Alfred Place Baptist Church

3:1-7 The serpent appears

Genesis 3:1-7 “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, Did God really say, You must not eat from any tree in the garden? The woman said to the serpent, We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,
but God did say, You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die. You will not surely die, the serpent said to the woman. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realised that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.”

When I was a boy of around 8 years of age in Junior School one of the ways the headmaster would encourage me to write prose was by taking out of a glass-fronted cupboard in his study a manuscript which had been written in a school notebook by a small boy who had attended the school ten years earlier. The headmaster would read aloud to me the opening words of a short story the boy had composed and whose handwriting, incidentally was in a beautiful copperplate. As the headmaster went through this routine several times I am able to remember even today those first sentences; In the dawn dark forms could be dimly discerned moving restlessly on the horizon evidently preparing for an attack . . . Now notice the alliteration, the headmaster, Mr. Lewis, would say.

That wasn’t a bad effort for a ten year old writer was it? As a little boy I was enormously impressed by it, though I never heard anything further than the first two or three sentences. Confronting such an achievement from a boy my own age – and soon to be younger than me – was as daunting as meeting an unplayable composition of Mozart propped up on the piano announcing that it was written when the composer was six years of age. Who was that Merthyr boy, I wonder, and whatever became of him?

The opening sentence of his short story created a mood of anticipation for what was to follow next, the dawn breaking . . . the dark forms about to attack . . . and I will never know what occurred! Something was going to happen soon. So it is when you read the first two chapters of Genesis you are thinking, Something’s going to happen soon. God has created the possibility of things going wrong. He didn’t make angels and men in such a way that they were immune from temptation. Almost as soon as he had created the angels there was a rebellion by a third of them and God had a great sping-cleaning of heaven driving every single one of the rebels outside. With that same freedom in which God had made the angels the Lord created man, in other words, with no built-in immunity to sin. Something’s going to happen!

God also set aside a tree in the Garden which he designated a tree of the knowledge of good and evil and he put Adam under probation not to eat from its fruit. Is Adam going to obey God? Were going to find out. Something’s going to happen! God even allowed the ringleader of these fallen angels to enter the Garden of Eden and confront the woman. God didn’t make Paradise a Satan-free zone. Something’s going to happen soon! Mankind is on the perilous path to freedom, and our freedom was not going to be attained by a single powerful act of the divine will by which God would constitute us sin-free for ever and ever erecting impregnable walls around perfect unfallen man. It was not going to come about like that. Freedom would come to us by permitting our first parents to be tempted and to fall and a mighty Saviour lovingly to be sent.

Now every amateur theologian, every little boy or girl whos been raised in a Christian home, is soon going to ask his or her parents, Where did evil come from if God is all good and all powerful? We want the answer. We want a book, with a chapter and a paragraph in it that sums it all up, so that we know how. We need it on a shelf, and once every ten years or so well take it down and rehearse the explanation and reassure ourselves that we know where sin came from and why both angels and men created by God – and as holy as himself – could spit in Gods face. For some wise reason God doesn’t tell us how this could happen. There is total silence. Live with that ignorance, God says, and trust in me and obey. He assures us he is all good. He tells us he is all powerful. He declares to us that sin didn’t come from him – it couldn’t come from him – it came somehow from the very beings the holy God made, but how that was, he doesn’t tell us.

There is more than that to consider. Its very dangerous to think of religion as something chockablock full of mysteries, and to think of ourselves as practical down-to-earth blokes. It confirms a worldly feeling that nobody knows any definite answers to anything. It is not like that. We know all we have to do to get out of hell and get into heaven. We have to put our trust in Jesus Christ the Son of God. We know all that we must do to glorify and enjoy God. We know all that we must do to live a life pleasing to God. Where evil comes from is not an issue about something that happened thousands of years ago, it is about something that happened last week in your life. Where did that come from? How could you behave as you did when you’ve served Jesus maybe fifty years? Where did that sin come from? You’re a Christian? Yes. A real Christian? I guess so. You mean that in your life God the Holy Spirit lives? Yes. You are joined to Jesus Christ, and he is joined to you, our Lord too is in you – God is in you? Yes. And you sin? You sin bad? You have done terrible things as a Christian, with the Holy Spirit in you, joined to Jesus Christ? Yes. God all powerful, and all good and yet he lets you sin just like you’ve sinned in the past few days? Yes. Have you got some explanation for this? Are you taking that in your stride, that you sin as you do? Think of that Christian in Corinth who went to a prostitute; Paul says something shocking, that he was taking the members of Christ and joining them to a harlot. Sin is something terrible and inexplicable. How dare we sin!

