It’s been a while since I’ve listened to a Furtick sermon. Used to do it every day on the way to and from work because usually I had an hour commute, tore through most of the content available online. Lately things have been busy and I just haven’t had the motivation to feed my soul. But tonight I decided to pull up the newest stuff and listen while I was washing the pile of dishes I’ve neglected in my kitchen sink and I have to say, that same spiritual awakening/food came right back and I love it!
The basic premise of the first message in this series focuses on the fall of man in Genesis 3 and the lie that the Serpent speaks to Eve, “…has God not said?” Here’s the scripture for reference:
Now the serpent was more subtle and crafty than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made. And he [Satan] said to the woman, Can it really be that God has said, You shall not eat from every tree of the garden? 2 And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat the fruit from the trees of the garden, 3 Except the fruit from the tree which is in the middle of the garden. God has said, You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die. 4 But the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die, 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing the difference between good and evil and blessing and calamity. 6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good (suitable, pleasant) for food and that it was delightful to look at, and a tree to be desired in order to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she gave some also to her husband, and he ate.
Satan made Eve question what God had actually said to her and Adam. He asked the question in such a way that required Eve to think more into it. It was not simply a yes or no answer. He draws her in by causing her to remind herself of why God said not to eat the fruit from that particular tree. She believed God, that she would surely die if she ate from it. But the Serpent returns with information contrary to what God said. ”You shall not surely die…” ”And here’s why God didn’t want you to eat that fruit: you’ll be like Him if you do.”
Now, Furtick briefly touched on one little detail in his sermon that made me think a bit. If God didn’t want them to eat from the tree, why did he put it in the Garden in the first place? Good question…. I remember times in seminary where we would sit around and argue for hours over this kind of stuff. Whether God knew man would sin and fall, whether he’s responsible for putting the tree there, or whether he created the Serpent himself are all good questions, but in the end irrelevant in comparison to the act which was ultimately accomplished for us by His Son, but that’s a little later. The big glaring truth in this first section is obvious, God’s first command was one of freedom, not of restriction. ”You may eat the fruit from [any] of the trees in the Garden…except that one in the middle”. God gave them freedom, because freedom without choice is not freedom at all. The restriction of not eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil was one of love, for our good, not for destruction. God knew the harm that knowing of evil could cause for his creation and he commanded them not to touch it. When it comes down to it, the tree had to be there, the choice had to be there for God to express his love to his creation. Without the tree, we would be drones, not able to freely return love to our creator who made us, and because of the tree’s existence and our fall, one man hung on a tree to bring us back into right relationship with the one who once walked in the Garden among us.
Adam and Eve take the fruit and become aware to the knowledge of good and evil. They realize they are naked, and they’re ashamed. They hear the Lord walking in the cool/spirit of the day. The Hebrew text uses the word “ruach” for cool/spirit, most commonly used for spirit, describing the day and for me it sets a calming, yet frightening image of the Lord moving through the Garden. They are a afraid and they hide. When the Lord finds them and asks them why they were hiding, they responded with “we heard you, and we were naked, so we hid…” The first question God asks them has such weighty implication in light of the grand scheme of the Gospel, scripture, and life that it pounds with heavy beats against the walls of my heart… “who told you that you were naked?” Its as if every lie Satan has ever posed to man is held up to the blinding light of God’s truth, “who told you that you were naked?” God created man to not be ashamed, afraid, wanting, selfish, etc…but because we believed a lie and gave into our own selfish wants, we fell out of that perfect mindset God had for us. Those piercing words, “who told you that you were naked?” come from the mouth of a God who is not at all asking the question for his own knowledge of the answer; rather, He’s asking so that we might recognize our deceiver and our belief of a lie.
7 Then the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves apronlike girdles. 8 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to Adam and said to him, Where are you? 10 He said, I heard the sound of You [walking] in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself. 11 And He said, Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat? 12 And the man said, The woman whom You gave to be with me—she gave me [fruit] from the tree, and I ate. 13 And the Lord God said to the woman, What is this you have done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled (cheated, outwitted, and deceived) me, and I ate.
God then pronounces the punishment. Pain in childbirth, having to work the ground by the sweat of his brow to get it yield food. No longer were we in right relationship with our creator. That day, we died. But God being rich in mercy and loving-kindness had a plan from the beginning. It was not plan B, not plan A, it was THE plan. God knew we would fail, but that was inevitable for us to be able to love him back. His first act of love toward us was to wipe the slate clean for a time until the plan could come to fruition. The scriptures say that God made a garment out of skin for both Adam and Eve. God could have very well made a skin out of nothing, but I think the significance here was that something died/was killed for our shame to be wiped away. Even in our utter weakness and failure, God still is there waiting to clothe you, pick you up again and help you keep moving. Consider it foreshadowing. It was pretty clear at that point what needed to happen for things to be right again. And it would get even clearer in Genesis 22. A sacrifice had to be made. Not just any sacrifice. The perfect sacrifice of his only son and that sacrifice’s resurrection would eventually be the conclusion of this particular redemption story, and there was no greater way for God to show his love to us than in this way.