Thought For The Week
WHAT IS HUMAN?
Deceived and confused by Satan’s treacherous misrepresentations of God and truth the first humans disobeyed God.
There had been only one prohibitive command:
‘… you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die’ [Genesis 2:17].
Created in God’s image, Adam and Eve had the freedom to act by choice, within the realms of what is possible. This freedom included the freedom to obey and the freedom to disobey, a freedom neither the inanimate world nor the animate world possessed. This simple command identifies the uniqueness of humans on the earth. By this simple prohibition they are commanded to live in a positive, responsible, dependent relationship with God by choice.
In the pristine glory of Genesis 1 and 2 only this one command gives any indication that something was possible other than the perfection of this flawless world and the flawless relationship that existed between God and humans, something that did not at that time exist.
God did not create us sinners. But in creating us free, unprogrammed, undetermined creatures he created us with the ability, the possibility, to sin.
God did not create sin. But in giving the word of prohibition ‘but you must not eat ...’ God implied by this prohibition and exclusion that sin was possible.
God did not cause sin. But his words ‘for when you eat of it’, indicate that he knew that sin would happen.
God did not create suffering. But by stating the consequences of sin – ‘you will surely die’ - he revealed that suffering was possible, and that it would happen, when we chose disobedience.
Let us note that sin had no independent existence or reality of its own: it existed only as a possibility dependent on our choosing to disobey the word of prohibition. Sin – our disobedience to the divine command, our refusal of the fundamental creature-Creator distinction and roles, our refusal to love God – is something to which God said ‘No.’ So also are all the flow-on effects of sin – all the sadness, all the suffering.
Here in Genesis 1 and 2 there was no sin. There were no sinners. There was no disobedience. Here in Genesis 1 and 2 we had the ability to obey God or disobey God: to continue to exist in positive relationship with God, or to rebel against God. The choice was ours.
The choice to stand with God and his command, and so to live.
The choice to turn from God and his command, and so to die.
In Adam and Eve, we humans chose disobedience:
We deliberately said ‘no’ to God’s command.
We deliberately said ‘no’ to God’s authority over us.
We deliberately rejected the word of God.
We deliberately rejected God.
We deliberately disobeyed.
Blinded by Satan’s deceptions we understood God’s prohibition as:
God keeping something good from us rather than God prohibiting something bad.
God being anti-human rather than God outlawing human suffering.
But God’s prohibition of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was a prohibition with our well-being in mind. This is obvious from the stated consequence ‘you will surely die’. Here God is saying ‘no’ to sin, ‘no’ to suffering, ‘no’ to death. Here God is saying ‘no’ to humans ever knowing what evil is. Here God is excluding all sin and all suffering. Here God is outlawing all of the human pain that inevitably follows when humans try to live without him and his word. God created us to live in connection with him. He is our source, our life, our goal, our glory. Without him we disintegrate.
Here in Genesis 3 we chose disobedience.
From this point on we know evil:
We know the evil of sin.
We know the evil of pain.
We know the evil of all suffering.
We know the evil of death.
We know the evil of disconnection from our Maker.
All that God said ‘No’ to we said ‘Yes’ to.
That was our choice here in this act of original disobedience. And that is our choice every time we disobey the word of God.
The heart of God cries out in grief over the catastrophic foolishness of our disobedience and calls us back into that relationship with him for which we were created:
‘O, that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears!
I would weep day and night for the slain of my people.’ [Jeremiah 9:1]
‘Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!’ [Ezekiel 18:31,32]
‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?’ [Ezekiel 33:11]
‘Seek the LORD and live’ [Amos 5:6].
© Rosemary Bardsley 2013, 2016