Sin is serious and the church is doing a disservice to people if we of all people, do not take it seriously. Some of the stories about sin may be humorous, but the effects of sin are anything but.
Today we are going to see the reality that sin, which often begins as a desire for something fun or pleasant, often ends up with catastrophic consequences that sometimes cannot be undone.
I. The Judgment Upon Sin (vv 14-19)
A. Upon the Snake (vv 14-15)
The curse was on all animals even though they had not sinned. But the snake was just cursed above the rest. Of course the snake did nothing wrong, but it was Satan inhabiting the snake. Nevertheless, the enmity between the snake and humans has persisted and we are not the best of friends.
He will put enmity, which literally means to shut or close up, between Satan and the woman, as well as their offspring. In other words Satan will no longer have authority over the woman or her offspring. He is referring here to Eve’s seed, which includes all humanity, but specifically to Mary here because clearly he did have access to Eve’s offspring. This enmity will be ultimately between Godly and ungodly, between humanity and evil and so on.
Satan’s offspring will be those humans who follow Him, and the woman’s will be those who follow God. If we read John 8:44 Jesus says to the Jews who do not love him “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with truth, because there is no truth in him.” The offspring or seed may also refer to Jesus and the antichrist.
This great promise in Genesis 3:15 is known as the “Protevangelium” or the first gospel, where God says he will close off His children from Satan’s and that the woman’s offspring, referring here to Jesus, will bruise Satan’s head or literally to “gape” or “crush”, or “overwhelm”. In other words Satan will die at Jesus’ hand and Satan will injure Jesus (bruise his heel), but it will not be fatal. Just a little note in Revelation 13:3, talking about the “beast”, “… one of its heads seemed to have a mortal wound”.
There is also an interpretation that Satan will injure Jesus’ heel or his earthly life, but his head which is in heaven will not be touched.
B. Upon the Woman (v. 16)
Every childbirth can now be a glorious reminder of the promise of deliverance through the birth of the woman’s seed. Childbirth can now represent a type of Christ (deliverance). They even call childbirth delivery don’t they.
The first use of the word “pain or sorrow” in verse 16 literally means “worrisomeness”. The second use is a different word literally meaning “in painful toil, or pang” - the pangs of labor. Notice also the pain before birth is called labor. So childbirth now will not just include physical pain, but also worry, and hard work, which it is assumed was not the case before sin entered the picture.
But pain in childbirth was not the only part of the curse, but also a desire to literally rule or overtake her husband, but he will rule over her. The roots of marital discord are part of this curse. The practical part of this curse for us is that women will want their freedom, but will be frustrated by the paternal power that men have had throughout history. Feminism is really a response to this curse of thousands of years ago.
C. Upon the Man (vv 17-19)
The man is going to have to work his butt off for food and to provide for his family. Again the word here is the same as the “worrisomeness” like back in verse 16. Not only that, he is going to do all this work for his whole life then “plop”, right back into the ground, dust to dust. This compared to the relatively effortless and eternal life that he would have enjoyed otherwise. Nevertheless, the blessings of food, dominion, and procreation were maintained by God.
Sin often begins as a delightful or fun activity doesn’t it? We look forward to it and often enjoy it in the moment, but see the results here and how devastated they must have felt when they saw what the results were. A lot of people probably would not have continued after discovering the magnitude of the mistake they made and what was ahead for them.
Reminds me of the pellet gun example when I was younger.
But we have a merciful God and interestingly He says “Cursed is the ground for your sake”. We often read this as “because of you”. But there is also a deeper meaning. Death was now a gift he gave to humanity, which would be better than the proliferation of evil that would have run rampant endlessly. Death became a somewhat welcome relieving end for those who struggled through life in this new evil world. God provided an end to the inevitable suffering in a fallen world through the curse of death.
The curse on man included sorrow, pain and suffering signified by thorns, sweat or tears, and physical death.
Amazingly Christ later bore the full curse. He was a man of sorrows and grief (Isaiah 53), he wore the very thorns of the curse as his crown (Mark 15:17), he sweat blood (Luke 22:44), offered up prayer with strong crying and tears (Hebrews 5:7), and finally God brought him into the dust of death (Psalm 22:15).
So we see here that it wasn’t just a curse that God threw down as an angry reaction to disobedience. He actually provided the curse for our benefit in this world, then laid the curse on His son, so that we could again enjoy life as he initially created it for us. God has always been able to stay Holy while still having mercy on His children. But we have to die first, both physically and symbolically. I think through baptism we are in a sense accepting this remedy.
II. The Provision for Sin (vv 20-24)
A. The Naming of the Woman (v. 20)
As Adam and Eve heard the first gospel, this time they believed God, and Adam then named Eve. The name literally means “to live”. This was not an act of dominion as naming usually was, but rather a commemoration of God’s promise. She would now be the “mother of all life”, and specifically the mother of the seed of salvation. This naming emphasized the fact that even though they were cursed to death, they still had life and would still be fruitful and multiply.
