“The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Gen 2:15-17, ESV)
Here we have a look back, to the beginning–the first Adam, as Paul puts it. Its a look back from our study in Zephaniah. I would like to suggest (humanly speaking) that Zephaniah would have never been spoken or written if only our most early of predecessors would have chosen on that day to “surely live.” But chapter 3 of Genesis does begin, however, with “now,” introducing the next phase in man’s relating with God. And anyone familiar with Old Testament knows what happened next: the fall.
The fall? Wait. What fall? The verb fall doesn’t appear in chapter 3. No. What happened is what the LORD God said would happen: the death. And that death manifest itself in the opening of eyes and a new knowledge. And now the presence of the LORD God invoked fear; it invokes shame. So…we hide.
And to this day we hide. And for good reasons. After all, this world has demonstrated its cruelty and unpredictability, both through people and the creation itself. Or it could be that you lament over your own instability. You, who confess love for God, see daily reminders of your duplicity. You are burdened by the weariness brought about by your own efforts to match the concept of love with the manifestation of love. You can’t pull it off. You realize that you are backed into a corner. Trapped within yourself. Inescapable. You beg for a place to hide from your thoughts, from yourself, from this world, from…God.
“What is man, that you make so much of him, and that you set your heart on him,
visit him every morning and test him every moment?
How long will you not look away from me, nor leave me alone till I swallow my spit?
If I sin, what do I do to you, you watcher of mankind?
Why have you made me your mark?
Why have I become a burden to you?”
Job 7:17-20, ESV.
Reality is defined as the state of things as they actually exist (in contrast to a notion). Reality is the sun. Reality is the earth. Reality is the ocean. Reality is the breath issuing from your mouth as you read this. These are not notions of existence. And if I look for the death in Gen 3, I see it manifested in hiding. Hiding is an effort to escape from reality. It’s a desire to alter, change, redefine, rearrange, the state of things as they actually exist by intentionally redefining, refusing, or ignoring things as they actually are. It a striving for a notion of existence. Its living a lie. It’s the antithesis of life. It’s death.
But BEHOLD GOD!! See how he calls us from the shadows! How he still condescends to our early mother and father in their duplicity, instability, corruption, lies, and shame. Behold how God shies not from the proclamation of truth and consequences; from reality!
BEHOLD GOD!!! He draws near, nevertheless! He draws near!
“And the LORD God made
for Adam and for his wife
garments of skins
and he clothed them.
Oh…see. See him clothe them in their death. See him clothe us.
“And they came to Jesus and saw the demon-possessed man, the one who had the legion,
and in his right mind…”
Mark 5:15, ESV
Allow God to be as He is in Zephaniah. Allow Him to hate death. Allow Him to finish what He began so long ago. Allow Him to bring you back to Himself. Allow Him to clothe you with the garment of His choosing. Simply allow Him. And,
Let your joy be the expression…
Let your peace be the expression…
Let you love be the expression…
Let your thankfulness be the expression…
Let your trust be the expression…
Let your zeal be the expression…
“Your will be done.”
Draw near to God.