Last week we spent our time thinking about the first eight verses of chapter 3 and the way the Serpent, or the Devil, tempted Eve. And I suggested that he used three approaches which he still uses today to tempt us. First of all, he undermined Eve’s confidence in the goodness of God. Even though the Lord had been good and generous to them, inviting them to eat the fruit from virtually every tree of the garden, nevertheless, the Devil got her to focus on the one restriction the Lord had imposed on them. He got her to think about the one tree which they weren’t allowed to eat from. And he got her to think about this restriction, this one thing God was preventing her from doing. Isn’t God mean? Secondly, he undermined her confidence in the truth and authority of God’s word. When Eve explained to the Devil what the Lord had said and how they would die if they took the forbidden fruit, the Devil replied:
You will not surely die. Don’t listen to what he has said. God’s word is wrong.
Thirdly, he lured her into sin with a bait. Just as a fisherman uses bait to lure the fish towards the hook, so the Devil used the promise of what Eve would get if she ate the forbidden fruit as the bait to lure her into sinning against the Lord. ‘If you eat the fruit’, he said, ‘your eyes will be opened. You’ll become like God. Wouldn’t you like to be like God?’ He dangled the bait in front of her, and she went for it. And the Devil tempts us in the same way today. He tries to persuade us that God is being mean to us. He tries to persuade us that God’s word isn’t true. And he lures us into sin by promising us good things. And so, we need to remember God’s goodness towards us, and we need to remember that his word is true, and we ought to remember the great reward that God has promised to give to his faithful people.
So, that’s what we were thinking about last week. Well, before we move on today to look at the consequences of their sin, I wanted to spend a few minutes thinking about Adam’s failure. You see, so far we’re been thinking about how the Serpent tempted Eve and how Eve was taken in by him. And, once she had eaten the forbidden fruit, she gave some to Adam, who was with her, and he ate it too. And I suppose it seems that Eve is more to blame because she was the one who sinned first. It seems that she’s more to blame because if it weren’t for her, Adam would not have sinned.
However, I don’t think we can say that. We can’t say that Eve was more to blame than Adam. And here’s why. Some of the Bible scholars have suggested that the Garden of Eden was designed by God to be a kind of temple. It wasn’t just a garden. It was a garden-temple. And they say this for various reasons.
For instance, think about the temple in Jerusalem. What was it for? Well, it was the place the Israelites went whenever they wanted to meet with God. Though they understood that God was present everywhere, they also believed that God had chosen the temple as his home. It was his dwelling place. And so the people went to the temple to meet with God and to worship him. But before the temple was built, and even before the tabernacle was built in the days of Moses, there was the Garden of Eden. And Adam and Eve used to meet the Lord God in the garden. And in the garden, God came and met with his people. And so, in verse 8 of chapter 3 we read how the Lord God came walking in the garden in the cool of the day. And the word Moses uses here suggests that this was something the Lord did regularly. He went walking in the garden to meet Adam and Eve regularly or frequently. In other words, God met with his people in the garden just as he met with his people in the temple.
Or think about what was in the temple. There were various objects and pieces of furniture in the temple in Jerusalem, but among all the various objects and pieces of furniture there was the lampstand. And the lampstand, you might know, had seven branches on it. In other words, it looked like a tree. It looked like the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden.
Or then, in the descriptions we have of the temple, we read how it contained carvings of flowers and trees. In other words, pictures in the temple made it look the Garden of Eden which was the first temple.
Or, the entrance to the temple in Jerusalem faced east as did the entrance to the Garden of Eden.
For these reasons, and for more, several Bible scholars think the Garden of Eden was designed as a garden-temple. It was the first place where God made himself known to his people.
Now, what’s the significance of that? Well, go back to verse 15 of chapter 2. What does it say? It says that the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden to work it and to take care of it. Now, if the garden was just a garden, then that means Adam was to look after the garden by watering it and by tending the flowers and by doing all those others things a gardener needs to do in order to ensure that the flowers and plants in the garden grow well. But the verbs Moses uses in verse 15 of chapter 2 can also be translated as to ‘serve’ and to ‘guard’. And so, Adam was to serve God in this temple-garden just as the priests and Levites used to serve God in the temple in Jerusalem. And, just as the priests and Levites were to guard the temple in Jerusalem, so Adam was to guard the temple-garden in Eden. And the way to guard the temple-garden was for him to prevent anything unclean from entering it. He was to ensure that the temple-garden remained a suitable place for God to meet with his people. Nothing unclean, or sinful, should enter it. But by letting the Serpent into the garden, by letting the Devil come into the garden, Adam failed to do what God had called him to do.
