Genesis 3:1-24 – The Temptation, The Fall, The Promise Of Redemption

Genesis 3:1-24 – The Temptation, The Fall, The Promise Of Redemption

When the work of God in creation was complete, the world was “very good.  But as we can all surmise things presently are “not good. Something has happened to the wonderful start. How could a loving and Holy God permit a world filled with hatred, crime, war, pollution, selfishness, corruption, and evil of all kinds to fill His creation?  There are no easy answers.  Atheists believe that the greatest proof that there is no God is the presence of evil in the world.  They suggest that either God is not good because He allows evil, or He is not all powerful to eliminate it.  This chapter explains a great deal about the source of evil in the world (Rom. 5:12). 

Is this chapter an allegory, as many of the fathers of the church believed, or were these events recorded faithfully?  The New Testament holds to the literalness of this account. (2 Cor. 11:3) “But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.” (1 Tim 2:14) “And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression.”

V 1 The Serpent – Who is this serpent? We are told in Revelation – (Rev 12:9) “And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”  (Rev 20:2) “And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years,”

The prophet’s Isaiah and Ezekiel describe him in detail: Is. 14:12-15, Ezek. 28:11-19.  He was an exalted angel who thought of himself as God.  To subject God’s creation to himself Satan began to work at gaining authority over the crown of God’s creation man and woman. To accomplish this, he took over the body of the serpent.  It is possible that at this point animals were able to communicate with man, after all porpoises can communicate as did Balaam’s donkey (Num. 22:8).  That the serpent was cursed as well as Satan is an indication that the serpent willingly allowed himself to be possessed by the adversary. The serpent is described as the craftiest of servants.   On the other hand, the Scripture in Revelation does seem to clearly declare that Satan was that serpent.  In John 8:44 we are told that the devil is a murderer from the beginning, and in (2 Cor. 11:14) “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”  His subtlety of approach here is notable, “Did God really say?”   Choosing Eve was another strategic tactic of the serpent.  Eve may have heard the command through her husband, and Satan approached her while she is alone.   There is much to be said by ministering in pairs.  She was the easier of the two to deceive, or Satan would not have chosen her to approach first.

Why would God allow this temptation?  Why not just nip it right in the bud?  The key reason is that these kinds of temptations prove and refine our faith, and ultimately cause us to love God freely rather than by compulsion.  (James 1:12‑15) “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life, which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. (13) Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. (14) But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. (15) Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.”

V. 2-3 Eve’s response to this very subtle question was to add to God’s Word.  God never said that they could not touch it.  Adding or taking away from God’s Word always leaves one vulnerable to the enemy of our souls.  (Deut 4:2) “You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.” (Prov. 30:6) “Do not add to His words Lest He reprove you, and you be proved a liar.”  

VV. 4-5 The quick response by the serpent was an emphatic negative.  “You shall surely not die”   Now this is a half truth but a complete lie.  By touching the fruit Eve will not die.  Then Satan goes on to suggest that instead of death they will be as gods, which was the very same thing that caused him to fall from heaven (Isa 14:13‑14)  “For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: (14) I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.”

Satan was suggesting that God would become jealous of Adam and Eve and that God was withholding something from them.  This is a classic argument made by unbelievers that God is vain and egotistical requiring man to worship Him and keeping man down.  But God is perfect in His essence and such things do not exist in Him.  Perfect in Holiness, Love, Mercy, and Goodness.  To worship and adore Him is to abide in His Attributes jointly with Him.  This is the same kind of temptation we face. We too want to know evil and good.  There was some truth in what Satan said for indeed their eyes were opened, but sadly we only know a distorted truth until we come to the Messiah.  We think we see and sadly we are blind.  The New Testament demonstrates the accuracy of these events.  (2 Cor. 11:3)  “But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”

(1 Tim 2:14) “And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression.”

Because Adam and Eve questioned God’s love and harkened to the voice of the tempter and acted on his suggestion and sinned by eating the forbidden fruit.  This was not a metaphor but fact.  It has become a metaphor but only because of the reality of this act.  The result is told to us in (Rom. 5:12) “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned‑‑“ (1 Cor. 15:22)  “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive.” Not only did Adam pass to all of us the legacy of death, but also the legacy of sin.

The actual act of disobedience is recorded in V. 6.  There are three things listed that appealed to Eve that motivated her and Adam to disobey God and sin.  These three are at the root of all the temptations that you and I face today.

  1. Good for food – Something that appealed to our physical, body appetites.
  2. Pleasant to the eyes – Something that appealed to the emotions and senses.
  3. Desired to make one wise – Something that appealed to the mind and spirit — to one’s pride of knowledge and insight.

