Ruined and Restored
The Highlands of Scotland are full of castles which are no longer inhabited. In the evening sunlight, it’s not difficult to recognize that at one time these must have been magnificent places. Although they no longer have windows or tapestries, much less residents, the splendor of these ancient structures speaks to their former glory, even in their now-ruined condition.
This world is full of ruined glory, for this world is full of people. Adam and Eve were the apex of God’s creative handiwork, and He was absolutely satisfied with them. They were created with an inclination to do good. But in lusting after a throne they could never inhabit—God’s throne—they found themselves degraded, losing the place and the privileges they were created to enjoy.
In tempting Eve, the serpent’s first strategy was to cast doubt on what God had said, subtly challenging the truthfulness of His word—and she succumbed. She believed the lie that God could not be trusted to do good. Having sown the seed of doubt, the serpent then watered it with ambition. Once a hint of uncertainty began to fill Eve’s mind, pride’s appeal was more than she could withstand.
Eating the fruit was wrong simply because God had said not to eat it. Yet the opportunity for immediate gratification seemed to anesthetize Adam and Eve from the painful consequences of their future actions and the ruin that would come upon the splendor they knew. Then, as if the disobedience itself weren’t bad enough, amid deception and disobedience, they sought to deny responsibility.
Like Adam and Eve, we, too, are prone to assume that we, and not God, are the final judges of truth. Once we have decided to seek to remove the Creator God, who speaks an authoritative and true word, we deny Him the right to command our obedience. But when we reject God’s rule, we don’t become our own masters; we simply put ourselves under the rule of a whole host of lesser masters: deceit, darkness, despair, and death.
“What is this that you have done?” We have all believed the lie that our way is better than God’s. But He has gone to the extent of sending His Son in order that the hardness of our rebellion might be overwhelmed by His kindness, which “is better than life” (Psalm 63:3). He has shone His word right into our hearts, that we might see His splendor now and forevermore, and that we might be remade in His image and restored to the glory God always intended His image-bearing creatures to have. Seeing His goodness and coming under His rule are what liberates us from the mastery of deceit, darkness, despair, and, yes, even death.
1Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You1 shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 4But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,2 she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
8And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool3 of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?”4 10And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
14The Lord God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock
and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
15I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring5 and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”
16To the woman he said,
“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be for6 your husband,
and he shall rule over you.”
17And to Adam he said,
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
19By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”
20The man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.7 21And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.
22Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.
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