Genesis 3: Human nature revealed (3 January 2020)

Bible Society's Daily Reflections follow the M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, designed for those who want to read the whole Bible in one year. Each reflection focuses on one of its four daily chapters.  Darllenwch rhain yn Gymraeg.

Pray

Pray

Lord, prepare me to receive your word. Clear my mind and warm my heart. Assure me of your loving purposes for me, and speak into my life today.

Read

Read

Human Disobedience

1Now the snake was the most cunning animal that the LORD God had made. The snake asked the woman, “Did God really tell you not to eat fruit from any tree in the garden?”

2“We may eat the fruit of any tree in the garden,” the woman answered, 3“except the tree in the middle of it. God told us not to eat the fruit of that tree or even touch it; if we do, we will die.”

4The snake replied, “That's not true; you will not die. 5God said that, because he knows that when you eat it you will be like God and know what is good and what is bad.”

6The woman saw how beautiful the tree was and how good its fruit would be to eat, and she thought how wonderful it would be to become wise. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, and he also ate it. 7As soon as they had eaten it, they were given understanding and realized that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and covered themselves.

8That evening they heard the LORD God walking in the garden, and they hid from him among the trees. 9But the LORD God called out to the man, “Where are you?”

10He answered, “I heard you in the garden; I was afraid and hid from you, because I was naked.”

11“Who told you that you were naked?” God asked. “Did you eat the fruit that I told you not to eat?”

12The man answered, “The woman you put here with me gave me the fruit, and I ate it.”

13The LORD God asked the woman, “Why did you do this?”

She replied, “The snake tricked me into eating it.”

God Pronounces Judgement

14Then the LORD God said to the snake, “You will be punished for this; you alone of all the animals must bear this curse: from now on you will crawl on your belly, and you will have to eat dust as long as you live. 15I will make you and the woman hate each other; her offspring and yours will always be enemies. Her offspring will crush your head, and you will bite her offspring's heel.”

16And he said to the woman, “I will increase your trouble in pregnancy and your pain in giving birth. In spite of this, you will still have desire for your husband, yet you will be subject to him.”

17And he said to the man, “You listened to your wife and ate the fruit which I told you not to eat. Because of what you have done, the ground will be under a curse. You will have to work hard all your life to make it produce enough food for you. 18It will produce weeds and thorns, and you will have to eat wild plants. 19You will have to work hard and sweat to make the soil produce anything, until you go back to the soil from which you were formed. You were made from soil, and you will become soil again.”

20Adam named his wife Eve, because she was the mother of all human beings. 21And the LORD God made clothes out of animal skins for Adam and his wife, and he clothed them.

Adam and Eve are Sent Out of the Garden

22Then the LORD God said, “Now the man has become like one of us and has knowledge of what is good and what is bad. He must not be allowed to take fruit from the tree that gives life, eat it, and live for ever.” 23So the LORD God sent him out of the Garden of Eden and made him cultivate the soil from which he had been formed. 24Then at the east side of the garden he put living creatures and a flaming sword which turned in all directions. This was to keep anyone from coming near the tree that gives life.

The Preaching of John the Baptist

1At that time John the Baptist came to the desert of Judah and started preaching. 2“Turn away from your sins,” he said, “because the Kingdom of heaven is near!” 3John was the man the prophet Isaiah was talking about when he said:

“Someone is shouting in the desert,

‘Prepare a road for the Lord;

make a straight path for him to travel!’ ”

4John's clothes were made of camel's hair; he wore a leather belt round his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5People came to him from Jerusalem, from the whole province of Judea, and from all the country near the River Jordan. 6They confessed their sins, and he baptized them in the Jordan.

7When John saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to him to be baptized, he said to them, “You snakes — who told you that you could escape from the punishment God is about to send? 8Do those things that will show that you have turned from your sins. 9And don't think you can escape punishment by saying that Abraham is your ancestor. I tell you that God can take these stones and make descendants for Abraham! 10The axe is ready to cut down the trees at the roots; every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown in the fire. 11I baptize you with water to show that you have repented, but the one who will come after me will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. He is much greater than I am; and I am not good enough even to carry his sandals. 12He has his winnowing shovel with him to thresh out all the grain. He will gather his wheat into his barn, but he will burn the chaff in a fire that never goes out.”

The Baptism of Jesus

13At that time Jesus arrived from Galilee and came to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14But John tried to make him change his mind. “I ought to be baptized by you,” John said, “and yet you have come to me!”

15But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so for now. For in this way we shall do all that God requires.” So John agreed.

16As soon as Jesus was baptized, he came up out of the water. Then heaven was opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God coming down like a dove and alighting on him. 17Then a voice said from heaven, “This is my own dear Son, with whom I am pleased.”

Worship Begins Again

1By the seventh month the people of Israel were all settled in their towns. Then they all assembled in Jerusalem, 2and Joshua son of Jehozadak, his fellow-priests, and Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, together with his relatives, rebuilt the altar of the God of Israel, so that they could burn sacrifices on it according to the instructions written in the Law of Moses, the man of God. 3Even though the returning exiles were afraid of the people who were living in the land, they rebuilt the altar where it had stood before. Then they began once again to burn on it the regular morning and evening sacrifices. 4They celebrated the Festival of Shelters according to the regulations; each day they offered the sacrifices required for that day; 5and in addition they offered the regular sacrifices to be burnt whole and those to be offered at the New Moon Festival and at all the other regular assemblies at which the LORD is worshipped, as well as all the offerings that were given to the LORD voluntarily. 6Although the people had not yet started to rebuild the Temple, they began on the first day of the seventh month to burn sacrifices to the LORD.

