Echoes of Eve

When you think of a Christian woman, what do you think of? Personally, I think of anything and everything I’m not (which can mean a lot of different things depending on my mood).

What we should be expecting and seeing in the Church, however, are women who are assured that they are defended by the Creator who molded them for a specific purpose that only they can carry out. Because that is exactly who and what we are—beloved, purposed, empowered, and defended.

What I see instead are women who are afraid to tell their stories because they

  • Don’t have it “all together,”
  • Believe their sin is worse than anyone else’s,
  • Expect that they truly are unloveable,
  • Carry overwhelming shame,
  • Know their image is only skin-deep,
  • Can’t keep their house, children, husband, cars, clothes, and dishes in perfect order and happiness,
  • Ache with loneliness for someone to love and be loved by,
  • Feel unnecessary, unimportant, overweight, ugly, too much, too little, too smart, too dumb, not enough and certainly not defended.

Satan has distorted Eve’s story so that all we see are short-comings, doom, and a wrathful God. Historically, western society seems to expect women to suddenly strip naked and offer random people apples, seducing the world into sin and moral depravity. We ourselves suspect that we are less than the woman next to us, aren’t what we should be, and can’t offer anything worthwhile until we “get it together.”

And when we don’t pull off perfection, we expect God: the Old Testament Tyrant to judge us, then smite us for the tiniest mistake. And if he doesn’t punish us sufficiently, we take on the job and replay our mistakes, shames, and failures over and over again until we are incapacitated by our worthlessness.

What a victory for our enemy.

But I have news for you. God made you perfectly you. Utterly capable to achieve the good purpose He created you for (Eph. 2:10). You are an echo of Eve: life-giver, nick-of-time-helper, relationship-inviter, and enemy to Satan.

No matter the availability to evil and consequences of life after the Fall, no matter your mistakes or screw-ups, you are created in the image of God and you have dignity. But you also have an enemy. This enemy wants you shackled, shamed, and utterly deceived about your true role, power, and dignity. You’ll be no threat to him then.

Eve’s power came from accepting her role and identity as prescribed by God. Her extraordinary defense occurred because of her humility and honesty before God. I suspect that I am not the only woman who has been deceived, mocked, cheated, and shamed in my lifetime. We are no longer perfect beings living in a perfect world. That is not our role or identity on this earth. Our role as women is to stand before God and invite Him to defend us and reclaim our dignity, worth, and power.

Eve’s story guarantees that He will.

Eve Avenged

Woman utters seven words, which declare, “I have been stripped of my dignity, worth, and power by this, my enemy.” Woman confesses her sin and laid her shame bare before the Lord.

No one in history has been more distressed than Woman that day. Why? Because Woman lost everything. In order to lose everything, one must first have everything. Until that moment, Woman had never experienced anything beyond perfect harmony, capability, and utter satisfaction.

If you consider her purpose as in-the-nick-of-time helper, Woman’s sin was ultimately a mis-application of her God-given position and power. I don’t know about you, but nothing wrenches my soul like hurting someone I’m supposed to help.

Woman’s confession was not a beggarly excuse from someone who is weak and incapable. It’s a plea for understanding from the only One who could fathom the depth of her sorrow and loss.

What an invitation. Without hesitation, God confronts Woman’s Enemy and defends her with breath-taking accuracy. He declares a blood feud between Woman and Satan. And He pronounces Satan’s ultimate destruction.

If that sounds unimpressive to you, think back to the last time God declared something. “Let there be light” had immediate and comprehensive effect (Gen. 1:3).

Have you ever wondered why it seems that Satan has it out for you personally? Why he just won’t leave you alone? Satan is fighting so hard because he is a cornered, wounded animal whose doom has been pronounced. He has lost. His time is running out. He knows it. And you are an echo of the original Woman.

God’s vengeance encompasses the enemy that Woman knows about (Mr. Snake) as well as the enemy of creation itself (Satan). You know who else it encompasses? Woman’s faithless husband, Adam.

God reclaims all the dignity that Woman lost to her three accusers. He corroborates her claim of being cheated (Gen. 3:14), letting all three know that God is not deceived by any of them.

He lays no blame on the Woman (Gen. 3:16-17), despite laying blame both on the serpent (Gen. 3:14) and Adam (Gen. 3:17). God declares Woman the conduit for Satan’s destruction through her descendant, Jesus Christ (Gen. 3:15).

