Category Archives: GENESIS 3 Part 2

The fall of man, and God’s response to it.

Genesis 3 Part 2

In part 1 we learnt that the serpent was used by Satan himself to deceive the woman, and to cause her and her husband to eat the fruit of the tree God had commanded them not to eat.  We now see the varied consequences of that act of rebellion and disobedience.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF GENESIS CHAPTER 3, VERSES 7 TO 13

3:7  And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

3:8  And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.

3:9  And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

3:10  And he said, I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

3:11  And He said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?

3:12  And the man said, The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.

THE RESULTS OF THE FALL OF MAN

3:7  And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

And the eyes of them both were opened- as the Devil said they would be.  But how different was the real consequence to the imaginary consequence he had spoken of.  They do not see good and evil as gods, but as sinners.  Instead of being a great blessing, as Satan suggested, it was seen to be a great calamity.  They now know the difference between good and evil, whereas before they only knew good.  And they find that their hearts are now inclined towards the evil, and away from the good. 
And they knew that they were naked- before, it is said that “they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed”, Genesis 2:25.  Completely comfortable in one another’s presence, no evil, lustful thought crossed their minds.  All was innocent and pure.  How different now!  Sin had perverted their holy relationship into one of lust rather than love, and consequently they are embarrassed in one another’s company. 
And they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons- feeling keenly their shame, they do what men have done constantly since that day, namely, seek to remedy the situation themselves.  But how can polluted, sinful hands ever manage to do deeds that please God?  It is instructive to notice that before the sins of men are spoken of in Romans 3:13-18, (as the apostle shows that we are “all under sin”), he writes of the nature of man, that he is unrighteous, does not understand; does not seek God; is gone out of the way; has become unprofitable.  Only then does He say, “There is none that doeth  good, no not one”, verse 12.  In other words, the reason man does not do good is because he is not good.  His nature renders him unable to do that which is in harmony with the character of God.

 So it is here.  By nature sinners, they have no understanding as to what will really cover their shame.  They may satisfy themselves for a time, but soon they are to meet God.  How will it be with them then?  They will find that all their righteousnesses will be seen as “filthy rags”, Isaiah 64:6, and as such, distasteful to God.

3:8  And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.

And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day- before, they would have welcomed another opportunity to commune with God.  Now, all is different.  Not only has sin disturbed their relationship with one another, but it has broken their relationship with God.  Sin always does this.  “Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, Isaiah 59:2.  Those who know the cleansing of the precious blood of Christ know what it is to walk in the light of God’s presence, and have fellowship with Him, 1 John 1:7.

The voice of the Lord God may refer to the sound of Him walking in the garden.  The sense of the word “walking” is that He was walking up and down, enjoying the beauty of His handiwork, and longing that the man and his wife were there to enjoy it with Him.  God the Father is now longing to bring His people into an increased enjoyment of the glories, not of the natural world, but the spiritual truths concerning His Son.  This is the secret of true and full joy, as the apostle John indicated in 1 John 1:4, “these things I write unto you, that your joy might be full”.  The things he wrote about being what he had seen and heard with regard to God’s Son.  The Father enjoys those things perfectly;  He desires that His people come into the good of them also.  How easily we are distracted, however, to our great spiritual loss.

Notice that God did not call out immediately.  He was no doubt waiting for the man to take the initiative in confession of his sin.  He should have been like the prodigal of a later day, who said, “I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father I have sinned”, Luke 15:18.  Or as Hosea said to the people of his day, “Take with you words, turn unto the Lord”, Hosea 14:1.

We begin to learn here something of the loss that sin brings to God.  Having made intelligent creatures, with a will able to respond to Him, God sought their communion, and most of all, their worship.  Sin had made inroads into heaven, however, and some of the angels who before had worshipped God, defected.  Now a like thing has happened on earth.  But in one sense it is worse, for angels cannot multiply, but man can, and a multitude of men and women are going to be born in a state of alienation from God.  Instead of the spiritual refreshment found in God’s presence, as illustrated by the physical refreshment in the cool of the day, they will be tormented by an evil conscience.
And Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden- notice that the title of God used in these verses has reverted back to that of chapter two.  In chapter one it was God the All-powerful Creator who was at work.  Then He manifested Himself as Lord God, the One who is always there, and who can be relied upon in every way.  Eve rejected that character of God, and believed the devil when he implied that God could not be trusted.  Yet He is still Jehovah, the Unchanging.  He cannot and will not change.  So it is that He comes as He always did, seeking communion with Adam and his wife after their work for the day was done. 
Sadly however, although God has not changed, the man and his wife have.  They may be more comfortable in the presence of one another because of the fig leaves, but they are not comfortable with the presence of God, and so they seek to hide.

3:9  And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?- God gives no name to the person of whom He is asking the question.  Yet the Scripture makes it clear that He was calling to Adam.  The man is the one responsible for the situation.  It was to him that the command about the tree came, and he is first in guilt, if not first in transgression.  Adam is head of the race, and as such must match that great privilege with great responsibility.  This he failed to do, with disastrous consequences, not just for himself, but the whole of mankind.

