Discussion question: Reflecting back on Genesis 2, what, if you were Adam or Eve, would you wish you had? Discuss why.
Genesis 1 and 2 describe the beginning of God’s activity in the world and the origin story of mankind. We are left with no doubt that God is the creator and has made man and woman with purpose: to govern and rule creation. Everything that is, is there because of God.
Creation is described as ‘very good’ at the end of Chapter 1 and Adam is given the perfect equal in Chapter 2. The world is filled with all kinds of animals and plants. There is a tree of life and a tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam and Eve are free to eat from anything they see and want. If they eat from the second tree, God warns them that they will die and his command was not to eat it.
They are both naked and they both see no problem with that.
Read Genesis 3
- Fools speak
- The serpent enters the garden (1-5)
- Shame enters the garden (6-7)
- The LORD enters the garden (8-9)
- Fear, blame and deception are in the garden (10-13)
- The LORD Speaks
- The LORD speaks to the serpent (14-15)
- The LORD speaks to the woman (16)
- The LORD speaks to Adam (17-19)
- Adam and Eve must leave the garden (20-24)
The serpent enters the garden (1-5)
“Now” – a typical beginning to a change of scene. The sort of thing that marks a new section or idea in the bible (or any text).
“…the serpent…” Job 1:7 describes the habit of Satan to be roaming throughout the earth; Revelation 12:9 links the serpent to Satan and his vice of leading the world astray. While a study on the nature and motivation of Satan would be interesting, Genesis 3 simply tells us that the serpent was crafty – a signal of intelligence but sneaky and deceitful. The serpent stands out as different to the wild animals that God had made – not a citizen of God’s very good creation.
The bible gives no conclusive answer as to where and why this creature exists. We know that nothing is created outside of God and so he is a created thing (Colossians 1). Let’s move forward with the story and let that train of thought go.
“Did God really say…?” The conversation that begins is about doubting the word of God. The fact is that God DID say you CAN eat from any tree in the garden (Gen 2:16). The restriction against ONE tree comes with a loving warning that when you eat from it you will die. Seems like a good tree to avoid at all costs.
“…you must not touch it…” Eve’s response to the question takes God’s words too far. His word has been questioned and then twisted by both people. They both speak about God’s word but neither are truly listening to Him. This reminds me that many who speak bible words are not necessarily listening to them.
“…you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Here is the trick. Satan would have Eve believe that God does not want the best for Eve – he is holding something back! What Satan says appears to be true when we read Gen 3:22. The plan of Satan is to deceive. He leads the world astray. He is described as crafty. His ways are cunning and sound awfully real.
We needn’t think of the fruit as a magical formulae that alters the quality of a person’s existance – that eating it makes them God. That is illogical since they ate it and did not become God. So how are they made ‘like’ God? The image of God is a description of rule (ie, made in God’s image to rule). The best relationship with God is one where we rule as an image-bearer and listen as obedient creatures (should the clay say to the potter: you work is not good!) Mankind, in this way, rules under God. When mankind takes what they were told not to, they become the rulers with their own authority. A process that Satan had already gone through and is sharing his freedom with mankind. But this ‘freedom’ becomes a bondage to sin. We become ‘like’ god in that we no longer regard him as authority over us but make ourselves like God and know, or decide what is good and evil.
Shame enters the garden (6-7)
“…and also desirable…” James 1:14-15 describes the progress toward sin. It doesn’t happen in a snap but in slow-motion.
“…her husband, who was with her…” Adam was with her but he said nothing. Adam was with her and he sinned with her.
“…they realised they were naked…” Titus 1:15 describes how something innocent can suddenly appear impure and shameful. They couldn’t look at each other freely like they had before.
The LORD enters the garden (8-9)
“…the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden…” The LORD was present and it seems like this was a familiar sound. It is curious to imagine a woman talking with a serpent and God walking in the garden. The mechanics of this are, perhaps, a mystery but the idea of God knowing Adam and Eve and them knowing Him in a very natural way is fantastic. One day friends, we will have this again.
“Where are you?” God knows all things. The question is deeper than a hide and seek question. Adam and Eve were hiding when they had never done that with God before. They could no longer look on him like they use to because shame has entered the garden.
Fear, blame and deception are in the garden (10-13)
“…and I was afraid because I was naked…” This is a new reaction for Adam. He heard God and was afraid – not because God was present, but because he was naked. It is not God who has changed but Adam. And now, rather than a casual chat in the cool of the day (Verse 8) he dreads the meeting. Exodus 19:16 describes a future moment when God turns up and the people trembled. There was no shame in Adam in 2:25 but his perception has changed. Sin and shame are closely connected.
“Who told you that you were naked?” This question is quickly followed by the question about eating from the tree they were told not to eat from. Notice the emphasis in this chapter about who speaks what to who. Forget who told them they were naked, remember who told you not to eat from the tree!? They have crossed the line of disobedience and now experiencing guilt and shame.
I think, perhaps, this verse is quite significant. The question of ‘who told you’ suggests that they should have trusted God alone. Later, God will say that mankind must not remain in this state of knowing good and evil forever – rather, we ought to trust God like little children, and not seek to know better than him.
