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Once again, let me state that the historicity of this account is of paramount importance. What we are reading here is not myth or legend as so many would claim. This is history, just as it occurred and is recorded here in Genesis 3. The trustworthiness of all of the rest of Scripture, not to mention the whole of the doctrine of sin, rests upon the historicity and authenticity of this account. As you have it in Romans 5:12-14,
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned; (For until the law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of him who was to come.
And again, in II Corinthians 11:3,
But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.
Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, ‘Has God indeed said, "You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?’" And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’ Genesis 3:1-3
At the creation, God designed serpents to be the most intelligent of all other creatures in the animal kingdom. They were greater in intelligence than dolphins or chimpanzees. It was for this reason, no doubt, that Satan chose one for his disguise and purpose. Later in this chapter, we learn that at that time, serpents did not exist in their current form. Though their form is not described for us here, I suspect that they were creatures that were tall, prominent and beautiful.
Notice that Eve didn’t question the serpent’s ability to speak. No doubt, that was because she herself was so newly created that she was unsophisticated and still in the process of discovering the intricacies of the world around her as well as that of all of its creatures. It is apparent here, however, that when the serpent spoke, it was actually Satan who was speaking through it. As you have it in Revelation 12:9,
So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Now, we need to keep in mind that Adam and Eve began their lives in a state of innocence. So, as such, they were neither righteous nor unrighteous. Innocence is an untried or untested state of being. Also, having been created in the image of God, they possessed a free will. God allowed the serpent’s temptation to test Adam and his wife to see if they would obey his command not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If they obeyed, they would become righteous. If they disobeyed, they would become unrighteous. In either case, afterwards they would no longer be innocent. They would either progress or they would fall. It is still so today, by the way. Someone has said, Temptation will either develop you or it will destroy you. As you have it in James 1:12,
Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love him.
Coming back to our text, the first words out of the serpent’s mouth were couched in a question … a question of feigned surprise ... a question subtly and viciously aimed at Eve's trust in God. We could paraphrase it this way, Really! God won't let you eat any of the fruit of this whole garden?! The implication was clear. Satan was launching an attack on the character of God ... namely, God's goodness. He was implying that, in reality, God was stingy, arbitrary, unreasonable and uncaring. Nothing, of course, was further from the truth. God is, in fact, generous, wise, reasonable and loving. Satan, however, the father of lies, often levels his attacks at God’s character and God’s Word. Slandering God is one of his greatest tools. So, right out of the box, he slandered God to Eve. Are you familiar with Satan’s tactics, by the way? In the book of II Corinthians we read,
...lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices. II Cor. 2:11.
In essence, Eve replied, No, we can eat from them all the fruit trees ... just not from the tree in the midst of the garden. God said we can’t eat of it nor touch it or we will die. Some have suggested that Eve was adding to God’s words here because, back in 2:17, it doesn't say that Adam was told not to touch the tree. I would just point out that Eve was not yet a sinner and was utterly incapable of stretching the truth or lying about what God had said. Therefore, I take it that it was true that God had also told them not to touch the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ Genesis 3:4-5
Did you notice that Satan called God a liar? As Jesus put it to the Pharisees in John 8:44,
You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.
Satan's lie also had a twist to it. He sugar-coated it with a half-truth. It was true indeed that if Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, she would come to know good and evil. But, the question was, would she know good and evil like God knows it? No. Therein, lay the half truth. God himself has never participated in evil in order to understand or know it, you see. If Eve disobeyed God, touched or ate the forbidden fruit, she would only know evil … and ... she would know it by having participated in it … resulting in the exact opposite of becoming like God! Satan had slyly set Eve up for spiritual and physical death, you see. The moment she disobeyed, touching and eating the forbidden fruit, she became an ungodly sinner ... dying spiritually … to be followed up later by her actual physical death … completing the picture of what she had actually become. Sad. Very sad.
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. Genesis 3:6-7
There were three things about the fruit of the forbidden tree that appealed to Eve. They were the same three broad avenues that tempt you and me today. As you have it in First John 2:16,
For all that is in the world; the lust of the flesh (good for food), the lust of the eyes (pleasant to the eyes), and the pride of life (desirable to make one wise); is not of the Father but is of the world.
The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life ... these things were temptations to Eve. For us sinners today, however, they are deeply ingrained urges in our inherited nature.
Now, there is a very important theological distinction to keep in mind here. The Bible says that Eve was deceived. Adam, however, was not deceived at all. As you have it in First Timothy 2:14,
And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.
Adam knew the serpent was lying and yet he deliberately sinned against God when he ate the fruit. He was not deceived as Eve was. Thus, Adam became the original sinner who polluted and passed on the sin nature to the entire human race. Our sin nature was not passed down by Eve. It came from Adam.