The fact that Adam had to be asked where he was would indicate that he and God had a pre-arranged meeting-place; yet he was not there.  How different is the situation in Eden to that of John 1:38,39.  There, disciples are seeking the presence of the Lord Jesus, and are rewarded as they dwell with Him.  The location may be in the wilderness and not a paradise, but the presence of the Lord makes all the difference. 

3:10  And he said, I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

And he said, I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid- the voice that once he delighted to hear now fills him with dread.  He and his wife have rebelled against what God said before, failing to fear with believing fear, and now that voice is feared with sinful fear.
Because I was naked- this suggests that they either heard the voice before they sewed the fig leaves together for aprons, or that he still feels himself naked despite the fig-leaves.  Notice that Adam does not say he was afraid because he had sinned; he is not prepared to confess the real reason for his fear.  He has not yet repented.
And I hid myself- by this statement he admits that his apron of fig leaves has not successfully covered him, as far as God’s all discerning eye is concerned.  “All things are naked and opened before the eyes of Him with whom we have to do”, Hebrews 4:13.  He has tried to hide behind leaves, and behind trees, but in neither case is he successful.

Now that man is in a state of distance from God, there is only one who can bring us back.  “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time”, 1 Timothy 2:5,6.  He it is that has “once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God”, 1 Peter 3:18.  He Himself declared, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father but by Me”, John 14:6.

3:11  And He said, Who told thee that thou wast naked?  Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?

And He said, Who told thee that thou wast naked?- the question is calculated to get Adam to confess he now has a guilty conscience, and it is this that has caused him to fear God.
Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?- of course God knew the answer to this question, but as is often the case, He is seeking to bring out a confession from the guilty party.  The question is not “Have you listened to the lies of the Devil?”  The sin is in relation to God, whatever the other issues involved.  David realised this in his repentance psalm;  “Against Thee, Thee only have I sinned”, Psalm 51:4.  In fact he had sinned against his own body, against Uriah, Bathsheba, Joab, and the whole nation.  But in the final analysis sin is against the God who has condemned it in His word.

3:12  And the man said, The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.

And the man said, The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me- there now follows a sad sequence of evasion and blaming others.  Worst of all, Adam tries to blame God for his own failure.  If God had not given him the woman, then he would not have sinned!  How many there are who try to blame God for that which happens either in their own personal lives, or in the world generally.  God is not the author of evil, nor can He be, for “He cannot deny Himself”, 2 Timothy 2:13, which means He can never act contrary to His nature, and since that nature is light and love, then evil is not something He is able to be or do.

It is sad to hear Adam speaking like this, for God had indeed given him the woman to be with him, but not so that she could usurp his authority and take of the forbidden fruit, but so that she could be a help rather than a hindrance.  The goodness of God is seen in His provision. What Adam did in response to that provision is entirely up to him.

She gave me of the tree, and I did eat- not only does Adam appear to blame God, but now he is blaming the woman, as if he had no power to resist her suggestion that he eat.  But we cannot thus shirk our responsibilities.  As Ezekiel wrote, “the soul that sinneth, it shall die”, Ezekiel 18:20.  The emphasis in that quotation being on the word “it”.  In other words, the person sinning is the person responsible, whatever and whoever else was involved.  Sin is an act of the will contrary to God, and cannot be committed by proxy. Adam is here admitting that he was led astray.  Yet he was the one who was told about the tree by God, and because of this, his was the overall responsibility.  He has surrendered his will to another’s, always a dangerous thing, unless it be the surrender of the will to God.

For the moment, God makes no pronouncement on Adam’s sin, as far as he personally is concerned.  He leaves that until He has interviewed the woman.  It is important to realise that the judgement of God against Adam’s sin had already been passed.  For the apostle Paul declares in connection with Adam’s trespass, that “the judgement was by one to condemnation”, Romans 5:16.  Adam had clearly transgressed God’s clearly stated command, so he was guilty, and the judgement, the pronouncement of the sentence, went against him, and because it was against him, it was against all who come from him and share his nature.  The judgement the apostle is referring to being the spiritual one of dying spiritually.  The judgement of God as expressed in verses Genesis 3:13-16 is physical and temporal, rather than spiritual and eternal. 

3:13  And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done?- building upon what Adam has said, God now seeks to gain from the woman a confession.  Alas, it is no more forthcoming than it was with Adam. 
And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat- she seeks to avoid blame by pointing to the beguiling of the serpent.  But by blaming the serpent she is admitting that his word had more influence over her than God’s.  And this is a disastrous position to be in.

In principle it is the same position that the Corinthian believers were in, for the apostle feared that just as the serpent had beguiled Eve in his subtilty, so their minds would be corrupted from “the simplicity that is in Christ”, 2 Corinthians 11:3.  Single-hearted devotion to Christ will prevent the believer from becoming a prey to the enemy.

