The Real Reason Why Life Is Messy
Seattle Repertory Theater’s 2017/2018 season introduces the classics Macbeth, Pride and Prejudice, and the Odyssey with the title, “We Are Real, Messy, Human.” With murder, tragedy, and confused romance as the backdrop, it’s not surprising to characterize humanity as “messy.” From personal experience, we see how people create pain, suffering, and tragedy. But humans were not created to be “messy,” nor were they made to expect a life of tragedy. Adam and Eve were created as royalty, in fellowship with God and with each other, rulers with the responsibility of governing the creatures. On top of all this, humanity had a hope for a better and more glorious future through obedience to God.
Humans as Royalty
The first two chapters of the book of Genesis recount how God—the Creator and ruler of the universe—created a beautiful world full of good things, and how he gave man—his image-bearer—dominion over the living creatures (Gen. 1:26-31). Adam was to image God’s kingship by ruling well over creation. As a demonstration of humanity’s dominion, God set Adam in the garden of Eden “to work and to keep it” and brought the animals to Adam for him to name (Gen. 2:15;19). This garden was set apart from the rest of creation as a paradise for humanity (Gen. 2:8-10). The word translated in Genesis 2:15 as “to keep” is also used in the book of Numbers to describe the guarding responsibilities of the priests and Levites as they protected the temple from unholy intruders (Num. 1:51-53; 3:6-10; 18:2-5; 31:30). In a similar way, Adam was a king-priest who was to guard the garden from spiritual enemies and threats.
Life of Blessing
God created Adam with the unique status of his image-bearer (Gen. 1:27), spoke his word of instruction to him (Gen. 1:28; 2:16-17), and blessed him with a beautiful garden (Gen. 2:15) and mutual companionship (Gen. 2:18). Adam and Eve were united and at peace with one another (Gen. 2:23-24) and in fellowship with God. They could look forward to a greater blessedness of eternal life if they obeyed God’s commands (Gen. 2:9; 2:16-17).
The Origin of Humanity’s Mess
Genesis 3 records the tragic downfall of humanity. Adam, who was created as an image-bearer with a royal and priestly job; who lived in a state of harmony with God and man; and who, by obedience to God’s commands, would be rewarded with a bright future of eternal life, rebelled against God. Adam was to rule the creatures as a good king and protect and keep the garden of Eden from unholy intruders, but instead he listened to the snake’s (Satan’s) lies about God. Adam took counsel from a beast instead of exercising kingly wisdom and obeying the voice of the Creator-King who made all the good he saw around him.
Instead of purging the evil intruder from the garden, Adam listened to him and allowed conversation between his wife Eve and the serpent. Instead of fighting against God’s enemy, he enlisted in Satan’s program, accepting Satan’s ideology that the God who had created all good things was a liar (Gen. 3:1-6).
As the result of this act of treason, Adam lost his kingly-priest status in the garden and hid in shame among the trees (Gen. 3:8). Now there would be strife between husband and wife (Gen. 3:11, 16), struggle in life (Gen. 3:16-19), and separation from a loving and good God (Gen. 3:23-24). Because of Adam’s disobedience, sinful humans no longer had a glorious hope for the future but were instead to be punished by death and pain for their disobedience—all was a terrible mess (Gen. 2:16-17).
Humanity’s Current State
Because Adam was humanity’s representative, his decision affects our lives each and every day. We are now born sinful human beings and rebel from birth against our heavenly Father. In doing so, we create messiness in our lives and in the lives of others. Most seriously, this rebellion has separated humans from God and the tree of life. Sinners are no longer righteous royal-priests; they cannot earn a glorious future of eternal life through obedience to God. In God’s great mercy, however, he has provided a way to have a blessed relationship with him again—to have the righteousness of obedience and forgiveness of sins that opens the way to a glorious future of eternal life. But this righteousness and redemption are not gained by our own weak and sinful efforts, but by another’s perfect work and sacrifice.
In Genesis 3:15, God promised to send a child of Eve, the promised offspring of woman who would defeat Satan and save sinful humanity. Scripture reveals that this warrior child of a woman is Jesus Christ. He defeated Satan by living a righteous life and taking the punishment from God we deserved for our sin, so that those who trust in him may have eternal blessed life (John 3:16-18). Just as Adam represented all humanity when he sinned, causing us to inherit his guilt, corruption, and death (Rom. 5:12, 18), Jesus Christ represents all those who place their trust in him, granting them his righteousness, forgiveness for their sins, and eternal life (Rom. 5:19; 1 Cor. 15:22). Followers of Christ have an eternal and glorious inheritance and in Christ alone are called priests and royalty (1 Pet. 2:9).
Christ did everything Adam should have done, obeying God perfectly and defeating God’s enemies, and he has given to us all the blessings of that obedience and taken the punishment sinful humans deserve for their sin (Eph. 2:4-9). While this life is often messy, it will not always be so for those who place their trust in Jesus Christ. Believers have a glorious future and are once again a royal priesthood.
 For further study concerning Adam’s royal-priestly status and the Fall, read M. G. Kline, Kingdom Prologue: Genesis Foundations for a Covenantal Worldview, and Michael G. Brown and Zach Keele, Sacred Bond: Covenant Theology Explored.