By Stacey Monaco, Crosswalk.com
I am grateful daily that because of the redemption of Christ, I will never be seen in God’s eyes through my worst choice or darkest moment. Even after accepting Christ as a young woman, I continued to struggle as a rocky road walker. My heart required years of mercy and grace, as well as the consistent and ongoing work of the Holy Spirit, acting on my life as a transforming agent.
If you have chosen to follow Christ, the Bible teaches that we can overcome the enemy of our souls “by the blood of the Lamb” and the word of our testimony (Revelation 12:11). With this in mind, we each can, in some way, choose to share the stories that God has written in our individual lives. As a woman who has experienced firsthand the beautiful kindness of God, I want my story and my life to be useful for others. On the other hand, I have zero desire for my account to become a dark and devastating cautionary tale.
As students of the Bible, we tend to view many of the people whose lives are bared for all to see on the pages of Scripture through their most flawed moment. Often, as humans, we look for the negative in a person, both in the Bible and in our daily life. Our biblical reading can become a search out of the dark weavings of what to avoid, as opposed to the beautiful threads that God has woven throughout Scripture, which are written for the purpose of growing to know and understand who God is within the story. Scripture is most accurately for this purpose: to learn, know, and grow in our love for God more fully with each passing day. The characters recorded in the pages therein do not comprise a how-to manual of whom we should model our life after or whose behavior we should be careful to avoid. Our lives are to be transformed by the Holy Spirit, to conform to Christ alone. The beauty of every name and life story that appear within the pages of the Bible is that they compel us into an overarching narrative that invites us to learn the rich character of our loving, rescuing, creator God intimately.
Suspending judgment and the post-biblical culture that normalizes Eve as the poster-woman of sin and seduction helps us expand our perception beyond the simple view of Eve depicted with forbidden fruit in her hand and forever marring Eden. It allows us to understand the creation narrative more fully and offers us the opportunity to see the character of God woven richly into her story. A careful reading of the life of Eve reveals three remarkable reasons that women can delight in descending from this first lady of Scripture.
1. Eve Reveals the Nature and Essence of God
The first chapter of Genesis is so much more than a simple narrative of the creative work of bringing earth and its inhabitants into existence. Undergirding the story of the beginning of the world is a rich introduction to the God who breathed out its design. The opening scenes of Genesis portray that the creator is a God of intent who desires to bring forth dignified beings by their inherent likeness to him.
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him, male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27
Eve, as the first woman, is made in God’s image. She is created deliberately, and her creator honored her and all women who would come after her by making her a piece of his very essence. In his intentional creative act, he places a divine imprint on all humankind. One author notes that the essence of God is imparted only to mankind in that “humans share though imperfectly and finitely; in God’s nature…and in his communicable attributes (such as life, personality, truth, wisdom, love, holiness, justice), and so have the capability for spiritual fellowship with God.” Eve, made in God’s image, with a capacity to fellowship with her creator, shows his desire to connect and have intimacy with humankind, both in the time of Eden and now.
At the consummation of creation, the architect shows himself as a God of affirmation and reflection; looking upon his work, of which Eve is his final stroke, God surmises that “all that he had made…was very good” (Genesis 1:31).
In Hebrew, the name Eve translates to life-giver. Eve is his creative handiwork and the first woman who would give birth, participating with God in the beauty of bringing life into existence. Eve was birthed into existence as a creative and intentional act of a loving and all-knowing God, who knew that she would fail and require saving grace from her formation. Still, God deemed her very good. Eve offers all women the confident knowledge to know without shame and with a clear understanding that we have been created with intention by a God of reflection, affirmation, and purposeful design. We as women are to be image-bearers invited to engage with him in intimate and personal fellowship.
2. Eve Was A Timely Answer
The whole of earth and its inhabitants were created with mankind in mind, yet God, the all-sufficient provider, saw an unspoken need.
Genesis 2:18 read, “It is not good for the man to be alone, I will make a helper suitable for him.”
The creation of Eve examples the heart of God who sees our need and has a timely and perfect response; Eve is an answer and a provision for a place of lack and need for human relationship. Eve was created for mutuality with Adam, and what he lacked, Eve supplied, and vice-versa.
