THE SERPENT CASTS A SHADOW OF DOUBT ON THE WORD OF GOD
We come now to what some consider to be the most important chapter of the Bible. It is conceded, I believe, by all conservative expositors to be just that.
Chapter 3, is believed to be the pivot of the Bible. If you doubt that, read chapters 1 and 2 of Genesis, omit chapter 3, and then read chapters 4–11.
You will find that there is a tremendous vacuum that needs to be filled, that something has happened.
For instance, in Genesis 1 and 2, we find man in innocence; everything is perfection, and there is fellowship between God and man.
But the minute you begin with chapter 4 of Genesis and read just as far as chapter 11, you find jealousy, anger, murder, lying, wickedness, corruption, rebellion, and judgment.
The question is: Where did it all come from? Where did it begin? Where did the sin originate? Actually, I do not think it originated in chapter 3 of Genesis, but as far as man is concerned, here is where it began.
Let me quote for you the statement of another concerning chapter 3:
Here we trace back to their source many of the rivers of divine truth. Here commences the great drama which is being enacted on the stage of human history and which well nigh 6,000 years has not yet completed.
Here we find the divine explanation of the present fallen and ruined condition of our race. Here we learn of the subtle devices of our enemy, the devil.
Here we behold the utter powerlessness of man to walk in the path of righteousness when divine grace is withheld from him.
Here we discover the spiritual effects of sin, man seeking to flee from God. Here we discern the attitude of God toward the guilty sinner.
Here we mark the universal tendency of human nature to cover its own moral shame by a device of man’s own handiwork.
Here we are taught of the gracious provision which God has made to meet our great need. Here begins that marvelous stream of prophecy which runs all through the Holy Scriptures.
Here we learn that man cannot approach God except through a mediator.
In this first section we have the setting for the temptation of man.
Genesis 3:1-3 KJV
 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
- The question arises: Why the temptation?
- If we go back to chapters 1 and 2, we find that man was created innocent, but man was not created righteous.
- What is righteousness?
- Righteousness is innocence that has been maintained in the presence of temptation.
- You see, temptation will either develop you or destroy you; it will do one of the two.
- The Garden of Eden was not a hothouse, and man was not a hothouse plant.
- Character must be developed, and it can only be developed in the presence of temptation.
- Man was created a responsible being, and he was responsible to glorify, to obey, to serve, and to be subject to divine government.
- Man did not create himself—I do not think anyone claims that—but God created him.
- And God was not arbitrary in the condition which He laid down.
- He said to man, “But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:17).
- That tree was not the only tree in the garden to eat of.
- It would have been very arbitrary if man would have starved to death if he had not been able to eat of the tree and if he had also been told he would die if he did eat of it.
- There was an abundance of trees in the garden which bore fruit; so that man did not need to eat of this tree at all.
- Therefore, we find that man appears on the scene a responsible creature.
- In this first verse we are introduced to the serpent.
- Immediately the question can reasonably be asked, “Where in the world did he come from?
- How did he get into the Garden of Eden?”
- As far as I can tell from the Word of God, the serpent was not there as a slithering creature.
- Actually, we are not told how he came there; we are just told he was there.
- The Word of God leaves a great deal out.
- The serpent was a creature that could be used of Satan, and Satan used him.
- Isn’t that exactly the method that Satan uses today?
- Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14).
- The Book of Revelation says more about Satan than anywhere else in Scripture.
- “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Rev. 12:9).
- This creature was not a slithering snake as we think of it today.
- That is not the picture that the Word of God gives of him at all.
- “And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years” (Rev. 20:2).
- This is a creature with tremendous ability.
- There is no record of his origin here in Genesis at all.
- I believe that Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 give us the origin of this creature and also how he became the creature that he was.
- The word “subtle,” as used here, is not negative, but rather positive; everything that God made before the Fall was positive; it describes qualities such as quickness of sight, swiftness of motion, activity of self-preservation, and seemingly intelligent adaptation to its surroundings.
- Not a fable; the serpent before the Fall had the ability of limited speech; Eve did not seem surprised when he spoke to her!
- The serpent evidently lent its faculties to Satan, even though the Evil One is not mentioned. That being the case, Satan spoke through the serpent, and questioned the Word of God.
And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:
- Why in the world did the serpent approach the woman?
