Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jan 7 2019 - Genesis 3:8-24 – The dust of death

Genesis three tells us that God walked in the garden in the cool of the day. Surely this was not the first time God had done this – his footfall is readily recognised by Adam and Eve. The implication is that God had done this before – maybe many times before. Maybe it was God's habit to walk around his garden each evening. And on previous occasions Adam and Eve would have gone to meet him and would have walked and talked with their Creator in the cool and quiet of the day.

But this day was not like any previous day. Adam and Eve know they have disobeyed God. They felt naked and vulnerable and ashamed, and so, instead of running to meet God they ran from him to hide in the bushes.

But it is impossible to hide from God. He confronted his disobedient children with the words, "Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?" Adam blamed Eve, and by implication, blamed God – it is the fault of "the woman you gave to be with me." Eve blames the serpent and, as has often been remarked, the serpent didn't have a leg to stand on.

We are sons of Adam and daughters of Eve. We seek to cover our shame with the flimsy tissue of shifted blame. It's always someone else's fault and never our own. We need to stop trying to hide. We need to be honest with ourselves and with others. But we find this really hard. We need the courage of G K Chesterton who, when asked to write an article on what was wrong with the world, responded with the simple confession, "I am."

One act of disobedience changes everything. Human relationships are no longer the source of unmixed blessing; all too often they are marked by tension and conflict. Godly rule becomes twisted into domination, exploitation and the thirst for power. Even marriage can become marked by manipulation and selfishness rather than mutual nurturing and respect. Families can be hard places in which to grow up.

Relationships with the animal world are no longer uniformly harmonious; often they are marked by mutual suspicion and fear. And nature itself has become red in tooth and claw.

Even our relationship with the earth is now marked by conflict. Work is no longer a simple pleasure; it becomes fraught with frustration and futility. We fight to gain a living for our families, but end up losing the battle. At last we return to the dust from which we were made – creation is undone.

The Bible's picture of our world is terribly realistic. To be sure, the world is still full of beauty and of good gifts, but the gates of Paradise are firmly shut against us. We live in a world marked by warfare, inequity, hunger, disease, pain, death and loss. Sheltering behind the shaky walls of Western civilisation we may seek to escape these demons, but death cannot be shut out and it will have the last word.

But wait, the last word is not left to death. In God's judgment on the serpent there is the glimmer of a promise of the light which will shine ever more brightly as we continue our journey through the Scriptures. One day a child shall be born who will crush the serpent's head. God will provide a Saviour from sin and shame and from the judgment that hangs over all creation.

Creator God, thank you that death does not have the last word. Thank you for your promise of One through whom creation undone will become creation renewed. Thank you for the promise of a day when we will be with you in Paradise, when sin and death will be banished and every tear will be wiped away. Thank you for resurrection morning and the hope of a world to come.

Peter Misselbrook