The real issue is not how was it possible for angels to sin, or our first parents to sin, but how in the world do you continue sinning? The issue is this, why does God let you sin? My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin (I Jn. 2:1). That’s the biblical command, and yet we seem to think it is the most understandable thing in the world that we sin, and we want to channel the conversation from ourselves to the very beginning of everything and talk about the angels sinning and our first parents sinning. No! Why do you as a Christian man or woman sin against those you love the most? Why do you sin against those you depend upon the most? I have no excuse but I sadly acknowledge the power of sin. Sin is simply ugly irrationality. There is no book with the answer to your question, no explanation of where sin comes from, that you can take off the shelf every few years and brush up the explanation while in the mean time getting on with living your own selfish life. Where did sin come from? Unless you repent you shall all likewise perish, Jesus says. Watch and pray! Take heed you who stand lest you fall. Don’t be speculating about Adams sin. Fight against the sin that so easily besets you. That will take all your wits and all your energy. Simon, Simon, Satan hath desired to have you, to sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you. Is Jesus praying for you? Is your only hope being kept by an interceding Saviour? He is able to save to the uttermost them that come to God by him since he ever lives to make intercession for them.

So at the end of Genesis chapter two what is going to happen? Adam is under probation; he has been designed with the possibility of defying his Designer; there is a tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the Garden and Adam has been told not to eat from it. The garden of Eden is not off-limits for Satan. Something’s going to happen! But you would never guess what it is . . .

1. THE CRAFTY SERPENT MAKES ITS APPEARANCE.

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made (v.1). Words that appear at the beginning of Hebrew sentences are the emphatic words, and so these three words, Now the serpent, puts this animal right into our face. A snake! Iola and I were walking on the isle of Sicily and on the side of the road was a large metal road sign warning of some hazard ahead. It had fallen over and been abandoned so that grass was growing over it. What danger is it warning about? I said to Iola and with difficulty, tearing the clinging grass and creepers, I lifted up the triangular sign, and there lying underneath it was a fat coiled snake! I dropped the sign quickly. It is scary enough watching wildlife films about snakes, but to be in actual striking distance of one . . . If I told you that a snake had escaped and was slithering around somewhere in the church today you would be an involuntary lifting of legs. In the ancient Near East people had a paradoxical view of snakes. Like you and me they were terrified of them because of the danger of their silent approach and their venom, but on the other hand they honoured them because at times they offered them protection. Snakes were friends and fiends, protectors as well as opponents, worshipped in a temple, hated in a bedroom.

We are told by Moses that the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. In Aesops fables it is Mr. Fox that is the craftiest animal, scheming and devising, outwitting the farmer, his geese and sheep. Moses tells us of the craftiness of the serpent, and so we are being asked to think a little. What has made this animal suddenly more crafty than foxes and elephants and lions and sheepdogs and apes? And the answer is the power that lay behind it, that is here focused upon it, that now is using it to his own ends. This particular serpent is in the grip of a very great force outside of itself. That is why it is so crafty, and soon its cunning will be seen by us all.

Then you will see that this serpent actually . . . speaks! Here is a lying wonder! This is an injection of superterrestrial forces into the Garden of Eden. Weve all heard that the serpent spoke; all our lives weve heard of the talking serpent. The sense of surprise has vanished, but if you went into your home after the service today and the dog looked up and said to you, Had a good service? you’d drop your Bible with the shock. Animals don’t talk. Animals cannot talk. Adam named the animals; they didn’t name Adam. Only Adam was made in the image of God and so could think and speak. Animals don’t have that ability. They cannot describe men as men describe them. There is a profound discontinuity between man and the humbler creation, and so when the serpent opens its mouth and instead of hissing it strikes up a conversation with Eve then we know that something highly preternatural is happening. Something out of the ordinary is taking place. Theres a smell of brimstone in the air. Alarm bells should have started ringing for Eve.

