Having acknowledged in my previous post that the Genesis account could not be expected to incorporate a scientific account of the creative processes, moving on to chapter 3 – the Fall and its role in divine providence, there will be Christians who are content to take references to trees of knowledge and a garrulous snake literally. Those who regard the whole account as allegorical or symbolic must nevertheless take stock of the events and what they are intended to symbolize, given that all the key players in the saga are frequently referred to in New Testament writing.
Adam and Eve disobeyed God, but that is only a third of the story, and the smallest part at that, once understood from a more enlightened Christian perspective such as that possessed by the apostle Paul (cf. Eph6:12; Rom8:20,21) who discerned a providential role for the Fall. In Ephesians, the apostle refers to evil principalities and powers extraneous to mankind whilst in Romans Paul identifies Whom he regards as ULTIMATELY taking responsibility for the Fall. Mankind is third in the pecking order, which is not to say he is not culpable and deserving of the punishment which he has received. But the consequences outlined for mankind in Genesis are temporal, not eternal in nature, and (believe it or not) the punishment devised is ultimately beneficial for the recipients. By temporal I do not mean merely physical in nature; the “death” referred to in God’s warning to Adam pertained to his vital relationship with God which would be broken (cf. Jn17:3). Damnation will be a reality for some, but that is not what this “death” (or indeed Pauline “death”) is referring to. Hell has been prepared for the devil and his messengers/agents (Greek: aggelos), many of whom are human (Mt25:41) – we will shortly encounter their archetype in Genesis 4. The chief culprit at Eden was the snake representing Satan, whom it should be noted alone was cursed by God in the post-incidental exchanges (as later was Cain).
Nevertheless, man’s Adversary would appear on the surface to have achieved a mighty victory, gaining control of the world order and seemingly ruining God’s plans for the elevation of its human inhabitants so that they may come to share in the divine nature – the cause of Satan & his minions’ rebellion in the first place. But the Adversary had played right into God’s hands and has actually facilitated the process! Such was the Fall’s providential role. I will say no more about that here, merely offer a textual clue, which taken in the context of the above offers a solution to the mystery of evil. It explains why a SOVEREIGN God described by the apostle John as Love personified (1Jn4:8) permitted events to take the course they did at Eden; also, why this will ultimately be beneficial for mankind, whilst at the same time immensely costly to the Godhead: it is Heb2:10, and it is Love beyond human imagining:
“for it was fitting for (Christ), for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” [Heb2:10NKJV]
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Related post: Death related to the Fall