Gen 3:1 Now 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, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden ’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but 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.” (ESVST)
The religion of man is still doing the same thing as the serpent in the garden. Take two friends, lifelong friends and put them in church under the influence of religion. One day (and there is always the one day just like the day(s) of judgment) there will be a human moment in a fallen nature when these two friends will meet a crossroads. Because of power or influence or rejection or popularity or even money there will be a disagreement. Then the first words uttered will be “did God really say?”
One of the more interesting aspects of this garden story is who is doing the talking. Adam and Eve are both there. Why is Eve questioned over Adam? Is the serpent picking on the lessor? NO. Eve did not have the “direct revelation” of the “rules” like Adam did. She didn’t hear God say anything about the forbidden tree. She only knew what Adam told her. She actually isn’t qualified to answer the question. The serpent knows this so he takes advantage of the situation. Since Eve didn’t hear the words from God the serpent begins to inject a narrative that suggests something about the nature of God.
Gen 3:4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (ESVST)
There is a Hebrew play on words here that I don’t really understand but the serpent’s reference to death is subtly different from God’s “you will die in death” reference. I think the serpent is appealing to a “human practical wisdom” that challenges possibilities based on observation not character based on relationship, but I am getting ahead of myself.
Now back to the fictional (or not) church scene. These two friends will attack each other with certainty based on their observation of the “word.” Neither will convince the other of their “right” position. They will part ways never to have intimacy again. They will claim “rightly dividing the ‘word'” and “separation from false doctrine” and the serpent wins again. Maybe you have seen it. Maybe you have been a part of it. It is still the same story today as in the garden.
Why didn’t Eve say something like “Adam help me out here” or “you don’t know who my Father is” or “how dare you say that my Father is withholding anything from me” or “you have no voice here because I know who my Father is and He is love and always gives me exactly what I need so I trust Him explicitly even if your crafty words suggest something different.” Eve could have responded based on her “faith” instead of her “observations.” She didn’t rely on what she knew about the character and nature of God but instead inserted her human wisdom and evaluation of the “facts.” Subtle differences in the “words” made all the difference. Eve relied on the “words” instead of her intimate knowledge of the person (WORD) of God. That was all it took for the serpent to deceive Eve into poisoned fruit consumption. It actually looked good to her based on her observations even though the Source of Love said it would harm her. Once the poison hit the system it was all over. The choice had been made. The poison sealed the deal. Now “facts” and “observations” and “evaluations” dominated and tragically “intimacy” and “relationship” died.
That is why God came to Earth as Jesus. He came to restore the intimate relationship we were designed for. He came to reveal the true nature of God. If we could just understand that Jesus is the only way to see God. He even says that He is the way, the truth and the life. Jesus says that no one can come to (know in person and intimacy) the Father except through Him. Instead of embracing that truth we are still asking ourselves “did God really say?” We want to mash together an image of God that was intended for the Nation of Israel and was shrouded in all sorts of mystery, incomplete revelation, fallen-nature understanding, ancient man paradigms and so much misunderstanding. Instead we have Jesus as our “light” to cast out the darkness. We have Immanuel with us and in us. We should be “rightly dividing the word” using Jesus as the knife to do the cutting. Hebrews says the word is sharper than a two-edged sword. The WORD is Jesus. The electron microscope is Jesus. The true identity of God is found in Jesus. Our purpose on this planet is to reveal Jesus to people so they can know who God really is. Our purpose is to bring Jesus into situations so people can see who God really is. Our purpose, our very reason for breathing, is to bring Jesus to someone else so they can meet the one who reveals the true nature of the Father.
Let me leave you with a thought. Check out this verse:
Ps 103:7 He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.
Are we seeking to “know God” based on observations? The Nation of Israel saw the “acts of God” and were petrified of Him. They came to the mountain and were terrified. Moses “knew God” based on an intimate relationship with God. Moses knew His ways. Moses saw the same mountain and climbed it.
When I say Sam works with tools. He is handy with his hands. He is an expert with water. He is qualified to use blow torches and copper tubes. Sam has 3 different pipe wrenches. Sam will make house calls. Sam can stop the worst leaks in a matter of seconds. Sam knows why sinks are clogged and pipes are stopped up. Sam can repair all those things with his numerous tools. You would likely say Sam is a Plummer. You would be right on some level. Sam is actually a father and a husband too. Sam likes music. Sam is a man of peace and power. Sam loves children and volunteers at the orphanage. I could go on and on about Sam but you wouldn’t “know him” unless you got to know him.
This is what Jesus brings to us. He brings “knowing” to His children.
We do need the Bible. I actually love the book. But (and this is a big but) I must look for Jesus when I am reading. He is the perfect revelation of God. When I see an image of God that is inconsistent with the nature of Jesus (self-sacrificial love on the cross) then I am encouraged to ask a question. I can use my mind of Christ. If I don’t get a good answer right away I can put it in the “mystery” category. I can recognize that these men didn’t know Jesus like I do. I can recognize that these people of old didn’t think like I do. I can’t understand their frame of mind and it would be ludicrous for me to think I could put myself in their shoes. This is why we have Jesus.
We know inside because God said He puts His laws (His very nature) in our hearts and minds. We know that we know that God’s nature says this or that. We know that murder and genocide and rape and child sacrifice and child abuse and stoning people is not right in any setting, ever. We know that because we have His Spirit in us. Jesus gives us the freedom to see Him in the story. We may not understand all that is going on but we have Jesus as our anchor. We may not have a clue what is going on in any given situation but we know God is Jesus. We may not have a grid for some of the stuff that God takes the blame for but we know Jesus. We no longer have to “determine the nature of God” through observations. We instead walk with God in Jesus to know His heart. This is our journey. This is our privilege. We are set free to see God as Jesus!