So, look at verse 6 of chapter 3 again. Adam was with Eve when the Serpent was tempting her. What was he doing? Was he just standing there with his hands in his pockets, not bothering to intervene? So, what should he have done? Well, he should have shooed the Serpent away. He should have driven it from the garden. The Serpent didn’t belong in the garden-temple and Adam was given the responsibility by God of guarding the garden. But he didn’t guard it. So, we can’t blame only Eve. Adam should have driven the Serpent out of the garden. And by letting the Serpent remain, he gave the Serpent the opportunity to tempt his wife. And first Eve and then Adam took the forbidden fruit.
So, that’s my first point today. We can’t say Eve was more to blame than Adam because Adam was given the responsibility of guarding the garden, and he didn’t do anything to prevent the Serpent from getting into the garden and spoiling it.
Verses 8 to 13
So, what happened once the Serpent succeeded in tempting Adam and Eve? Well, look with me now at verses 8 to 13. And you’ll see from those verses that they did what we tend to do whenever we do something wrong. When we’ve done something wrong, and we’re ashamed of ourselves, and we’re afraid of being punished, we want to hide, don’t we? And that’s what Adam and Eve wanted to do.
First of all, they wanted to hide their nakedness, so they made coverings for themselves. But secondly, they wanted to hide from the Lord. Now, think about this. Up until this time, they had no reason to hide from the Lord. And so, we can imagine them, on previous occasions, hearing the sound of the Lord as he walked through the garden in the cool of the evening. And we can imagine them running out to meet him. And they would have been glad to see him:
Here’s our faithful Father who has been so good to us. Let’s go and see him. Let’s go and tell him about what we did today.
So, think of the child who is bursting to tell their Dad about their day and they’re so happy to see their Dad when he arrives home from work. That’s what it was once like in the Garden of Eden. But, on this day, Adam and Eve didn’t want to run out and to see the Lord. They wanted to hide from him. And they wanted to hide from him because of what they had done.
And, of course, what happened whenever the Lord began to question them about what they had done? Well, they began to blame one another, didn’t they? Adam blamed the woman. Or perhaps he’s blaming the Lord himself for making the woman and for putting her in the garden with him. And Eve blamed the Serpent. And that’s what we do, isn’t it? When we’re found out, whenever our own shortcomings are exposed, we try to shift the blame onto others. But the Lord was not persuaded by what they said. And so, in verses 14 to 19 he passes sentence on the Serpent, first of all, and then on Eve, and then on Adam.
Well, we’ll come back to what he said to the Serpent. For the moment I want us to concentrate on what he said to Adam and Eve and on the penalty he imposed on them and us because of their sin.
So, first of all, he turned to Eve in verse 16. And we should notice that the sentence he passed on her is connected to the family and the home. First of all, he says that he will increase her pains in childbearing. and with pain you will give birth to children.
Well, the birth of a child is an occasion for great joy, isn’t it? How happy the new mother and father are whenever their child is born. And with joy and excitement they telephone their family and friends and tell them the good news. But, before the child is born, what agony the woman has to go through and what pain she has to endure. Even with all the benefits of modern medicine, childbirth is still a difficult and hard experience.
And, of course, not only is there the pain of childbirth, but often the period of the pregnancy beforehand can be difficult. And then there are all the worries and fears that something might go wrong with the birth or there might be some complication.
So, there’s the difficulty of pregnancy. There are all the worries that something might go wrong with the birth. Then there are all the labour pains that the mother must go through. And once the baby has been born, it’s not long before the parents discover that they have to face all kinds of worries and fears and troubles and heartache as they watch their children grow up.
This is not the way things were meant to be. And every time a parent suffers because of their children it’s a reminder to us of the way we have turned away from the Lord who created us to enjoy something far, far better than this.
Secondly, the Lord tells Eve that the relationship between husbands and wives will also be ruined because of their sin. In chapter 2, we read how a man and his wife will be united and will become as one flesh, loving one another, relying on one another, trusting one another completely. They’re a perfect fit for each other. That’s the way God intended it to be. But now, because of their sin, the woman’s desire will be for her husband and he will rule over her. Do you see that in the second half of verse 16?
