What does God want from us? An apology? How many apologies had Adam and Eve uttered when God stepped in to promise salvation? What were they being saved from, was it God Himself?
As forbidden fruit churned in bellies covered by leafy aprons, God stood in the garden and inquired about Adam’s location. This question was not meant for God to ascertain Adam’s geographical position but to bring to Adam a realisation of his situation. Here stood God, longing for communion with His creation but away hid Adam, fearful and no longer innocent.
The loss of innocence created a vacuum that cowardice rushed to fill and when offered a chance to take responsibility, the same voice that serenaded Eve pointed to her as the source of all trouble. The contrast could not be sharper, on one hand God created humanity for companionship and gave us responsibility yet the loss of innocence left them cowering behind leafy aprons, seeking to put distance between themselves and God all the while denying all responsibility.
God demanded no apology but set about putting emergency measures in place to reduce sin’s impact. Adam was made from Earth and having rejected dependence on God, he would look to the earth for sustenance and validation. Adam would ever face the temptation to worship the work of his hands and so God called forth thorns to impede Adam’s ability to work the earth. God certainly called Adam to subdue and work the earth but now that Adam was in rebellion against God, unlimited success in labour would cement in him the delusion that he didn’t need God. The thorns of life would remind him that he wasn’t invincible, that all was not right with him and as thorns tore his flesh and he screamed to the sky in pain, he would remember to depend on the God who was working to save him.
Eve was taken out of Adam and in her rebellion she would seek in relationship with him what she ought to find in God. Though gloriously made in His image, no Adam could ever be God, especially not a fallen Adam. Thus, unrealistic expectations from a sinful man would lead to cycles of manipulation and domination, turning marriage into an end instead of a means to an end; pointing to itself instead of pointing to God. Eve children, therefore, would give her pain. This pain, that would remind her that there was a limit to her dependence on her husband, that there were things that even he could never fix. Yes, Eve was to be the mother of the living but a mother obsessed with her husband would never raise healthy children. As new life touched her body with pain, she would scream her pain, not to the finite Adam, but to the God who was working to save her.
Yet all this was nothing without The Seed to crush the serpent’s head. All this was promised to the offending couple without even a whispered apology. Why then the modern obsession with God’s forgiveness? Forgiveness is undoubtedly necessary but it is not the objective. I say this because God forgave Adam and Eve before they even thought of apologising. There was no need for a mediator to convince God to love the sinful couple because He was the One who sought after them. It was they who ran away. Even on Sinai, God came to His people seeking to forge a nation out of them but they shrank away and demanded a mediator:
All the people, experiencing the thunder and lightning, the trumpet blast and the smoking mountain, were afraid—they pulled back and stood at a distance. They said to Moses, “You speak to us and we’ll listen, but don’t have God speak to us or we’ll die.”
Moses spoke to the people: “Don’t be afraid. God has come to test you and instill a deep and reverent awe within you so that you won’t sin.”
The people kept their distance while Moses approached the thick cloud where God was. (Exodus 20:18-21, The Message emphasis supplied)
God has been greatly wronged by us yet that has never expunged His desire for communion with us. It is from this desire that His forgiveness springs and not from entreaty by any mediator. It is our fear of God that creates a need for a mediator. God needed to become flesh not to make Himself more sympathetic to our cause but to reassure us of His allegiance to us. His forgiveness was necessary but inadequate to save us from sin. What we so desperately need is restoration. The Bible is the story of Eden lost and regained. God longs not for rule keepers but loving creatures remade in His image.