Genesis 3 – Man’s Temptation and Fall
A. The temptation from the serpent.
1. (1) The serpent begins his temptation.
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’?”
a. The serpent: The text here does not, by itself alone, clearly identify the serpent as Satan, but the rest of the Bible makes it clear this is Satan appearing as a serpent.
i. In Ezekiel 28:13-19 tells us that Satan was in Eden. Many other passages associate a serpent or a snake-like creature with Satan (such as Job 26:13 and Isaiah 51:9). Revelation 12:9 and 20:2 speak of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan.
ii. The representation of Satan as a serpent makes the idea of Moses saving Israel by lifting up a bronze serpent all the more provocative (Numbers 21:8-9), especially when Jesus identifies Himself with that very serpent (John 3:14). This is because, in this picture, the serpent (a personification of sin and rebellion) is made of bronze (a metal associated with judgment, since it is made with fire). The lifting of a bronze serpent is the lifting up of sin judged, in the form of a cross.
iii. Ezekiel 28 tells us Satan, before his fall, was an angel of the highest rank and prominence, even something of a leader of worship in heaven. Isaiah 14 tells us Satan’s fall had to do with his desire to be equal to or greater than God, to set his will against God’s will.
iv. We may not understand everything involved in the way Satan used the body of a serpent, but we can know it was true and this is no mere fable. “It is idle to call the narrative of the Fall a mere allegory; one had better say at once that he does not believe the Book… There was a real serpent, as there was a real paradise; there was a real Adam and Eve, who stood at the head of our race, and they really sinned, and our race is really fallen. Believe this” (Spurgeon).
b. The serpentwas more cunning than any beast: Satan’s effectiveness is often found in His cunning, crafty ways. We can’t outsmart Satan, but we can overcome him with the power of Jesus.
i. It was the craftiness of Satan that made him successful against Eve: as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness (2 Corinthians 11:3).
ii. “Man has, perhaps, far more cunning than any mere creature… but Satan has more of cunning within him than any other creature that the Lord God hath made, man included.” (Spurgeon)
c. And he said to the woman: Apparently, before the curse pronounced in Genesis 3:14-15, the serpent was different than what we know today as a serpent. This creature didn’t start as a snake as we know it, it became one.
i. “In all probability the reptile called the serpent was a nobler creature before the Fall than now. The words of our text, so far as they literally concern the serpent, threaten that a change would be wrought in him. It has been a sort of speculative opinion that the creature either had wings, or was able to move without creeping upon the earth as it now does.” (Spurgeon)
ii. Demonic spirits evidently have the ability, under certain circumstances, to indwell human or animal bodies (Luke 8:33). On this occasion, Satan chose to indwell the body of a pre-curse serpent. “An immaterial spirit must be invisible; and therefore he must embody himself in some way or other before he can be seen. That Satan has power to enter into living bodies is clear, for he did so upon a very large scale with regard to men in the days of Christ… Being compelled to have an embodiment, the master evil spirit perceived the serpent to be at that time among the most subtle of all creatures; and therefore he entered into the serpent as feeling that he would be most at home in that animal” (Spurgeon).
iii. Poole says the woman wasn’t surprised at the serpent’s speaking because Adam and Eve had free conversation with angelic beings that often appeared in the form of men. If this is true, it wasn’t so strange to Eve that an angelic being might appear to her in the form of a beautiful pre-curse serpent.
iv. Perhaps Satan made the voice supernaturally seem to come forth from the serpent, or perhaps Satan communicated this to Eve in her thoughts. What Satan said is more important than how he said it.
d. To the woman: Satan brought his temptation against the woman because he perceived she was more vulnerable to attack. This is because she did not receive the command to not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil directly from God but through Adam (Genesis 2:15-17).
i. Perhaps Satan knew by observation Adam didn’t do an effective job of communicating to Eve what the LORD told him. This failure on Adam’s part made Eve more vulnerable to temptation.
ii. Satan will often attack a chain at its weakest link, so he gets at Adam by tempting Eve. The stronger ones in a “chain” must expect an attack against weaker links and support them against those attacks.
