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                  This is a sermon site of Dr. Harold L. White

                      The Fall of Man

Chapter 3 of Genesis     

That Old Serpent

When God's six-day work of creation was complete, everything in the world was "very good."
There was nothing out of order, no pain, no suffering, no disease, no struggle for existence,
no disharmony, no sin, and-- above all -- no death.

But things are not "very good" in the world now!
In the physical realm, everything tends to run down and wear out.
In the living world, each animal is engaged in a perpetual struggle against other animals
and against disease, as well as the universal process of aging and death.

Culturally, one civilization after another seems to rise for a time, then declined and die.
In the spiritual and moral realm, each individual incomparably finds it easier to do wrong
than do right, easy to drift downward than to struggle upward.
The world is full of hatred, crime, war, pollution, selfishness, corruption and evil of all kinds.
Something has gone wrong with God's perfect creation.

The problem of the existence of evil in a world created by a holy, loving God is one
that has exercised the minds and hearts of philosophers and theologians through the ages.
If God is omnipotent and holy, why does He permits such things?
How could evil ever have appeared at all?

These questions do not have easy answers.
Atheism is largely founded on the pessimistic belief that such an evil world proves
either that God is not good (condoning evil as He does) or not omnipotent
(and therefore unable to correct and removed the evil).
The philosophy of dualism tries to solve the problem by proposing an eternal principle
of people in the universe, as well as one of good.
But such answers of these are neither Scriptural nor do they satisfy the needs of the human heart.

God is omnipotent and God is perfectly righteous.
Only His own revelation can enable us to understand the source and significance
of evil in the world.The only true and reasonable answer to this problem is found here
in the third chapter of Genesis.
The apostle Paul referring to this chapter, says, "Wherefore, as by one man sin
entered into the world and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men,
for that all have sinned." (Romans 5:12)

Later Paul says in Romans 8:20-22: "For the creature [actually creation] was made
subject to vanity [or futility], not willingly, but by reason of him
who hath subjected the same in hope.
Because the creature [creation] itself also shall be delivered from the bondage
of corruption [literally decay] into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now."

But before man can bring sin into the world, he must be persuaded to sin
by an agent external to himself, since there was as yet nothing within his own nature
to leave him in such a direction.

Therefore first, we must consider the nature of the serpent who was the vehicle
of this temptation.


Genesis 3:1: "Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field
which the Lord God had made.
And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said,
Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden
?"


Among the beasts of the field that had been examined and named by Adam was the one
whose coloration was bright and beautiful and whose movements were smooth and graceful.
It was the most attractive animal.
Furthermore, this animal, the serpent, was more clever than any of the other animals.

In her innocence, the woman was dazzled and soon led astray by this sudden
subtly attractive and deceptive creature.
Before considering the difficult question associated with the capacity of the serpent
to speak in human language and his remarkable ability to deceive Eve,
we must first examine the nature of the evil spirit using the serpent's body.
It is obvious that there is more to this event than a mere fable of a talking snake.

The Bible later identified us that "old serpent" as none other than the devil himself
(Revelation 12:9; 28:2), who has led an age-long angelic rebellion against God
and His plans for mankind.

As we noted earlier, a great host of angels (meaning "messengers") had been created
(probably all the first day of creation) for a variety of ministries around the throne of God.
They had various ranks and positions of authority: "principalities and powers."
Evidently, the greatest of these created spirit-beings was one called Lucifer ("day-start").
Lucifer is spoken of in Isaiah 14:12-15.

This passage is in the context of a prophetic warning to the wicked "king of Babylon,"
but the prophet seems to go beyond his denunciation of this earthly monarch
to the malevolent spirit who had possessed and utilized the king's body and powers.
Statements made in this passage could never be true of late mere earthly king.
The same powerful spirit is similarly addressed and Ezekiel 28:11-19,
a passage first directed at another later earthly potentate:
similarly possessed, the king of Tyre.
In the latter passage, he is addressed as "the anointed cherub that coverth"
the very throne of God, the highest being in all of God's creation.

God had told this high Angel that he had been "created" (Ezekiel 28:13, 15),
and no doubt informed him that he and all the other mighty angels were
to be "ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them
who shall be heirs of salvation." (Hebrews 1:14)
He was perfect in his ways (Ezekiel 28:15), just as was everything else
God had created (Genesis 1:31); and he continued thus for some time
after man's creation.

Lucifer did not sin until later since, as the Scripture says, everything in God's
completed creation, even "the heavens and the earth… and the host of them"
(Genesis 2:1), were very good.
The "host of heaven," as we have already noted, including the angels as well as the stars.

However, soon after this Lucifer's "heart was lifted up" because of his beauty
and he corrupted his wisdom by reason of his brightness. (Ezekiel 28:17)

Though God had assured him that He had created him, he somehow began to doubt
God's word and deceived himself into thinking he himself could become God.
"… I will be like the Most High," he said in his heart (Isaiah 14:14), evidently thinking
that he and God were similar beings and that, therefore, he might lead
a successful rebellion and overthrow God.

Perhaps, he may have reasoned, neither he nor God was really "created,"
but all of the angels, as well as God Himself, had just arisen by some natural process
from the primeval chaos.
All had somehow developed ("evolved") out of prior materials and it was only
an accident of priority of time that placed him, with all his wisdom and beauty,
beneath God in the angelic hierarchy.

Lest anyone should express surprise or doubt that Satan not ever conceived
such an absurd notion, he should remember that exactly the same absurdity
(namely, that this complex universe has arisen by natural processes
from the primeval chaos, that the universe is a self-existing, self-sustaining,
self-developing entity, and that man is "god") is believed and taught as a solemn fact
by most of the world's intellectual leaders even today.

Satan is evidently the "deceiver of the whole world" (Revelation 12:9)
and has apparently deceived himself most of all, believing in all seriousness
that he can exalt his own "throne above the stars of God." (Isaiah 14:13)
Many other angels, possibly a third of them, followed him in his rebellion. (Revelation 12:4, 9)

Because "iniquity was found in him" (Ezekiel 28:15),
Satan fell "as lightning falls from heaven" (Luke 10:18).
God "cast him to the ground" (Ezekiel 28:17) and ultimately he will be
"brought down to hell" (Isaiah 14:15; Matthew 25:41).

