23 Sept 2022
All of us believers have some knowledge of the fall when Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the garden of Eden.
However, it might be helpful for us to ponder over some of the details: it would give a clearer picture of what happened before and after the fall and how this has affected us today as unbelievers as well as believers.
The Bible tells us that humankind was created in God’s image, in God’s likeness – humans could commune with God and know the pleasure, presence, love, and favour of God. Human beings were nevertheless created beings – they were intended to be dependent on the Creator for life and existence in the world. Adam and Eve were created ‘innocent’, and they had the capacity to choose to obey God and to deepen fellowship with God.
In came Satan, tempting them to do the one thing they should not do – they chose to disobey God and they fell from a state of moral innocence to a state of shame, disgrace and condemnation. Immediately, everything changes. Life will now be filled with pain, toil, sadness; they were exiled from their home – they and their descendants who were created to live forever, who were fashioned for eternity, are subject to death.
Adam and Eve, in their disobedience to God, chose godlikeness over against mere creatureness, with its dependent status; they chose independence from the Creator, and they were not intended to live so.
Created to enjoy God and to be dependent on Him, humans now come under God’s wrath, and to experience the terrible consequences of our rebellion. We lost our vision of God and His character and we become hostile and project our guilt and hostility onto God. “God is to be blamed”; “Why has God made us thus?” We became idolaters, created gods in our own image and exchanged the truth about God for a lie.
The fall also caused us to distort the divine image in ourselves: we become selfish, unloving, unforgiving, spiteful – we learned to bear the image of the evil one, the enemy – we became rebels, proud, greedy, breaking God’s laws, abusing God’s creation – we suffer the consequences of fallenness in our brokenness, loneliness and pain, and this extends to broken relationships with one another. Creation also experienced the consequence of the fall – thorns began to ‘spring forth’ and ‘creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time’ (Rom. 8:22).
Humans become enslaved to sin and the evil one; we cannot save ourselves – we need a Saviour. God set about redeeming and restoring the fallen creatures of His so that He might restore to us the lost vision of God, renew in us the divine image, and reestablish our relationship with Him – this is the story of redemption, a story of love and a story of promise – we are familiar with the story of how God seeks to recreate a new humanity in the second Adam, His beloved Son Jesus Christ.
God Himself sacrifices Himself in death out of love for His enemies; a God who would rather experience the death we deserved than to be apart from the people He created for His pleasure; a Good who Himself bore our likeness, experienced our creatureliness, and carried our sins so that He might provide pardon and reconciliation; a God who would not let us go, but who would pursue us – all of us, even the worst of us – sos that He might restore us to joyful fellowship with Himself. Remember, God need not create us; He is sufficient in Himself, in the Trinity, having loving, harmonious fellowship in the three Persons of the Godhead – God need not save us from the fall – we deserve nothing but get everything in Christ; we deserve hell but get heaven, we deserve judgement and condemnation but we become His children to bear His likeness and to call Him ‘Abba’, Father.
Interestingly, in our study of Ecclesiastes, we see how a wise sage, the preacher, with all his resources to observe and experience all that the world (the fallen world) can provide, came to the conclusion that all is meaningless. The preacher was actually looking at the fallen world and our fallen state in such a world:
His conclusion of ‘Life is meaningless’ – here are the reasons highlighted:
Firstly, life is meaningless because we die. He likens our bodies to a house that is falling apart with age -it all ends with death (Eccl. 12:7). Genesis tells us that death came about because of the rebellion of humankind against God.
Secondly, life is meaningless because of injustice – he was upset with the injustice in this world. He expected good people to be rewarded and bad people to be punished but he did not see this often. The Fall has caused humankind to bear the image of the evil one – being broken and causing brokenness in relationships.
Thirdly, although he knew that God had ordered the universe and He had place eternity in human hearts, yet this knowledge brings him frustration because humans do not know the proper time for their actions and speech and God has not allowed them in on it (Eccl. 5:11).
Since life is meaningless, the preacher encourages a carpe diem attitude. Grab what ever enjoyment one can out of life – if there is no ultimate purpose in life (i.e. life under the sun, the fallen state in a fallen world), the best strategy for living is to try to numb the pain by momentary pleasures that distract one from the harsh realities of life – enjoy the short meaningless days of our life and not think too much about the meaningless of it all.
The preacher actually presents a vivid picture of man in the fallen state in the fallen world. He advises us not to follow his path, for it would only lead to vanity and meaninglessness. He does give a hint that the only consolation that can come about is ‘if there is God and judgment and justice (in the afterlife).