iii. It was also in God’s plan to allow Satan to tempt Eve this way. If Adam would have sinned first, and if he had then given the fruit to Eve, she might have a partial excuse before God: “I was simply obeying the head of our home. When he gave me the fruit, I ate of it.”
e. Has God indeed said: Satan’s first attack was leveled against the Word of God. If he could make Eve confused about what God said, or to doubt what God said, then his battle was partially won.
i. From the beginning, Satan has tried to undermine God’s people by undermining God’s Word. He can undermine just as effectively by getting us to neglect God’s Word as by getting us to doubt it.
f. Has God indeed said, “You shall not eat of every tree of the garden”? Satan took God’s positive command in Genesis 2:16-17 (Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat) and rephrased it in a purely negative way: “God won’t let you eat of every tree.”
2. (2-3) Eve’s reply to the serpent.
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.’”
a. And the woman said to the serpent: Eve’s first mistake was in even carrying on a discussion with the serpent. We are called to talk to the devil, but never to have a discussion with him. We simply and strongly tell him, “The Lord rebuke you!” (Jude 9).
b. We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: Eve’s knowledge of what she should not do is partially correct, but what she doesn’t seem to know makes her all the more vulnerable to deception.
i. Eve does not seem to know the name of this tree; she only calls it the tree in the midst of the garden, instead of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:17).
ii. Eve misquoted God’s command to Adam. Her words, you shall not eat it and lest you die are close enough, but she added to the command and put words in God’s mouth when she said, nor shall you touch it. Of course, it was a good idea to completely avoid the temptation; no good could come from massaging the fruit you’re not supposed to eat. But it is a dangerous thing to teach the doctrines of man as if they are the commandments of God (Matthew 15:9).
iii. Clarke on nor shall you touch it: “Some Jewish writers… state that as soon as the woman had asserted this, the serpent pushed her against the tree and said, ‘See, you have touched it, and are still alive; you may therefore safely eat of the fruit, for surely you shall not die.’”
c. God has said: Eve’s ignorance of exactly what God said was really Adam’s responsibility. He did a poor job of relating to his wife the word God gave him.
i. We can almost picture Adam telling Eve, “See that tree in the middle of the garden? Don’t touch it or God says we’ll die!” While this is better than saying nothing, what Adam didn’t explain made a vulnerable place where Satan could attack.
d. Lest you die: This may seem like a small thing to hinge the destiny of the human race and all creation on. But the tree was nothing more than a restraint on Adam and Eve. It reminded them they were not God, that God had a legitimate claim to their obedience, and that they were responsible to Him.
3. (4-5) Satan’s direct challenge to God’s Word.
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.”
a. You will not surely die: Satan effectively laid the groundwork. He drew Eve into a discussion with him and planted the seed of doubt about God’s Word, and he exposed Eve’s incomplete understanding of God’s Word. Now he moves in for the kill, with an outright contradiction of what God said.
i. Satan can only effectively work when he has established a foothold. No one falls like Adam and Eve will fall, “all of a sudden.” A foundation has been laid.
ii. This is why we are called to never give place to the devil (Ephesians 4:27). This shows how remarkable it is that Jesus could say, “Satan has nothing in Me” (John 14:30).
b. You will not surely die: Satan first wanted Eve to forget all about what God said about the consequences of sin. When we know and remember the consequences of sin, we are more likely to give up the passing pleasures of sin (Hebrews 11:25).
i. In Satan’s direct challenge, he tries to get Eve to doubt the goodness of God. If God lies to her, how can He be good?
ii. In Satan’s direct challenge, he tries to get Eve to doubt the badness of sin. If this fruit is something good for her, why doesn’t God want her to have it?
iii. Satan wants us to see sin as something good that a bad God doesn’t want us to have. His main lie to us is “sin is not bad, and God is not good.”
iv. “Satan and the flesh will present a thousand reasons to show how good it would be to disobey His command.” (Barnhouse)
c. In the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened: Satan’s temptation was all the more powerful because there was truth in it. It was true your eyes will be opened, and this was fulfilled (Genesis 3:7). But their eyes were instantly opened to their own sin and rebellion.
i. It is as if a deaf person was promised to be able to hear again, but all they could hear was screaming.
ii. Their eyes were opened, they did know good and evil, but not as gods. A complete lie is rarely effective in temptation. If Satan doesn’t couple it with some truth, there is little power in his temptation.
