Sometimes when I read a biblical account, I try to picture in detail how a particular event played out. For example, when I read of Nebuchadnezzar's furnace and Daniel's three friends, I visualize the flames, imagine the intensity of the heat, and picture the young men’s faces when they are suddenly joined by Another and find that neither their clothing nor their bodies are burning. This makes the entire episode one that I remember vividly as if I was there myself. This technique has also served me well in teaching Bible stories to my children.
Just recently while dealing with aspects of pride, peer pressure, and pietism in my own life, I began to see these factors in Adam and Eve's encounter with the evil serpent in the Garden. Putting myself in their place, I tried to picture how the episode might have played out. Is it likely that the serpent presented himself like the sample lady at the grocery store? Was it that Eve was just hungry and the suggestion of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was just the most convenient way to deal with her appetite? I think not. My guess is that Satan presented himself in such a way as to invite interaction -- making the encounter seem accidental rather than intentional. He may have been striking to look at or imposing in his size and demeanor. In the process he worked to make Eve feel small, ignorant, and inferior. In other words, she experienced the same sort of temptation --- to fit in -- that I experience regularly.
Here is my "take" on how the conversation might have transpired:
Serpent: (mutters something).
Eve: Excuse me, did you say something?
Serpent: Oh, I didn't realize anyone else was around. I was just noticing how great this place is.
Eve: It is great isn't it? I'm so happy here.
Serpent: And why shouldn't you be? I mean, you have your choice of all the wonderful trees in this garden. I mean, you can have whatever you want.
Eve: Well, almost everything.
Serpent: Almost everything? You mean there are some things you can't have? That's a bit strange, don't you think?
Eve: Well, we may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden, but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said we can't eat of it, or even touch it for that matter; otherwise we will die.
Serpent: (with a look of condescension) How’s that again?
Eve: (now a bit flustered) I mean we were told we shouldn't eat the fruit of that tree.
Serpent: (in a patronizing tone) He actually told you that? That you would die? (laughing) You actually believe that? (with confident assurance) You will not die if you eat it!
Eve: (sheepishly) Why would He tell us that if it wasn't true?
Serpent: Because he knows that the day you eat it He'll lose his edge over you. You know what I mean? You’ll be just like Him. (with a grin) I mean, maybe He just doesn't want the competition. Think of it. Instead of always having to have someone tell you what to do, you can be your own person -- you know, deciding for yourself what's good and what’s not. Are you going to be tied to asking permission for everything you do?
Eve: (gazing at the tree, then the serpent, then Adam). Hmmmmmmmmm.
Serpent: (shoots a challenging glance at Adam who is nearby watching without saying a word).
Eve: (Thinking to herself) If it's in the garden, it must be good to eat -- I mean why would God put a poisonous tree in here in the first place? And, besides, I do think I'm at a point in my life where I am capable of making my own decisions. -- (out loud) Well, it looks really delicious.
Serpent: On that we can both agree.
Eve: Oh, well, what have I got to lose anyhow? (Takes a bite and turns to her husband who is more than willing to accommodate her offer). Oh, Honey, this IS good.
This unsuccessful encounter with temptation ends with the beginning of sin in the world. We and our children experience this scenario every day of our lives in one form or another. We, like Adam and Eve, have the Word of God given to us to protect us from the wiles of the devil. Similarly, our duty is to trust and obey rather than doubt and act autonomously.
How does this relate to the homeschooling family? Although we strive to provide our children with an environment where they can learn and grow with the Word of God as their foundation, just like Adam and Eve, they will face times of testing. What will happen when they are faced with a condescending, patronizing, ridiculing, professor, employer, or coach who belittles their biblical convictions of obedience and tempts them with the lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life? Will they respond with Thus says the Lord and follow in accordance with His Word? Or will they, like our first parents, become overwhelmed by the arguments encouraging disobedience and consumed with fitting in, feeling cool, or whatever the fashion of the day prescribes? Truth or dare.
These are questions that are best dealt with in fervent prayer and supplication. But, regardless of the outcome for individual children, it is the duty and responsibility of parents to remain faithful to the law-word of God.
- Andrea G. Schwartz
Andrea Schwartz is Chalcedon’s family and Christian education advocate, and the author of eight books including: A House for God: Building a Kingdom-Driven Family, The Biblical Trustee Family: Understanding God’s Purpose for Your Household, Empowered: Developing Strong Women for Kingdom Service, Woman of the House: A Mother’s Role in Building a Christian Culture, and The Homeschool Life: Discovering God’s Way to Family-Based Education. She’s also the co-host of the Out of the Question podcast, and Homeschooling Helps (weekly live Facebook event). She can be reached at [email protected].