52 Major Stories of the Bible - Lesson 3
Genesis 3 describes how Adam and Eve sinned, how their sin broke the relationship with God for them and for all people, and God’s promise of a redeemer.
II. Account of the Fall
A. Satan’s Question
B. Eve’s Answer
C. Satan’s Rebuttal
D. Adam and Eve’s sin
B. Between God and Creation
C. Blame Game
V. What Do We Learn
A. The Essence of Sin is Questioning God
B. God Is Judge and Redeemer
Genesis 1 is the foundational chapter for the entire Bible. It not only tells us how everything started, but it establishes the basic teaching on who God is and who we are in relationship to him.
On the sixth day of creation we learn that people are the apex of creation, stamped with the image of God. This is the source of human dignity, and it is why we pursue spiritual growth, so we will look more like him.
Genesis 3 describes how Adam and Eve sinned, how their sin broke the relationship with God for them and for all people, and God’s promise of a redeemer.
Genesis 6–9 is not a children’s story. It shows God’s anger against our sin, and yet also shows that he is a redeeming God. Like Noah, it challenges us to step out in faith.
Genesis 12:1–15:6 focuses on one man, Abraham, who is part of the fulfillment of the promise God made in the Garden to redeem humanity. Abraham must do two things: believe, and act on that belief. When he does, God makes an eternal covenant with him and with all his descendants, Israel and the church. We too must follow the pattern of our father: believe, and act on that belief.
The authors of the New Testament refer to Abraham as the person with whom God made the covenant as the father of the nation of Israel. At the time God established the covenant, the man's name was Abram. God changed it later to Abraham and that's how he is referred to in subsequent references.
The story of Joseph in Genesis 37–50 is an account of God’s faithfulness to his promises to Abraham, his omnipotence (all-powerful), and his omniscience (all-knowing). Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery, but God worked through their evil to accomplish good — the salvation of the entire nation of Abraham’s descendants. We too are called to faith in God’s promises.
In Exodus 7:14–Exodus 10, we read of God’s salvation of the Israelite nation. The Egyptians had enslaved them, but through Moses God punished the Egyptians with ten plagues and secured the Israelite’s freedom. God is faithful to his promises, and all praise and honor go to him.
The Ten Commandments, found in Exodus 20, are not rules to follow, but they give form and structure to how our love for God (the Shema) should manifest itself in how we treat God and others.
Moses wants to see God. Exodus 33 contains the account of how God could not let Moses see him or Moses would have died; but he does allow Moses to see the back of his glory. This is the essence of Christianity: a desire to see God. After all, God created us to have fellowship with us. We were created for community with him.
The book of Leviticus is consumed with the holiness of God, that he is separate from all sin. The sacrificial system teaches us that sin violates God’s rules, which extracts the high cost of death. But Leviticus also teaches us that God forgives, that a sacrifice can pay the penalty of our sin (if we repent), and in so doing prepares us for the cross of Jesus.
The Shema is the central affirmation of the Old Testament: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4). It calls us to rigorous monotheism in which we refuse to worship idols of any shape.
The book of Judges shows the necessity of covenant renewal, how each generation must decide for itself if it will follow God. Once the Israelites were given the Promised Land, for the most part they failed to renew the covenant and failed to receive the blessings from God. The same is true of our own families.
I Samuel tells of the shift from the nation being ruled by Judges to that of a king. Israel was supposed to be a theocracy, a kingdom ruled by God, and so the people’s desire for a king was a rejection of God. Saul, the first king, did not learn the lesson that God is still king, and what matters for us is to remain faithful. Unfortunately, many people make the same mistake as Saul.
Update: When Dr. Mounce refers to "theodicy" at the first of the lecture, he means, "theocracy." We have updated the outline and the transcription. We will update the audio when we are able.
This is not a story primarily about a young man defeating a great warrior (I Samuel 16-17). It is an account of how faith propels us to trust God, no matter what the appearances.
Psalm 23 is David's cry of faith that his divine Shepherd will provide and protect him in all situations, and that God is lavish in his love for his sheep.
Psalm 51 gives the pattern for true biblical confession, which admits our own guilt and God's justice, makes no excuses, and appeals not to our good works but to God's mercy.
Solomon was the wisest of all people, and yet he died a fool because he ignored his own advice (Proverbs). It is not enough to know the truth; you have to do it. Wisdom begins with knowing that God knows best.
Job learned that bad things happen to good people and bad people alike. The question is, will you continue to trust God in the difficult times? Is he worthy of our trust when we don’t know all the answers and our lives are filled with pain?
1 Kings 14–18 tells the story of Elijah and his battle with false religion. The word of the day was “syncretism,” the mixing of two religions. In our day, we are faced with the same challenge, especially the mixing of Christianity and secular culture. Elijah challenges us to not have divided hearts or divided loyalties.
Isaiah 6:1-8 tells us of Isaiah’s visit to God’s throne, and there we learn the true meaning of worship: the cycle of revelation and response. As God reveals himself to us, and we must respond appropriately. It asks the question, ”How big is your God?”
