May 24, 2018
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’?”
2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 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.’”
4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. 5 “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
6 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.
Now the serpent. . . . perhaps the three most foreboding words in the Bible.
The serpent, a.k.a. Satan, begins by calling the Word of God into question.
“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?”
This serpent, we are told, is most “crafty.” Note the not so subtle distortion in the reframing of God’s word. Now hear the woman’s response:
“We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,”
So far so good . . .
but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden,”
Still batting a thousand . . .
and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
At this point I hear in my mind the “fail music” they play on the Price is Right when someone fails the challenge. Listen.
It’s too bad this was a pass/fail test with no partial credit. She got 2/3 of it exactly right. For the record, here’s what God actually said:
And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
It’s also worth pointing out God didn’t actually say this to the woman but to Adam. Chances are, Adam gave Eve his translation, or worse, his “sense” of what God said. Regardless, someone got it wrong, which shows us the high stakes nature of biblical work. Bottom line: Satan reads Scripture, too, and some of the worst atrocities in human history have occurred as a consequence of his distorted reading of the text.
Note, also the deeper craft of Satan’s crafty-ness. “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” He deploys a scare tactic; more properly, a “scarce” tactic. He creates the appearance of scarcity, and the suggested appearance of scarcity creates the experience of scarcity. (Scarcity is not an external fact but an internal effect. Scarcity is what makes the rich hoard and the poor beg.) The experience of scarcity arises from the presence of fear, which comes from the failure of trust, and the failure of trust comes from a loss of confidence in the trustworthiness of the one being trusted: in this case, God.
So what does any of this have to do with prayer? Everything. How we understand God determines how we see ourselves and how we see ourselves determines how we experience the world. Do we experience the world from a place of abundance or scarcity? This will determine how we pray.
When we live in scarcity, we pray like beggars. Meanwhile Jesus says stuff like, “If you, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask.”
Do we really believe God wants us to approach him as beggars? Does anyone out there want their children to approach them as beggars?
Whether you want to lean in with me on this way of seeing God’s speech in Creation as prayer or not, this tour through these opening chapters of the bible is meant to help us locate ourselves. Are we Genesis 1-2 people flourishing in abundance or are we Genesis 3- scarcity people? The resurrection and ascension of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit doesn’t all at once abolish the reality of Genesis 3; however, it opens a new and living way of prayer anchored far more in the possibilities of Eden and the New Creation than in the problems of exile.
Whether we will admit it or not, most of us have become quite comfortable living in scarcity. It is, after all, predictable. To live into the abundant Kingdom of Heaven is risky business.
We will move on now. Thanks for hanging in there with me.
Lord Jesus, you are right here, right now. I must look like a fool in all my begging when you hold out the riches of your Kingdom as a pure gift. Lead me into the new and living way you opened up. Teach me to live into this inheritance in ways that extend it to others. I want to learn to pray like that. Right here, Jesus. Right now Jesus. Amen.
- The real question is not whether you are rich or poor but whether you are a scarcity or an abundance person?
- What insight do you take away from these early chapters of Genesis?
- How might you practically begin to move in the faith of flourishing?
Join the Daily Text Fasting Challenge here. Whenever you sign up, it will begin the following Tuesday.
J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.