And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ So he said, ‘I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself.’ And He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?’ Genesis 3:8-11
What Adam and Eve heard in the garden that day, were actual footsteps of Jesus and the swish of his garments. The description here is of the physical manifestation of the pre-incarnate Son of God. When Adam and Eve heard him coming, they hid themselves. This is immediate evidence, by the way, of the spiritual death they had suffered. Their desire for God was gone. They were closed to God … cut off from him … because of sin. So it was on that fateful day and so it is for all of the rest of mankind unto this day. As you have it in Romans 3:10-11,
As it is written: 'There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none who understands; There is none who seeks after God.'
Man was now a "runner" from God. He would never again be a seeker of God. However, Elohim came into the garden that day seeking his man and woman anyway! He called out to Adam … Where are you? Notice the immediate effect of Adam's disobedience in his reply. I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself. The moment Adam had disobeyed and eaten the forbidden fruit, he had experienced a fundamental change deep down inside ... way down in the bedrock of his spirit. It had literally died. The outward manifestations of it were shame and guilt. Adam said, We were ashamed because we are naked. But, their problem was not nakedness at all ... far from it. Shame comes from guilt. So, like all guilty sinners, they attempted to resolve it by covering it up and placing the blame everywhere but where it belonged. No fig leaves would ever cover up what they had done. Their naked bodies were not the problem at all. Their shame came from a source far deeper than their skins. They had disobeyed God … causing them to die to God ... spiritually. Their disobedience cut them off from God and left behind nothing but the bitter fruits of guilt, evasion, self-deception and isolation. As you have it in Isaiah 59:2a,
But your iniquities have separated you from your God...
Then the man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.’ And the LORD God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’ Genesis 3:12-13
Typical, is it not? Sinners are masters of evasion. When asked about his sin, Adam simply pointed his finger at Eve. Then, when it came to her sin, Eve simply pointed her finger at the serpent. The only way you and I can appropriately deal with sin in our lives is to be brutally honest about it before God. As you have it in Psalm 32:5,
I acknowledged my sin to you, and my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
The sinner's prayer can only be … Lord Jesus, have mercy on me, a sinner, and save me for thy great mercies sake. How much better it would have been for that original pair, had they answered the Lord in that way. But, they didn’t.
So the LORD God said to the serpent: ‘Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; On your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.’ Genesis 3:14-15
The first of the Lord’s judgments fell upon the serpent, which Satan had used as his tool.
God’s judgment began with the creature itself and God permanently changed its physical appearance. Exactly what its original form was, we are not told. I suspect it was a tall and beautiful creature. But, immediately, God took it down to the ground so that, ever after, it and its descendants would eat the dust of the ground while crawling about on their bellies. This was not because the serpent itself had done anything wrong. It was because God often reveals truth through his creation and its creatures. Make no mistake about it, the serpent is the fearful, lowly and loathsome creature that it is today because of the role it played as Satan’s instrument in the Garden of Eden in bringing down the human race.
The Lord's second judgment fell upon the one who was behind the serpent.
His words were directed at the spirit-being, fallen angel, Satan. As you have it in Revelation 12:9,
So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
God's words could be summarized like this, One day I will send a man to Earth who will destroy you. This is an extremely important prophecy in the Word of God. It concerned God’s coming Savior who he would one day send to planet Earth. Let's break these words down further.
a. God said ... I will put enmity between your seed and her Seed.
This refers to the war ... the animosity ... that would one day exist between Satan’s children (the enemies of Christ in the first century) and Jesus Christ himself (Eve's Seed). Satan's seed then, refers to Satan backed and instigated men that opposed Christ when he was on Earth. The woman’s Seed refers to Christ himself. This enmity (animosity or hatred) is illustrated in the clash between the Pharisees and Jesus in John 8:43-44a. There, Jesus says,
Why do you not understand my speech? Because you are not able to listen to my word. You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.
This is why the very same crowd that applauded Jesus on Palm Sunday, were screaming … Crucify him! ... just three days later. Apart from Christ, all men and women fall under the category of Satan’s seed, by the way. They are all his children. He owns them and does with them as he pleases. Consider the following scriptures and see if it is not so:
And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will. Second Timothy 2:24-26
I will deliver you (Jesus, speaking to the Apostle Paul) from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me. Acts 26:17-18
He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love... Colossians 1:13
b. God said ... He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.
This Hebrew word for bruise means to crush. The prophecy is that the Seed of the woman will one day destroy the serpent (Satan) … like crushing the head of a snake. The Bible says that in the last days, Christ will destroy Satan at the end of the Millennium (Revelation 20:10). The rest of this statement … you shall bruise his heel … refers to the day when Satan would wound Christ at the cross by means of his Roman and Jewish minions. Mel Gibson’s movie, The Passion of the Christ, vividly portrays that bruising of the Seed’s heel.