THE WORDS OF THE BIBLE, THE CHRISTIAN SCRIPTURES, AS FOUND IN THE BOOK OF GENESIS CHAPTER 3, VERSES 14 TO 24

3:14  And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:

3:15  And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

3:16  Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

3:17  And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;

3:18  Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;

3:19  In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

3:20  And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.

3:21  Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

3:22  And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of Us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

3:23  Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

3:24  So He drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

THE RECOMPENCE OF THE FALL OF MAN 

3:14  And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:

And the Lord God said unto the serpent- there is no cross-examination of the serpent, (the first part of the sentence is on an animal without moral sense, the second part on the Devil who is given no right to reply, for he is apostate, and beyond hope), but God goes straight away into declaring the penalty to be imposed on him.  The order of the judgement is the order of the sin: serpent, woman, man.  whereas the order of the examination is man, woman, serpent.

We note in these verses that there is a two-fold division to what God said to each.  As for the serpent, it is first judged, and then the Ancient Serpent who was behind it is judged, in verse 15.  Then the woman is judged as to the physical consequences of her action, and then her changed relationship to her husband. Finally, Adam is judged physically, with hard work imposed upon him, then the statement, “Dust thou art”, speaking of the moral consequences of his actions.
Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life- the literal serpent was used to cause the fall, so it must be a constant reminder of the fall, that men may learn that sin is always judged.  The creature is to be cursed more than the beasts of forest and field.  They share in the general bondage of corruption and subjection to vanity that creation presently knows, but the serpent is to be condemned over and above this.

The fact that from that point on it would go on its belly would suggest that it did not do so before.  And the fact that its food would now be contaminated by the dust, and it would take it in with its food, shows that this was not the case before.  As was suggested on verse 1, this serpent may once have been a beautiful flying creature, the counterpart on earth of the angels of heaven.  Now it is to be loathsome and venomous, a creature likely to be trodden under foot of man.

A further way in which it was cursed above the cattle is that when creation is delivered by Christ when He comes to earth to reign, the serpent, although deprived of its venom, will still go on its belly, and eat dust with its food, Isaiah 66:25.  Thus all through the millenial reign of Christ there will be a reminder of the entrance of sin and its consequences.

3:15  And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman- the Lord now turns to the Ancient Serpent who has used the animal serpent to beguile the woman.  There is to be mutual enmity between him and the woman.  Animals cannot show enmity, although they can react to present circumstances.  The reference therefore is to Satan himself.  The cause of this enmity is going to be the role of the woman in bringing in the Promised Deliverer.  And more than this, the woman is going to repent and believe, and thus be on the side of those opposing the Serpent.  She will begin to hate what Satan has done, and Satan will hate what she is to be used for, in the purpose of God.  We see reasons for this change of heart by the woman as the history unfolds.
And between thy seed and her seed- Satan now has a certain control over men because they are sinners.  They have a nature that responds to evil and error, and indeed, gravitates towards it.  It was precisely because Christ told the truth that men did not believe Him, for their hearts were only responsive to error, John 8:45.  As a result, men can rightly be described as “of their father the Devil”, as the Lord Jesus said, John 8:44. 
On the other hand, there would be a line of believing men, traceable down through the years, who would culminate in the Seed of the Woman, Christ Himself.  Many would be the attempts of Satan to eradicate that line, but he would not succeed, and Christ would be born. 

He would use Cain to murder Abel.
Evil spirits to cause the flood.
Esau to hate his brother.
Pharoah to destroy the male children in Israel.
His cavalry to try to drive them into the Red Sea.
Goliath to attempt to kill David.
King Saul to do the same.
Athaliah to destroy the Seed Royal.
Nebuchadnezzar as he made the princes of Judah eunuchs.
Haman as he sought the extermination of the Jews; and so the sorry list can go on. 

Even after Christ was born, the hatred did not stop, for Herod sought the young child’s life; the men of Nazareth tried to fling Him from the top of the hill; the men of Jerusalem took up stones to stone Him.  In all these ways the enmity of Satan towards Christ was manifest.
It shall bruise thy head- there is a sense in which all believers, whether of Old Testament or New Testament times, have bruised the head of the serpent.  The apostle Paul declared to the Christians at Rome that “Christ shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly”, Romans 16:20, a reference to the Second Coming of Christ, when He will share His victory with His people.  A reference, also, in a lesser sense, to the way in which Satan would be defeated if his attempts to cause division amongst the believers was prevented, for this is the subject of the verses previous to the one just quoted.

