James Meehan - Is the Bible Full of Fairytales?
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This week, we are kicking off a new series called Stories of the Bible because we believe that the Bible is a story that leads to Jesus and invites us to become like Jesus. That every page, paragraph and passages pointing to Jesus and that includes the parts that seem a little bit more fantastical or even fairytale esque. Today we're gonna talk about the story found in Genesis three where Adam and Eve encounter a talking snake and they eat some forbidden fruit so that we can discover the lessons and truths found within. Now when we learn these stories as kids, we often don't ask questions or even think very critically about them. We just enjoy them for what they are. But as we start to get older, we begin to notice some things that don't always add up.
You know, things like talking snakes or why in the heck there's forbidden fruit in the first place? And for some people, those questions end up becoming a little bit too much. So they either ignore them all together or just decide this stuff is too crazy to keep believing. But as Bible nerds, we recognize that the difficult and confusing parts of the Bible are often an invitation to dig in and get curious. Because those parts just like all of the parts are inspired by God. And they're intended to teach us truths about who he is, about who we are and how we are meant to live. But in order to learn those truths, we've got to actually read the Bible wisely. How? By simply remembering that Jesus is king and context is everything. The whole Bible, it leads to Jesus and it invites us to become like him. And learning the context is the key to seeing how it does that.
So if you wanna learn more about that then you can actually check out our Bible Nerds 101 series where we did a deep dive in how to read the Bible wisely. The link is in the description of this video so you can check it out after we wrap up here. But for now, just remember that the authors of the Bible weren't idiots, right? Like they know snakes don't talk which should actually be our first clue that something more is going on here. Now what is that more? Well, that's what we're going to find out today. So what is the goal of this story? The one found in Genesis three and other stories like this? Well, it's the same goal as every part of the Bible, to lead us to Jesus and invite us to become like Jesus.
Now this specific story does this by communicating three big ideas. Big idea number one is to introduce the villain. Big idea number two is to set up the conflict. And then big idea number three is to preview the solution. So we're gonna start with idea number one, introduce the villain. In Genesis 3:1-3 here is what we read. "Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, 'Did God really say you must not eat from any tree in the garden?' And the woman said to the serpent, 'We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden but God did say you must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden and you must not touch it or you will die.'"
Now in just those first three verses, we are introduced to the big, bad evil guy, the villain of the biblical story who is coming in the form of a serpent. This villain is the devil. Now what's important to understand about the biblical villain is that he is not at all like Sauron with his armies of Orcs from "Lord of the Rings". He's not like Thanos with the infinity gauntlet from the "Avengers". Or even like Voldemort from Harry Potter with his dark magic. Instead, the devil uses lies and deceptive ideas to get us to doubt God and disobey his commands. And what we read right at the beginning about the devil is that he was more crafty than any of the wild animals that God had made.
You see, the devil is dangerous not because he's really strong or powerful but because he's really cunning and manipulative. He tricks people into committing acts of evil and violence through deceitful ideas and convincing lies. This is what this story is trying to do. It's trying to introduce us to the villain, the devil and then it's trying to set up the conflict that runs all throughout the rest of the Bible. Picking back up in Genesis chapter three, verse four, here's what we read. "'You will not certainly die,' the serpent said to the woman. 'For God knows that when you eat from it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God knowing good and evil.' Now when the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and she ate it. She also gave some to her husband who was with her and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realized they were naked. So they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves".
So what is the conflict here? It's a battle between good and evil, between God and the devil but it's not a battle fought with swords and shields or tanks and bombs. It's a battle fought with truth and lies. It's about obedience to God or rebellion against him. You see the devil's goal is to use lies to get us to doubt God's character so that we will disobey his commands. And these lies aren't super obvious things like God's a big dumb meany so you should worship me instead, right? The devil is much more crafty than that. Instead, what he tries to do is get us to doubt God's goodness. God doesn't really want what's best for you or for you to be happy. And he wants us to doubt God's existence by saying things like, look, you don't believe in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy anymore, so why do you still believe in God? This is what he does here with Eve.
Did God really say, no, you're not gonna die, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God. You see what the devil is doing is he is playing into Eve's desires. He's getting Eve to doubt God's character which eventually leads to her disobeying his commands. And that's the exact same thing that he wants to do with you. He wants to convince you that God doesn't really want what's best for you. He wants you to doubt God and disobey him. And this is the conflict that runs throughout the entire Bible. It is a battle between good and evil. It is fought with truth and lies and it hinges on us either trusting God and obeying his commands or doubting God and becoming slaves to our desires. That's what this story is trying to do. It's trying to teach us who the villain is. It's trying to show us what the conflict is really about. And then finally, the way that this story leads to Jesus is by previewing the solution.
In Genesis chapter three, a little bit later in verses 14 and 15, here's what we read. "The Lord God says to the serpent, 'because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals. You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will enmity. I will put conflict between you and the woman and between your offspring and hers. He will crush your head and you will strike his heel.'" This is the first prophecy of Jesus who would come as our serpent crushing savior. He is the one who would defeat the devil and rescue us from our bondage to sin. But this wouldn't happen through conquest, violence or military might. It would come through his own sacrificial death which actually gets previewed a few verses later, in verse 21, where we read that the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.
You see in this story in Genesis chapter three, God sacrificed an animal to cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve. Later, when he arrives as Jesus, he will sacrifice himself on the cross to cover the sins of humanity. This is how God will win his victory over the devil and the forces of darkness through his own sacrificial death. That's what the story is intended to do. Here in Genesis three, it's about introducing the villain, setting up the conflict and previewing the solution which brings us to the next question. How does this story invite us to become more like Jesus? It shows us that the way we battle against the devil and the forces of darkness is by trusting God and obeying his commands.
Now that is much easier said than done. So how do we actually do it? We study his word and we stick close to him. You see in this story, the serpent came when Adam and Eve were away from God. And when the serpent asked what God said, Eve actually got it wrong. She added onto it. She didn't fully know what God's command was which left her vulnerable. Now what's really interesting is that these two ideas, knowing God's word and being close to him are exactly what Jesus did when he went toe to toe with a devil in the wilderness.
Now you can read about that story in Matthew chapter four, it is fascinating to see how Jesus did what Eve couldn't. Now when we read the Bible wisely, we start to see how all of these stories we learned as kids are so much more than fantastical stories of talking animals but actually there's stories that are deep wells of wisdom that contain truth about who God is, who we are and how we're supposed to live as his people. And we see even more clearly how every page, every paragraph, every passage in the Bible is leading us to Jesus and inviting us to become more like Jesus. Now in the coming weeks, we're gonna tackle even more of some of these really famous stories we learned as kids to discover the truth contained within. Now until then, take care and stay nerdy.