The account of The Fall illustrates God’s deep and absolute love of us, His masterpiece of creation. In chapter two before woman had been created God told Adam, “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, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17). After God made the woman chapter 2 ends with verse 25.
And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
There was no need for them to be ashamed because they didn’t know good and evil, only good. They were living in perfect harmony with God. There was no need for them to hide anything of themselves from each other or from God. They had no sin. Chapter 3 verses 1-6 reads,
Now 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’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but 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.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So 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.
The serpent was craftier than any other animal on land. Satan chose to enter into a snake because the snake was cunning and deceitful. Snakes are excellent at hiding, laying in waiting for their prey, and scaring people. Now at this point serpents were different than they are now, they probably had legs or some other way of moving that didn’t require them to slither on the ground and they didn’t yet eat meat. No humans nor animals ate meat yet (Genesis 1:29-30).[i]
Satan enters into beings that will suit his purpose. He needed the serpent’s deceitfulness because he needed to deceive Adam and his wife with a clever ruse. Both Adam and the woman were there, but the serpent addressed the woman. The serpent began with a question, one which would lead the woman to engage him because she would want to correct him in order to point out how good God is. The serpent said, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” The serpent knew this wasn’t true but knew the man and woman would want to argue for God’s sake.
Isn’t that how he often engages us? An enemy of God, a false teacher, false prophet, or person in a false religion will state some obviously wrong doctrine, and there we are the “good Christians” defending God as if God cannot defend Himself.
And of course the woman answered the serpent and corrected him, “We can eat from any tree but that one because if we eat it, we’ll die.” Now she was engaged in the exchange. So the serpent said, “No! God’s deceiving you! If you eat this you won’t die, you’ll know what He knows and you’ll be like him!” Why didn’t Adam speak up for his wife at this point? God had told Adam His commandment, Adam had told his wife. Why didn’t he take his wife’s hand and take her far away from the serpent? Because he was listening, he was interested, he was just as involved in the conversation as she was.
So then the couple looked at the tree in a new light. It was the same tree they saw every day, but now they saw it through deception and temptation. It looked like something to be desired. They wanted to be like God and they ate.
And sure enough, they knew both good and evil and they began to die. Before they ate the fruit, they would have lived eternally, never dying, not even aging. But they traded immortality for mortality. They traded righteousness, which made them like God for the knowledge of good and evil which they thought would make them like God. Verses 7-10 read,
Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
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.”
Their eyes opened and they became responsible for right and wrong. They had been naked all along but now their eyes were open to their sin, and they were ashamed. They had to hide their nakedness from one another and they had to hide it from God. They were afraid. God knew what they had done and where they were but in His kindness, He called to them and let them come to Him and confess. Verses 11-13 read,
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.”
The man blamed the woman and the woman blamed the serpent. How did God respond to each of them in this sin? First, He had to give them the consequences of the sin. He had to discipline them because He loved them. God disciplines those He loves (Proverbs 3:12). Verses 14-16 record the serpent’s curse.
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.
15 I 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.”
The snake who let Satan enter him was cursed. He lost his legs or whatever other form of mobility he may have had and had to slither across the ground. There was enmity between him and the woman and all mankind after her. At this point in history there was no enmity between any other creature and man.[ii] Who do we blame for sin? We blame the serpent for tempting the woman. The serpent has become synonymous with temptation, sin, and evil. The serpent can be crushed by man stepping on his head, and the serpent can injure and some can poison man by biting his heel (where he can reach). Likewise Jesus Christ the man crushed Satan on the cross and Satan does his best to injure and poison mankind. He is powerless to do more than try and hurt children protected by the Holy Spirit.
Verse 16 is God’s discipline of the woman,
To the woman he said,
“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you.”
Not only was childbirth, which is such an honor of being woman made into something very painful, but women do long for their husbands. Women have a desire to please men and because of that they often take a subservient role to men. Many women dress provocatively to tantalize men. The desire seems to go both ways. Men lust after women and women after men. Verses 17-20 read,
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.
In a relationship with God, we know that God is our All-Sufficient All-Powerful Provider. Outside that relationship we struggle and work, we sweat and toil to provide for ourselves. Men especially feel the need to provide, to solve every problem, and to do things for themselves.
The results of eating the fruit were also death. Man was created from the dust and after his death his body slowly becomes dust again. It was at this point that the woman got her name. She would have to suffer in childbirth, but she was honored as a mother and named Eve.
God did these things because He loved Adam and Eve but He didn’t stop there. He loved enough to meet their every need, even the ones that arose from their own sin. Verse 21 records an act that can be so easily overlooked but it is an expression of deep love.
And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.
They were naked and they were ashamed. God gave them clothes to take away their shame. Where did God get the skin that He used to make clothes for Adam and Eve? He spilled the blood of an animal. He made them clothes, not just loin cloths but clothes. He forgave their sin. Zechariah 3:4 is just one of the many verses in the Bible that refer to new clothes in place of old as representing forgiveness of sin. It reads,
And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.”
God was not finished expressing His love, even in the light of Adam and Eve’s sin. Verses 22-24 read,
Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.”
What looks like part of a punishment to some was really an act of love and protection. If man lived forever with the ability to sin, he would forever be separated from God, forever living under the curse of sin. He forever protected mankind from eating from the Tree of Life and living eternally without Jesus. What a wonderful God!
And in case you are curious, we will one day have access again to that Tree. When we are united forever with The Lord in New Jerusalem on the New Earth, The Tree of Life will be there, on the banks of the River of Life and we will be free to eat of it, because we will be perfect, no longer under the curse of sin You can read about it Revelation 2:1-3.
This chapter gave us so much to consider. So reflect. Remember God loves you deeply. He wouldn’t discipline you if He didn’t. What seems bad can be good, and what is difficult can bring honor. God loves you enough to make a way out of sin and shame. And lastly, look at your relationship with Satan. If there is one there. Stop it. Do not engage with the deceiver any more. Jesus doesn’t need you to fight the devil or defend Him to the enemy. He already defeated Him. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7).
[i] People were given animals as food after the Flood per Genesis 9:2-3
[ii] Genesis 9:2-3 after the flood is the same time when there was fear and enmity between animals and humans