The Rebuilding of the Temple Begins

7The people gave money to pay the stonemasons and the carpenters and gave food, drink, and olive oil to be sent to the cities of Tyre and Sidon in exchange for cedar trees from Lebanon, which were to be brought by sea to Joppa. All this was done with the permission of Cyrus, emperor of Persia. 8So in the second month of the year after they came back to the site of the Temple in Jerusalem, they began work. Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the rest of their fellow-countrymen, the priests, and the Levites, in fact all the exiles who had come back to Jerusalem, joined in the work. All the Levites twenty years of age or older were put in charge of the work of rebuilding the Temple. 9The Levite Jeshua and his sons and relatives, and Kadmiel and his sons (the clan of Hodaviah) joined together in taking charge of the rebuilding of the Temple. (They were helped by the Levites of the clan of Henadad.)

10When the builders started to lay the foundation of the Temple, the priests in their robes took their places with trumpets in their hands, and the Levites of the clan of Asaph stood there with cymbals. They praised the LORD according to the instructions handed down from the time of King David. 11They sang the LORD's praises, repeating the refrain:

“The LORD is good, and his love for Israel is eternal.”

Everyone shouted with all his might, praising the LORD, because the work on the foundation of the Temple had been started. 12Many of the older priests, Levites, and heads of clans had seen the first Temple, and as they watched the foundation of this Temple being laid, they cried and wailed. But the others who were there shouted for joy. 13No one could distinguish between the joyful shouts and the crying, because the noise they made was so loud that it could be heard far and wide.

A Lame Man is Healed

1One day Peter and John went to the Temple at three o'clock in the afternoon, the hour for prayer. 2There at the Beautiful Gate, as it was called, was a man who had been lame all his life. Every day he was carried to the gate to beg for money from the people who were going into the Temple. 3When he saw Peter and John going in, he begged them to give him something. 4They looked straight at him, and Peter said, “Look at us!” 5So he looked at them, expecting to get something from them. 6But Peter said to him, “I have no money at all, but I give you what I have: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth I order you to get up and walk!” 7Then he took him by his right hand and helped him up. At once the man's feet and ankles became strong; 8he jumped up, stood on his feet, and started walking around. Then he went into the Temple with them, walking and jumping and praising God. 9The people there saw him walking and praising God, 10and when they recognized him as the beggar who had sat at the Beautiful Gate, they were all surprised and amazed at what had happened to him.

Peter's Message in the Temple

11As the man held on to Peter and John in Solomon's Porch, as it was called, the people were amazed and ran to them. 12When Peter saw the people, he said to them, “Fellow-Israelites, why are you surprised at this, and why do you stare at us? Do you think that it was by means of our own power or godliness that we made this man walk? 13The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, has given divine glory to his Servant Jesus. But you handed him over to the authorities, and you rejected him in Pilate's presence, even after Pilate had decided to set him free. 14He was holy and good, but you rejected him, and instead you asked Pilate to do you the favour of turning loose a murderer. 15You killed the one who leads to life, but God raised him from death — and we are witnesses to this. 16It was the power of his name that gave strength to this lame man. What you see and know was done by faith in his name; it was faith in Jesus that has made him well, as you can all see.

17“And now, my fellow-Israelites, I know that what you and your leaders did to Jesus was due to your ignorance. 18God announced long ago through all the prophets that his Messiah had to suffer; and he made it come true in this way. 19Repent, then, and turn to God, so that he will forgive your sins. If you do, 20times of spiritual strength will come from the Lord, and he will send Jesus, who is the Messiah he has already chosen for you. 21He must remain in heaven until the time comes for all things to be made new, as God announced through his holy prophets who lived long ago. 22For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will send you a prophet, just as he sent me, and he will be one of your own people. You are to obey everything that he tells you to do. 23Anyone who does not obey that prophet shall be separated from God's people and destroyed.’ 24And all the prophets who had a message, including Samuel and those who came after him, also announced what has been happening these days. 25The promises of God through his prophets are for you, and you share in the covenant which God made with your ancestors. As he said to Abraham, ‘Through your descendants I will bless all the people on earth.’ 26And so God chose his Servant and sent him first to you, to bless you by making every one of you turn away from your wicked ways.”

Reflect

Reflect on Genesis 3

The Bible's first two chapters paint a picture of God's creation in harmony: people, living creatures and the natural world all fit perfectly together. The creation myths of the time these stories were written described a world born out of violence and hatred. No, says Genesis: 'God looked at what he had done and saw that it was good' (CEV).

Genesis 3 is where things start to go wrong for humanity. It portrays eternal truths about human nature. We're drawn to 'forbidden fruit': there's something darkly attractive about stepping over the boundaries and doing what we know we shouldn't do. When Adam and Eve disobey God, they become ashamed of who they are. They try to avoid responsibility – Adam blames Eve, and Eve blames the serpent. The harmony between them is broken, and so is the harmony of nature: death enters the natural world as God makes clothing for them out of animal skins. Life becomes much harder and much more painful.

The theologian and philosopher Simone Weil once wrote: 'Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.'

Adam and Eve weren't abandoned, and the rich tapestry of the Bible is threaded through with grace. But Genesis 3 is a warning: sin has consequences, and when we do wrong we will regret it

Pray

Pray

God, I'm sorry for the times I've gone wrong because I've failed to trust that you know best. Forgive me and help me do better, I pray. 

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