1 THESSALONIANS 2 = CATECHISM 675, 676, 677

 

THE GREAT APOSTASY

during End Times

 

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 NAKED BEFORE GOD

 

 

Adam and Eve were captured in that apple moment by Brueghel and Rubens in 1615. The attractive glow of white skin is heightened by the red hair of northern latitudes. Perhaps there is a hint of sin in the beholder’s attitudes.

 

God planted the Garden of Eden, “and in the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”[1] He commanded Adam, “You may eat freely from every tree of the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; for in the day that you eat of it, you will surely die.”[2] Eve repeated the caution to the Serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden, but of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You must not eat of it or touch it, or you will die.’”[3]

 

The scene is set. The Tree of Life wasn’t initially on the no-no list to eat.[4] Get in line, take a number, make a reservation to chew on the fruit or leaves of the Tree of Life… or gnaw on its bark. Then we get eternal life and can ignore that die thing. Now the apple looks irresistible.

 

Adam and Eve had it good. They had each other. No laundry to do. Plenty of food for the picking, except that one tree. Lots of animals around, including that dog who loved to have his butt scratched. There was no reason to know about evil, whatever that was.

 

Maybe Adam and Eve needed the knowledge of the good that the Tree of Life would give them before partaking of that evil apple. Was it their ignorance, a choice, or no choice? Free will to choose is often viewed as God’s greatest gift, but then He does hold us responsible and accountable.

 

The Serpent brought to Eve’s attention that the tasty-looking fruit would impart the wisdom of God. She had probably seen worms, birds, and other critters eating and enjoying the apples, and they had not died. She believed Sneaky Snake’s promise of wisdom over God’s promise of death. She bit into the apple. How could it be her fault because she was ignorant of God’s timing and spiritual intent?

 

Adam watched Eve smile as the juice ran down her chin. Her expression fell as she covered her face and half-turned away. He studied her intently, but she didn’t die. He took the offered morsel.

 

The fruit was sweet and succulent, like nothing that had ever touched his lips. He scanned around the Garden and saw details and marvels he had never noticed. What a wonderful place. Then he looked down at himself and experienced a strange feeling. He would name himself naked and call it shame. And then fear of a lingering death.

 

Eve had started weaving together fig leaves to cover them from their nakedness. God had already seen them naked, so He didn’t care. They were married so being naked together had not caused shame. The animals didn’t care. Was there now sin in the beholder’s attitude? Did they not want to be naked before God?

 

Adam heard God calling, so he peeked from behind a pile of apple cores and admitted, “I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.”[5] You ate the apple? But, of course, it wasn’t his fault because the woman had given him the apple. God shook his head. OK, God, it was your fault because you gave me the woman.

 

Eve backed up. She pointed to her modest fig covering and anticipated Flip Wilson’s explanation, “The Devil made me buy this dress.”

 

The Blame Game. Sin and Deception. Deceiving ourselves.

 

The Original Sin? Being naked? More? Perhaps, choosing to disobey God.

 

Miriam-Webster defines sin as “an offense against religious or moral law” and “transgression of the law of God.” We don’t need to look far in the Bible to confirm, “all have sinned.”[6] So all have made choices to disobey God. And God said, “If anyone sins and does what is forbidden in any of the Lord's commands, even though they do not know it, they are guilty and will be held responsible.”[7] Or as a judge in a court today might look down at you and say, “Your ignorance of the law is no excuse. Guilty!”

 

What did God mean by, “you will surely die”? Adam knew what it meant to die by observing the warthog roasting on his BBQ spit. He did not know that God meant a spiritual death. At the Great White Throne Judgement God will say, “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”[8] Betcha Sneaky Snake knew about the coming BBQ.

 

The dog watched Adam and Eve evacuate the Garden. He ran to the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and lifted his leg. As he trotted after Adam, Sneaky Snake rattled his tail and hissed, “My kind of critter. I shall name him Dogma Dog.”

 

We don’t know if Adam or Eve later sought God’s forgiveness to avoid spiritual death in the fire and brimstone. Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross extended God’s forgiveness to all.[9] Seek, and you will find it.

 

The Thief on the Cross had it easy… if exquisite pain and imminent physical death don’t count. He had God’s forgiveness and no further opportunity to sin. And part of that forgiveness was based on not playing the Blame Game. The Thief admitted he was responsible for his sticky fingers and deserved his punishment.

 

But sin is in the world because of Adam. It’s Adam’s fault.

 

But God gave me this lustful body with hormones. It’s God’s fault.

 

I was born ignorant without the proper upbringing. It’s my mother’s fault. No, she said it was Society’s fault. Society blames our schools.

 

The Schools measure IQ, and mine was only 100. I should not be responsible when the guy with 120 screwed up more. It’s Smarty Pants fault.

 

I was born colored and ain’t got no job. It’s that do-nuttin NAACP’s fault. No, they say its Whitey’s fault.

 

The pretty lady got the job, and I got the unemployment line. It’s DNA’s fault.

 

I drink too much booze and now toke a joint. I thought they were OK because they are legal. It’s the Government’s fault. (But, thank you pharmaceuticals for your necessary pain killers. What side effects?)

 

I ignored my neighbor because I had my nose stuck in my cell phone. It’s Apple’s fault. No, that was Eve’s fault.

 

Wait. Eve saw the apple was, “good for food and pleasing to the eyes.”[10] It really was the apple’s fault.

 

Oh, and it may be the parent’s fault teaching the story of Adam and Eve to their children. That aroused their curiosity, and they wanted to see their neighbor with no fig leaves. Besides, the Theologians have told us we are already infected with Adam’s sin, so what is a little more?

 

I steal because I am poor. It’s Jesus’ fault for saying, “The poor you will always have.[11] I’m just the default loser.

 

That sounds like the Other Thief on the Cross who chided Jesus to save himself and then save him. He also had the exquisite pain and faced imminent death, but he did not take responsibility for his sticky-finger choices.

 

Sorry, Jesus, about those Jews who shouted, “Crucify Him!” It’s the Jew’s fault.

 

Who ya gonna blame? Your choices? Yourself? OK, who ya gonna call?[12] Jesus.

 

The words of Jesus. Study the words of Jesus. Reduce that ignorance thing with the Word. Maybe you won’t need yourself covered with all those fig leaves before God.

 

The right to choose, but not to blame,

Where Jesus leads, and shed the shame.


 

[1] Genesis 2:9.

[2] Genesis 2:16-17.

[3] Genesis 3:2-3.

[4] Genesis 3:22 puts the Tree of Life on the no-no list after Adam and Eve had eaten from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

[5] Genesis 3:10.

[6] Romans 3:23.

[7] Leviticus 5:17.

[8] Matthew 25:41.

[9] Romans 5:12-21, 1 Corinthians 15:21-22.

[10] Genesis 3:6.

[11] Matthew 26:11.

[12] Apologies to Ghost Busters.