This is described as the source of our temptations today in the New Testament (1 John 2:16) “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.”  Yeshua, who is described in Scripture as the second Adam would regain for man all that was lost in this action. He underwent the same temptations in the wilderness.  Part of His work was to experience the same temptations as us but not sin. (Heb 4:15) “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”  When Jesus was led out into the wilderness, we find Him similarly tempted:

  1. Food – offer of bread when He was hungry – (Luke 4:3‑4) “And the devil said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” (4) And Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘man shall not live on bread alone.'””
  • Appeal to emotions and physical senses – He was offered all the world and its kingdoms – (Luke 4:5‑8) “And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. (6) And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. (7) “Therefore, if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.” (8) And Jesus answered and said to him, “It is written, ‘you shall worship the lord your god and serve him only.”
  • An appeal to pride by offering a short cross-avoiding worldwide recognition as the Son.  (Luke 4:9‑12)  “And he led Him to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; (10) for it is written, ‘he will give his angels charge concerning you to guard you,’ (11) and, ‘on their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'” (12) And Jesus answered and said to him, “It is said, ‘you shall not put the lord your god to the test.”

V. 7 – The result of eating the fruit is immediate.  Instead of the fulfilled expectation that the serpent planted in her mind, Eve, and then Adam experienced shame. It is interesting that the focus of their shame is on the very organs that would generate and reproduce their sin in their offspring.  The very fountain of human life has been contaminated and they seem to recognize it. Their eyes were opened.  Some anthropologists suggest that shame at nudity is an artificial inhibition that is the result of civilization.  But its source is the awareness of sin.  Clothing is mentioned as worn in heaven (Rev 19:14) Except for the Garden of Eden, nakedness before anyone other than one’s own husband or wife is considered shameful (Gen 9:23; Rev 3:18).   These feelings of guilt then are not bad, but a gift of God’s grace that man might begin the process of self-examination and find life in repentance.

V. 8 – When they hear the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden.  This is evidence of God manifesting Himself in flesh before the incarnation.  Theologically we call it a theophany.  There are many such appearances in the Old Testament.  Gen. 16:7 ff, when God appears as the “Angel of the Lord.”  Gen. 18, when God appears to Abraham and sits and eats a meal with Him.  Gen. 32:24 when Jacob wrestles with the “Angel of the Lord”.  Here God is walking in the garden, and it is written in the manner of a regular event.  Instead of communing with God at his regular time of fellowship, Adam hides.  The results of their sin has become separation; from themselves, each other, and now God.  In the past fellowship with God was looked forward to, now it was something to be avoided. Fear and mistrust have replaced love and confidence.  The voice of the Lord is His word.  His voice can be heard today in the Word of God, the Scriptures.  The Word has been given to men for guidance and comfort, but it also can bring conviction of sin. (Rom 3:20; 2 Tim 3:16) Either we will be instructed by the Word of God, or we will hide from it.

V. 9-10 God calls out to Adam, God is so gracious that He seeks lost man.  He knows where Adam is but is seeking to instruct Adam of His need for Him now more than ever.  Adam’s response indicates that the fig leaves were not really working.  

V. 11-12 – God’s question to Adam asking him “who told you were naked?” Was a call for Adam to confess his sin.  He then asks if he ate from the forbidden tree.  Sin had so invaded him that the one who aspired to be a god lamely responds by blaming his wife, Eve.  Actually, he firsts blames God, “the woman you gave me”.  The very woman he rejoiced over when she was brought before him, is now he believes, the source of all his problems.  So too also is the God who created her blamed for his sorry condition.  What seems out of place here is the lack of honest confession from Adam.  Yet God in His mercy begins a process that will ultimately lead to his and the world’s redemption.  This is true grace; it is receiving the opposite of what we deserve.  In the Hebrew: chanon ‑ which is a free and spontaneous willingness to bestow good on him that is bereft of it, either in a way of kindness (chesed), or in a way of compassion (rachmones). Chanon excludes all idea of merit it is something that is freely given with no strings attached to it. 

V.13 – The woman when asked also blames God indirectly by suggesting that her action was the direct result of the serpent that was the creation of God.  Eve like Adam is not admitting her sin.  God is looking for honesty, and genuine repentance, but the fruit of death has taken its toll.  Real life is found in a genuine relationship to God.   God here is looking for His relationship with Adam and Eve to be restored.  God is merciful and does not want to punish sin, but He is holy and must.  He would impugn justice if He did not punish sin.  But God now begins a program of judgment that is both just and merciful.  A punishment that demonstrates grace and righteousness. 

