At the very dawn of human history, God’s perfect love was betrayed. It
is impossible to fathom a holy and perfect God’s grief to know that his beloved
human creation (a creation bearing His image) willfully disobeyed him and introduced
sin and death into the perfection, love and joyful nurture of Eden. When Adam and Eve sinned they not only
brought death into the life-affirming Garden of Eden (and the Ages to come), they
severed their connection to Joy. It was
a terrible moment of division between humanity and God that would mar the rest
of human history. Sin brought death!
It was not part of the original divine plan that man should die.
In Genesis’ account of the Fall of man, the serpent tempts Adam and
Eve to eat of the tree of good and evil.
|Michelangelo temptation in the|
Garden of Eden
"Now the serpent was the most cunning of all the
animals that the Lord. The serpent asked the woman, ‘Did God really tell you
not to eat from any of the trees in the Garden? The woman answered the serpent:
“We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; it is only about the fruit
of tree in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘You shall not eat it or
even touch it, lest you die.’ But the serpent said to the woman: “You will
certainly not die! No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes
will be opened and you will be like gods who know what is good and what is bad.
The woman saw that the tree was good for food, pleasing to the eye, and
desirable for gaining wisdom. So she
took some of its fruit and ate it; and she also gave some to her husband, who
was with her, and he ate it. Then the
eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they
sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves. When they heard
the sound of the Lord God moving about in the garden at the breezy time of the
day, the man and his wife hid themselves from the Lord God among the trees of
the garden. The Lord then called the man
and asked him, ‘Where are you?’ He
answered, ‘I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so
I hid myself.’ Then he asked, ‘Who told you that you were naked? You have
eaten, then, from the tree which I had forbidden you to eat! The man replied, ‘The woman whom you put here
with me—she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it.” The Lord then asked
the woman, “Why did you do such a thing?” The woman answered, “The serpent
tricked me into it, so I ate it.” (Genesis 3.1-13)
In the following, I have made a point of inserting Scripture to illustrate
characteristics of sin that strips us from relationships with God. It also highlights characteristics of sin
that have marred my own life, and many of the pitfalls I’ve fallen into
throughout my own life journey.
The serpent began its temptation by asking a question
designed to plant seeds of doubt in Eve’s mind:
“Did God really tell you not to eat from any of the trees in the Garden?” Rather than approaching Adam to whom God had
given the commandment (before Eve was even created), the serpent poses the
question to her.
Isn’t that just like Satan, always pushing the fig leaf! Satan always tempts us at our weakest point. God
put humanity in a perfect Garden with every good thing and everything that is
good for food. God gave Adam a sense of purposeful work in
tilling and keeping the garden.
Only one tree in the garden was forbidden on pain of death: the tree of
knowledge of Good and Evil. The command not to eat of this tree simply required
man’s obedience. Thus God established moral responsibility in man’s
relationship with Him. Previously, man’s responsibility was only to be fruitful
and multiply and have dominion (not domination) over the earth.
Eve’s response to the serpent’s
question was a distortion of God’s command. She misquoted God by saying “We may
eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; it is only about the fruit of tree
in the middle of the garden that God said, ‘You shall not eat it or even touch
it, lest you die.’”
God’s command said nothing about touch. That was added
by the serpent. The poisonous question and subtle challenge was having its
intended effect. The serpent/Satan became bolder.
He lied to Eve. “You certainly will not die!” It was a direct
denial of God’s earlier
pronouncement in Genesis 2.17. He
accuses God of having unworthy motives to keep back good things from the couple:
“No, God knows well that the moment you eat of it your eyes will be
opened and you will be like Gods who know what is good and what is bad.”
As with most sin, the promise
was is greater than what was actually delivered. Not only was the forbidden fruit tantalizing
as food but it promised so much more: wisdom and self-exaltation. Could the serpent’s words possibly be
true? Would her eyes really be opened to
something she was missing? Why couldn’t
she enjoy it?! She gazed at the tree
with desire. Such beauty and allure!
With that empty promise still ringing in her ears — “you will be like gods” ─ she
reached out and took the fruit, gave some to Adam, and they both ate it. Indeed their eyes were opened but not to
wisdom and elevation to godhead. Their eyes were opened to the poverty of their
nakedness! Eve was no godess; Adam was
no god. The infernal serpent’s promise
was worse than empty. It was a trap! Mankind’s childlike innocence was gone; the
‘wisdom’ of knowing good and evil did not give them glory, only shame and fear!
