GREAT MEN OF THE BIBLE: The Old Testament
So what went wrong? After God finished creating everything, He claimed that everything was not only good but that it was very good. And yet look at the situation we find ourselves in today. Our country is going the way of a financially-bankrupt banana republic with runaway inflation just around the corner unless something drastic happens very quickly. (According to Theodore White, America in Search of Itself, nothing drastic is going to happen because democracies refuse to vote hardship upon themselves. If we continue on the path we're on right now, according to White and other historians, our next step is anarchy; after that comes dictatorship. That has been the history of every democracy since the beginning.)
In the previous chapter, we saw that God wanted man to be in a freely-committed relationship not only with the wife but also with Him. God doesn't want robots; rather, He wants sons who chose to be His sons. Such a relationship demands freedom on the part of man; it demands free choice. The result is that when we freely choose Jesus, we truly become sons of God. (We may claim that some people are slaves though and have no free choice. People might be able to force me to do something physically but my heart and mind can choose the exact opposite. Moreover, many have chosen suicide over physical slavery. Choice is embedded in the hearts of people.)
There is a downside to free choice though. Whereas we can choose freely to be God's son or daughter, we can also choose NOT to be God's son or daughter. There are some things we can control in life; there are some other things we cannot. We don't have any choice whether or not we have to choose. We do have to choose—either for God or against God. Our choice is whether we respond positively or negatively to God. In the passage before us, we see Adam and Eve choosing, choosing negatively.
Unfortunately, many do not like the fact that choice also entails responsibility. In other words, I am responsible for the choices I make. I don't get to make choices and get off scot-free. That is not a choice I get to make. I get to make the choice; however, first I don't get to choose whether or not there are consequences and second I don't get to choose which consequences I experience. Both of those are out of my control. The same happens here with Adam and Eve. They did get to choose, but they didn't get to choose whether or not there would be consequences and what those consequences would be. I may not like that; however, I have no control over it.
Moreover, in our opinion, the consequences may not fit the crime. Well, our opinion is exactly that—just an opinion. Young boys who agreed to provide sexual favors to a man so that he would give them drugs had no say over the consequences of their actions--having their livers served at dinner by their host, Jeffrey Dahmer. There can be terrible consequences for the decisions I make, far worse than I could ever imagine, consequences which I have no control over once I commit the wrong. Adam and Eve are going to find that out. The only way to guarantee that we don't reap those terrible consequences is not to make the wrong choices in the first place.
THE PLAYERS (3:1)
We have already met 3 of the major players in this drama in chapters 1-2: God, Adam, and Eve. There is a fourth major player.
|1 Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made.
How does Moses describe the serpent in v. 1?
This word implies that whatever the serpent was, he was a thinker, not in an honest, direct way, but rather in a malicious, sneaky, crafty way.
Some of the students I teach at school think it is kind of quaint that I believe Satan and demons exist. I tell them, though, that if God exists, then there is no reason why He didn't create beings other than man. Moreover, if the NT is true, then angels/demons exist. This may not be socially acceptable; however, Christianity should never be concerned about being "socially" acceptable. That is NOT its main goal.
THE TEMPTATION (3:1-7)
|1 And he said to the woman, "Indeed, has God said, 'You shall not eat from any tree of the garden'?" 2 The woman said to the serpent, "From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.'" 4 The serpent said to the woman, "You surely will not die! 5 "For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." 6 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 desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.
To understand the way the serpent worked, compare what he claims God said (3:1) with what God actually said (2:17). What is the major difference between the 2?
By changing what God said, the serpent is making God out to be tyrannical, almost wicked. Who would want to serve that kind of God?
Now compare what the woman declares God said (3:3) with what God actually said (2:17). What is the difference between the 2?
It is easy to see that the main problem here is that not only is the serpent tampering with God's word, the woman herself is tampering with God word. By the time the woman and the serpent have finished, they have changed God's character from being one of love to that of tyranny, even spitefulness. Very few of us would want to trust the God we create with our lies.