d. You will be like God, knowing good and evil: The final enticement was the most powerful because it was how Satan himself fell, wanting to be equal with God. Eve tried to become a god by rebelling against God.
i. Jewish rabbis embellished on Satan’s temptation to Eve: “Nothing but malice has prompted God’s command, because as soon as you eat of it, you will be as God. As He creates and destroys worlds, so will you have the power to create and destroy. As He does kill and revive, so will you have the power to kill and revive. God Himself ate first of the fruit of the tree, and then He created the world. Therefore, He forbids you to eat of it, lest you create other worlds… Hurry now and eat the fruit of the tree in the midst of the garden, and become independent of God, lest He bring forth still other creatures that will rule over you” (Ginzberg).
ii. The goal of becoming God is the center of so many non-Christian religions, including Mormonism. But in our desire to be gods, we become like Satan. It was Satan who said, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God… I will be like the Most High (Isaiah 14:13-14). In contrast, we should be like Jesus, who came as a servant (Matthew 20:28).
iii. The New Age movement and the desire to be “god” are just as strong as ever. According to a 1992 survey, as many as 12 million Americans can be considered active participants in the New Age movement, and another 30 million are avidly interested. If all these people were brought together in a church-like organization, it would be the third largest religious denomination in America. More than 90% of the subscribers to New Age Magazine are college graduates, compared to half the general population.
iv. In 1995, New Age influence made it all the way to the White House. New Age author Marianne Williamson (writer of A Course in Miracles), guru to many of Hollywood’s spiritual seekers, spent a night at the White House as the personal guest of Hillary Clinton. Anthony Robbins, motivational guru and king of late-night infomercials, consulted with President Clinton at Camp David. Robbins is also recognized as a leader in the New Age movement.
B. The sin of Adam and Eve and the fall of the human race.
1. (6) Adam and Eve both disobey God in their own way.
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.
a. So when the woman saw: Eve surrendered to this temptation in exactly the way John describes in 1 John 2:16. First, she gave in to the lust of the flesh (saw that it was good for food), then she gave in to the lust of the eyes (pleasant to the eyes), then she gave in to the pride of life (desirable to make one wise).
i. Jesus was tempted in the same three-fold way: an appeal to the physical appetites, an appeal to covetous and emotional desires, and an appeal to pride (Matthew 4:1-11).
b. The woman saw that the tree was good for food: Eve’s perceptions were partially true and partially false. The tree was not really good for food, though Eve was deceived into thinking it was so. The fruit probably was pleasant to the eyes, though that shouldn’t mean much. And it was only true in Eve’s mind that the tree was desirable to make one wise.
i. We can see the precise truth of Paul’s statement in 1 Timothy 2:14, that Eve was deceived when she sinned. In her mind, she thought she was doing something good for herself.
c. She took of its fruit and ate: Satan could tempt Eve, but she didn’t have to take it. The taking was all her doing. Satan couldn’t cram the fruit down her throat. Eve was responsible. She couldn’t rightly say, “the devil made me do it.”
i. As with every temptation, God had made for Eve a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). She could have simply run from Satan and the tree, but Eve didn’t take God’s way of escape.
d. She also gave to her husband with her: Not only did Eve sin, but also she became the agent of temptation for Adam. But when Adam ate, he was not deceived as Eve was. Adam sinned with his eyes wide open, in open rebellion against God.
i. Therefore, it is Adam and not Eve who bears the responsibility for the fall of the human race and for the introduction of death into the created order (Romans 5:12, 1 Corinthians 15:22). Eve was tricked into sinning; Adam knew exactly what he was doing (1 Timothy 2:14).
ii. Many have speculated that Adam sinned because he didn’t want Eve to be alone in the fall, and he ate of the fruit out of a romantic impulse. This may well be true, but it makes Adam’s sin not one bit less rebellious. Rebellion against God is not “better” when motivated by a romantic impulse.
iii. “Take and eat” will one day become verbs of salvation, but only after Jesus had lived in the world of Adam’s curse and surrendered to death.
2. (7) The nakedness of Adam and Eve.
