Snake. Bite. | Genesis 3:1-7
Now the serpent was craftier than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made.
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. Genesis 3:1-7 | ESV
Trees with magical fruit. A talking snake. Angels standing guard with flaming swords. If the Bible isn’t familiar territory (and perhaps even if it is) one’s first impression is likely to be that we took a left somewhere and ended up in the land of fabled myth. Once again, if we can resist the urge to make this story a battleground between those arguing for absolute historicity and those who would carve “myth” on the trunk of the tree – if we can resist that urge for just a moment and allow the story to speak for itself and thereby hear it’s message for us, that would be a positive step all around. Someone has suggested that the important thing about Genesis 3 and the story of the garden is not that it happened, but that it happens. No, we don’t have the fossilized remains of a tree of knowledge of good and evil or of the alleged snake; no we don’t have an independent transcript of the conversation between said snake and the first woman (interesting that we usually envision this scene with the snake looking like, well, a snake, coiled around the branches of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil like Kaa in Jungle Book; but in the story the snake form we know is a result of the following curse, evidently; I rather imagine a talking velociraptor that shrieks as it loses its appendages when cursed; I also imagine said “snake” strolling up to the woman and striking up an “innocent” conversation as they walked, of course, towards this tree; and if that seems too much of a stretch, just remember that we are regularly exposed to ads of a gecko selling us car insurance; just saying). No, we don’t have outside verification for any of this – but we certainly have the inner verification of experience. Yes, the events at this tree happen. Daily. Continuously. We all get suckered by what looks good, are lured by what promises status and independence. And we repeatedly choose knowledge, status, and independence over love and relationship. True story. And on an even deeper level, this story tells us that we live in a world that is fracked and cracked, and it has nothing directly to do with us. It’s a given. But more about that as the week progresses. For now we need to vividly enter this scene and conversation and learn its lessons.
How have you seen the story of Genesis replayed in your own life most recently? What were your choices? What did you choose?
Lord, as I am faced today with choices between power/knowledge/status and love/relationship/intimacy, let me choose wisely. And give me eyes to see the snakes that don’t look like snakes!
For all of this week’s resources for this new series on Spiritual Disciplines including this week’s DG video, check out the Vineyard website.