What is hinted at in Genesis in this snake is described as the great dragon . . . that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan in the book of Revelation chapter 12 verse 9 and Revelation chapter 20 verse 2. Our Lord himself refers to the devil as a liar and a murderer from the beginning (Jn. 8:44). In the New Testament we read of spirits possessing not only people but a herd of pigs. Paul tells the Corinthians, But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. (2 Cor. 11:3). What we are seeing in Genesis 3 is that the devil, who is an invisible spirit, deciding to come to Eve in the form of a snake. He talks with her rationally; there, before Eve, is the objective personal embodiment of evil.

This entire chapter isn’t quaint in any way is it? This is not a smart fable getting its point across told by a good ole boy. There is a deep moral earnestness about Genesis chapter three. We are being told that because of the fall of Adam a curse came upon mankind, that men toil and sweat all their days as they battle with the thorns of daily living, and women gasp and cry as they give birth to babies, and death has come into the world – all because of what happened here. This is my father Adam and my mother Eve and mortality has come into my life, and I am facing the grave because of what they did. This story isn’t being here to entertain us, but to explain and to warn and to evangelize me with news of the glorious seed of the woman who is coming and will crush this serpents head. You’d better take this chapter very seriously because its not a cute story about people in the old days with their amusing ideas.

This is not a parable. Nathan told king David a parable about a rich man who sent his servants to take away the one lamb a poor man possessed. They killed it and served it to a guest. David’s heart blazed with indignation at hearing this story. Let him compensate the poor man with a gift of four lambs, he cried. But you are that man! Nathan said to him. It was a parable told to bring David to conviction for taking Urea’s only wife Bathsheba. A parable has one lesson like that, but that is not what we find here in Genesis three. Moses isn’t saying, I am giving you a pretty illustration so that you wont give in to Satan, and then well all sing, Yield not to temptation, and go home. No, it is not like that. Here is an account of what happened when God made man, and sin and death came into our world, into my world and your world. It is appointed unto men once to die, and Genesis three is telling us the means by which death entered the world created by the Holy One.

What support we get for this precise interpretation from the New Testament itself. Particularly in the fifth chapter of Romans Paul compares the action of Adam with the action of Christ. As Adam did one thing, Christ has done another. And if all that Paul says there about Adam isn’t true – if there was no Adam – then doesn’t it follow that theres no need of any Christ? If Adams work is mythical, how do we know that Christ’s work isn’t also mythical? If Adam isn’t a historical character, then its not essential to believe that Christ is a historical character. But is the whole thrust of Paul’s argument is the solidarity of mankind in one of two real men. Any of the verses that he uses in that fifth chapter would illustrate the point: For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! (Roms 5:15). Has it overflowed to you? Again, Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous (Roms. 5:18&19). Has this life and righteousness come to you? Then you are dead and sinful still. What Paul is saying is that the justification which Christians receive is based upon the righteous act of the last Adam Jesus Christ, and that righteous act of Jesus Christ is compared with the unrighteousness of the first man. These two men represent the state of the human race. The first man is of the earth, earthy. The second man is the Lord from heaven. In other words, the apostle sent by Jesus Christ, filled with the Spirit of Christ believed in Genesis three, and inasmuch as Romans is Holy Scripture we may trust what he has to say in the matter, because the Scriptures cant be broken.

2. WHAT THE SERPENT SAID TO THE WOMAN.

Satan was crafty when he came to Eve even in appearing before her as a serpent and not as a roaring lion. He can also come as an angel of light. Maybe Eve would have frozen with fear had it been the king of the beasts coming close to her, and overwhelmed with glory if an apparent seraphim had appeared, but Satan came in the form of a serpent. Now I’ve read that there’s a connection between the Hebrew word for snake and the Hebrew word for bronze. In other words it is suggested that this was a very striking beast. Eve was confronted with some fascinating, glittering creature. To come in the form of a snake was one of the devils devices. Then also notice this, that he picked on Eve who had been made from Adam, and after Adam, and to help Adam. He waited until Eve was by herself and he accosted her, appealing to her helpful disposition using such grand character traits for his own ends. Ill get to Adam via Eve, he thought. She’s more likely to listen to me and receive what I’ve got to say. It was when Jesus was alone, hungry and in a wilderness that Satan came to him. Then notice the threefold strategy of the serpents words;

i] He began by asking a question; He said to the woman, Did God really say, You must not eat from any tree in the garden? (v.2). A point of clarification . . . I wasn’t there when God spoke to Adam . . . I’ve heard it at second hand . . . what exactly did Jehovah say? He flattered the woman that she possessed knowledge that he didn’t have and she could help him, but there was something more. He was suggesting that it was rather surprising to hear what God was alleged to have said. In other words, he hints at a little dash of meanness on the part of the Almighty to restricting Adam and Ever from eating any fruit in the garden. That’s a bit of a shame isn’t it? He was inserting a wedge between our first parents and our loving Father. If he had begun by attacking the character of the Lord who came each day and encouraged them then Eve would have been angry, but when it was with a question for which she knew the answer then it made her start a conversation with the devil. No, you haven’t got it quite right . . . she replies.