Notice that there is nothing to indicate that the bruising will result in immediate death for the serpent.  So it is that Satan has had his head bruised constantly, and one day will meet his eternal doom in the Lake of Fire.  The pre-eminent place of bruising was at Calvary, when the Prince of this world came, and yet had nothing in Him; there was nothing at all in the Lord Jesus that answered to the Devil, John 14:30.
And thou shalt bruise his heel- just as the bruising of the head of the serpent did not result in immediate destruction, so in this phrase there is no thought of the serpent dealing a death-blow to the Seed of the Woman, whether considered as Christ Himself or His people.  The Lord Jesus has met and defeated the Devil by His death on the cross, as Hebrews 2:14 states.  The Devil had no power over Him in the ultimate sense, even though he had the power of death over the rest of men.  He had this power over them because they have a sinful nature, and “the wages of sin is death”, Romans 6:23.  The wise man said, “There is no man that hath power over the spirit to retain the spirit; neither hath he power in the day of death”, Ecclesiastes 8:8.  The Lord Jesus said explicitly, however, as regards His life, “No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself”, John 10:18.  It is true that, as the apostle Peter said on the Day of Pentecost, “ye by wicked hands have crucified and slain”, yet nonetheless, He was delivered by “the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God”, Acts 2:23.  And Pilate needed to learn that he had no power at all against Christ, (even though the death penalty was in his jurisdiction), except it were given him from heaven above, John 19:11.  God had given him a sword to execute criminals, not to execute the “Just One”, Romans 13:3,4.  Only with God’s permission could Pilate use the sword against Christ.  So it is that the Lord Jesus laid down His life of His own will, and not because of the will of men or devils.  Nevertheless, the Devil did bruise His heel, causing Him extreme pain as he confronted Him at Calvary. 

3:16  Unto the woman He said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

Unto the woman He said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception- it is fitting that the woman who had brought so much sorrow into the world by her rebellion against God, should herself know much sorrow.  It is by birth of a woman that we come into the world, and so the sorrow is connected with that event.  In this first phrase the sorrow is linked with conception, and the woman is to have discomfort and pain in connection with this area of her life. 
In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children- not only before and at the time of the carrying of a child would she have pain, but also in the act of childbirth also.  “The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now”, Romans 8:22, and it is suitable that she who brought this in should share in that groaning and travail.  The Lord Jesus said, “A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world”, John 16:21.  He went on to liken the sorrow of the woman to the sorrow His disciples would feel when He left them to go to Calvary.  But He also likened the joy a mother feels when her child is born to the joy the disciples would have when He rose from the dead and appeared to them again.  So it is with creation, for when the Son of God comes into the world again, the groaning and travail will cease, and joy will begin.
And thy desire shall be to thy husband- in other words, she would long to please him.  Perhaps some psychological change came over the woman whereby the equality she had originally was disturbed.  Only as a believer in Christ can the woman be restored to this equality, but this time on a spiritual level.  There is equality amongst Christians as far a privilege and blessing are concerned, although there is still a need to maintain the headship of the man.
And he shall rule over thee- in 1:26 dominion over the animal creation was given equally to the woman and the man, but the woman failed to control the serpent, and was controlled by it.  The fact that this rule of the man over the woman is a judgement, shows that it was not the position before, for there was no tendency in the woman before that needed Adam to exercise rule over her.  All is changed, now, however.  The woman had allowed her affection to be diverted, and she no longer loved Adam as she should, or else she would not have encouraged him to eat the forbidden fruit.  She had not consulted him before eating herself, so she now must be under his rule, to prevent the same mistake again.  Since she is to be the mother of all living, then this effect of the fall will be passed on also.

3:17  And unto Adam He said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;

And unto Adam He said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife- he disregarded God’s command, and hearkened unto the voice of his wife, and so became afraid of the voice of God.  We do not read in the previous verses that the woman spoke to Adam about eating of the tree, but she must have done so.  In 1 Timothy 2:11-14 the woman is forbidden to speak in the Christian assembly, and the account of the fall, and the fact that the woman was deceived, is given by Paul by the Spirit of God as the reason why the woman is not to teach.  The fact that this command is based upon the original sin of the woman shows that the prohibition is not “cultural”, or “local to Corinth”, as some would have us believe.  It is an abiding and universal principle.  No company that disregards this has the right to call itself a Christian church.

The apostle goes on to speak of the woman being saved in childbearing.  In other words, by occupation with the things God has fitted her to do, she will be saved from hankering after a position God has not given her.
And hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it- the root cause of the judgement is now pinpointed, namely Adam’s failure by eating of the tree.  It was a sin for him to listen to his wife’s suggestion, and it was a sin to eat like she had done.  He had abdicated his responsibility in one, and rebelled against God in the other.  The command to not eat had come to him alone at first, (Not “ye shall not eat”, but “thou shalt not eat”), and he was responsible for passing it on to his wife.  The Lord emphasises that it was a command that Adam disobeyed.  It was not a suggestion, but the word of command of their Creator and Moral Governor.  He, as the head of the creation, should have set an example to the rest of creation, but he failed miserably.
Cursed is the ground for thy sake- we have here the beginning of the bondage of corruption of which Romans 8:20-22 speaks.  Creation has been affected by the corruption that Adam brought in through his sin.  The fact that the apostle speaks of bondage would suggest that everything is in some way restricted and bound.  Car mechanics talk of brakes “binding”, when something restricts their free movement.  So perhaps every particle that revolves in the universe, (for everything is in circular motion), does so at a slightly slower rate than before the fall, thus affecting all the processes that are at work in the natural world.  When Christ comes, however, that bondage will be removed, Romans 8:21, and creation will know the liberty of glory, as it will once again be to the praise of its Maker.  This is why the psalmist was justified in calling all creation to praise God in that glorious millenial day, Psalm 148.  See also Revelation 5:13, where John hears every creature ascribing praise to God.

