The story progresses.
The created humans are deceived by the enemy: the serpent, the master of lies. The serpent encourages them to eat of the tree, tempting them by misquoting and confusing them. And they disobey. This moment in history is depicted in paintings, photographs, and all kinds of jokes. We focus on it all the time. Why? Because it is the beginning of much of what we know today.
The created humans instantly begin to experience the consequences of the fruit. When they talk to El Shaddai, they know that something is wrong – it’s them. They’ve disobeyed, they’ve driven a wedge between them and El Shaddai. A relationship has been splintered.
And there is punishment. El Shaddai imposes increased pain and suffering in life – they will now have to work for their food, for their life. Earlier we came across the presence of the tree of life – now El Shaddai removes them from its presence. This act can be seen in two ways: the first, and more common, is to see it as a punishment. The created humans will experience death because of their disobedience. The second, and far less common, is to see it as an act of mercy. El Shaddai knows that their life will not be easy – they will struggle, they will experience the pain of sickness – perhaps when El Shaddai removed the created humans from the tree of life it was out of mercy, as if to say, “I do not want you to suffer like this forever. I have created a way out. I have made you mortal.” However we understand it, its implications are clear: human beings will no longer live forever. They have been banished from El Shaddai’s presence: they are no longer in El Shaddai’s place, under El Shaddai’s rule, and with their act of disobedience, they are hardly El Shaddai’s people.
The world crumbles. It was so perfect, so amazing. And it has fallen apart at the seams. The first tree was a symbol of choice, and became a symbol of disobedience. It has left its mark.
The story continues.
El Shaddai’s world is in decline. We can almost imagine the horror on his face as he watches what happens. Within only one generation of perfection already there is treachery at the level of murder – life, that beautiful and wonderful perfect creation, has been taken through violence. Perhaps it is possible to see a tear trace the cheek of El Shaddai, a tear for the tragedy. With more generations come more treachery, as those created in El Shaddai’s amazing image continue to stomp all over his creation. Like spoiled little children with no awareness of the amazingness of their world, they plunder and pillage it. One can hardly blame El Shaddai for being offended.
But El Shaddai has hope, always hope. There can be renewal. The world he has created is not to be thrown away. He will not simply squash it out of existence. He will not destroy it and start from scratch. He will rebuild, in whatever way he can.
And so El Shaddai takes a look at his world: they are not his people, they are not in his place, and they are certainly not living under his rule. But there is one, El Shaddai sees one that has not succumbed. He will restart the world from that one. We see in this moment, as he picks his servant Noah, a big glimpse of his justice. El Shaddai is vehemently opposed to evil. There is absolutely no room for evil with El Shaddai. In one sweeping motion, El Shaddai saves Noah and his family, eliminating the rest of the world. It is a moment of tragedy. A moment of judgment.
And the world starts fresh, not destroyed, but another attempt.