Advent 3–Genesis 3:13-15, The End of Shame

Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

 So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,

“Cursed are you above all livestock
and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
and you will eat dust
all the days of your life.
And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.”

Genesis 3:13-15

Protoevangelium, the first gospel—that’s your vocabulary word for the day. It refers to last half of Genesis 3:15, “he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” This verse offers the first reference to salvation in scripture, the earliest prophecy pointing us to the cross.

This chapter is packed with the truth about our sin heritage, but it also includes the hope of our redemption. It fascinates me that Adam and Eve have hardly digested the fruit before God comes to set things straight. In those intervening moments, while frantically sewing fig leaves into a bra and a loin cloth, I wonder if Eve felt the weight of a most appalling failure.

Remember preschool? Your toddler years? Do you remember lacking the self-awareness to feel shame? You could streak through a living room full of holiday house guests with nary a stitch on your body and not feel the slightest trepidation or embarrassment.

Someone had to make you aware. You had to be taught modesty because of, well propriety for starters, but also because of evil in the world. We have to be taught the ways of the world for our protection.

But Adam and Eve lived in a perfect world which required no protection. God had seen to every need, and He had not given evil admittance to the garden. It could not enter the world without an invitation—someone had to hold open the gate to usher in the reign of sin.

One meal of forbidden fruit and everything changed, not only for the first family, but for all who would follow. Poor Eve. She had regarded the fruit as Satan twisted God’s words—it looked good, it was food, and it would make them wise. What could it hurt?

I’ve been a perfectionist my entire life. These days I’m in recovery, trying to change the way my brain works! I’ve learned a lot. Perfectionists are very hard on themselves, viewing even little mistakes as if they are colossal failures. And Eve’s mistake? That one was a lulu, y’all. She coveted wisdom but unleashed evil on creation. I feel terribly sad for her. It must be unbearable to live with a failure like that.

Maybe God thought so, too. Look at how He announces the consequences of sin to each character in the story. The woman’s offspring will crush Satan’s head. Curious, isn’t it? Every offspring in the history of offspring is descended from Eve and Adam, but God specifically emphasizes that the devil’s defeat will come at the hands of her descendant.

Now, regarding Eve and her kids, God announces, “It’s gonna hurt! A lot!” Still, in spite of the pain that she will experience, God made it a point to highlight Eve’s role in Satan’s defeat. Her offspring would bring about the victory that would end the reign of sin.

We all share in Eve’s failure. Each one of us has held open the gate and welcomed sin to the table. But throughout the Old Testament, God reveals His plan to end sin’s reign. Jesus came and made us aware of the depth of our sin, exposing our nakedness, provoking our feelings of shame and stirring conviction, but also announcing the arrival of redemption.

We observe Advent to remember the arrival of Christ and to prepare for His return. There could be no greater tidings of joy than for the perfectionist than to hear that she no longer has to bear the shame of failure.

How can we prepare for Jesus to come again? By declaring the good news—shame has no claim on those who have placed their faith in Him.

Righteousness of God

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

II Corinthians 5:21

 

 

 

 

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