Genesis 3 Now we come to the third chapter of Genesis, which gives us an account of the first man on earth, the fall of man, his expulsion from the garden, and all of the fearful consequences that followed that sin. We must regard this third chapter of Genesis as history in every particular. It is true that the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil, while actually trees in that garden, do symbolize things, but everything in this chapter is literal history and not allegory. The other books of the Bible, both Old and New Testament, are rooted in this third chapter of Genesis and built upon it. This chapter explains the necessity for redemption, and gives the first promise of redemption.
Some years ago in San Angelo I was the guest of a cultivated gentleman who, by the way, was an avowed infidel. He evidently wanted to involve me in a discussion of infidel points. I saw on his mantle Tom Paine’s Age of Reason. I picked up the book and said, “Sir, this is the book that first led me to distrust infidelity.” I showed him in the first volume of that book, which was written in a French prison when he had no Bible before him, and then in the second volume of the book, which was written after he escaped from the prison and had a Bible before him, the same declaration to this effect: “If the account of Genesis about the Garden of Eden, and the talking serpent, and Adam and Eve, and the flood are to be regarded as history, why is it no other Old Testament book even so much as alludes to these things as facts?” I read that statement to my host. He said, “How did that cause you to distrust infidelity?” I said, “I would not have distrusted it so much if I had found it in the first volume only, when he had no Bible, but when I found it in the second book, which was written when he had a Bible, it made me know that there was no accuracy or reliability in any statement that he might make.” My host said, “Do you question that statement?” I said, “I can find four hundred allusions in the Old Testament books to what Tom Paine says there is no shadow of an allusion.”
In analyzing the. third chapter and making an elaborate outline, this would be our outline:
The woman’s sin
The man’s sin
The threefold immediate results:
(1) The awakening of conscience;
- The trial
- The judgment
- The woman’s new name
The expulsion and the intervention of grace:
(a) The promise, protevangelium, that the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head; (b) The clothing of Adam and Eve in skins; (c) The establishment of the throne of grace at the east of the garden.
Let us take up that analysis in order.
So far as Genesis shows, except by implication, the tempter was an actual serpent. Dr. Adam Clarke, in his commentary on Genesis, says the tempter was an ape. But I have never found even a Methodist that followed him. He has an immense discussion on it. As a curious thing in commentaries, just read what he says about an ape being the tempter. While the New Testament refers to the tempter — Paul says the serpent beguiled Eve — yet in other places in the New Testament and particularly in John’s Gospel, letters and Revelation, the agent back of the instrument is given as Satan, the devil, that old serpent.
This instrument employed in tempting man, as I have already told you, was before the temptation a flying serpent. If you read the book of Isaiah you will see a reference to fiery, flying serpents. This is to be inferred from the penalty put on the serpent, that after he committed this offense he was to crawl, implying that before that time he had not been reduced to that necessity, and to eat dirt with his food. The agent of this temptation is thus referred to in the eighth chapter of John. The promise says that enmity shall be put between the woman’s seed and the serpent’s seed. Christ says to wicked men, “Ye are of your father, the devil, and the lusts of your father it is your will to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and standeth not in the truth because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie he speaketh of his own, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
When death came to Adam and Eve, so far as Satan was concerned, it was a murder that he had committed. Just as in the next chapter he incites Cain to murder. Cain was of the wicked one. You must look on the downfall of Adam and Eve as a murder committed by the devil. They sinned, but when Satan is put on judgment, he is put on judgment as a murderer. He brought about their ruin by lies.
The next question is: What credentials did the serpent bring to accredit him to Eve and thereby deceive her? He is represented as coming as an angel of light. Eve certainly did not suppose that she was listening to the devil. She thought in her heart that the one who was telling her these things had given evidence that he was from God. What were the credentials? There was one miracle, and that was, talk. A serpent talked. Eve knew that no beast or reptile had ever talked before. Here comes this beautiful, flying, shining serpent, and talking. Just like one miracle was a sign to the Ninevites and accredited Jonah to them, so this one miracle accredited the serpent to Eve. So when we come to the New Testament we find that in the last great attempt to seduce the human race, when that man of sin comes that we read about in 2 Thessalonians, he will come with signs and wonders so as to almost deceive the very elect. You must then look upon this woman’s case as a case of deception. In the New Testament it is expressly stated that the woman was deceived. I know of but one other instance in the Bible of a brute talking, and that was the ass that Balaam rode which, under the power of God’s Spirit, talked, and that was a sign to Balaam that the angel of the Lord was there. The next thing is
Whom did he tempt? He did not tempt Adam. He tempted the woman. He is trying to get Adam, but he is too sharp to approach the man himself. He does not believe that he can impose on Adam. But the woman being the weaker vessel, he believes that he can deceive her, and that through her he will get the man. That is the plot. It is expressly stated that Adam was not deceived. The tempted, then, was the woman.