Now, what did the Lord mean by ‘desire’? Well, it’s possible that he meant that the woman will love her husband and will long for him to look after her and to care for her. In other words, her desire for him will be a good thing. But, instead of loving her and caring for her, the husband will be abusive towards her and he will hurt her. It might mean that. However, the word for ‘desire’ here is also used in chapter 4 where God warned Cain that sin ‘desired’ to overpower Cain. Sin was like a crouching lion which wanted to leap on Cain and to dominate him. Moses uses the same word in both cases. And if that’s how we’re to understand what the Lord means in chapter 3, then it means that the woman will desire to overpower her husband and to dominate him. And he, in turn, will respond by trying to overpower and dominate her. In other words, there will be conflict at home. Instead of loving one another with a perfect love, they will compete with one another and will argue with one another and will fight with one another.
Well, those of us who are married know something of what the Lord is talking about here, because isn’t that what family life is often like? The home can be a battle field and husbands and wives not only love one another, but they also fight against one another bitterly. Well, that’s not the way it was supposed to be but that’s the way things have become because of Adam and Eve’s sin. And every time a married couple argue and fall out, it’s a reminder to us of the way we have turned away from the Lord who created us to enjoy something far, far better than this.
Verses 17 to 19
So, the Lord passed sentence on Eve and the sentence he imposed on her was connected to the family and the home. So, what did he say to Adam? Well, that’s what verses 17 to 19 are about. And we learn from these verses that the sentence he passed on Adam was connected to his work.
Now, think again about the way God made the world. Do you remember how he looked at all that he made and he pronounced it very good. And when he made made trees for the man in the beginning, they were both good for food and pleasing to the eye. There was an abundance of good things for Adam and Eve to enjoy. But now? The same earth that produced trees that were good for food and pleasing to the eye was going to produce thorns and thistles. And whereas once it was a joy to work the garden and to tend the plants, now it was going to be a struggle for Adam. Look at verse 19:
By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food.
Work is going to be hard now. And it’s not just gardening and farming that will be hard, but every kind of work will be hard and frustrating and demanding.
So, think about your own work. Students at school and college are made to study subjects which they find demanding and difficult. They can’t understand what the teacher is saying and always there’s the worry that they’re going to be examined on these things at the end of the year. And it doesn’t get easier when we’re older, because so much of our work is tiring and frustrating and difficult. And often the people we work with are hard to get on with. And whereas work can be enjoyable and rewarding, it can also be soul-destroying and difficult. And, for those who work at home, housework and looking after the family are just as demanding and difficult. And every day when we struggle at work it’s a reminder to us of the way we have turned away from the Lord who created us to enjoy something far, far better than this.
But that’s not all the Lord said to Adam. By the sweat of his brow he will do his work, and all throughout his life he will struggle and life will be hard and full of misery. And in the end, God says at the end of verse 19, he will die for dust you are, and to dust you will return. And so, the chapter ends with God banishing Adam and Eve from the garden. And at the entrance to the garden, God placed an angel with a flaming sword, flashing back and forth, to guard the way back to the Tree of Life. While they were in the garden, the tree was there and they were free to take its fruit. But now, because of their sin, they’re prevented from eating from its fruit. And instead of living for ever, they must die. And every time we stand at a graveside and watch as the body of someone we loved is lowered into the ground, it’s a reminder to us of the way we have turned away from the Lord who created us to enjoy something far, far better than this.
So, because of their sin, the joy that God intended us to have in our families is now spoiled by pain and suffering and worry and fear and fighting. And because of their sin the joy that God intended us to have when we worked is now spoiled by frustration and fatigue and troubles. And because of their sin, life gives way to death. And whenever we experience any of these things which spoil our life in this world we’re reminded of Adam and Eve’s sin and how we have all turned away from the Lord who made us and who intended us to enjoy something far, far, far better than this.
But here’s the thing. Even though the Lord passed sentence on Adam and Eve and described for them briefly the misery that would befall all of us, there’s also evidence of God’s grace and kindness in what he said to them. Mixed in with his words of judgment, our words of grace and kindness and goodness. In other words, it’s not all doom and gloom. Let me show you.
First of all, go back to verse 9 where the Lord called out to Adam:
Where are you?
Now, we believe the Lord knows everything. We believe that we cannot hide from him or run away from him because he sees all things and he knows all things. So, he knew where Adam was hiding. He didn’t need to ask Adam where he was. The Lord knew. So, why did he call out to Adam? Well, it’s because he’s the Good Shepherd and the Good Shepherd goes looking for his lost sheep and he calls out to them to come to him. And we know that whenever he calls us — and remember he calls us now through the preaching of his word — when he calls us, we should go to him straightaway. And straightaway we should confess our sins and our shortcomings to him. And whoever confesses our sins and shortcomings to him will discover that our Good Shepherd is willing to pardon us for all the ways we have gone astray. So, in verse 9 we see the Good Shepherd calling his lost sheep.