It may well be possible also that one of the factors that generated Satan's resentment
against God was God's plan for mankind.
People were to be uniquely "in the image and likeness of God," and also were
to be able to reproduce their own kind, neither of which blessings was shared
by Lucifer or the angels.
This may be the reason why God cast Satan to the earth, instead of sending him
immediately to the lake of fire, to enable him to tempt man to fall as he himself had fallen.

Perhaps he believed that, by capturing man's dominion and affection,
along with the allegiance of his own angels, he might even yet be able
to ascend back to heaven and dethrone God.

Thus Lucifer, the "day-Star," became Satan, the "adversary," or "accuser,"
opposing and making false accusations about God and all His purposes.
And now he became "that old serpent," entering into the body of this "most clever"
of all the "beasts of the field" in order to approach Eve with his evil solicitations.

Demonic spirits evidently have the ability, under certain conditions, to indwell or "possess"
either human bodies or animal bodies (Luke 8:33); and Satan on this occasion shows
the serpent as the one most suitable for his purposes.

There has been much speculation as to whether the serpent originally was able to stand
upright (the Hebrew word, nachash, some maintain, originally meant
 "shining, upright creature").This idea is possibly supported by the later curse (Genesis 3:14),
dooming the serpent to crawl on its belly "eating" dust, and perhaps also by those
structures in the snake's skeleton which have been interpreted by evolutionists as "vistigial" limbs.

There is also the unsolved question as to whether some of the Edenic animals,
especially the serpent, may have originally had the ability to converse
with man in some way.
Of course, there is now a great gulf between the barks and grunts of animals
and the intelligent, abstract, symbolic speech of man.

On one occasion, God did, as it were, "open" the vocal organs of an animal,
when He allowed Balaam's ass to speak. (Numbers 22:28)
Some modern zoologists are now claiming the ability to teach chimpanzees
a rudimentary form of speech.

On the other hand, it may simply be that Eve, in her innocence, did not yet know
that the animals around her in Eden were incapable of speaking and so was not alarmed
when the serpent spoke to her.
One's interpretation of this occurrence, in the complete absence of any further
scriptural explanation or amplification, may depend on the degree
of his subconscious commitment to uniformitarianism.

Apart from that consideration, there may really be no reason why we should not assume
that, in the original creation, the serpent was a beautiful, upright animal
with the ability to speak and converse with human beings.
Such an interpretation would at least make the verses in this passage easier
to understand, even though it may make them harder to believe.
The fact that great physiological changes took place in both the plant and animal kingdoms
at the same time of the curse, as well as in man himself, is obvious from Genesis 3:14-19,
and it is obvious also that changes of such degree are quite within
the capabilities of God to produce.

In cases of doubtful meanings of Scripture, one must not be dogmatic.
But at the same time, we should not forget the cardinal rule of interpretation that
the Bible was written to be understood, by common people as well as scholars.
Therefore, it should normally be taken literally unless the context both indicates
a non-literal meaning and also makes it clear what the true meaning is intended to be.

It is at least possible (as well as the most natural reading) that the higher animals
could originally communicate directly with man, who was their master.
These were possibly the same as the animals to whom Adam gave names,
and over whom man was to exercise friendly dominion.
It is further possible that all these animals (other than the birds) were quadrupeds,
except the serpent, who had the remarkable ability, with a strong vertebral skeleton
supported by small limbs, to rear and hold himself erect when talking with Adam or Eve.

After the temptation and fall, God altered the vocal equipment of the animals,
including the structure of the speech centers in their brains.
He did this in order to place a still greater barrier between man and animals
and to prevent further use of their bodies by demonic spirits
to deceive man again in this fashion.
In addition, the body of the serpent was altered even further by eliminating his ability
to stand erect, eye-to-eye with man as it were.

Again it should be emphasized that the above interpretation is not intended to be dogmatic.
The Bible is not explicit on these matters and such explanations no doubt are difficult
to accept by the "modern mind."
Nevertheless, they are not impossible or unreasonable in the context
of the original creation and, indeed, appear to follow directly from the most natural
and literal reading of the passage.

In any case, the approach of Satan (through the serpent) to the woman was
a masterpiece of effective subtlety.
Catching her when she was alone, without Adam to counsel and warn her,
probably one day when she was admiring the beautiful fruit trees in the garden,
he first insinuated something which neither she nor Adam had even imagined before,
namely, that it was possible for a creature to question God's Word, "Yea, hath God said?"

In other words, "Did God really say such a thing as that!"
Note the slightly mocking superior condescension to Eve's "na´ve" acceptance
of God's command, a technique followed by Satan and his human emissaries
with great success ever since.

The first suggestion that God could be questioned was accompanied by an inference
that God was not quite as good and loving as they had thought.
"He has not allowed you to eat the fruit of every tree, has He?
Why do you suppose He is withholding something from you like that?"

If a person studies each situation closely enough, he will find that sin always begins
by questioning either the Word of God or the goodness of God, or both.
This is the age-old lies of Satan, the lie with which he deceived himself in the first place,
and which succeeded so well with our first parents that he has used it every since.

 

Genesis 3:2, 3: "And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit
of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden,
God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die
."


Eve's response to the surface insinuation was, of course, to assure him that he was wrong.
God had allowed them to eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden.
It was the only one tree in the midst of the garden which was restricted to them.
However, even in the midst of her attempt to correct the serpent's implication,
she revealed that his question had had a deadly effect on her.
In her reply, she both added to and so distracted from God's actual words,
with the effect of making Him seem less generous and more demanding than He really was.

She said, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden," whereas God had said
they could freely eat of all the trees.
God had told them they should not partake of only one tree in the midst of the garden;
but Eve said that He added, "neither shall ye touch it."
God had not forbidden them to touch the fruit, of course; so this further supposed
restriction had been purely the product of Eve's developing resentment.

