John Gavazzoni
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Designed Failure
The Enclosure of Captivity
By John Gavazzoni

"And the Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; there He placed the man who He had formed." (Genesis 2:8 NAS).
"For you see, God encloses, shuts up and locks all mankind (everyone, the entire lot of folks) into in-compliance (disobedience; stubbornness; lack of being convinced) to the end that He could (or: would, should) mercy all mankind (may make everyone, the all, recipients of mercy)! Rom. 11:32 (The New Testament, amplified, expanded, multiple renderings) by Jonathan Mitchell).
"For the creation (nature) was subjected to frailty — to futility, condemned to frustration — not because of some intentional fault on its part, but by the will of Him Who so subjected it, in [Yet] with the hope." Rom. 8: 20 (The Amplified Bible).

The Spirit of Truth works within and upon us in the study of scripture, so as to move us to let the text speak to us, rather than, as the carnal mind is wont, to read into the text misleading, distorting, and not infrequently hideous presumptions. In such a moment of communion, as I contemplated the Bible's record of man's placement in the Garden of (which is in) Eden, light broke into my soul, and I saw how consistent the story was with Paul's explanation of the source of mankind's existential condition.

Once one sees the alignment of Paul's thought with that Genesis story, we're enriched in understanding as the two combine to complement one another. Paul's explicit theological pronouncements send us back to the story to find very foundational implications, as the story creatively presents the origin and continuation of the plight imposed upon the whole of creation by its Creator.

Jonathan Mitchell's translation of Romans 11:32, quoted above, by amplification and expansion of the text, perfectly expresses what I saw that day as I was drawn into contemplating Adam's garden placement. I saw the Garden of Eden as an enclosure, lush and beautiful, filled with divine provision, but also an enclosure within which all mankind in the loins of Adam, was shut up, locked up, in the vulnerability that is integral to the lack of persuasion, the lack of conviction, that leads to noncompliance.

It was an enclosure where escape from frustration, frailty and futility were impossible. For in that enclosure helpless innocence was confronted by serpentine cleverness and craftiness, the end result being completely predictable: Naive innocence, exposed to, and unprotected from street-smart seduction suffers corruption.

Imagine a father depositing his innocent daughter in a dead-end alley, and according to his plan and arrangement, leaving her there with the cleverest, most devious pimp on the street, whom he had sent there in advance, and then blocking off her escape.

Even without Paul's explanation of what happened in the garden, the story itself, overwhelmingly, and creatively suggests what the apostle finally concludes: In a word, we were set up by God — sitting ducks, patsies, the pathetically ill-prepared "mark" of the great scam artist. But what were the pressures brought to bear upon Adam's Eve-receptivity?

However we might understand them to be, there was one underlying, constituting pressure brought to bear upon Adam, through Eve. She, as Adam's personified, embodied spiritual receptivity, was acutely sensitive to mankind's unbearable and unscratchable God-itch. So wouldn't you know, along comes the devil, offering to scratch where Eve can't reach. Life in the garden would have been an absolute, unspoiled delight, was it not for that darn itch. (I almost said, “damn itch,” but I thought it better not offend any readership sensitivities). "Hey, Sweetheart, what's the harm, turn around and let me scratch that itch for you."

Ah, it felt so good. "Oh YES, a little higher, more to the left, harder, that feels SO good, don't stop." But the scratching turned to fondling, and in no time at all, it was all over. Eve was a fallen woman, and Adam, and the whole race that would come from him, joined her, and from him sin entered the world, and death by sin, ACCORDING to the will of Him who subjected all creation to futility, not of its own will, but by the will of Him who subjected it, in the expectation (that is having in view) that all creation will be set free into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.

The glory of God's children lay dormant within our first parents, enclosed there unto the great crisis. But their designed failure was the catalyst for an outpouring of grace beyond what eye can see, or ear hear, or that can enter into the heart of man. Out from that enclosure of captivity to futility, came a stream of corruption, pain and sorrow.

Sin, more and more abounded as the eons rolled on. But as it did, even more, the pure river of the water of life flowed, and continues to flow full of grace, from the throne of God, more than matching the abounding of sin. The force of that flow is ultimately irresistible, while in the meantime, temporarily, the stream of corruption is penultimately irresistible in the heart to which God has not yet channeled the flow of resurrection life.

Each man's stubborn, noncompliant will is given its time to act out its insanity, until that time appointed for its healing. The Great Counselor will finally explain fully to each and every one of us that love has been at the heart of it all from the beginning, and we will become thoroughly convinced, and in that conviction, we will be reconciled to Him whom we have so terribly misunderstood.

John GavazzoniJohn Gavazzoni
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