Then, think about what the Lord said to Eve. Yes, he will increase the pain of her childbearing, but — and it’s a big ‘but’ — but she will still give birth and will still experience the joy of having children. And yes, the home can sometimes be a battlefield, but — and it’s a big ‘but’ — still husbands and wives will be united to one another and they will love one another.
And then think of what the Lord said to Adam. Yes, the earth will produce thorns and thistles and work will be frustrating and difficult. Nevertheless, the earth will still produce food and we will still have enough to eat.
Do you see? It’s not all doom and gloom. Though the world as we know it falls far, far short of the perfect world God made in the beginning, nevertheless, our lives are still filled with good things and God still gives us plenty of reasons to rejoice and to be thankful.
And then look at verse 21. The Lord made garments for them to cover their nakedness. He knew they needed something to cover them and he knew the coverings they made out of fig leaves weren’t any good. And so, because he is full of kindness, he made them proper garments.
But finally, we see the Lord’s grace and mercy towards Adam and Eve and to all his people in his words to the Serpent. Look with me now at verses 14 and 15. Notice, first of all, that the Lord cursed the Serpent. He didn’t pronounce a curse on Adam or Eve, but he pronounced a curse on the Serpent. And then he announced that from now on the Serpent, or the Devil, would crawl on its belly and eat dust all the days of its life. Now, that’s an expression which conveys the idea that the Serpent, or the Devil, has been beaten. We say the same kind of thing, don’t we? We talk about people having to eat dust whenever they’ve been beaten. And so, the Lord words in verse 14 re-assure us that the Devil is not free to do whatever he likes. He’s under the power and authority of the Lord God.
And then, look at verse 15 which is a wonderful verse because it speaks to us of the Saviour. The Lord said to the Serpent, or the Devil, that he would put enmity between the Devil and the woman and between his offspring and her offspring. And look at the last two lines. The Lord said:
He will crush your head and you will strike his heel.
In other words, one of the woman’s offspring will crush the Devil’s head and the Devil will strike at his heel.
Well, what’s the difference between a blow to the head and a blow to the heel? Well, a blow to the heel will hurt. Perhaps you’ll jump up and down for a while because it’s so sore. Perhaps you’ll have to stay off your feet for a few days. But a blow to the heel is certainly not fatal. But a blow to the head is fatal. And so, here’s the Lord announcing that while the Devil will hurt the woman’s offspring, he — whoever that is — will destroy the Devil.
Who’s the Lord talking about? Well, he’s talking about the Lord Jesus who was born into the world as a man, and as a descendant of the woman Eve. And he suffered so much when he went to the cross and died. And it seemed that the Devil had beaten him whenever the Lord Jesus died and was buried. But no, it was only a blow to the heel and it wasn’t to be a fatal blow. And sure enough, the Lord Jesus rose again from the dead and he conquered death and he has defeated the Devil so that now, in his life, he sets us free from the Devil’s tyranny and he bring us into his kingdom. And one day, when he comes again, our Great Redeemer will utterly crush the Devil and destroy him completely just as the Lord God promised here in Genesis 3.
And so, do you see? Even as the Lord passed sentence on the Devil and on Adam and Eve, the Lord was promising to send into the world the one who would free us from our sin and misery. Though the world was spoiled by Adam and Eve’s sin, the Lord was planning to send his Son to make things right again.
And so we ought to remember the grace and mercy of the Lord and give thanks to him for his kindness towards us. And we ought to praise him for sending his Son into the world to deliver us from our sin and misery and to rescue us from the Devil’s tyranny.
But also, we must make sure that we fight against the Devil with all our might. Look again at verse 15. The Lord referred to this ongoing enmity between the Devil and his offspring on the one hand and Eve and her offspring on the other hand. And as descendants of Eve, we need to resist the Devil whenever he tempts us instead of giving in to him as Adam and Eve did. We need to stand firm whenever he tempts us to disobey the Lord’s word. We must remain faithful to the Lord and obedient to his commandments. Instead of making peace with the Devil, we must keep the enmity, the hatred, that God has put between us and we must remain on guard against all of his wicked schemes. As long as we remain alive in this world, the battle will continue. But every new day we can look to Jesus Christ our Saviour, who has overcome the Devil, and we can seek his help to fight against the Devil and to stand firm in our faith. And we can continue to hope for what we have not yet seen, which is the complete victory of the Lord Jesus Christ and the complete destruction of the Devil which will take place when Jesus Christ returns. And on that day, we will be invited into the presence of God and we will be invited to take from the Tree of Life and live for ever and ever.