Notice that the ground is cursed for Adam’s sake, for in judgement God remembers mercy, Habakkuk 3:2.  It is not in the best interests of men to have a life of luxury and ease.  Ezekiel describes one of the sins of the wicked city of Sodom as “abundance of idleness”, Ezekiel 16:49.  By being engrossed in the daily toil that the curse imposed upon him, Adam would be prevented from committing the sins that idleness gives time for.  It was when the rich and foolish farmer was planning to be at ease after his bumper harvest was safely in his barns, that the word came to him, “This night shall thy soul be required of thee”, Luke 12:19. 
In sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life- it is fitting that since Adam allowed sorrow to come into the world, he himself should share that sorrow, and should do so all his life.  Note that God speaks of Adam’s life here, thus showing that there is no discrepancy between God’s warning “in the day thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die”, and the fact that Adam lived for 930 years.  The one is spiritual death, the other natural.

3:18  Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;

Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee- this is part of the cause of the sorrow, that other plants than those that were useful would spring up.  No doubt they were there before, but now their constitution is altered, and they are harmful and useless for food.  When Christ reigns all this will be changed, and “instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree”, Isaiah 55:13.
And thou shalt eat the herb of the field- As animals had not been given to man to eat at this stage, Adam is to eat of the plant foods that he would grow.  This would involve more toil than if he were simply a cattle raiser, or only ate fruit. 

3:19  In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread- note that it is sweat running down the face after strenuous exertion, not beads of sweat resting on the forehead after light activity.  Adam is condemned to hard labour.  He had despised the freely available fruits of the garden, (for which he had not worked, for God had planted the garden), and preferred the one God had banned; now he must feel the consequences.

There was another garden, and another man.  He too, is sweating.  But His sweat in  the Garden of Gethsemane is “as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground”, Luke 22:44.  And why so?  It is a known medical fact that great trauma of soul can produce this phenomenon.  And the soul-anguish of Christ is caused by the prospect of Calvary, and the suffering it would entail for Him. 
Till thou return unto the ground- note there is to be no retirement period, for he is to toil until he dies.  The labour imposed on him will be a lesson to him as long as he lives.
For out of it wast thou taken- God had taken the dust of the ground to form Adam’s body, and now, as to the body, he is to return to the dust.  This says nothing about his soul and spirit.  The references in these verses are to the effects of the judgement of God on the bodies of the sinning pair.  If they subsequently turn to God and receive spiritual life, their bodies will still return to the dust, awaiting resurrection.  Man is “of the earth, earthy”, 1 Corinthians 15:47.  He was originally made from the earth, (of the earth or dust), and therefore is fitted for life on earth, (earthy).  The apostle explains in that chapter how those who have flesh and blood bodies may be changed so as to be able to live in heaven. 
For dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return- made from dust, remaining dust, and returning to dust.  Such is frail, mortal man.  Even Abraham, the Friend of God, spoke of himself as “dust and ashes”, Genesis 18:27.  Only in Christ are these things transformed.  For the first man was “of the earth, earthy”, (or “of the dust, dusty”), but “the second man is the Lord from heaven”, 1 Corinthians 15:51.  He, the Lord Jesus Christ, shall come from heaven with great authority, (hence He comes as the Lord from heaven), and shall bring His people into the resurrection conditions He knows already.

The first man Adam was made a living soul, but the second man is a life-giving Spirit. He, although true man with a body, operates on the highest level, that of the spirit, and shall impart to His people a new sort of body, one that is dominated by the spirit and not the soul.  By rescuing the bodies of believers from the dust to which they returned at death, the Lord Jesus shall deliver them from their last link with Adam, and fit them for the glories of the Father’s House on high.

But what of those who are still living when He comes?  How shall they who have not died have resurrection bodies?  This was a mystery which the apostle proceeded to explain in 1 Corinthians 15:51-54.  Not only will “corruption”, (that is, bodies that have corrupted in the grave), put on incorruption, (or incorruptibility, for the resurrection body will not only be incorrupt initially, but always so), but “mortal”, (that is, bodies which, although tending to death, have not yet died), shall put on immortality, or deathlessness.  So it is that the results of the sin of Adam as regards the body shall be reversed, as far as believers are concerned, and they will triumphantly sing, “O death where is thy sting?  O grave, where is thy victory?”  1 Corinthians 15:55.