Suppose we commence reading the chapter and as we find a point on the temptation, you notice. “And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of any tree of the garden?” There is a reflection upon the word of God. So at the present time, I come before a man with the Bible and I say, “You ought to do this.” He says, “Yea, hath God said that? How do I know that God said that?” And he suggests and injects into my head a doubt as to whether we have any word of God. This particular temptation Satan could never have brought before Adam because Adam knew God said it. God gave that law to Adam before Eve was made. Eve gets her version of it from Adam. You now see why Satan goes to the woman. Satan comes the same way to you and me. He would not go to Paul and say, “Did the Lord Jesus Christ give that gospel to you that you might preach?” But he will come to you and me and say, “Did the Lord Jesus Christ give that gospel to Paul?” You see we get our evidence of it secondhand. The first element of the temptation, then, is to suggest a doubt as to whether God had issued a law.
THE WOMAN’S SIN
The second suggestion to Eve: He calls her attention to the only limitation in the law and not to the broad permission in the law. “Yea, hath God said, Thou shall not eat of any of these trees?” He did not say, “O woman, how good God is! He gave you permission to eat of the ten thousand trees.” But he points out just one tree forbidden. You recall the old “Bluebeard” story. He has married a woman and brings her to his castle with its three hundred rooms and gives her the keys to every room in the castle. And over the door of one room he writes, “Thou shalt not unlock this door and enter.” A friend coming, would say, “Are you, a wife, shut out from a room here? Now why? He gave you this key to hold you and you are perfectly free to open it.” You see how subtle that suggestion is. Just so, Satan comes to a boy at the present time to whom his father has given a wide margin: “Now, my son, all the woods pasture you may range over; and all that prairie land you may range over, and you may get all the hickory nuts in the woods, and the berries and the fruits in the garden, everything that you need. But there is one hole down yonder in the creek. Don’t you go swimming in that hole.” The boy will go and look at that place and say, “Why can’t I go swimming in here? It doesn’t look very different from the holes below here and above here. What on earth did my father mean by telling me not to go swimming in this place?” You can see how the tempter can make that boy feel very bad; can make him take no pleasure in the broad permission all around, if there is just one forbidden place.
That suggestion has another evil in it: “In limiting you this way is God good? Now if he loved you, why did he not say, You can eat the fruit of any of these trees?” That is very subtle, and would catch the women and boys and the men and the girls now, and does it all along.
Notice the second part of the temptation. When the woman answers the question by defending God she says, “He has given us permission to eat of every tree in this garden but one, and that one he has commanded us not to eat of lest we die.” There is a penalty attached. Now comes the temptation: “Ye shall not die” — that is just a scarecrow, just a make-believe, a bugaboo. There is where Satan commenced his big lying. He is the father of lies. He knew if they took of that tree death would ensue, and yet he boldly affirms they would not die. At the present day he does that way. Men are seduced to sin in the hope that they will escape its penalties, and because sentence against an evil deed is not speedily executed; says God’s prophet, “The hearts of the children of men are fully set in them to do evil.” If the sinners down on the streets of our cities in their hearts believed in the certainty and awfulness of the entirety of hell, it would have a tremendous influence by way of restraint, but they have heard the devil say, “You shall not die.”
