Genesis: The Book of God’s Kingdom – 14 (“Man and his Rebellion- The Fall and the Resultant Curse – 02”)
Playing the “blame-it-on-others-game” is a game not only played by children, but it is a game that is very popular amongst adults, in fact, the first adults who played this game were Adam and Eve. Gen.3:12 ~ “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” In 3:13 Eve said ~ “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Some people call this attitude and action, “victimhood”, “poor me”, “it is not my fault.” It is always someone else’s fault.
This past week I read some of the comments on a Facebook post of a man who travelled by night and got a huge piece of concrete through his windscreen which was thrown from an overhead bridge. It was shocking to read the comments from people (as the case with dozens of similar posts). A lot of people (whites and blacks) would utter crude racist comments and no-one would take the blame for him or her or his race – it’s always the other. But thankfully there were two balanced comments as well, comments that called people to be objective and stop their hate-speech. A black lady wrote: “…white people want to be oppressed and targeted soooooo bad. How would that guy have known that the driver was white? It’s dark…you guys are just morons. South Africa has a crime problem in general it’s not targeted at white people – it’s targeted at everyone. I mean have you not been seeing how many black girls have been going missing, getting killed and raped???? The crimes that take place in places like the Cape Flats or are those parts of the country not part of your world?? It’s not just targeted at you guys so get over yourselves man.” A white man’s reaction was, “Since when has fire ever been doused by fire? Since when are all black people criminals and all white people racists? Our society is sick and many of the comments on this page are evidence of this sickness……..it’s time to get sensible….control your primitive urges….use your God given intelligence…..there are more good black and white people in this country than there are ignorants ……so instead of being a key board warrior and calling for a race civil war which is precisely what all the ignorants on both sides seem to want…..do something such as becoming a police reservist, an activist for an opposition party, an evangelist that reaches out to create unity…….” etc., but these two people were far and few.
The majority of people, it seems, are playing the “blame-game.” It is nothing new. Adam’s sin brought instant death and instant sinfulness. In the blink of an eye, Adam and Eve were dead in their transgressions and sins. Then came instant guilt and instant victimhood as Adam pointed an accusing finger at the woman and at God Himself and as the woman pointed to the snake.
And so, it has been throughout history until the cross of Christ, when the sinless Son of God, the second Adam, became the willing victim of our sins.
Last week we started to look at man’s rebellion and the resultant curse and we paid special attention to the different kinds of sin, as well as the term, “second death.” One thing that stood out in God’s curse and judgement over creation as a result of Adam’s sin, is God’s grace that laid at the basis of His curse and judgement. Paradise was lost and depravity and death became the lot of all humanity. But the curse and the judgements given, as they were meant that paradise could be regained – by grace.
But, read with me about this lost paradise and curse and judgement – turn with me to Gen.3:8-21.
2. SCRIPTURE READING:
Genesis 3:8-21 (ESV) ~ 8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” 14 The LORD God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. 15I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. 16 To the woman he said, ‘I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.’ 17 And to Adam he said, ‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.’ 20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21 And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.”
3. THE CURSE:
The proper theological term to describe the sinfulness of humanity is “total depravity.” This does not mean that we are sinful as we can possibly be. By the grace of God, there is still a great deal of good in us, which makes our lost condition all the more tragic.
Total depravity means that every part of every human person is tainted by sin (Afrikaans: “bevlek” of “besmet”). Sin affects our minds, so that we are unable to think God’s thoughts. It affects our hearts, so that we set our affections on unholy desires. It affects our feelings, so that we are in emotional turmoil. It affects our will, so that we will not choose the good. Our whole nature is corrupted by sin. In the way we think, feel and act, we are sinners through and through. As a result of the depravity of our nature, we commit a great many actual sins, all of which add up to a tremendous load of guilt. Our actual sins compound the debt we owe to God for our original sin in Adam, and thus we are doubly guilty in the sight of God.
The best indication of our guilt is our shame. We are ashamed of our bodies and our souls, which ought to remind us that the problem with the world is also the problem with us: we are guilty sinners. If we are to be saved, therefore, something must be done about our guilty shame. Adam and Eve sensed this immediately. As soon as they realised they were naked… ~ “… they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves” (Gen.3:7b). This temporary fix for Adam and Eve’s problem of nakedness, was the world’s first cover-up! It was also the world’s first attempt at salvation by works. Like all cover-ups and all attempts to achieve salvation by human effort – it was doomed to fail.
God, however, had a plan for covering our guilt with His grace – He slaughtered an animal and covered Adam and Eve with it. Mankind’s naked innocence was destroyed and man could not return to it, except if God provided a plan; an escape route; forgiveness! He gave that escape route in the Garden by providing them with garments of skin (Gen.3:21). Yes, the consequences for their sins were hard and drastic, but their guilt and shame were covered up by God Himself. As we’ve already seen last week, the covering up of Adam and Eve’s shame required a blood sacrifice, which is part of the message of salvation. Sin – both original and actual – brings guilt that must be paid for through a propitiation (Afrikaans: “versoening”), a sacrifice of atonement. Only then can we stand righteous before God; in other words, only then can we be justified. Once it has removed of guilt, salvation proceeds to make us righteous.
