Hello faithful friends,
I am going to deviate from my normal format of Bible Study today if that’s OK. I have been mulling over our study a lot while I have been incapacitated. And one thing I have realized is that I have been missing yet another component in my understanding of what God was doing in developing man’s faith in the Old Testament. I have been missing the element of God’s relationship with man.
So, while I have been sitting for long hours in my Lazy Boy, I have been back-tracking and reviewing the role God’s relationship with man plays into what we have been talking about regarding learning to walk by Faith. So, in this email, I would like to just go back to the beginning and look at a few things in relation to God’s relationship with man.
Let me start with a few questions to get you thinking, then I’ll share what the Lord has been teaching me.
- What makes a good friendship?
- What were God’s words to Adam after he created him? (Gen 1:28-30) Was there any indication God expected servitude?
- Does Genesis 2 describe God’s relationship with man more like a Dictatorship or friendship? How?
- Why did God put the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden, if they were not to eat of it? What did this do for God?
- We know what the consequences of Adam and Eves choice was for them, what were the consequences of allowing them to choose for God? Why did He give them a choice?
- How did God’s relationship with man change after Adam and Eve’s bad choice?
- Why did God send them out of the garden according to Gen 3:22? What does this show about God’s desire for a relationship
God’s original design
When God created us in the very beginning, He did create us to represent Him and to display His image on earth. But, God also desires for us to be His friends. He didn’t need us, He was perfect and complete without us. But, He created us so he could have a relationship with u.
What makes a good friendship?
- Unconditional love
After God created Adam, He did not say, “Adam, I created you. I am your Lord. Now you have to serve and worship me!” He did not demand that Adam follow and obey Him nor did God demand man be thankful and praise me!” God did not say any of that. He could have. He was after all their creator, and as creator, he was technically their owner, and had the right to do with them as he pleased. But, God desired a relationship, not a dictatorship.
After God created Adam, God placed him in the garden, maybe even in front of the Tree of Life, and told him to freely eat of all the fruit of the trees in the garden, except one. He therefore encouraged them to eat from the Tree of Life. God’s desire was to have a relationship that lasted forever!
Man was created and placed in the garden for the purpose of sharing a true love relationship with his creator God. A necessary component for a true love relationship is free will. By definition, true love cannot exist apart from free will. Unless we have the ability to choose, there is no capacity for true love. Love is not an emotion. Love is a choice, a decision, to put the object of your affection’s desires above your own. God gave man the ability to choose – to choose to love God by putting His desire for relationship above their desire to eat the fruit of the one tree God had forbidden them to eat from.
The tree provided them with an opportunity to choose. With this one tree, this one rule, the one little ol’ tree, in the middle of their paradise home where they were told they could eat everything else, they now had the awareness of right and wrong, they had a boundary that God as their creator had given them, and they had a choice. The choice is what made willing love possible. The fact that the tree was in the garden, made continual love possible through the continuous choice they had to make.
This was man’s choice. God was not forcing man to choose. He freely allowed man to choose. God made the consequences of their choice clear. But, God was not forcing them to choose, nor would he prohibit them from making the wrong choice. That is love. God loved them enough to allow them to make the wrong choice. Ultimately, God desired for them to choose to love Him back, completely out of their choice and not because they were obligated to in any way.
God’s love conditional??
Was this a condition on God’s love? NO!! God’s love was constant. He loved them regardless of their choice! The choice enabled a reciprocal love relationship with Adam and Eve. And, allowing Satan to tempt them, forced them to make a choice!
God knew that their wrong choice would cost Him dearly…
- It would cost Him the life of His only Son, Jesus!
- It would cost the potential of evil being in the world.
- It would mean that bad things would happen to good people.
- It would mean that He would need to enforce the consequences of their wrong choice.
Those were the consequences God faced by allowing them to choose. His love compelled him to allow them to choose him, out of their own free will, and not force them to make that choice. Love is a choice, it’s not something that can be required or demanded. That is the kind of relationship that God desired.
God still desired a relationship after the fall.
I have always heard and I have taught it myself, that the death described in Gen 2:16-17 is a 3 fold death. Death of the body and Eternal death and Death of the relationship.
- Death to the body: At the moment they ate the fruit, their bodies began to age, and therefore more toward death. Like a branch plugged from a tree while the leaves are green, eventually being separated from the source of life, the leaves will turn brown and fall off. That’s how it was for Adam and Eve.
- Eternal Death: Their sin now gave them a debt which could only be paid by their own death and separation from God for eternity.
- Death to the relationship. God is holy, he cannot have sin in his presence. Therefore man could no longer remain in the presence of God. So, God kicked man out of the garden he created for them, away from His presence and away from the tree of life.
Now, as I look at this in light of a relationship with God, I think my understanding of #3 is not quite correct. Before God kicked them out, he provided a means of reconciliation… death of the animal… blood as an atonement… he covered them with the skin of the animal picturing that he was covering their nakedness, shame and their sin. The animal represented the future, when God would one day provide the ultimate sacrifice to take care of their sin debt once and for all.
But, when Adam and Eve left the garden, was the relationship severed? Were they completely cut off from God? I don’t believe it was.
What was God’s reason for sending them out of the garden?
Does it say anything about the relationship? (Genesis 3:22) “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and live forever..” God was having mercy on Adam and Eve, not wanting them to live forever in their sin. Yes, it did mean that they would die physically, and without God’s intervention, they would face eternal death and separation from God for eternity. But the same love the compelled God to allow them to choose, did not desire for them to live with those consequences for all eternity. Because He loved them, He had already chosen to provide a way to pay their eternal sin debt and to restore the relationship.
While Adam and Eve chose to reject him, God chose to love them and to provide a way to pay for their rebellion. Ultimately, God still desired a relationship! When He removed them from the garden, He was NOT cutting off the relationship, He was providing a means by which the relationship could be restored, and by which they could be with him for eternity.
As we learned from the illustration from Ian Thomas regarding the Grand Piano of our hearts; in the garden, God’s presence was with Adam and Eve, but His Spirit, I believe also dwelt in them. When Adam and Eve sinned, the Spirit could no longer reside in man because of their sin. So, they became spiritually dead. So, the 3rd death, instead of calling it the death to the relationship, should maybe be called, “Spiritual Death” seeing it was really the exit of the Spirit. But, God’s presence did not leave them all alone, the relationship was not completely severed. God still loved them and desired the relationship for which He created them. Because of the consequences of their sin, they now had a condition (the need to offer a sacrifice as a covering for their sin) in order to enjoy that relationship with God. That condition was a constant reminder of their wrong choice, and also a reminder of God’s loving choice to provide a means for the relationship to continue. The condition (the blood sacrifice) was a visual representation of man’s choice to love God and receive his forgiveness, in order to enjoy the relationship.
The sacrifice was the means by which they received forgiveness, but it also represented God’s desire for a relationship with them. It displayed that, even though Adam and Eve had chosen to reject God’s offer for relationship, God did not give up. He provided a means of forgiveness, and through the sacrifice was offering a love relationship again. When they chose to bring a sacrifice, they were not doing so as a work to maintain the relationship, they were coming out of love, expressing their love for God in their desire to display his image.
That is still God’s desire today. His desire is for us to understand just how deeply and passionately He loves us. That He does give us the ability to choose. He does not stop us from making wrong choices. He loves us regardless of what choice we make. But, for those who choose to love Him, He is there with open arms waiting to receive us and to fill us with His son. Today, what He gives us is much more than the provision of a sacrifice! He has given us the very life of Jesus Himself living in us! How can we not respond by loving Him and desiring for our lives to display His love to everyone we meet?