Landscapes are perceptions to the eye,
as questions are to the mind.
Questions leave an imprint of what is, and what may be. But too often we bind them to expectations. We lose our focus based on what we desire, rather than what is necessary.
Below is an old familiar part of history and at its center is a question. A question that actually gives answer to other questions like ‘Why is the world the way it is’, ‘Is there anything to base hope on’, and ‘what can I ‘put in order’ for this new year’?
- the inquiry as to what is possible.
- a way to gain more information.
- a method to express persuasion.
Whether informative or interrogative in nature questions are a basic communicative skill. Questions should evoke contemplation.
“What is this that you have done (asah)?” Genesis 3:13
[Hebrew. asah: to do, make, put in order, ordain, appoint, celebrate, to bring about]
What comes to your mind when you hear this question? Does this interrogative set you on the defensive? Does this informative prompt deeper thoughts? The answer to this question was a ‘matter of fact’, a descriptive explanation. A justification to eclipse any sort of ‘Why?’ question that may follow.
“What have you done (asah)?” Genesis 4:10
The Lord God asks both of these similarly phrased questions. First to a woman, Eve. Second to a man, Cain. ‘The knowledge of the good and evil’ was already gained. Self-ordained they ‘put in order’ and experienced the fateful promise. “… for in the day when you eat of it, you shall surely die” (Genesis 2:17). Death would conquer any ability on their part to sustain life.
1. The woman (Eve) had seen “… the tree was to be desired (chamad) to make one wise (sakal)” (Genesis 3:6).
[Hebrew. chamad: to delight in, take pleasure in, to covet]
[Hebrew. sakal: to possess insight, to ponder, give attention to, consider]
Wisdom is a good thing, something to be desired, right? Why then would God want to keep humanity from such? Often times asking ourselves the right questions first, gives us a better perspective.
What knowledge of evil should I want to take pleasure in or covet?
What knowledge of evil should I want to ponder in my thoughts?
Out of God’s wisdom had come the command to not eat of that tree; for ‘the knowledge of evil’ is a force we ought not desire to reason with.
Remember, Eve and Adam had tried to cover what their eyes were opened too. “They sewed fig leaves together, and made (asah) themselves loincloths” (Genesis 3:7). Nothing they could produce, make, or work for could bring back their former life. Death had not been part of their existence. Eve and Adam’s eyes had never seen a leaf wilt; let alone conceive that once dried would simply crumble to pieces because it had been plucked from the source of its life. What they had fashioned would not be sufficient. All of it would crumble away.
God had no choice, humanity severed the unity of dependence on ‘the knowledge of the good’ alone. The desire to be like a god caused them to fail to see through the deceit that only God can deliver Himself from evil’s power. So, the Lord, “drove out (garash) the man (from the garden of Eden) … to keep the way of the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24).
[Hebrew. garash: drove out, cast out, put away, divorce]
2. The man (Cain) had used, had acted on, his “knowledge of the evil” to ‘secure’ his own standard. “… am I my brother’s keeper (shamar)?” (Genesis 4:9).
[Hebrew. shamar: guard, save life]
When God confronted, Cain had a stronger fear of another man killing him, rather than fearing his own rejection of the Lord’s forgiveness. What Cain had made, asah, was to seek revenge for what he would not honor. So, “Cain went out from the presence of the Lord” (Genesis 4:16).
For us today the same choice remains between what we make (asah), and what Christ has made (asah) for us. We either accept or reject Him.
Today, we still live in a world continuously constructed by human errors; human self-ordained gods of turmoil. Booms and busts of human ingenuity. Peace eludes us, prosperity dissatisfies equalizers, and justice escapes its sense of balance, at least according to the raw human capacity.
“What is man, that you make so much of him, and that you set your heart on him?” Job 7:17
“Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the Lord do (asah) so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you.” Ruth 1:17
In a beautiful promise, God personified these words for Himself to fulfill within the midst of this world’s sorrow and chaos. He would become the “promised seed” on Earth to redeem the realm of life He had created, despite what humanity had ‘put in order’.
“And the Lord God made (asah) for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21).
In Romans 5:8 – 6:23 we find the contrasting scene to the exile from the Garden of Eden. Here we see how Christ reconciles us to God. To reconcile means to restore, to make agreeable to one another so that the two can exist together. Wow! Such a thought that God would descend in such an approachable manner (as a baby) and live as “one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrew 4:15).
God ‘put in order’ what humanity was never created to do.
“Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” Psalm 32:1
What will you let God do, ‘put in order’, in your life this year?
Psalm 32; 1 John 1; Hebrews 12; Revelation 22