In the upcoming weeks I am going to share a little bit about each woman mentioned in the book and some of the things I learned or took away from what I read. If you care to read along with me we can share comments about what each of us have found interesting about the book. Which I guess means I'm inviting you to start a pseudo book club! :)
The first woman discussed in the book is Eve. Fitting since she was the first woman to ever exist.
painting by Gail Potocki
I tremendously appreciated how MacArthur introduced Eve. He shares how Eve must have been a wonder to behold. She was the only female, who at her beginning, was unspoiled by evil and hand designed by God Himself to perfection. Sin had not yet entered the world so Eve was the living embodiment of feminine excellence and pure innocence. But MacArthur also makes the marvelous point that the Bible gives no physical description of Eve. Her beauty was never mentioned or even alluded to. This is a significant fact because we live in a world that is obsessed with image - we as humans are superficial creatures.
Plastic surgery, eating disorders, attitudes...all results of vanity. Let's be honest, there isn't a female on the planet that is 100% happy with themselves physically. We all would like to change something whether it be to lose a few pounds or to look a few years younger. But the Biblical account of Eve is an excellent reminder of what true beauty is in the eyes of God. It's not the clothes we wear, it's not having great hair or a perfect body...in fact, God paints a portrait of what He calls "a Wife of Noble Character" in Proverbs 31. These noble characteristics include: faithfulness, dignity, wisdom....and he also emphasizes that "beauty is fleeting". (verse 30)
It's easy for us to measure our worth according to the world's standards when there are those among us who are "artificial perfection" but isn't it wonderful to know that God's standards are attainable without having to go under the knife, or going on a diet or having money for the latest trends. God sees our heart and when we live according to His plan, our beauty radiates from within. There is nothing wrong with wanting to look nice, but it's important to make sure that our self worth is not based on our physical appearance.
Not only is there no physical description of Eve but there are no details about how many children she had, how long she lived or how she died and the way scripture limits the amount of information given about Eve, it helps us focus on the most significant aspects of her life.
The creation of Eve was and is a monumental moment in time. I love the significance of every detail surrounding her beginning. Eve was carefully and purposefully built using a rib from Adam's side. Adam and Eve were two halves of a whole. Such as in marriage. When a man and a woman are joined together in marriage they are said to "become one" an honored tradition that has happened since literally the beginning of time. God created Eve from the very flesh and bone of Adam and the unique method of her creation emphasizes our purpose as women. Eve was not made from Adam's head that she might rule over him, or from his foot that he may walk on her, but from his side, as a companion and an equal.
MacArthur also does a great job of highlighting the fundamental differences between genders. We were socially, emotionally and physically designed differently with purpose. Everything God does is with purpose, He doesn't do anything accidentally. And to quote John himself, he says "I'm convinced that if people today would simply embrace God's purpose and seek to fulfill the roles God has designed for our respective genders, both men and women would be happier, the church would be healthier and marriages would be stronger." And I couldn't agree with him more!
MacArthur then discusses the temptation that ultimately changed the course of our fate. I love how he addresses the entire encounter between Eve and Satan. Eve was undeniably deceived. In her innocence, Eve was susceptible to the devil's half-truths and lies. He twisted the meaning of God's Word, and deliberately misrepresented the character and command of God.
I have personally encountered individuals in life who use this same approach of skepticism and negative interpretation of God's actual commands. They use misguided logic and twist the scripture to either A.) suite their own personal lifestyle or B.) to make God's generosity, grace and love sound more like stinginess, cruelty and contempt. They are being misguided in very much the same way that Satan first mislead the human race. The devil used doubt, suspicion and confusion to dupe Eve and continues to mislead us with these same weapons today. If Satan can inflate our doubts, our suspicions and confusion then he robs us of our faith, our hope and convictions. Satan's goal is to keep us apart from God and all of His goodness, and without a firm understanding of God's plan and His purpose for us, we are vulnerable to Satan's deception. But no matter how cunning the devil can be, the responsibility of our choices and actions are ours alone and no one else.
Many people ask the question "Why didn't God just create a world without the tree that invited evil into the world, why create the temptation?" My response: God did not create us as robots. He wanted us to freely love, not forcefully worship. The moment love is forced, it's not love anymore. In order for God to show us love and for us to show God love, we have to be able to choose whether or not to love him. Without the tree of knowledge, love could not and would not exist. And I am thankful for the gift of love.
I also appreciated MacArthur's examination of the curse God placed upon Eve, Adam and the serpent. While Adam and Eve's punishment may seem harsh, it truly displays God's grace and mercy. He could have easily destroyed them right there on the spot, or made it impossible to reproduce, or cursed them to wander the earth alone but He doesn't. Instead, out of His love for us, He provided a way for all of us to escape incessant doom and enjoy eternity with Jesus. Eve's offspring would one day destroy the destroyer. Her legacy will endure infinitely beyond her sin and her redeemed descendants will celebrate eternally the work of her lineage in the presence of our King! What great hope we have because of God's grace and our ancestor's dedication and diligence of sharing the Scriptures for generations.