Read very carefully v. 6. How long does it take for Eve to find Adam to give him the fruit?
|. 7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. 8 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 Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, "Where are you?" 10 He said, "I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself." 11 And He said, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from 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 from the tree, and I ate." 13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this you have done?" And 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 more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life; 15 And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel." 16 To the woman He said, "I will greatly multiply your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you." 17 Then to Adam He said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat from it'; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life. 18 "Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field; 19 By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.".
Immediate Consequence: Guilt
Right after Adam and Eve ate the fruit, what did they discover?
This is a first and natural response to sin. They weren't really trying to hide their bodies (there is absolutely nothing shameful about the human body first because God Himself created it and second because before they sinned, they were quite happy to walk around naked. Rather, their reaction was psychosomatic: they transferred the shame they felt towards their soul towards their bodies, a very natural reaction. We continue to feel broken inside; therefore, we continue to be modest in our clothing. Those who feel no shame at all for their actions have no problems at all being exhibitionists. Our bodies work in harmony with our souls.
Delayed Consequence: God's Punishment
Notice whom God addresses first. I think this is significant, showing the role of that person in the home. What makes this even more significant is that even though God knew who led the family of Adam into sin, He doesn't address that person first. Whom does God first address?
Even though God gives Adam and Eve a chance to confess their sins, whom did Eve blame for her sin (3:13)?
Although Adam initially blames Eve for his sin, whom does he ultimately blame (3;12)?
By blaming this person, Adam made one of the gravest mistakes EVER MADE!
Although God gave Adam and Eve a chance to repent, they chose to transfer their guilt to somebody other than themselves. It is no telling what might have happened if they had confessed their sins openly and honestly; things might have turned out a whole lot differently for them and for the human race. But they did not. As a result, the hammer falls. What 2 punishments fall upon the serpent (3:14, 15)?
Because of her sin, what 2 punishments fall upon the woman (3:16)?
What punishment falls upon "Adam" (3:17)?
The result is catastrophe. Not only are Adam and Eve punished, because Adam is connected with the physical universe (remember that he was created from the dust of the ground), the whole physical universe is brought down with his sin.
Moreover, what follows with succeeding generations reveals the catastrophic nature of this event. Adam and Eve eat one little piece of fruit. What's the big deal about that? The next generation sees the first murder. Each generation gets so bad that eventually God will wipe out the entire human race with the exception of Noah. Even today we see the consequences of Adam and Eve's sin.
But why did things degenerate so much and so rapidly? The fact is that God created man with great potential...potential which could be used for the good but unfortunately can also be used for the bad. Adolf Hitler was a tremendous orator. Winston Churchill himself admired Hitler's oratorical skills. Unfortunately, he misused his potential to slaughter 18m people, 6m of them Jews. Unfortunately, mankind has used this great potential to create the great mess we are now all in.
TWO SIDE NOTES
Whatever else we can learn from this passage, we can see that the roles in the marriage relationship were reversed at the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Man is NOT to be the dictator in his household; however, he is supposed to be its spiritual leader. In this particular episode, Adam abdicated his role as leader and yielded to Eve. The result was disastrous.
This is not meant to say that husbands as the leaders in the home should not listen to their wives. Is there an instance of a husband in the Bible who made a major mistake because he didn't listen to his wife?
Regardless, the role God has set for the man is to be the head, leader of the household. Because Adam didn't exercise spiritual leadership at the tree, the result was disaster for him and the human race.
In the previous study, we assumed that Adam was a real person. Now we will see the reason Adam being a real person is important. According to the Bible because of Adam's sin, all people will sin; all of us have fallen (Rom. 3:23). Because we are connected to Adam through physical birth, we share his fate. If Adam didn't exist, then we don't share his fate; we have not necessarily sinned.
This story shows us that we are all connected. Adam's fate is our fate because we are all connected to Adam and to each other. Bummer!
We are all connected to each other. Good news! Because we are all connected, when Christ performs His work of righteousness and is resurrected from the dead to sit down at the right hand of His Father, we who are connected to Him through faith will receive those same benefits. We too are now declared to be righteous because of His righteousness. We too will be raised from the dead, both physically and spiritually. We too shall reign with Christ, sitting at the right hand of the Father. What does Paul call Jesus in 1 Cor. 15:45 to show that we are all connected to Christ?
Just like Adam's action affected the whole human race, so Christ's action will affect the entire human race.