“Would you even publish a book called Bad Girls of the Bible?” Silence hummed across the phone line as I waited for my editor’s response.
Finally she confessed, “We need to see a chapter first.”
So, I began filling my computer screen with the fictional story of thoroughly modern Mitzi, who made eyes at her husband’s fine-looking new hire, Joe. A few pages later we met her biblical counterpart, Potiphar’s wife, who showed us verse by verse what Bad to the Bone truly means.
Then, with shaking hands, I fed my sample chapter into a fax machine—I know, seriously old school—and waited for a response. Before the final sheet of paper slipped through the machine, my phone rang. “Keep writing, Liz.”
Fifteen summers later, here we are, my dear, taking a walk on the wild side with ten shady ladies from Scripture. The plan is simple: each Wednesday I’ll review the story and unpack one verse from the biblical account. Then I’ll offer my take on one Discussion Question and invite your comments. Easy, yes?
If you have a copy of Bad Girls of the Bible in hand, that’s fab. If you prefer to use just your Bible, that’s great too.
Time for our First Bad Girl.
Chapter 1: All About Evie
“Eve” means “life giver,” but in the beginning she was just called “woman.” She could be any of us. She could be all of us, male or female. We too have listened to the father of lies and said yes.
When that “clever, shrewd, cunning” (EXG) serpent appeared in the garden, planting seeds of doubt in Eve’s mind, she didn’t call out to God, seeking help or guidance or enough strength to resist the serpent’s wiles.
Oh, no. She told herself, I’ve got this.
Eve’s sin wasn’t her appetite. Eve’s sin was her pride.
She believed that delicious, nutritious forbidden fruit was helpful for “gaining wisdom” (Genesis 3:6). How could that be a bad thing? Didn’t Solomon ask God for wisdom?
Yes, he did. But Eve didn’t turn to God. She turned to God’s enemy.
Understand, there is no third option. We’re either serving God or we’re serving “that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan” (Revelation 20:2). Mr. Good-for-Nothing.
In a single verse, she took, she ate, she shared. Sin with me, Adam. “And he ate it” (Genesis 3:6). No hesitation, no resistance, no protest.
When is smart not smart? When God says “don’t,” and we say “do.” When God says “stop,” and we say “go.” When God says, “I love you,” and we say, “That’s nice, but if you don’t mind, I’d like a little time off for bad behavior.”
When their eyes were opened, Adam and his woman “saw things differently” (ERV) and “knew things they had never known before” (NIRV). They “became aware of their nakedness” (KNOX) and “suddenly felt shame” (NLT).
So, they reached for the nearest fig tree—the largest leaves in Canaan—and wove them together without sewing needles or staples or duct tape.
Alas, no matter their size, leaves are problematic. They shrivel up and fall off. When we try to hide sin, our efforts are just as foolish. Before we know it, we’re uncovered. We’re undone. Our sin is there for the whole world to see.
Now come the two verses I want us to look at closely. Adam and Eve’s future—and ours—was sealed in this scene.
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” Genesis 3:8-9
Then the man and his wife… Genesis 3:8
Not “the couple.” They were individuals, each responsible for their own sin. However much we might wish to blame others when we stumble, God is gently asking us to see ourselves as he does: one person, in need of forgiveness.
Can you own your sin, beloved? Can you say, “I did this, and this, and this too”?
One of Eve’s lessons for us is this: Don’t cover up. Fess up.
…heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden… Genesis 3:8
They truly heard him—the Hebrew word is shama, as in “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One” (Deuteronomy 6:4).
And the sound? In Hebrew, qol can be used of bleating sheep or the stamping of hoofs, the din of war or the crashing of waves. Sometimes it’s used of thunder, rumbling low across the land, warning of a coming storm.
Most often, the sound is a voice. When they “heard the Lord God walking around in the garden” (GW), we’re not asked to imagine loud feet stomping about. No, it was the “voice of Jehovah God” (ASV), the “voice of Adonai “(CJB).
… in the cool of the day,… Genesis 3:8
What made that hour cool? Moving air. “Late in the afternoon a breeze began to blow” (CEV). It wasn’t the temperature that mattered; it was the wind itself.
The Hebrew word, ruach, means “breath, wind, spirit.” The Spirit of the Lord was moving through the garden like a “cool evening breeze” (CEB).
At that moment guilt kicked into overdrive. He knows. He’s coming.
…and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. Genesis 3:8
Instead of running to meet him, Adam and Eve ran away from him. Although the Hebrew doesn’t actually tell us “they were frightened” (CEV), clearly they must have been. Shame drove them into hiding. Shame separated them from God.
Shame is the serpent’s favorite weapon. As long as we are ashamed of our actions, we’ll avoid turning to the only one who has a remedy for our sin.
Guilt is different from shame. When we’ve done something wrong, an admission of guilt is necessary, produced by the Holy Spirit’s quiet, firm conviction. See this? And this?