Isaiah 52–53 give us one of the most exact and theologically helpful looks into the death of Christ. Isaiah prophecies about a servant who was to come, whom God would punish for our sins. This, of course, is a prophecy about Jesus. Here we learn that there is no sin God cannot forgive, and that peace comes not from within ourselves but from outside, from God.
Micah prophesied three sets of what we call a “Woe” (judgment”) and “Weal” (restoration). The Israelites believed all they had to do was go through the external motions of worship, and then they could live any way they wanted the rest of the week. This brings judgment, but with judgment God promises a future restoration.
Hosea prophesied to people who were caught in persistent sin. Their sin caught them in a downward spiral beginning with idolatry and enforced by luxury. But even at the bottom of spiral, after the people have experienced the necessary punishment, God is still present to forgive. Sinners are called “whores,” living unfaithful lives.
Habakkuk asks the question of why do the wicked appear to flourish and the righteous suffer. At the root of his question is whether or not God is righteous. Because Habakkuk asks in faith, God answers his question by telling him to wait. Eventually, the wicked are punished and the righteous are rewarded. In the meantime, the righteous person lives by their faith that God is a righteous God.
Jeremiah and Ezekiel prophesied before and during the exile, when God’s people were conquered by the Babylonians, preaching God's judgment as well as the promise of hope. The hope was the New Covenant where God's law would be written on the person's heart and empowered through the work of God's Spirit.
The book of Lamentations teaches us that there is an end to God’s patience with sin. It is a national lament in which Israel expresses their deep sorrow over sin. It starts by being honest about the cause of sin, not blaming anyone but themselves. But it concludes by expressing their faith in the God who forgives.
Back in Genesis 3:15, God promised to do something about sin. The Old Testament shows God working to keep his promise, a promise that is eventually fulfilled in Jesus Christ. But unlike popular expectation, Jesus was more than just a human being. He was fully God at the same time he was fully human. But it is not enough to know these facts; you must receive God’s blessing in order to walk in relationship with God.
The Old Testament ends on a note of promise, that God would send Elijah to prepare the people for their coming savior, the Messiah. This Elijah turns out to be John the Baptist, who prepares the people by teaching them about repentance. Much to their surprise, the people learned that being born Jewish was of no advantage, and that they too had to learn that they have nothing of value to offer God if they are to enter his kingdom.
Perhaps the most common term used about Christians is being “born again,” or “reborn.” This comes from the account of the Jewish leader Nicodemus. Jesus tells him that if he is to enter God’s kingdom, he cannot get there naturally, through what he can do. Only the supernatural work of God’s Spirit in making us new — so new that it is a rebirth — can accomplish our salvation. All this is explained by the most famous verse in the Bible, John 3:16.
Do you want to be blessed by God? Jesus tells us how this happens with eight statements at the beginning of his famous “Sermon on the Mount.” Contrary to popular belief, blessing comes through recognizing our spiritual depravity, mourning over our sin, and as a result being meek, pure in heart, and pursuing peace. How will the world respond? It will persecute you, which is also a blessing.
Jesus teaches us that prayer begins with us orienting ourselves to our heavenly father, being most concerned with his glory and the advance of his kingdom, and concludes with our admission of total dependence on him for our physical and spiritual needs. Prayer is primarily about God.
Worry carries the illusion that we have some control and that worry can accomplish something. Of course, it can do no such thing. Disciples are to have unwavering loyalty to God. As we see Gods care of his creation, we can rest assured that he will also care for us. Our focus is to be on his kingdom and his righteous; in return, he will simply give us what we need.
Many years before Christ, God told Moses that his name is “I AM.” Jesus picks this name up to assert that he is in fact the Great I AM, and as such he says things like, “I am the bread of life,” “I am the light of the world.” The mystery of the Trinity is that there is one God, and yet God is three – Father, Son, Spirit. This is difficult to understand, and yet we should not expect to know everything there is to know about God.
When Jesus calls us to follow him, as one person has said, he bids us come and die. Die to our personal ambitions, and live daily as one who has died to himself and lives for God. Only disciples are in heaven.
What is the single most important thing you can do? What is the central thing required of us by God? It is to love him him with everything we are. Our love must be emotional (not just obedience) and it must be personal (loving God and not things about him). But if we love God, we must then love our neighbor.
Two major events await the disciples: the destruction of the temple and Jesus’ return. There will be signs, warning them to flee Jerusalem, which happened in A.D. 70. But there are no warning signs for when Jesus will return and this age will end. The disciple’s role is not to wonder about when this will happen — not even Jesus knows — but to live a life of preparedness.
In Jesus’ last teaching before his death and resurrection, among other things he taught the disciples about the coming Spirit who will convict the world of its sin, show the world Jesus’ righteousness, and convict the world of its coming judgment. We know this “Spirit” to be the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity.
The greatest act of salvation before the cross was God freeing the Israelites from Egypt. To celebrate that event, God instituted the Passover celebration, commemorating God’s graciousness act of passing over the Israelite houses and killing the first-born of only the Egyptian homes. But now God is about to perform and even greater salvation event, Jesus dying on the cross. Christians are to celebrate Passover not looking back to Egypt but looking at Jesus’ death and forward to his eventual return.
The death and resurrection of Jesus is the culmination of not only Jesus' life but of all history to that point. Jesus died on the cross so that we can be friends of God, and he was shown to have conquered death by his resurrection from the grave. The temple curtain, which symbolized the separation between God and people, was torn in two, from the top to the bottom, and we can now live in direct relationship with God.
Jesus’ final act on earth was to commission his followers. Their central mission is to make disciples. They are to make new disciples by sharing the gospel and baptizing them; and they are to make fully-devoted disciples by teaching people to obey everything Jesus taught. Because God is sovereign over all, we must do this. Because he will never leave us, we are able to do this.
During the Jewish festival of Pentecost, 50 days after Passover, Jesus’ promise was fulfilled and the Holy Spirit came and empowered all of Jesus’ followers, giving them supernatural power to, among other things, speak in human languages they had not learned. Peter explains the phenomena as a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy and then preaches the basic message found throughout Acts: Jesus lived, died, was raised form the dead, and therefore all people are called to repent of their misunderstanding of who Jesus is.
The church is not a building or an activity. The church is the sum total of all true believers. Christ is the head. We are the body. We are a family. We are the temple of God, the place that he inhabits.
Justification is the doctrine of being declared not guilty of our sins. It is a work of God alone; we do not help. In Romans 1:16–17 and 3:21–26, Paul makes it clear that this declaration of righteousness is based not on what we do (“works”) but on what we believe about Jesus (“faith”), that Jesus did on the cross for us what we could not do for ourselves.
We are not only saved by God’s grace, but his grace continues to sustain us throughout our life. One way that God’s grace shows itself is in how we give, financially. God’s grace enables to to both want to give and to be able to give. If someone is not giving, they should wonder about the condition of their heart and why God’s grace is not active in it.
In Romans 5–8, Paul reminds us of the many reasons why we are joyful. We are at peace with God. We are reconciled to him. We have been set free from sin. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit lives within us. We are adopted into God’s family, assured that we are his children. This is the joy of the righteous life.
Paul wants the church in Philippi to understand humility. They should agree on one central focus, and that is a humility that stems from a right understanding of who you are in Christ. As an example, we look no further than Jesus, who is God, lowering himself to be human, and in return being exalted. In response, we should take great care at working out the implications of what it means to be saved.
Christians are people of the book. We believe that all of Scripture came from the very mouth of God. It is true in all it affirms and authoritative over our lives. The challenge is to come to the point where you really believe this.
The book of Hebrews is a deep theological study on the superiority of Christ over everyone and everything else. Interspersed throughout the teaching are the “Warning” passages in which the author encourages his readers to not fall away from their faith. If people do leave the Christian faith, they can have no assurance that they truly are Christians.
James tells us that there is nothing more difficult to control than the tongue. It destroys people’s reputation, often under the guise that what is being said is accurate. We are hurt, so we verbally lash out. We want to be well thought of, so we feign piety. The only way to gain any victory over the tongue is to work on the heart, since it is out of the heart that the mouth speaks. Unfortunately, gossip often is the natural language of the church, but there can be victory.
1 Peter asks one of the fundamental question of life is, how can an all-powerful, all-good God allow pain and suffering. It helps us grapple with this question by pointing our attention to the realities of our lives, especially the fact that we are exiles on earth and our true home is heaven. We are to recognize in the midst of suffering that God is still at work for our good.
The letter we call 1 John is primarily about love. We have been loved by God, and so we should love others as well. Love is not some simplistic emotion but it involves action: God loved us and therefore sent his Son. Love is the giving of oneself for the benefit of the other.
The Bible closes with the prophecy of how all things will end. While there are many questions as to the precise meaning of this book, it’s central message is crystal clear. God will not keep us from suffering and persecution; it is going to get worst; God calls us to be faithful in the midst of our pain. If we are faithful to the end, we will be rewarded. This is what we are waiting for, a new heaven and a new earth where there will be no pain, no sorrow, no sin. The Garden of Eden will be restored, at last. We were created for fellowship with God, and we long for the day when Jesus will return again and take us home.
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The Bible is one continuous story filled with adventure, heroes and villains, triumph and defeat, good and evil, love and jealousy, plot twists and ultimately, a happy ending. As you read each of the short Bible stories along the way, you begin to see how the Bible stories combine to form the structure of the one big story. The individual characters and their experiences of tragedy and triumph draw you into their Bible stories and help you see the overarching themes of cosmic love, judgment and redemption.
Telling stories is an effective way of communicating ideas so you remember them. Immersing yourself into the 26 Bible stories from the Old Testament and 26 from the New Testament helps you to understand and internalize the character of God, the splendor of his creation, his love for humans, the evil and destructiveness of sin, the wonder of the plan of redemption and the completeness of restoration at the end of history.
Each of these stories can be considered as Bible stories for kids because the plot and main teaching of the story is something that most children will understand. They are also Bible stories for youth and adults because if you are wise, the examples you see and the lessons you learn will guide you for a lifetime.
Father, we acknowledge that balance is difficult, that it is so easy for us to come down on one side of the teeter totter and ignore the other. Father, it is easy for us to come down on sin and the devastating effect that sin had on your creation. It is also easy for us to come down too heavy on the side of redemption, that you love and care for us, died for us, and will bring us to Yourself to live with You in heaven forever. Both of those are true and we acknowledge them before You. Both of them are taught in Genesis 3. Father, we pray as we work through it, as we go home today, that we will go in the balance of understanding the atrocity of sin, but also the wonder of Your redemption for Your sinful creation. For that, Father, we thank You that You are not just a God of judgment or a God of redemption. We thank You, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
We have been working through Genesis 1 since we began the 52 Stories of the Bible. We saw how the one God created all things and talked about the image of God and what it means to be created in His image. In Genesis 2 as I read earlier, Moses retells the story of creation, but this time he tells it with an emphasis on the creation of Adam and Eve. He talks about how Adam was created from the dust of the ground to work the ground and then he tells how Eve was created from Adam in order to be a helper that was just right for Adam. That is what the Hebrew is trying to say, but we cannot say it quite as easily in English. Parenthetically, the word “helper” does not mean that she is of less value. The word is actually used of God throughout the Old Testament. Genesis 2 ends with things just as God intended them. God has created everything and things are just the way He wants them. There is no pain; there is no pain between Creator and creation, there is no pain between humans and animals, and there is not even any pain in the marriage. That is why the last verse in Chapter 2 is so important. They were naked and not ashamed. There was absolutely no tension, no pain in their marriage. The only thing they had to do, just one thing, was not eat the fruit on one tree. God gave them the entire orchard, the entire garden. “Have at it,” He said. There is just one tree and the Creator is holding creation responsible. He is giving creation a way in which they can glorify Him and honor Him through obedience, which is what the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is all about. The tree is the one act of obedience.
Account of the Fall
With that being said, we move into Genesis Chapter 3, which has historically been called “the fall,” the fall of Adam and Eve and hence the entire human race, the fall from what God intended in creation. Falling into sin and was not part of God’s original intention.
Satan Ask A Question
Genesis 3 starts with Satan taking the form of a snake and asking Eve a question. It starts, “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?’” Satan is lying with the first words out of his mouth, and the essence of Satan’s lie is a misrepresentation of God. He is misrepresenting God’s abundant provisions and blowing that one single prohibition out of proportion and twisting it into temptation. The essence of the lie here is the misrepresentation of God and who He is and what He has said.
Eve answers him in verses 2 and 3, “And the woman said to the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden,’” (and she was right), “‘but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden’” (and she was right), “’Neither shall you touch it,’” (which God never said), “Lest you die.” You see, in answering Satan’s misrepresentation, Eve misrepresents God’s commands and God’s provision. It is interesting that the “you” in this passage is plural. Who is Satan speaking to? Well, if you look at artwork, it is usually the snake and Eve, but that is wrong. The “you” is plural and Adam is standing there the entire time. In fact, it is made explicit in verse 6 that Adam was there, that Adam did not come into this discussion later on. Adam is standing there the whole time this temptation is going on not opening his mouth, not lifting a finger, just letting Satan tempt his wife. It is very important to see that.
So Eve, not Adam, rebuts Satan and then Satan replies in verses 4 and following, “But the serpent said to the woman, ‘You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’” Satan comes back with a three-fold lie. It is no wonder that Jesus calls him “the father of lies” because everything that flows out of his mouth is untrue. Look what he does. He tells three lies. First of all, he calls God a liar. “You won’t die. God’s lying to you.” Second of all, he questions God’s character. In modern parlance, he is saying, “You know, God is just trying to keep you down. God is just trying to keep you from realizing your full potential. He knows that if you eat of this particular tree, you are gong to be like Him and he does not want that. He does not want you to realize your full potential and He is keeping you down.” Satan is questioning the character of God. Thirdly, there is the lie in saying, “You can become gods.” Satan is saying, in a sense, “Ignore everything you have learned. Ignore Genesis 1 and 2. Ignore that you have been told that you are part of creation and that you can’t become the creator. You can become the creator. You can become a god. Just eat of the tree and you will become gods.” The three-fold lie; Satan is truly the father of lies.
Adam and Eve’s sin
So Adam and Eve sin in verse 6. “So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes,” (both of them are true), “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 woozy husband who was with her and he ate.” Notice the progression. Adam and Eve believed the lie that the tree was designed to make one wise. Their hearts had become corrupted; their minds had been corrupted. They believed the lie from Satan. Therefore it is out of the sinful heart where all sin originates. It is out of the sinful heart, then, that sinful actions come. They take the one tree that they were told not to eat, and they eat. Please note the complicity of Adam. This is not often discussed in Genesis 3, but it is one of the major themes in the chapter. Adam is the original wimp, he is a wimp of a person, and he is a wimp of a husband. Can you imagine how many times Adam has had to apologize in heaven? “Oh, so you’re Adam!” “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, yes...” But he is a wimp. He didn’t lift a finger or open his mouth. And you know how serious that is? Who bears the blame for sin entering the world? Now, if you read Ben Sirac, one of the Old Testament apocryphal books, it is Eve. Ben Sirac was misogynous; he hated all women and blamed them for everything. But Paul, the Bible, does not say that sin originated with Eve. Do you know Romans 5:12? “Just as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin and so death spread to all because all sinned.” And then the discussion goes on about the effects of Adam’s sin. You see, we see the story, we hear Eve talking, but Adam is standing there, not doing anything to protect his wife or to protect his marriage. And he is there, he is part of it, and he, Adam is blamed for the entrance of sin into the world. Why did Adam bear the penalty? There is a bit of controversy attached to the answer. If I have not already said this, let me say it clearly: When there is controversy surrounding an issue, I will always try to tell you.
When I preach and do not qualify myself, I believe I am taking the standard, orthodox position. If it is a controversial passage, I will try to tell you. I think the answer for why you have Eve doing the talking and ultimately Adam getting the blame, can be found in I Timothy 2. This is the passage of who provides the leadership in a church and Paul says that it is the men who are to have the leadership in the church, and then his reason, I Timothy 2:13, is “for Adam was created first.” Paul is arguing, I believe, that as he looks at Genesis 1-3, the creation of Adam first and the creation of Eve as a co-equal in value, but as someone who was there to help Adam, indicates male primacy in marriage and then in I Timothy 2, hence, male primacy (not a good word) leadership in the church. That is the only answer that I am aware of that explains why Adam catches the blame because he, as Eve’s husband, bore responsibility to protect his wife and to protect his marriage. Because he sat there the entire time, it is Adam and not Eve who bears the responsibility for the entrance of sin into the world. Does that sound a little strange? I believe this is what scripture says. He sat there with mouth shut and did not lift a finger, and hence, sin came in through Adam.
Then Moses moves on to discuss the consequences of the sin, starting at verse 7. Underlying all of these consequences is one very important theme. The theme that underlies all the consequences is that God’s good creation is no longer working as God intended. Now, God was not surprised, God knew that this was going to happen. He is going to make provisions for it before you get to the end of Genesis 3. But the important theme is that God created creation good. He created it without pain and now that sin and the power of sin has been introduced into the world, things are not going to work as God intended them. That is what is evident throughout all these consequences.
The first consequence is interpersonal in verse 7. “Then the eyes of Adam and Eve were both opened and they knew that they were naked and they sewed fig leaved together and made themselves loin cloths.” Nakedness is no longer an indication of perfect intimacy, last verse in Chapter 2. Nakedness is now a sign of shame, and the relationship between Adam and Eve is starting to crumble, and they do something as silly as getting fig leaves and trying to hide themselves. We also know from verse 2 that they are going to start the blame game pretty soon. “Not my fault!” But all those personal relationships are starting to crumble.
Between God and Creation
It is not only interpersonal relationships that crumble, but also God and creations. Those relationships are also crumbling, starting at verse 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. But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ And he said, ‘Oh, I heard the sound of You in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked and I hid myself.’ And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’” See, the relationships are crumbling, they hear God and shame has separated them and they wanted to hide from God. Sin causes us to do stupid things, doesn’t it? I mean, this is one of those really silly stories in a sense. I mean, they know who God is. They know He made them. They know He made everything. They may not be aware that he made nebuli and different galaxies, but they know this is God who created all things. So what do they do? They try to hide from the Creator of the universe by getting down behind a tree. That is pretty stupid, I think. Almost as stupid as the things that sin drives me to do and drives you to do. Just as the fig leaves were to hide their shame from one another, so also hiding in the garden was to hide their shame from God and both were equally ineffective. Sin results in alienation. Here is Satan with the lie, “If you eat of the fruit of this tree, if you commit this sin, you will become gods.” And yet when they sin, the exact opposite occurs, and instead of becoming gods, they find themselves alienated. Not only alienated from themselves, but alienated from their Creator.
And then the blame starts. Verse 12 and 13, “Then the man said, ‘Well, the woman whom You gave to be with me. She gave me the fruit of the tree and I ate it!’ The Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ And the woman said, “Well, the serpent deceived me and I ate.’” Now here comes the blame game. Adam’s blaming Eve, “It’s her fault! It’s her fault!” Well, not actually. Who does Adam really blame? “The woman You gave me.” See, Job’s not the only one who gets into trouble along these lines. Adam is sitting here, so to speak, pointing his finger at God and saying, “It’s Your fault! It’s not my fault! You did this, and she did this!” I want you to understand how stupid it is that they play the blame game. This is the victim mentality on steroids, right? And all week I’ve been saying, “Woos! Just take it like a man, Adam. Just stand there and say, ‘I messed up. What’s the penalty and how can I fix it?’ Just take it.” “It’s YOUR fault, God. It’s HER fault.” Can you imagine how Eve felt? I mean, here’s a perfect marriage. No pain, no tension, everything is working as God intended.
