The first chapter starts with so much sight, with the repeated use of the terms ‘sight’ and ‘good’:
And God saw that it was good (Gen. 1:10; 1:12; 1:18).
Then we have the added words that ‘God blessed them’:
And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.”… And God saw that it was good (Gen. 1:21-22, 25).
God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” (Gen. 1:28).
And the final verse of the chapter reads:
God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good (Gen. 1:31).
What an amazing start… turn a few pages and we read again about ‘sight’ but ‘good’ is absent:
The Lord saw that the wickedness of humans was great in the earth and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually (Gen. 6:5).
But Noah found favor in the sight of the Lord (Gen. 6:8).
Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw that the earth was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted its ways upon the earth (Gen. 6:11, 12).
Quite a fall!! A fall from ‘good’ to ‘wicked’, ‘corrupt’, with Noah as a hope. [We could also look at Genesis 11 and the ‘tower of Babel’ where God came down to see the situation.] Let’s jump back to Genesis 3 for a bit more on sight:
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food and that it was a delight to the eyes and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves (Genesis 3:6, 7).
I have referred to this original sin as being that of ‘consumerism’, of which our cultural use of the word is one example. It is consumerism described in succinct form: saw, took and consumed. Lose sight of the generosity of God (eat of every tree) and it can only lead in the wrong direction, and with the loss of sight come new, damaging sight.
How do we go from good (not perfect / mature but with all the potential to move toward maturity) to corrupt? It seems to be that shame has a big part to play. Their eyes are opened to sight of themselves as naked, in every sense of the word. I suggest that ‘glory’ is the opposite of shame (Paul in 1 Cor. 11). Loss of sight bringing shame was a doorway from ‘saw and it was good’ to ‘saw and wickedness was great’. Such a loss of sight leads to the statement that ‘all… have fallen short of the glory of God’. Fallen from that place of maturing toward true humanhood.
There are some parallels with the building of the tabernacle that Moses was the architect of, shaping it according to the pattern that he saw above. In three parts – holy of holies, the holy place and the outer court: one ‘tent’ with three parts, symbolising heaven (God’s dwelling place), the holy land of promise and the outer world. At the end of the construction of the tabernacle we read:
When Moses saw that they had done all the work as the Lord had commanded, he blessed them (Exod. 39:43).
It was a little bit of creation, a sign as to how things were – mobile so that wherever God led the people they could construct the image of the world; a sign that drew the presence of God… ultimately lived out in the Incarnation (he ‘tabernacled’ among us; Emmanuel); and that sign of the tent / temple thus became obsolete and was soon to disappear (Heb. 8:13, of the former covenant). And if we keep the trajectory going, to a whole earth without a separate temple.
Genesis 1 –> Genesis 11 good –> corrupt via deceptive sight of a tree.
This takes me to the sight that Paul pushes us to have:
From now on, therefore, we regard (understand / know – using mental perception) no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew (knowledge as in experience) Christ from a human point of view, we no longer know (knowledge as in experience) him in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; look (a stylistic use of a word to emphasise a new scene), new things have come into being! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation… (2 Cor 5:16-18).
Sight, sight and more sight! Away from categories so that the shame environment is removed. Inspired imagination that does not stop at a tabernacle / temple but where everything ‘old’ has passed away. That kind of sight would not take us back to a garden where God might show up at evening-time but an ‘outer court / outer world’ still continuing in existence. Yes, that world still exists… but it can exist far too strongly in our imagination / sight. God saw… and it was good. What a start. Eve saw… and what a fall. Paul encourages / provokes us to see what one day will be.