Written by: Gay Idle
From the dawn of time, God’s plan for mankind was to be accomplished through obedience.
When God placed man (Adam and Eve), in Eden’s garden, he basically said, “Here you go. You are in charge of this paradise. I planted this garden, now you take care of it, nurture it.” And paradise it was. No weeds, so the work was not backbreaking; it must have been incredibly rewarding to see and experience the results of their labor. I can only imagine the beauty of creation in its infancy.
Do you wonder if God walked with Adam and Eve every evening in the garden? What do you think they talked about? What must it have been like to have no concept of evil in the beginning…only good, coming from the heart and hands of their Creator? To know that God had given them dominion over all the earth and every living thing on the earth? That alone would be enough to keep them talking for weeks or months. This nurturing/ruling thing…keeping it all in balance was going to be an adventure. And God was sharing the adventure with them.
In the midst of this garden, God placed two particular trees. The tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In creating Adam and Eve in His own image, God was also giving them the opportunity to choose. They could eat from any tree in the garden except for one; the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He even told them why. If they ate from that tree, they would surely die (Genesis 2:16).
The choice was really quite simple. Obey God and live, or disobey and die. And we all know what happened after that. If you’re not sure, go read about the fall in Genesis chapter 3.
Yes, they fell. They sinned against God. They knew they had really messed up. They fell from their state of perfect unity and fellowship with each other and with God. Everything was different now. And what a hot mess it made of things. Severe pain in childbirth, weeds, thorns, and thistles. Instead of rewarding and meaningful work, they would experience hard labor, and work by the sweat of the brow. Oh…and that whole unified relationship between man and woman was now an unholy mess! And to top it all off? Death…separation from God…spiritual death along with eventual and inevitable physical death.
God is love. And Love makes a way. Even in the beginning, He knew that to give us choice meant we could/would choose to disobey His command. But it also meant that we weren’t just puppets put on this earth to blindly walk through life with no way to choose love. He created us to live, to love, and to choose eternal life. And so He made a way to restore fellowship with man. So God drove them out of the garden and closed the gate so they could not re-enter the garden and eat from the tree of life. Doing so prevented them from eating from that tree and living forever in their sin.
And so even before he proclaimed the aforementioned curses upon Adam and Eve, God said to the serpent, “...I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” (Genesis 3:15 NIV)
There is so much to unpack in this verse, but for our purpose and the sake of brevity, let’s just say that this was the beginning of the end for Satan. God would provide His Son, the seed of the woman, to administer the final death blow to the head of Satan. The striking of the heel is a picture of Christ’s death on the cross...but we know that Satan did not have the final word in Christ’s death because we serve a RISEN SAVIOR! We have access to the Tree of Life through the saving work of Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross, defeating the enemy and rising again to life, so that we too may rise with Him to life everlasting.
And that brings us back to obedience. While man’s original disobedience closed the gate to the Tree of Life, God opened the way through His Son. I love the way the Amplified Version says this in Philippians 2:8, “After He was found in [terms of His] outward appearance as a man [for a divinely-appointed time], He humbled Himself [still further] by becoming obedient [to the Father] to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
Romans 5:19 tells us this, “For just as through one man’s disobedience [his failure to hear, his carelessness] the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of the one Man the many will be made righteous and acceptable to God and brought into right standing with Him.”
When the man failed to obey, a sacrifice was required. In the garden, God provided an immediate sacrifice for Adam and Eve when he “made garments of animal skins for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.” Their awareness of their nakedness required a covering…their sin a sacrifice. They wore a reminder of their disobedience…the consequence of their sin. This also served to remind them that God would provide a way back to Him through the shed blood of the perfect lamb of God.
1 Samuel 15 says that “...to obey is better than sacrifice…” All that I have just written drives home the point that it is our disobedience that requires sacrifice. And that breaks my heart when I think of it in terms of my own sinful choices in life. It kind of makes it personal. My sin caused the sacrificial death of Christ on the Cross. All of our sins really, but still. If you never sinned, my sin would still have caused His sacrifice and that makes it personal. And heartbreaking. And humbling.
And thankful…oh so thankful, because He died on the cross to bring us back to the life of obedience.
All this talk of obedience puts me in mind of a puppy I had years ago.
Puppies are a bit like toddlers as they go about exploring, everything ends up in their mouths. Clair quickly became well acquainted with the words, "no", "quit", "put that down", "spit it out...NOW", oh... and "that's my shoe, thank you for bringing it to me but I would rather you had left it in the spot by the door".
One morning it occurred to me, as I was yelling once again, "Clair...where are you and what are you into this time?", that I am a bit like my puppy...and maybe you are too. You see, Clair loved to please us and she was a very loving puppy, but she had a tendency to test every boundary that we put into place. Some things she learned rather quickly, but others...took time and work.
She was a work in progress. Aren't we too a work in progress?
Just as He did way back in the Garden, God, in His loving kindness, has set boundaries for us. He created us and knows what is best for us. Some of those boundaries aren't really hard for us to abide by...I mean most of the Ten Commandments are easy to keep aren't they? After all, I've never killed anyone. But there are those things that I know God asks of me that I don't always follow through with. How about you?
As Clair found...some of the bad things we do are well...just plain fun...but the end result is well...not fun.
Obedience is a hard lesson to learn.
When Clair was being obedient she anxiously waited at my feet either for her reward, a loving word, and a hug, or she waited for the next command. When she was not being obedient, she was so busy getting into trouble she missed out on the reward and instead suffered the consequences of her actions.
Sound familiar? Yeah, me too!!
With all my heart I want to be known as one sitting at the feet of my Master, anxiously awaiting my reward, a loving embrace, and looking forward to the next command.
I want to have a heart that is captivated by His voice, filled with His love, and obedient to His plan!
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