Summary: The Fall of man, and the purpose of the Cross.
THE FALL OF MAN
It is part of the proof of the common ancestry of man that wherever we go in the world there are stories of a flood from which but a small number of people were saved, and prior to that a struggle between God and man involving a serpent or (in island communities) a sea-serpent.
That these stories should exist in some form in Babylon and in the near neighbourhood of Israel is not surprising. They could easily have a common source. However, early explorers and missionaries found variations of these accounts amongst tribes of people who dwelt at the very extremes of the earth.
Unlike in mythology, there are only two occasions in the Bible when an animal talks. The cunning serpent spoke for the devil. The stubborn donkey spoke for the LORD! Something was already out of sorts in the garden of God when the serpent spoke. In her innocence, maybe, the woman felt no surprise that such a creature should speak.
Perhaps our first parents did not know the history of the fall of Lucifer, the day star in Isaiah 14:12-21 and Ezekiel 28:11-19. But it did not take long for the cunning serpent to draw them into his pernicious scheme to undermine the LORD who made us. How susceptible are we to the devil's suggestions?
The serpent began his enticement of the primeval couple by casting a shadow over the gracious and wonderful provision of God. The question he posed was structured in such a way as to extract a negative answer. What the LORD had told the man was that he may eat of all except one tree (Genesis 2:16-17).
The tempter turned this into the negative, "Has God said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?" (Genesis 3:1). A subtle twist, but please be aware that it is part of Satan's armoury to question the Word of God.
When we are enticed by the devil, we suddenly find ourselves leaping to defend the word of God. But the minute we begin to add to what God has said, we are on dangerous ground. Like Eve, we begin to lose sight of our covenant relationship with the LORD, speaking of Him as a "God" who is remote from our experience.
The woman refuted the devil's accusation against God, but added words of her own: "and neither shall you touch it" (Genesis 3:3). Then the serpent began to question the certainty of death, and accused God of holding back something necessary for our human existence.
It is not wrong to want to better ourselves, but it is never the case that the end justifies the means! Adam and Eve desired knowledge, but rather than growing into it in the God-appointed way they chose rather to listen to Satan's lies about there being a short cut.
Not only this, but the tree with which they were being tempted was good for food. Despite having all the fruit of all the other trees to choose from, why should we not eat the forbidden fruit? And the tree was, after all, part of the beautiful "all very good" creation of God.
The devil's lie concerning the certainty or uncertainty of death was taking root in their mind.
Let us beware of "the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life" (1 John 2:16) - "when the woman saw the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat" (Genesis 3:6).