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.
a. Then the eyes of both of them were opened: Seemingly, it was only after the sin of Adam that they knew of their sinful state. They knew they were naked, in the sense of having their shame exposed to all creation.
b. They knew that they were naked: Both Psalm 104:2 and Matthew 17:2 suggest that light can be a garment for the righteous. It may be that Adam and Eve were previously clothed in God’s glorious light, and the immediate loss of this covering of light left them feeling exposed and naked.
i. “It is more than probable that they were clothed in light before the fall, and when they sinned the light went out.” (Barnhouse)
c. The eyes of both of them were opened: The way they saw themselves changed, but also the way they saw the entire world was now different. After the fall, everything looked worse.
i. When Adam and Eve saw their nakedness and felt terrible about it, it didn’t feel good but it was good. It is good to feel guilty when you have done something wrong, and having no sense of guilt or shame is worse.
d. They sewed fig leaves together: Their own attempt to cover themselves took much ingenuity, but not much wisdom. Fig leaves have something of a prickly quality, which would make for some pretty itchy coverings.
i. Every attempt to cover our own nakedness before God is just as foolish. We need to let Jesus cover us (Revelation 3:5, 18), and put on Jesus Himself as our covering garment (Galatians 3:27). God has a covering for His people (Isaiah 61:10), and the exhortation from Jesus is for us: Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame (Revelation 16:15).
ii. Obviously, they covered their genital areas. In virtually all cultures, adults cover their genital areas, even though other parts of the human body may be more or less exposed from culture to culture.
iii. This is not because there is something intrinsically unclean in our sexuality, but because we have both received our fallenness and pass it on genetically through sexual reproduction. Because of this, God has implanted it in the minds of men that more modesty is appropriate for these areas of our body.
e. Made themselves coverings: After making their coverings, Adam and Eve waited. It would not be until the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8) when God would normally come to them. With anxiety and perhaps a bit of agony they waited until God patiently came to them.
i. “Their hearts must have been sorely perplexed within them while they were waiting to see what God would do to them as a punishment for the great sin they had committed.” (Spurgeon)
3. (8-9) Adam and Eve hide from God; God calls out to them.
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?”
a. They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: Adam and Eve knew that when they heard the LORD coming, He would want to be with them. This was how the LORD had fellowship with Adam and Eve, in a very natural, close, intimate way.
i. Leupold on walking in the garden in the cool of the day: “The almost casual way in which this is remarked indicates that this did not occur for the first time just then… There is extreme likelihood that the Almighty assumed some form analogous to the human form which was made in His image.”
ii. We can assume this is God, in the Person of Jesus Christ, appearing to Adam and Eve before His incarnation and birth at Bethlehem, because of God the Father it is said, “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (John 1:18); and no man has ever seen God in the Person of the Father (1 Timothy 6:16).
iii. Cool of the day is literally “the breeze of the day.” From Hebrew geography and culture, we might guess this means late afternoon or early evening. Charles Spurgeon thought the sense was, “in the wind of the evening,” when the evening breeze was blowing through the garden.
iv. “Not in the dead of night when the natural glooms of darkness might have increased the terrors of the criminal, not in the heat of the day, lest he should imagine that God come in the heat of passion; not in the early morning, as if in haste to slay, but at the close of the day, for God is long-suffering, slow to anger, and of great mercy.” (Spurgeon)
b. Adam and his wife hid themselves: This shows that Adam and Eve knew that their attempt to cover themselves failed. They didn’t proudly show off their fig-leaf outfits; they knew their own covering was completely inadequate, and they were embarrassed before God.
c. Where are you? This was not the interrogation of an angry commanding officer, but the heartfelt cry of an anguished father. God obviously knew where they were but He also knew a gulf had been made between Him and man, a gulf that He Himself would have to bridge.
· The question was meant to arouse Adam’s sense of being lost.
· The question was meant to lead Adam to confess his sin.
· The question was meant to express God’s sorrow over man’s lost condition.
· The question was meant to show that seeks after lost man.
· The question was meant to express the accountability man had before God.
i. God’s question demanded an answer. They couldn’t refuse to answer God the way a criminal might keep silent when questioned. “In our courts of law, we do not require men to answer questions which would incriminate them, but God does; and, at the last great day, the ungodly will be condemned on their own confession of guilt” (Spurgeon).
ii. The way God came to Adam and Eve is a model of how He comes to lost and fallen humanity ever since.
