Advent Reading: Genesis 1-3; 1 John 3:12; Genesis 4
Chapter 1: Brave New World
Adam awoke. Remnants of last night’s dream flickered like ghosts behind his still-closed eyelids: soft grass painted with refreshing dew, lush trees towering over-head, the soft, sweet songs of God’s creatures drifted from just out of sight. It wasn’t that long ago that all of this had been a reality. Perhaps, he hoped, that it wasn’t a dream at all.
Adam opened his eyes and blinked until the desolate landscape around him came into focus. He shifted. His bones cracked and creaked as they slid back into place, disjointed from another long night of sleeping on uncultivated, rocky ground. The ghosts of Eden were just that after all—apparitions of paradise lost. Adam’s senses continued to wake up one by one. Suddenly He was at once aware of, and repulsed by, the stickiness and spoiled smell of his blood-stained animal-skin clothing. The rough hide scratched his skin, still unfamiliar with being covered.
It wasn’t that long ago that they had everything they could ever want or need. The land flourished under Adam’s hand. There was plenty of nourishing food for them, and the family they were to have. His sons and daughters would be able to grow tall and strong as they worked beside him, tilling the earth. Their mandate was to cultivate the rest of the land and make it like the garden—in some ways, even better. Adam had dreamed of building houses with his sons, beautiful structures crafted out of the precious materials that lay just below the surface of the ground. His family would continue to grow. They would continue to both build and to cultivate, to feast and to laugh and to sing, and to enjoy all that was, all under the approval of God’s smiling face.
The sharp hunger pains drew Adam back to the present. That had been his dream, but it all had been lost with one selfish act. God had given them everything in creation to enjoy, with only one simple limitation—not to eat the fruit of one particular tree. Adam had failed in his duty. He stood by allowing his wife to do the one thing they were forbidden to do. God had warned them that if they disobeyed him, they would suffer under the pain of death. Oh, if only it had been an instantaneous punishment! Instead, Adam had to live, suffering the thousand tiny deaths of watching himself, his family, and the creation he so enjoyed wither away slowly. He was no longer in Eden, but rather wandering aimlessly somewhere to the east surrounded by the constant reminder of failure in the untilled, undeveloped rock and sun-blistered grass. Their food was now rotten fruit; their drink contaminated water filled with the bloated, sun-baked corpses of fish. They had to watch their backs at every turn, lest they be attacked by the very animals that used to curl up in the sun with his infant son, whose teeth and claws that once helped him dig and clear brush now ripped and tore apart limbs and flesh.
And it was all his fault.
He looked at his wife, Eve, sleeping with their new son, whom they had named Cain. Her olive skin reddened under the unrelenting heat of the sun. Her animal skins, dried and matted with the blood their rebellion shed. Her body, designed for life but now destined to crack and break in birth. All because they wanted to be like God. Like God! They were already, God had said, made in his likeness but his word was not enough. They wanted more. His eyes drifted to his son.
His son! Cain, the first of generations that would never know the beauty of life as it was meant to be! All they would know is pain and death, suffering, fear, and heartache. All because of him.
His son! God treated Adam as his own son, and had lavished beauty and care on him, and all he could give to his own son was death and hopelessness. It was all his fault.
And however many hundreds, thousands, even millions that might follow? Their only experience of life would be fleeting pain. And it was all his fault. The crushing weight of the new world bore down on Adam, and he cried over what he had done. His agonized sobs swelled, startling Cain awake and leading his son to join in with the chorus of humanity’s new song.
But somewhere in those heavy and choked cries, Adam remembered something God has said. “Your offspring will crush the head of the snake.” Adam clung to the one hope he had left as he tearfully gazed at his son. “Will you be the one?” His thoughts echoed in his mind as Eve began to stir awake beside him.
This is all my fault.