War of Words
Ever since the garden of Eden there has been a contest for the word of God. Adam and Eve were tempted to become autonomous: to become ‘gods’ for themselves instead of listening to the word of God. God warned the primal couple that if they were to take the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil that they would, “surely die.” (Genesis 2: 17). The knowledge of good and evil is a metaphoric way of saying that they would judge for themselves what was good or bad and live by their own wisdom. The outcome of this rebellion – death.
Maybe they did not fall to the ground physically dead when they ate the fruit, but death entered every aspect of humanity and the entire creation was contaminated by it. A tree that has been ring-barked may take years to ultimately die, but a fatal wound has sealed the tree’s fate. Likewise, Adam and Eve had fatally cut themselves off from dependence upon God and thus from the source of life and let the poison of sin pollute the entire creation.
Jesus, the Son of God, became one of us to undo the rebellion and disconnection wrought by Adam and Eve, with the goal of reconnecting us and profoundly cleansing us from the pollution of sin. Now we have before us the way of Adam or the way of Christ. However, just like Adam and Eve the desire to go our own way remains as strong as ever.
Here’s where things can get tricky because evil does not always look evil. Sometimes it can look deceptively good. You’ll remember that to Eve the fruit on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, “was good to eat and pleasing to the eye and also desirable for the gaining of wisdom…” (Genesis 3: 6). And so it is today. We call things good and bad based entirely on nothing but our own subjective cultural opinion. What is good to day is considered bad tomorrow and vice versa. Our judgment is tossed around on the unsteady sea of human culture with no ultimate reference point.
Isaiah faced this same problem in his time which prompted him to prophesy, “Woe to those who say evil is good; and good, evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those wise in their own eyes, and discerning in their own sight! (Isaiah 5: 20-21). Without the reference point of a word from God we are bound to make judgements that are fraught with misguided opinion that may be exactly opposite to what is true.
We may not immediately understand why God says what he says, or does what he does, but I like to bring to mind a poster I once viewed that had a simple but helpful message. It said, “There are two great truths.
- There is a God.
- You are not him.