Instead of seeing connection, he saw separation. Instead of feeling loved and affirmed, he felt fear and abandonment. Instead of trusting, he became a moral judge. Instead of identifying himself as a son, he saw himself as an orphan. Instead of hearing God’s gracious warnings, he heard stern threats. Instead of seeing God’s protection, he saw rejection. Instead of understanding consequences, he saw curses.
And this made Adam, and us, see God as demanding, distant, angry and wrathful instead of the loving Father that He really is.
Adam now saw God according to his own reflection.
So he hid and God looked for him, for God desired continued fellowship with him, although He could not let Adam stay in the Garden lest he should eat from the Tree of Life and stay in this sorry state forever.
God desired the affectionate intimacy between a Father and a son, but Adam’s mind was switched from love to fear. I wrote about this here. So Adam hid.
And we’ve been hiding and God has been seeking us out ever since. We either hide through our prodigal preoccupation with our counterfeit affections…or through our religious elder brother attempts to perform for Him.
Thus, began Adam’s slow but steady descent into his own darkness, which gets to the heart of why God became Man.
As I mentioned earlier in this series, the early church fathers had quite a different view of why Jesus was born than we tend to have today.
We see a Savior born to die; they saw Him born to give life.
Our view is more like Adam’s view—we see God as wrathful and retributive; they saw Him as loving and restorative.
They saw Jesus’ birth as the beginning of Love’s rescue mission: as a Father heaven-bent on restoring everything that was lost when Adam fell into Satan’s matrix of deception and bondage.
To show this paradigm of the patriarchs, I will quote Athanasius (298 -373 AD) from his classic work, On the Incarnation. Here’s what he said about this corruption that entered the world through Adam:
Then, turning from eternal things to things corruptible, by counsel of the devil, they had become the cause of their own corruption in death… (Kindle loc. 116)
Further on, he says this about the Father’s heart toward our predicament (emphasis mine):
It would, of course, have been unthinkable that God should go back upon His word and that man, having transgressed, should not die; but it was equally monstrous that beings which once shared the nature of the Word should perish and turn back again into non-existence through corruption….what then was God, being Good, to do? Was He to let corruption and death have their way with them?
…It was impossible, therefore, that God should leave man to be carried off by corruption, because it would be unfitting and unworthy of Himself. (loc. 139-146)
Finally, Athanasius tells us why God became man (emphasis mine):
It was our sorry case that caused the Word to come down, our transgression that called out His love for us, so that He made haste to help us and to appear among us. It is we who were the cause of His taking human form, and for our salvation that in His great love He was both born and manifested in a human body.” (loc. 97)
You see, when the fullness of time had finally come, this Father sent His only begotten Son to rescue the object of His deepest affection and fulfill the eternal purpose that was in His heart from before the foundation of the world…
Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. (Gal.4:3-5 NKJV)
As the prophets predicted, Love would not allow Adam to perish in his own darkness. No, this was not mankind’s destiny! For the Light of heaven would shine on the earth and in men’s hearts once again…
The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined. (Isaiah 9:2 NKJV)
God did not come as expected in the judgmental mind of Adam. He came as a vulnerable child in the lowliest state—not just for those in the know, or for kings and men of wealth and fame. No, He came for all who would receive Him.
The light of heaven’s Love and favor began to shine in on Adam’s darkness and fear…
There were some shepherds living in the same part of the country, keeping guard throughout the night over their flocks in the open fields. Suddenly an angel of the Lord stood by their side, the splendour of the Lord blazed around them, and they were terror-stricken.
But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid! Listen, I bring you glorious news of great joy which is for all the people. This very day, in David’s town, a Saviour has been born for you. He is Christ, the Lord. Let this prove it to you: you will find a baby, wrapped up and lying in a manger.”
And in a flash there appeared with the angel a vast host of the armies of Heaven, praising God, saying, “Glory to God in the highest Heaven! Peace upon earth among men of goodwill!” (Luke 2:8-12 PHILLIPS)
Love had come as He promised. And this is good news that brings great joy!
To be continued…