We sometimes have someone say, “God is good”, with the response of the congregation, “all the time.” The writer of Genesis begins with this statement of faith and carries it through the Pentateuch. It is an important theme throughout Scripture.
Genesis 1.2-4, when the earth was an empty void, with darkness over the face of the deep, and God’s breath weeping over the face of the water. God said, ‘Light!’ and light came into being. God saw that the light was good… (emphasis mine)
This would be the first of seven good references in the first chapter of the Bible. The biblical writers used repetition for a purpose – to call attention to what is happening in the text. Most are aware of the repeated use of this word in the narrative.
There is also another word that is repeated – saw. As the above passage, God saw that the light was good. These two words – good and saw – are at the center of what we are to know about the Creator God. In fact, the first name God is given in Scripture is El Roi, the “God who sees” (16:13). Why are you telling me this? Good, as used in Hebrew Scriptures, is a reference to what is “beneficial for humankind.” (Sailhamer) God creates a world for us to live – land that is filled with an array of trees, plants, vegetation and animal life. A cosmos that provides light and warmth to the good land. The earth had been an empty void (1:1) before it was created into a blessing for mankind.
Genesis 1-3 show us, it is the Creator who knows what is good for us and goes all out to give us what is good. This is why chapter 3 is so tragic. Leading up to the Fall, we learn of two special trees in the Garden – the tree of life and the tree of good and evil. They were not to eat of this second tree. To do so would come out of their desire to know good and evil for themselves, rather than trusting their Creator. The writer makes sure we understand what is happening.
Genesis 3.6, Then the woman saw that the tree was good for food and delightful to look at, and that it was desirable for obtaining wisdom. So she took from of its fruit and ate it; she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened… (emphasis mine)
A parallel is given between God seeing the good of creation (1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31) and Eve seeing the good tree. What is the author trying to show us? There is a difference in what God sees and what we see. Our seeing is limited. The snake put it in Eve’s mind that her Creator was keeping the knowledge of good from her and Adam (3:5). By eating the fruit she wants to take on the role of God to determine what is good and evil, no longer trusting the One who created her and provided all good things in creation. They believed, if they ate of this tree, they would enjoy the good on their own. However, when they ate of it, it was not good. They feel shame and try to cover up (3.7). They hide from the Creator who gave them all good things (3.9). Among the punishments handed out to Adam and Eve, the worst was the last – exile from Eden.
Genesis 3:22-24, Then the LORD God said, “Since man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil, he must not reach out, take from the tree of life, eat, and live forever.” So the LORD God sent him away from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out and stationed the cherubim and the flaming, whirling sword east of the garden of Eden to guard the way to the tree of life. (emphasis mine)
They got what they wanted… sort of… to be like God. Which is interesting since we know they were already like God being created in Our image (1:26). They are now like God, knowing good and evil, but forfeited their right to be with God in the Garden. The greatest blessing of all is being in the presence of God. It will not be until the building of the Tabernacle until we find any semblance of Divine presence among God people. Return or a restoration of Eden becomes a major theme throughout the rest of Scripture, including the last two chapters of Revelation.
Sin happens when we want to determine what is good rather than trust our Maker. How often do we see God’s instructions as a means of taking away good in our life?
Genesis 1-3 was intended show us this was never the case. Adam and Eve had everything they could ever want or need. It was when they wanted to be like God and determine what was good for them that things turned bad. All sin rises out of a lack of trust in God. Adam and Eve are the first of many who demonstrate what happens when we want to be gods. The language in the Garden can be found throughout the Hebrew narratives, but more importantly look for it in your own life. We do not merely follow God because we are afraid of judgement, but for the fact, only the Creator truly knows what is good for us. “God is good…all the time.”
And here is what is even more amazing: from the Fall to the present, the Creator continues to try and give us what is good. You find it in Noah, Abraham and the seed (Messiah) that would come. Trust God. The theme of faith is one of the most important subjects in all of Scripture. Trust God to provide good, because when we try to determine good for ourselves eventually sin, shame, and distance from the Creator tags along.
*All Bible references come from the Holman Christian Standard Bible.
*Many of the thoughts of this blog came from the research of John H. Sailhamer in his book The Pentateuch as Narrative. An excellent reference for study.