by Lesli van Milligen
Advent is the season of the church calendar that resonates with my soul more deeply than any other. I think it’s because my soul is so deeply shaped by longings; the beatitude “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matt. 5:6) echoes through every cell of my being.
Our Lord’s response to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3 places my Advent longings within the context of the Building Blocks of Faith.
I have often tried to imagine what it was like for Adam and Eve to have that conversation with their Creator. After asking them some questions, they hear God address the serpent: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Gen. 3.15).
Did you notice that three of the Building Blocks are embedded here in just one sentence?
I imagine that Adam, Eve, and the serpent all assumed that now the three of them were a “team,” and God’s imagebearers were now cut off from him. But no! The enmity is declared between the serpent and the woman; Adam and Eve still belong to the Lord! They are his.
Second, the Lord lays out the future plotline: the woman’s offspring will crush the serpent’s head. The story is not over but will continue until the victory is complete. Adam and Eve had no idea what the shape of that story would be. We today have a much greater awareness, and we know and understand as much as we are able as our lives continue the unfolding of that storyline.
Third, the Lord declares ultimate victory, assuring them and us that we are called to walk in hope. Advent longings do not float aimlessly on a sea of uncertainty; they are grounded in the promises of the One who is faithful.
After addressing the serpent, the Lord finally addresses his imagebearers, and—surprise, surprise!—tells them they are called and equipped (Gen. 3:16-19)! In Genesis 1 God had blessed them to multiply and fill the earth and rule over it, and now God reaffirms their callings to multiply and rule, with the added caveat that both of these callings would now be carried out with pain. That pain is deep, but even so it is superseded by the fact that our calling and equipping as imagebearers still stands; as a matter of fact, in Christ (the woman’s offspring) we are now a kingdom and priests who will reign on the earth (Rev. 5:10).
I don’t imagine that Adam and Eve sat down and reflected on the Building Blocks of Faith after this conversation, but we know something about their reflections: “Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living” (Gen. 3:20). I find the renaming of “woman” very moving. Adam exercised his calling given in Genesis 2 to rename his wife to honor the grace that both of them had been given. The name “Eve” really captures each of the four building blocks: we belong to God and to each other as we continue to walk the story in hope, grounded in the sure and certain knowledge of victory. And the Lord equips us to carry out our callings on the way to that Day.