It is always dangerous to alter God's Word, either by addition (as do modern cultists)
or by deletion (as do modern liberals).
God, being omniscient, can always be trusted to say exactly, and only, what He means
(Deuteronomy 4:2; Proverbs 30:5; Revelation 22:18, 19,); and find that man
is inexcusable when he seeks to change God's Word.
Such will lead either to divine reproof (Proverbs 30:6) or death (Revelation 22:19).


Genesis 3:4, 5: "And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
For God doth know that in the day ye shall eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened,
and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evi
l."


Having led Eve first to question God's authority and goodness and then both to augment
and to dilute Ye Word, Satan now was ready for the "kill."
"Ye shall surely not die."
The fact that God had warned Adam, and Adam had told Eve, that eating the fruit
of this tree would result in death, was beside the point.
That warning, Satan suggested, was rarely the cause of God fear that
they would learn too much.
Not content merely with altering God's Word, Satan now blatantly denied it, calling God a liar!

"Ye shall be as gods."

This was the same temptation that had led to Satan's own downfall (Isaiah 14:13, 14),
and it proved an irresistible temptation to Eve as well.
Of course, in effect as soon as one begins to deny God's Word or question
His sovereign goodness, he is really setting himself up as his own god.
He is deciding for himself the standards of truth and righteousness.

This had been the subtle implication of Satan's probings all along;
and now that Eve was properly softened to the idea, the overt assertion
of immanent divinity and omniscience was more than she could resist.
Of course, the same temptation comes to us today, over and over, in various guises.
The fact is, we react only to often the same way as Eve, wanting to
know (experimentally, that is) "evil," as well as the "good" we receive from God continually.

The better course is to do what he did not do, and that is to resist the devil
by maintaining faith in God's Word.
Ephesians 6:16 says, "Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able
to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked."

In one sense, the promises of Satan were true.
Their eyes were opened, and they did no good and evil -- but not as "gods."
Satan is the great deceiver, and his deceptions are all the more effective
when they are half-truths or distorted truths.
On the other hand, God is wholly Truth and only Truth. (John 14:6)

In concluding this section on the temptation, it should be noted that, regardless
of the "modern mind" with questions it, the New Testament writers have placed
their stamp of full approval on its authority and historicity.
(Note 2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Timothy 2:14; John 8:44)

 

The First Human Sin



The next few verses are among the most important in the Bible.
They record as they do the great tragedy of man's fall from his created state
of innocence and fellowship with God to his present state of sinfulness and alienation.
As stressed earlier, man was not created as an automaton, but as a free being
with the moral ability to love God or reject God as he should choose.

There was not the slightest reason why he should sin, but he could if he so desired.
God had made him perfect and placed him in a perfect environment,
with every need fully supplied.
He did not have an inherited sin nature, as we do now; so he was fully capable
of resisting any external pressure towards sin.
However, the tragic fact is that he did sin, and thereby brought
sin and death into the world.

"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered the world, and death by sin;
and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned." (Romans 5:12)

"In Adam, all die." (1 Corinthians 15:22)
Because Adam had the sentence of death imposed as an actual operational feature
of his biological life, his descendants also have inherited a life principle
which involves a built-in death principle.
The moment a child is conceived he begins to die, and eventually the death principle
wins out over the life principle and he does die.

As the tendency toward death is inherited by all men,
so also is the tendency towards sin.
No descendent of Adam has ever lived to an age of conscious awareness
of right and wrong without actually choosing wrong.
He has become a deliberate sinner because he has inherited a sinful nature,
which leads him to sin in practice.

Thus, "death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned."
Each person continues under the divine judgment of death, not only because
of Adam's sin, but because of his own deliberate sin.

 

Genesis 3:6: "And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food,
and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise,
she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also
unto her husband with her; and he did eat
."

 

As Eve, allowed her mind and emotions to be influenced by the satanic suggestions
of doubt and pride, and continued to gaze at the forbidden tree, it's fruit seemed
to become more and more beautiful and delectable all the time.
It is remarkable that the particular attributes of this fruit that seemed so tempting
are the same as the overt characteristics of practically every type of temptation
which man faces today.

To her, it seemed that the tree was: (1) "good for food" (that is, something appealing
to the physical, bodily appetites).
(2) "pleasant to the eyes" (that is, something appealing to the emotions
 -- the esthetic senses)
(3) "desired to make wise" (that is, appealing to the mind and spirit,
and to one's pride of knowledge and spiritual insight).

This threefold description is perfectly parallel to the outline of 1 John 2:16:
"For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes,
and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world."

So temptations may be directed against either the body, soul, or spirit --
or, as in the case of these all three at once.
The source of the temptation is said by James, again stressing all three aspects
to be "earthly, sensual, devilish." (James 3:15)

Of course, one day, the second Adam would come into the world, and He would
also have to be tempted in all points like as we are. (Hebrews 4:15)
At the very beginning of the public ministry of Jesus, He was "led by the Spirit
into the wilderness, being 40 days tempted of the devil." (Luke 4:1, 2)

The temptation again was of the same threefold scope:
(1) Appeal to the physical appetite, offering bread when He was hungry (Luke 4:3, 4);

(2) Appeal to the covetous and esthetic emotional desires, offering possession
of all the world and its kingdoms (Luke 4:5-8);

(3) Appeal to spiritual pride, offering worldwide recognition as the one of highest
intellectual and spiritual eminence, under the special protection of the holy angels
(Luke 4:9-12).

It is significant that the Lord Jesus overcame the wicked one (1 John 2:13, 14
-- as we can do also) by reminding both Himself and Satan of appropriate instructions
and promises in the word of God.
Instead of believing and obeying God's Word, Eve questioned, doubted, then modified,
and finally rejected God's Word, in favor of the temptation to body, soul, and spirit
which the fruit represented to her.

As the prototype of all sinners, Eve felt impelled to lead Adam to participate in the same sin.
Therefore, she plucked more of the fruit and brought it to her husband,
urging him to eat it as well.
No doubt, she used the same arguments the serpent had used, also adding
the personal testimony that she had eaten the delicious fruit herself
without any harmful effect.

However, Adam "was not deceived." (1 Timothy 2:14)
Whether this statement by the apostle Paul means that Adam was fully aware
that he was willfully defying God, or whether it simply means that Adam was not
the initial one whom Satan attacked with his deception, may not be completely clear.
Paul goes on to say that "the woman being deceived was in the transgression,"
which seems to place the main blame on her, accounting for her being cursed
and made subject to man.

