Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Genesis 3:1-21 is one of the foundational texts for understanding life in our world. It lays out the fall into sin. It discusses, in a nutshell, all that is wrong to this day. Before the passage we see a world where there is nothing but peace and harmony. All creation has been made by God’s word. It has been proclaimed good. The world, and specifically the people, hear the voice of God and live in accord with it.
Once the serpent begins speaking, and the people begin listening, everything goes wrong. We observe that the woman attempts to go beyond God’s word in order to defend against the falsehood that the serpent gives her. She denies what God has revealed, substituting her own wisdom. By her own reason she does what is against God’s command and is toxic to all humanity. Rather than being the one who leads his family, his original role, the man bows to the wisdom of his wife even though it goes against God’s command.
The people have been told that when they disobey they will die. Death has entered into the world. It is not natural to creation. It is natural to fallen creation. As God speaks with the serpent, the woman, and the man, it is clear that the one who brought sin into the world will be condemned. The world will endure pain and disappointment, though it is still God’s good creation. Death will reign.
As we look around us we see that our world is a great place to be. It is full of amazing things. Yet we are surrounded by the effects of the fall. We endure pain. We eventually suffer death. The patterns of the world aren’t as predictable as we would think. Some who seem innocent suffer and die. Some who don’t seem innocent are thriving. It’s all topsy turvy.
At the same time, God gives a great promise. He does it when he clothes the man and woman. As he kills one or more animal in order to provide clothes of skin, the man and woman are confronted with the reality of death, something they have never seen. They know that it is their sin which brought death. And it is the death of another on their behalf which is able to cover their sin and guilt. Their attempt at covering their guilt was to no avail. God alone is able to cover the guilt of sin, because he is the one who defines sin.
In the New Testament, this death of the animals on behalf of the people is fulfilled. Jesus, one who is completely human but who has no sin, dies on behalf of the people of this fallen world. It is his death which can cover our sin, as we trust in him. This is the hope of the world.
So we are given in Genesis 3 a clear description of all the root problems of the world and the redemption of the world. A very powerful passage indeed.
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