Today’s reading is from Genesis 3, Matthew 3, Ezra 3 and Acts 3.
Genesis 3 recounts the fall of mankind into sin. I find it interesting that the temptation, which involved the lust of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes and pride of life (1 John 2:16) said,,,
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 its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. (3:6)
That description of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is almost exactly like every other tree in the garden. Genesis 2:9 said…
And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
So all the trees were pleasant to look at and good for food. The only difference is that the name of the tree and Satan’s temptation, offered to “make one wise.” Isn’t it amazing that Adam and Eve had access freely eat of any tree of the garden, and they were all beautiful and delectable…and they chose the ONE tree God about which said, “Keep out”?
Satan’s temptation was first to question God’s word (3:1, “did God actually say…?”), then directly denied the truth of God’s word (3:4, “You will not surely die”), then Satan questions God’s goodness, spinning it as if God was withholding something from them. This “something” would make them like God, independent of God.
Why would Eve want to know “evil” (3:5)? She had never experienced it before and possibly had no idea what it was. Up until that moment, she had never known anything but “good.” Possibly again it was the idea that God was withholding something from her, the belief that ultimately God wasn’t good.
Of course, all the consequences, immediate and long-term, were negative. First, their eyes were opened (to evil) and they saw that they were naked (cf. 2:25), but now for the first time they felt shame and tried to cover themselves. We all attempt to hide, being ashamed of what we’ve done and who we are.
The second response to their newly experienced sinfulness and falleness was to hurl blame upon one another–Adam to Eve and Eve to the serpent. Each of them was at fault, so each was judged.
The proto-evangelium (first gospel), and the reality that history from then on would be filled with spiritual warfare, is found in Genesis 3:15…
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
Here God says that in the perpetual battle between Satan and the women (and her offspring), Satan will gain seeming victories, but will ultimately and completely be defeated by her offspring–Jesus Christ.
Verses 20-21 offer hope in the midst of judgment. Adam still called his wife Eve, the “mother of all living,” even though their actions brought death into the world. Also, God provided them a new, and better, covering, the skin of an animal requiring death (thus initiating the reality that a living substitute would have to die for sins to be pardoned). Was this animal a “pet” of Adam and Eve, one well-known and precious to them, as the ultimate sacrifice would be to God the Father??
Matthew 3 is about the ministry of John the Baptist and the baptism of Jesus. I’m always reminded when I read of the Father’s affirmation of his son here in Matthew 3:17 (and add Matthew 17:5) we get a composite statement, “This is my beloved Son, with who, I am well pleased. Listen to him.” Every son needs his father to regularly tell him: “I love you. I am proud of you. You do ___________ well.” I believe I first heard this from Robert Lewis in his Authentic Manhood course. Dads, take a moment to write to your son(s) and tell him these three things, even if they are adults. Then do it regularly.
The first part of Ezra is about the rebuilding of the temple. According to Ezra 3:1-6 the returned Israelites were offering all the offerings, but the temple of the Lord “was not yet laid.” When the foundation was laid (3:10), they worshiped (3:11). However, some of the “old men who had seen the first house, wept with a loud voice when they saw the foundation of this house being laid.” They compared Solomon’s temple with this puny temple and couldn’t help grieving. Did they grieve over their sins which had caused Solomon’s temple to be destroyed, or were they grieving simply because the glory of this temple (and therefore their prestige as a nation) was so meager in comparison?
Acts 3 is about the healing of the lame man (3:1-11) and Peter’s sermon (3:12-). The healing of the lame man resulted in “And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him” (3:10) and the people “came running” to Peter and John. That is when Peter preached the gospel to them. This is why I say that gifts like healing, miracles and tongues were given to (1) arrest people’s attention (wonder and amazement, running to listen) and (2) attest to the authenticity of this “new” gospel.
Notice the interesting juxtaposition in Acts 3:15 of the title “Author of life” referring to Jesus, whom “you killed” but whom “God raised from the dead.”