- Why didn’t he approach the man?
- When God created Adam, He had told him that he could eat of every tree of the garden, but of this one he was not to eat.
- Woman was created last, and she had gotten her information secondhand; she had gotten it from man.
- And so the serpent approached woman first.
- Frankly, I think that woman was created finer than man; that is, she had more compassion and sympathy in her makeup.
- She was probably more open to suggestion than the man.
- Actually, I think a woman has a nature that is more inquisitive than a man’s.
- She is the one today who goes into the cults and isms more than anyone else and leads men into them.
- In fact, many of the founders of cults and isms have been women.
- Satan knew what he was doing.
- Notice what he did.
- He had a very subtle method as he came.
- He asked her this question, which cast doubt on the Word of God, “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?”
- He raises a doubt in her mind and excites her curiosity.
- Proclaims Satan leveling his attack against Eve, instead of Adam; his use of Eve was only a means to get to Adam.
- The trial of our first parents was ordained by God, because probation was essential to their spiritual development and self-determination; but as He did not desire that they should be tempted to their Fall, He would not suffer Satan to tempt them in a way that would surpass their human capacity; the tempted might, therefore, have resisted the tempter.
But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
- She answers, “We can eat of all the trees, but this tree God has told us, ‘Ye shall not eat of it [that’s all God had said, but she added something], neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.’ ”
- I did not find where He ever said, “You are not to touch it.”
- Eve quoted what the Lord had said about the prohibition, but then added, “neither shall you touch it”.
- The thing that Eve did was to add to the Word of God.
- The liberal and the atheist take from the Word of God, and God has warned against that.
- The cults (and some fundamentalists, by the way) add to the Word of God, and God warns against that.
- There are those who say that today we are saved by law.
- They argue, “Yes, it is by faith, but it is faith plus something else”—and they are apt to come up with anything.
THE SERPENT DENIES THE WORD OF GOD
Instead of saying, “Ye shall not surely die,” what he said in effect was, “Ye certainly shall not die. Why, that is just absolutely impossible!”
He questions the love of God and the goodness of God: “If God is good, why did He put this restriction down?”
The serpent implies that God is not righteous when he says, “You will not die.” And he questions the holiness of God by saying, “You’re going to be gods yourselves, for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”
The thing that Eve did was to add to the Word of God. The liberal and the atheist take from the Word of God, and God has warned against that.
The cults (and some fundamentalists, by the way) add to the Word of God, and God warns against that.
There are those who say that today we are saved by law. They argue, “Yes, it is by faith, but it is faith plus something else”—and they are apt to come up with anything.
The Word of God says: “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent” (John 6:29).
How important this is!
The serpent very subtly contradicts God, and he substitutes his word for God’s word. The Book of Romans teaches the fact of the obedience of faith.
Faith leads to obedience, and unbelief leads to disobedience. Doubt leads to disobedience—always.
Genesis 3:4-5 KJV
 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
- Ye shall not surely die — He proceeded, not only to assure her of perfect impunity, but to promise great benefits from partaking of it.
- This proclaims an outright denial of the Word of God; as God had preached to Adam, Satan now preaches to Eve; Jesus called Satan a liar, which probably refers to this very moment [Jn. 8:44].
- The first part of the book of Genesis is general history (also called primeval history).
- As Moses introduced new people or nations throughout this section, the emphasis very quickly moved to the person or entity that he intended to feature at that point.
- For example, the accounts of the first sin and the first murder are set forth in Genesis 3 and 4.
For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
- your eyes shall be opened — His words meant more than met the ear. This caused Eve to be inquisitive.
- In one sense her eyes were opened; for she acquired a direful experience of “good and evil” – of the happiness of a holy, and the misery of a sinful, condition.
- But he studiously concealed this result from Eve, who, fired with a generous desire for knowledge, thought only of rising to the rank and privileges of her angelic visitants.
- This suggests the attainment of higher wisdom.
- This, in effect says, “You shall be Elohim.” It was a promise of Divinity. God is Omniscient, meaning that His knowledge of evil is thorough, but not by personal experience. By His very Nature, He is totally separate from all that is evil. The knowledge of evil that Adam and Eve would learn would be by moral degradation, which would bring wreckage. While it was proper to desire to be like God, it is proper only if done in the right way, and that is through Faith in Christ and what He has done for us at the Cross.