V. 14-19 Begins what has been commonly called the “curse”, which actually is diverse.  There is a curse on the animal kingdom, the serpent, the woman, and on Adam and his descendants, and on the earth, or ground.  Since Adam had been given dominion over the earth, he began the process of dying with his disobedience, his jurisdiction also would begin to die.  (Rom 8:20‑22).  Everything we do has consequences.  There are times when our actions will affect others who are innocent.  Our lives can affect the world with blessing or with cursing. That is why it is so important for us to be vessels submitted to and filled with God’s Holy Spirit.  It is the way that God has provided us and the world to be touched with his redemptive love and healing.  For Adam and Eve this curse was one filled with hope.  (Rom 8:20) But with Satan the curse was final and irrevocable.  He not only rebelled against God in heaven, but now he brought his rebellion to mankind. The curse on the serpent was to remain for mankind as a reminder to mankind of the instrument used to bring our fall, and the ultimate destiny of Satan.  This animal which initially had beauty, would now slither and be an object of fear and dislike.  A serpent generally eats its prey from the ground and with it the dirt is included.  All animals were cursed but the serpent is singled out. 

V. 15-16 While the curse appears to be upon the serpent the target is the spirit behind the serpent, the devil.  Satan had now become “the god of this world” 2 Cor. 4:4. The man and the woman now had now become children of the devil.  Satan thought that now he would be able to reproduce offspring for his kingdom through the woman.  But the great deceiver was himself deceived; this verse begins God’s remedy to regain what was lost.  First, the woman would not be a willing servant of the devil.  “I will put enmity between you and the woman”.  Enmity is generally not something a normal animal is capable of. God also decreed that the woman would not rule over her husband but the husband over her.  Childbirth would not be a quick and easy process v. 16.  Then God declared that from the woman’s offspring, One would come who would crush the serpent.  The Scripture says that it would be the “seed” of the woman.  This is an allusion to the virgin birth.  The primary reference of seed here is the Messiah.  The seed of the serpent is primarily the devil, who will be crushed on the head (Rom 16:20) “And the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. 

The seed has a biological connotation but foundationally to spiritual offspring.  Satan’s seed are those who join with him in his enmity with the seed of the woman.  In fact, if you trace the history of anti-Semitism, and anti-Christian activity you will clearly recognize the fruit of the seed of the serpent.  His desire is to destroy the seed before it can bring forth the seed will destroy him.  The seed of the serpent seeks to oppose God’s purposes for the redemption of man and the world. (John 8:44) “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies.”  (Eph 2:2‑3) “in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. (3) Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.”

There is also one primary seed of the woman and one primary seed of the serpent.  The primary seed of the serpent is the antichrist (2 Th 2:3)  “Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,” (Rev 13:2)  “And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority.”  The primary seed of the woman is the Messiah, the Lord Jesus, who will crush the serpent fatally. 

It is appropriate that the woman who brought death into the world would be the vessel to bring victory over death into the world.  One of the reasons that women kindle the Sabbath and Holy day candles were the Rabbinical realization that it would be the woman who would one day bring the Light into the world.  The prophecy of Is 7:14 has implications of this prophecy.  The serpent was kept in constant dread of the one who would crush him, for he never knew from which woman the seed would come.  This is why he repeatedly seeks to destroy the vessels from which the seed might come.  Starting with Cain and Abel, the pollution of mankind beginning in Gen. 6 which led to the flood, the actions of Pharaoh, Haman, and Hitler all are attempts to thwart God=s redemptive program for the world.  (Rev 12:13) “And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male child.”

God’s grace is evident in providing the promised seed of the woman who would crush the Serpent.  God has given the honor of this blessing to the woman; in Jewish tradition this honor is highlighted by her kindling of the lights of the Holy Days.  Yet it should not be forgotten that she is subject of special judgment.  Pain in childbirth which would be “greatly multiply”.  Being the mother of all the living the pain of childbirth was and is a constant reminder of the effect of sin on the world.  The woman acted independently of her husband when she desired the “knowledge,” she believed that God was withholding this from her.  Now her husband would rule over her, and her desire would be for the man.

History has demonstrated the reality of this judgment on the woman.  She has experienced pain in many forms, physical, mental, and spiritual.  Generally speaking, man has subjected women with little regard for her feelings or needs.  It is even worse in non-Christian circles, where girls who are born are killed at birth or treated as chattel.  This was not God’s intention for “rule”.  Though the husband is to be the head of the house, he is to love and cherish his wife (Gen. 2:23-24).  The feminist movement is well justified in fighting against the injustices and cruelties long associated with male-dominated governments and customs; but they should avoid carrying such movements to anti-Biblical extremes.  Demanding absolute equality in all legal, political, cultural, and personal relationships many times thwart accomplishing change through the Spirit of God.  More change can be affected through a changed heart than through political action. In many Christian home and churches, the proper roles of husband and wife have often been distorted in one direction or another.  Eph. 5:21-33; Col. 3:18-21, 1 Pet. 3:1-7 are a few of many significant Scriptures that set down guidelines for Christian marriage relations.  

