God’s Response of Punishment and Mercy

In Daily Devotional by Daniel P. Fuller

Theme of the Week: What’s Wrong With The World? I Am

Bible Verse: “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:17, ESV

Scripture Reading: Genesis 3:14-24

Because of love for his own glory, God had to punish and oppose Adam and Eve, who had scorned his benevolence. We note that in Genesis 3:16, God imposed on Eve and then on Adam a part of the miseries involved in the death warned of in 2:17. Eve’s pain in childbearing would be greatly increased, and now she must subordinate her desires to those of her husband. As for Adam, because he had listened to Eve and eaten the forbidden fruit, he must henceforth toil to get food from ground that now preferred to grow thistles; in the end, he would die, and his body would return to the ground. God then expelled Adam and Eve from the garden (vv. 22-24).

These are all instances of God’s upholding his righteousness by punishing Adam and Eve for the contempt they showed for his benevolence and glory. But amazingly, throughout this litany of woes upon humankind, God also acted in a most merciful and gracious way.

First, he declared that Eve’s progeny would somehow bring about a final, decisive triumph over the serpent and all the evil that he represents (Gen. 3:15). Thus the reader has every reason to believe that God’s original purpose in creating the earth will be realized, despite the terrible incursion of evil. Adam, in fact, was so encouraged by verse 15 that he implied the triumph of life over death by calling his wife Eve, “the mother of all the living” (v. 20).

Another act of mercy was God’s clothing Adam and Eve in more suitable garments, this time made from animal skins (v. 21). Because these two merciful acts appear unexpectedly right in the midst of the imposition of punishments, the reader is also given to understand that God’s mercy in no way condones the sin of Adam and Eve. Yet these acts do raise the question of how God, without denigrating his glory, can be merciful to people who have so scorned his worth.

How is it possible for God not to devalue the worth of his glory and goodness if he is merciful to people who have sinned against him so terribly as to question his credibility and despise his wonderful promises?

Taken from The Unity of the Bible by Daniel P. Fuller. Copyright ©1992 by Daniel P. Fuller Used by permission of Zondervan.


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About
Daniel P. Fuller
Daniel P. Fuller is professor emeritus of hermeneutics at Fuller Theological Seminary where he taught from 1953 to 1993 and served as Dean of the School of Theology from 1963 to 1972. In addition, he served as president of the Gospel Broadcasting Association and the Fuller Evangelistic Association. Daniel is the son of Charles E. Fuller, co-founder with Harold Ockenga of Fuller Seminary.
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Daniel P. Fuller
Daniel P. Fuller is professor emeritus of hermeneutics at Fuller Theological Seminary where he taught from 1953 to 1993 and served as Dean of the School of Theology from 1963 to 1972. In addition, he served as president of the Gospel Broadcasting Association and the Fuller Evangelistic Association. Daniel is the son of Charles E. Fuller, co-founder with Harold Ockenga of Fuller Seminary.