“The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave me…’” The blame game has begun. It’s not so much that he speaks lies, cause he isn’t, but that he is quick to throw Eve under the bus. More than that, he reminds God that it was Him who put the woman there. Rather than a quick apology, Adam looks for loopholes and how he is justified in his actions. It’s not his fault! Sin decays everything about us, even our honesty.
“The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate.’” The woman points the finger at the serpent but she admits that she was deceived and acted on the deception. Eve was fed a lie. She bought it and now stands before God. Such a simple act of taking a fruit and eating, but the deception, the lingering, the craving and so on that leads up to it – followed by the eternal mark of being a sinner – it’s just not worth it. But it is done and it cannot be undone.
The LORD speaks to the serpent (14-15)
“So the LORD God said to the serpent…” God addresses the serpent first. In one sense, he seems to agree that the blame needs to begin there – but it won’t end with him alone. God lists the curse due to the serpent.
“Cursed are you above all livestock…” honestly, I’ve not resolved what to do with this image. The serpent remains treated like a creature in the garden and we have what feels like a Dreamtime story explaining why the snake has no legs. There is a strong tie between this creature and Satan. As part of the real narrative, Adam and Eve perceive that the serpent is cursed – they visually see the results of the serpent crawling after this moment. And on top of this, Satan gets his proverb or prophecy in Verse 15.
“…he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Famously pointing to Christ who is descended from Eve and who will crush Satan’s head – but not before Satan takes a sting. The final crush will occur when Christ returns (Romans 16:20) but the first blow which has mortally wounded Satan occurred at the cross (Hebrews 2:14).
The serpent has been condemned.
The LORD speaks to the woman (16)
“…I will make your pains in childbearing very severe…” Producing new life will come with pain.
“Your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you.” A fascinating verse. Does this mean that she will love him but be dominated in return? Not quite. The change here is in contrast to how men and women were created to co-exist: there was equality, a solution to being alone and she was the right helper for him. These two were made for one another. ‘Bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh.’ But now, their existance will be a struggle. Inequality is not a problem of the creator but of our sin. I believe this speaks of losing trust with one another. She won’t simply be with Adam but will desire or crave something as if it is not quite there already, and he will not love her sacrificially but will rule. They won’t act as equals anymore. Now, look ahead to 4:7 and see how Cain’s struggle with sin is described. The language of the two verses are so close. Cain is going to have sin wanting to take over him but he must rule over it. That description of sin makes sense. Now apply that language to Adam and Eve: Eve will want to have Adam but Adam will rule over her.
The LORD speaks to Adam (17-19)
The work that Adam was created to do is not longer described as an opportunity but as a hard task. This world will not work for him easily – he must work hard to subdue it and it will bite back.
Adam and Eve must leave the garden (20-24)
“The LORD God made garments of skin…” Shame is a result of sin and yet God provides and loves his children. We see here a second moment of grace (the first hinted in 3:15). They do not die but are cared for. Notice, however, that they are clothed in skin – an animal died in order for their shame to be covered over. Remind you of anything (Jesus).
“And the LORD God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.’” The knowing of good and evil is not something that God wants man to ‘enjoy’ forever (see 3:22). God makes arrangements for Adam and Eve never to eat from the tree of Life while they are in this state. They will leave the garden, not put to death, but death will come to them. And, in God’s wisdom, this is a mercy too. This life is full of curse and trouble – it is the next life that we long for, but we need to enter it with no shame over us. We need, as Revelation tells us, to have our names written in the Book of Life – then we’ll gain access again to the Tree of Life which stands in the heart of the city of God. We don’t want to be ‘like’ God. We want to ‘know’ God and relearn how to listen to Him because all his ways are good and just. Having this knowledge of good and evil is to live in a state of fear, blame, shame, guilt, double-mindedness and deceit. Never trusting fully.
In one simple act of taking and eating, mankind turned their back on every good thing that had come from God – starting with what he had said! His command was clear and simply. They heard a twisted view of it but gave their ear to the deceiver. Sin brings conflict, fear and death but God brings grace and mercy. This is the account (known as The Fall) of why there is suffering in this world. This is the account of why we ought always to trust God and listen to Him.
Application A: Consider all that we reckon to be normal and yet is only true because of The Fall. Eg, clothing, bad language, greed, climate issues, sickness. Now discuss how we can train ourselves to long for restoration in the kingdom of heaven.
Application B: Read James 1:13-18 with Genesis 3 ringing in your ear. Sin is a result of deception and turning good gifts into evil desires. Sin is not a sickness but a twisted nature. Sin is never an accident. Note the timeline of sin in Verses 14-15. How can we use Verses 16-18 to avoid sin?
Application C: Even at the origin of sin described in the bible (Genesis 3), grace is present. The promise of the serpent crusher in Verse 15, the provision of clothing to cover up their shame and finally, being cast out of the garden is to relieve Adam and Eve of eternal misery. God’s plan is to send Jesus to take away their sin and shame by becoming sin for us and so clothe us in righteousness and open up the way again to the Tree of Life. That is one way of describing the bible story. We are part of that story if we turn our ears away from the evil one and fix our eyes upon Jesus.