As far as unbelievers are concerned, however, Ecclesiastes 12:7 says “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return to God that gave it”.  So man is not just dust, for he has a spirit too.  Daniel also says, “Many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake…some to shame and everlasting contempt”, Daniel 12:2.

The Lord Jesus has been given authority to execute judgement, because He is the Son of man.  As the one who came among men as a man, He has given men the opportunity to respond to Him in faith. And this opportunity extends until now, for the gospel records preserve for us the historic facts as to His life here, so that we may respond to Him even after so many centuries.  Those who refuse His grace will meet Him as their judge.  Said He, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good unto the resurrection of life; they that have done evil to the resurrection of damnation”, John 5:28,29.  Having been thus raised, all unbelievers shall stand before the great white throne of God, and hear their everlasting doom pronounced.

WAYS IN WHICH GOD IN THE MIDST OF WRATH REMEMBERED MERCY:
 He did not cause the man and his wife to die physically immediately, but gave them space to repent.
 He condemned the serpent in such a way that it was a constant reminder of the fall it had been used to bring about.
 The woman’s sorrow in matters of pregnancy reminds constantly of the sorrow and pain sin brings.
 The woman’s sorrow when having children is associated with bringing another sinner into the world.
 The ground was cursed “for man’s sake”.  It is a mercy that he has not so much time to sin.
 The thorns and thistles constantly remind Adam of the change to creation his sin has brought in.
 Man was condemned to work hard, so his energies are spent on this, not wickedness.
 Man sees his fellow go to dust, and is constantly reminded of the solemnity of sin and the certainty of death.
 God provided coats of skin, to show that by sacrifice man could become acceptable in His sight.
 God drove out the man, thus reinforcing His displeasure with man’s sin.  He is reminded that sin bars from God’s presence.
 God places the cherubim and the flaming sword, to prevent man being locked into eternal sinnership.

3:20  And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.

And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living- what will be the response of Adam to these things?  Will he rebel further, and protest that he is badly treated?  He offers no complaint, and no response to God’s word is recorded.  But he does assert himself, and continue the process that was begun before the fall.  Then, Adam had named the beasts, thus recognising his authority over them, 2:19.  At that time he called his helper “woman”, for she had been taken from his side, so he looked to her origin and named her accordingly.  Before, Adam had  named the animals, and woman, because God brought them to him, he now renames the woman on his own initiative, and calls her “Eve”, for she was to be the mother of all who would live upon the earth.  Adam is now naming the woman in relation to the future.  By so doing he is partially regaining his control over things, and is also signalling the fact that he has taken to heart the things God has spoken.  He had referred to childbirth, and children, and Adam believes God, even though he has never seen a baby.

It is interesting to note that modern genetics is slowly coming round to the idea that all who live on earth are descended from one woman.  They have even named her “Mitochondrial Eve”.  Thus what has been in the Bible for centuries, and what, also, has been ridiculed for centuries, is increasingly shown to be true.  Those who continue to ridicule the Bible would be well advised to reserve their judgement.

Adam seems to realise that despite the death and sorrow his sin has brought in, God will, in some way not clear to him perhaps, bring in life, and he believes this will come in through the woman.  As indeed it has, for He who is “the Life”, John 14:6, has come into manhood.  He could say, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly”, John 10:10.

3:21  Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

Unto Adam also and to his wife- that is, for the man and his wife.  The provision was made for them specifically and personally.
Did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them- here is the Divine remedy for their nakedness.  It is important to realise that the word “skin” is in the singular.  So there was one skin, implying one animal slain, yet more than one benefited.  Adam had made aprons of fig leaves that wither and die, and thus become useless.  This clothing is of a skin whose owner has already died, and which will not fade and wither into uselessness.  Adam had made a covering using the product of a cursed earth, whereas God provides a covering from the result of sacrifice.  Adam made a covering which was clearly ineffective, for he still hid amongst the trees of the garden when God came to commune.  The fig leaves may have made them more comfortable with one another, but they were not comfortable in the presence of God, and showed it by hiding.

One reason the covering that God provided was superior was that it represented important principles that would be brought out more fully later on.  In Hebrews 9:22 we learn that without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins, and when Israel became a nation this was impressed upon them by the system of animal sacrifices God instituted.  Yet even this was not God’s final will in this matter.  When He came into the world the Lord Jesus said, “Sacrifice and offering Thou wouldest not, but a body hast Thou prepared Me:  in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.  Then said I, Lo, I come, (in the volume of the book it is written of Me), to do Thy will O God”, Hebrews 10:5-7.  Then the writer to the Hebrews goes on to say, “He taketh away the first, that He might establish the second.  By the which will we are sanctified by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all”, verses 9,10.  So there is the first will of God, represented by animal sacrifices, then the second will, represented by the supreme sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Himself at Calvary’s cross.  And this second will is established, it will never be superceded by a third, nor will God revert back to the first.

