Genesis: The Book of God’s Kingdom – 12 (“The Fall”)
Before we can commence with the covenants in the book of Genesis, we must look at the fall of mankind into sin.
We have already seen that there were two very special trees in the Garden of Eden and these two trees symbolised two great religious principles. The two trees were the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
These two trees would play a central role in the future of mankind. God put the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden to give Adam and Eve a choice to obey Him or disobey Him. Adam and Eve were free to do anything they wanted, except eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen.2:16-17). God created Adam and Eve to be “free beings”, able to make decisions; able to choose between good and evil. In order for Adam and Eve to truly be free, they had to have a choice. There was nothing essentially evil about the tree or the fruit of the tree, but the moment Adam and Eve would eat of this tree, their eyes would be opened to evil. They would instantly know what it was to be evil, to feel shame, and to want to hide from God. If they would disobey God by eating from this tree, corruption would enter their lives and into the world. By eating of this tree would therefore be an act of disobedience against God (Gen.3:6-7).
The other tree was the tree of life, which is mentioned in the books of Genesis and Revelation, is a life-giving tree created to enhance and sustain the physical life of humanity. The tree was planted by God in the Garden of Eden (Gen.2:9). The tree of life would have been easily accessible to Adam and Eve from any point in the garden. By eating of this tree, Adam would have lived eternally, even in his fallen state. The problem is that he could not eat of this tree after the fall, because the garden was inaccessible to Adam.
But let’s read together from Gen.3 and see how this story unfolds and what happened in the garden of Eden.
2. SCRIPTURE READING:
Gen.3:1-6 (ESV) ~ “1Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3but God said, You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'” 4But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.”
3. THE FALL (vss.1-6):
In this chapter, we see the account of the temptation by the Devil. The first six verses form a unit on the temptation and the fall into sin, and the rest of the chapter records the results of the temptation and man’s choice.
God did not want Adam and Eve to sin. God knew ahead of time what the results of sin would be. God knew that Adam and Eve would sin and would thereby bring evil, suffering, and death into the world. Why, then, did God allow Satan to tempt Adam and Eve? God allowed Satan to tempt Adam and Eve to force them to make the choice. Adam and Eve did choose, of their own free will, to disobey God and eat the forbidden fruit. This decision was ultimately the impetus for the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on “the tree” (the cross) on Calvary and that is why we will again look at the covenants made by God, after we have looked at the fall of mankind.
- God’s Word and Satan’s word (vs.1a): Before Satan appears on the stage, God spoke the universe and mankind into being – His Word brought therefore order and life. But now here in chapter 3 Satan came to Adam and Eve and his word brought chaos and death. The fact that Satan came to Eve as a serpent (a snake), indicates to us that the temptation came in a disguise – Satan was indeed “shrewd” and “crafty”. The tragedy of this temptation, was that it came from a subordinate creature, one over whom humans were to exercise dominion ~ “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man” (Matt.16:21-23).
The appearance of a crafty snake prompting Eve to sin is a mystery. We can also ask the question why the serpent tempted Eve instead of Adam? Adam was the head and official representative of the human race, and to involve the race in sin it was necessary that Adam be brought to commit sin. Yet the tempter very clearly approaches Eve instead of Adam. Perhaps the reason was that the command not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil had been given by God to Adam directly, whereas Eve knew of this command only indirectly, by the word of Adam. It should also be remembered that the command was given to Adam before the creation of Eve (Gen.2:16-17).
It is also important to realise that Adam was not deceived; that is, Adam ate the fruit with full understanding that he was doing wrong. But Eve, says Paul was deceived ~ “…and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor” (1 Tim.2:14). The Devil succeeded in confusing and bewildering Eve until she was persuaded to eat the fruit. From a moral point of view, Adam’s sin was worse than Eve’s, yet it was through Eve being deceived that Adam was induced to commit sin.
- Satan’s question (vs.1b): Many questions can be asked about Satan’s appearance as a serpent – why a serpent? The text however, is interested neither in the origin of evil in the snake nor in the nature of the snake. It primarily is concerned with what the snake said and the fact that the snake was Satan himself. The most important fact about Satan was not only the fact that he disguised himself as a snake, but the fact that he raised questions about God’s commandment. The way he questioned God’s word was shrewd and calculated, because he did not directly deny God’s commandment – not yet anyway. He questioned God’s commandment in such a way that it was difficult to answer it, for it left several possible answers open. Its purpose, however, was to engage the woman in a discussion about the commandment. It gave the woman an opportunity to justify herself and defend God.