THE MAN AND WOMAN DISOBEY THE WORD OF GOD +++
Notice that the appeal the serpent made is quite an interesting one. It was an appeal to the flesh—“the tree was good for food”—but that is not all; that is not the thing that is really important.
“It was pleasant to the eyes”—it was an appeal to the psychological part of man, to his mind. “And a tree to be desired to make one wise”—this is an appeal to the religious side of man.
Genesis 3:6-13 KJV
 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
 And they heard the voice 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 amongst the trees of the garden.
 And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
 And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
- You will find that this is the exact temptation that Satan brought to the Lord Jesus in the wilderness (see Matt. 4, Mark 1, and Luke 4).
- First of all, he said to our Lord, “Make these stones into bread”—this was the appeal to the flesh, as the tree was good for food.
- Then Satan showed the Lord the kingdoms of the world and offered them to Him—that was an appeal to the mind, as the tree was pleasant to the eyes.
- Then finally he said, “Cast Yourself down from the temple”—this was an appeal to the religious side of man, as the tree was to be desired to make one wise.
- I do not think that the Devil has changed his tactics today.
- He uses the same tactics with you and me, and the reason that he still uses them is that they work.
- He hasn’t needed to change his tactics, for we all seem to fall for the same line.
- John wrote: “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16).
- “The lust of the flesh”—that is, the tree was good to eat.
- “The lust of the eyes”—the tree was good to look at.
- “The pride of life”—the tree was to be desired to make one wise.
- These things are not of the Father, but of the world.
- Jesus said that these sins of the flesh come out of the heart of man, way down deep.
- This is where Satan is making his appeal.
- This is the method that he is using in order that he might reach in and lead mankind astray.
- And he succeeded.
- They were told that they would know good and evil—and what happened?
- We now have the results of the fall of man.
- This presents the lust of the eyes.
- This presents the lust of the flesh.
- This exemplifies the pride of life.
- This constitutes the Fall of humanity.
- This refers to the fact that evidently Adam was an observer to all these proceedings;
- Some claim that he ate of the forbidden fruit which she offered him out of love for her; however, no one ever sins out of love;
- Eve submitted to the temptation out of deception, but “Adam was not deceived” [I Tim. 2:14]; he fell because of unbelief; he simply didn’t believe what God had said about the situation;
- Contrast Verse 6 with Luke 4:1-13; both present the three temptations, “the lust of the flesh,” “the lust of the eyes,” and “the pride of life”; the first man falls, the Second Man conquers.
And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
- “And the eyes of them both were opened”—this refers to their conscience.
- Before the fall, man did not have a conscience; he was innocent.
- Innocence is ignorance of evil.
- Man did not make conscience.
- It is an accuser that each one of us has living on the inside of us.
- “And they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” Have you ever noticed that the fig tree is the only tree that is specifically mentioned?
- (The tree of the knowledge of good and evil is not an apple tree. I do not know what it was, but I am almost sure it was not an apple tree.)
- These fig leaves concealed but did not really cover.
- Adam and Eve did not confess; they just attempted to cover up their sin.
- They were not ready to admit their lost condition.
- This is the same condition of man today in religion.
- He goes through exercises and rituals, he joins churches, and he becomes very religious.
- Have you ever noticed that Christ cursed the fig tree?
- That is quite interesting.
- And He denounced religion right after that, by the way; He denounced it with all His being because religion merely covers over sin.
- In this temptation Satan wanted to come between man’s soul and God.
- In other words, he wanted to wean man from God, to win man over to himself, and to become the god of man.
- The temptations of the flesh would not have appealed to man in that day, anyway.
- He was not tempted to steal or lie or covet.
- He was just tempted to doubt God.
- What was the trouble with the rich young ruler?
- He did not believe God.
- In the parable of the tares, the tares are those who would not believe God.
- Notice Satan’s method.
- First, Eve saw that the tree was good for food; second, it was pleasant to the eye; and third, it was to be desired to make one wise.
- Satan works from the outside to the inside, from without to within.
- On the other hand, God begins with man’s heart.
- Religion is something that you rub on the outside, but God does not begin with religion.
- May I make a distinction here: Christianity is not a religion; Christianity is Christ.
