The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”
“Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”
“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.”
The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. So she took some of the fruit and ate it. Then she gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it, too.
Satan, as we read yesterday, wanted his own glory. He wanted his own authority. He was on earth, exiled from heaven, because of his pride and rebellion…his relationship with God had been destroyed by his own actions.
And he was not content to leave things as they were in the Garden of Eden. He was out to gain power over God’s creation. He was out to destroy the relationship between God and man.
After all, why should they hold onto what he could no longer have?
So he approached Eve – not in his own form, which would have most likely sent her running before he could say a word – but in the skin of a snake, a familiar creature to her. Adam and Eve had dominion over the animals…there was no creature that was a threat to them. It was part of their garden-tending duties to look out for all of God’s creation…and in his shrewd decision-making, satan knew that Eve would be comfortable around an animal.
He didn’t start the conversation with a dramatic speech, he didn’t begin with a condemnation of God’s character…he just asked a simple question, using a partial truth. And Eve entertained his thoughts. She considered his words. She didn’t throw down the idea of disobedience as soon as it came to her – instead she held it, looked at it, kept it.
I’m sure that there are many perspectives on this moment of time, but for me this interaction boils down to a few facts – Eve listened to the voice of the snake. She chose to trust in the enemy instead of trusting in God. And, in the end, she doubted God’s intentions for her. She doubted His goodness and she doubted that what He had already given was enough for her.
So she took the fruit and she ate it, believing that God was holding something back from her…believing that there was more for her…believing that she needed to be more than she already was.
At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. So they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.
When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees.
Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”
He replied, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”
“Who told you that you were naked?” the Lord God asked. “Have you eaten from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat?”
The man replied, “It was the woman you gave me who gave me the fruit, and I ate it.”
Then the Lord God asked the woman, “What have you done?”
“The serpent deceived me,” she replied. “That’s why I ate it.”
Instead of becoming more – instead of feeling like God Himself – Adam and Eve felt less. They lost their secure footing with each other, with God. Their disobedience took their innocence and left them with guilt, with shame. God had once looked at them and declared that they were ‘very good’ — but they no longer felt that this was true. They immediately felt the need to cover up, to shield everything that was bare and vulnerable.
Do you think that the cool of the evening, when it seems the Lord would come walk with Adam and Eve, had been their favorite time of day? Do you think that, for the man and woman, the beauty of the garden paled in comparison to the glory of its Maker? Do you think that they would run to Him, eager for His smile and His presence?
I do. I believe that their hearts longed for the time spent walking and talking with Him. I believe they would hear His footsteps and rush to their Father with arms open wide.
But not this time.
This time, they heard His footsteps and felt something entirely unfamiliar — fear. This time, they did not run freely to His side. This time, they felt anxiety churn in their bellies and they did something that had never before crossed their minds…they hid from Him.
And, oh, He already knew – but He knew the man and woman needed to acknowledge their disobedience. This question – where are you? – feels like the broken-hearted question of a parent to their child who has run away – I am still here. I want you here with me – why did you go away? Why do you hide from the One who loves you?
I was afraid, Adam said, and this was true — but it wasn’t just about the fact that they were naked. They knew that His holiness, the beautiful light that they had always longed for, would now plainly reveal what had gone wrong in their hearts.
Then the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all animals, domestic and wild. You will crawl on your belly, groveling in the dust as long as you live. And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”
Then he said to the woman, “I will sharpen the pain of your pregnancy, and in pain you will give birth. And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.”
And to the man he said, “Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains. By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made. For you were made from dust, and to dust you will return.”
Then the man—Adam—named his wife Eve, because she would be the mother of all who live. And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.
The consequences of sin made the world a different place for Adam and Eve – the work that had only been joy and fulfillment became difficult and frustrating. The relationship between man and woman that had only been a peaceful unity became a struggle of will, discordant desires. The blessing of fruitfulness – the wonder that would come with childbirth – would now bring pain with it. The earth itself became a hardship. Death becomes a reality for Adam’s future.
And yet…YET (I like this yet!)…God was still there. He did not abandon them because of their disobedience. His love did not cease with their sin. In His light, their wrong was clearly seen — but it was there, in that honest moment, that He could begin to heal their brokenness.
They’d tried to cover their shame. With their own hands, they’d tried to fix the problem they’d created…but the fig leaves were inadequate. Their solution was not good enough to cover the effects of their sin…
but God didn’t leave them there, insufficiently clothed and exposed to the new threats of the world.
Instead, He took the skins of an animal and clothed them. In His compassion for them, a sacrifice was made. He replaced their obvious shame with His mercy.
Then the Lord God said, “Look, the human beings have become like us, knowing both good and evil. What if they reach out, take fruit from the tree of life, and eat it? Then they will live forever!” So the Lord God banished them from the Garden of Eden, and he sent Adam out to cultivate the ground from which he had been made. After sending them out, the Lord God stationed mighty cherubim to the east of the Garden of Eden. And he placed a flaming sword that flashed back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
Yes, sin had come into the world and ended life as they knew it. But the sin was not stronger than God’s sovereignty or His love…so the story of mankind does not end here. The Author and Finisher of our faith had more in store for us than Adam and Eve could ever have imagined. Promises have now been made and groundwork has been laid for our future.
The serpent – satan himself – is assured that Eve’s offspring will one day crush him. A sacrifice – the first, but certainly not the last – is made to cover the sin of man. We see the Tree of Life hidden from mankind, even as God is already setting the course for another way to give His people the gift of eternal life with Him.