- The Woman’s response (vss.2-3): When she responded on the snake’s question, it becomes clear that she did not retain the precision of God’s commandment.
– First, she minimised the provision of the Lord. In Gen.2:16, the Lord said ~ “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat” – “…you may surely eat,” or “you may freely eat,” but the woman said ~ “We may eat.”
– Second, the Lord never said that Adam and Eve are not allowed to touch the tree, but Eve said that God told them ~ “(you) shall touch it, lest you die” (vs.3).
– Third, the woman weakened the penalty for the sin. God said in Gen.2:17 ~ “…you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” The woman twisted the Lord’s command by saying ~ “…lest you die” (vs.3). The problem does not lie with Eve paraphrasing the Lord’s commandment, but the danger lies in the weakening of the Lord’s commandment, because when one does that, the appeal to sin grows stronger.
It is clear that the Satan’s strategy was one of insinuating and instilling doubt into Eve’s mind and secondly, he used a blatant lie to induce the woman to commit sin. Eve, now was at a stage where she considered the desirability of the forbidden fruit. Satan had prepared the way.
- Satan’s knockout blow (vss.4-5): After Satan implanted doubt in the woman’s mind, Satan now advances to a direct denial of God’s truth. Having won the first round with Eve, he is now in a position to deliver his knockout blow. Up till now the snake had manifested what might be called a “religious interest in the welfare” of the woman. Now he is ready to engage in a direct denial of the truthfulness of what God has said. He gives to his lie all that he has, employing a forceful manner of expressing it. If I may paraphrase vs.4, he says… ~ “…it is not true that you shall surely die.” It’s very interesting to see that the negative comes first and receives all the emphasis, as though the evil one had screamed it out… ~ “No, it is not true that you will surely die.” Powerful negative, clearly spoken, so that Eve now has to choose between God and the devil. There can be no halfway situation; either she must come out vigorously on the side of God or she must align herself with Satan. The Hebrew places the word “not”, or “no”, in front of God’s declaration: “no – you shall surely die.” Satan dismisses God’s promise, as if he knows better.
It is also interesting to note, that the doctrine of divine judgement is the very first doctrine to be denied, but whether the devil denies this doctrine and whether the world denies this doctrine, divine judgment has fallen and will fall as surely as it did for Adam and Eve.
Satan’s attack however, does not stop here. In vs.5 he blatantly and arrogantly attacked God Himself by attacking His goodness ~ “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” God was now casted in an ugly light. According to the serpent, the threat of death was nothing more than a scare tactic to keep Adam and Eve in their place. God was repressive (Afrikaans: “om te onderdruk”), and obviously jealous that they might ascend too high. This was a blatant and incredible attack on God’s character! But Eve was believing it! This enormous lie and attack on God’s character would have unprecedented ramifications and consequences for the entire human race.
Satan’s lie was like a lure (Afrikaans: “lokaas”) to Eve – a lure that will “catch divinity” for Eve. It was as if Satan told Eve: “Take the bait Eve and you will become divine like God Himself.” She will decide what was right and wrong. She would make the rules. Isn’t this still true of sin in our day – I want it my way and I will do it may way?
- The final straw (vs.6): The serpent does not in so many words, told the woman to take of the forbidden fruit, nor is it necessary for him to do so. In the false picture that he painted, the woman looks at the tree with new eyes – eyes full of lust for divine knowledge, which was based on greed, pride and lies. This divine knowledge – this knowledge of good and evil meant that she would know everything; she shall be as God who knows everything, but in the process, she would disobey God. Her actions now, will flow from a heart that had fallen from God and was in bondage to sin.
She looks at the fruit and considers, first, that it is good for food; second, that it is beautiful to look at; and third, that it is desirable to make one wise. Then she could not withstand it anymore and suddenly the story – Eve’s sin, quickens with a rapid sequence of verbs ~ “she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate” (vs.6b): she took, she ate, she gave…
By eating the fruit, Eve really put Satan in the place of God. As a matter of fact, God’s design was for the benefit of mankind, while Satan’s design was to bring about man’s ruin. Since Satan directly contradicted what God had said, Eve had to choose between the two. Should she believe God, or should she believe Satan? Before this temptation, she had believed God. But now, when confronted with Satan’s contradiction of God, Eve chooses to believe Satan. It involved, of course, regarding God as a liar. It involved believing that God was the enemy of the human race, and second that Satan was a true friend of the human race – in Eve’s thinking, God and the devil exchanged places.
