“I will put contempt between you and the woman, between your offspring and hers. They will strike your head, but you will strike at their heels.”” (Genesis 3:15, CEB).
Evil in the Old Testament is not personified as it is in the New Testament. Depending on your interpretation of the Hebrew word for Satan, meaning adversary, the term is more often a designation than a proper name in the Old Testament.
The Apostle Paul associates the serpent in Genesis 3 with a personified devil: “But I’m afraid that your minds might be seduced in the same way as the snake deceived Eve with his devious tricks. You might be unable to focus completely on a genuine and innocent commitment to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3, CEB).
The Apostle John clearly delineates the Tempter in the Garden of Eden as Satan or the devil: “So the great dragon was thrown down. The old snake, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world, was thrown down to the earth; and his angels were thrown down with him” (Revelation 12:9, CEB). The word “old” here refers to the fact that Satan’s appearance on Earth was at an early stage of the world’s history and has long been occupied with the task of deceiving and opposing God’s elect.
“Some time later, Cain presented an offering to the Lord from the land’s crops while Abel presented his flock’s oldest offspring with their fat. The Lord looked favorably on Abel and his sacrifice but didn’t look favorably on Cain and his sacrifice. Cain became very angry and looked resentful. The Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry, and why do you look so resentful? If you do the right thing, won’t you be accepted? But if you don’t do the right thing, sin will be waiting at the door ready to strike! It will entice you, but you must rule over it’” (Genesis 4:3-7, CEB).
Evil is a corruption of good and seems to be a necessary condition of God’s love and plan for redemption (see Part 1). There can’t be a love relationship with God if there’s not a choice to love Him, or not!
God has given people the choice to do good or not do good.
Then, maybe evil isn’t all bad?
In the Old Testament evil is sometimes directly attributed to God. For example, “Then an evil spirit from the Lord came over Saul” (1 Samuel 19:9, CEB).
From the perspective of the Old Testament writers, all actions and events in heaven and on the earth emanate from God. In other words, God’s “will” rules over His creation.
“The Lord saw that humanity had become thoroughly evil on the earth and that every idea their minds thought up was always completely evil. The Lord regretted making human beings on the earth, and he was heartbroken. So the Lord said, ‘I will wipe off of the land the human race that I’ve created: from human beings to livestock to the crawling things to the birds in the skies, because I regret I ever made them’” (Genesis 6:5-7, CEB).
It didn’t take long after the Creation for people to become so evil that God was sorry He created them. Evil must have spread among human beings at an exponential rate.
Evil seems to have grown simultaneously with the human race because God wanted to destroy the whole human race. Apparently everyone, or almost everyone, was evil!
Did God make a big mistake when He created human beings? If the humanity that God created had become thoroughly evil, then did God create evil?
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”(Genesis 3:15, NIV).
In the Creation Story in Genesis 1 God created a good and perfect world populated by vegetation, animals, and human beings. Genesis 2 is perhaps a continuation of the Creation Story–possibly the next chapter in God’s already created order–describing the first people God chose to work His redemptive plans and purposes for all of humanity.
Genesis 3 is a creation story of sorts as it describes the formation of a different kind of world from God’s good and perfect creation–a new world order contrived by human beings. Genesis 3 describes the beginning of evil among humanity and it prognosticates the cosmic conflict between good and evil played out on the stage of this world.
In fact, this cosmic conflict may be the main point of the Creation Story in Genesis 1-3.
“The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”“ (Genesis 2:18, NIV).
In the Creation Story in Genesis 1 God created man and woman at the same time (Genesis 1:27). Genesis 2 seems to describe a second creation story providing details about human origins. In fact, most of us consider Genesis 2 an elaboration or embellishment of the first creation story, believing it to amplify the description of the sixth day of creation in Genesis 1.
Instead of a replay of the Creation Story described in Genesis 1, perhaps Genesis 2 is a continuation of the Creation Story, possibly the next chapter, in God’s already created order describing the first people God chose to work His redemptive plans and purposes for all of humanity.
Nevertheless, we must not interpret the Creation Story as a scientific explanation of the origin of human beings. We should receive the story for the redemptive message it delivers regardless of how allegorically or literally we believe the message is expressed.
To find a suitable helper for Adam, God had Adam search through all the animals and none were equal to him to become a “suitable helper.”
“Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame” (Genesis 2:25, NIV).
Lately, I’ve been considering and re-considering the Creation Story in the first chapters of Genesis.
When I read the Creation Story, I think I typically read it from a scientific point of view, looking for explanations of human origins. But, the more I read it the more I’m convinced that neither the writer of the Creation Story nor the Spirit of God who inspired the writing of the story was trying to provide a scientific explanation of the beginnings of the universe and origin of human beings.
So, what I believe the story is about is relationship and restoration. Human beings were created in the image of God to live in eternal relationship with Him. They defied God and turned to their own devices and because they were created in the image of God, their defiance was a spiritual defiance of cosmic proportions, which impacted the whole created order. Thus, only God could bring restoration to His created order and to His eternal relationship with people.
When read without the baggage of scientific interpretation, the Creation Story provides considerable spiritual insight into the human psyche and the character of God. It may not exactly explain in scientific terms how the universe began, but it does give a good explanation of why we are the way we are.
In fact, the Creation Story exposes the naked truth about human defiance of God’s order and God’s response to this defiance. In the Creation Story Adam and Eve roamed completely naked in the Garden of Eden where God placed them to live. I guess you could say that the Garden of Eden was the world’s first nudist colony!
“The righteousness that I have comes from knowing Christ, the power of his resurrection, and the participation in his sufferings. It includes being conformed to his death so that I may perhaps reach the goal of the resurrection of the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11, CEB).
I often take my kids to the skating rink to roller skate. Since they are still learning to skate, I tell them to keep their heads in front of their skates. Then, if they fall, they will fall forward and can catch themselves on their hands and knees and can get back up and continue skating. If they fall backward on their head or back, they risk hurting themselves and not wanting to skate anymore.
I’ve spent much of my career trying to understand how people learn. And one thing I’ve learned about learning is that some of the best learning occurs from failing. For example, it’s easier to learn how to skate when you know how to fall.