He enlarges that temptation. He said, “God knows that if you eat of that. tree your eyes shall be opened. God knows that ye shall be as gods, discerning good and evil.” You see that suggestion is twofold. First, it is an appeal to the desire for knowledge, and an appeal to the ambition, “Ye shall be as gods.” You now know why I quoted those three passages about the king of Babylon and the prince of Tyre, and the man of sin who exalted himself above everything that is called God, setting forth himself as God (Isa 14; Eze 28; 2Th 2). There was an element of both truth and falsehood. Unmixed falsehood never makes a good tempting bait. “In vain is the snare spread in the sight of the bird.” You have to fool the bird. Here is the element of truth: The record distinctly says that when they ate that fruit their eyes were opened, so that what the devil said was true, and yet it was false. While knowledge came to them of good, it was of good lost. While knowledge came to them of evil, it was knowledge of evil by experience and without the power to shun it. As an old writer has said, “Their eyes were opened to know good without the power to do it, and to know evil without the power to shun it.” While on the surface it was a truth, in the heart of it, it was a lie, and Eve was deceived.
In a certain sense they did become as God, and God admits it in the close of the chapter: “And Jehovah God said, Behold, the man has become as one of us, to know good and evil.” But he did not know good and evil like God knows good and evil. God does not know evil experimentally. “Their eyes were opened and they saw their nakedness, and the sight brought them shame.” Cardinal Newman says that the conscience was born right there. I don’t agree with him, but I do believe it was awakened there. Dr. Strong also seems to think that conscience was born there, but man started with a conscience. There had been no exercise of the conscience until sin had been committed, and then conscience shuddered against it.
The woman yielded. Let us see what was the form of her yielding. “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food” — that is an appeal to the appetite — “and that it was a delight to the eye” — that is the lust of the eye, and the other was the lust of the flesh — “and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise” — that is the pride of life Just as John enumerates them in his letter. You see then, the temptation came through her ear, her eye, then through her fleshly appetite, and ambition and pride. When she saw that, “she took of the fruit and did eat.” That was her sin.
But she did not stop at that. I never saw a woman willing to stand entirely alone. So she passed the fruit over to Adam. Now, who tempted Adam? Nobody but the woman. “The woman gave to Adam and he did eat.” The serpent did not tempt him. We need here that passage from Milton describing man’s reason for sinning. I heard a distinguished scholar say that Milton’s statement of Adam’s reason for sinning, namely, to stand by his wife even if she went to hell, was the sublimest thing even in Milton’s Paradise Lost. Over in France, when some great man who has been loved, trusted and honored suddenly falls, the first question they ask is, “Who was the woman?”
THE MAN’S SIN
Let us look at Adam’s sin in contradistinction from Eve’s sin. To use a common phrase, “Nobody pulled the wool over Adam’s eyes.” He was not deceived. He knew God had said what the devil suggested to Eve that he had not said. He believed that if he ate of that fruit it meant death. He never doubted God’s word. But he deliberately ate of that fruit because the woman asked him. Unquestionably Adam’s sin was greater than the sin of Eve, and the death that has reigned over this world has not come because Eve sinned; don’t you think that. It came because Adam sinned. The human race did not fall in Eve. They are recovered in Eve through the Saviour who is her seed, but not the man’s. We fell in Adam. He had DO excuse in the world. He preferred the woman to God; that was his excuse. Many a man has done that. The next point is:
THE THREEFOLD IMMEDIATE RESULTS
First, the awakening of conscience. Conscience is that inward monitor that passes judgment on the rightfulness, of our actions. Before God said a thing conscience had pronounced judgment, and hence John said, “If our hearts condemn us, how much more will God, who is greater than our hearts, condemn us?” Their consciences within them convicted them. Hence at the final judgment, when God pronounces the last doom on any of the lost, they won’t say a word because inside of themselves that same judgment has already been pronounced. Paul, referring to this, said of the heathen who had never had the Word of God that yet they have a law, not a revealed law of God in a Bible, but they have a revelation in nature and in the constitution of their being, “their consciences meanwhile accusing or excusing them.” The second thing was that they saw their nakedness, not merely physical, but spiritual nakedness in the sight of God, and shame followed and fear followed. “The wicked flee when no man pursueth.” Now comes
God is going to hold the trial himself. He is represented as going into the garden in the cool of the evening, and who can hide away from him? Jeremiah says, “No man can hide from God.” The prophet Amos says, “There is no place where the guilty can hide from God.” Ps 139 says, “If I should take the wings of the morning and fly to the uttermost part of the sea, even there thine eye would see me and thy right hand would hold me.” The theme of this psalm is the omniscience of God, showing that we cannot escape from it. We cannot hide even in hell from it. They ran into the bushes. You know an ostrich thinks if it sticks its head in the sand it is hid. Sinners take to the brush just as soon as conscience speaks. They begin to adopt disguises and masks and hide, trying to cover up their transgressions. If they get a letter they are afraid to open it for fear they will have bad news. If there is a sudden sound they think somebody has come after them. The night is peopled with phantoms, chimeras, and hobgoblins.