In Hebrew, the verbiage helper suitable, or ezer kenegdo, indicates one who is of corresponding nature - a counterpart who can aid, surround, protect, and care for the other. The only other use of the term ezer or help is in Old Testament literature to refer to God himself. Psalm 33:20 is one example as the psalmist writes, “We wait in hope for the Lord for he is our help, and our shield.” The term helper may conjure images of subordination. Certainly, church history might bear out a tradition of women being considered such. Yet this concept of a suitable helper or a helper corresponding is actively depicted as a woman imaging the essence and character of God as relational, rescuing, and an answer to our true need. A less than complete understanding of the value of both woman and man as image-bearers of God can lead to a propensity not to honor one another rightly or to bypass the richness of the mutuality depicted in expressing mutual submission. This picture of godly submission can be witnessed within the mystery of the Godhead and in Jesus, as he fulfills his mission as fully man and fully God.
To be a help is not to be demeaned, but rather it is to love others as we would desire to be loved; it is to rescue, to honor, to act, and in so doing to be honored ourselves through the beauty of mutuality, as well as obedience to the call to love God and love others. As a suitable helper, Eve fills up our understanding of womankind and indeed all of humanity. Women were designed for reciprocity and mutuality in loving, giving, and providing an answer to the need of mankind.
Photo credit: ©Unsplash/Natalia Figueredo
3. The Story of Eve Unveils The First Redemption Narrative
Adam is not seduced by Eve; he is by her side, thinking and choosing as the complex gift of freewill gives him the ability to do so. Together, and yet fully and separately, they are culpable and will find their redemption as individuals before God. Though Eve, alongside Adam, made the freewill decision that resulted in the disruption of flawless equilibrium, their sovereign creator God reveals forbearance and loving-kindness carrying out the first redemption story and working out the kingdom narrative that would be fulfilled in Jesus. In their willfulness, they became aware of themselves and their nakedness, which originally marked the beauty of freedom and intimacy. It now produced the heartbreak of knowing shame in their souls.
The first act of a loving, creative God was to cover and care for them both, foreshadowing how he would care for humankind. Redemption is seen in God seeking them out in a love-filled pursuit. He chooses them. He covers and brings about a redemptive plan. He seeks the couple. Not Adam alone, but the two.
Consider the Abba heart of God, as he loves on his daughter Eve, and fulfills this love by giving her Seth, after her son Cain kills his brother Abel. Here again, we see his character threading through her story with his goodness, kindness, and nature of provision.
Eve is a woman of faith, a faith that has developed through the ache and grief of walking out the beauty and burden of free will. This is Eve’s testimony that in her design, she imaged the one true designer and God of the universe, and in her humanity, she revealed her need for his plan of redemption. In chapter four of Paul’s letter to the Romans, he reminds us that it is God’s kindness that is intended to lead us to repentance, and the story of Eve gives testament of his abundant kindness from the beginning of time. We still struggle to this day, not because she struggled as if she left us the relics of the disease as her only legacy. We wrestle, just as the angels in Heaven, over the issue of rule and within the unfathomable beauty and grace of the two-edged sword called free will.
Although the life of Eve exhibits the pull self-determination that is so common within the human drama, it more clearly showcases the merciful pursuing love of the God who always had a plan for her and our redemption. Eve was birthed into a place and experience of freedom, and every plan of God was designed from his desire that she would be led back into freedom. The lure of self-sufficiency marred Eve’s understanding of what God is truly like. Still, his response was not to reject her as an unloved and no longer desirable part of his plan for creation; instead, he revealed his character once again through his kindness and provision. Eve had the invitation of living intimately in tune with God, and her freedom of choice led her elsewhere. God’s response to her choice was to put in place the plan that would ultimately restore Eve and all of mankind to the one who designed and desired relationship with his creation.
With a grand stroke, God’s plan for our redemption can wipe away our inaccurate view of who God is and give us insight into the intricacies of his character. To love him and trust him, we must see him clearly and know what he is like. This is true of Eden, as designed by the singular author of redemption, God himself. He hoped that humanity would find and maintain a relationship with him and, in turn, find and maintain relationships with each other and creation. Women can delight in the life and testimony of Eve as she examples what is still true about God to this day: He has made humankind in his image, he sees our true need and has provided a timely answer, and we can find the answer to our need in the redemptive plan of Jesus Christ.
Photo credit: ©flickr/faungg's-photos
Stacey Monaco has been speaking and writing since her first unpublished children’s book in the fifth grade. Her journey as a writer has taken her from the depths of blue water exploration, to the simplicity of crafting words to encourage and educate in the areas of loss, legacy, leadership, and living life passionately with purpose. Stacey received her Masters Degree in Christian Ministry and Leadership from Talbot School of Theology, and has worked in many roles from slinging coffee to pastoring women. To find more on living the Christian life with intention, head over to her website at StaceyMonaco.com.