"Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said unto the woman, 'yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?' And the woman said unto the serpent, 'We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.'"
Genesis 3: 1-3 (King James Version)
"Great blunders are often made, like large ropes, of a multitude of fibers."
What "fibers" make up the rope of mistakes I have made in my life?
"My (daughter), if sinners entice you, do not give in to them."
Proverbs 1: 10 (NIV)
I want to ask you a question that came to my mind as I read Genesis 3: 1-3, the text that begins our devotional today. Here's the question:
"If there were one day in my life that I could 'do over', what day would it be?"
If you and I asked Eve if she could have a "do over" day, I believe without a doubt she would tell us she wanted back the day she wandered to a tree, a forbidden tree, and began to talk to a serpent. How Eve wished that day had never happened! But it did and before we heap all our anger on Eve, I think it is wise for us, as her daughters, to look closely at this situation and see what we can learn from it.
Genesis 2 portrays such an ideal situation. A garden home. Animals as friends. A place of relaxation and joy. And the whipped cream and cherry on top of the sundae was a marriage performed by God. A happy couple living in Paradise. It sounds fabulous! It was fabulous!
Here again, we have one of those times when the Bible doesn't give us a lot of detail. We do know that one day, something happened to end the blissful existence forever! Did Eve wander away from Adam intentionally? I doubt it. Did Adam act carelessly toward Eve so she felt alone? I don't believe that either, although I've heard both theories thrown around in religious discussions.
I may be totally off base, but I think Eve's garden wandering toward the forbidden tree was totally innocent.
Let me give you an example. My husband and I grew up as children in Southern California near a beautiful spot called Descanso Gardens. Neither of our families had a great deal of money, and years ago, admission to the garden was free. On the weekends, we often went to the gardens to smell the gardenias and roses and walk the beautiful foliaged paths. I'll never forget one time becoming so absorbed in looking at some of the flowers, I became completely separated from the rest of the family. I began to wander down one path after another trying to find my way back to the front gate. I didn't get lost or separated on purpose. I just became so focused on what I was doing at the moment, I lost track of everything else.
Eve's Lesson #1 – Watch what you focus on. In Eve's case, it was something good. But even something good can distract us from what we should be doing. I can't tell you how often in my own life I've found myself so involved in "church" duties and social activities to the detriment of my personal time with God. Singing in the choir or teaching children's classes or visiting the sick are admirable and desirable activities. But not if I become so consumed doing them I forget to spend time with the Man – Jesus-who I claim to be doing all my good deeds for.
Eve lost focus. With diverted attention, Eve suddenly heard a voice coming out of a tree. Low and behold – it was a talking serpent! I'm sorry, but if I had been Eve, I'd have done exactly what she did. I'd ask myself, "Are my eyes deceiving me?" I'd take a second look. And then, please note what the serpent asked. "Yea, hath God said, 'Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?'"
Eve's Lesson #2 – There's no such thing as an "innocent" question when you are talking to a serpent. And I might add, watch out for serpents because they come in all forms, shapes and genders! You see, the serpent didn't start out with a temptation! He began with an innocent question. He was only gathering information. "My dear Eve, what was it that God told you? Did God say you can't eat of any tree?" Now look closely at this question. Already the serpent was making God sound arbitrary. "Did God really say you can't eat of any tree?" Here's where Eve made a huge mistake. She decided to defend God to a serpent, when in fact she should have run to God for protection. However, before we decry Eve's behavior and say how stupid, I know I need to look in the mirror at myself for I have had many a "good" discussion with a serpent only to later find myself in the pit with a viper who did not have my ultimate good as their goal. This brings us to the next lesson.
Eve's Lesson #3 – The serpent was more subtil. In the Hebrew, "subtil" means crafty and cunning. The dictionary further expands the meaning this way: "Something or someone that executes with or displays ingenuity. Someone who is delicately shrewd and pleasing." All you have to do is see a skilled magician display their wares to understand how easy it is to fool any of us. But in a perfect garden, with a cunning serpent, Eve found herself "beguiled." And that was the very word she used when God asked her what happened at the tree. She said, "The serpent seduced me." Yes, the Hebrew word for "beguiled" is "seduced." Girls, we have let too many serpents "seduce" us down through history. And men, you have let too many serpents "seduce" you down through history, as well. Seductive Sin. The serpent that strikes, bites, and destroys.
There's one final lesson we need to learn from Eve.
Eve's Lesson #4 – Watch what you desire. Genesis 3: 6 (K.J.V.) is one of the most instructive texts in the entire Bible. "And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit therefore, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked."… We could spend an entire week studying this one text but let's just look at some of the "highlights" or in this case the "low lights." Eve saw something. A beautiful tree. A talking serpent. Luscious fruit. Do you know what else she saw? She saw the serpent in the tree with the fruit – and the serpent wasn't dead. Furthermore, Eve heard the serpent say, "God is wrong. You eat this fruit, you won't die. You'll be smart. Smarter than you can imagine. Smart like God himself." Yes, Eve saw fruit that was good for food; fruit that was beautiful; and fruit that would make her wise. She was no dummy. This was a smart move! How many times have I told myself that something I desire is a "smart move," too! So I take like Eve, and consume to my own painful downfall. Then Eve, who was created to "aid" Adam, handed him fruit and without question, he gobbled it down.
Many years ago, as a young teenager I was in a Bible class with a group of kids and we got to discussing whose fault the "sin" mess was. A very deep topic for 14-year-olds. I was sitting next to a guy known to "mouth off" with snappy comments. He looked at me and said, "Well if it wasn't for you females this whole mess wouldn't have happened." Not to be outdone I looked him in the eye and said, "Well, at least Eve thought she was going to be smarter by eating the fruit. Adam just put the fruit in his mouth without asking a question." Then to get in one last jab I retorted, "You guys will eat anything if it's handed to you by a beautiful woman."
I know, because I've heard discussions through the years in devoutly religious circles, where the blame for this mess we call sin is laid at the feet of women. I believe some people just do this as an excuse to try to put women down and demean their value and worth.
Today, as we looked at the saddest event in the history of the universe, I want to end by focusing on what God said. He didn't blame Adam or Eve. He focused on the serpent, "Thou hast done this!" (Genesis 3: 14). God focused on the cunning, crafty, seductive serpent because He wants us to learn that the best and only way to avoid sin is to stay away from the serpent. As Thomas Brooks so insightfully wrote "(She) that will play with Satan's bait, will quickly be taken with Satan's hook." However, don't despair! While today we met the crafty serpent, tomorrow we will meet Eve's healer – the One who took on the cunning serpent and crushed his power – forever!
"If you have been tempted into evil,
fly from it. It is not falling into the water,
but lying in it that drowns."
"There was a time when I did not exist,
And thou hast created me;
I did not beseech thee for a wish,
And thou has fulfilled it;
I had not come into the light,
And thou hast seen me;
I had not yet appeared,
And thou hast taken pity on me;
I had not invoked thee,
And thou hast taken care of me;
I did not raise my hand,
And thou hast looked at me;
I had not entreated thee,
And thou has heard me;
I had not groaned,
And thou hast lent an ear;
With prescient eyes thou sawest
The crimes of my guilty self,
And yet thou hast fashioned me.
And now, I who have been created by thee,
And saved by thee,
And have been tended with such care,
Let me not wholly perish by the blow of sin
That is but the slanderer's invention;
Let not the fog of my stubbornness
Triumph over the light of thy forgiveness;
Nor the hardness of my heart
Over thy forbearing goodness;
Nor my material weakness
Over thine unconquerable grandeur.
-Gregory of Narek
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus