What’s to say about Genesis 3, the fall of man? The reason for all of the misery in human life, the reason for death is told to us in such a simple straight forward way.
(I figured this would happen. It’s now Friday, I got distracted, went out of town for a few days and am just getting back to Genesis 3. No wonder it took me a couple years last time through.)
I’ve always thought the serpent calling God a liar is the foundation of all unbelief, and that foundation is a lack of trust in the character of God. “Did God really say?” And notice how he twist’s God’s word into his own lie by saying that God said, “You must not eat from any tree in the Garden?” This is a great reason to always pay especially close attention to God’s words so Satan cannot distort their meaning. Here’s exactly what God said in the previous chapter:
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
How fascinating to see what Satan did with God’s words; he completely inverted them. God tells Adam and Eve that they are free to eat from any tree. Satan then questions what God has said, but not what he as actually said. He adds the word “not.” He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” Well, as a matter of fact, Satan, he didn’t say that at all. In fact he said just the opposite, so get outta here!. Alas, Satan’s attack is right at the character of God, and it works.
This is the fault line through every human heart in all of history: Do we trust in the goodness and righteousness and justice and love of God, or not. God is Triune, a relational being, we exist in relationship to him, or not, we trust him or we don’t. The prism of trust, or the lack thereof, will determine how we interpret all of life and life’s events.
Eve responds with God’s actual words; his distortion was too dramatic and obviously wrong, but when Satan boldly calls God a liar, Eve buys it. “You will surely not die.” If she had responded to the second lie, like the first, by just repeating what God had said, things would have turned out quite differently, but she didn’t. Instead she looked at the tree, not at God’s word, and the tree which promised impending death, seemed to her “good for food and pleasing tot he eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom.” Wisdom! According to who? The Devil!
So history turned, and when they ate a very strange phrase is used to tell us what the result is: “Then the eyes of both were opened.” They realized all of a sudden they were naked. I couldn’t help thinking that prior to this as they were working the fields and going about their business that they were stark naked, an interesting image. But what an fascinating contrast is their response and God’s. They sewed fig leaves to try to cover themselves, an obviously ineffective solution and one that points toward the need for a gospel of God’s saving grace and the ineffectual nature of our works. The fig leaves term has come to mean: “the covering up of an act or an object that is embarrassing or distasteful with something of innocuous appearance.” And the implication is it doesn’t work very well.
Now instead of communion with God, Adam and Eve hide from him, as we all do because of the shame of our sin. And you just have to love Adam’s response to God’s question, did you do what I told you not to do? Instead of a simple yes, we got excuses, more of human nature as it became on display. Adam blames Eve; Eve blames the serpent, and of course if God asked the serpent, he would blame God! It amazes me that despite this God starts his plan of redemption, of overcoming the death introduced into the world right here; Eve’s offspring will “crush” the serpent’s head.
Something else stands out as a result of the fall. God says “cursed is the ground because of you.” Life had now become a burden, characterized by struggle, the weight of existence would now be heavy, and who has not felt that. At funerals when the deceased is said to have “entered their rest,” I always envision this crushing weight of existence finally being laid aside, because even when life is good and things are going great, life still wears on a person, as it must; we live in a fallen world alienated from God.
Then God replaces the ineffective fig leaves and clothes them with “garments of skin.” God “clothed them,” as he clothes us in garments of righteousness. The gospel is God’s doing when we don’t even ask for it and don’t even really know we need it, just as Adam and Even thought their fig leaves would do the job and didn’t know then needed clothing from God, that their attempt to cover their shame simply wasn’t sufficient; it would take an act of God to cover that up. How heavy! Right from the very beginning God tells us, he is our salvation!