- There are a lot of religions, but the Lord Jesus went right to the fountainhead when He said, “Ye must be born again.”
- He said to the Pharisees who were very religious on the outside, “Make the inside of the platter clean.
- You are just like a mausoleum, beautiful on the outside with marble and flowers, but inside full of dead men’s bones.” What a picture!
- And Adam and Eve, instead of confessing their sin, sewed fig leaves together as a covering.
- May I say to you, there is really no new style in fig leaves.
- Men are still going to church and going through religious exercises and good works instead of confessing the sin of their hearts.
- This refers to the consciousness of guilt as a result of their sin.
- This refers to the fact that they had lost the covering light of purity, which previously had clothed their bodies.
- Now, the sinners clothe themselves with morality, sacraments, and religious ceremonies; they are as worthless as Adam’s apron of fig leaves.
And they heard the voice 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 amongst the trees of the garden.
- It may seem odd that God is described as walking in the garden, since “God is a spirit” ( John 4: 24 ).
- The language is most likely a way of portraying the closeness that has characterized the relationship between God and the two humans to this point.
- One may assume that Adam and Eve’s “walk” up to now has pleased God, and they have welcomed the opportunity to walk with Him whenever He comes into the garden. That situation is about to change.
- Adam and his wife no longer welcome the sound of God’s approach.
- The trees of the garden that have been given to them for their pleasure and enjoyment ( Genesis 2: 16 ) are now used as a shield to hide behind.
- The two are trying to avoid having to face the Lord.
And the LORD God called unto Adam , and said unto him, Where art thou?
- God already knows where Adam is, of course. God asks Where art thou? because Adam needs to know that God desires a word with him.
- Religion will separate you from God—and Adam is lost.
- Adam is lost, and it is God seeking him and not man seeking God.
And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
- Adam’s admission of being afraid signals the end of the closeness that has characterized the relationship that he and Eve have enjoyed between themselves and God to this point.
- The nakedness that had produced no shame previously ( Genesis 2: 25 ) is now a source of shame.
- Adam is not fully naked at this point since both he and Eve have clothed themselves ( 3: 7 ).
- But even though Adam has covered his physical nakedness, he senses that he has not covered it enough to be comfortable in the presence of God.
- It is tragically, painfully clear at this point that the serpent has lied.
- Yes, the eyes of the two humans are open as the serpent had promised ( Genesis 3: 5 , 7 ); but “knowing good and evil” (v. 5 ) is not the pleasurable experience that the serpent had led them to believe it would be.
- Adam “knows” he is guilty of the evil of breaking God’s commandment; he “knows” he can no longer be close with God.
- It would have been far better for him simply to have trusted and obeyed God than to possess the bitter knowledge that he has acquired through disobedience.
And he said , Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?
- Again, it is not information that God seeks as He questions Adam. Rather, the questions are designed to get Adam to realize something.
- The second of the Lord’s questions goes straight to the heart of the matter: has Adam disobeyed the clear command given him by his Creator?
And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
- Adam avoids giving direct answers to the Lord’s questions.
- Instead, Adam points an accusing finger at the woman— the very person whom he had earlier described ecstatically as “bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh” (Genesis 2: 23 )!
- Now it appears that he wants nothing to do with her.
- Adam even suggests that some blame be placed upon the Lord since Eve is the woman whom thou gavest to be with me.
- Perhaps Adam is implying that being “alone” would not have been such a bad thing after all, in contrast with what the Lord had stated ( 2: 18 ).
- Adam is correct when he says she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.
- That is indeed what happened according to Genesis 3: 6 .
- But for Adam to create a scenario that absolves him of all guilt and responsibility is a consequence of the fall that humans continue to practice and perfect.
- Notice that there is no confession on Adam’s part.
- The important thing is not so much that he blamed the woman or, as we would say in the common colloquialism of the day, we call it “blame-shifting, or he passed the buck,”.
- But there is no confession of sin on his part.
And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
- Here is some more of that so-called “buck passing.”
- Now God speaks to the woman.
- The tone appears a bit softer than that used with the man.
- Perhaps this is because the man had received from the Lord himself the command not to eat from the forbidden tree ( Genesis 2: 17 ), while the woman apparently knows of the command from the man.
- Even so , the woman knew about this command before breaking it ( 3: 2 , 3 ).
