards survival and obedience, and with all their newly acquired knowledge, nothing would be as easy as it once had been before. Innocence lost means guilt acquired. The consequences were that they now bore the responsibility for their choices, their situation, and their future. All now rested on their shoulders. Welcome to … hell.
Both Adam and Eve faded pretty quickly from the scene once they were banned from The Garden. But there was one last glimpse of them as a couple, and so I’m led to believe that this must have been the most important thing we, as readers of this journal entry, must take away from this story. The Bible recorded them making love and conceiving a child. Actually, it’s a little less romantically stated. “Now Adam had sexual relations with his wife, Eve, and she became pregnant.” (Genesis 4:1) But then Moses wasn’t competing for Top Romance Author of the Year award. What was it like for Adam and Eve to discover that they were going to have a child? I’m sure they had all the wonder and fear that comes with that discovery. Did both Adam and Eve remember the consequences of God’s anger over their disobedience? Did Adam think, “How am I going to provide for a baby when I’m having enough trouble making ends meet for just Eve and me?” Did Eve think, “What is pain? Will I suffer long? Surely the child will be born healthy and strong? Can I do this?” Once again it was an experience that they went through together.
Together, Adam and Eve would weather the first murder between their sons Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:8) and would deal with God’s punishment of Cain when he was banished to exist as a homeless fugitive for the remaining days of his life. (Genesis 4:11-12) They would follow God’s directive and be fruitful and multipl, giving birth to countless male and female children.
At Cain’s birth was the last biblically recorded thing that Eve said: “With the LORD’s help, I have produced a man!” (Genesis 4:1b) Or, “God has given me another Adam!” (ST) Obviously, the circumstances of Eve’s life had not taken God out of the equation. She attributed the wonderful occurrence of the birth of her child to God’s help. Eve’s life was radically different from when she first started out, but she had chosen to not exclude God when things had become less than perfect. She still knew that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them (Romans 8:28) because she had seen both sides of that coin. And because of this, Eve kept God as a part of her life and of her relationship with the guy she loved.
For all you Eves out there …
So, what lessons can you apply to your life from the account of Eve and whom she hooked up with? First and foremost you must remember what Adam and Eve’s perfection was based on. Nothing external. It was all internal. Their perfection was gone in the blink of an eye the moment they both chose not to allow God to rule their hearts and minds.
Eve started out hooked up with God, but then fell away from that perfect relationship. Blessed with her soul mate, Adam, she was able to get back on track and work towards getting back to the right relationship she needed to have with The One True God. We, as descendants of Adam and Eve, are creatures with an identical capacity for personal thought and childlike understanding. We also have the same God-given ability to choose to seek perfection … or not.
I like the way the apostle Paul talked about perfection. “I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Philippians 3:12-14)
Forgetting the past …
Looking forward to what is ahead …
Pressing on to reach … the heavenly prize …
Sounds like a plan, doesn’t it?
Good Choices and Bad: Remember, Eve was wrong for her initial actions, but Adam was just as wrong for saying nothing to stop her. Doing nothing is doing something. Not speaking up and voicing The Truth or not correcting a wrong when it is being committed makes you culpable. Culpable as in “deserving of blame or censure, as being wrong, evil, improper, or injurious.” (www.freeonlinedictionary.com)
Exemption: Being superior in appearance, position, or ability does not excuse our guilt. Just as God created the serpent to be cleverer than any of the other creatures He had made, He also sentenced that same creature to eat dirt and die. Never, ever should any of us become complacent about our place within God’s plan. We are necessary for what we can do for His greater glory and design, and nothing more. As soon as we pursue our own agenda we are spectacularly and frighteningly alone and undefended.
Focus: Being perfect does not guarantee that you won’t make mistakes. In fact, it might actually blind you into a false sense of complacency, so that when disaster sneaks up on you you don’t even recognize it until after it’s too late. Psalm 57:1-3 gives a good standard for how you should approach every step of your life:
Recognize You Can’t Do It On Your Own:
Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy! I look to you for protection.
Know Where To Go In Times Of Trouble:
I will hide beneath the shadow of your wings until the danger passes by.
Know Whom To Ask For Advice:
I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill His purpose for me.
Recognize Where True Power Lies:
He will send help from heaven to rescue me, disgracing those who hound me.
Understand The Reasons Behind It All:
My God will send forth his unfailing love and faithfulness.
Believe: The person that you are is exactly the person God needs you to be. You must believe that for what God needs you to do right this very minute: You. Are. Just. Perfect. For. God. Right. Now. Your only flaws are the ones you perceive in yourself that keep you from following through with what God wants you to do. Rick Warren in his book A Purpose Driven Life says, “God never does anything accidentally, and He never makes mistakes.” Stop focusing on what you’re missing and concentrate on all you’ve got to offer.
Forgive: Don’t. Keep. Score. Dwelling on past mistakes prevents you from forging ahead positively into the future. You must learn to let go of your past failures as well as your mate’s. God forgot your disasters as soon as you asked His forgiveness. Why can’t you? King David, an abject failure as a husband and father but also known as “the man after God’s own heart,” sang about forgiveness in Psalm 32 (vs. 1-3 MSG):
Count yourself lucky, how happy you must be - you get a fresh start, your slate's wiped clean.
Count yourself lucky - GOD holds nothing against you when you're holding nothing back from Him.
Trust: Just as Adam and Eve were provided with the perfect mate, you too have one out there somewhere in the world. And no, before you ask, I don’t believe you can find him or her on your own. That’s where faith comes in: believing in something that you can’t see or touch. Commit to pray for this person, commit to wait for this person, commit to believe that this person is doing the same for you, and commit to not settling for anyone less than the very best. Trust me, it will be worth the wait.
