Lesson 1

Education in the Garden of Eden

(Genesis 2-3)
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Introduction: Does it seem that there is something wrong with the way we educate young people? Over the years I’ve heard all sorts of different complaints about the educational system, especially public education in the United States. Both of my parents were public school educators when I started school.  Interestingly, except for kindergarten (which I attended in the same building in which my mother taught) my parents sent me to private Christian schools for the rest of my education. My most common client has been a public school teacher. That brought me into contact with the things the largest teachers’ union promotes to be taught in the public schools. Decades ago I found it frightening, and believed that if the public understood it they would stop it. Today we are seeing the results, and I no longer have any confidence that the public objects. What does the Bible teach us about great education? Let’s dive into the beginning of the Bible!

  1.         The Genesis of Education

  1.         Read Genesis 2:7-8. What did Adam have to study? (The garden.)

  1.         Read Genesis 2:9 and let’s focus on the first half. What did Adam learn from the trees? (They were great to look at and they produced good food.)

  1.         Now let’s look at the second half of Genesis 2:9. Why would our Creator/Educator put those two trees right in the middle of everything?

  1.         Let’s skip ahead and read Genesis 2:16-17. What lessons do you find in the command not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? (1. God gives us choice. 2. God created authority and boundaries. 3. God expects us to respect His authority. 4. Penalties, including severe ones, follow from disobedience to authority.)

  1.         Are you troubled by why God would put the “death tree” in the middle of the garden next to the tree of life?  Is this a wise education choice? (I don’t think this was God’s idea. Rather, I believe it was the result of an agreement between Jesus and Satan about the parameters of Satan’s temptation.)

  1.         If I’m right. Is there a lesson in this for education today? (The entrance of sin causes certain compromises in our education program.)

  1.         Do you agree that this is a compromise?

  1.         Read Genesis 2:15. What did Adam learn from this? What should we learn from this? (True education results in work skills. I recall that when I started college, political science was my major and business administration was my minor. I quickly decided to reverse the two just in case I was unable to go to law school. I wanted to be able to get a good job.)

  1.         Read Genesis 2:19. What does this teach us about God’s view of education? (God allows Adam to be creative - and accepts what Adam decides.)

  1.         Read Genesis 2:20. Who made the decision on a “fit” helper? (This sounds like a joint decision! It appears that God delegates to Adam part of God’s authority.)

  1.         Read Genesis 2:21-22. What, if anything, does this teach us about God’s approach to education? (He wants it to be fun. He wants us to have joy.)

  1.         Keep in mind what we just read, and read Genesis 2:23. Why did Adam get to name Woman? (It sounds like God gave that authority to Adam, just as Adam had authority to name the animals.)

  1.         Consider what we are told in Genesis 2:21-23. What should we learn from this regarding the relationship between men and women? (Adam was created first and he had naming rights. But, his wife was formed from Adam’s rib, not from dirt, and not from Adam’s head or foot. This suggests a primacy for Adam among equals.)

  1.         Satan’s Education

  1.         Read Genesis 3:1. This shows that in our education, voices of evil will reach out to us. How can we recognize them? (The picture is not complete until we read Genesis 3:4, but anything that challenges the word of God is evil.)

  1.         Read Genesis 3:2. How should we deal with evil voices in education?  Should Eve have ignored this question? (The serpent had not yet challenged God.  At this point it was simply a question about what God had said. It would be natural to share God’s word.)

  1.         What do you think of Satan’s question in Genesis 3:1? Doesn’t it seem ridiculous?  Why would God say that they could not eat from any tree?  Clearly, this snake was from out of town!

  1.         Satan is not stupid. Do you think that this is a typical evil strategy – to overstate what God prohibits? (The last sermon that I heard reminded me of something that happened in my youth. I was told by school authorities that I could not watch movies, but the school authorities showed movies in their facilities. Clearly, there was an overstatement problem!)

  1.         Let’s add verse 3. Read Genesis 3:2-3. Compare Genesis 2:17. Has Eve correctly stated the rule? (No. She also overstates the rule.)

  1.         What is the education lesson we should learn? (I see several. Pay close attention to what God says. Don’t misrepresent God’s word. Don’t overstate God’s word.)

  1.         When I was young and the education authorities overstated God’s word with regard to movie attendance, did they have good motives? (They wanted to keep us from viewing movies that would reflect evil voices - a good motive. They thought their judgment was superior to mine. Since they were teachers and I was a student, that was likely right.)

  1.         Was there something wrong with the overstatement? (Yes. They misrepresented God. They should have simply said there are good and evil movies out there, and we are going to make the decision for you.)

  1.         Read Deuteronomy 4:1-2. Do you think there is any importance to the fact that both Satan and Eve overstated God’s prohibition? (We treat this as a small matter, but I think it is a deadly practice - as deadly as understating God’s commands.)

  1.         Read Matthew 12:1-2. We are not going to read this entire encounter between Jesus and the Pharisees.  Does this remind you that much of Jesus’ rebuke to the religious leaders was overstating the requirements of the law?

  1.         Let’s get back to our story in Genesis. Read Genesis 3:4-5. Is the situation now clear? We have a direct contradiction to the word of God. What lesson for education should we learn from this? (When we have a direct and irreconcilable conflict between the Bible and other messages, we must reject the other messages.)

  1.         What is the benefit Satan claims for rejecting God’s word? (You will be like God, better educated.)

  1.         Is Satan still peddling this same old argument? (Yes. If you accept chance instead of a Creator God, you are told that you are smarter and better educated.)

  1.         Let’s focus on Genesis 3:5. What should Eve have done when she realized that the serpent was contradicting God? (She should have asked God about it. She should have sought advice from Adam.)

  1.         Why wouldn’t she? (Arrogance - she is able to make the decision unassisted. She should make the decision unassisted because God (and Adam?)did not have her best interests in mind. Disbelief in God is another reason. I don’t think it is fair to say that Eve was not a serious thinker.)

  1.         Read Genesis 3:6. Notice the sequence. She “took of its fruit” before she ate it. Put yourself in Eve’s place. What would you conclude when you touched the fruit and did not die? (This shows the terrible results of overstating God’s prohibitions. She just got through saying ( Genesis 3:3) that God told her that if she touched it she would die. When she touched it and did not die, it revealed that the snake, and not God, had told her the truth.)

  1.         Can we afford to be sloppy or arrogant with religious education?

  1.         What is the educational lesson for husbands?

  1.         Why did Satan first approach Eve instead of Adam?

  1.         Friend, does the serpent’s approach seem anything like the approach of the world? Will you determine, right now, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to hold tightly to the lessons of the Bible and reject the teachings of the world?

  1.         Next week: The Family.

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Lessons on Education

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