- Eve admits more of the truth than Adam does.
- Her statement the serpent beguiled me may reveal some blame-shifting on her part, but the key word beguiled indicates that she knows that a deception has occurred.
- The serpent is the source of the deception.
- The bliss and delight that he implied would belong to the man and the woman are nowhere to be found.
THE DESIGN OF GOD FOR THE FUTURE
This man, this creature that God has made, has now turned aside from God, and God must deal with him and must judge him.
The serpent is certainly not the slithering creature that we think of today. He was different at the beginning, and there has now been pronounced upon him this judgment from God.
God pronounces a judgment upon Satan which has a tremendous effect upon man. I would urge you to memorize the following verse, for this is one that you certainly ought to know.
This verse is the first prophecy of the coming of the Messiah, the Savior, into the world:
Genesis 3:14-19 KJV
 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life.
- Since the serpent has been the instrument of deception, God addresses him first in judgment.
- God’s pronouncement of a curse on the serpent above all cattle, and above every beast of the field seems to say that all other creatures will suffer negative effects as a result of sin’s entrance into the world (see Romans 8: 22 , 23 ), but the serpent will be punished more severely than they.
- Some suggest that the words upon thy belly shalt thou go imply that the serpent stands upright prior to this curse.
- But this phrase may mean that the serpent’s crawling will now carry with it a meaning of contempt that was not present previously.
- The idea of eating dust likely signifies humiliation or shame, which it does elsewhere in Scripture (see Psalm 72: 9 ; Isaiah 49: 23 ; Micah 7: 17 ).
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
- “And I will put enmity between thee [that is, Satan] and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it [that is, Christ] shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel,” This is a tremendous statement that is given to us here.
- The most prominent thought is not the ultimate victory that would come, but the long-continued struggle.
- This verse reveals the fact that now there is to be a long struggle between good and evil.
- This is exactly what you will find in the rest of the Scriptures.
- The Lord Jesus made this statement in His day concerning this struggle: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44).
- “The devil” is Satan. The Lord Jesus Christ made the distinction between children of God and children of Satan.
- John again mentions this conflict in 1 John 3:10: “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.”
- Thus we have brought before us the fact that here is a conflict, here is a struggle, and here are two seeds in the world.
- There will be the final victory—but the long—continued struggle is important to note.
- Every man must face temptation and must win his battle.
- Before Christ came, the victory was through obedience in faith.
- After Christ came, we are to identify ourselves with Christ through faith.
- What does it mean to be saved?
- It means to be in Christ.
- Man was one of three orders of creation: angels, man, and animals.
- Animals were given no choice, but man and angels were given a choice.
- Here you have, if you please, man’s choice.
- He has made a decision, and he is held responsible for the decision that he has made.
- Notice that it says “her seed.” It does not say the man’s seed. Here is at least the suggestion of the virgin birth of Christ.
- When God went into that garden looking for man, He said, “Where art thou?”
- Any anthology of religion tells the story of man’s search for God.
- My Christian Siblings, that is not the way God tells it.
- Let’s tell it like it is: Salvation is God’s search for man. Man ran away from Him, and God called to him, “Where art thou?”
- God seeks out man, and He offers man salvation, but there is going to be a long struggle that will take place.
- The enmity, or hostility, mentioned here is reflected to some extent in the aversion most people have to snakes.
- But the language of this verse, especially toward the end, points to a deeper spiritual hostility that understands the seed of the serpent to be linked with Satan and all who carry out his evil intentions (compare John 8: 44 ).
- Satan’s continuing desire is to ruin lives by deceit (just as he ruined Eve’s ), thereby thwarting God’s righteous purposes toward those created in His image (compare Revelation 12: 9 ).
- In time, however, one seed (descendant) of the woman fulfills God’s purpose by dealing Satan a death blow. This is pictured here as striking the enemy’s head.
- Jesus does this by means of His death on the cross ( Hebrews 2: 14 , 15 ; compare 1 John 3: 8 ).
- That Satan is to bruise his heel indicates that Satan inflicts a measure of suffering on the Son of God, but this in no way causes the kind of damage that Jesus inflicts on Satan.
Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
- This is the judgment upon woman. She cannot bring a child into the world without sorrow.
