Genesis 3 in the Gospel Story and in the City

 

As we saw in Genesis 2, God established a relationship with Adam — the King to his sub-regent and the Sovereign Lord to a priest. In Adam’s relationship as sub-regent and priest he was to rule under God’s command and worship God through his obedient priestly service in the Garden-Temple. Instead, Adam revolted and chose to act independently of God, believing the seductions of the anti-god, the Serpent. Adam relinquishes faith in God’s plan for his life and instead seeks to achieve life his own way. In so doing, he experiences death, initially seen in his alienation from God. He no longer worships and anticipates the presence of God but rather shrinks back in fear, for he knows that his sin calls for judgment.

Romans 5 reminds us that all of us were in Adam. His revolt it our revolt. His sin is our sin. His alienation from God and banishment from the garden is our plight.

Genesis 3 explains to us the feeling of banishment with which we live. We sense that something is lost. We cannot always define that lost-ness but nevertheless it is common to all humans. We search futilely to fill the void and regain what is lost.

The urban centers of the world increase our sense of lost-ness and loneliness. Yes, you may feel lost and alone in the wilderness or on a secluded mountain top, but you can hear the noises of the city, be pressed upon by the crowds, be surrounded by tall lighted occupied high-rises, and yet be alone. This deep loneliness and lost-ness when suffered in the midst of all the sights and sounds of life is painful. The often fragile and trivial communities of work, neighborhood, and play cannot assuage the loneliness of the soul that is estranged from God. Cities then become a harvest field for the gospel because they prove that neither the best or worst of human culture and society can fill that deep emptiness of the soul.

The cry of Jesus from the cross “my God, my God, why have you abandoned me” is our cry. He suffers banishment from His Father so that we may be restored to the Father. The Paradise that is lost because of human rebellion is regained through the obedient sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

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Genesis 2 in the Gospel Story and in the City

Genesis Two portrays the kingdom of God in its original harmony. God creates man in his own image and places him in His kingdom, a garden-temple, in which Adam offers priestly service to God by extending throughout creation order and beauty and dominion in the worship of God. God graciously gives Adam a wife with whom he partners in his priestly duties of extending the kingdom of God. All is in harmony, God with man, man with the world, and man with woman.

There is only one restriction in the Garden/temple – ‘to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” God lovingly protected humanity from the experiential knowledge of evil. The only way to know evil experientially was to do evil by rebelling against God and eating of the forbidden tree. Adam knew that good and evil existed because of the nature of the tree. He has only experienced good up to this point and need not experience evil, unless he rebels.

Again we are reminded as we read that this harmony has been replaced with struggle. There now exists a tension in man’s relationship with God, with the world, and with other human beings. We know not only the existence of evil, we know the experience of evil, and it has ruined us.

Perhaps nowhere is this loss of harmony seen more clearly than in the city. The brokenness of man’s relationship with the world is seen vividly in the plague of poverty, blighted, trash ridden neighborhoods, polluted rivers and streams, poor air quality, diminishing open space, etc. Also, the brokenness of human relationships is seen in the prevalence of divorce, single parent homes, homelessness, economic oppression, racism, and violence. But, most evident is the spirit of rebellion against God. Like Adam city-dwellers often choose the experience of evil rather than worshipful obedience to the Creator God. Rather than do the priestly work of serving and worshipping God, through extending the beauty and order of the Kingdom of God, we choose rather to idolize the created world or rape it for our own selfish purposes.

The harmonious world that once was is broken and cries out for a redeemer – One who can defeat the evil that disrupts the harmony of God’s creation, a redeemer who can restore humankind to the priestly work of extending order and beauty and dominion in the worship of God.