ii] He proceeded subtly to contradict God. When Eve replies and explains what God had said she’s already getting contaminated by this dialogue, because she says to the serpent, God even told us that we weren’t to touch the tree. Notice how she’s quickly caught on that its acceptable to grumble a bit about God and make him appear a tad extreme. You will see in chapter two that God had laid down no prohibition of not touching the tree. She also omitted Gods generous words free and any because what God had said was that they were free to eat from any tree. She also generalises Gods words because God had said to Adam, In the day thou dost eat from the tree, thou wilt die, but Eve also changes that warning and makes it broader – you, the plural form.

Then the serpent contradicts what God had said and he does so by reassuring Eve that taking the fruit wouldn’t be instant poison; you wont surely die he said. He strongly affirms this. In the Hebrew the serpents words began with No. In other words No is the first word that he confidently speaks. This suggestion that they would die is just not true. Perhaps the serpent knew or guessed that for many years after eating the fruit Adam and Eve were going to go on living. Death wouldn’t immediately occur; Adam and Eve in fact remained on the earth for hundreds of years. So again seeds are being sown in which the Lord appears to be a God who cant be trusted. Here is a God who says, Deadly fruit, but this tree and its produce didn’t look poisonous to Eve, quite the reverse, its fruit seemed good for food; it was pleasant to the eyes, and eating it could give you wisdom. Surely no one is going to die from eating that fruit? What is death anyway? Eve had no experience of death.

iii] He further promised her new knowledge; God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. (v.5). Once weve sinned we know about that sin. Once weve taken drugs we know what effect they have. Once we have stabbed someone we know the sensation of that evil experience. That’s certainly true. Again this is true from other perspectives. Shouldn’t we all know what is good and what is evil? Isn’t that important knowledge? Don’t I urge people to come to church to learn what is the good life and what is evil? So what’s the problem? Its this, that since the fall of our father Adam everybody has got his own idea of what is right and wrong. All the people of our small town are standing on their own two feet trying to keep going on their way through life without God. They make their own rules. They run their own kingdom; Now I think this is what is really bad, people say, and then they’ll mention intolerance, and imposing your views on others, and sabbatarianism, and getting extreme about religion, and making judgments about peoples sexual preferences; I know that that is evil, they say. And being good is always doing you best and being sincere; No one can do any more than that, they say. They have made themselves the judges of right and wrong; they exonerate themselves and condemn others, and its all on their own. They have all made themselves like God; every single one of them. When the serpents words fell on Eve’s ears they made her thirsty to be independent of God and decide for herself what was good and evil.

People do decide what is truth and what is erroneous – on the flimsiest of foundations. I had a letter this week from a missionary on one of the Greek islands. Terry wrote, Recently we have had contact with a German, Dietwald, with his English wife, Karen who is a painter. They know nothing whatsoever about the Bible. Karen brought her daughter along to Cathie’s weekly Bible study for women. Cathie spoke from Psalm 73 and afterwards there was some discussion about what happens after death. Karen’s daughter, Cristina, is quite sure she is coming back into this world as a butterfly. She seemed to think this was wonderful, although it seems to me the second time around she would have a very short stay. Where does one begin with such people? Cathie just told her that these ideas are just the dreams of men without any basis and the only certainty is the word of God, our Creator and Redeemer. She had no reply to this. But they keep on coming. Cathie has been very encouraged this year.

