This essay is a follow up to the Extraordinary Women of the Bible study. We recommend first completing your lesson and discussing it with your group before reading this post.
Who are you looking at?
By: Amanda Hickernell
Imagine that you are in the middle of an art museum. In front of you is a painting depicting a war, like Picasso’s Guernica. It's awful. It shows death, dismemberment and gore. As you study it, you begin to frown and your shoulders slump. You start to despair so you turn around to look at the painting behind you. It’s Monet’s Water Lilies. Ahhh, that’s much better! Your body begins to relax as you stare at the pastel blotches of paint. You let out a deep breath as you gaze at the calm pond. You even begin to smile.
The action of turning from Guernica to Water Lilies is like turning from sin to God. Staring at our sin and our circumstances gives us negative emotions like anxiety, worry, fear, and doubt. But turning to look at God gives us positive feelings like peace, joy, hope, and confidence. Staring at sin and death reminds us that we are not in control and that we lack the power to overcome anything. Staring at God, though, reminds us that He is all-powerful and that He has already provided victory over death through Jesus. It is surprisingly easy to get caught up in our sin, but the antidote is simple: look at the character of God. As we study Eve’s story, we will see this truth.
Genesis chapter 1 says “God created man in his own image,” He blessed Adam & Eve, and “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good indeed.” Eve was the pinnacle of God’s creation and was flawless inside and out. She was given a perfect home that had every kind of plant, tree and fruit. She was given a perfect partner in Adam who adored her and protected her. She was given a job to which she was perfectly suited: to be Adam’s helper. Best of all, she was given an intimate relationship with her loving creator; with whom she walked naked and unashamed. What a wonderful life in the Garden of Eden.
So, what happened? How did she go from a perfect life to a life marred by sin? Let’s dissect her conversation with the serpent.
- God walked calmly. He didn’t run, stomp or barge. He showed restraint.
- God called out “Where are you?” instead of “You two get over here this instant!” He softly and gently called out to them, reminding them that He is their loving Father. He showed tenderness.
- God asked “What happened?” rather than “I know what just happened and you two are in big trouble!” Before doling out the consequences, God invited them to confess their sin. He even did it twice: once to Adam and then once to Eve. He showed gentleness.
- God curses the serpent but only gives consequences to Adam & Eve. While God warns that childbirth will now be quite painful, He still gives Eve the blessing of being the mother of all mankind. He showed mercy and grace.
- God promised that the woman’s offspring would crush the head of the serpent. We now know that God is referring to Jesus, His one and only Son, who died on the cross and rose again. Jesus’ death paid the penalty for our sins, and His resurrection defeated Satan and death. Through Eve’s offspring, God provided a way for the fellowship of God and man to one day be restored. He showed redemption.
- God made clothing out of animal skins for Adam & Eve to wear. God performed the first sacrifice, and killed His precious creation, to cover up the sins of His children. He showed sacrificial love.
- God banished Adam & Eve from the garden and placed an angel to guard the entrance, which prevented them from returning and eating from the Tree of Life. If they had done so, their bodies would have lived forever and there would be no hope of reuniting with God. He showed protection.
In just 16 verses, we see that God is restrained, tender, gentle, gracious, merciful, sacrificially loving, our protector and our redeemer. Oh what a great God!
When we dwell on God’s character, our circumstances become less scary and our sin is less appealing. We dwell on God's character by studying God’s Word, walking in Godly counsel, and practicing God’s commands. When we study God’s Word, we become intimately familiar with our creator and savior. As you read the stories of these extraordinary women, look specifically for the words and actions of God and think about what they reveal about His character. Walking in Godly counsel is talking regularly to a trusted friend or relative who is listening to the Holy Spirit. Ask them to point our where you are blinded by your sin and allow them to pray for you. We practice God’s commands when we fill our mind with the character of God. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” - Deuteronomy 6:5-9