If I could visit anywhere in the world today, I would go to New Zeeland. I hear they are crazy down there. They come up with the craziest and zaniest things to do. From what I understand, the velcro wall was their invention. People would wear this special suit and then run toward this wall and jump on a springboard and stick to the wall. I’m not sure how they got down.
It was in New Zeeland that Bungy Jumping first became popular as well. In fact, from what I hear, otherwise normal, healthy businessmen and secretaries would take off during their lunch breaks and find a half-finished building in the neighborhood, tie themselves to a crane a couple of hundred feet in the air, throw themselves off the building a couple of times and then calmly go back to work.
I heard of one couple recently who got married and in order to symbolize what they had done, they went bungy jumping together. They decided to jump off a bridge and really “take the plunge” together in their wedding clothes and all. Crazy!!
Well, what does that all have to do with Genesis 3 and dthe Fall of Man. I think that’s just it – Man did not fall – he jumped. He did not fall. He did not trip. He did not make a mistake. It was not an accident. He jumped. It was deliberate. It was premeditated. It was on purpose. The titles in our Bibles are not inspired. I have put a line through the word FALL and I now I call it “The JUMP of Man.” It’s much more accurate.
But, then again, it wasn’t just any sort of a jump. It wasn’t an intent to commit suicide for instance. No, this was a jump for pleasure. This was the original bungy jump of man.
The problem is, if we keep the metaphor going, the problem is, that the cord broke and man died. The original bungy jump of man – not so much fun after all.
Let’s take a closer look at how this tragic event happened. First of all, vs. 1 – 5 make it clear that it was premeditated. It was thought out, deliberate. Sure, they were deceived by the snake but really, they were deceived by their own hearts. The snake was more “shrewed” than we give him credit for sometimes. He never did directly tell them to eat the fruit. Vs. 1 describes him as “crafty” or “shrewed” and he begins with an apparently innocent question: Did God really say, “You must not eat from ANY tree in the garden?”
There are a number of indications here of the shrewedness of the snake. By asking the question, “Did God REALLY say…..” he introduces a measure of doubt or skepticism about God’s very clear command. In fact, in the second part of his question, he muddies the waters even further by changing God’s command. In Chapter 2: 16, God had said “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden except one.” But the snake says, “You CAN’T eat from any of the trees including this one.” He makes God look a lot less generous than He really is. Shrewed, very shrewed.
Furthermore, you notice that he simply says “God,” not “Lord God.” Lord God means covenant God, faithful God, loving God – but the snake just says God. Except in these few verses, everywhere else in this chapter it’s the “Lord God.” The snake is already trying to put distance between the woman and her God. And she picks up on it in her answer where she too says only “God.”
There are also other indications that the snakes poison is starting to work. Oh, she corrects him all right. “God said we CAN eat from all the trees, except this one. Yet here in the second part, once again the generosity of God is questioned. She also misquotes the command of God. Not only can´t you eat of it but you can’t even touch it or you will die. That seems a little much. What are you saying? If I accidentally trip and touch the tree, I will die. What kind of God would do that? That’s not fair. And God’s character is once again under attack.
You ought not to miss the subtelty here – the snake is arousing in the woman, and the woman is arousing in herself, a normal, healthy distaste for tyranny, unfairness, and stingyness. No one likes those things – and that’s good. We’re not supposed to. Tyranny is bad, unfairness is not good, stingyness is distasteful. The problem is that they ascribe these things to God!! And more specifically to the way that God exercises his authority over them. God isn’t being a good king.
This becomes clearer in the serpent’s next statements. At first, it looks like a sharp contradiction of what God had said. God says, “You will die” and the snake says “You will NOT die.” He seems to make God out to be a liar. But it’s even more subtle than that. In the Hebrew this phrase can be understood as “certainly you will not die,” or “it is not certain that you will die.” That’s, at least, a softer contradition than how we normally read it.
And isn’t the snake at least half right? Adam and Eve did not die, at least not until Adam reached the ripe old age of 930 years. And their eyes were opened. In vs. 22 God says, “Man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil.” The snake told the truth. He just left out the most important parts. Things like, “Oh, but you will die spiritually and that’s even worse.” And, “Oh, you will know good and evil but it is a burden that will corrupt you and make you miserable for the rest of your life.” Minor details in the snake’s eyes.
But the way he explains it to the woman makes it sound like God is holding out on something wonderful for man. God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God knowing good and evil God knows but he didn’t tell you. He doesn’t want you to be like Him. He wants to be in charge, even if He is a bit of a tyrant, and unfair at times and certainly stingy.
And by this time, by plugging into a good and healthy aversion to tyranny, the snake has got the woman to the point of rebellion. Tyrant or not, and God certainly is not, the woman ought not to have rebelled against God’s clear command. But the more subtle sin was describing and believing that God was a tyrant, unfair and stingy. Therefore, I wil not longer listen to God. I can’t trust Him. I will become a god unto myself. I will choose for myself what is good or evil for me. And she ate and the man ate and together they jumbped into the abyss – and the cord broke and they died a horrible death – even if a bit delayed.
Look at vs. 6. What an interesting picture of the crime itself. The woman saw, she took and she gave also to her husband. What did she see? Three things – she saw that the fruit of the tree was 1) good for food 2) pleasing to the eye and 3) desirable for gaining wisdom.
The important thing to recognize is that the way she looked at the tree has now changed. Before it was a dangerous thing to be avoided. Now, it was something to be desired. The phrase “good for food and pleasing to the eye” was the way God describes all the OTHER trees he had made. In chapter 2, vs. 9 it says that, “the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground – treees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.” And so the woman is treating this tree, that was set apart, as something normal and good to which she had a right. Hey, I’m allowed to eat fruit which is good for food. I’m allowed to enjoy the trees that are pleasing to the eye. Sure. But not this one. She has already set aside in her own heart the command of God. But the key motivation is that it is desireable for gaining wisdom – perhaps better translated – it is desireable for becoming like God.
And so she saw and she took and she gave – sin always wants company if only to have someone with whom to share the blame. And she ate and the man ate – and together they jumped into the abyss, and the cord broke and they died a death of a thousand cuts.
But the Lord God, the covenant God, the faithful and loving God, went looking. He, himself, jumped into the abyss and descended even into Hell to find His people and draw them out again.
I hate to ruin your image of bungy jumping but I think it’s good if we let it remind us of the jump that we all make when we sin. We describe in our hearts the laws of God as tyrannical and unfair and stingy and so we justify doing things our own way.
We no longer look at sin as something dangerous to be avoided but rather as something good and normal to which we have a right. We deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
Sin is dangerous and God is not tyrannical and unfair and stingy. He is the Lord God who loves us. He is the Lord God who died for us. He is the Lord God whoo gives us abundant life. And he is worthy of our obedience and love. Amen