· God came to them patiently, waiting for the cool of the day – the evening time.
· God came to them with care, coming before the darkness of night.
· God came to them personally, addressing Adam and Eve directly.
· God came to them with truth, showing them their lost condition.
C. God confronts Adam and Eve with their sin.
1. (10-12) Adam tries to explain his sin.
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?” Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.”
a. I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid: Sin made Adam afraid of God’s presence and afraid of God’s voice. Ever since Adam, men run from God’s presence and don’t want to listen to His Word.
i. We are still made in God’s image, so we want to be in the presence of God and hear His voice, while at the same time, we are afraid of Him.
b. Who told you that you were naked? God knew the answer to this question. He asked it because He allowed Adam to make the best of a bad situation by repenting right then and there, but Adam didn’t come clean and repent before God.
i. We all sin, but when we sin, we can still give glory to God by openly confessing without shifting the blame onto others (Joshua 7:19-20).
ii. There is often nothing you can do about yesterday’s sin (though in some cases you may be able to make restitution). Yet you can do what is right before God right now by confessing and repenting.
c. Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat? God confronted Adam’s problem squarely. This wasn’t primarily a wardrobe problem or a fear problem or a self-esteem problem. This was a sin problem and Adam’s wardrobe, fear or self-understanding could not be addressed until the sin problem was addressed.
d. Then the man said: Notice that to this point, God has not addressed Eve at all. Adam, being the head, is the problem here.
e. The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate: Adam’s attempt to blame Eve is completely consistent with human nature. Few of us are willing to simply say as David did, I have sinned against the LORD (2 Samuel 12:13).
i. Significantly, if there is any blame, it is on Adam, not Eve. Not only does Adam unjustly accuse Eve, but also he refused to accept proper responsibility for his part in her sin.
ii. By saying the woman whom You gave to be with me, Adam essentially blamed God for the sin saying, “You gave me the woman, and she is the problem.” Adam wasn’t content to blame Eve; he had to blame God also.
iii. “He was guilty of unkindness to his wife and of blasphemy against his maker, in seeking to escape from confessing the sin which he had committed. It is an ill sign with men when they cannot be brought frankly to acknowledge their wrong-doing.” (Spurgeon)
2. (13) Eve’s reply to God.
And the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
a. The serpent deceived me, and I ate: When confronted by God, Eve didn’t necessarily shift the blame when she admitted the serpent deceived her and then she ate. This much was true: she had been deceived, and she did eat.
b. Deceived me: The problem comes when we fail to see that being deceived is sin in itself. It is sin to exchange the truth of God for the lie (Romans 1:25).
D. The curse and its aftermath.
1. (14-15) God’s curse upon the serpent.
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.”
a. And the LORD God said to the serpent: When God spoke to Adam and to Eve, He questioned each of them. God didn’t ask Satan (the being animating the serpent) any questions because there was nothing to teach him.
i. “The Lord God did not ask the serpent anything, for he knew that he was a liar, but he at once pronounced sentence upon him.” (Spurgeon)
b. You are cursed more than all cattle: The first part of the curse is directed at the animal that Satan used to bring the temptation. God commanded the serpent to slither on the ground instead of walking on legs like any other animal.
i. “The creature that tempted Eve became a serpent as a result of God’s judgment on it, and it went slithering away into the bushes.” (Boice)
ii. Adam and Eve must have been terrified as this once-beautiful creature called a serpent was transformed into the creeping, slithering, hissing snake we know today. They must have thought, “It’s our turn next!”
iii. I will put enmity between you and the woman: In addition, there is a natural aversion between mankind and serpents, especially on the part of women.
c. On your belly you shall go: Whatever noble bearing the creation known as the serpent had before the fall and the curse, that nobility was gone. Now the creature Satan used to tempt Eve would be a low, groveling creature.