There may even be a hint that the serpent had first tried to deceive Adam,
but have been unsuccessful, and so then turned to Eve.
Many have suggested that he did this out of love for Eve, choosing to share her sin
and guilt rather than leaving her to face God's judgment alone.
This interpretation would be consistent with the typology, suggesting the truth
that "Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it." (Ephesians 5:25)

However, this motive would almost make Adam appear noble in sinning,
and the Bible never implies such a thing.
His sin was deliberate, wicked, and inexcusable.

In fact, it was not by Eve's sin, but by Adam's that "sin entered into the world,
and death by sin."
All future human beings were "in Adam" (1 Corinthians 15:22) and even Eve herself
had been formed "of the man" (1 Corinthians 11:8).
Adam was the true federal head of the race and it was "through the offence
of the one [that] many the dead." (Romans 5:15)

 

Genesis 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
.”

 

The serpent had promised that they would acquire wisdom and become as gods,
knowing good and evil.
Instead, there came over them the realization of what they had done
and an awful sense of shame enveloped them.
As they remembered that the divine injunction had been to "multiply and fill the earth,"
they realized that the very fountainhead of human life had now become corrupted
by their disobedience and they became acutely aware of their nakedness.
Their children would all be contaminated with the seed of rebellion, so that their feeling
of guilt centered especially on their own procreative organs.

The result was that they suddenly desired to hide these from each other, and from God.
They fashioned crude girdles of fig leaves and cover themselves,
but of course such aprons would hardly suffice to hide the guilt
of their rebellion against God.

Neither will the "filthy rags" of our own self-made "righteousness"
serve to cover our sinful hearts today. (Isaiah 64:6)
We need the "garments of salvation," the "robe of righteousness" (Isaiah 61:10)
with which only God can clothe us. (Genesis 3:21)
We can never escape God's eye of judgment by anything that we ourselves
can fashion or accomplish.

 

Genesis 3:8-10: "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 among the trees of the garden.
And the Lord God called unto Adam and said unto him, Where art thou?
And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and and I was afraid,
because I was naked; and I hid myself
.”

 

No longer did Adam and Eve enjoy the fellowship with God
for which they had been created.
Rather they "hid themselves," and then even made excuses for avoiding
the presence of God.
However, the fact that they did feel shame at what they had done showed
that there was hope for their salvation.

When sinners feel no guilt or shame, there is no remedy but judgment and condemnation.
The Scripture says they feared when they heard the "voice of the Lord God."
The Word of God is given to men for guidance and comfort, but it can also be used
to bring conviction of sin. (Romans 3:20; 2 Timothy 3:16)

God was "walking in the garden in the cool of the day."
This is a way that indicates that this was a normal event, perhaps a daily appointment time
in which the Lord met with them for communion and fellowship.
This is not a crude anthropomorphism, but a repeated, or even continual, theophany,
in which the Word of God, Christ pre-incarnate, clothed Himself in human form
in order to communicate with those whom He had created in His own image.

We don't know how long the spirit of fellowship between God and man lasted.
It was at least long enough for the satanic rebellion and expulsion
to have taken place in heaven.
However, it was not long enough for Adam and Eve to have begotten children.
It was probably a few weeks, though it is not possible to be certain.

On this occasion instead of encountering Adam waiting expectantly for the daily time
of fellowship, Adam was hiding among the trees, hoping to avoid
seeing the Lord God altogether.
But when God called to him, Adam realized he could not do this;
so he replied with the weak excuse that he was hiding because of his nakedness.

This had never been a problem before, but there is no doubt that Adam was now
acutely conscious of being naked in God's presence.
The fig leaf girdles were of no avail, either, and he knew it.
Flagrant sin had entered Adams body and would contaminate all future generations.

It may be noted incidentally that the shame of nudity is no artificial inhibition
introduced by the conventions of civilization, as certain anthropologists
and self-serving sophisticates have urged.
It has its source in this primeval awareness of sin, and is only discarded when
the moral conscience has been so hardened as to lose all sensitivity to sin.

It is noteworthy also that clothing is worn in heaven.
The "armies… in heaven" are seen as "clothed in fine linen, white and clean."
(Revelation 19:14)
And the glorified Son of Man is pictured to John as "clothed with a garment
down to the foot." (Revelation 1:13)
Except for the brief period of innocence in Eden, nakedness before anyone other
than one's own husband or wife is, in the Bible, considered shameful.
(Note Genesis 9:23; Exodus 32:25; Revelation 3:18; etc.)

 

Genesis 3:11-13: "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 the man said, The woman now gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree,
and I did eat.
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
."

 

When Adam mentioned his nakedness he was in effect exposing his sinful disobedience,
since he would not have been conscious of being naked had he not sinned.
God immediately pointed this out to him by asking him that direct question
as to whether he had eaten of the one forbidden tree, giving Adam an opportunity
to confess his sin and ask for forgiveness.

Whether the punishment would have been lessened in some way if Adam had confessed
in repentance, we have no way of knowing.
In view of God's nature of love and mercy, though, it does seem likely.
The fact is, he did not confess.

Sin had rapidly pervaded the hearts of both Adam and Eve that, when God began
to question them, Adam blamed his wife and Eve blamed the serpent.
Neither one of them was willing to a knowledge personal guilt.

In fact, Adam, by implication, cast the blame on God Himself, emphasizing
that it was all because of "the woman whom thou gavest to be with me."
Instead of praising God for His goodness, he blamed God for his troubles.
How foolish and wicked.
And how much it is like ourselves!

The questions of God were not to obtain information, but rather to encourage
Adam and Eve to acknowledge and repent of their sin.
Though they were sorry they had been discovered and were no doubt fearful
of the consequences, there is no indication of true repentance,
but rather merely an attempt to justify themselves.

Accordingly, there was no course of action for the Lord except to initiate punishment;
but a punishment which would be corrective and redemptive as well as punitive.