Then God returns to Woman the dignity of life-giver (Gen. 3:16) and describes the desire she will always have to return to perfect unity of relationship with her children and her husband (Gen. 3:16).

After God’s thorough defense of Woman, including His pronouncement of Adam’s sin and consequences, Adam repents and reclaims his wife. He names her Chavvah, which means life-giver. He gives her a name that describes her vengeance from God. Every time someone hears it, they will be reminded of the time God Almighty defended her. Talk about being clothed in dignity!

Eve’s vengeance is complete. She, Adam, Mr. Snake, Satan and God all know it. But Eve is still in danger from two quarters. She and Adam:

  • Ate the forbidden fruit, which demands death as payment (Gen. 1:17), and
  • Might eat the fruit from the Tree of Life, which gives eternal life (Gen. 3:22).

God addresses the first threat by appeasing the requirement with a substitute—an animal whose blood mitigates Adam and Eve’s guilt and whose skin covers them from the now-difficult terrain and temperatures of Earth (Gen. 3:21). Why did He bother? Due to the nature of God’s vengeance for Eve, she cannot die childless. He clothed her to facilitate her continued life and vengeance.

God addresses the second threat by sending Adam and Eve out of the Garden and setting a cherubim guard over the Tree of Life (Gen. 3:22-24). Why? Up until now, the Tree wasn’t forbidden, but since Adam and Eve are now vulnerable to the warring options and desires of good and evil, God protected them from bearing the weight of sin for all time.

Eve: Facing the Music

Paradise—freedom, intimacy, contentment, soul-filling work without sweat or toil, as well as unity between man and woman, animals and earth, humanity and earth, creation and Creator. Even the temperature’s so perfect that nudity is not only an option, but lovely, comfortable, and slimming.

Then suddenly, with one bite, nudity is embarrassing. Intimacy is no longer comfortable and welcome. Schisms form in a marriage formerly composed of respect and nick-of-time coordination.

Two details that we need to understand at this point are 1) Adam and Woman have never had trust issues before and 2) Woman does not know Satan exists. Neither has she any reason to despise or fear snakes.

So back to the Tree. What’s so bad about knowing good v. bad? The Hebrew word for knowledge in this verse connotes an openness or experience (“Damah”). An availability to both good and evil. Whereas creation was protected from evil and provided good, there is now a leak and creation is doomed to experience both.

Similarly, Adam and Woman now experienced the duality of their form—spirit (Gen. 2:7b) and dust (Gen. 2:7a)—in contrast to the utter holiness of God. No wonder they reached for the nearest fig leaf. Now they knew there was an otherness, a separateness between themselves and God, but also between each other.

Enter God, stage right. He, as the all-knowing Creator, is not surprised at this shift. But rather than descending in power and accusation, He continues in the pattern of their relationship, inviting them to join Him for a walk (Gen. 3:8). When they do not appear, He calls to them (Gen. 3:9).

Imagine what would have happened if Adam and Woman had broken cover and run to Him, spilling out their fear and shame and confusion. That’s what God is inviting them to do. Instead, they hid and He drew them out.

When questioned by God, Adam does not take responsibility for his choice. He accuses God of dooming paradise by creating Woman. Remember, Woman was once perfect, made to match, help, and save Adam from the not-good-ness of being alone.

This is the first time something false has been spoken over Woman’s identity. You know how that feels because you’ve grown up in a fallen and false world full of sin. Imagine the sheer pain, shame, terror, and aloneness Woman felt. For the first time.

Her purpose and calling just rejected her in the presence of the Creator who could obliterate her with a word.

For those of you who consider the God of the Old Testament to be overly trigger-happy in the fire and brimstone department, let this sink in: instead of speaking Woman out of creation, God asks for her side of the story.

Her answer is surprisingly simple: “The serpent deceived me, and I ate” (Gen. 3:13). Unlike Adam’s answer, Woman conveys the facts of the situation: she was deceived and she chose to disobey.

The word she chose to use was hathal (“Hathal”). It means to deride, cheat, or mock (“Deceived”). Her confession isn’t simply an admission of her own guilt; it was an admission of what she lost at the hands of the serpent.

Think about it: when you’re bamboozled, even in fun, you feel smaller, stupid. Depending on the scam, people lose time, a bit of money, or everything. But no matter what size scam, there’s a little piece of you that feels less capable, intelligent, and powerful than it did before you were cheated.

That’s what Woman is describing. She’s not denying her choice. But she’s also telling the full, behind-the-scenes story. And guess what?

