EXPOSITION: Biblical Irony: God, Man, and the Serpent (Gn 3:1)

Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the wild animals that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really real, ‘You can’t eat from any tree in the garden?'” Gn 3:1

Did you notice the irony there? The serpent, who is none-other than the devil himself, seeks to trick Eve and Adam into the temptation of disobeying God. Their sin wasn’t the simple act of eating a fruit. Rather, the sin was woven deeper into a willful rebellion against God’s rightful dominion over creation. It was something much deeper: her disobedience. In her act, she was rejecting God’s role as God.

This is seen in the serpent’s responses. In verse 5, note its temptation:

“In fact, God knows that when you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil,” (Gn 3:5).

Aha! It seemed this pushed Eve and guilty-passive-bystander Adam into falling to temptation. Is this not central to our very sinful character? Our desire to displace God and place ourselves in his thrown? Our desire to set the terms of our existence? Sin is rooted not simply in the wrongness of acts (eating a fruit), but in the inner desires in which the acts flow (desire to ‘be like god’). We desire to be the gods of our lives. We desire to live lives centered on our desires and our pursuits. We desire to render judgments as to the wrongness and rightness of actions as they pertain to our own desires. This rebellion and self-worship is central to what we understand as the Sinful nature in which win flows. To give ourselves what is due solely to God.

Now what of this irony? God is the only God. His dominion over all creation is noted in Genesis 1-2, where we find Him creating all of the physical universe. However, hinting to His grace, God desires to share that dominion with us. How?

“they will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth… Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth,” (Gn 1:26, 28).

Did you catch that? ‘And every creature that crawls on the earth.’ This should remind you of that sly character the serpent, who two chapters later would slither into the scene. God has dominion over man on the basis of his role as Creator, and gives dominion over the earth and its creatures to man. However man’s sin is to rebel and deny this dominion order, and to desire to ‘be like God’. As if hinting to the foolishness of their Sin, who leads them into it? None other than the serpent in whom they are supposed to have dominion over!

The irony is laid bare. But two chapters over we find a clear command for them to rule over the slithering serpents, and instead they are led into the temptation of defying the dominion over by a very reversal of that dominion.  As if God’s ordered existence equivocates man’s rebellion against God to the creatures dominion over man.

The Irony: God –> Man –> Creature to Creature –> Man –> God

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