They sin, they realize, “Oh, my goodness, what have I done?” They’re making fig leaves, they’re hiding behind coconut trees or whatever, I don’t know. And then to make matters worse, Eve’s nearly perfect husband before God says, “It’s her fault.” Imagine how Eve felt. I’d be ticked off, too, ladies. I’d be mad. Eve comes along and she says, “Well, I can’t blame God, I’m not going to get yelled at that way. And evidently blaming my spouse isn’t going to work, so let’s take a different tact. ‘I was tricked! It’s not my fault! I was tricked!’” And of course, the blame game never worked with God. You and I are always responsible for our sin.
Then comes the cursing. Please note, we call this the ‘’three curses,’’ but Adam and Eve are never cursed. The serpent is cursed, the ground is cursed, but God will not curse Adam and Eve. He will judge them, but He will not curse them, which is important. Again, as you go through these curses and judgment, the theme that weaves all the way through it is that God’s good intention in creation is now going to be turned upside down. Things that were designed to work smoothly without pain are now going to involve pain. Pain is really the essence of the curse and the judgment and wou will see the word “pain” come up through the verses. And then you will see redemption come for the thwarting of God’s creation.
He starts with the snake and Satan in verse 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. 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.” As God curses the snake in judgment, He curses Satan, and at the same time He holds out the promise of redemption. Did you see that? God is not only a God of judgment, but He is also the God of redemption at the same time. The trick to understanding this passage is to understand the nature of the word “offspring.” “Offspring” is a collective noun and, therefore, you can refer to it as a plural, as in a bunch of offspring, but you can also refer to it in the singular as in one offspring, one descendant. So, there are two things going on. There first of all is the prophecy of future conflict, that the offspring of Satan, the unredeemed, will be in conflict with those of us who are the offspring of Eve, those of us who are redeemed. Satan did not have children and little demons, but the offspring of Satan are all those who are unredeemed, unregenerate in this world, and in Jesus’ words, “those who have Satan as their father.” So there is a prophecy of an ongoing battle between the redeemed and the unredeemed, “those who have Satan as a father and those who have God as their Father,” again to use Jesus’ language in the Gospel of John.
But the word “offspring” is also singular, and in the singular form this is a prophecy of redemption. This is a prophecy that there will be one offspring, one descendant of Eve’s who will one day crush Satan’s head. Of course, that descendant is Jesus. The injury is actually the same verb for both parties, as you can see in the ESV, “He shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel,” but because bruising the head is a mortal wound and bruising the heel is just harmful the NIV switches the verbs around, “You will strike His heel, but He will crush your head.” So when the very cursing of the snake and in the prophesying of ongoing conflict between the redeemed and the unredeemed, the regenerate and the unregenerate, there is also the promise of hope held out. The promise of hope that someday this conflict between good and evil, this conflict between Jesus and Satan will someday be resolved, and it will be resolved through the person of Jesus Christ.
then turned to Eve in Genesis 2:16 and says, “To the woman He said, ‘I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing, in pain you shall bring forth children. And your desire will be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.’” God’s intention was that Eve would be a helper for Adam, right? That is what the Bible says. And yet, because of sin, because of God’s judgment on Eve, there are two things that are going to change. God’s creative intentions are being, in a sense, thwarted. The first one is that Eve will bear children in pain, someday bearing the Child. Have you seen how many times the word “pain” is occurring? That is the essence of the curse and the judgment, the pain that is now going to enter creation. She will still have children, but it is going to be painful. There will also be pain in a second area. The second half of the judgment is that there will be pain in the relationship that she has with Adam. This is somewhat controversial, but let me tell you where I am comfortable on this. The text says that “your desire shall be for [meaning against or over] your husband.” A lady named Susan Full wrote an article about 20 years ago which, as far as I can tell, has been taken as the standard position on what the curse on Eve is. Susan argues that the judgment on Eve is that Eve will desire to be over her husband, to usurp his role of leadership in the marriage and in the family. It is the best interpretation that I have ever read on this verse, and it is well supported and received. The judgment on Eve is what used to be perfectly pain free, her relationship with her husband is now going to be flip-flopped, and she is going to have a desire to rule over her husband. Then Moses finishes God’s words and says, “But Adam will rule over you.” This is compact theology so we have to be interpretive, but it either means that Eve will not succeed or it means that Adam, and therefore all men, are tempted to execute a damaged headship in the family. Some of the translations have “dominate” instead of “rule over.” She will desire will to usurp her husband’s role and Adam's relationship to her is damaged so that he will try to dominate her. It is a controversial passage, but that is the best interpretation that I can find.