Now, the sinners are hid and God comes to make inquisition. One of the psalms says, “When he maketh inquisition for blood, he will remember.” A murder has been committed. Two immortal beings have been murdered. His inquisition is in this fashion: “Adam, where art thou?” You used to come to meet me. You had no fear at all. You were always glad to meet God. Where are you now? What a question! How far that question can go!
One of the mightiest sermons I ever heard in my life was preached on that text. That penetrating question went out into that audience, making people take their latitude and longitude, making them discover their whereabouts, making them see how much they had drifted. Where are you as compared with yesterday, or last year? And so God forces an answer, and the answer is a very candid one. Adam says, “I heard thy voice and I was afraid because I were naked.” God says, “Who told you that you were naked? How did you find that out?” It was conscience that told him. That representative of God on the inside in the one that gave that information, and so God, even if he had not been omniscient, would have known that sin had been committed. And hence he says, “Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?” There is no dodging that question. A man may lie in a human court. A man may plead not guilty and swear to his innocence when he knows he is guilty. But when that question of God comes to him he has to answer according to the truth. Adam tells the truth. He says, “The woman that thou gavest to be with me, she tempted me and I did eat.” You often hear that discussed in sermons as if Adam were putting the blame on somebody else. He is telling the naked truth; that is exactly what happened. God did give him that woman, and that woman did tempt him and he did eat because she tempted him. He does not justify himself. Now suppose Adam had resisted that temptation. Eve would have been lost, but the human race would not have been lost, for God could have made another woman. The race did not stand in Eve; it stood in Adam.
Now God turns to the woman, “What hast thou done?” and she tells the truth. “The serpent beguiled me and I did eat.” Every word of that is true. She was deceived. She did not lay this blame on Adam because he was not to blame for what she did except in one particular, which I will tell you about after awhile. She told the simple truth: “I was deceived. I thought an angel of light came, and he came accredited by a miracle. After I had committed the sin and my conscience woke up, I knew I was wrong. I was beguiled and the serpent was the one that did it.” Adam was culpable for Eve’s sin because being present he did not restrain her, nor warn her. The record says she gave to the man who “was with her.” It is poetic license in Milton when he represents the woman alone in her temptation.
God does not ask the serpent any questions. He pronounces judgment. The judgment commences on the serpent. First, a curse, and this curse, so far as expressed here, is on the instrument. “Cursed shalt thou be above all the beasts of the field. Thou shalt hereafter crawl; thou shalt eat dirt. Thou shalt have thy head crushed by the seed of the woman.” It is fulfilled in a snake. But those of you who remember the sermon on “The Three Hours of Darkness” may recall how in that last conflict with the devil Christ put his heel on the ‘serpent’s head, and though the serpent bit the heel he crushed its head.
The judgment on the woman is severe. “I will multiply thy sorrow and thy conception, thy child-bearing shall be with pain. Thou shalt be subject to the man and he will rule over thee.” When the man is good, a Christian man, forgiven of his sin, and his wife has been forgiven of her sin, their relation is like it was before, the woman is next to his heart, and the rule is not the rule of a lord and master, but the two walk together in mutual love and support each other. But if he is a bad man, see how he rules over the woman. Look at India, China, Africa: there the women are slaves, goods and chattels. Let one of these heathen get into straits and he will sell his wife. Look at the Indians. One of the most eloquent things I ever heard was by Dr. Winkler in an address on foreign missions. He said, “I stepped into an art gallery and saw the picture of an Indian chief. He seemed to have the very strength of an angel, and by his side was an Indian maiden, and how beautiful she was.” Here Dr. Broadus intervened with: “Stop describing that girl before all these young men fall in love with her” — but Dr. Winkler went on — “But who is that crouched behind the man and the girl? It is a wretched old hag. Who is she? She is the Indian’s wife. She hoes his corn and cooks his venison and carries his burden and is his slave. And as she is, so will this beautiful daughter be when she marries.” Now turn to the curse on the man. “Cursed be the ground for thy sake.” The whole creation was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but because it was man’s home and a curse was put upon the earth where man lived.