Now there are three things we may say about these coats of skin now that we have seen what they foreshadow in terms of the sacrifice of Christ:
 First, that there was atonement symbolised, for an innocent victim had lost its life, instead of Adam and his wife doing so.  This is one reason why the penalty for sinning did not include physical death that day, for the animal sacrifice would rescue them. 
 Second, there was acceptance, for instead of having to hide from God, He Himself has made them fit for His presence.  Although He drove out the guilty pair from the garden, they still had the opportunity of approaching Him, as Abel demonstrates in the next chapter. 
 Third, there is the responsibility of displaying these truths in practice, as they wore their coats.  In later times, the priest who offered a man’s bullock was entitled to have the skin.  So the outward excellence of the animal, that which had contributed to make it acceptable for sacrifice, is now displayed in daily life by the priest.  So it is that believers, having received the remission of sins through the sacrifice of Christ, and having been made acceptable in God’s sight, are now given the responsibility of displaying the virtues of the One to whom they owe their all.  The apostle Peter wrote of this when he described believers as holy and royal priests, (for every true believer in Christ is a priest), to “show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light”, 1 Peter 2:9.  The work of Christ in sacrifice does not simply provide a covering over the top of a sinful person, so that he is outwardly respectable.  God gets to the root of the matter of sin, and deals with the nature of man.  So it is that those who believe the gospel are not simply clothed with righteousness, (although they should display a righteous character to others).  God imputes righteousness to the believer, thus thinking of them as absolutely righteous, not because of them, but because of Christ.  “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him”, 2 Corinthians 5:21.

3:22  And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us- Satan’s lie to the woman had an element of truth in it, for the man did begin to have the knowledge of the difference between good and evil; and this God has perfectly.  The tragedy was that they acquired the ability to do evil, and the inability to do good.  In this they were very unlike God.  Verse 22 is the account of the conversation that went on amongst the Godhead regarding the situation as it now presented itself.
To know good and evil- with God, the possession of the knowledge of good and evil is safe, with rebellious man it is dangerous.  Adam now has a nature that tends to evil even though it knows the good.  But notice that God does not say “Adam is become”, but “the man is become”, for Adam includes within himself all those that came after him, for the name Adam simply means “man”.  So what became true of Adam, has become true of all men, the Lord Jesus excepted.  We all have a nature that enables us to know evil, but does not enable us to turn from it completely.  Nor does our nature give us power to do good perfectly.

The apostle Paul felt this keenly.  In Romans chapter 7 he describes his misery as he tried to please God by means of law-keeping, and without recourse to the power of the Spirit of God.  He tried to go it alone, and lamented at the end of the chapter that he was a wretched man.  It is worth quoting his words:

“For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.  For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.  If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.  Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.  For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.  For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.  Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.  For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:  But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.  O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?  I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin”, Romans 7:14-25. 

So what is the answer to this dilemma the believer is confronted with?  It is found in Romans chapter 8, where the apostle explains that the secret of victorious Christian living is found in the twin truths of the link we have with Christ in resurrection, and the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit.  There is a marked difference between the ending of chapter 7, and the ending of chapter 8, where the apostle expresses the triumph he knows through the power of God:

“What shall we then say to these things?  If God be for us, who can be against us?  He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?  Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth.  Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written, For Thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.

 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord,” Romans 8:31-39.

And now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever- there seems nothing to indicate that the man and his wife were barred from the tree of life before.  Now, things are different.  The unhappy pair are sinners, and to eat of that tree now is to be preserved in a state of sinfulness for ever.  We see the grace of God in exercise again here, for in mercy He bars them from the tree.  Believers will have access to the reality that the tree in the garden of Eden represented, for the promise to the overcomer is to eat of “the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God”, Revelation 2:7, a reference, no doubt, to the Lord Jesus, who is “The Life”, John 14:6, and “our life”, Colossians 3:4.  In a similar way, but using a different metaphor, the Lord Jesus said to men, “I am the living bread that came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever”, John 6:51.  But since the bread is His flesh, which He would give in sacrifice, it is not a matter of sinners eating and living for ever, but those who rest on Christ’s work in sacrifice, and who therefore are freed from their sin.  These, and these only, have the life He offers.

This sentence seems to trail off into silence, as if Divine persons cannot bring themselves to express the horror of man being preserved in sin for ever, without any hope of remedy.  This gives us insight into the heart of God, as He contemplates the sorry state man is in.  He who is God manifest in flesh displayed this same attitude of God, as He wept over the city of Jerusalem, and lamented their refusal of Him, Luke 19:41-44, for “they knew not the time of their visitation”.

It would be as well for sinners also to recognise the horror of being banished from God for ever, and respond to the call of the gospel.  God is still rich in mercy, Ephesians 2:4.and presents His Son and the sacrifice He made at Calvary as the effective answer to man’s deep need as a sinner.