Although the Scriptural account does not speak of it, another casualty
at that moment must have been their continual and ready access to Joy. How could Joy not vanish? Man was separated
from God by sin and he was going to die.
Sin always separates humanity from God’s Joy but not God’s
The Garden that was once a paradise of joy and intimate fellowship
between man and God became a place of fear and hiding from God’s presence. Surely the omnipotent God knew what happened,
yet he did not hunt down the wayward couple. Instead the Bible tells us God
went walking in the garden in the cool of the day calling out to Adam, “Where
are you?” (3.8-9.) God did not confront the couple directly with their
disobedience; instead He allowed them an opportunity to take ownership of their
sin. God asked if they had eaten of the one fruit they were commanded to leave
alone in a garden filled with other delectable food. Their response was typically
human: shift the blame and responsibility for their sin.
Adam’s initial response was to
blame God and then Eve—put the blame anywhere but at his own feet: “The woman
whom you put here with me—she gave me fruit from the tree, and so
I ate it.”
[emphasis added.] I can relate to this, so much of my life has been spent
shifting responsibility for my own sin.
Eve’s response was to say she was deceived by the serpent, and so
she was. Adam willfully disobeyed God’s command. Nonetheless, they chose to sin and sin always
destroys. It has the effect of driving a wedge between God and humans, or nations,
or between a man and other people, or even between a man and himself.
and the Divine Vine.
Even in the catastrophe
of the immediate situation of sin driving a wedge between humanity and a holy
and perfect God, we see God’s love displayed. Although the couple was severely punished, we
should note that neither Adam nor Eve were cursed by God. (That distinction was
reserved only for the serpent.) God made provision to bring those he created in
his image back to him. This is alluded to in God’s comment to the serpent in
Genesis 3:15: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your
offspring and hers; He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.”
Biblical scholars have often referred to this verse as the
protoevangelium (the first good news). God
alluded to Christ’s victory over sin. The New
American Catholic Study Bible footnote to 3.15 states:
Because “the Son of God appeared that he might destroy
the works of the devil” (1Jn 3,8), the passage can be understood as the first
promise of a redeemer for fallen mankind. The woman’s offspring then is
primarily Jesus Christ.
My copy of Thomas Nelson computer Bible reference program quotes a
number of Bible Commentaries that refer to Christ in Genesis 3:15.
For instance, it cites, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole
promise is here made of Christ, as the deliverer of fallen man from the power
of Satan. …Here was the dawning of the gospel day. No sooner was the wound
given than the remedy was provided and revealed. Here, in the head of the
book, as the word is (Heb. 10:7), in the beginning of the Bible, it is
written of Christ, that he should do the will of God."
Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary says:
"The Seed of the woman is the Promised One, the coming
Messiah of Israel. Seed continues to be used throughout the Bible as a
messianic term (Num. 24:7; Is. 6:13)."
The Believer’s Bible Commentary states:
"The woman’s Seed would crush the Devil’s head,
a mortal wound spelling utter defeat. This wound was administered at Calvary when the Savior decisively triumphed over the
Devil. Satan, in turn, would bruise the Messiah’s heel. The heel
wound here speaks of suffering and even of physical death, but not of ultimate
defeat. So Christ suffered on the cross, and even died, but He arose from the
dead, victorious over sin, hell, and Satan. The fact that He is called the woman’s
Seed may contain a suggestion of His virgin birth. Note the kindness
of God in promising the Messiah before pronouncing sentence in the following
Indeed, even in punishment we detect God’s love. In his providence God planned a way to graft
the sin-severed branches back to himself through His Son (the divine
My own life-journey has been marked
by great blessing and love, as well as great sin, rebellion, sorrow and
disobedience. Still, God has not forsaken me -- a prodigal son. As I draw nearer the end of my life, God
sends vivid visitations of joy, reminiscent of my life’s beginning.
Henry, M. 1996,
c1991. Matthew Henry's commentary on the whole Bible : Complete and
unabridged in one volume . Hendrickson: Peabody
Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., &
House, H. W. 1999. Nelson's new illustrated Bible commentary . T. Nelson
MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. 1997,
c1995. Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments . Thomas Nelson:
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