The next item of the outline is:
THE WOMAN’S NEW NAME
In the second chapter of Genesis Adam calls her woman, that is, derived from the man. After this promise is made that the seed of the woman shall bruise the serpent’s head, he changes her name to Eve, signifying the mother of all the living. I am sure that there is some recognition of the promise in the giving of this name — that she was to be the mother through whom all who would live forever would obtain their life. There is a great significance in that change of name. Just like there was in the change of Abram’s name to Abraham; in Sarai’s name to Sarah.
The last item of the outline is:
THE EXPULSION AND THE INTERVENTION OF GRACE
The intervention of grace consists of three things: first, a distinct promise that the seed of the woman would bruise the serpent’s head. That is called the protevangelium. That is the first ray of light concerning the coming Redeemer, that he was to be the seed of the woman. When the Messiah came we find that a woman was his mother but no man was his father. Through the man, therefore, death came into the world; through the woman the Saviour came into the world. The second idea of the plan of redemption is that consciousness of nakedness led these people to the vain attempt to clothe themselves. But grace intervenes with a better clothing of the skins of animals. Every intelligent student of the Old Testament has found at least a suggestion in this that no man can ever cover his spiritual nakedness in the sight of God by his own works, and that if he be covered it must be with the righteousness which God provides. But the principal thing in the intervention of grace is in this last verse which I quote: “So he drove out the man, and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden the Cherubim and the flaming sword which turned every way to keep the way to the tree of life.” Now, I am no Hebraist, and I have no issue to make with those who are really Hebrew scholars, but I will cite three distinguished Hebraista who give a somewhat different rendering to this passage. Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown, in their commentary on Genesis, make that read this way: “And he [i.e., God] dwelt at the east of the garden of Eden between the Cherubim, and a Shekinah [a fire-tongue, or fire-sword] to keep open the way to the tree of life.” The same thought is presented more clearly in the Jerusalem Targum, or Jewish commentary on the Old Testament. Dr. Gill, the great Baptist Hebraist of England, presents the same thought. Whatever may be the grammatical construction of this passage in the Hebrew, it means this: that having expelled man from the garden, God established a throne of grace and furnished the means to recover from the death which had been pronounced. There was the mercy scat and there were the Cherubim, and there was the symbol of divine presence in that fire tongue or sword, and whoever worshipped God after man sinned must come to the mercy seat to worship and he must approach God through a sacrifice. In no other way than through an atonement could one attain to the tree of life. All passages that refer to the Cherubim connect them with grace and the mercy seat, not as ministers of divine vengeance, but as symbols of divine mercy. Moses, in Ex 25, constructs the ark of the tabernacle exactly like the one here used in the garden of Eden. He has a covering or mercy seat, with two Cherubim with a flame between the Cherubim. That was the throne of grace, or mercy seat, and sinners came to that through the blood of a sacrifice. So we may be certain that Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown, and the Jerusalem Targum, and Dr. Gill have given the spiritual interpretation of this passage. It is true that the object was to bar out man except through the intervention of the mercy seat, and it is true that the purpose of the mercy seat was to keep open the way to the tree of life. “Blessed are they who have washed their robes that they may have a right to the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”
Let us understand that immediately after the fall of man grace intervened. First, with a promise of a Redeemer who would destroy the works of the devil. Second, with clothing symbolizing the righteousness of Christ. Third, with a mercy seat indicating the method by which God could be savingly approached. From this time on until the flood that mercy seat is at the east of the garden and whoever would partake of the tree of life and live forever must come to God where he dwells between the Cherubim, where the Shekinah is the symbol of his presence, and that we can only come to him in the blood of an atonement. You have only to commence the next chapter to see how worshipers came before the Lord with an offering. Where was the Lord? There was a particular place, just as the ark of the covenant was in a place. They came before the Lord, where he dwelt between the Cherubim, with their sacrifices. Cain refused to offer the sacrifice that God’s law required, having no faith in salvation by a Redeemer, and he went away from the presence of the Lord there at the mercy seat, and all his descendants went away from the presence and lived without God and without hope in the world. Every Bible student ought to fasten the mind and the heart on this last verse of the third chapter of Genesis as the establishment of the throne of grace.
By: B.H. Carol