In Genesis chapter 3 we see a picture of misplaced worship—how it happens and the results that ensue.
1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”
2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’ ” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
The woman standing before the tree is a symbol of the people of Israel standing before the mountain at Sinai where God entered into a covenant relationship with them and gave them the Law—told them how to worship him and the standards by which they would be held to. This story tells us a lot about temptation and our fallen nature as humans. Eve’s responses to the serpent indicate that she had done three things:
- Reduced God’s blessing
- Exaggerated God’s restrictions
- Diminished God’s promised punishment
These, Moses is warning the people of Israel about. As they enter the promised land they must not reduce God’s blessing, exaggerate his restrictions and diminish his promised punishment. Sadly, however, they do almost immediately by building the golden calf and bowing down to worship it while Moses is on the mountain receiving the law of God.
The root of sin and disobedience to God’s laws is always misplaced worship. Eve chose to worship herself or the easy path to acquiring the knowledge of good and bad rather than God. She trusted the words of the serpent over the words of God. God most certainly intended to teach them the ways of good and evil in his time, his way. But they chose to go it the easy way that the serpent was promising. The people of Israel chose to trust in their own wisdom, needing a physical depiction of their god, and so they built themselves a golden calf to worship, violating the terms of God’s covenant relationship with them.
Join us tonight at 6pm on YouTube live for a conversation with Bethany Jenkins about faith and work.
This should sound familiar to you when you examine the times you have given in to temptation. When we read this story we should see how we fall into disobedience to God.
We should also examine the areas of our life where we tend to misplace our worship. Is it in your own self, leading to your pride. Is it in your desire to be affirmed by others leading to people pleasing and codependence. Is it in your stuff, leading to a ceaseless desire to acquire more and make your life easier, better, more luxurious. Is it in your desire for another experience, leading to a life of desire, always seeking something more, the next thing that you hope will satisfy you.