Genesis

Genesis 3 The Fall And The Covenant Of Grace.

Adam and Eve were given all good things which God had made, including each other. There was only one restriction, one probation test. We do not know anything about the actual fruit on “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (2:17), but from this descriptive we learn two things about it. First of all, it was a tree of knowledge, showing that the first test for humanity was one of epistemology-would we accept God’s revelation of what is true knowledge or would we seek autonomy. Secondly, epistemology is inseparable from ethics, for it was “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Therefore, we also presumed to define right and wrong.

This test involved all of humanity because according to God’s sovereign will He decided to make Adam the representative of us all (Cf. Hos. 6:7). As Paul made clear-all humanity sinned in the sin of Adam (Rom. 5:12). He did not say that all men became sinners through Adam’s sin, he said that all men sinned in the sin of Adam. Therefore, in Adam we all died (Cf. Rom. 5:14; I Cor. 15:22a). This covenantal representation is also reversed under the same federal principle as we now know in Christ (Cf. Rom. 5:15-19; I Cor. 12:22b). The result of death, in the case of Adam, stems from God’s just and inescapable wrath (Cf. Rom. 1:18-19; 3:9, 19; 5:17, 21).

It should also be noted that Adam and Eve knew that this was a choice for death, which God had warned them would happen. They were also given the tree of life, but they chose to sin against God by breaking His commandment, chose to eat from the tree that would bring death, choosing this tree over the one whereby God promised life (Cf. Gen. 2:9; 3:24). It is also abundantly clear that Adam and Eve were real human beings who lived at the dawn of history. This story is no myth, but it is historical fact in our space time reality. He is included in the genealogy of the human race (Cf. Gen. 5:10-11; Lk. 3:38), and referred to by Christ as a real historical figure (Mt. 19:4).

Satan disguised himself, possessing a snake, and the focus of his attention was to call into question God’s word (v. 1). Eve answered Satan by adding to God’s word and thus distorting it, because God did not say they could not touch the tree (vv. 2-3). This was the first appearance of the ugliness of humanistic legalism-adding human restrictions onto the word of God. The second stage of Satan’s strategy was to then give a contradictory word to God’s, and in the process to pass judgment on God’s character (vv. 4-5). Satan was in effect saying that God was not good and had lied to Adam and Eve about the tree and His command.

What God declared would result in death, Eve saw as “good for food” (v. 6a), thereby she decided she knew better than God, and questioned His judgment. Instead of being guided by the word of God, she resorted to follow the worldview of secular humanistic naturalism. By her own observations she determined that the fruit of this tree was “pleasant to the eyes” (v. 6b). The fruit may very well have been pleasant to the eyes, but this was not to be the determiner of true knowledge or to be by itself the determiner of what was right or wrong. The bottom line was she desired the fruit because she thought it would make her wise and equal with God (v. 6c Cf. I Jn. 2:16).

When it says that she gave some of the fruit to Adam who was “with” her, it is assumed by some that this meant that He was physically by her side this whole time. However, this need not be the meaning here. More likely it simply means that he was with her in the garden. She gave some of the fruit to the only other human with her in the garden. Note this well-she ate of the forbidden fruit that God warned about, and would have felt the shame of this reality (v. 25), but she went ahead and gave some of the fruit to Adam, even though he may not have known exactly where the fruit came from.

It is only the latter explanation which makes any sense of the judgment that would follow, a point which Paul also makes. Paul said that it was the woman who was deceived and not Adam (II Cor. 11:3; I Tim. 2:14). If Adam were physically by her side and listening to the entire discussion between Satan and Eve, then even though he is presumed to remain silent during this activity, he still would have also been deceived. Instead, it is quite possible that Eve made no mention of where the fruit came from. Eve was acting autonomously and would no more inform God’s representative then she would heed God’s word.

Adam’s failure, before the actual eating of the fruit, was as God judged, that he accepted Eve’s word, instead of exercising the headship which God had given him, and question Eve about the fruit. Ultimately Adam placed Eve’s word over God’s, just as Eve placed Satan’s word over God’s. The result became a guilty conscience and attempt to cover one’s own guilt before God (v. 7 Cf. Job 31:33). They now feared God’s presence and desired to hide from Him (v. 8). He called unto Adam, and what they were really hiding from was God’s voice (vv. 9-10). God asked them two questions: who else were they listening to, and did they break His command?

This is how sin always works. Humanity listens to other voices and in the process rejects God’s voice. Adam blamed Eve, but he was correct when he said that he listened to her voice (v. 12). Eve also made a true confession, when she admitted that she listened to Satan (v. 13). God does not question them further, because they confessed correctly. Instead He moves to judgment. The judgment begins where the rebellion began-with Satan. There is no judgment on snakes here! None of the other creatures were given accountability but Satan and humanity. Paul also made clear that the whole of creation was subject to futility “unwillingly” (Rom. 8:20).

It is silly to suggest that snakes were judged and that this judgment consists of being made to crawl on the ground. God made all sorts of creeping things, and like the rest of creation they were made very good (Cf. 1:24-25, 31). The judgment of verse 14 is every bit as much only applicable to Satan as is verse 15. He would be cursed “more than” these creatures, because unlike them he was accountable and willingly rebelled (v. 14). Satan thought himself crafty by possessing a snake, but his judgment would be that he would be cursed more than a snake by eating dust. In the kingdom promised dust will still be the serpent’s food (Is. 65:25).

Satan’s licking the dust refers to his ultimate defeat under the foot of the Seed of the woman. God’s judgment on Satan is a promise for redeemed humanity. The promise of enmity is ultimately the promise of Satan’s defeat by the Seed and those of His family. Satan also has a family, and from this beginning gospel promise, these two seeds have continued on through history in this spiritual battle of enmity. Therefore, those who are God’s enemies are Satan’s friends. There is no neutral ground. The nations that follow after Satan will also “lick the dust like a serpent” (Mic. 7:17). This is a messianic promise. “His enemies will lick the dust” (Ps. 72:9).

Women would now suffer painful labour in childbearing. They will desire to rule their husbands, but the latter will exert their rule over them (v. 16). Adam, because he heeded the voice of his wife instead of the Lord’s, would find the ground cursed, only yielding fruitful labour through a lot of sweat. Food will still come from the earth, but now we must also contend with thorns and thistles (vv. 17-19a). However, in the exercise of his headship, Adam named his wife, and in an act of grace he named her Eve, “because she was the mother of all living” (v. 20). From grace, Adam chooses life.

Symbolic of this covenant of redemption, God clothed the newly redeemed couple. However, it was more than symbolic, for God had to shed blood to give them their coverings, and in so doing they learned that this new covenant of grace came only through the shedding of innocent blood on their behalf (v. 21 Cf. Lev. 17:11). Nevertheless, their bodies would return to the dust from where they came (v. 19b). Life on this earth would now reach a termination point (v. 22). The garden paradise was lost to humanity. Redemption was the only way back. In the meantime, life on this earth is accompanied by toil, pain, and much labour (vv. 23-24).

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