Commit: Be determined to find the perfect heavenly-fashioned companion for yourself or work to create that sort of relationship with the person you are already with. He or she may not be as easily acquired as Adam found Eve, and yet you have every reason to believe that God’s plan and desire for you is nothing less than “a perfect match.” Remember what Adam and Eve had in common that promoted their success: a like-minded spiritual focus, a similar passion for the environment in which they chose to live, a joint attitude of commitment, love and forgiveness, and a relationship rooted in innocence and purity.
Remain Vigilant: Even the most perfect relationships must be nurtured and prized. Kind words never go out of fashion, loving expressions are always appreciated, and thoughtful signs of appreciation are never wasted. Even if your mate is not yet suitable for the “perfect” category, what areas are pretty close? Have you shared that with him or her lately? Temptation to become complacent is a danger we cannot afford. Temptation in and of itself is not wrong. Giving in to temptation is the problem.
Stay Faithful: Oswald Chambers says that, “Faith is the heroic effort of your life.” It’s pretty easy to be pleased with God when things are going well in your life and just as easy to blame God when things go down the tubes. You cannot be casual about your faith-walk in the day-to-day existence of your life only to become intensely spiritual when things start to get rocky. Your relationship with God is either a committed, loving relationship or it is a casual acquaintance. You and only you must set the standards.
Love: Remember that the dominating emotion that was the force behind the creation of this world was love. Operating within that emotion towards yourself first and foremost, and then towards all others, redefines the world you live in.
How well do you know yourself?
If you are unsure of what you want out of your life then you are on shaky ground trying to hook up with someone. Spend a few moments and work on the next few pages, which will make you think about yourself spiritually, emotionally, socially, and physically. Once you complete this list concerning yourself, you need to think about who will complement you best. What about your mate or the mate of your dreams? Do you know what you need? What you should be looking for? What qualities would ensure your success as a couple? Prayerfully and seriously consider these things. Don’t just reach into the dating basket, randomly choose someone, and settle. Your choice of a mate should be based on what God has given you and whom He would choose to be the best mate for you.
Homework … What makes you a uniquely perfect person?
Think about the person that you are, the person that God has specially designed. What makes you unique? Note that I did not ask what makes you perfect or superior or particularly wonderful in the world’s eyes. I don’t want comparisons. I’m simply asking what makes you you? What makes you precious? What makes you one of a kind?
You must begin to value and appreciate the person you are, the person God has created that is you. Embracing the uniqueness of yourself and delighting in the differences you have from everyone else is the first step towards being a vital person in any relationship, with mates, friends, colleagues, strangers, and most importantly, God.
Becoming perfect is like eating an elephant – seemingly impossible. But have you ever heard that joke? How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. The steps to becoming perfect in God’s eyes begin by looking at yourself as God sees you and recognizing the things God has given you to enable you to do your job here on earth. Once you begin to value what you have and what you are capable of, then God begins to use you in marvelous and wonderful ways. Being really, truly perfect involves being focused solely on God and using all of your God-given strengths and weaknesses to His greater glory. That’s a perfect life.
Oswald Chamber said, “God will never reveal more truth about Himself until you have obeyed what you know already.” Eve’s disobedience was based on her desire to be more than God had made her to be.
Take a few moments and do the next couple of pages on your own or with a trusted friend. Let me introduce you to a potentially perfect person … you.
THE SOCIAL ME
What are the qualities that define you to the world? What strengths, passions, and abilities has God-given you to direct you to the place where He can use you best?
The social person you are determines where God plans to use you in the world.
Socially – WHERE You Belong
What do the people you consider friends say about the person that you are?
What words would others use to describe you?
What do colleagues think of you? Friends?
Circle words below that describe the social person you are.
There are no right or wrong answers. There are only words that describe. Feel free to add some additional words!!
Outgoing Reserved Flirty Loyal
Good listener Sound Advisor Loner Social butterfly
Silly Wise Advisor Advice seeker
Extrovert Introvert Confidante Gossip
Reliable Unreliable Life of the office Obedient
Dependable Flighty Funny Serious
Organized Disorganized Innovative Staid
Honest Exaggerator Friendly Confrontational
Dreamer Planner Listener Talker
Problem solver Problem maker Available Avoider
Optimistic Worrier Quiet Loud
Opinionated Unopinionated Friendly Colleague
Focused Confused Driven Relaxed
Dependent Independent Maverick Obedient
THE EMOTIONAL ME
What is your unique emotional make up? What do you have to offer that no one else has? What words describe the type of emotional individual you are? Remember that you have the God-given ability to reach certain people that no one else can.
The emotional person you are determines whom you can best connect with as God uses you over the course of your life.
Emotionally – WHOM You Can Reach
How do you react emotionally toward yourself and others?
What words describe your emotional state at the very best of times?
What words describe your emotional state at the very worst of times?
Emotional Cool Compassionate Hardened
Quick to laugh Quick to cry Carries a grudge Forgiving
Angry Calm Withdrawn Brave
Serious Funny Happy Depressed
Good in stress Bad in stress Let it go Talk it out
Listener Talker Sympathetic Unfeeling
Impatient Patient Articulate Inarticulate
Thoughtful Delusional Cool headed Cool hearted
Use the words above, or some of your own, to describe what you are like in the …
Best of Times?
Worst of Times?
THE PHYSICAL ME
What God-given skills or talents do you have that distinguish you from others? How do you enjoy yourself? What do you define as fun? God wants to use these times of your greatest enjoyment for His purposes.
The person you are physically determines how God plans to use you to His greatest glory.
Physically – HOW You Perform
What do your free time activities say about how “young you feel”?
Do you have a goal or desire physically that you feel you could attain if you simply put more effort into it?
Circle the words that describe both the physical person that you currently are as well as the physical person you would like to be.
Feel free to add some additional word