 

The Bondage of Decay

 

The passage in Genesis 3:14-19 contains what has commonly been called the Curse.
Actually there are several curses, or phrases of the curse, involved.
There was the curse on the animal kingdom.
There was the curse on the serpent.
There was the special curse on the woman.
Then, there was the curse on Adam and his descendants, and the curse
on the very elements of the ground itself.

Since Adam had been appointed to exercise dominion over the earth,
and since Adam was to begin to die, his dominion also would begin to "die."
Since that time, "we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth
in pain together until now." (Romans 8:22)
This condition is called by the apostle Paul the "bondage of corruption" (or, better, decay).
"For the creation was made subject to vanity…" (Or futility). (Romans 8:20, 21)

In a sense the three main aspects of the curse corresponded
to the three basic created entities described in Genesis 1.
The physical elements of the universe were first created (Genesis 1:1),
then the entity of conscious life in animals (Genesis 1:21),
and finally the spiritual nature of God in man (Genesis 1:27).

The other great events of Creation Week consisted of processes of forming, ordering,
and organizing the created entities into various "kinds" of physical
and biological "bodies" (1 Corinthians 15:38-).

The curse also fell on the physical elements (Genesis 3:18),
the animal kingdom (Genesis 3:14), and on mankind (Genesis 3:16, 19),
because all three entities (physical, mental, spiritual) were corporate components
in man's being, and man had left God.
As far as the personal aspects of the curse were concerned, God pronounced them
in the same chronological order in which the specific acts of sin had been committed.

First, on Satan.
Then, on Eve.
Then on Adam.

However, for Adam and Eve their subjection under the curse was "in hope"
(Romans 8:20) of eventual redemption; for Satan it was final and irrevocable.
He not only had rebelled against God in heaven, but now he had also infected
mankind with his rebellion.


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

 

The serpent, as an animal, was cursed "above all cattle,
and above every beast of the field," not because of direct culpability on its part,
but rather as a perpetual reminder to man of the instrument of his fall
and of the final destruction of Satan himself.
Whatever may have been its beauty and postured for, it would henceforth glide
on its belly and be an object of dread and loathing by all.
It would not "eat dust" in a literal sense, of course, except in the sense that it's prey
would have to be consumed directly off the ground in front of the it.
The expression is a graphic figure of speech indicating its humiliating judgment and fall.

Lest anyone complain at God's injustice, since the serpent as an animal
was not to blame for Satan's corrupt possession of his body, he should remember
that the "potter half power over the clay."
Each animal had been made for a specific mode of life and with specific structures
appropriate to such a mode.
There were many other "creeping things," and God now made the serpent did join this group,
for reasons of the symbolism involved.

But snakes, as animals, are no more capable of resentment at this lot
than are moles and worms.
It should be noted also that all other animals were brought under the curse at this time,
though none of them had "sinned."
The serpent was merely cursed "above all" the rest, but "every beast" henceforth
had the "sentence of death" in its members.
Each was a part of man's dominion and it was by man's sin that death came
into the world, infecting everything in that dominion.

 

Genesis 3:15, 16: "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.
Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception;
in sorrow thou shall bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband,
and he shall rule over thee
."

 

Though the goal was outwardly pronounced on the serpent, its real thrust
was against the malevolent spirit controlling its body and its speech,
"that old serpent called the Devil." (Revelation 12:9)

The earth had been originally placed under man's Dominion.
By persuading them to follow his word instead of God's word,
Satan probably believed that he had now won the allegiance of the first man
and woman and therefore also of all their descendants.
They would be allies of himself and his host of evil angels in their efforts
to dethrone and vanquish God.

Satan was now the "god of this world" (2 Corinthians 4:4), and the woman especially,
who was to bear the earth's future children, would readily follow him.
She had already demonstrated her control over the man, who had eaten of the fruit
when she told him to, even though he himself was not deceived.
With the wonderful potentialities of human reproduction under his control,
Satan could, as it were, in time "create" an innumerable host
of obedient servants to do his bidding.

But if such thoughts as these were in the mind of Satan, he was not only the deceiver
of the whole world (Revelation 12:9), but he himself was deceived most of all.
The woman, in the first place, would not become his willing ally.
God said, "I will put enmity between thee and the woman."
Neither would she rule over her husband.
"Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee."
Conception and childbirth would not be easy and rapid.
"I will greatly multiply thy sorrow, and thy conception;
in sorrow thou shall bring forth children."

Not only would victory not be as easy as he thought, but ultimately he would be
completely defeated and destroyed.
"There will come One who will not be of the man's seed, and who therefore
will not be under your dominion.
He will be uniquely in the Seed of the woman, miraculously conceived and virgin-born.
Though you will succeed in grievously injuring Him him,
He will crush you and all your evil ambitions."

This great promise in Genesis 3:15 has long been known as the Protevangelium
(the "first Gospel"), promising the ultimate coming and victory of the Redeemer.
It obviously entails far more than a trivial reference to the physical enmity
between men and snakes, though this may be included
as a sort of secondary pictorial parallel.
The prophecy clearly looks forward to the time when Satan will be completely
crushed beneath the feet of the woman's triumphant Seed.

But first there is seen a time of conflict and even apparent victory on the part
of the serpent, who is able to "bruise the heel" of the woman's seed.
This predicted conflict is reflected in the legends and mythologies of the ancients,
filled as they are with tales of heroes engaged in life-and-death struggles
with serpents and dragons and other monsters.
The star-figures by which early peoples identified the heavenly constellations
repeat the same story, essentially in the so-called signs of the zodiac
and their accompanying "decans."

There is the picture, for example, of Hercules battling with the serpent.
The constellation Virgo, with the spike of wheat in her hands,
may refer to the promised "seed of the woman."
The king of animals, Leo, is shown clawing the head of a great fleeing serpent.
The Scorpion is illustrated as stinging the heel of the great hero Ophiuchus.

These and many similar representations in the ancient myths are most likely
merely distorted remembrances of this great primeval prophecy.
Mankind, from the earliest ages, has recorded its hope that someday
a Savior would come who would destroy the devil and reconcile man to God.