It should be noted that the curse of childbearing has also a blessing (John 16:21) “”Whenever a woman is in travail she has sorrow, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she remembers the anguish no more, for joy that a child has been born into the world.”  Each birth in some way is a reminder of God’s promise of deliverance from the curse of the world; (Rom. 8:19‑22) “For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. (20) For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope (21) that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. (22) For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.”

V. 17-19 – Because Adam listened to the suggestion of his wife God’s judgment fell on him.  God would not excuse man because he was not the cause of the fall.  Judgment came in the form of a curse on the environment he lived in.  God has made provision for forgiveness of our sin but there will always be consequences for our actions.  Instead of being freely able to provide food for himself and his family he would have to work hard.  He wouldn’t have as much free time to entertain thoughts of being a god.  Judgment is a deterrent for continued bad behavior.  The hard work also would be an incentive to look to God from time to time to ask that his load might be lightened.  This curse forced man to recognize the seriousness of his sin, as well as his helplessness to save himself and the world he lived in from destruction.  The entire creation began the process of dying.  A scientific law bears witness of this truth, the second law of thermodynamics.  This law states that all systems, if left to themselves tend to become degraded or disordered.  Evolution suggests that things are getting better while the Bible and scientific observation demonstrates that the world is decaying.

The curse included sorrow, pain, and suffering, sweat and tears, and physical death.  Jesus who was the promised seed of the woman and the second Adam came to begin the process of redemption.  He was cursed for us (Gal. 3:13), He was the man of sorrows (Is. 53:3); acquainted more with grief than any man.  He was wounded, bruised and chastised for us (Is. 53:5). He even wore as a crown, thorns. In the garden his sweat were as drops of blood, and with strong crying and tears he offered prayer and supplication (Heb. 5:7).  When he died, he experienced the dust of death (Psa 22:15) “My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.”  He bore in Himself the curse so that in the fullness of time there will be no more death, sorrow, crying, shame or pain. (Rev 21:4) “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.””  (Rev 22:3) “No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him.” Jesus’ first coming provided the means of reconciliation to God.  The filling of His Spirit in our hearts is the down payment for the ultimate redemption of the world.

V. 20 – Adam names his wife “Chavah” from the Hebrew root meaning “to live”.  This is an indication that instead of doubting God’s word this time they believe his promise that through the seed of the woman the redeemer would come. True faith in God’s word is an indication of repentance, so in this we have some evidence of Adam repenting.  The fact that there are yet no offspring may further demonstrate faith on Adam’s part.  That there are as yet no children would also be an indication that the fall happened shortly after their creation.

V. 21 God now graciously makes provision for their nakedness.  The fig leaves were not sufficient.  God made suitable clothing from the skins of animals.  Likely they saw two of their companions, probably a pair of sheep taken by the Lord and sacrificed to cover their nakedness.  This is the first time that they saw blood being shed and serves as a vivid picture of what it will take to cover our shame and spiritual nakedness before God.  The sacrificial system served as a continual reminder of man’s need for a covering or atonement for sin (Lev. 17:11). 

V. 22-24 – In His mercy God drove man from the garden lest he eat from the tree of life and live forever in his sin and separation from God.  The tree of life will appear once again when the new earth appears. (Rev 22:1‑2) “And he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, (2) in the middle of its street. And on either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”

When God declared that man had become like one of us it was spoken likely in sadness.  Prior to the fall all Adam had known was the goodness of God, now he had come to know evil.  We have an allusion to the Trinity in the statemen “Us”.  God had to “drive” man from the garden, probably because he was reluctant leave.  Perhaps they feared the outside world and the loss of fellowship with God, whose home appeared to be the garden.  To guard the entrance, God placed two cherubim with flaming swords to guard the way (Ezek. 1:4ff).  Satan once was an anointed cherub on God’s holy mountain before he fell (Ezek 28:14).  Cherubim seem to always be associated with God’s presence on His throne (Ps. 18:10, 80:1, 99:1).  In the Holy of Holies was the Ark of the Covenant and placed above that was the “mercy seat”, which was overshadowed by the likeness of two cherubim.  This was the place that once a year the High Priest entered and placed blood (Lev. 16, Heb. 9:7-9; 24-28).

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