What was the result of the Fall? What is the outcome of sin? What is the bad fruit of “total depravity”?
· Guilt: The first result of sin is guilt ~ “…and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden” (vs.8). Adam and Eve knew that what they’ve done, was wrong – sinful, and they felt guilty and therefore hid themselves from the presence of God.
· Alienation: The second result is alienation (Afrikaans: “vervreemding”):
– Alienation from God: The moment Adam and Eve sinned… ~ “…man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God” (vs.8). Before the Fall, Adam and Eve enjoyed personal and intimate fellowship with God, especially during the cool hours of the day and because God was Adam and Eve’s close friend, they walked with Him – they enjoyed close and intimate communion with their Creator on a daily basis. But, the moment they sinned, they were separated from God. God is a holy God and sin and holiness cannot be in fellowship with each other, thus man was separated from God, for good! That is why they hid themselves from God when it was time for His daily wandering in the garden – they knew what their new fallen status entailed; they knew that they cannot be in the presence of God, due to their sinful status – they brought separation from the holy God over themselves.
God asked Adam where he was (Gen.3:9) and that was not because they hid so well that God could not see them, it was because God wanted to expose the consequence of sin. Instead of the relationship being that of Father/child it became one of Judge/criminal. From enjoying God’s Fatherly goodness, they now cowered (Afrikaans: “om ineen te krimp”) before the heavenly Judge as He examined them and passed sentence.
Sin causes alienation from God. Human beings were created to know God and to live with Him in a personal relationship of loving and trust. As he discovered, to his utter dismay, Adam had forfeited this glorious privilege. We ourselves are sensible that transgression brings alienation every time we sin. Our fellowship with God is hindered, and so we keep our distance, afraid to meet Him face-to-face. Since we are sinners by nature, this is our natural condition. As the Bible reminds us ~ “And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds” (Col.1:21). The first and foremost requirement for salvation is therefore, to be reconciled with God again.
– Alienation from man: The Fall did not only bring alienation between God and man, but also between man and man. When Adam was confronted by God about what he did, he immediately shifted the blame from himself to Eve and Eve did exactly the same – she put the blame on Satan. This “blame-game” is the typical way of fallen human beings. We excuse our sin by calling attention to extenuating circumstance. It is always someone else’s fault. One man always wants to dominate another man. It is like the constant struggle and fight to be the alpha male in the animal world. We see this clearly in God’s subsequent punishment of Eve in Gen.3:16b when God said to her… ~ “…Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.”
This outcome is however not only between husband and wife, we see it in all relationships. The one wants to lord it over the other, control them and win the battle. Women differ from their husbands and husbands retaliate against their wives. Children disobey their parents, while parents exasperate (Afrikaans: “moedeloos”) their children. Managers abuse their positions in the workplace and nations rise against nations. If we want to be saved, we must be saved from ourselves. The second requirement for salvation is to love one another and live together as brothers and sisters.
– Alienation from the rest of creation: We read in Is.24:5-6 the following ~ “The earth lies defiled under its inhabitants; for they have transgressed the laws, violated the statutes, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore, a curse devours the earth, and its inhabitants suffer for their guilt; therefore, the inhabitants of the earth are scorched, and few men are left.” The creation – the whole cosmos was disrupted and subject against its will to God’s curse and is groaning right up to the present time – Paul in Rom.8:20-22 confirms this ~ “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.”
4. THE PUNISHMENT:
After Adam and Eve have eaten of the forbidden fruit, God first confronted Adam and then Eve, but after their “blame-game” with God, God does not reason with anyone of them and He did not even address the serpent. He immediately sentenced them and this time He started with the Devil, then the woman and last, He sentenced Adam.
· Satan: When sentencing Satan, God made no remedial gesture to him. There was only a curse. The curse had two objects, first the reptile itself (vs.14) and then Satan who controlled the reptile (vs15). The curse is typical of prophetic language that addresses an object or person and then moves beyond the object to the source.
The cursing of the snake is consistent with the fate of other animals in Scripture that caused injury to humans and were therefore put to death. Ex.21:28 states ~ “When an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox shall be stoned…” Animals used for immoral purposes were also put to death, not because they were accountable, but because they were used to abuse men and woman made in the image of God ~ “If a man lies with an animal, he shall surely be put to death, and you shall kill the animal. If a woman approaches any animal and lies with it, you shall kill the woman and the animal; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them” (Lev.20:15-16). Every animal was made for man and was subject to him as its head. Thus, any abuse or perversion of the order called for strict judgement.
