Tuesday, January 23, 2018

The Bible and the Supernatural: The Fall

Scripture: Genesis 3

No matter where you cut into this chapter, Genesis 3 oozes the world of the supernatural. We meet a snake who talks, and through him, evil supernatural is introduced to us for the first time. We see objects with supernatural effects (the tree of life, the tree of knowing good and evil) and supernatural properties (the flaming sword). We witness God, a supernatural being, in a natural setting and conversing with a man. We hear the first curses, which change the original order of the natural realm, and we receive the first prophecy. Finally, we witness the first severing of the supernatural from the natural as God drives out man from Eden in a forceful reminder of their now-broken relationship, and we glimpse our first angelic beings (cherubim).

Observations: Genesis 3 is packed with meaning and can reveal much about the supernatural realm. However, I will limit my observations to three main points.

First, there is both good supernatural and evil supernatural in the world. So just because something has supernatural properties or someone is supernaturally gifted or an experience exceeds the bounds of the natural—these aren’t necessarily of the Devil…nor are they necessarily of God. 

This leads me to my second observation: The supernatural, just like the natural, can be abused. God created both the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He endowed both trees with their supernatural properties. Since God is perfectly good, He cannot create something evil. Therefore, both of these trees were good, as were their properties. The problem came when Adam and Eve ate the fruit in disobedience—that is, they used the fruit in the wrong way, contrary to God’s instructions.

Finally, as I read this passage, I noticed that the fear of God does not result from the presence of God, but from the presence of sin. Adam and Eve once talked and walked with God freely (see Genesis 2). It was only after they sinned that they ran from God and hid from Him in fear (v.10).

Significance: It is easy to assume from where the supernatural and the miraculous originate from. But in reality, a situation may not be as clear-cut as it appears on the surface. Both good and evil supernatural exist. Both are active in our world today. And because God originally created all, sometimes the good and evil can look similar to each other. Complicating matters further, the supernatural, like the natural, can be twisted and abused; the supernatural can be good but used wrongly. So we must be slow in passing judgment, either in assuming a miracle is from God or that a supernatural act is from Satan. Rather, we must study the rest of Scripture to learn what delineates the two.

And like the source of the supernatural, we are also quick to assume that the fear of God comes from His majestic power and awesome holiness. While these things can and should inspire us to fall on our faces before Him, the reason we fear God is not merely because of Who He is, but because of who we are: sinful people deserving the full wrath of God manifested in the worst punishment He can design.

But God doesn’t desire to punish. He desires a relationship with us, the kind where we can walk and talk with Him. So we should fear God, especially if we refuse the plea bargain He offers us through Jesus Christ, because He will be left with no choice than to extract that horrific punishment that His justice requires. But once our relationship is made right again through Jesus, dread should no longer mark our relationship with Him—not because we are ignorant of the glorious holiness of God, but because we no longer need to fear that holiness. So yes, the fear of God will always be a part of our lives on this side of heaven because sin will also be a part of us. But the more we walk in the truth and live by faith according to the righteousness Christ provided us, the less the dread of God should rule us.  

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