Rotation.org Writing Team
Adam, Eve, and God
Bible Background for the Lesson Set
Passage: Genesis 2:4 through Genesis 3:24
Key/Memory Verses: "Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus." Romans 3:23-24 (NRSV)
“See, I am making all things new.” Rev 21:5
Theologians like to teach that the story of Adam and Eve is mainly about "the origin of sin." when on a personal level it's about us trying to hide our sins from God, being caught, and throwing blame on others. This is the life application direction which the lessons in this set take, and we think it is an especially important emphasis for children who need to know they can always come to God with their problems and sins.
God knows we are not perfect, that we will sin, and still --God comes looking for us and calling “Where are you?” (Gen 3:9) When we sin, we need to respond to God, admit our sin, and ask for God's help.
God gives us choices, expects obedience, and yes, God knows we will sin. We are tempted by many things. God calls us to come forward. But then we sin again by hiding and blaming. And when we do that, God's world has consequences,
But here is the good news not often taught in this story: God clothes and God goes with us into a difficult world (Gen 3:21). God makes a Covenant with these very same sinners to never abandon them. And eventually, through the prophets, Jesus, and the rest of the New Testament, God promises a new kingdom, a new paradise.
Learning Objectives for the Lessons in this Set
Our Writing Team has created ten different lessons about Adam and Eve using different teaching techniques and mediums. Read their summaries here!
After enjoying a number of lessons in this set, students should be able to:
- Find the story in the book of Genesis.
- Retell the story in their own words. (Note: For older children and youth it is recommended that they learn the entire story. For younger children, it is recommended that they use an abbreviated storybook version. It is important that older students especially take the time to learn the whole story.)
- State in their own words some of the various conclusions or meanings of the story.
- Identify temptations and wrong choices in their own lives and ways to be obedient to God.
- Know that God has forgiven them even when they do wrong and is our guide to doing right.
- Understand that the punishment and banishment of Adam and Eve was not the "end of the story," but that God promises to bring a new heaven and earth (paradise) and will dwell with his people (Rev 21).
What a beautiful, intriguing, and amazing story you are about to teach. The story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden has mesmerized and perplexed people of faith for three millennia. Its images permeate our secular and religious culture: Man and rib, Eden and forbidden fruit, Tree of Life, sexuality and sin, crime and punishment, "The Fall," God's evening walk in the garden, casting blame, being cast out, fig leaves, toil and childbearing.
The first story about people in the Bible asks some of faith's most important questions:
- Who are we?
- Why didn't God make us perfect?
- What happens when we disobey God?
- What does God want?
- Will we ever get back to paradise?
The story is so well-known that you might not be prepared to see some startling new insights, such as:
- They sin, but God waits until the evening to come looking. Why does he wait?
- They hide, but the all-knowing God who knows where they are, still calls their names, giving them a chance to step forward.
- They grab fig leaves; but God makes clothing to cover their shame.
- God throws them out of the garden, but we know from the rest of the Bible that God goes with them!
- And then there is the wonderful testimony of the New Testament... that Adam and Eve's sin has been forgiven, and a new heaven and earth are coming, a new paradise where we are renewed, and God will dwell with us in a personal way (Rev 21).
Is Adam and Eve "history"? No, their story is something much more important and more profound than what we in the modern era define as "history." This is the beginning of God's story of redemption --a story that goes from a garden called "Eden" to a garden called "Gethsemane." It is a story that begins with the first Adam's disobedience, and ends with the "second Adam" sweating blood as he chooses obedience (obedience "even to death on a cross." Phil 2)
Did Adam and Eve really exist? Yes, go look in the mirror. This isn't a story about the first two people and how they were made. This is a story about how YOU are made, and how you act, and what God is going to do about it.
It isn't even a story about the "origin of sin" as some theologians have be-labored. This story is rigged from the start: Everyone who's ever heard it knows the moment God says, "don't touch that tree" — knows we will touch that tree! God knows it too: The moment he plants the tree God knows we will screw up. Thus, the question is not "Where did sin come from," but rather, "How should we respond to our sin?" and "How does God respond to our sin?"
A lot of people say that this is a story "about sin" when it's really about redemption. The same God who knows what they've done still comes to them and calls them by name, saying, "where are you." Yet of course God knows exactly where they are and what they've done. Of course they sinned. Of course they hid. Of course they cast blame. Of course God knows (and probably knew ahead of time)! And of course God casts them out. Sin and lack of repentance have consequences!
But that's not where the story ends.
This "cast out" ending is where many stop teaching the story of Adam and Eve, but that's NOT where the scripture ends their story. The scripture gives them fig leaves, and then God makes them clothes out of animal skins to cover their sin. These are metaphors for redemption. God clothes us, God covers our sin. And about a thousand pages later we learn that God clothes us with his righteousness and covers our sins with his forgiveness.
And then God goes with them. God does not abandon. God is the Good Shepherd -- even to the lost sheep. And God eventually sends his Son to them to guide them back. God plants a new tree, and hangs redemption on it. And by the time we get to the last book of the Bible, we are reading about a new paradise where there is no weeping or death, "where behold, I will make all things new." (Rev 21:5).
Every student should know what these images in the story stand for:
- Rib = God makes us companions and helpers for one another
- Garden = God's desire and gifts for our lives
- Tree of Life, Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil = Listen to God or don't listen, Choose what God wants, or decide you can make your own choices.
- Fruit = Choices and Consequences. Right and wrong.
- Serpent = The Temptation to think we know better than God.
- Bushes = We think we can hide from God!
- Evening Breeze = God waits and calls out to us (knowing what we've done)
- Nakedness and Fig Leaves = Shame and Cover up
- Animal skin clothing = God's parting gift to cover our shame.
Questions to ask children
- "What things do people do to disobey God?"
- "What tempts you?"
- "Why do God's children hide from God rather than admit they are wrong?"
- "How do you hide your sins from God?"
- "How will God deal with us if we admit our wrong-doing?"
- "What does God give us to live obedient lives?"
- "What do you do to be a better child of God?"
- "What bad choices, attitudes and actions in your life do you need to admit?
- "How and when do you admit your sins to God?"
- "What can you start doing to live a more obedient life and stay away from wrongdoing?"
- "What can we do for each other as companions to help each other obey God?"
Bible Background Written by (Rev.) Neil MacQueen
Themes in this story
Compiled from discussion by the Writing Team
Focus -- on God; on Self
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