In part 1 (0-15:00), Tim presents God as an amazing and generous host to humanity. Tim then dives into Genesis and re-examines the stories through the lens of generosity. The biblical portrait of evil, Tim shares, begins with a desire for what is not rightly mine and then taking it for oneself.
Genesis 3:1-6 Now the snake was more shrewd than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”
The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’ ”
The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable for making wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.
Beginning in verse 1, Tim notes, “You shall not eat from any tree of the garden” is an act of subtly undermining God’s generosity. Again this subtlety is seen in verses 4-5: “You will not die. For God knows that in the day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like elohim, knowing good and evil.” In other words, the serpent is portraying God as holding out on humanity, withholding knowledge and good things. Finally, in verse 6, the word “desirable” (Heb. nekhmad, “the object of covetous desire”) combines with the action “take.” Humans become aware that there is something they can desire and take, presumably for their own benefit.
Tim and Jon hypothesize that the tree is placed in the middle of the garden to represent that the human choice to do what is wrong is always in the center of our lives. We are always only one or two decisions away from ruining our lives and the lives of many others.
In part 2 (15:00-26:45), Tim notes that humans don’t know what to do with abundance. We bend abundance to hoard and act selfishly. Tim then pivots to the story of Cain and Abel. Jon explains that he feels God is more generous with Abel than with Cain. Tim says this seems to be an intentionally ambiguous gap in the narrative. Tim says he thinks Genesis is developing a theme of the ‘mystery of election.’ God does seem to choose or favor one person over another, but that doesn’t mean it’s at the complete expense of the other person.
In Genesis 4, Cain’s jealous anger at his brother compels him to take life instead of give. The narrative tells us in 4:2 that Cain was “a worker of the ground” but denies his role as a “keeper of his brother.” This is why murder is such a heinous crime in the Scriptures: to take life gratuitously is to act as if it is yours to “take,” rather than recognizing that your role as a human is to “give” life and participate in its flourishing.
In part 3 (26:45-end), Tim and Jon continue to discuss the Cain and Abel story and how the traits of “taking” continues in the following stories in Genesis. In Genesis 6, the sons of elohim “see” the daughters of humanity are “good” and they “take” what they want. Then in Genesis 11 in the story of Babylon, the people say, “let us build for ourselves a city and a tower, and it’s head will be in the skies, and we will make a name for ourselves.”
In the story of Cain and Abel, Tim notes, God tells Cain that if he does good, he too will be exalted. Instead, Cain chooses to take his brother’s life, rejecting God’s generosity and claiming the life of his brother.
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Show Produced by: Dan Gummel, Tim Mackie
Show Music: Defender Instrumental by Tents Spiral by KV Twin Moon by Ashley Shadow
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