- Isn’t it interesting that that should be true?
- The very thing that brings joy into the life and continues the human family has to come through sorrow.
- God turns His attention to the woman.
- Childbearing was to occur as a part of God’s plan prior to the fall ( Genesis 1: 28 ), but now the process of multiplying through childbearing will be accompanied by a multiplying of sorrow, referring primarily to the pain involved in giving birth.
- Some suggest that a part of this sorrow includes the understanding that any child will enter a world greatly tainted by sin.
- Who can foresee what aspects of the curse of sin lie ahead for a newborn baby as he or she matures?
- Despite a parent’s best intentions, a child will experience the sorrows of life in a fallen world— and for some that sorrow will be especially tragic.
- Another consequence for the woman is stated, one that affects the relationship between husband and wife: and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
- This has been interpreted in various ways.
- One idea is that it means she will still desire her husband in spite of the pain of childbirth, and that he will use that to dominate her in the relationship.
- It seems better, however, to view this statement as a description of the tension, in the sense of a power struggle, that will characterize the relationship between a husband and a wife as a result of the fall.
- The harmony and unity that was so eloquently expressed by Adam when the Lord brought the woman to him ( Genesis 2: 23 ) will now be a struggle to maintain.
- No man should interpret the language of this verse as a license to mistreat his wife.
- He must honor God in the way he treats his spouse, a principle discussed by Paul, who uses Christ’s love for the church as a model ( Ephesians 5: 25 ).
And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee , saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.
- Now addressing the man, God makes Adam’s blame clear: he hast hearkened unto the voice of [his] wife rather than to God’s voice.
- Then the man’s punishment is pronounced: cursed is the ground for thy sake.
- Like the woman, the man will experience his own version of sorrow; it will come in his efforts to bring forth food from the ground.
- God had placed the man in the Garden of Eden “to dress it and to keep it” ( Genesis 2: 15 ).
- This task was intended to be a source of satisfaction as the man worked in harmony with his Creator.
- Now, however, such work will be much more of a drudgery or toil.
- Thus the important tasks given for the man and the woman will still be done: children will to be born and crops will be harvested.
- But the struggle to carry out these duties will always be a reminder of the high price of disobeying God.
Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
- Thorns and thistles were not originally in the creation of God, this being a result of the curse, which is a result of the sin of man.
- This would not now grow freely, as originally intended, but only now with great care and great labor.
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
- This is the judgment upon man. Death now comes to man.
- What is death?
- Physical death is a separation of the person, the spirit, the soul, from the body.
- Ecclesiastes says: “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Eccl. 12:7).
- Man ultimately must answer to God.
- Whether he is saved or lost, he is going to have to answer to God.
- But Adam did not die physically the day that he ate. He did not die until more than nine hundred years later.
- The whole point is simply this: he died spiritually the moment he disobeyed; he was separated from God.
- Death is separation.
- When Paul wrote to the Ephesians that they were “dead in trespasses and sins,” he did not mean that they were dead physically but that they were dead spiritually, separated from God.
- In that wonderful parable of the prodigal son, our Lord told about this boy who ran away from his father. When he returned, the father said to the elder son, “For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found . . .” (Luke 15:24).
- Yes, he was dead, not physically, but he was separated from the father.
- To be separated from the Father means simply that—it means death.
- The Lord Jesus said to Martha, “. . . I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25).
- Again, “dead” means death spiritually, that is, separation from God.
- Man died spiritually the moment he ate. That is the reason he ran away from God. That is the reason he sewed fig leaves for a covering.
- This food will be obtained by hard labor.
- The life-source, which was formerly in God, is now in food, and which is woefully insufficient.
- The Power of God alone could keep the dust alive; that being gone, to dust man returns.
THE DOCTRINE OF REDEMPTION INTRODUCED
This does not mean that Cain and Abel were born in the Garden of Eden, but it is definite that they were born after the fall of Adam and Eve.
In order to have the skins of animals, the animals have to be slain. I believe that this is the origin of sacrifice and that God made it clear to man.
God rejected their fig leaves but made them clothing of skins, and when Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden, they looked back upon a bloody sacrifice.
When they looked back, they saw exactly what God had Moses put on the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies: two cherubim looking down upon the blood that was there—and that was the way to God.
Genesis 3:20-24 KJV
 And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.
