Eden. Even today in our post-everything world, the name stirs up images of some innocent paradise, some half-remembered dream. Everything was going along so well in the first two chapters of the Bible’s first book. God’s voice said, “Let there be light!” and that singular domino tipped the other elements of creation, causing an explosion of life in all its stunning wonder—from fruit trees to great sea monsters, to male and female in His own image, complete with a garden to hold everything on display. And the divine verdict on it all? Very good.
“Eden. With, of course, its serpent. No Eden valid without serpent.” — Wallace Stegner
Free will. It was at the core of the very good creation. The God-ordained freedom to choose. And into the gift of that freedom slithered the most cunning of all the wild animals the LORD God had made. The serpent’s voice said, “Did God really say…?” and that singular question was just enough to root doubt in the mind of the woman and man. God had given them the world, so to speak, yet the serpent suggested there might be something more.
“God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God…” (Genesis 3:5).
With her God-given freedom the woman took and ate what God had deemed off-limits. Then the man, in that same freedom, took and ate as well. And no doubt with juice still on their hands, their eyes were opened. Sin and all its dark consequences snaked into the world: shame, pain in childbirth, and work by the sweat of the brow—just to name a few. Humanity rebelled against God, “turned their backs on him” (Isaiah 1:4), and the beautiful melody of Eden was broken.
And yet it is worth noting that while the serpent was cursed, the man and woman were not. They would indeed bear the burdens of the curse, but they themselves were not. Even as it looked like all was lost, something else stirred in the ruins, something that was very good. The hope of the Coming One.
Written by John Blase