Genesis 3. The Downfall of Practically Everything.
Key Notes: Satan is not a snake. The nature of temptation. The curse affects nature. The hidden blessings.
This chapter is loaded with ideas about the origin of evil and its consequences. It is part of our culture. Adam and Eve, the serpent and the apple, are common in cartoons as well as in sacred art. The impact of the Fall is inescapable. It is important to understand clearly and without distortion.
3:1 "Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field that the Lord God had made."
At once we are stopped. Why does such a beast exist? His character is not elaborated here and his origin is mysterious, although he is inevitably a created being. The Bible does tell us what his end is and what the end of evil is. (Rev.20:10). His fate is linked to the animals. Gen.3:14
Satan, the serpent, opposes God by pulling the humans away from Him. Elsewhere the “serpent” is called “the dragon” (Rev.12:7–17), an even more powerful and deadly creature. But Satan is no more a snake or a dragon than the king of Egypt is a crocodile (Ezek.29:3–5), or Alexander the Great is a winged goat. (Dan.8:5–8). He is more like the Satan of Ezekiel, a being, “beautiful, perfect in wisdom”, "every precious stone was your covering", and “blameless in your ways” “until iniquity was found in you." (Ezek.28:12–19). "Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. " (IICor.11:13.) He did not represent a threat to Eve.
Satan asked her, "Did God say you shall not eat of any tree in the garden?" He began with a question to open a conversation, but it contains a distortion. God said "You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day you eat of it you shall die". (Gen.2:16). So the question is whether Eve could eat of any tree.
3:2–3 Eve replied "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which in the midst of the garden --neither shall you touch it--lest you die.’"
The Serpent tested Eve's knowledge and her understanding of God. Eve made God slightly more severe than He is. She may have heard the rule from Adam second-hand.
3:4–5 "But the serpent said 'You will not die. God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.'"
The statements are partially true, importantly false. They did not die physically at once but died spiritually, bcoming separated from God. (How did he know that?) The push away from God denied God's truth, his sovereignty and his love: He was withholding "godness" from them, these humans who were made in His Image.
3:6 "When she saw that the tree was good for food, a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate;" The pull was esthetics-- taste and looks-- and power. It is reminiscent of John's command: "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world--the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life...." (IJn.2:15)
"She gave some to her husband and he ate." Adam was passive and pliable. If he had been responsible, blocking the serpent out, pulling her away, and repeating God's command, the outcome might have been different.
3:7–8 Now nakedness was a threat to them. They hid from each other, and from God behind fig-leaf aprons. And they had become like God, "as one of Us, knowing good and evil." (Gen.3:22). Death had already occurred; they were separated from God and they were also estranged from each other.
3:9–11 God called "Where are you?" as He calls to each of us. Adam came out of the bushes and said he was naked and embarrassed. God asked "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?" That is the only way Adam could have perceived his nakedness. He now knew good and evil by experience and he was guilty and ashamed of himself.
3:12–13. Adam weakly blamed the woman God gave him. God challenged her and she blamed the serpent. God did not allow Satan to answer or participate.
3:14–15. The curse on the serpent: He was cursed above all animals, to go on his belly and eat dust--signs of humiliation. There will be hostility between the serpent and the woman (?hatred of snakes), between her seed and the Serpent’s seed. He (the Seed of the Woman) will bruise the Serpent's head; you (the Serpent) will bruise His heel. Common consent makes this passage a prophecy that Christ and Satan will be in mortal combat, Satan wounding Christ; Christ destroying Satan. It is the first Gospel, the first Good News.
"... the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet." (Rom.16:20).
3:16. The Curse on the woman was severe pain in childbirth (the pain of delivery is 10 on a scale of 1- 10), yet her desire will be for her husband and he will rule over her.
3:17–19 The Curse on Adam was that, because he listened to his wife and disobeyed, the ground was cursed, so that it will not be easy to earn his bread, and weeds will interfere and frustrate him. He will die and go back into the dust from which he was taken.
3:20–24 God made them skin garments, implying that animals were sacrificed. God knew they could not return to innocence again and provided for their physical needs. Then God forced them out and put a cherubim with a flaming sword to keep them from returning, and eating of the tree of life. Immortality was denied to them.
Seven easy steps on the path of sin:
I listened to the Deceiver.
I doubted what God had commanded.
I doubted that God is good. I believed a lie.
I wanted autonomy and power.
I was drawn by my eye, my mouth, and my mind.
I pulled my partner into the web.
I blamed the Deceiver for my error.
The seven-fold Curse:
*Fellowship with God was gone. Love for God was lost.
*Love for his partner was betrayed, muddied. That is a strain on the marriage.
*The Serpent was disgraced and his doom prophesied.
*Child-birth will be extremely painful. This will create another strain on the marriage.
*Her husband will rule over her. Another strain on the marriage.
*The man's work will be hard and futile. A strain on the marriage; he will come home tired and frustrated.
They were dismissed from the Garden. Death is the end of the road.
And the creation suffered as well. "...the creation was subjected to futility..." (Rom.8:20)
“It is interesting” as Francis Schaeffer notes, “that almost all of the results of God’s judgment because of man’s rebellion relate in some way to the external world. They are not just bound up in man’s thought life; they are not merely psychological. Profound changes make the external, objective world abnormal.” (Genesis. J.M. Boice; Baker,’98. p.224)
“This is of great importance. For if the effects of sin are solely in the mind, then we may imagine that sin (or all of the effects of it) may be cured by thought. We do not need God. We do not need a deliverer. In actuality, however, the effects of sin are not merely psychological, though sin does affect the mind and personality; they are also external—in the very nature of things, we might say—so the cure must be found in the God who made these things and brought these specific aspects of His judgment on the world. ” (op.cit.)
There is , however, a six-fold blessing: God gave blessings partially hidden in the Curse:
*Satan will eventually be destroyed by Christ.
*Although child-birth will be painful, the woman will desire her husband. This will be a help to the marriage.
* His rule over her will become a spiritual model of Christ and the Church. Eph.5:21-
*Work, although frustrating and exhausting, is far better than idleness. That also may be a help to the marriage.
*Even death may be a blessing at the end of life.
*God makes them clothes, recognizing their frailty in an increasingly hostile climate.
When it is all said and done, we ask the question: where did sin come from? Being given everything on earth but God’s unique knowledge and power, they wanted more. They decided that God did not have their interests at heart and yielded to the temptation to get more, to be as gods. The tap-root of sin is pride. The deception of sin is that God is not good. It is the "mystery of lawlessness." (IIThes.2:7) Why did God allow it?
The effects on their offspring were horrendous. (Rom.5:12–21). The first of their strength, their first-born son, was a murderer. There was a slippery slope of spiritual decay which will be detailed in future chapters. God will have to rescue humans again and again.
When Satan tempts, resist and stand up against Him. (Jam.4:7; Eph.6:13; I Pet.5:8,9). You have an escape route. ICor.10:13