About Genesis 3
In an earlier challenge we looked at Genesis 2. In that passage we saw what life was like before the fall, when God was still creating the details and man and woman were sinless souls, naked before God. Chapter 3 introduces evil to the picture and tells us the story of how man fell from the intimacy he had with God in Eden. In fact, it may make more sense if Gen 2:25 is rendered as the opening sentence of the first paragraph of Gen 3:1-7. In that brief passage innocence is lost. The balance of Gen 3 is the confrontation between God and his created beings Adam, Eve, and the serpent. It concludes with the sentences passed on them culminating in the physical separation of humans from Eden.
Gen 3:1a Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. Rev 12:9 removes any doubt as to the true identity of the serpent. He was Satan, the devil, who deceives the whole world and was cast out with his angels into the earth. There are many unanswered questions about this serpent and its physical nature, but we do know that snakes of today slither on the ground without legs. The term serpent is the basis of what we call “snake” but could be a term for some related form of reptile that no longer exists. In addition, nearly all other reptiles on the earth today crawl on the their bellies. Could this by why we don’t have dinosaurs today? Who knows? What we do know is this particular serpent was crafty. Even Jesus testified to the craftiness of serpents in Mt 10:16.
Gen 3:1b He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” First of all, the Hebrew “you” is plural in vv 1-5. The serpent was in fact speaking to both Adam and Eve. He is raising the topic of the fruit and asking a question which would seem to have an obvious answer.
Gen 3:2-3 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” The woman usually gets the blame, but the reality is she’s the one who speaks up. As much as I like to tease my wife about being the talkative one among us, there’s a much more profound point to be made. The serpent was baiting the couple, but she was the one who responded to the bait. When the devil confronts us, according to scripture we are to face him and fight. When temptation confronts us, we have many options – according to scripture engaging temptation isn’t suggested. Nevertheless, Eve accepts the serpent’s challenge to debate what God said. She knows God didn’t say what the serpent was suggesting, so by her self-certainty her pride draws her into the debate. (For the record, I do not believe pride or gullibility are female characteristics – they are entirely universal among fallen humanity.)
Gen 3:4-5 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” The serpent was the inventor of the bait and switch routine. He established a dialog. He gave Eve an opportunity to prove herself correct about something, then he asked a more confusing question. Looking at the text we see her obvious mistake, but he’d already learned he could appeal to her pride and capitalize on her gullibility. Adam’s silence makes him complicit with Eve’s dialog because he never spoke up in opposition and we see shortly after this he too eats of the forbidden fruit. Adam will try to blame the woman and plead a degree of ignorance – a character flaw repeated by his first son, Cain. As to the deception here, the serpent casts doubt on God’s command in such a way that it makes them want to believe him. He does this by lying about them not dying and on top of this, he goes on to tell them their eyes will be opened and they will be like God. This idea appealed to their pride and they choose to listen to the deception.
Taking the Bait
Gen 3:6 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. Pride was the fall of Satan and we see from this text that pride brought about the fall of mankind, too. The couple were lured by the desire put in their minds by the tempting speech of the serpent (ref James 1:14). They allowed the desire to draw them into disobedience and thus the commitment of the first human sin (ref James 1:15). This pattern is repeated in every human life countless times. It is only by the grace of the Lord He gives the Holy Spirit to keep us from getting discouraged by our failures and help us combat our natural desires.
Gen 3:7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. The good news of Gen 2 was that when we are meant to be unashamed before God. By sin we are shamed by the fact we disobeyed. We try to cover our sin in countless ways. The coverings Adam and Eve made represent the barriers we construct to try and hide our shameful sins from a holy Father who does not deserve our sin.
You Can Run, But You Can’t Hide
Gen 3:8-9 And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” Your sins will always be discovered by God no matter what you do to try and conceal them or yourself.
Gen 3:10-13 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” When our sins are exposed, what do we do? We usually try to weasel our way out of the consequences by redirection, giving excuses, or passing the blame. Adam tried to redirect by pleading his excuse was fear. Truth confronted him, so he instead he tried to pass the blame. While Eve was the one to engage the enemy, she was also the one to confess her sin to the Lord without excuse. This did not let her off the hook, but it was the right thing to do.
