What in the world is going on here?

Week 39, Day 2

Genesis 3 What in the world is going on here?

“…now the Serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal the Lord God had made…”

In his commentary on Genesis, the Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann says this story (Genesis 2 & 3 together) is not really concerned with questions of sin and death and evil and fall. That is not to say these topics are unimportant or uninteresting. They are both. It is to say the storyteller’s concerns lie elsewhere. What we have here, Brueggemann says, is a summons—a calling, from the Creating God to consider what it means for us to live as God’s creatures in God’s world on God’s terms. “The text requires us to ask about the reality of God and (God’s desire for our lives) in a world on its way to death”.

In other words, in the world as we find it (and not, for the time being, wondering how we got to be this way) how should we live? Given the opportunity to trust God or not, to obey God or not (which is exactly what the Tree of Knowledge gave the man and woman then and gives us now), which course should we choose and why? Life presents us with hard choices from time to time. And sometimes our decisions, in retrospect at least, seem less wise than we had hoped they would be; they lead more to pain than to pleasure. Can we recover?

This story is told from the perspective of someone who is outside the garden—someone just like you and me. We already know what the man and woman learn the hard way—we know what shame and fear feel like; what it feels like to be less than we want to be; to be the betrayer of someone who trusted us. How will this Creating God respond to our mis-steps and mistakes?

Will there be grace for the likes of us? Will we be left naked and exposed, because that is the best we can do? Or will our shame be covered? Will this God who loved walking with us in the cool of the evening in better days walk with us now, though our path will be rockier and less scenic? “In a world on its way to death”, a world where growing corn is always hard and having babies is always harder, is there still a “way to life”?

Read the story again and listen for anything it wants to tell you now.

Prayer: To you, Creator God, who is ever with us, who summons us to stand upright, to shed our shame and fear and to commit ourselves to this long walk over rocky ground, we are grateful. Amen.

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