i. “Beings engaged in evil designs have no other way of going, but with tricks, devices, concealments, double meanings. When men deny the Scriptures and the truth of God, they always go to work in an underhand, mean, and serpentine style: ‘Upon thy belly shalt thou go.’ If guilty man begins to plot for his own advantage, scheme for his own glory, and aim at perverting the truth, you will notice that he never takes a bold, open, manly stand, but he dodges, he conceals, he twists and shifts: ‘Upon thy belly shalt thou go.’ Sin is a mean and despicable thing. The greatest potentate of evil was here doomed to cringe and crawl, and his seed have never forgotten their father’s posture.” (Spurgeon)
d. You shall eat dust all the days of your life: This was true of the serpent as an animal, but it is also true of Satan. To eat dust has the idea of total defeat (Isaiah 65:25, Micah 7:17). God’s judgment on Satan is for him to always know defeat. He will always reach for victory but always fall short of it.
i. Satan was, in his own thinking, majestic and triumphant over Jesus on the cross, but he failed. In attacking Jesus, Satan made his own doom certain.
ii. In Jesus, we share in the victory over Satan: And the God of peace will crush Satan under your feet shortly (Romans 16:20).
e. Enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed: The second part of the curse is directed against Satan himself. God placed a natural animosity between Satan and mankind. Enmity has the idea of ill will, hatred, and a mutual antagonism. Satan’s hatred of Eve was nothing new; it was already present – but now man will, generally speaking, have antagonism towards Satan.
i. The friendship Eve and the serpent seemed to enjoy earlier in the chapter is finished. There is now a natural fear of Satan in the heart of man.
ii. If we are born naturally rebellious against God, we are also born cautious and afraid of Satan. One must be hardened to willingly and knowingly serve Satan. Instinctively, we don’t serve God or Satan; we serve ourselves (which is fine with Satan).
f. He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel: In this, God prophesies the doom of Satan, showing that the real battle is between Satan and the Seed of the Woman.
i. There is no doubt this is a prophecy of Jesus’ ultimate defeat of Satan. God announced that Satan would wound the Messiah (you shall bruise His heel), but the Messiah would crush Satan with a mortal wound (He shall bruise your head). It was as if God could not wait to announce His plan of salvation, to bring deliverance through the one known as the Seed of the woman.
ii. The heel is the part within the serpent’s reach. Jesus, in taking on humanity, brought Himself near to Satan’s domain so Satan could strike Him. “That bruised heel is painful enough. Behold our Lord in his human nature sore bruised: he was betrayed, bound, accused, buffeted, scourged, spit upon. He was nailed to the cross; he hung there in thirst and fever, and darkness and desertion” (Spurgeon).
iii. This prophecy also gives the first hint of the virgin birth, declaring the Messiah – the Deliverer – would be the Seed of the Woman, but not of the man.
iv. Genesis 3:15 has been called the proto-evangelium, the first gospel. Martin Luther said of this verse: “This text embraces and comprehends within itself everything noble and glorious that is to be found anywhere in the Scriptures” (Leupold).
v. “This is the first gospel sermon that was ever delivered upon the surface of this earth. It was a memorable discourse indeed, with Jehovah himself for the preacher, and the whole human race and the prince of darkness for the audience.” (Spurgeon)
g. He shall bruise your head: For God to see the defeat of Satan at Satan’s first flush of victory shows God knew what He was doing all along. God’s plan wasn’t defeated when Adam and Eve sinned because God’s plan was to bring forth something greater than man in the innocence of Eden. God wanted more than innocent man; His plan is to bring forth redeemed man.
i. Redeemed man – this being who is greater than innocent man – is only possible because man had something to be redeemed from.
2. (16) God’s curse upon the woman.
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.”
a. I will greatly multiply your sorrow: God first cursed the woman with multiplied sorrow. Men and women have each known sorrow throughout history, yet the unique sorrow of women is well known.
i. Under Jesus, some of the effects of the curse are relieved, and it has been the Christianizing of society that brought rights and dignity to women.
ii. “It is difficult for women in Christian lands to realize the miseries of their hundreds of millions of sisters in pagan lands, where the lot of women is little above that of cattle. Where the gospel has gone, the load has been lifted, and woman in Christ has become the reflection of the redeemed Church, the bride of Christ.” (Barnhouse)
b. Your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children: The first curse upon women is a broad one. It has the idea that women would experience pain in regard to their children in general, not just in the act of giving birth. God ordained that the pain with which women bring children into this world be an example of the pain they experience more generally in life.