The second part of the serpent’s curse pertains to a personal conflict that will end with the great seed of the woman. According to Rev.12:1-2, 5, 17, this great seed is the Lord Jesus Christ ~ “1And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 2She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pains and the agony of giving birth… 5She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne… 17Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. And he stood on the sand of the sea.”
God’s judgement which is announced in Gen.3:15 is a brief announcement of the future history of the world. An age-long conflict is announced, between opposing forces: the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman. And behind these – behind the scenes, as it were – Satan and God. The outcome of this conflict will be twofold:
– The seed of the woman will be wounded;
– The seed of the serpent will be totally defeated and destroyed.
These words, spoken by God so long ago, reach forward through the ages to Calvary; and from Calvary to the Judgement Day.
This announcement of judgement is also the first Divine promise of redemption from sin and according to Gen.3:15 this struggle against evil was and is with God, when he said ~ “…I will put enmity between you and the woman…”
With this announcement by God, we see that the soft, sentimental idea of religion that is common today is not taught in the Bible. The Bible teaches that evil is real, and that redemption from evil involves utter enmity (Afrikaans: “vyandskap”) between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. The enmity, or hatred, continues throughout history, but it reaches its climax at the cross of Calvary. Then and there, Jesus Christ, the seed of the woman, crushed the serpent’s head, though in doing so He Himself suffered grievously – His heel was bruised. The sufferings and death of Christ were for the satisfaction of the justice of God, but at the same time they formed the climax of the bitter enmity that went back to Gen.3:15.
· Woman: Next we must consider the judgment pronounced on Eve and that on Adam. In the case of Eve, the penalty consisted of a great increase of pain and suffering in bringing children into the world and subjection to the rule of her husband. There is, however, an element of grace implied in the judgment pronounced on Eve. It implies that the propagation of the human race will be possible, in spite of hardships and sufferings; and this in turn, implies that the human race will continue to exist until the seed of the woman shall come, who shall destroy the serpent.
· Man: In the case of Adam, the penalty was a curse on the ground that involved man in the necessity of a laborious struggle for existence. Work itself, as we’ve seen previously, was not a curse, but rather a blessing and gift of God, as shown in Gen.2:15. But now as a penalty of sin, work was changed into man-killing toil. From this time on, work would be a laborious, difficult struggle for existence. Nature has become man’s enemy rather than his friend, and only reluctantly yielded him a living. In the end, nature would win and man would die; his body would return to the dust from which it was taken. Yet again, in the case of man’s curse, there is also an element of grace that accompanies the curse. Though with difficulty, still bread can be obtained from the soil. It will sustain human life. The life of the human race can continue
5. GRACE UPON GRACE:
We read these words in Gen.3:20 ~ “The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.” The word or name, “Eve” means “life.” In naming his wife “Life,” Adam evidenced his faith in the promise of God to provide salvation, by which the highest kind of life would finally become man’s possession. Just as death, in its fullest sense, comes through sin, so life, in its fullest sense, comes through the fulfilment of the promise about the seed of the woman. That does not mean that Adam understood this in as fully and clearly as we can today, but it implies that Adam had true faith that man’s real life would come through the seed of the woman. This is the essence of what is called “saving faith.” And it implies that Adam had truly repented of his sin of disobedience to God, for without repentance there can be no true faith.
As we have seen, the sentence that God pronounced upon the serpent, Adam, and even Eve involved not only elements of judgment, but also elements of grace. Intertwined with the penalties were expressed or implied promises, namely…:
– The seed of the woman would finally destroy the serpent;
– It would be possible for the woman to bring forth children, thus making possible the birth of One who would destroy the serpent;
– It would be possible for man, by hard work, to produce bread from the soil, thus rendering the continuous support of human life possible.
In Gen.3:21 we read ~ “And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.” The clothes of fig leaves, that Adam and Eve had made were not adequate. God made coats of skins of animals for Adam and Eve. As already mentioned last week, preparing of garments of skins, involved the shedding of the blood of the animals concerned. This was most probably, the institution of a sacrifice by God, which provided a covering for the guilt of man’s soul.
6. CONCLUSION AND APPLICATION:
When we look at the world around us and to ourselves, we notice that everyone plays the blame-game. The fact is however, we cannot blame God, because, according to James 1:13, He never temps us. We cannot blame the devil or any other person for our wrong doings, because James 1:14-15 says ~ “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” What then is the solution? Paul gives us the solution in Rom.5:17 ~ “For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.” Our second Adam, Jesus Christ was the one man in history who never needed to pass on the responsibility for sin. Rather, as our sinless Messiah and Saviour He said ~ “Pass the blame to me.” The buck stopped with Jesus.
Have you stopped passing the buck? Have you said the guilt for your sin is yours alone? And then, have you passed it on to Jesus?