Yes. We hang our heads. Can you forgive me?
Yes. He lifts our heads. It is done.
Once we confess and are forgiven, shame serves no purpose. Shame is God’s enemy throwing our sin back in our faces. Sin that God has already paid for on the cross. Sin that God has already forgiven and washed clean.
Adam and Eve wore their shame like fig leaves, taking “cover among the trees” (VOICE), convinced they needed to “hide themselves from the face of Jehovah God” (YLT).
Don’t look at me. Don’t see me.
But the Lord God… Genesis 3:9
There it is. The pivotal phrase. But the Lord.
Whether it’s “but” or “and” (JUB) or “so” (HCSB), clearly something had to change. God could not allow them to turn away from his mercy, could not permit them to die in their sin.
How like God! When we do the wrong thing, he does the right thing. When we hide from his love, his love comes and finds us.
…called to the man,… Genesis 3:9
The wind of God’s mighty voice blew across the garden. God didn’t whisper. He “called out” (GNT). He summoned Adam and “asked him” (GW) a question.
“Where are you?” Genesis 3:9
This wasn’t an accusing, belittling, shaming voice. This was the voice of a loving parent, crying out, “Where art thou?” (ASV). In Hebrew, it’s a tiny, one-syllable word: ay. “Where?”
In the story of the prodigal son we’re told, “While he was still a long way off, his father saw him” (Luke 15:20). God saw his two wayward children in the garden, and he called out to them, “Where are you?”
It’s a good question. Where are you right now, beloved? Are you hiding from God? Ashamed of something you’ve done? Fearful that God will punish you?
God did not come to the garden to punish Adam and his wife. He came to find them. To rescue them. To show them how much he loved them.
Yes, there were deep consequences because of their sin—there usually are—but because of God’s mercy, Adam and Eve did not remain stuck in their sin. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Bet you’ve already figured this out: we’re all Bad Girls, all Bad Boys. We all need God’s forgiveness—not just on our bad days, but every day of our lives.
What have we learned from Eve and her man? Listen for God’s voice. Sense the move of his Spirit. And come out of hiding.
Here’s Our Discussion Question
When the story is told and the lessons are clear, it’s time to apply what we’ve learned to our lives. The 2013 edition of Bad Girls of the Bible has two sets of questions tucked in the back:
1. The Discussion Questions are meant for book clubs. Read the book in a month, discuss it in an hour. One question per chapter and done.
2. The Study Guide is for readers who are working through the book one chapter over several weeks and want to dig deeper.
To keep this post from turning into another book (smile), how about I answer the single Discussion Question?
Eve couldn’t stop listening to her growling stomach or marveling at how pretty the fruit was or thinking how helpful it would be to have more knowledge. Our craving for more is manifested in every area of our lives. What do find yourself wanting more of (yet needing less of) in your life?
What do I want more of? Everything, it seems. I buy too many clothes, watch too many movies on Netflix, and spend too much time playing Solitaire when I should be writing (please don’t tell my editor). When I’m discouraged or upset, I turn to food instead of friends. When I’m sad, I go shopping to cheer myself up.
That’s the ugly truth of it. Not all of the time, but enough of the time. Groan.
How might you satisfy those longings in a more Christ-centered way?
Doing this. Opening God’s Word with friends. Spending time rather than money on something that really matters. Keeping my hands busy and my lips shut. Giving it all away with joy.
Now it’s your turn
My question is your question: What do find yourself wanting more of (yet needing less of) in your life? And how might you satisfy those longings in a more Christ-centered way?
Be honest. Your journey, your truth is welcome here. Share you thoughts below under Post a Comment.
And just for fun, take a gander at Eve’s Pinterest board for some insights into her character. Anything else you might suggest that captures Eve’s story? Say the word, and I’ll do a bit more pinning.
Next week, it’s Chapter Two with Potiphar’s Wife. Ayeee! Bless you for being here.
Your sister, Liz
Imagine a Bible study wrapped in a beautiful gift book…
Elizabeth is barren, yet her trust in God remains fertile. Mary is betrothed in marriage, yet she is willing to bear God’s Son. Anna is a widow full of years, yet she waits patiently, prayerfully for the Messiah to appear in the temple courts. Join me as we unwrap each verse and meet afresh The Women of Christmas.
Thinking about it for a Bible study? You’ll find 8 short chapters and a 12-page Study Guide at the end of the book—ideal for a 4-week or 8-week study.
Thinking about it for gift giving? The Christmas story unfolds verse by verse, inviting each reader to enter into the season in a life-changing way.
“In her warm and welcoming voice, Liz Curtis Higgs draws us into the compelling stories of the women who surrounded our Messiah’s birth and encourages us to consider our own relationship with him. An inspirational and biblically rich devotional. What a wonderful way to experience Christmas!”
—Kelly Minter, author of Nehemiah: A Heart That Can Break