I asked my wife, Robin, if I could use this as an illustration and she grudgingly agreed. Believe it or not, every once in awhile Robin and I have some disagreements. Is that okay that your preaching pastor has disagreements with his wife? Good. While we generally work through them and apologize, every once in awhile Robin will grin and say, “The curse is strong with me today.” I may have been born at night, but not last night, and I never say, “Yeah, that’s right!” Normally I say, “Well, I’m not doing my part either. I’m not being the kind of husband that I should be.” This is the judgment on Eve that was passed down because that is part of what Genesis 3 is all about. This is the doctrine of original sin: the judgment on Adam and Eve changed what it means to be a human being such that they did not have the propensity to sin, but you and I are born with the propensity to sin. You and I are born with this pull to do what is wrong. This is what Romans 5 is all about, that you and I are born under the power of sin and we eventually will sin. Our human nature has been corrupted because of Adam and Eve’s sin and that is how Eve’s sin changed women and men.
Then we move to the real problem, and the real problem is Adam. Make no mistake about it, the real problem in Genesis 3 is not the snake, it is not Eve, the real problem is Adam. That is why there are three verses among other things on Adams’s judgment, starting at verse 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.” He doesn’t curse Adam, He curses the ground. “Because of you and in pain, you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground. For out of it you were taken, for you are dust and to dust you shall return.” God’s intention was that Adam was going to work the ground and the ground was going to cooperate with him. It was going to bring forth its bounty without a lot of effort, without pain. But the curse on the ground means that the ground is not going to cooperate, and it is going to put forth thorns and put forth thistles, inedible food, which are going to make Adam’s work a work of pain. It is going to make it toil. Evidently, it was also God’s intention that Adam and Eve would live forever. Now that is not explicitly stated, but I think implicitly we have to come to that conclusion. That is what makes the curse in Genesis so strong. “On the day that you eat it, you will die.” He did not say, “You will die early.” He said, “Die.” And that was how God created things to be, Adam to work the ground and it would cooperate, and then live forever in the perfect pain-free presence of God. This is the two-fold judgment on Adam: Adam will still do his work now, but it will be done with pain, and eventually Adam will return to the ground from which he was created. When your little kids ask you, “Mommy and Daddy, why are there thorns and mosquitoes?” the answer is that our first father sinned and God cursed the ground because of sin and then move right into the story of redemption. Eve shares these judgments, too. Adam just died spiritually, His relationship with God as Creator crumbled, and the process was put in motion so that he will someday die physically.
What Do We Learn
That is the story of Genesis 3. What do we learn about sin and what do we learn about ourselves from Genesis 3? A gazillion things; here are two.
The Essence of Sin is Questioning God
Number one: the essence of sin is questioning God. The essence of sin is questioning God’s character, His goodness, His wisdom, His love for His creation. See, when you and I sin, we are saying that God is wrong. When you and I sin, we are saying that we do not trust His character. When you and I sin, we are saying that God does not know best, that He has put these things before us and He said, “This is what is good. This is what is best for you.” And we look at it and say, “God, You don’t know what You’re talking about.” God says, “Whatever is pure and lovely and honorable”, Philippians 4, “think on these things.” And we go, “God, You don’t know what You’re talking about. And I’m going to read any book and watch any movie I want. I’m not going to dwell on what is pure and lovely.” God says, “Give and it will be given to you.” And we say, “No way! That’s my money! You are in no place to tell me what to do with my money.” God says, “Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy,” there is something special and separate about Sunday as we gather to worship. Sabbath is Sunday for Christians and we say, “Don’t tell me what to do on Sunday. And if I decide to go to church, well, you ought to be happy with that.” Do you see the conflict that is going on? I am overstating it for some, maybe not for others. But when we sin, we are looking at what God has said is good, right, just, and holy and we are saying, “I know better, and I’m going to do what I want to do and You can’t make me stop.” Well, He can. Genesis 3 is not ancient history, you all. Genesis 3 is current events and sin has not changed. It is just the same now as it was in Genesis Chapter 3. Satan is still telling us the same lies, that we can become gods, we can make our own decisions, that we are the captains of our fate and the masters of our soul. Nothing’s changed, nothing’s changed.
God Is Judge and Redeemer
The essence of sin is questioning God, but the other message of Genesis 3 is that God is both judge and redeemer. God is just not the judge of sin, but He is also the redeemer of sin and His judgment and his redemption start right now. Look at verse 21, “And the Lord God made for Adam and his wife garments of skins and clothed them.” See, Adam and Eve tried to deal with their sin on their own with something as silly as a fig leaf. God says, “No your are sinners, you have sinned, and I will and I have to judge you for your sin, but I am also your redeemer.” Where do skins come from? They come from dead animals. This is probably the institution of the entire sacrificial system. We are not told any details, but you can imagine what it was like. Adam and Eve got along with the animals fine. Adam had named them, there was no tension, no conflict. Some people even argue that animals could talk at this time. But Adam looks out and he sees God take one of the animals that he was responsible for, that he had named, and God slaughters the animal. Then He rips the skin off the animal and wraps it around His creation and says, “Sin is horrible. Sin requires death. I will always judge sin. There are always going to be consequences to sin. But I am not only the judge, I am the redeemer, and I, not you and your fig leaves, I will provide the redemption for your sin. The redemption for sin is only through death and then I will wrap you in My redemption and you will live the rest of your days wrapped in the skin of dead animals, wrapped in the skin of God’s provision for your sin.” See that is something else. God is judge, but He is also redeemer. Then it continues, so please read the rest of Chapter 3 when you go home because God kicks them out of the garden. In one sense, it was an act of judgment.