Woman had the ear of the Creator God who designed her to embody power and dignity. And Satan had just messed with her.

 

Strong, James. “Damah.” The New Strong’s Complete Dictionary of Bible Words. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996. Print.

— “Deceived.” The New Strong’s Complete Dictionary of Bible Words. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996. Print.

— “Hathal.” The New Strong’s Complete Dictionary of Bible Words. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1996. Print.

Eve: Stripped, Mocked, and Shamed

For the last two weeks, we saw that Woman was innocent, perfect, and powerful. She was fully known to herself, her husband, and her God. Woman had no reason to fear the corners and undercurrents of her heart, mind, or soul. She had absolutely nothing to hide and no trust issues.

We have finally arrived at Genesis 3 and it’s going to take some time to set up the context. Here are some details to consider:

  • Both Trees (Life and Knowledge of Good and Evil) were placed at the center of the Garden (Gen. 2:9)
  • Adam was tasked with filling, subduing, the earth; ruling all living things (Gen. 1:28); and managing the Garden (Gen. 2:15).
  • Most commentaries suggest that the command not to eat of The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was given from God to Adam (Gen. 2:15-17). Then Adam passed it on to Woman.
  • Satan is too smooth to use a startling, scary method of temptation, therefore, it’s possible that animals (or at least snakes) originally spoke.
  • Adam was nearby when Woman was being tempted (Gen. 3:6).

Keep these details in mind while we dive into Genesis 3:1.

Let’s set the scene: Woman, ezer, and Adam, steward, were in the center of the garden near the two trees—The Tree of Life and The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This does not necessarily mean that they were flirting with temptation; as the gardeners and stewards, both man and woman had the right and responsibility to tend to all that lived.

Many expect Woman to be seeking trouble that day, but she didn’t have to look for it. It is entirely possible that Woman was simply caught up in Satan’s hidden agenda. In my opinion, Satan tempted Woman while she was operating in her gifting and calling. He engaged her in what must have been a fairly benign (from Woman’s standpoint) conversation.

God told Adam that he could eat freely of any tree in the Garden, except one, otherwise he would die (Gen. 2:16-17). Satan, however, exaggerated the limitation, excluded the consequences, and suggested a gap in the provision of God (Gen. 3:1).

Woman acknowledges God’s provision, but adds a little caveat to the original command: she says that she can’t even touch the fruit or she’ll die (Gen. 3:3).

Who knows whether Adam or Woman added that little hedge of protection around God’s command? Most religions start off with the same kind of innocent bumper for sin. But here’s the problem: God will not provide the consequence to a command he never gave.

When Woman touches the fruit in Gen. 3:6, nothing happens. Suddenly, there’s the possibility that God is lying.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. There’s one more detail I’d like to point out. If we can assume that Woman was fulfilling her calling and gifting to help Adam in his responsibilities, then what Mr. Snake suggests next is crucial.

He says that the fruit will grant wisdom (Gen. 3:5). The Hebrew word used here is saw-kal, which means to have skill, understand, and guide (Strong 535). Remember, if Woman wasn’t willfully eyeing this fruit, then she was performing her job—to be the in-the-nick-of-time help for Adam— and what better tool could she use than wisdom?

Next, Woman double-checks her information. She knew God created the fruit and trees in the Garden to be pleasing to the eyes and good to eat (Gen. 2:8). So she examined the fruit and found it pleasant to the eye and good to eat (3:6). It appeared to align with what God had planned, just as Satan knew it would.

I’m not saying that Woman is the victim and isn’t responsible for her choice. Ultimately, she chose to believe Satan and disobey God. But what I’m seeing here is a pattern that the Enemy has used on me over and over again.

What I’m seeing is a tailor-made trap to strip Woman of her God, her power, and her dignity.

 

Strong, James. “Sakal.” The New Strong’s Complete Dictionary of Bible Words, Thomas Nelson, 1996, pp. 535.

Eve: The Original Wonder Woman

Here’s a quick recap of last week’s post— Woman was created:

  • Innocent,
  • Perfect,
  • Last,
  • In the image of God,
  • For relationship with God and Adam,
  • In the garden of Eden,
  • And shamelessly, happily, and blessedly naked.

In short, Eve was exactly who God said she was.

Let’s look at the God-designed context of her creation: Genesis 2:7 explains how God made Man, 2:18 states that Adam was alone, and 2:22 describes that God made Woman out of Adam.

