Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image” – Gen 1:26
We are made in the image of God. That thought alone should spawn hours of reflection. I would like to offer that we are capable of one thing that God is not… sin. And God, is of course, capable of some things we are not. Most suitable to this discussion… forgiveness. True forgiveness where the price is paid and the slate is washed clean. The type of forgiveness where it never happened. Too often we read into how forgiving God is, and only come out with how sinful we are. And this may be why God reminds right off the bat, where we come from.
Satan would tell us we come from dirt and used bones. God’s word says we come from God and the breath of God breathed into us and gave us life. And thus we have the devil. Half truths, lies, manipulated context. So effective at deceit he started the fall of mankind. I tend to read quickly past the fall as its clearly not man’s most shining moment. Similar to the story of Noah where God is so upset He regrets ever making us and claims we have nothing but evil in our hearts.
Yet there is hope for every one of us, and if any part of the Bible teaches us this hope, I think where it all began does it the best.
So the Lord God said to the serpent… – Gen 3:4
To the woman he said… – Gen 3:16
To Adam he said… – Gen 3:17
First we get an unintentionally comical scenario where God shows up on the scene after things got out of hand. Immediately 3 hands shoot out from their respective sides and illuminate blame to an opposing party. Satan nodded at man who had the core just under his feet.
The man spits out quicker than his tongue can handle that the woman was to blame for she offered it. Shaking off tree leaves and apple stems she yells that the ‘snake’ put her up to it. How would this play out in people’s court? God has His own way of justice. All of them were guilty. Three crimes had been committed, all of them against God. God dealt with them swiftly, yet justly. God was with them when they didn’t see Him and He knew how to respond to their action.
Even though they walked and talked with God, they assumed He had His back turned. We know better. We have the opportunity to live knowing God is a part of every moment of our lives. He breathed into us life, and He is a part of our every breath. Live like He is with you, you will be judged and rewarded based on that.
they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” – Gen 3:8
“Who told you that you were naked? Gen 3:11
“Where is your brother Abel?” Gen 4:9
After each sin, God asked them about it. Parents likely already know the reasoning. God clearly knew the answers to His questions, yet He asked anyway. This is where we get Cain’s famous response, “Am I my brothers keeper?!!”. You have likely seen internet memes expressing innocence over obvious guilt.
While we can laugh at the absurdity, consider God’s point of view. And just like a good parent, He withholds summary until each party has a chance to speak. Each one blaming, lying, making excuses, and when He has heard enough, He passes judgement. You notice no words are recorded of the event after God starts talking? Not until after they are out of the Garden and officially living, post Eden?
I like to ponder the why of that as well. My current best guess is that we get a chance to come clean, one chance. I know many parents who dole out weaker punishments when the truth is told up front. After all, we are made in the image of God. What do you think?
“With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man.” Gen 4:1
Here we have Eve commenting on the birth of Cain. This is the very first story we get after they are kicked out of the garden. And remember, painful child birth just happened to be her punishment. What is her response to exile and pain? Praising and thanking God, of course. Because God’s punishment was just and because He still loves mankind unconditionally, He is able to see past the mistakes. Outside of the garden, life went on. Just because we see Eve as the ruin-er of all good things, doesn’t mean that God does. He lovingly created her. And He wants her to be happy.
We see that back in the creation story when God did all that He did in the garden. Beautiful trees, ample food, diverse creatures, and finally woman… all for Adam’s delight. That feeling of love, protection, and comfort didn’t end with a mistake. All it did was set in motion the next plan to save humanity. Once you grasp your mind around what God does for us, how He made us, and how much He loves us… it’s easy to see how Eve is able to praise God for a painful experience outside of the safety of the garden.
Cain said to the Lord, “My punishment is more than I can bear”. Gen 4:13
But the Lord said to him, “Not so; anyone who kills Cain will suffer vengeance seven times over.” Then the Lord put a mark on Cain so that no one who found him would kill him. Gen 4:15
In the actual process of casting punishment against Cain, Cain speaks up. God responds in a way that should shock most of us. He is, of course, speaking to an angry God, after just committing the worlds most gruesome crime to date. God hears his concern and counters the murderer’s concern with a mark. The mark promises that Cain goes unpunished by the rest of the world. This tells me two things. First, God’s punishment is more about discipline. The root of that word is to disciple. He isn’t interested in exacting vengeance, it’s about lovingly teaching and molding His people.
He could have just killed Cain, but He chose not to. He could have allowed the world to enact their own justice, but He forbade that. And that brings me to the second point. God’s judgement… is enough. The world has no place butting in and passing their own rulings along the way. This fits nicely with the very straight forward scripture that says, “do not judge”. The world does not need another judge. The world needs God’s love.
What does God ask us to give, spread, and share? Love. It’s the greatest command. Does God, anywhere in the Bible ask us to help Him bring about justice in the world? nope. But He does, on many, many occasions tell us that the key to all of life is to love EVERYONE. I think we can see that here when God so graciously marked Cain to keep the nosy, holier-than-thou’s away from him.
The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but on Cain and his offering he did not look with favor. Gen 4:4-5
God has personal opinions and choices of His own. He preferred Able’s offering to Cain’s. Cain was not wrong in His offering, but God liked the other better. We truly are made in His image. We often beat ourselves up over choices when God ultimately leaves it up to us to decide. God isn’t a vegetarian. That doesn’t make Cain a sinner. It just means He preferred the meats. Whether you choose dancing, singing, poetry, mechanic, uber driver, etc, etc, etc. You aren’t wrong. As long as you obey the laws where the laws are at.
The next verse quickly explains that Cain has His reward for doing what is right. But Cain was jealous because Able pleased God’s senses as well as His will. The litmus test isn’t where, when, who, or how. It’s about obeying God. And we can do that in almost any locale, with almost anyone, etc.
If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it. Gen3:7
The final definition of choice. Sin desires us. We forget spiritual warfare is so real. It’s not a sin to be a vegetarian. It’s a sin to kill others who aren’t. And when we make those choices… we let sin win. Sin isn’t a bench warmer. It isn’t a spectator. It’s the main event. If the most devastating opponent and we must give it the respect it deserves. When we give in… it gets us. We are the reward to evil when we don’t rule over it properly.
So there we have the fall of man. Just a few verses, often summarized as a single act that engaged God’s boot to swiftly kick us out of the garden. Yet if we pause on each verse we see a loving Father preparing those ‘in trouble’ for the next phase of life. (and aren’t we all ‘in trouble’?)