In case it has escaped your notice, we seem to be falling into something of a pattern in our presentation of God’s One Big Story. First, we watch and enjoy a new segment of the Story, then we pause to analyze that segment to see what we can take away from it. In effect, what we have been doing is donning two different hats for each of our play’s presentations—the first hat having been made for the devoted, theatre-going patron who is just out for an evening’s entertainment, and the second one having been designed for the questioning, somewhat jaded theatre critic who is searching for the pathos inherent in every new production.
Well, now that we have finished viewing Vignette #3—The Perils of Personal Autonomy (dealing with Man’s Sin and Fall from Grace) —it’s time for us to remove our Patron’s Cap and don our Critic’s Cap, so that we can search for the meanings and pathos that may be hidden in this portion of our Story.
I suppose that for us as critics, there can be no more pathos-producing element within a Story than the introduction of Evil into it—especially when that Evil seems to be completely unwarranted and so out of place. This is especially true when we consider that in our Story so far, everything and everyone in it has been declared Good…
- God is holy, so we know that Evil has no place in Him;
- The world God has created is perfect so, as yet there is no place for Evil in it; and,
- Our human characters, made in the image of God, are still both innocent and unacquainted with Evil of any sort.
So, what possible purpose can be served by the Author of this Story—God Himself—in allowing Evil into this, His most magnificent opus, even though He knows better than anyone else the dire consequences that will result from such an allowance?
What Has Evil Got to Do with It?
To help us answer this all-important question, we must go back to two of the questions we recently addressed in Another Learning Interlude—those being, why and how was Man created? There we learned that…
- Man was created by God for Sonship; and,
- Man was created in the image of God, so that he could become a Son of God.
However, being created for Sonship meant that…
- Man would have to be holy, like his Father. For him to be found to be Holy, he would first have to be righteous—something that could only happen if he maintained his innocence when tested.
- Man would also have to be obedient to his Father, even if he didn’t fully understand the reasons for doing so.
And being created in the Image of God meant that…
- Man would have a will like God, giving him the power to choose to obey or disobey—to choose between Good and Evil. But before Man could make such a choice, he would first need to have both Good and Evil options from which to choose.
Sonship Requires Testing
These requirements bring us to God’s purpose for allowing the introduction of Evil into His Story, a purpose which can be summed up by one nasty word (and ordeal) which most of us try to avoid at all costs—and that is TESTING.
You see, Vignette #3 is all about a…
- A Test to see if Man would maintain his innocence in the face of temptation, in order to become righteous and holy like God; and,
- A Test to see if Man would use his will to carry out God’s will on the earth or use it to satisfy his own fleshly desires.
For all of our critical thinkers, here are the Fundamentals of the Fall and of Man’s Really Big Test…
Life Lessons to be learned from this Vignette
Using what we have just learned from the Fundamentals of the Fall, we can now identify some of the important Life Lessons about testing to be found in Vignette #3. Based upon Adam and Eve’s experiences, we can now say that…
- Everyone will be tested—even Christ was tested (Matt. 4:1-9). Unlike the first Adam, He put His trust in the Word of God when he was confronted by temptation.
- God allows/requires the testing. While Satan tempts us in order to separate us from God, God permits our testing so that we can be drawn closer to Him.
- Just like Adam and Eve, we will be tested on the revelation of God’s Word that we have received.
- And just as Eve was, we will be tested in three areas: the lust of the flesh (body), the lust of the eyes (soul), and the pride of life (spirit).
Here are some of the other Life Lessons, relating to the choices that we make and their consequences, that we can learn from Adam and Eve’s experiences. They are the hard lessons that…
- Everyone will be judged…
…inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes the judgment (Heb. 10:27).
- We will reap according to what we have sown…
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life (Gal. 6:7-8), and…
…everything will reproduce “after its kind” (Gen. 1).
- We will be judged according to our works. The righteous will be judged to determine their rewards, however, these rewards will not be immediate; they will be determined by our good works, all of which will be tested by fire, for…
…each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work (1 Cor. 3:13-14).
- The wicked will be judged to determine their degrees of punishment…
…And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds (Rev. 20:12).
- A broken relationship with God can only be restored by an atoning sacrifice for sin–something that must be the work of God alone, involve the death of an innocent substitute, and require the shedding of blood. (Heb. 9:11-14)
…Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ…for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God… (1 Peter 2:18-19, 23).
The Contributions this Vignette makes to the Heavenly Story…
With the introduction of Evil into our Story, a new and altogether unsavory Character joins its Cast. Although he has yet to be named and will, for the present time, remain invisible to us, his presence will surely be felt as he and his nefarious activities continue to wreak havoc among the people of God’s creation. It is through his evil actions in this, his first appearance in our Story, that the conflict which propels our Story forward is also introduced.
The Revelations of God found in the Story of the Fall…
Once again, these will be revealed to us as we consider the following criteria….
The names God uses to identify Himself…
In Vignette #3, God is still identified by the name, the Lord God, Jehovah or Yahweh. Although His name remains unchanged, a whole new dimension is added to it in this portion of the Story. Whereas, in Vignette #2, Yahweh was revealed as the immanent personal God, directly involved with Man as his Creator, life-giver, provider, and sustainer; in Vignette #3, Yahweh is revealed as Man’s seeker, his judge, his redeemer, and his restorer.
The Things that God does…
God’s actions in this segment of our Story can best be described as measured and proportional. Having already instructed the Man on what would and would not be acceptable conduct, He then allows him and his mate to have the time and opportunity to choose how they will conduct themselves. When they fail to do what it right, God doesn’t wait for them to come to Him; instead, He seeks them out, providing them with the opportunity to repent while still holding them accountable for their actions. As He must, He judges and imposes punishment on them for their sins but after doing so, He immediately provides a covering for those sins so that their fellowship with Him can be restored. In addition, He offers them the hope for a brighter future through the promise of a Redeemer who will eventually deliver them from sin’s bondage.
The Way that God relates to His Creation…
When we look closely at God’s actions, it is easy for us to see that He is relating to His Created Beings as any Father would to His Children. After providing His Children with love and a wonderful home, He teaches or instructs them in the right way to live, and then lets them choose whether or not they will obey. When they choose wrongly, He must discipline them–but that is always done with love.
What God says about Himself…
Once again, God has nothing to say about Himself, instead He lets His actions do all the talking–and, as usual, they say quite a bit about the God and Father that we are coming to know and love.
With this, our critical analysis of Vignette #3 has come to an end, however, there will be much more for us to dissect once we get to Vignette #4. That’s where we will meet Cain and Abel, Adam and Eve’s two sons, who will be bringing a whole new level of drama to our Story in The Fruit Doesn’t Fall Far from the Tree.