Between Adam’s creation and Woman’s creation, God put Adam to work naming all the animals God had created (Gen. 2:18-20). Talk about a long day. Why didn’t God give that assignment after Woman was created? She could’ve taken half of the animals and helped get the job done in half the time.

Instead of detailing all the creativity and wonder of Adam as he named every living thing that could move on its own, Genesis 2:20 focuses on the search for a helper comparable to Adam. Despite all the diversity of creation, Adam came up empty.

During this time, Adam discovered that he was the only one who was alone in his kind and his responsibilities. Then God, in his mercy, remedied the situation by creating Woman out of Adam’s rib (Gen. 2:21-22).

Woman filled the only void that existed in creation and God made sure that Adam knew it. She was the companion in mind, body, and spirit that he needed. But, wait! There’s more.

The Hebrew word ezer is typically translated as “helper” (Strong 42). I don’t know about you, but that feels a bit First Grade to me. Not flattering.

However, this word is only used twenty-one times in the Old Testament. Eighteen of those times, ezer refers to God’s divine intervention on behalf of his children who are on the cusp of disaster.

One of the remaining references is a negative (Is. 30:5). In other words, that verse is saying, “Dude, you are so not helping.” The last two refer to Woman.

Breathe this fact in until it mingles with your toes, my friend: The positive identifications of ezer only refer to God and to Woman.

Based on the uses throughout the Old Testament, here’s my functional definition of ezer: powerful, overwhelming, in-the-nick-of-time military help. Think Gideon with three hundred men carrying jars and torches defeating well-trained, well-armed soldiers. Jericho’s walls collapsing at the sound of a worship service. A stone toppling a giant.

That’s the word God uses to describe Woman.

That’s the mold in which you and I were made: that of a powerful warrior lending aid to an ally.

Woman not only kept Adam from aloneness, but she was empowered to render the essential assistance he needed to carry out his purpose: The steward, filling and subduing the earth, and governing all living things.

How breath-taking. What a mission. What a woman she must have been. Woman was fully confident, fully capable, and fully empowered to assist in the exact moment and the exact manner that was needed.

No wonder Satan went after her.

 

Strong, James. “Ezer.” The New Strong’s Complete Dictionary of Bible Words, Thomas Nelson, 1996, pp. 472.

Eve: The Face Behind the Blame

What would you give to know that who you are, what you look like, where you are, and what you’re doing is precisely perfect?

We can get close, but sin keeps us from fully walking in that assurance. We can thank Eve for that one, right? Without her, we’d be sun-bathing in paradise right now.

Before we start resenting her cravings, however, let’s pause to consider who she was before she lost everything. Because, make no mistake, if anyone knew who and why she was, it was Eve.

Woman was created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27). Shifting his creation technique, God meticulously crafted man and woman. He touched them—molded them like a potter with clay (Gen. 2:7, 21-22). That’s intimate—a tactile process that the rest of creation doesn’t share.

Whereas Adam seems to be fashioned outside of the garden, then placed there, (Gen. 2:7-8,15), Eve seems to be created inside the Garden (2:21-22).

God created the garden to provide pleasure, purpose, sustenance, and access to his presence (Gen. 2:9). Adam was brought into Paradise. Eve was made for Paradise. She knew nothing but comprehensive pleasure, purpose, sustenance, and access to God.

She was also created for Adam—she was his physical, emotional, and relational match.

Let this saturate your soul: Woman was crafted at the end of creation to fill a specific, God-designed void (Gen. 2:20).

Imagine the freedom, delight, and fulfillment she must have experienced! Woman was needed, wanted, and perfectly equipped to fulfill each God-designed aspect of her niche.

She was innocent of all doubt, insecurity, fear, or stress.

Yeah, but then she started talking to snakes, you might be thinking. That’s true. Eve screwed up. So have I. Haven’t you?

My biggest, most shameful screw-up is the last thing I want people to remember me by. But that is exactly the legacy we assign Eve. Why?

Perhaps there is power in knowing the mold we were crafted in. If so, I can think of no better tactic for the Enemy than to get us caught up with the blame game. In fact, that’s precisely what has occurred in western civilization since the fall—women consistently have been considered Jezebels who must be controlled and trained to stay in their place.

I want to explore the grace, mercy, and God-ordained vengeance that Eve inspired at her darkest moment. Perhaps her story can give us a bit of light for our own path as women. Join me?