Man’s Connection to the Land – Part 4

In a recent series we have been looking at man’s connection to the land as he was created from the dust of the ground and made in the image of God. We’ve reached the point where we’ve seen how restrictions were placed over man’s rule and reign, limiting him to what could and couldn’t be eaten, namely the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the realm being localized in a temple-like garden. As may be familiar to most, the prohibitions given to man (and woman) were soon violated, in a rather surprising manner.

In Genesis 3, noting of course the commands to be fruitful and multiply, subduing and taking dominion, as well as not eating from the Tree of Knowledge as we have seen, we find Eve confronted by a serpent who is described in the following way, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.” (Gen. 3:1) This is a significant statement because man was charged with subduing and taking dominion over the three realms of creation, “fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Gen. 1:28 Already it would appear that man has abdicated his rule and reign, allowing the shrewd serpent to have latitude with the woman within the realm that he was given to guard.

As the serpent approaches the woman, we find that not only is he crafty, but he can also communicate. Surprisingly no red flags are recorded as a first response, instead we find that the serpent begins by bringing doubt into the mind of the woman in asserting, “Did God really say,” and then following with a distortion of what God actually said, “…you shall not eat of the fruit trees in the garden?”. Key for us is to remember Satan’s methods of doubt and distortion concerning the word of God. This was the manner in which he first approached mankind and it was the same manner in which he approached our Lord in Matthew 4:1-11. As the conversation between the serpent and the woman continues, we find that not only has the serpent distorted God’s Word, but the woman relays back to the serpent a distortion of the original restrictions that were given to man, “but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.” With this, we can begin to see how the situation is spiraling. The original commands and restrictions are being distorted and broken, naturally then it would not be long before the one with consequences attached would indeed be violated.

Continuing to press the temptation further, the serpent again doubts God’s Word by telling the woman she would not surely die, then holds out the alternative of being like God in knowing good from evil. In this second pattern of Satan’s deception, we observe that He presents the bait but hides the hook (see Thomas Brooks’ Satan’s Devices). The irony of the serpent’s words in holding out the benefit of being like God is that man was created in the image of God to serve as both His representative and representation on earth, as we have seen. As the temptation concludes its consummation with the woman’s desires, “the woman saw that the tree was”:

  • Good for food (lust of the flesh; 1 John 2:16a)
  • Delighted the eyes (lust of the eyes; 1 John 2:16b)
  • Desirable for wisdom (pride of life; 1 John 2:16c)

As the passage in Genesis 3:6 describes the woman’s desires, now copulated with the serpent’s temptation, we read that she takes the fruit from the tree, eats, and then shares it with her husband who was beside her, and he ate also thereby giving birth to sin. If we had been wondering up to this point where God’s vice-regent, the one who had been given command and responsibility to rule over creation, had been during this episode, it’s now become clear. He was standing with the woman, presumably the entire time, yet we are given no commentary from him, no intervention, no execution of the guardianship he had been commanded. In that moment, prior to consuming of the fruit, man’s responsibility would have been to kill the serpent. This would have been a faithful duty in defending his reign, thereby his wife, guarding his realm, and positively obeying the command not to consume fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. But he failed, on every account.

The immediate response of the married couple upon eating the fruit was that “their eyes were opened”, they recognized now that they were naked, attempted to make a covering, and feared the presence of God. The harmonious relationship man was given with the land, all that he had been entrusted with, to responsibly keep and guard, subdue and take dominion, be fruitful and multiply, had now been broken. The question for us to answer next time is how this disobedience and these failures effects man’s connection to the land.

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Christian saved by grace through faith.

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