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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Shrimp Skewers and Fellowship

By the time we arrive at Genesis 3:11, the Fall has happened. The first sin has been committed by mankind and, in believing the lies of the serpent, Adam and Eve have rebelled against the word of God; they stopped believing that God was good and wanted the best for them. What had been perfect fellowship between God and man has been destroyed by their doubt and their sin.

There was a time when they believed Him entirely, of course; when there was no distance and no separation between God and man. But can you imagine that first awful moment when God comes to the garden called “delight” that He had made for Adam and Eve, and He has to call for them because they’re not in view, not eager to meet Him?

He knew where they were, of course, but when He called them He wanted them to understand that fellowship was broken. In verse 11 He asks, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” That beautiful fellowship that had been part and parcel of the garden is shattered. Adam and Eve have fashioned loincloths for themselves because they have this sudden realization that they’re naked. It never bothered them before that moment. They literally had nothing to hide from God, and suddenly something has changed. There are things they wish God did not know about them.

Sound a bit familiar?

It sure sounds familiar to me.

There are plenty of things I am ashamed to admit to God. That’s a silly conceit, of course; there’s nothing I can tell Him that He doesn’t already know. The reality is that He’s waiting to forgive me. He’s waiting to hear about them from me. And yet, like Adam and Eve, I imagine — just for a moment — that I can fashion some flimsy loincloth of a justification and perhaps I can conceal my sin from God.

In any case, here in Genesis we have the first intimation that what had been a wonderful and full fellowship with a man and a woman completely open to God is gone. God understood everything about His creation, they hid and could hide nothing from Him, and He — while His fullness is incomprehensible to any human mind — He could choose to reveal as much of Himself as He wished to them.

There had been a progressive revelation of God going on up until that point. Adam and Eve were learning more about God every day in that garden. And that — in the presence of sin — came to a complete stop.

After the garden we find that God cannot reveal Himself to man as fully as He (or they) wished. Sinful man would die in the full presence of a Holy God. And so you read these men you and I would consider great saints of God, and they say things like, “I’d love to see you more fully”, and He is forced to reply, “You really can’t”. God has to remain largely hidden. He has to be veiled.

That wasn’t the case in Eden before the Fall. There was a beautiful, full fellowship until sin caused separation. It was a delight for God to fellowship with man. 

I think of my own relationship with my son.

I catch myself doing things and I can’t even explain later why I did them, because they are to my detriment.

We used to go down the street and get this little platter of Greek food, Dinner for Two (well, there are three of us, but my son was very small at the time). So, Dinner for Two, and you would get two — well, they called them ‘skewers’ — of shrimp as part of that dinner. There’d be three tiny little shrimp that they’d barbecued on each skewer: one skewer for my wife, one for me.

None for my young son, because he didn’t like shrimp and he didn’t want to try it.

I found myself one day at dinner pleading with him, “Try one, please. You’ve got to just try one. You’ll like it, try one”.

“No, no, no …”

“Try one …”

Finally, he tried one.

You know what he found? He loved it. He ate all three on my skewer. And it was only then that I thought Why did I do that? What was I thinking? This is going to mean less shrimp for me ...

It was the same with ice cream. And I repeated the same tragic mistake.

Except it wasn’t really a mistake at all. In fact it was a delight to me. I love my son, so it pleased me to see him enjoying something I could give to him, something I knew was good. Somehow, in his appreciating shrimp for the first time, I appreciated them in a fresh way too. I was not diminished, I was enriched.

Maybe it’s a silly image, but can you see God walking with man in the garden? All that’s in the garden is what God has made. He knows it all utterly and He can enjoy it any time He wishes. But instead He gives it to man. What a privilege. He gives it to man, he says, “Would you cultivate this garden for me?”

It’s all God’s. He is the One who makes it grow. Man exercises his little control over what God has given him and says, “Well, I’ll put the tulips here and I’ll put the azaleas here, and this’ll be right beside the willow”. And then he says, “God, God, come over, look what I did!” And in that moment, God is pleased afresh with the things that grow from the ground.

As we’ve noted, it’s all God’s and if He was hungry, He wouldn't tell us — but somehow there is delight for God in seeing his creation flourish at the hands of man. And when sin arrived that was all gone.

Full fellowship in the garden; we can’t understand what that is, really.

But we can lament its passing.

Next: Eden and Blessing

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