By Sam E. Stone
What a difference a day makes! When last week’s text concluded, everything was good in the Garden of Eden. God had evaluated all of his creation and pronounced it “very good.” The one remaining need was to create a suitable companion for Adam. God gave him Eve. All was well. It was not long, however, till things changed.
Genesis 3 introduces a new character into the account—the serpent. “Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made.” Although the serpent is not identified by name as Satan or the devil in Genesis, other Scriptures confirm his identity (see 2 Corinthians 11:3; Revelation 12:9; 20:2).
The serpent was Satan’s instrument to lead humans astray. The devil began by casting doubt on what God had said (Genesis 3:1), still one of his favorite ploys today. The serpent then lied, “You will not surely die. . . . Your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (v. 5). After they ate the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve realized they were naked and sewed fig leaves together to make coverings for themselves (v. 7).
Confronting the Problem
Evidently God made his presence known to Adam and Eve in a special way, described as walking in the garden with them. God called to Adam, “Where are you?” Delitzsich wrote, “God seeks him, not because he is lost from his knowledge, but from his communion.” The first man and woman felt guilt because of their disobedience as soon as God’s presence was known. The Lord had given all the trees of the garden to them for their pleasure and enjoyment; now, however, they tried to hide among them. Such attempts always fail. “Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him?” declares the Lord (Jeremiah 23:24). On the Day of Judgment sinners will call for the rocks and mountains to fall on them and hide them (Revelation 6:16).
Prior to this time, Adam and Eve’s nakedness had produced no shame. Now it did. The serpent had told them they would “know good and evil,” but it was not the pleasant experience he described. Adam responded, “I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.” God came directly to the point: “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
Adam quickly tried to pass the blame to Eve (“She gave me some fruit”) and even to God (“The woman you put here with me”). Eve was quick to pass the blame also. (“The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”) She now realized that Satan had misled her.
God then pronounced judgment on all who had been disobedient to him—the serpent, the woman, and the man. The serpent would forever have to crawl on (his) belly and eat dust. This was “a mark of the deepest degradation” (Keil). It would have to swallow dust (see Micah 7:17; Isaiah 49:23).
Satan and all those he influences will not escape God’s judgment. The woman’s offspring crushed the serpent’s head when Jesus died for sinners on the cross. The woman would suffer pain in childbirth and her husband would rule over her. The harmony and unity that previously existed between Adam and Eve would no longer characterize their relationship.
Adam would suffer too. He had been told to work the ground and take care of it (Genesis 2:15). Now that task is made more difficult because of the effects of sin in a fallen world. He and Eve and all of their descendants would die one day. Eventually the earth would reclaim Adam’s body and he would return to the ground from which he was taken (3:19).
Enacting the Pronouncement
Genesis 3:21, 23
God made garments of skin for Adam and Eve. Animals had to die so that they could be covered. Without the shedding of blood, there can be no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22). The Lord banished them from the Garden of Eden, but even this punishment shows God’s mercy. If they had continued there eating from the tree of life, they would have been separated from God eternally. Because of Christ’s sacrifice all who put their trust in him will one day live forever with the Lord in Heaven.
Sam E. Stone is the former editor of Christian Standard. He continues his writing and speaking ministry from his home in Cincinnati, Ohio.