Gen 3:14-15 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” For the serpent it meant a curse of going on its belly. It also faced enmity with the woman and a bruised (crushed in some translations) head with only a bruised heel to the woman and her offspring. This passage is highly prophetic since Satan was constantly on Jesus’ heel bothering him by direct attack as well as indirect attack through the many opponents Jesus faced and even his disciples – chiefly Judas. In the end Jesus defeated Satan by defeating death itself through his resurrection and the promise of our own resurrection at the last trump.
Gen 3:16 To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” This verse is one of the most frequently cited by women who have a problem with God because they are born women. While it each part of the curse can be sorrowful in the very real physical sense, we see in spite of pain in the body and soul, she does get to bare life, she will love, and she will have a provider. Prophetically speaking, the woman represents the congregation of Israel and its later extension – the Church – the bride of Christ. While a woman bares the literal pain of literal childbirth, people in general bare the pain of raising children up to know the Lord, to evangelize and disciple and see loved ones and strangers alike becoming born again. The woman Mary bore a great pain just knowing she was not only having a baby, but having a baby who would be a king and yet be crucified for the sins of the world. Certainly the bride of Christ, the church, desires her husband Jesus. We all have yearning for Jesus put in our hearts when the Spirit enters us. This leads to the third component, him ruling over us. Jesus is indeed Lord. We must submit to him. The curse is a blessing in disguise. The plan for the redemption of the world was revealed in Gen 3:16, but I doubt Moses had any idea of its importance when he recorded what the Spirit inspired him to write nearly 3500 years ago.
Gen 3:17-19 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” The literal curse is one of physical hardship in man’s work. Originally the job of “farming” the Garden of Eden was pretty light work and very enjoyable. Now man would have to work hard just to survive. As for prophesy, just as the verses prior to this outlined the roles to be played out by Satan (the enemy of the woman) and the church as the bride of Christ, this passage outlines the awesome work of Christ. Adam listened to his wife to his cursing. Jesus was sinless, yet he accepted the blame for all sin because of his love for his people. Because of Adam the ground was cursed and brought forth thorns. Jesus redeems lost souls, but suffers pain every time we sin against him. Each time we choose wrong, we drive the nails into him. Still, he stays on the cross for our sakes because it is how he will defeat the enemy for us, protect and provide for us, and prove his love. Lk 22:44 tells us Jesus sweat came out as drops of blood while he prayed for not just his disciples, but for all the lost souls he was working to redeem. As a result, he was crucified and buried in the dust (see Eccl 3:20). Unlike Adam who had no power over the grave, Jesus could not be held in the tomb – death only has power over sin. Jesus, though he carried our sin, was not himself guilty of sin. He alone could defeat sin and death and the great news, the most wonderful news of all, is that when we choose to follow him we too have hope of resurrection. When we love him, do our best to obey him, and receive and listen to and obey the Spirit as his deposit to guide us, we can have confidence in this hope.
The Glory of Motherhood
Gen 3:20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. According to notes in my bible, the name “Eve” sounds like the Hebrew for life-giver and resembles the word for living. A woman bore the child Jesus who would be the one to give eternal life.
Gen 3:21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. Just as God created covering for Adam and his wife, God provided a covering for the sins of the church by covering the sins assumed by Jesus when he took our sins to the cross with him. He has a plan, and he is faithful to do it (1 Thess 5:24). I’ve heard this verse quoted as the reason for animal sacrifices. I believe animal sacrifices were merely an extension of the true meaning of this passage – the plan to cover eternally the sins of those who believe.
Protecting Life – The Good News of Genesis 3
Gen 3:22-24 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. To protect eternity from corruption God separated sinful man from the tree of life. We know from the visions in John’s prophesy in the final chapters of Revelation, particularly Rev 22:2, that the bride of Christ would be brought to this Tree of Life. Here we will be, on uncursed ground, beside the river of life, where God himself will reside with us and be our light. These things are difficult to understand. Much of what we have recorded seems to be symbolic, but there are clearly literal meanings. Ezekiel gives several chapters of detail about the new place which seems so much like Eden. Isaiah does here and there throughout his writings. Job gives graphic illustrations of certain aspects of it. Jeremiah proclaims it constantly, speaking of the new covenant of the Spirit and forgiveness and unity with God. Daniel and many of the minor prophets saw and spoke of bits and pieces of it. Genesis 3 is rich in symbolism as well as literal meaning. God said he put cherubim in place to guard the tree of life, but he did not say it was impossible for us to get there. All things are possible through Christ. This particular thing is my hope.