Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Why The Incarnation Matters: The Repercussions of Sin

Having established the nature of the first sin in the previous installment, we must now move onto the consequences of this sin.  Such a sin required an answer from God.  The answer changed everything about human existence.  Let us look at the Biblical record of these statements:

And the Lord God called Adam, and said to him: Where are you?  And he said: I heard your voice in paradise; and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself. And he said to him: And who has told you that you were naked, but that you have eaten of the tree whereof I commanded you that you should not eat?  And Adam said: The woman, whom you gave me to be my companion, gave me of the tree, and I ate. And the Lord God said to the woman: Why have you done this? And she answered: The serpent deceived me, and I ate. And the Lord God said to the serpent: Because you have done this thing, you are cursed among all cattle, and beasts of the earth: upon your breast shall you go, and earth shall you eat all the days of your life.  I will put enmities between you and the woman, and your seed and her seed: she shall crush your head, and you shall lie in wait for her heel. To the woman also he said: I will multiply your sorrows, and your conceptions: in sorrow shall you bring forth children, and you shall be under your husband's power, and he shall have dominion over you. And to Adam he said: Because you have hearkened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded you, that you should not eat, cursed is the earth in your work: with labour and toil shall you eat thereof all the days of your life.  Thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to you, and you shall eat the herbs of the earth.  In the sweat of your face shall you eat bread till you return to the earth out of which you were taken: for dust you are, and into dust you shall return.  (Genesis 3:9-17)
In this one moment, everything about society was changed.  One cannot spend enough time pondering the ramifications of this event.  That being said, we shall demonstrate later how all of these curses, dreadful as they are, still point to Christ's coming in the Incarnation.  Let us focus on the beginning of the curses.

I always find the beginning of this exchange rather humorous, perhaps it is my dark sense of humor.  In just a few verses before this, Adam and Eve attempted to become "as gods."  They attempted to flex their dominion over everything, including good and evil.  When they get caught, what is the first thing they do?  The very thing that is antithetical to a god, they blame everyone else.  Adam blames Eve.  Eve blames the serpent.  One can still detect the pride in their voices.  They were pure in heart, they were just taken advantage of by someone else.  Don't blame me!

Here we see the first mention of one of the most important truths of Scripture:  personal moral responsibility for one's actions.  God judged all of them individually.  He did not accept the reasoning of Adam and Eve that they were not responsible.  Yet at the same time, He reserves a special condemnation for "the serpent."

While there are certainly earthly curses given to the serpent, one can read an even greater curse towards Satan.  Here, Lucifer in a sense seals his doom.  To understand the magnitude of this, we must speculate a bit.

Why did Lucifer rebel?  There have been many questions posed to this throughout history.  Many have posited that He was shown that he would be placed into the service of man.  Think about that.  The most splendid of God's angels being placed in the service of what had to be in his eyes crude matter.  His pride would not allow it.

Being expelled from heaven, he does not give up his mission.  He refuses to concede a defeat that is plainly obvious.  Realizing that he cannot wound God, he will do the next best thing.  What is the cliche amongst criminals?  You hurt someones family to get to the person.  The devil would wound the one who was called to be Christ's spouse, the race of man.

Though it would appear a victory, this is only temporary.  One could call this God's sense of irony.  Satan attempted to use man to wound God.  Instead, God promises He will use man to destroy the devil.  When he coaxed man into sin, Lucifer was attempting to show that once again, he was above that which he was meant to serve.  In turn, God made the serpent the most loathed of all beasts on earth.  The serpent from that day forth would have no power over anything.  This alluded towards the future the devil had in store for his act.  He was too clever by half, and that cleverness spells his eventual doom.

It is here that we come across what is known as the Protoevangelium.  Most importantly to us, these curses contain the first proclamation of the Incarnation.  Satan figured he could use the woman, the supposed weaker of the sexes to wound man.  Instead, God will use a woman and her offspring to destroy the devil.  As proof God is indeed God, He informs the devil there is nothing he can do about it.  Indeed, all he can do is lash out in anger and desperation, certainly not the traits of one who is above all.

Having covered the ramifications of the first set of curses, in our next installment we shall look in particular at the curses placed upon Adam for his actions.

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