Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Fall and the Enmity

I love teaching about the Fall. I love watching students’ eyes brighten with those “Aha!” moments as they understand the subtilties of the events.

Usually I have them explain the Fall to me, in their words, with their understanding. Without exception, everyone says something derogatory about Eve. “It was her fault,” “She was stupid,” and the list goes.

So I generally start by pointing out that Eve stood along side her husband, Adam, in greatness both on earth and in the pre-existence. God didn’t yoke a nag to a Thoroughbred to start mankind. He brought out the best He had and placed them on earth, together.

“Without question she was like unto her mighty husband, Adam, in intelligence and in devotion to righteousness, during both her first and second estates of existence.” (Bruce R. McConkie)

So, what happened?

The serpent appeared and ‘beguiled’ her. That means he used ‘artful deception’ to trick her. The term, artful deception is just perfect for what he did.

The scriptures tell us the serpent was more “subtil than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.” Today we look at subtle as being sly or crafty. However, the word comes from the Hebrew word ‘arum’ which also means prudent or wise. In other terms, the serpent was wise, smarter than all the other animals. And with intelligence comes respect. He was also highly respected.

Did we forget that the serpent has long been a symbol of healing and divine power? For that reason a serpent is found on our medical logo. The ancient Americans carved serpents into their temples to represent their God; and, in similitude of Christ, Moses lifted up a brass serpent to heal the children of Israel. So, it was not a mistake that Satan chose to involve the serpent in his plan.

When this wise, respected animal who symbolized healing and divine power, approached Eve, of course she paid attention. It wasn’t just that he was talking to her. It was everything about him and what he represented. He commanded respect and attention so, when he told Eve she wouldn’t die but “shall be as gods,” it made sense to her. Gods don’t die. If she became like the Gods how could she possibility die?

Thus, with artful deceit, Satan was able to beguile Eve and she eventually partook of the fruit. (The Book of Moses said the tree 'became' pleasant to the eye. That which we look at or dwell on eventually becomes enticing to us.)

Then, as the reality of her choice became evident to her, as she saw what would happen to her and her marriage because of her choice, Eve went to Adam.

The first and greater commandment given to Adam and Eve was to multiply and replenish the earth (Gen 1:28) “Adam had not yet fallen to the state of mortality, but Eve already had; and in such dissimilar conditions the two could not remain together…Adam deliberately and wisely decided to stand by the first and greater commandment.”

Marriage and family are worth every sacrifice! Eve knew that and went to Adam with her problem. Adam knew that and volunteered to endure the pain of the world beside her. They chose to stay together. For me, that is one of the most most powerful decisions made in the Garden of Eden.

Yet, after their epic decision to remain together, something changed inside of them. We know they didn't become mortal right away because the Lord chose not to allow them to die "as to the temporal death, until I, the Lord God, should send forth angels to declare unto them repentance and redemption through faith on the name of mine Only Begotten Son." (D&C 29:42)

The change, then, was something else.

They started worrying about other lesser things…like clothing.

Nowhere in the scriptures did the Lord tell them they would get in trouble for being naked or wearing leaves, but they got so caught up in these lesser worldly concerns that they hid from God when He came calling.

Worldly choices do that to us. We can get so involved in them we hide from Him, we don’t accept His calls, and we don’t show up at church.

But God found them anyway. (You can’t hide from God.) And He asked them to explain their situation. Then He listened.

Of course, Adam spoke first and said, “The woman thou gavest me, and commandest that she should remain with me, she gave me of the fruit of the tree and I did eat.” (Moses 4:18)

Is he blaming her or merely stating fact? He’s stating fact. I know, because he also clearly states 'and I did eat.’. He is forthright in what he did.

Eve is then questioned and she answers the same way--with honest fact. “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.” (Moses 4:19)

So God follows up by calling forward the serpent. Scriptures don’t record what the serpent said but they do tell us that God punished the original instigator first. (Parents would do well to follow this pattern when dealing with their children.)

From being the wisest and most respected of all creatures, the serpent was the first to fall…and he fell hard—to his belly, to live in and eat the dust “all the days of thy life,” cursed and hated above all other animals.

Then, God said something very interesting to the serpent. “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, between thy seed and her seed; and he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

God promised to protect Eve and her children because she was worth protecting!

Today, we think of enmity has hatred and hostility. It comes from the Hebrew word 'eyah' which also means an active defense, especially in reference to times of war. An apt description.

In order to protect Eve from further attacks by Satan, God vowed to put a defense between Satan and the woman, between the followers of Satan and the children of man. In that verse He promised all of us protection from Satan. This protective defense would have power to bruise the head of the serpent--Satan, himself.

Scholars all say this enmity, this powerful defense that would protect Eve and her children, was Christ—and they are right. Christ held this pre-eminent position of Protector and Savior by virtue of the power he received from his Father. The Priesthood power.

The priesthood is that enmity, that wall of defense that God promised to erect between Satan and the children of men.

And this is what I love to point out...that 'Aha' moment....

Every man who holds the priesthood is part of this line of defense that was promised to the world in the Garden of Eden. And I firmly believe those men who hold the priesthood stepped forward in the Pre-existence and, in a small way similar to the Savior, said “here I am, send me. I will be part of that defense. Put me on the very front lines. I will stand between my wife and children, between all the children of men and the buffetings of Satan. I will hold that line strong.”