Photo by Liane Metzler on Unsplash
It is a joyous dream turned nightmare. It is a story that, as Christians, we have heard one hundred times and wish we had never heard once. It is the fall.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’” “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. — Genesis 3:1-7
This week in my own Bible studies, I read about the death of Abaslom. Foolish, rebellious, vain, and vindictive—the son of David plots evil after evil and finally, despite all his father does to protect him, meets his own brutal end. David weeps. And weeps. And weeps. The story got me thinking about fathers in the Bible whose children are lost in some way. David. The father of the prodigal son. Job, whose children died. Isaac, whose favorite son Jacob must run away because of deceitful actions. Jacob, whose son Joseph is sold into slavery by ten jealous brothers. Fathers in deep, deep sorrow.
And I thought about our Father and the sorrow that He must have carried on that day in the Garden.
At first glance it looks like only the serpent, Adam, and Eve are there. But, of course, as an omnipresent, omniscient being, we know God was there too. He saw and heard everything. For reasons we cannot fully understand, He chose not to stop the course of action. Instead, He allowed the rebellion to play out in all its ugliness.
In one seemingly fairly short moment, God was lied about. He was forgotten. He was ignored. He was maligned. He was denied. Three created creatures schemed there in God’s beautiful garden to step into His shoes.
He watched the serpent (Satan), once a glorious angel, now a remorseless enemy, lure Adam and Eve away. He had fashioned the man and woman by hand. His breath was inside them. They walked closely with Him “in the cool of the day.” And yet, when the inkling of the idea that there might be something “better” was offered, they turned without a second thought.
They surely had no idea what they had begun, but God did. He knew that at that moment, His children had chosen a life where work would be pain and pain would be common. Where heartbreak and death would be their last moments. Now every danger in the world was open to them. Now a cascade of wars and disasters and horrors would follow for millennia. No human would be free from the effects of this one moment. The Father knew all this.
The Bible makes it clear that God is grieved over our sin (Psalm 78:40). He hates idolatry and murder (Deuteronomy 12:31). He is jealous for His people (Exodus 34: 14). As a man, Jesus wept, a demonstration of the strength of God’s emotions and His empathy with our own. How His emotions must have rolled on that day! Unlike us, who become vengeful and self-righteous when betrayed, His disappointment, sorrow, and anger would have been completely pure and righteous. I cannot name a father in the Bible or in history that could have ached for his children as much as our dear Heavenly Father did.
At the same time, I imagine a whirling begins among the Trinity. There is a way. They have already planned for this day. This heart-breaking moment is, in another viewpoint, a life-giving moment. They will restore. He will heal. Five-thousand or more years from now, the Son will reverse this horrible day. He will take on flesh. He will show what true obedience and love look like. He will die for men and for women. Because this omniscient, omnipresent God is also the omnipotent God who will have the victory and the glory. His love will win out.
In that day, God’s heart will shine with joy, pride, and righteousness. He will be loving and welcoming. He will bring judgment and peace. The Creator of time can look ahead with certainty and say, “It will be all right.”
I cannot say all the emotions I have stirred in my Father. The Bible tells me He feels love and joy, but I wonder if there has not been (at least before He saved me) disappointment, pain, or righteous anger. I do not have to fear though. I can be sure that now, because when He looks on me He sees the record of Jesus, He is happy. What a glorious, peace-restoring promise.
The Bible opens with a broken-hearted Father. And it carries on with broken-hearted father after broken-hearted father. But, Church, the story will end with a Father reunited and His beloved prodigals reunited. A Father pleased with His people who surround Him in worship. There will be rejoicing, and we will be a part of that! Unafraid and unashamed! It was a deep, dark fall, but He will lift us up. Glory to our God!