But who, or what, is meant by the "seed" -- both the "seed of the serpent"
and the "seed of the woman"?
The term "seed" of course has a biological connotation,
but this is not strictly possible here.
Neither Satan, who is a spirit, nor the woman would be able to produce actual seed;
only the man was created physically to do this.
These two seeds, therefore, must refer primarily to spiritual progeny.

Specifically, it appears that Satan's seed consist of those who knowingly
and willfully set themselves at enmity with the seed of the woman.
They partake in a very specific sense of the character of the Adversary
(John 8:44; Ephesians 2:2, 3) and seek to oppose God's purposes
in creation and redemption.

The "seed of the woman," on the other hand, would refer in the first place to those
in the human family who are brought into right relationship with God through faith,
children of the Father.

The prophecy forecasts the age-long conflict between the children of the kingdom
and the children of the wicked one, beginning with Cain and Abel
(Matthew 13:37-40; 1 John 3:8-12), and continuing to the end of the age
(Revelation 12:17).

There is obviously another meaning as well, in addition to the above plural
and corporate meaning of the two seeds.
There is one primary seed of the serpent and one primary seed of the woman.
The former is the soon-coming "son of perdition" (2 Thessalonians 2:3), the antichrist,
to whom the Dragon gives his power and throne and authority. (Revelation 13:2)

The primary seed of the woman is, of course, the Lord Jesus Christ;
and it is not the seed of the serpent, but Satan himself, who battles
and is destroyed by this Seed, according to verse 15.

There is clearly an inference of human birth here.
In fact, verse 16 mentions the sorrow that would attend conception
of the woman's children.
It is also clearly implied that someday one would be supernaturally conceived
and born of a virgin.
This promised Seed would not partake of the inherited sin nature of Adam's children,
but would nevertheless be a man.
He would not be born under Satan's Dominion as would other men,
and would thus be able to engage the Serpent in mortal combat.

Finally, though bruised in the conflict, He would emerge as victor, "bruising,
(literally crushing) the Serpent's head, destroying the works of Satan
and setting the captives free!
Of course, the promise is fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

He appeared to be mortally wounded when He died on the cross,
but He rose again and soon will return to cast the devil into the lake of fire.
(Revelation 20:10)
And His very dying, "bruised for our iniquities" (Isaiah 53:5),
He satisfied the just requirements of God's holiness.
He died for the sin of Adam, and therefore also for the sin of all who were "in Adam."
"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." (1 Corinthians 15:22)

The promised Seed would one day be born of a human woman,
but Satan was left in the dark as to which woman at what time.
Both he and Eve may have thought initially it would be her firstborn son.

Later on, as the centuries passed, Satan continued his attacks against
all the males born in the promised line, particularly those who were objects
of special prophetic interest such as Noah, Abraham, Jacob, David),
in case one of them might be the promised Seed.

Although God's grace was manifest in this particular way toward woman
-- despite her being the vehicle through which Satan gained control over the world
 -- she was nevertheless to be the subject of special judgment,
though even this would be for the ultimate good of humanity.

Eve shared in the curse on Adam, since she was also "of the man";
but in addition a special burden was placed on her in connection with the experience
of conception and childbirth, the pain and sorrow of which would be "greatly multiplied."

It had been appointed to her to be the "mother of all living" (Genesis 3:20),
but now her children to all generations would suffer under the curse.
Their very entrance into the world would be marked by unique suffering,
serving as a perpetual reminder of the dread effects of sin.

The function of reproduction and motherhood, originally given as the joyful fruition
of God's purpose in her creation, but now marred so severely by her "lust"
for withheld knowledge, which conceived and brought forth sin and death (James 1: 15),
would thus be marked by unique suffering in its accomplishment.
Furthermore, she who had acted independently of her husband in her fateful decision
to taste the desired fruit, must henceforth exercise her desire only to her husband
and he would bear rule over her.

The long sad record of human history has confirmed the accuracy
of this prophetic judgment.
Woman's lot had been one of pain, pain in many forms -- physical, mental, spiritual,
and especially in her experience of conception and birth
(the emphasis is warranted in the original language).
Generally speaking, man has subjugated woman with little regard
for her own personal feelings and needs.
In non-Christian cultures and religions, such as subjugation and humiliation
have been almost universal, until very recent times her husband often having
even the power of life and death over her.
Such harsh "rule," of course, went far beyond God's intention.

Though the husband was the the head of the house, he was to love and cherish his wife,
considering her to be "one flesh" with himself, "clinging to his wife" (Genesis 2:23, 24).
Those involved in the modern "women's liberation" and other feminist movements
are well justified in fighting against the injustices and proposes long associated
with male-dominated governments and customs.
But they should avoid carrying such movements to anti-Biblical extremes,
demanding absolute equality in all legal, political, cultural, and personal relationships.

It is surely true that, in that in the Israelite economy outlined in the Mosaic code,
and even more in the Christian relationships enjoined in the New Testament,
the role of the woman is eminently conductive to her highest in fulfillment,
as multitudes of Christian women have testified.
In nominally Christian countries, of course, and even in many Christian homes
and churches, the proper roles of husband and wife have often been distorted
in one direction or another.

This can best be corrected by simple obedience to God's revealed Word
on such subjects.
(See Ephesians 5:22-33; Colossians 3:18-21; 1 Peter 3:1-7; 1 Corinthians 7:1-40;
1 Timothy 2:8-15; 3:11-12; 5:14; Titus 2:4-5; Hebrews 13:4; Matthew 19:3-12; etc.)

The special curse on woman associated with childbearing can, in fact, be turned
into a blessing for a woman yielded to the will of God.
In John 16:21 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."
Somehow, in spite of the suffering, the joy of motherhood has for most
normal people been their greatest happiness.

 

Genesis 3:17-19: "And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened
unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, which I commanded the,
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;
Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee;
and thou shall eat the herb of the field:
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground;
for out of it wast thou taken: dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return
."

 

The full force of the curse fail on Adam, but this of course included all
men and women "in Adam" (even Eve, who was "of" him), as well as his entire dominion,
and indeed the "whole creation" (evidently the sidereal realms were also involved
in God's judgment, but this possibly was more directly related to the prior sin
of the angels who inhabited them).