3:23  Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden- in 2:15 the man had been placed in the Garden of Eden, but now he is sent forth from it.  The man is learning that God is in control in all situations.  The coming in of sin has not toppled God from His throne as the Governor of the Universe.  We might well remember this, and bow to His authority.

The words “sent…forth” are the same as are used of the scapegoat in Leviticus 16:21.  That animal was sent forth as a substitute, bearing the awful load of the peoples’ sin.  Thus we are reminded of the two options we have- bear our own sin and be banished eternally from God’s presence in consequence, or rest in the Bearer of Sin, Christ Himself, and receive the forgiveness of God.  Those who are made fit for the presence of God shall “have right to the Tree of Life, and may enter in through the gates into the city”, Revelation 22:14.
To till the ground from whence he was taken- before, Adam was put in the garden ” dress it and keep it”, for God had already planted the garden, and he was simply to keep it beautiful.  Now he is condemned to till the open field for himself.  What an exchange!  A beautiful garden planted by Another for him, or a barren, cursed, unplanted field, that he must cultivate by hard labour until the sweat runs down his face.  Such is the choice we make if we rebel against God.  As the proverb says, “The way of transgressors is hard”, Proverbs 13:15.
As he bends over the soil, he is constantly reminded that he is going to dust.

3:24  So He drove out the man; and He placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. 

So He drove out the man- this phrase summarises verses 22 and 23.  “So” reminds us of verse 22, “He drove out the man” reminds us of verse 23.  So this refers to what is now past.  We are now informed of what God also did. 
And He placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubims- it is one thing to drive out the man, but what if he tries to return?  To prevent this, the cherubim are stationed at the eastern end of the garden.  These are angelic beings that guard the very throne of God in heaven, and preserve the integrity of that throne when a situation arises that might compromise it.  Such a situation had occurred when Lucifer, one of their number, (“the anointed cherub that covereth”, Ezekiel 28:14), had rebelled against God.  That rebellion was successfully defeated, and now that man has joined in the rebellion, he must be frustrated also.  But whereas Lucifer’s expulsion was final, man’s was not so, for God would make provision for his return, under the right conditions.  But those conditions were not that he return in his sin.

In later days, the cherubim were represented in the tabernacle, the portable sanctuary that Israel had in their midst as they travelled through the wilderness to the promised land.  Those golden cherubim overshadowed the ark of the covenant, and God dwelt between them.  They were also embroidered in the vail that barred man’s entrance into the presence of God.  So they served the same purpose in the tabernacle as they did in Eden.  If man is to enter the presence of God, the demands these cherubim represent, even the righteousness of His throne, must be met.
And a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life- so there are two ways in which the way to the tree of life is guarded, by the cherubim and by the flaming sword.  It is not expressly said that the cherubim wield the flaming sword.  It seems to be self-supporting.  (After all, there is more than one cherub, but only one sword).  The sword is later on used as a figure for the execution of the justice of God.  Those who are in authority over men have been given the sword figuratively, to punish evildoers, Romans 13:1-4.  This sword is flaming, to draw attention to it, to warn man off, (even at night), and to remind him that God’s justice is active, and not to be trifled with. No matter from which way man comes, the sword confronts him.  Some come by way of good works, others by religion, but whichever way they come, as Cain found, there is an impassable barrier to the presence of God.

The cherubim in the tabernacle allowed only Aaron in to the presence of God as the representative of the people.  And Scripture says that he came “not without blood”, Hebrews 9:7.  To attempt to come without blood was to die.  So it is that before ever he approached the immediate presence of God, Aaron stood at the altar, which was at the eastern end of the tabernacle courts, and killed a sin offering.  And it was because that sin offering satisfied the demands of God’s righteousness, he was allowed into the presence of God.  All this is a parable, an illustration God graciously has given so that we may learn the conditions by which we may enter His presence.  Only because Christ has offered the once-for-all sacrifice for sin, can those who repent and believe in Him have access to God.

At Calvary the words written in Zechariah’s prophecy came to pass, “Awake, O sword, against My shepherd, and against the man that is My fellow, saith the Lord of Hosts”, Zechariah 13:7.  (A verse the Lord Jesus applied to Himself in Matthew 26:31).  At the place called Calvary the sword of Divine justice “turned every way”, but not to keep the way of the tree of life now, but to make the way wide open.  Justice was satisfied in all its aspects at Calvary.  The sword came upon Christ from every angle.  It was a flaming sword, too, for the fierceness of the burning of God’s anger against sin was felt keenly by the Holy Sufferer.  He was spared nothing, for God “spared not His own Son”, Romans 8:32.  The penalty was not lessened because it was His Son paying it.  The fires of anger were not moderated, the judgement was not slackened.  And because this was so, the justification that comes through trusting in His work is sound and certain.  So it is that the believer in the Lord Jesus can say with confidence:

“Therefore, being justified by faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand,
and rejoice in hope of the glory of God”.
Romans 5:1-2.