First Glance: Genesis 2-3

Ear by Travis Isaacs

Ear by Travis Isaacs

And the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden;  but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.” (2:16-17)

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. (3:6)

At its most basic level, the story of Genesis 3 is one of disobedience. God gave a commandment to Adam, which later he and Eve disobeyed. It is such a simple story, but far from insignificant. Sin entered the world and humanity ‘fell.’ Everything changed after this. Because of the significance of this first sin, for centuries Christians have tried to understand it. What was at the root of Adam and Eve’s disobedience? Was it a desire to be like God? Was it pride? Lust? Mistrust?

I don’t want to deny or downplay the incredible intellectual work that has been done surrounding Adam and Eve’s sin. I agree with much of it and am indebted to it. However, I want to offer an additional nuance. Adam and Eve refuse to take God at his word. God created the world by his word. God spoke and it came into being. Then God creates Adam and places him in the garden to work it and take care of it. Then God speaks, commanding him to eat of any tree, but the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

At this point, the primary organ for relationship to God has been the ears. God speaks and we hear. We learn to trust God by using our ears. But then there is the curious phrase in the temptation account. The woman saw that the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye. And she eats, along with her husband, and the world has never been the same. At the very least, it appears that the woman begins to trust her eyes more than her ears.

We live in a culture of the eye. Glossy pictures, slick commercials, neon lights. We are continually bombarded with images that are ‘pleasing to the eye.’ It can be hard to trust with our ears. We want people to show us; we want to ‘see it to believe it.’ Yet, Genesis 2 & 3 paint a picture of taking God at his word. Maybe being the people of God means being people of the ear more than people of the eye. Maybe it means trusting God’s word over the shiny fruit in front of us. Or as Jesus put it, ‘whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.’

What organ is primary in your relationship with God? 

How can we cultivate ears to hear? 

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