"Cursed is the ground [same word, actually, as earth, and meaning the basic material
of the physical creation] for thy sake."
The elements themselves, the "dust of the earth," out of which all things
had been made, were brought onto the bondage of decay and disintegration.
The earth which had previously cooperated readily as the man "tilled" and "dressed it"
(Genesis 2:5, 15), now became reluctant to yield his food.
Instead it began to yield thorns and noxious weed, requiring toil and sweat
and tears before man could "eat of it."
And finally, in spite of all his struggle, death would triumph and man's body would
return to the dust from which it was taken.

Morris says: "it seems unlikely that God actually either created or "made" thorns
and thistles at this time.
He did not "create" death in the direct sense, but rather it withdrew that extension
of His power which had maintained a "steady state" of life and order,
thus allowing all things gradually to disintegrate toward disorder and death.

In like manner, though there is necessarily a good deal of uncertainty on such matters,
 it seems more in character that God merely "allowed" certain plant structures
which previously were beneficent to deteriorate into malevolent characteristics.
It may be assumed (as characteristic of most "decay" processes observed today)
that deterioration at first was rapid, later gradually tapering off
into a much more gradual process.

In terms of modern genetic knowledge, such changes probably were in the form
of mutations, random changes in the molecular structure of the genetic systems
of the different kinds of organisms.
If deteriorative mutational changes occurred in plants, it seems reasonable
and even probable that they also would occur in animals.

As smoothly rounded structures deteriorated to thorns implants,
so perhaps teeth and nails designed for herbivorous diet mutated into fangs
and claws which, in combination with a progressively increasing dietary deficiency
of proteins and other essentials, gradually generated carnivorous
appetites in certain animals.

Similarly, bacteria and other microorganisms, designed originally to serve
essential functions in soil maintenance, purification processes, and so forth,
underwent nutritional changes which, in many cases, provide harmful and even lethal
to other organisms into which they were ingested.
Parasites and viral systems may also have developed in some such way.

However, not all of this was bad especially in view of the changed moral climate
following the fall of man.
As a matter of fact, God told Adam that the curse on the ground was "for thy sake."
It was better that suffering and death accompany sin than that rebellion be permitted
to thrive unchecked in the deathless steady-state economy as originally created.
With no death, men would proliferate in number and wickedness without limit.

The same presumably would be true of animals and plants, as far as their numbers
were concerned, and the uses to which they might be devoted by the wicked angels
and men who would henceforth control them.

And so God placed a curse on man and on his whole environment, thus forcing him
to recognize the seriousness of his sin, as well as his helplessness to save himself
and his dominion from eventual destruction.
The necessity of laboring merely to keep alive would go far toward inhibiting
still further rebellion and would force them to recognize that Satan's tempting promises
had been nothing but lies.
Such a condition would encourage him to a state of repentance toward God,
and a desire for God provide deliverance from the evil state upon which he had fallen.

In the animal and plant kingdoms likewise, limitless proliferation would be checked
by these new factors of disease, predation, parasitism, and so on.
Had the Fall never taken place, animal life would no doubt have remained constant
at an optimum population by divinely directed constraints on the reproductive process.
However now God's personal presence is to be withdrawn for a time,
and it is more salutary to maintain order by means of these in direct constraints
associated with the curse, adding still further to the testimony that the world
was prevailing in pain, awaiting its coming Redeemer.

Thus, the entire "creation was made subject to vanity."
The earth began to "waxed old, as a garment" and ultimately "shall perish".
(Hebrews 1:10-12)
Since all flesh is made of the Earth's physical elements, it also is subject
to the law of decay and death and as "grass, withereth… and falleth away."
(1 Peter 1:24)it is a universal experience that all things, living or nonliving,
eventually wear out, run down, grow old, decay, and pass into the dust.

Instead of all things being "made" -- that is, organized into complex systems
 -- as they were in Creation Week, they are now being "unmade,"
becoming disorganized and simple.
Instead of life and growth, there comes decay and death;
instead of evolution, there is degeneration.

This, then, is the true origin of the strange law of disorder and decay,
universally applicable, all-important Second Law of Thermodynamics.
Herein is the secret of all that's wrong with the world.
Man is a sinner and has brought God's curse on the earth.

The curse on man himself was fourfold:

(1) sorrow, resulting from continual disappointment and futility.

(2) pain and suffering, signified by the "thorns" which intermittently hinder man
in his efforts to provide a living for his family.

(3) sweat, or tears, the "strong crying" of the intense struggle against
a hostile environment.

(4) physical death, which would eventually triumph over all man's efforts,
with the structure of his body returning to the simple elements of the earth.

But Christ, as Son of Man and second Adam, has been made a curse for us.
(Galatians 3:13)
He was the "Man of sorrows." (Isaiah 53:3)
He was appointed more with grief than any other man.
He was wounded, bruised, and chastised for us (Isaiah 53:5),
and indeed wore the very thorns of the curse as His crown. (Mark 15:17)
In the agony of His labor, He sweat as it were drops of blood (Luke 22:44),
and "offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears" (Hebrews 5:7).
And, finally, God brought Him into the dust of earth." (Psalm 22:15)

Therefore, because He bore all the curse Himself for us, once again the dwelling
of God shall someday be with men and "there shall be no more death, neither sorrow,
nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things
are passed away." (Revelation 21:4)
"And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb
shall be in it: and his servants shall serve him." (Revelation 22:3)

 

Paradise Lost

 

The last verses of this important third chapter of Genesis deal with man's expulsion
from his home in the beautiful garden of Eden.
It had been prepared by God's loving hands as the perfect home for His children,
and they had rejected Him.
It was no longer appropriate for them in their fallen condition.
God's justice required punishment; but, even more.
His love required imposition of conditions calculated pedagogically and to make them
realize their lost estate and seek salvation.

 

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

 

As God pronounced the great curse, with all its aspects and implications,
He had also given the even greater promise of the coming Redeemer.
When Adam and Eve heard His proclamation of this "first gospel," promising salvation
in spite of their sin and the resulting curse, this time they believed God's Word,
instead of doubting and rejecting it.