In another sense, it was an act of redemption because if Adam and Eve had stayed and had eaten of the tree of life, and this is a difficult thing to understand, God says they would have lived forever, but it is not good for you and me to live forever in our sin. To be forced to live forever wrapped in the skins of our redemption, living in our sin, never being able to move beyond it is the worst thing that could happen. So God says, “Leave. Just as I judged you, Adam, for your sin, and have said that you will die, that also is your redemption that someday this life of sin will be done and you will be gone. My redemption will wrap itself around you in a way that you cannot possibly imagine.” We know that that redemption was finally provided in the life of Jesus Christ on the cross. When the disciples went out and came back with news of victory to Jesus, Jesus said, “I saw Satan fall from heaven.” Jesus was in the process of crushing the head of the serpent. At the cross you have both judgment and redemption. On the cross you have the punishment of sin, that it is serious and requires death, ultimately the death of God. The cross is prominent in all of history. It is the place of judgment of sin and at the very same second, it is the place of redemption where God has His Son be killed so that you and I, if we admit our sins, if we believe that the death on the cross pays the penalty for our sins, we give up the fig leaves. The world is trying to cover itself in fig leaves, is it not? The world is trying to take care of its sin and it cannot. It is as silly as the picture of fig leaves in front of naked people. But God provides the ultimate sacrifice at the cross. For those of us who admit our sin believe that His death on the cross paid the price for our sin and commit ourselves to him as our Savior and our Lord. We are those who are the redeemed, who will be on Eve’s side, not on the serpent’s side. And someday we get to go home. Someday we will live in perfect harmony with God, we will live in perfect harmony with one another, we will live in perfect harmony with our spouses and our children, and our coworkers, and our bosses, and our employers. Someday!
For those of us who understand the cross we get to go home to where there is no pain, where there is no tension, where there is no sin. We will see God face to face and we will be like Him. Is it no wonder that the early cry of the church was “Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!”
Let’s pray. Father, we confess that even though our hearts have been changed, even though the power of sin has been broken in our lives, we are like Adam and Eve and struggle with this. We understand that Genesis 3 is true this morning, it is true this afternoon and that Satan has not changed his lies. Adam and Eve’s susceptibility and weaknesses are our own. But, Father, we also understand that through the cross, You judged sin, You judged everyone, and through it, You have wrapped Your Son around us. We wear Him like a garment, a garment of sacrifice, a garment of payment for sins, but a garment of hope. Because we know beyond a shadow of a doubt of what lies ahead for us in heaven: a time of peace and painless existence in eternity with you. Oh, Lord Jesus, may You come quickly. Amen.
There is a lot to process in Genesis 3. I would really encourage you to spend time together going through these questions this week and asking how they apply to us.
- What are some examples from our own lives where a temptation was clearly based on a misrepresentation of God’s goodness and character and motivated by our lack of faith? My guess is that it will be hard to find a temptation that is not based on this misrepresentation.
- Why ultimately is all temptation trying to remove the distinction between God and creation?
- Sin always moves from the heart to the hands, and yet so much of what we try to do in church is to fix the outward appearances (the hands) and not deal with the real issue (the heart). What would a church or small group look like that took this seriously? What does Jesus say about this?
- What are your thoughts about Adam’s passivity?
- Sin causes us to do silly things; but when we are in the midst of them, they don’t appear silly. How can we become sensitive to the effects of sin and learn to just accept the blame and God’s forgiveness?
- How have you blamed God for your sin? This is a really important question, and it can cut deeply into our hearts, so be careful in how you answer this. Many people have suffered such intense evil done against them that it is almost impossible to see how God could love them.
- What are the silliest (and true) examples of you blaming someone else for your own problems?
- It is easy to think of God in stereotypical terms as an angry father bent on judgment. How can the example of judgment and redemption going hand-in-hand in the Garden encourage us to think of God properly today?
- The other interpretation of the curse on Eve is that despite the pain of childbirth she will still desire to be with her husband (not just sexually), and the order of creation will still be maintained with Adam as the head of the marriage. Do you prefer this interpretation or the one I gave in the sermon?
- I don’t think of heaven that much. As I get older, I certainly think about it more. How can we encourage one another towards love and good works with the image of heaven in Revelation 21 and 22, and the tree of life?