To the woman he said: ‘I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you. Genesis 3:16
The Lord’s third judgment fell upon Eve.
It had two parts and is greatly misunderstood. The Lord’s words here were directed towards Eve’s child bearing (specifically to her pain in childbirth) and toward what her role toward her husband would be, sexually. Carol and I have had five children and her labor and pain in bringing each one into the world was always a very sobering experience for me. Frankly, it made me wonder why, after going through such an ordeal, any woman would ever sleep with her husband again! But, they do. God made it so, when he spoke this to Eve so long long ago. As you have it here … Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you. These words were not talking about a man being the boss, as is so often taught. Rather, they refer to the husband being in control of the sexual side of the marriage relationship.
Then to Adam he said, ‘Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat of it': Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; For dust you are, and to dust you shall return.’ Genesis 3:17-20
The Lord’s fourth judgment fell on Adam. It also had two parts:
a. First, God said, Cursed is the ground for your sake.
Enter … the curse. From that day on, the earth became reluctant and resistant to yield its fruits to man. It would henceforth fight man. Sweat and toil would become the norm for man to get the earth to produce a living for him. The days when the earth's priority was to yield her fruits to man ... were over. Henceforth, its priority would be to resist man and, all too frequently, reward his efforts with briars and thorns. Ever notice how difficult it is to get a garden to produce? But the weeds, why they just spring up like crazy, don’t they?! Why? It’s the curse. It will be lifted, however, during the Millennial reign of Christ. As you have it in Isaiah 55:12-13,
For you shall go out with joy, and be led out with peace; The mountains and the hills shall break forth into singing before you, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree; And it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.
This will also be the case in the New Heavens and New Earth. As you have it in Revelation 22:3a,
And there shall be no more curse...
b. Second, God said, to dust you shall return.
Enter … physical death. Adam's beautiful body would one day die and rot and simply turn back into dust. And not just Adam, I might add, but you and I as well. As you have it in Romans 5:12,
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned..."
And Adam called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them. Genesis 3:20-21
Eve's name means life. Adam named her this (as the NIV so reads), because she would become the mother of all living. I take that to be the correct rendering. By the way, after the fall, did you notice how lovingly our Lord began to minister to Adam and Eve? Right away, he made them clothes and put it on them. The first blood of an animal that was spilled ... was spilled by the hand of God ... so that he could clothe Adam and Eve. Isn’t our God thoughtful and gracious? His loving kindness endures forever. I am reminded of a promise to you and me in this regard. In Philippians 4:19-20, we read,
And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Now to our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Isn’t he wonderful? He knows our every need and looks to them regardless of what we have done or failed to do. My, how faithful he is to all of his children.
Then the LORD God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’; Therefore the LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life. Genesis 3:22-24
You will remember that, in the midst of the garden, those two very special trees were still there. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil was the one that was forbidden and had been violated. The tree of life was not forbidden. I take it that the tree of life ... now that Adam and Eve were fallen, dying sinners ... would have perpetuated the life span of Adam and Eve indefinitely, had they been allowed to keep on partaking of its fruit. Did you notice that they had to be forcibly driven out? Understandable, is it not? But ... what a picture of what they had become. They could no longer just be told or be reasoned with ... they had to be removed!
Also, notice that the garden had to be guarded now. Once sin had entered the heart of man, he could no longer be trusted. God’s spoken word and will was no longer sufficient for Adam and Eve for they would now do as they pleased ... whether God liked it or not. Enter … the cherubim and the flaming sword. Cherubim are probably the most awesome of God’s created spirits. There is a great deal of information about them in the first 10 chapters of Ezekiel. There, Ezekiel describes his encounter with them in great detail. He says they are huge creatures … so much so that when he looked at them … they actually made his stomach queasy. They were also swift as lightning … moving from place to place like flashes of light and with such thunderous noise that Ezekiel says it sounded like the voice of God! We also find them around God’s throne in Revelation 4, where they were seen as ceaselessly crying out,
‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.’ Revelation 4:8b
In addition to Cherubim being stationed to guard the Garden of Eden, God also placed a flaming sword that moved in every direction to keep all intruders away from the tree of life. No doubt, Adam and Eve and their offspring got the message ... although I’m sure they probably tested it. Against those odds, I suspect that one try was quite enough though, don’t you?
One last word here … the question is often asked, What became of the Garden of Eden? Is it still with us today? Actually, it was destroyed in the Flood, along with the rest of the original world of which we have been reading. As you have it in Second Peter 3:5-6,
For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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