 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.
- The story ends with some final arrangements. The woman needs a name, and Adam served as the namer-in-chief earlier (Genesis 2: 19, 20).
- He gives her a hopeful name, one based on the word for living. Adam understands that Eve will produce babies and multiply the number of humans (1: 28).
Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
- Following the devastating announcements of discipline, God proceeds to demonstrate an act of grace: He makes coats of skins for the couple.
- The two have already made coverings of fig leaves for themselves ( Genesis 3: 7 ), and we wonder if the additional covering of skins foreshadows the system of animal sacrifices that God will institute later.
- Nothing is said in the Bible about this.
- The immediate message to Adam and Eve is what should not be overlooked: the God who has just disciplined them still cares deeply for them.
There are four great lessons that we see from the fig leaves and the fact that God clothed them with skins.
- Man must have adequate covering to approach God. You cannot come to God on the basis of your good works. You must come just as you are—a sinner.
- Fig leaves are unacceptable; they are homemade. God does not take a homemade garment.
- God must provide the covering.
- The covering is obtained only through the death of the Lord Jesus.
- Man must have a substitute between himself and God’s wrath. That is important even in these days for man to consider.
- The hardest thing in the world is for man to take his rightful position before God.
- This anonymous poem on prayer reveals the necessity of this even in our own hearts:
- He prayed for strength that he might achieve; He was made weak that he might obey.
- He prayed for health that he might do greater things; He was given infirmity that he might do better things;
- He prayed for riches that he might be happy; He was given poverty that he might be wise.
- He prayed for power that he might have the praise of men; He was given infirmity that he might feel the need of God.
- He prayed for all things that he might enjoy life; He was given life that he might enjoy all things.
- He had received nothing that he asked for—all that he hoped for; His prayer was answered—he was most blessed.
Salvation comes when you and I take our proper place as sinners before God.
And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
- The author gives a divine detail at this juncture: the gist of God’s rationale for expelling the two from the garden.
- Things have changed, and sin has caused a loss of innocence for the man and his companion.
- God foresees that Adam has become as one of us. The “us” is not specified.
- Some see this as God’s addressing His heavenly council of angels (compare Job 1: 6).
- Others see it as conversation between the three persons of the Triune. Still others see it as the “plural of majesty”.
- To lose access to the tree of life signs the death warrant of Adam and Eve. Instead of living forever, they will age and eventually die.
- Another future feature of the New Jerusalem is year-round access to the tree of life, planted in or straddling the river of life (Revelation 22: 2).
Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
- Perhaps this verse offers one reason why the Lord has clothed the couple: to prepare them for life away from the garden of Eden, from which they are now expelled.
- In verse 22 (not in today’s text), God gives the reason for their eviction— so that they, in their fallen condition, will not eat of the tree of life and live forever.
- This is an act of discipline, but it is also one of grace. Sin-cursed humanity must be protected from itself.
- Unchecked sin would be catastrophic.
- The Hebrew word translated till is the same as that translated “dress” in Genesis 2: 15 .
- The man will continue to do the work he was doing in the garden, only now he will do so with the grim awareness that the ground from which he has been made is cursed ( 3: 17 ).
- He has no one to blame for this sad outcome but himself.
All I can say to this is, thank God that He did not let man live eternally in sin and that God is not going to let us do that.
That is really a blessing!
So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
- The Lord takes extraordinary measures to prevent contact with the precious tree of life, posting a guard of heavenly beings known as Cherubims (compare Ezekiel 10: 20).
- Although stated as guarding the east side of Eden, the implication is that the Cherubims prevent any approach to the special tree.
- This raises a question: Why didn’t God just destroy the garden and its location.
- The Bible does not address this issue specifically.
- Given that the garden of Eden is not to be found anywhere today, God either did destroy it eventually or allowed forces of nature to overtake it.
- Traditionally, the garden is located in Mesopotamia between the Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers.
- We search in vain, though, to find this exact spot.
- We will only see it restored as the New Jerusalem of Revelation 21 and 22.
This does not mean that God put up a roadblock. It means that the way of life was kept open for man to come to God.
But now that way is not through the tree of life. Salvation must come through a sacrifice, and when man looked back, the blood of the sacrifice is what he saw.
I hope that you have really enjoyed this post,