Jesus’ birth isn’t correctly marked on the calendar, and I think it should be celebrated year-round. Still, people respond to seasons, rituals, scheduled times for remembrance and reflection. God pointed this out when He was talking to Moses. Long before Jesus came, He designed holidays that pointed us toward our coming hope. As we head toward Christmas and close out the year, I’m celebrating Advent with the 1 Minute Wiser videos and this blog. Advent focuses on 4 themes: Hope, Love, Joy and Peace.
Genesis 3:4 ESV The serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of (the tree), your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of the tree and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.
She couldn’t stop looking at it. The more she looked, the more it seemed the serpent might be right. It was probably safe. She’d never heard anyone suggest God might not be trustworthy until now. The serpent seemed to know more than she did, and it was bugging her. God must be keeping secrets. Does He think I can’t handle the truth? Did He think He could hold me down forever? He’s gonna be surprised when I stand up to Him! I bet Adam will look at me with new eyes. Well, it’s only right. Who knows what else He’s keeping from us? It’s for our own protection—we need to be wise.
I wasn’t there, so I can’t be sure what went through Eve’s mind, but we humans are a bit predictable. When we gaze long enough at something that is not good for us, we become relaxed about its danger. Reduced fear feels like power. When we decide it’s safe, we rationalize. Then we get defensive about the choice we’re making. Soon it’s not bad, it’s the right choice. It’s our right. In fact, everyone should do it. We’ll be the spokesmodels, the champions leading the way.
The “wisdom” Adam and Eve obtained brought immediate shame about who they were. The God who made sunsets and peacocks and glow-in-the-dark fish made two people. They ran around starkers because they were perfectly designed. Suddenly, in their new-found wisdom, they were ashamed and felt the need to cover up. The shame remained, so they hid, cowering when God called for them. Failing to trust God and giving in to temptation is a miserable way to get smart.
After shame comes blame. Finding fault makes us feel better about who we are, but it leaves us lonely, crushing the last salvageable pieces of a relationship. Adam had been right there with Eve. He wasn’t turning away, saying, “Hon, let’s go.” But when confronted, he made it sound like she’d baked poison fruit surprise for dinner.
God saw the pattern unfolding. I imagine it broke His heart.
I have clients who spend their hard-earned retirement savings in numerous attempts to help their kids. Their children are addicts or cons or just plain irresponsible. Human “rescue” methods often don’t save us at all. A car payment here, a bail bond there, and my clients’ children become master manipulators and even abusers. When we rationalize wrong, we have to feel the potholes in the road we’re on or we won’t turn back. Being carried merely extends our misery. Sin perverts our understanding of life, taints our treatment of others, and locks us into a cycle of feeding what destroys us.
God knew this. In the garden where they cowered was the Tree of Life. Eating from that tree would have extended the shame, the blame, the disconnect and remorse that were now part of Adam and Eve’s life. He blocked their access to Eden, but not to Himself. He was with them outside the garden. Life was harder, and the rift between them grew wider as the generations passed. Humanity fought wisdom with recklessness, vulnerability with cruelty. God literally washed the earth clean and started over with Noah’s family, but we continued to trust the serpent and our twisted wisdom more than God.
In every generation, some people trusted God. They realized He is the One who loves us, the One who holds true wisdom and wants to share it with us, and they told everyone of the hope they’d found.
Psalm 19:7 ESV The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; 8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether.
God is perfect. He knows everything. We do not, and when we distrust His direction, we gain a distorted wisdom that traps us in cycles of bad thinking. In John 4, when Jesus talked to the Samaritan woman at the well, he saw the vibrant woman God had made trapped in a cycle of never feeling loved. That desperation for love drove her to acts that carried her deeper into shame each time. He offered her the water of life, which would cleanse her palate of that addictive fruit. Advent is a time of hope. The serpent’s offer of hope was a contract dangled by a skeezy hand in front of a wide-eyed ingenue. It never satisfied and intensified the need for a good scrub. Jesus brought real hope, directly from the throne of our Creator. He demonstrated that God never lost His love and desire for us.
Hebrews 6:18b says, “Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. 19 This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.”
Take the hope, true wisdom, and companionship God has for you today.
Here’s a song for you to enjoy. Sing along!