Here is the old battle; do you know what is right and wrong because of what God tells us or by making up our minds ourselves? This goes back to Eden . So I am saying to you to notice the serpents approach, that he didn’t swagger up to Eve and exhort her to defy God and eat from the tree; he was far more crafty than that. In other words, the serpent didn’t urge Eve, Take the fruit . . . go on, take the fruit . . . take it! He didn’t persuade Eve to rebel, he simply sowed some seeds of doubt in her mind and offer her new knowledge. That’s how the devil works. He’s pretty cunning creature. In this way Eve would be like God he insinuated, but she and her husband was already like God, both of them made in his image, just a little lower than the angels. Most of all Satan got her used to talking with the devil and talking about God and questioning his ways – as if this were the most natural thing in the world to do. We creatures are people who grumble about the Lord. That is what creatures do.

As my old teacher, Dr. Edward J. Young said, There is a lesson for us at this point. Don’t try to reason with Satan. I don’t mean that Satan is going to appear to you and sit down to talk things over. Not at all! I don’t think that when Martin Luther threw the inkpot at the Devil he hit the Devil. Luther hit the Devil not so much with that inkpot as with the things that he wrote and preached. The Devil was spending, I think, an undue amount of time with Martin Luther, which means that Luther was being faithful to Christ. The reason why the Devil lets most of us get by without bothering too much about us is that we are not causing him enough trouble. But when we are faithful to Christ then the Devil gets very concerned. When I say that we shouldn’t talk things over with the Devil, or reason with the Devil, Id simply call to your mind what our Lord did and use the word of God properly and accurately. When evil is presented to us, don’t try to rationalize that evil, but simply remember the Scripture: It is written, Jesus said; Thou shalt not, he said, and so on. The only way to handle evil of any kind is to appeal to the Scripture, and if we do that temptation and the tempter will flee from us (Edward J. Young, In the Beginning, Banner of Truth, Edinburgh 1976, p. 92). Someone has said that if you are going to smoke a peace pipe with the devil then the pipe needs to have a very long stem, but better not to smoke at all.

So the serpents striking appearance and speech, his confident tone, his appeal to her for an answer to his questions, his promise of this way of gaining knowledge raised in Eve great expectations. So she gazed at the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil as she had never looked at it before. All she could look at was this tree, though everything in the Garden was glorious. The tree seemed utterly enchanting, and she became obsessed by it. The lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life made the temptation overwhelming; the women saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom (v.6). Can you see Eve licking her lips and salivating?

Did you ever notice that evil is always advertised as good? When people want you to do something wrong, they hardly ever say Try it but you’ll hate it! Its a rotten thing to do! They never suggest that you lie or cheat or steal or mock somebody just because its wrong and hurtful. They never advertise some foolish or useless activity on TV as being foolish and useless. No, people dress up evil as good. They put a good face on it. They say, Have you tried it? They say Lets do it just for the fun of it. They say that if you lie, you’ll protect yourself. If you steal, you’ll enrich yourself. If you cheat, you’ll get ahead. If you mock somebody, you’ll feel better yourself. And, of course, fun, protection, riches, getting ahead, and feeling better can all be good things.

Its the oldest trick in the world. Its dressing up evil as good. Satan, the Great Deceiver, pointed out to Eve all the good things shed get if she disobeyed God, and so he set his trap. The bait was just like all bait, it looked delicious. Everything for the human race now depended on who would Eve believe. Would she trust the God who made her and who awakened her to all the light, peace, and joy of life in Gods world, who met with her and her husband every day? Or would she trust the devil who was all dressed up in his borrowed Halloween costume?

What happened still happens all the time. Evil imitates good. Kidnappers disguise themselves as trusted adults, perhaps as police or family friends. Child molesters tell their victims they love them and that the two of them share a special secret. Liars insist they are telling the truth. Thieves and cheats pretend they are winners. TV programmes present silly or violent people as heroes.

3. HOW THE WOMAN RESPONDED TO THE SERPENT.

She took some and ate it (v.6). That was not the Fall but the Fall comes soon after this. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Where had Adam been during this entire conversation? He’d said of Eve, This is bone of my bone, and so he’d stick close to her. They were on their honeymoon. He was certainly around, but why was he silent? Isn’t there a time to take the lead, to speak up and end a guilty silence? And why wasn’t Eve asking him for advice? We are specifically told that he was there with her (v.6). Adam wasn’t off panning for gold in the land of Havilah , and yet Eve ignored her husband throughout this time, and he didnt intervene. Adam watched her as she put the fruit to her lips and bit into it and swallowed it down. Then she went to him without any recorded comments, and he simply took the proffered fruit without asking her a single question, and he also ate the forbidden fruit. She kept her reasons for eating the fruit to herself, and so did he. They quietly sinned and fell, and immediately something in them died. Then man was in a state of rebellion against God – in Adam all die. That was the Fall. The New Testament makes it quite clear that there is a sense in which Satan deceived, tricked and hoodwinked the woman. Adam wasnt confronted by Satan in the same way, but he ate the fruit with his eyes wide open. He knew what God had said, and he knew that what the woman had done was wrong, and as a royal priest he had the duty of resisting any intrusion into Gods kingdom, even from his wife, but Adam was silent and chose to identify himself with her in her rebellion against God. He wanted to be independent of the Lord too – and in that attitude mankind fell, with all its tragic consequences.

