Monday, January 4, 2010

Reflections on Eve

At creation, she was simply "woman." She needed no name, for she was special in her own right, by her simple existence. Woman lived with Man in the most beautiful paradise - Eden.

In Eden, there were two named trees. Out of abundance, only a few were named - the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. God warns man and woman against the second, saying they should never eat of it or face death. With the Tree of Life in their midst, death must have been a foreign concept. For God did not forbid them to eat of that one. May we assume they probably did once or twice? And all was peace - for it was not in God's plan that they die, but that they live forever. The Tree of Life was His gift.

But the slimy little serpent took matters into its own hands, all temptation and evil embodied in one creature. One tiny creature with the ability to destroy perfect creation. And it succeeeded - the woman ate of the ONE tree God said she could not, then fed the man. God was not happy and laid a curse on all three. The serpent would forever crawl across the ground on its belly; the woman would suffer great pains in childbirth; the man would work hard for little to nothing, but would have no choice but to do so.

Man then turns and gives his own gift to woman - a name. Eve. Giver of Life. In this darkest moment, when she sees her own nakedness and trembles in fear of God for having defied Him and faces the curse of pained labor and ejection from the paradise of Eden, man turns and gives her his own gift. Isn't it weird in these darkest moments when that shred of redemption comes, when someone says that one thing you long to hear? "Yes, woman, you are cursed. You have done wrong. You ruined everything. So I shall call you....Eve. The Giver of Life." What? She must have smiled, must have found some comfort in that. For they were more than the first man and woman - they were lovers.

Now it is God's turn to give another gift. Before, it has been no issue to have man and woman around the Tree of Life. Indeed, it was His plan that they should eat freely of it and live forever. The plan has changed. For many years, every time I read this story, I thought God was being harsh. I thought He was, in fury and anger, casting man and woman out to fend for themselves and face a new disaster - death. I thought He was angry to the point of regretting Creation, of changing His mind about creating man in His image and loving him and walking in relationship with Him. As I read this story anew, a different picture emerges.

God, of all, knew the weight of this heavy curse He placed on man and woman. He knew man would suffer greatly at the futility of his work, would grow frustrated and weary as manual labor took a toll on his body. He knew woman would suffer greatly bringing new life into the world and would neglect her own body to raise her child, would fall apart as age and stress ate away at her. He knew if they continued to eat of the Tree of Life, "they would surely live forever." And He knew they shouldn't.

Why would man and woman have eaten? Wouldn't they have wished for death? No! They were not created for death; they would know nothing of it. And don't we agree - the fear of the unknown is the greatest fear of all? Even as their bodies deteriorated, they would continue eating, for the fear of not knowing what would happen if they stopped would be too great. They would live forever, falling apart, struggling, laboring, and getting nowhere. Their hearts, in great tragedy and pain, would fall further and further away from God, bordering on irreconcilable as time passed with no relief, no rescue, no redemption. So God, in all His wisdom, gave them another gift...the gift of death.

Death is not something to be feared. It is God's gift. It is the passing of a labored life back into harmony with God, with reconciliation to the Master, Creator, Father. Had He not seen the future and protected man and woman from the Tree of Life, they would live forever in misery...instead of gaining true life in peace.

So I no longer think God was fearful of the rebellion of man and woman for His own sake; it was for ours. It was for us that He created death in the first place, after we Fell and began to live in Sin. Before Christ, it was our redemption. Then, of course, came Christ as the Redeemer...and by DEATH, He saved us. Maybe it wasn't the original plan; maybe free will made the Fall possible and death necessary. But I would not give up the struggle here to live back in Eden in my sinful nature, eating fruit to live suffer...forever.

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