Welcome to A Scarlet Cord of Hope, the 2021 advent series of University Fellowship Church Women written and read by Jaime Sherman, who penned our Christmastime narratives from biblical, Jewish, and historical sources to tell how God wove hope from creation to the creche and who continues to point us to the final fulfillment of hope in the one-day-soon second coming of Jesus Christ. Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.
today’s suggested reading
Yesterday we lingered with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden to celebrate God’s original plan for humankind, knowing that the peace of the garden would be quickly disrupted by the Creator’s enemy, one disguised in snakeskin and armed with questions to instill doubt about God’s goodness. Now we turn the page to Genesis 3 and meet this cold-blooded reptile that was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made (Genesis 3:1). And we grieve the first sin.
When God placed Adam and Eve in the garden, He established a conditional covenant with them. He promised them abundant, eternal life so long as they ate only from the permitted trees — all that grew in the garden save one.
A single restriction. A command from a gracious, loving God who created them with freedom to choose if they would love and obey Him.
But then a question was uttered. A question directed at the woman from a snake indwelt by Lucifer, the jealous angel who had rebelled against God, who was cast out of heaven, and who was bent on destroying the perfect relationship between God and His image bearers.
“Did God actually say…?” the snake asked
Not, “Did the LORD God actually say…?
But, “Did God actually say…?”
Stripping the personal name of the Creator — LORD — from the discussion, the serpent cunningly made God appear far off and unreachable instead of the covenanting LORD God who had created, blessed, and proclaimed His masterpiece “very good.”
By separating Creator God from Covenant God, the serpent gave Eve room to challenge God’s words and to doubt God’s goodness. The enemy painted God as judgmental and harsh, essentially asking if God had placed a “No Trespassing” sign around all of the trees in the garden — the very trees that now surrounded Eve. They were the ones whose branches swayed in the wind as she and Adam walked and talked with their Creator in the garden. They were the ones whose fruit provided them with nourishment, beauty, and shade.
In response to the enemy’s question, the woman did what so many after her have done. She added to God’s Word. She truthfully confirmed that death would be their punishment if they ate of the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden, but she added that they could not touch it.
We wonder. Had telling herself she couldn’t touch the fruit been Eve’s way of keeping herself from the tree that was enticing merely by nature of being forbidden? Or could it be that as Eve faced the serpent’s questions she was now more concerned about what another thought of her rather than of what God said was true?
“You will not surely die,” claimed the serpent. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
Fixated on the fruit of the only forbidden tree, Eve accepted a lie that she could be someone she was not. She plucked the fruit from the tree, sunk her teeth into its juicy flesh, and handed it to Adam. And he tasted it.
With just one bite, sin entered the world. The physical eyes of the two had seen only beauty and purity from first breath until this moment. But now, oh, the deep chasm, the overwhelming shame and fear they both felt because they made a choice to sin against a righteous God. He had asked of them just one thing.
Now they felt alone. Separated. Afraid.
And yet, God had said nothing — absolutely nothing — about sin separating them from His love and acceptance if they ate of the forbidden fruit. No matter what they did, His covenantal promise made it impossible for Him to forsake them. However, Adam and Eve had yet to fully understand His mercy and grace, and they fell for a lie.
They felt laid bare. Naked. Ashamed.
God had created Adam and Eve without coverings, for they were reflections of His glory, but suddenly they were aware of the grotesque stain of sin upon them and of the broken trust between one another. They pointed accusing fingers at each other and failed to see that all sin, as King David would later say, is against God and God alone. As they felt the eyes of the other upon bare skin and the weight of who they now were in sin, Adam and Eve essentially said that the opinions of others now meant more than God’s truths.
With the weight of sin upon them, Adam and Eve became the first of mankind to hide behind a disguise, to mask their true identities, because they felt shame for the sinful choice they had made. They gathered the fragrant leaves of the fig tree and wove them into aprons in an awkward attempt to cover the physical characteristics that set Adam apart as a man and Eve as a woman.
The irony of their choice for a covering was that, while the leaves of the fig smelled sweetly of coconut and vanilla, the sap oozing from the tree would now irritate their skin and remind them of the bitterness of their selfish grasping to be like God. Now instead of living unashamed and confident in being made in the likeness of God, they were temporarily masked in green leaves that would in time wither and die.
The human heart is inclined to believe the lies of separation from a loving God, to allow shame to push out freedom, and to hide the true self to appease or to silence the opinions of others. In replacing God’s truth with a lie or hiding who God made them to be, they lost their identities, the parts of them that He created to shine for Him. And in the hiding and fear, they felt unloveable, especially by God, though this too was a lie.
As Adam and Eve heard the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, they hid among the trees of the garden. They heard his voice call out, “Where are you?”
God knew well the answer, but He mercifully gave Adam and Eve room and time to answer His question.
“I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself,” replied Adam.
“Who told you that you were naked?” God asked. “Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”
Adam blamed Eve.
Eve pointed to the snake.
And God spoke to each of them. To the snake, He said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise the head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15).
Here we hear this first whisper of hope.
Even though God had created Adam and Eve in love, His righteousness made it impossible for Him to brush over their direct rebellion against Him. He denied them the bliss of the Garden, the remedy of the tree of life and the unhindered communion with Him, not because He loved them any less, but because their sin made it impossible for them to dwell with a perfect God in a perfect place. They needed to be remade, to become the unblemished image of God once again. But how?
Even though Adam and Eve changed with the earthly debut of sin, God never did. In love He set the stage for a dramatic story to unfold — a story of a scarlet cord, of a sacrifice and rescue to make renewed fellowship with His beloved children possible. A day would come when the barrier hanging between their sinful souls and His perfection would be torn away, but for now He killed an innocent animal to clothe Adam and Eve with coats of skin. Their fig leaves were an inadequate covering, for without the shedding of blood, they would spend a lifetime replacing withered and cracking leaves to mask their identities. With sacrifice and redemption, they could be free to be just who God made them to be — not because of anything they had done but because of everything God did for them.
That first death of an animal foreshadowed a pattern of animal sacrifices by men and women for many generations who would offer innocent animals to temporarily atone for their sins and pointed to a future rescue plan God would put into play centuries later. He would one day send the only sinless man who has ever lived — the Lamb of God, Jesus, Whose name means “one who saves” — to be killed in man’s place. For only through a perfect sacrifice could sinful man be remade once and for all — and only through blood covering the mark of sin could mankind be fully restored to their Creator.
As you read or listen to Genesis 3 today, think about the lies the enemy has whispered to you over the years. How have you felt separated from a perfect God? How does the whispered promise of hope — of One to bruise the head of the enemy — make you feel today?
Jaime Sherman is a writer and editor for ufcwomen.blog but most importantly a child of the King of kings, the wife of one amazing man for nearly 20 years, and mama of five girls and one boy. Learn more about her adventure in writing and enjoy some free resources on our main page for this series.