Exile & Restoration
Genesis 2:16-17; 3:1-13; Psalm 137, I Corinthians 15:20-22
“…but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” Genesis 3:17
Genesis 3 introduces the larger theme of the Bible: Exile and restoration: Humans caught in a web of sin as God seeks to restore us. It looks at the question: “Why, if God made a good world, does so much go wrong!”
“Have you eaten of the tree..?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree and I ate.” Genesis 3:12
I. The Garden: The story of Adam and Eve is the human story; it’s our story! Genesis 3 pictures the blame and retribution at the heart of the human condition. Eating the fruit [acting to ignore man’s relationship with God--the essence of sin], is but part of the problem. Sin is compounded by our human refusal to assume responsibility for our action, then to put the blame on others!
…the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Genesis 3:13
Adam & Eve illustrate a cycle of shame and blame. While naked before God [unable to hide from sin], they insist it can’t be their fault they broke the rules! Adam’s defense is it would never have happened if God had not made woman! [Another example of the Middle East theme of Man’s superiority.] Naturally Eve blames the serpent!
II. The Promised Land: Beginning with Abraham, God calls a people to put the world right again. But it doesn’t work out well; as Adam and Eve are exiled from the garden, so the Jewish people end up going into exile from their land. And even after some return to the land, they continue to be ruled by foreign nations. In the anguish and rage of Psalm 137, we confront human pain and our seemingly endless capacity for evil and retribution.
By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and wept, when we remembered Zion. Psalm 137:1 O Daughter of Babylon, you devastated one…How blessed will be the one who seizes and dashes your little ones against the rock. Psalm 137:8-9
Sounds much like life today in parts of Middle East and elsewhere. After a decade the invasion of Iraq continues its disastrous consequences, somewhat predictable in light of history and the human condition given voice in the Bible. With humans caught in sin’s web, retribution continues on through the generations.
…by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. I Corinthians 15:21-22
III. The Cross: God hates sin. God hates sin for what it does to people and so should we! God, in seeking to put the world right again comes to a familiar choice: If you want a job done right, you better do it yourself! And so God takes upon himself the task in the person of his Son. On the cross God takes on all the world’s shame, blame, pain and inhumanity! …God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself…. II Corinthians 5:19
Therefore Jesus also…suffered outside the gate. Hebrews 13:12
The cross sums up the exile story that begins with the Garden of Eden and continues with the Promised Land; Jesus, dying alone outside the beloved city, bearing the full force of evil, appears to be crushed by it! But the resurrection gives a lie to sin having the last word! With faith in Jesus, alive and living is us through the gift of the Holy Spirit, and with hope for his kingdom coming on earth as in heaven to set the world right, we keep on keeping on to let the light of Christ’s love shine through us!