Immediately Adam and Eve knew things had changed – just like you know when you have crossed a boundary that God has laid down. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realised that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves (v.7). The joy and peace they had known until then disappeared. New feelings raged in their hearts, horror, wretchedness, insecurity, remorse, shame. They looked at one another and knew that things would never be the same again. The chill of danger and the fear of darkness came upon them. Cold winds were blowing through Eden .

How is it today between man and God? Does man love God today? No. Does man speak to God? No. Is man capable of hearing the voice of God? No. Does he delight in his Word? No. Can he understand the things of God? No. Does he experience Gods rich and unmistakable blessing? No, because since Eden sin has separated man from God. We live in different worlds. In Adam all die. Here is the spiritual death about which our first parents were warned. They ate the fruit and then where there’d been three of them there were now only two. There was no third loving one holding them together, they are soon blaming one another for what had happened.

Soon they were making for themselves aprons of fig leaves, some flimsy countermeasure to restore a sense of well-being. Well do something to feel better, they said. What a picture of the pathetic veneer with which modern man tries to cover up his rottenness. We know what is good and evil; we can cover our nakedness by our own efforts. Who were they hiding from? From one another? From the animals? There were no other human beings around. They were covering themselves from God, but God doesn’t look at the outward appearance, he regards our hearts. He saw the wellspring of bitterness and jealousy and defiance that had spring up in the hearts of Adam and Eve. God on high saw it all as he does today. Do you think you can hide from God behind some fig-leaf? See them as they dashed behind some bushes when the Lord came along. How undignified! How pathetic!

Men still do! What lengths they will run to hide from God. Men hear the word of God and they generally look for some excuses for not paying attention to what they’re hearing. You speak to them and they tell you that they’d like to believe but there are these problems – there isn’t enough evidence, they have difficulties with Genesis, why does God allow suffering, religion has been the reason for every war in history, and so on, and when you answer their questions one by one they are busy thinking of the next problem, looking for another bush to hide behind. Is this what you’ve been doing? Running from God and hiding year after year? One day you must leave the forest lands and stand in the open plain before God. There’ll be no hiding place there. Everything is naked before God. Time will be gone, and eternity rolls out before you and we must all render an account to the Landlord of the Universe. That day will come, sooner than any of us will know and all the bushes we build against us will not stop it.

The arrow that shall lay me low
Was shot from Deaths unerring bow
The moment of my breath;
And every moment I proceed,
It tracks me with unceasing speed;
I turn – it meets me – Death
Has given such instinct to that dart
It points for ever at my heart.

If Adam and Eve could fall after a five minute conversation with the serpent in a sinless environment, neither of them ever having sinned before this time, must not I beware, and cry mightily to God for a Saviour to assist me? Come out from the bushes before its too late. There is no hiding place in this world. There is one safe place only and that is in the wounds of Jesus for our sin. Hide in him, that blessed Rock of Ages. Hide in him, the Lamb of God. Hide in him, the one Mediator with God, Christ Jesus. Hide in the Friend of Sinners. Hide in the Saviour God has sent. Don’t let flimsy bushes stop you coming now to the one who has bruised the serpents head, Jesus Christ the Son of God.

In Eden – sad indeed that day –
My countless blessings fled away,
My crown fell in disgrace.
But on victorious Calvary
That crown was won again for me –
My life shall all be praise

Faith! See the place, and see the tree
Where heavens Prince, instead of me,
Was nailed to bear my shame.
Bruised was the serpent by the Son,
Though two had wounds, there conquered One –
And Jesus was His Name.

(William Williams, [1717-1791] translated by Bobi Jones.)

4th June 2006 GEOFF THOMAS