Adam called his wife's name Eve (meaning "life") because she was the "mother of all living."
He thus indicated his faith in God's promises, not only that they would have children
but also that through this means God would send the "seed of the woman" to bring salvation.
Since true faith in God's Word always is preceded and accompanied by repentance,
it is evident that Adam's attitude had changed toward Satan and toward himself,
as God had spoken to him.
He was truly sorry for his grievous mistake and was willing now simply to thrust himself
on God's mercy and trust Him for salvation.

No doubt, Eve also experienced the same change of heart, with also the still further reason
that she now desired to follow her husband rather than to act independently of him.
The statement that she "was the mother of all living" was not a part of Adam's declaration,
since at that time no children had yet been born (had there been, they presumably
would have been born in a similar state, but Scripture teaches that all died "in Adam."
(1 Corinthians 15:22)

This statement was added later as an editorial explanatory insertion, possibly by Moses.
In any case, it surely refutes the idea that there were any "pre-Adamite Man" living
in the world outside the garden, as some have speculated.

Another point worth noting is that Adam and Eve were not in the garden very long
before their sin took place.
God had commanded them to "be fruitful and multiply," and in their initial state
of fellowship and obedience, they would of course have set about immediately
to follow this command.
In spite of their condemnation under death, God promised they would indeed live
long enough at least to have their children and raise them.
They believed God's Word and so were saved.

As "the mother of all living," Eve has become a type of our heavenly home,
"Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all" (Galatians 4:26).

 

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

 

In response to their faith, God graciously provided a covering for their nakedness.
Their self-made fig leaf apron were entirely inadequate;
so God made "coats of skins, and clothed them." (Genesis 3:21)

Perhaps they silently and sorrowfully watched as God selected two of their animal friends,
probably two sheep, and slew them there, shedding the innocent blood before their eyes.
They learned, in time, that and "atonement" (or "covering") could only be provided by God
and through the shedding of blood on the altar. (Note Leviticus 17:11)

Of course we do not know but it may well be that this experience also taught them
that the woman's promised Seed must eventually shed His own blood
in the awful conflict that was coming, before the full atonement could be provided.
In any case, they were soon to experience the reality of this conflict
in the tragic history of their first two sons.

 

Genesis 3:22-24: "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 forever:
Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden to till the ground
from whence he was taken.
So he drove out the man: and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden cherubim,
and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life
."

 

The garden of Eden continued to exist for an unknown length of time
after the departure of Adam and Eve.
The tree of life still grew that, and man was driven from the garden in order to
prevent him from eating of this fruit any longer.
We have no idea what this fruit was, or by what marvelous medicinal reactions
it was able to inhibit cellular decay and enable its users to continue indefinitely
in perfect health; but God could certainly have endowed it with such capacity
and His testimony is that He did so.

It will once again be planted along the Edenic River in the coming age
when the earth is made new again. (Revelation 2:7; 21:1, 5; 22:1-2)

Verse 22 gives a brief inside into the inner councils of the tri-une Godhead.
As in Genesis 1:26, sets at council was recorded relative to the decision to create man,
so now the council decrees his expulsion from the garden and the tree of life.
In both passages, the divine unity is stressed
("And the Lord God said") and also the divine plurality ("us").

The council recognized that man had "become as one of us, to know good and evil."
The statement is not made in irony or ridicule, as some have thought, but in sadness.
Man had once known only the goodness of God; but now he had come to know
experimentally the evil inherent in rejecting God's Word, as well as the necessary
spiritual and physical suffering resulting from such action,
so that he did, indeed, "know good and evil."

His hope-for "goodness," however, as promised by the Serpent, was indeed
a pitiful caricature of what he had anticipated.
He had been created in God's very image, but now that image had been gravely marred
and defaced by his experience of evil.

Moreover, God had to "drive out" the man from the garden.
It seems that, even though Adam and Eve were truly repentant and believing,
they were extremely reluctant to leave their home for the unknown
and harsh world outside.Probably they feared they would never see God again,
since His own "home" seemed to be in the garden; and they desperately wanted
His fellowship and protection.

Also the necessity now to "till the ground from which he was taken,"
securing his bread by the sweat of his face, was not nearly so pleasant a prospect
as freely eating all the fruit of the trees of the garden.
They naturally demurred at God's command to leave;
so God was forced to insist sternly that they depart.

Although a just punishment was involved, God's deeper reason was pedagogical.
It would have been a calamity had they continued in a perfect environment
as simple people, especially eating of the life-tree fruit and living on indefinitely
in such a condition.

They and their descendants to many generations must be taught the true nature
and effects of sin, and of living out of fellowship with God, so that they could
eventually come to know and understand and love Him fully,
as Savior, as well as Maker and Provider.

It is significant that, from Genesis 3:8 onward, the writer (presumably Adam himself,
originally) uses the name "Lord God" (Jehovah Elohim).
God is still the omnipotent uni-plural God of creation; but He is also the eternal,
unchanging Lord of grace and mercy, and, to these experiences,
Adam and Eve were coming to know Him in that way also.

To "keep" (or "guard") in the way of the tree of life, God placed at the east
of the garden two cherubim, with a revolving sword-like flame flashing
around them like a lightning bolt.
These creatures, apparently the highest in the angelic hierarchy,
are described more fully in Ezekiel 1:4-28; 10:1-22; and Revelation 4:6-8.

Satan himself had once been the "anointed cherub" (Ezekiel 28:14)
on God's holy mountain.

The cherubim are always associated closely with the throne of God
(note Psalm 18:10; 80:1; 99:1) and it is thus intimated that God's presence
was particular manifested there at the tree of life.

Later, His presence was especially revealed over the mercy seat
in the holy of holies in the tabernacle (Exodus 25:17-22; Hebrews 9:3-5),
and it is significant that this mercy seat was overshadowed
by two golden representation of the cherubim.
It was here that once each year the high priest entered with the sacrificial blood
of atonement to sprinkle over the mercy seat. (Leviticus 16; Hebrews 9:7-9; 24-28)

By analogy, it may well be that it was here, between the cherubim guarding the way
to the tree of life, that God continued at intervals to meet with Adam
and those of his descendants who desire to know Him.

 

This concludes the third chapter of Genesis.

 

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