I said that Eve’s sin quickened with a rapid sequence of verbs, but there was one last verb that I withheld: she took, she ate, she gave, and then the last verb… he ate also. Eve took the fruit from the forbidden tree and gave it to Adam, who also ate it. Adam sinned wilfully, eyes wide-open, without hesitation. His sin was freighted with sinful self-interest. He had watched Eve take the fruit, and nothing happened to her – she did not die (physically at least). He sinned wilfully, assuming there would be no consequences. Everything was upside-down. Eve followed the snake, Adam followed Eve, and no one followed God. The result was catastrophic – mankind and all its descendants were doomed.
One can ask yourself, how could Adam have eaten the forbidden fruit? God had created Adam holy and free from sin. Indeed, we read, “And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gen.1:31a). This includes Adam also. Upon the created man God could pronounce the judgement, “very good.” How then could a creature that was very good do that which was evil? The man was not compelled from without to make a choice of evil. He was truly a responsible, free being, who acted because he wished to. He himself, his nature, disposition and character, determine what he will do, and in accordance with that nature, disposition and character he acts. He cannot, however, act or make choices which are contrary to his nature, disposition and character. God, for example, who is good, cannot act contrary to His nature. He cannot lie, etc. Sinful acts proceed from a sinful nature. In sinning, Adam showed that he possessed a sinful nature. Yes, Adam was created good, but where this sinful nature came from, we cannot understand and do not know, because God has not revealed how a man that is holy can change to one that is unholy. Adam and Eve were created with pure moral character, upright and holy in their nature. Yet, their nature changed, and from this changed nature sinful acts flowed forth.
4. CONCLUSION AND APPLICATION:
God did not want Adam and Eve to sin. God knew ahead of time what the results of sin would be. God knew that Adam and Eve would sin and would thereby bring evil, suffering, and death into the world. Why, then, did God allow Satan to tempt Adam and Eve? God allowed Satan to tempt Adam and Eve to force them to make the choice. Adam and Eve chose to disobey God and eat the forbidden fruit. The results – evil, sin, suffering, sickness, and death-have plagued the world ever since. Adam and Eve’s decision results in every person being born with a sin nature, a tendency to sin. Adam and Eve’s decision is what ultimately required Jesus Christ to die on the cross and shed His blood on our behalf. Through faith in Christ, we can be free from sin’s consequences, and ultimately free from sin itself. May we echo the words of the Apostle Paul in Rom.7:24-25 ~ “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.”
In summary, the following:
- God’s control was not diminished by Adam and Eve’s choice. Neither Adam and Eve, not any of us, has the choice to remove ourselves entirely from God’s control. Dependencies may shift and transform, but dependency will never go away. Without God we do not exist.
- God does not manipulate, because His sovereignty never needs to be protected from jeopardy (Afrikaans: “gevaar”).
- God’s actions are nor selfishly driven. He has no needs. God has nothing to gain. In fact, we can say that God cannot be selfish, because selfishness results form a desire to elevate oneself and meet one’s own needs. God cannot be elevated any more than He already is.
- God’s plan for Adam and Eve included more autonomy and wisdom – in the right way at the right time.
- God always makes the difference between obedience and disobedience very clear.
We as Christian’s are called not to sin ~ “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 Joh.2:1), nor to give way to the devil ~ “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). When evil thoughts molest us, we must recognise where they come from and not allow them to take over. Let us beware of covetousness (Afrikaans: “gerigheid”) and sinful desires. This is the spirit of the ungodly world under the influence of the Evil One. It is seductive and we are warned ~ “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life-is not from the Father but is from the world” (1 Joh.2:15-16). Paul also warns us to beware of false teachers who still seek to corrupt our minds and lead us away… ~ “…from the simplicity that is in Christ,” just as the serpent deceived Eve (2 Cor.11:3-15).
We saw how Moses used specific verbs in vs.6b – took, ate, gave and ate, and these verbs became verbs of damnation, but to be freed from these verbs of damnation, man needs verbs of salvation and for that, God had a wonderful plan of action ready – His Son, Jesus Christ would one day have to taste death itself!