i. It has been observed that women bring forth children with more pain than just about any other creature.
c. Your desire shall be for your husband: This is true of women in a way that it is not true for men. Barnhouse explained: “This verse will be understood better when it is realized that the desire of man toward his wife alone is solely by God’s grace and not by nature.”
d. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you: The idea is to contrast the woman’s desire and the husband’s rule over her. This speaks of an inherent challenge in embracing the husband’s role as leader of the home and family.
i. This same word for desire is used in Genesis 4:7 of the desire of sin to master over Cain. Because of the curse, Eve would have to fight a desire to master her husband, a desire that works against God’s ordained order for the home.
ii. The principle of Adam’s headship as a husband was established before the fall (see Genesis 2:18 and 2:22). Now the curse on Eve makes it much harder for her to submit and flow with God’s institution of male headship in the home.
iii. “As a result of the fall, man no longer rules easily; he must fight from his headship. Sin has corrupted both the willing submission of the wife and the loving headship of the husband. The woman’s desire is to control her husband (to usurp his divinely appointed headship), and he must master her, if he can. So the rule of love founded in paradise is replaced by struggle, tyranny and domination.” (Susan T. Foh, cited in Boice)
3. (17-19) God’s curse upon the man.
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.”
a. Because you have heeded the voice of your wife: It wasn’t just as if Adam took Eve’s advice. He chose to be with Eve instead of obeying God. There is a sense in which idolatry of Eve was an aspect of Adam’s disobedience against God.
b. Cursed is the ground: Because of Adam, there is a curse upon all creation. Before the curse on man, the ground only produced good. After the curse, it still produced good, but thorns and thistleswill come faster and easier than good fruit.
i. The curse promised thorns and thistles, and we remember that Jesus was crowned with thorns (Matthew 27:29). In this vivid way, Jesus bore the curse for us. “This curse of the earth was on his head, and wounded him full sore. Was he crowned with thorns, and do you wonder that they grow up around your feet? Rather bless him that ever he should have consecrated the thorns by wearing them for his diadem” (Spurgeon).
c. In toil you shall eat of it: Adam worked before the curse, but it was all joy. Now work has a cursed element to it, with pain and weariness a part of work. Is there not a time of hard service for man on earth? Are not his days also like the days of a hired man? Like a servant who earnestly desires the shade, and like a hired man who eagerly looks for his wages (Job 7:1-2).
i. “Although the sentence took away from Adam the luscious fruits of paradise, yet it secured him a livelihood. He was to live; the ground was to bring forth enough of the herb of the field for him to continue to exist. Albeit that henceforth all he ate was to be with the sweat of his face, yet still he was to have enough to eat, and he was to live on.” (Spurgeon)
d. Dust you are, and to dust you shall return: The final curse upon man promised there would be an end of his toil and labor on the earth – but it was an end of death, not an end of deliverance.
i. The curse of death shows that the result of Adam’s sin extended to the entire human race. Because of Adam:
· Sin entered the world (Romans 5:12).
· Death came to all mankind (Romans 5:15, 1 Corinthians 15:22).
· Death reigned over man and creation (Romans 5:17)
· All men were condemned (Romans 5:18).
· All men were made sinners (Romans 5:19).
ii. The principle of Galatians 3:13 is established as we consider that Jesus bore each aspect of the curse upon Adam and Eve in its totality: Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us.
· Sin brought pain to childbirth, and no one knew more pain than Jesus did when He, through His suffering, brought many sons to glory (Hebrews 2:10).
· Sin brought conflict, and Jesus endured great conflict to bring our salvation (Hebrews 12:3).
· Thorns came with sin and the fall, and Jesus endured a crown of thorns to bring our salvation (John 19:2).
· Sin brought sweat, and Jesus sweat, as it were, great drops of blood to win our salvation (Luke 22:44).
· Sin brought sorrow, and Jesus became a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief, to save us (Isaiah 53:3).
· Sin brought death, and Jesus tasted death for everyone that we might be saved (Hebrews 2:9).
4. (20) The naming of Eve.
