This reflection on Genesis 2:25 to 3:24 builds on a comment by one of our lecturers about why did Adam and Eve suddenly realize that they were naked and ashamed after eating from the tree of knowledge. God hadn’t changed so what had gone wrong, what changed between 2:25 and 3:7 and the fig leaves.
In Genesis 2:25 “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.” Interestingly the word used for naked עָרוֹם ‘ârôm derives from עָרַם ‘âram to be bare or to be cunning, crafty or shrewd. Adam and eve were much like us in that they made mistakes and were imperfect however they were not ashamed; they were safe in knowing the character of God and his love for them.
Adam and Eve walked with God, and although not perfect, were happy with the relationship, they were free to make decisions. When there was an issue, such as when Adam was dissatisfied, God provided a solution. In that case, after trying out lots of animals as potential companions, God created Eve.
Adam and Eve actually failed God and themselves in the conversation with the serpent and the decision to eat the fruit even before they touched the tree. They judged God as unreliable and unclear allowing them to override his direct instruction.
After eating from the tree humans were able to judge whether something was good or evil from their own perspective. Many commentators interpret this as Adam and Eve were now able to decide for themselves which actions were good or evil rather than understanding and following God’s will.
Their understanding that they were naked came before God arrived back in the garden for his evening walk. They were actually hiding their nakedness from each other, using their new power they had judged each other and decided that nakedness was sinful and would attract punishment.
The next judgment in the Garden was where Adam and Eve saw God from the new human viewpoint and having judged him as frightening they were now afraid of him. They had no experience or reason to fear God but now could see neither God nor themselves as God saw them. The Fall came when Adam and Eve saw and believed their human interpretation of God rather than the real thing. They had reduced their knowledge of God to fit their humanity.
After many centuries of God trying to get through to his people, Jesus comes into the narrative. Teaching us that we should not judge and that to understand and relate to God we are to look to Jesus as our example. The resurrection of Jesus and the lessons of his life show us how to overcome the need of humans to judge and condemn, Jesus taught us how to see God as he saw him. John tells us in 14:25 that Jesus is the revealer of God. God is not the angry, vindictive, spiteful and all too human God that the Serpent wants us to see. God is revealed through Jesus as love, truth and goodness.
It is through Jesus’ way of seeing and knowing God, supported by the Holy Spirit, that allows us into the presence of our Father and enables us to truly know him and his love for us. Unafraid and unashamed because we know that our father loves us, even though we fail again and again we are still his.