Last night we had a great Lifegroup meeting talking through Genesis 1-12 as we started our overview of the Old Testament. It was really interesting to me to hear from our leader (my own husband, so feel a little bit like I'm bragging, but he is amazing!) about Jewish history and how it is all recorded.
You see, Jewish historians would not always include every little fact and detail as most historians would now. They would merge the meaning of the story with the facts of it, sometime leaving out parts that didn't highlight the meaning they wanted to portray. This shed a whole new light on the first 12 chapters of Genesis for me, which are really there to describe the beginning of the world as we know it. I have always believed that the creation story isn't totally literal, but that the stages of creation described do actually fit the pattern that modern science has discovered too - the big bang, the change in our earth's atmosphere and the evolution of the different animals coming in to being. Even dinosaurs would fit in on the sixth day (unfortunately they didn't make it to the end of that day!). So learning this really helped to cement that in my mind.
One other thing that we discussed was the curse relating to childbirth (I have mentioned this in previous posts). You see, we naturally assume that only Adam and Eve were in the garden of Eden, but perhaps the jewish historians only mentioned them as the story of the their fall was the most significant point he was making - I was insignificant if Adam and Eve had had other children in the garden or if indeed God had made from the ground other humans after making those initial two. However, I think it might be right that Adam and Eve would have had other children, as otherwise how would Eve have had any benchmark for the curse?
It would instead say "you will have childbirth" and assumed it be painful, rather than clarifying that the curse is the introduction of pain into childbirth.
With this thinking, it makes me very glad that I am prepared for that pain in childbirth, and I feel genuine compassion towards Eve as she approached the birth of Cain. If all she had ever known whilst in the garden was simple, easy and joyful childbirth, and then full on contractions hit! Wow. Poor woman. At least now we can attend classes and read about others experiences to help prepare us. Eve wouldn't have had or thought she needed a midwife and definitely wouldn't have had someone to talk her through it - she was truly alone in experienced that first painful labour.
So in conclusion (and these are all just my random thoughts by the way), I am very glad and thankful to God that, even though through my sinfulness and disobedience I have to endure painful childbirth, I have the experience and wisdom of others and can draw on God's strength to get me through it. Because although He did put judgement on us for our sin, he also gives us grace and mercy and reaches out his hand to help us up from that judgement. God is love afterall, and He cannot escape that aspect of His character.