And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.
a. Adam called his wife’s name Eve: Up to Genesis 3:20, the woman has never been called Eve. We are so used to saying “Adam and Eve” that we assume she already had her name. But to this point, she was called a female (Genesis 1:27), a helper comparable (Genesis 2:18), a woman (Genesis 2:22, 23), and a wife (Genesis 2:24, 25; 3:8). This does not mean God did not have a name for Eve, but we are told what the name is in Genesis 5:2: He called them Mankind.
i. The idea that the woman takes her name from the husband, and the idea that both genders are encompassed in terms like mankind, humanity, and chairman. Our use of these terms is not merely cultural, it is Biblical.
ii. A woman gains more of her identity from her husband than the man does from the wife. For this reason, women should take special care in which man they marry.
b. Because she was the mother of all living: Adam named her Eve, even though she was not a mother at all at the time. She was not even pregnant yet. Adam named her in faith, trusting God would bring forth a deliverer from the woman because God said He would defeat Satan through the Seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15).
i. “She was not a mother at all, but as the life was to come through her by virtue of the promised seed, Adam marks his full conviction of the truth of the promise though at the time the woman had borne no children.” (Spurgeon)
5. (21) God clothes Adam and Eve in the skins of animals.
Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.
a. The LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them: God wanted Adam and Eve clothed, not naked. If nudity represented a higher, freer life, then God would have let Adam and Eve remain naked – but He clothed them.
i. “God gave His approval of the sense of shame which had led our first parents to cover their nakedness.” (Leupold)
b. Tunics of skin: In order for Adam and Eve to be clothed, a sacrifice had to be made. An animal had to die. Without shedding of blood there is no remission (Hebrews 9:22).
i. “Some creature had to die in order to provide them with garments, and you know who it is that died in order that we might be robed in his spotless righteousness. The Lamb of God has made for us a garment which covers our nakedness so that we are not afraid to stand even before the bar of God.” (Spurgeon)
ii. There are only two religions; there is the religion of fig leaves and there is the religion of God’s perfect provision through Jesus. Covering ourselves with our good works is like Adam and Eve trying to cover themselves with fig leaves. Our good works are like monopoly money – great for monopoly, but not legal tender. Your good works are essential to what it takes to live out your life, but they are not legal tender before God.
iii. Adam and Eve were clothed with a garment that was purchased with the life of another. We are clothed with a garment of righteousness that was purchased with the life of another, Jesus Christ.
c. And clothed them: This, together with the expression of faith in God’s promise indicated in the naming of Eve (Genesis 3:20), indicates that Adam and Eve were rescued from their sinful condition. Adam had faith in God’s promise of a Savior, and God provided a covering for them through a sacrifice. We will see Adam and Eve in heaven.
6. (22-24) God sets cherubim to guard the Tree of Life.
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.
a. Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil: The idea behind this phrase is difficult to understand. Perhaps there is a note of sarcasm by God here (as Elijah used in 1 Kings 18:27), regarding Satan’s empty promise to become like gods. Or, perhaps the idea focuses on man’s greater knowledge (though in a bad sense) now that he has the experiential knowledge of evil.
b. And take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever: In mercy, God protected Adam and Eve from the horrible fate of having to live forever as sinners by preventing them from eating from the tree of life.
c. The LORD God sent him out of the garden of Eden: We don’t know if Adam and Eve wanted to stay in the garden of Eden. Perhaps they felt if they left the garden, they might never see God again because it was the only place where they met Him.
d. He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden: Cherubim are always associated with the presence and glory of God (Ezekiel 10, Isaiah 6, Revelation 4). When cherubim are represented on earth (such as in the tabernacle, Exodus 25:10-22), they mark a meeting place with God. Though Adam and Eve and their descendants were prevented from eating the fruit of the tree of life (by God’s mercy), they could still come there to meet God. This was their “holy of holies.” Therefore, it was important to send cherubim and a flaming sword to guard the way to the tree of life.
i. “Any angel of the lowest rank could have dealt with Adam. The flaming sword was pointed against Satan to keep him from destroying the way of access to the altar, which God had set up.” (Barnhouse)
ii. This is the last historical mention of the garden of Eden in the Bible. We can speculate that God did not destroy it, but left it to the effects of the curse and suppose that it generally deteriorated from its original condition, blending into the surrounding geography.
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission