[This is part five in what I'm thinking will be an eight-part series.]
One hardly needs to make the case that God is holy and just, that is, perfect and fair. His holiness is incomparable—no other gods even come close (Ex. 15:11). His throne room occupies the highest penthouse one can imagine (Isa. 57:15). And just like anything else that can be said about God, he doesn’t simply act holy or just, he is himself holy and just (Deut. 32:4). Given all this, surely he couldn’t be considered perfect and fair if he turned a blind eye to all the atrocities mentioned above. His faithfulness depends on it.
But it’s all too easy to point the finger at the likes of Auschwitz or Hiroshima. We’d do well to remember that we’ve all added to this mess. From the time of the disobedience and fall of Adam and Eve, sinfulness has been bequeathed to all their heirs (however that was done), and all their heirs have contributed their own share to it (Rom. 5:12). None of us escape this problem, at least not on our own.
We all reenact the same sin of the first pair too. In the garden, an open, honest and loving relationship with the creator was rejected for the supposed pleasure of making their own rules. It was a failed grasp at autonomy, to do things according to their own agenda, not God’s. In so doing, Adam and Eve betrayed their confusion: they thought they were God himself, rulers and sustainers of all that is. Being the pinnacle of God’s creation, they clung to that status and, indeed, became intoxicated with it.
We all do the same.
The result of this fall was that God cursed the serpent who deceived them (Gen. 3:14–15). He then cursed Eve, and thus all women, to suffer during childbirth (which childbirth, ironically, paved the way for the history of God’s unfolding plan of redemption) and to become profoundly alienated from her husband, especially through tedious power struggles in their relationship. Adam, of course, also receives these curses, along with every man related to him and who acts like him; there is indeed a cosmic significance attached to his sin (see, for example, Rom. 5:15–19). The earth, too, faced God’s judgment (Gen. 3:17–19):
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. It will produce weeds and thorns, and you will have to eat wild plants. You 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.And finally, they were both kicked out of Paradise (Gen. 3:23–24). God’s temple-garden had to be cleansed, protected—both acts that Adam failed to do. Upon seeing that old dragon he should’ve throttled it and wrestled it out of the garden. But in that crucial moment, he sat back, all lazy and careless like we men are wont to do.