THE EXPERIENCE OF THE GARDEN OF EDEN.
Peter G Mkolesia
Peter G Mkolesia
Continuation from the posting FAMILY WEEK.
In Genesis 3, the Enemy in the form of the SERPENT shows up to strike a devastating blow to the experience of the Garden of Eden; unlimited satisfying and sustaining intimacy. In fact the history of the enemy reveals that he himself is suffering like no other from an intense depth of aloneness, having been banished from the presence of God (Isaiah 14:12-15). Could it be that he now comes into God’s perfectly created arrangement to impose upon mankind the same affliction that plagues his own soul? If that was his aim, he was eminently successful.
Satan said to Eve, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Gen 3:1 NIV). Actually, God had told Adam and Eve that they could eat of all the trees except one. But now, The Alone One has crafted the question in such a way as to give Eve the impression that God was restrictive and oppressive. This subtle deceit was the trash talk that began to drive a wedge between Eve and her unqualified connectedness to God. By getting Eve to doubt God’s goodness, Satan kicked the second door open to the second disconnecting impression – the inference that life would be more meaningful, satisfying, and sustaining if she had unrestricted access to the world around her, even if it meant disconnecting from God. God plus all that He had put in her legitimate reach would be enough. After all Satan said, God was the One who wanted to hold back.
What is important to note here is that Eve didn’t commit an act of blatant denial of God. She simply came to believe that He wasn’t enough for her. The disaster that was about to happen was motivated by the belief that she should find more satisfaction in herself and the created order around her than in God. God was not enough, nor was Adam. God had already offered her all the sustenance, satisfaction, and security she could ever need, but she traded it away for what she thought would be more.
Satan’s strategy was:
- That God is not generous and good, but rather oppressive and restrictive
- That life is best and most expansively enjoyed when self is at the centre, seeking satisfaction and sustenance in the material order, regardless of God’s counsel and command
- Self was now the source of satisfaction
- Personal authority took over obedience to the rules and guiding principles God gave us so that would live safe and prosperous lives.
- Suspicion and cynicism undergirded by lack of trust in others became the norm.
- The material order would now dominate the attention and focus of man’s work and wealth.
- Fear, hopelessness, pessimism, and ultimately despair took over, as disconnectedness from God produced a deepening aloneness in their souls.
We too may find ourselves in a similar situation if we don’t learn to detect the symptoms of aloneness at an early stage. Like the prodigal, we might not be alarmed to discover we are far from home and flat broke and alone.