B. The Covering by the Lord (v. 21)
Because nothing they could do could hide their sin, God decides to clothe them with animal skins. Skins are literally “bare hide”, how cool the use of words. Bare as in naked, and hide which can be both to hide, which they were doing, and the skin of an animal.
This is again a remarkable part of the story. Adam and Eve probably watched as the first deaths of creation took place. The animals that they had been friends with were likely slaughtered in front of them. This was probably done like a sacrifice and would be a type for the atonement through the shedding of blood. This is the first animal sacrifice in the OT. The body of the animals covered them through God sacrificing them, just as the body of Christ covers us through his sacrifice.
Therefore, when they saw their clothes, instead of seeing shame, they now remembered the grace of God who could have just as easily spared the animals and struck Adam and Eve down right there and then. Most importantly they learned that only God can cover sin, and as we read in Galatians 3:27 and other places, that “we have put on Christ”, He is our garment of righteousness.
C. The Banishing from the Garden (vv 22-24)
“Behold, the man has become as one of us”. Here again we see the triune God conversing with Himself. They – the Father, Son and Holy Spirit decide that the humans must be expelled form the Garden because otherwise they could continue to eat from the tree of life and live forever in their now fallen state. Scripture says, “So he cannot put out his hand” (which literally means “have the power to”) eat of the tree and have eternal life on his own.
It could not have been allowed for sinful people to live in a perfect environment. Now, all the human descendants needed to be taught the true nature and effects of sin, and of living out of fellowship with God, so that they could eventually come to know and understand, and love him fully as Saviour, as well as creator and provider. See the plan right from the beginning?
God both sent them out, and drove them out (literally “divorced them from a possession”). Of course to the east, or the evil side - don’t let the little details escape your attention. This may imply that at first Adam and Eve did not go willingly even though they had now probably repented and believed God.
After all as we said before, they really understood now what the consequences of their actions were, and imagine the disappointment and fear that must have beset them to know that they were heading out into the unknown world to fend for themselves without God. In a small way it reminds me of when I left home at age 16 to go play hockey in a different country.
Notice God only says he sent out the man in verses 23 and 24, implying that the man was the leader or the one responsible, and the woman would have to follow.
So Eden was likely wiped out in the flood and moved to heaven where again we will all life in a sinless state for eternity, and the tree of life will be there. Remember this is God’s dwelling place and interestingly the two cherubim are placed at the gates of the Garden, just as they were placed on the arc of the Covenant and in the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle. They are always associated with the throne of God.
There was also a flaming sword around them though they didn’t hold it. Look at the use of the word sword in the NT. Matthew 10:34 where Jesus says, “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword”. In Romans 13 Paul talks about submitting to authority and not rebel for “he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing”. This refers to Jesus as well as governing human authorities.
Galatians 6:17 “take the sword of the spirit which is the word of God”. Referring to the Bible but also as much to Jesus. “For the word of God (Jesus) is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword”… “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account”. Remind us of Adam and Eve?
Talking about “one like the son of man”, or Jesus in Revelation 1, John says, “… and out of his mouth came a sharp double edged sword”. Then look at how Jesus is described in Revelation 19, “his eyes are like a flame of fire … from his mouth comes a sharp sword”. With this sword he slayed the children of the beast.
Do you see how Jesus, the living word of God is all over Genesis. Since we began this series, He has been represented by the skins that God covered Adam and Eve with, he is also represented by the sword that protects the Garden after they are expelled. He is the creator, He is the light, He is the image of man, He is Lord of the Sabbath, He is the river of life, He is our judge, He is our protector, He is our husband and our companion, He is the truth.
He is what the entire Bible from start to finish is about. He is the reason for our faith, and He is the reason we have hope. When you read this book, look for him everywhere. He is there. He is the word of God.
Next week is the first Sunday of Advent where we begin to anticipate his birth. A time to celebrate the joy of what he has done, the love in his promise, the peace he gives us now, and the hope he gives us for his return.
Oh great and merciful God. We are amazed by the plan you had for us right from the beginning before we ever sinned. We thank you that you let us continue to have even a shortened life, and you promise that we will have life abundantly and eternally through Jesus. Lord I pray that we all claim the gift that accompanied the curse, and that those who do not know for sure, would come forward and accept your gift of salvation through the second Adam, the woman’s seed, your son Jesus Christ.
I invite anyone who wants to make a first time commitment to Christ or to renew their acceptance of salvation through Jesus Christ, to come forward today and let us pray with you before it’s too late to repent and the consequences of sin go into full effect for you as they did for our first parents who chose to hide and blame instead of coming to God and asking for forgiveness. For the rest of you, may you hold fast to the faith that is in you, may you wear the clothes of righteousness that Jesus gave you through His body, and may you rest in the certainty of the hope that is in you as you live for Him this week. Amen
Please, if it is on your heart to commit to following Christ today, come up front or to my office and be set free from the eternal consequences of sin this very day.