Here’s a quick summary of the first two chapters – Chapter 1 of Genesis has been about God’s formation and filling of his creation in presenting the gospel of Jesus’ incarnation (light over darkness), death (separation of the waters) and resurrection (new life on dry land) through Days 1-3, and 4-6 respectively.
Chapter 2 focuses on the creations of the dry land, a symbol of future hope (as prophesied through the immediate period post-Noahic flood/parting of Red Sea, which in themselves are symbols of global judgment on the Day to come, which instead of global water will be global fire 2 Peter 3:7) – and much of the 2nd chapter reveals two things. (1) The inevitable fall of man through his creation from the dust outside of Eden and (2) his utterly inability to make his way to the true communion with God symbolised by the Edenic goodness, except by the covenant of the grace of God to sabbath man by gifting him with communion with Him in the Garden (of God – Ezekiel 28:13), and allow man to rest on the very next day of his life (day 7, the Sabbath).
The cutting-down of woman from man immediately preaches Christ’s need for a bride, and thus revealing that in pre-creation, the Father had always been preparing a bride for Christ; and that to Christ, his bride – the church – has always been his first love even before creation (and he, too, in return commands us to love Him as our first love – Revelation 2:4 and Deuteronomy 6:5-9). The husband and wife’s oneness is already an immediate prophecy to the church and Husband’s oneness in eternal glory, a predestination of those who have fallen asleep in Christ (Ephesians 1) – and this sets the scene for Chapter 3, which should follow the Christological logic of the first two chapters.
6 issues to pick up for sake of easier reading:
1. Eve’s mis-quoting of God’s command to Adam
Compare what the LORD God commanded Adam in 2:16-17, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die“.
And then see what the woman said to Satan in 3:3 “…but God said, “You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die”.
Why the distinction and differentiation? 2 points:
(1) The Law and the gospel: Let us notice that when the woman saw the tree of good and evil among other trees, she saw that the tree was “good for food, and a delight to the eyes”. Out of the countless blessings of God, the countless food, manna, fish, bread that God provides, we still complain like the Israelites in the wilderness, and forget to count our blessings and realise how utterly retarded we are to forget God and go with the one temporal sin that destroys both body and spirit. What a problem sin is in our life! That is exactly what sin appears to be before us – a tasty cuisine, delightful to the eyes, captivating our hearts in the dark. Despite setting the even “higher” command that God did not say to Adam, the woman still fell completely short of it, and instead became at peace with the temptation rather than submit to the Spirit who was striving in them. As Owen said in his “Of the Mortification of Sin in Believers”,
“It is our duty to be ‘perfecting holiness in the fear of God (2 Corinthians 7:1); to be ‘growing in grace’ every day (1 Peter 2:2, 2 Peter 3:18), to be ‘renewing our inward man day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16). Now, this cannot be done without the daily mortifying of sin. Sin sets it strength against every act of holiness, and against every degree we grow to. Let not that man think he makes any progress in holiness who walks not over the bellies of his lusts. He who doth not kill sin in his way takes no steps towards his journey’s end. He who finds not opposition from it, and who sets not himself in every particular to its mortification, is at peace with it, not dying to it”.
So also, in response to salvation, we praise God through the life of the Spirit rather than attempt to be ascetic. God’s commandment to man and woman in Eden was not a covenant of works – the covenant of grace was already established in chapter 2 – and this commandment follows the pattern of the giving of the Mosaic laws AFTER the salvation of the Israelites. The salvation of works would see the Pharisaic Israelites attempting to do the law perfectly, and deceiving themselves that they have done enough good when they have kept it perfectly, though their physical death betrays that truth whether before or after the giving of the Mosaic law. Like the popish Catholic doctrine of supererogation, the woman here not only misquotes God but sets an even higher ‘call of duty’ which, like all popish Catholics and unsaved Israelites in the OT, inevitably fall short of. The salvation through faith would see the Spiritually circumcised Israelites responding by SERVING and KEEPING the covenant (Genesis 2:15), maintaining the goodness of the law which, like a mirror, displays our fallen nature for who we are – that we need to eat from the tree of life, rather than tree of good and evil to live. The commandment is therefore to show God’s personality and what we cannot attain. Could Adam have ‘kept’ the commandment perfectly? Unlikely – God knew he would fail, and he had to, so he could live through Christ.
(2) Marriage: A second note concerning her misquoting of the commandment is that the woman was not ‘present’ when God commanded Adam. Here, we receive insight concerning Adam and Eve’s marriage – had Adam washed Eve with the Word of Scripture (Ephesians 5:25-27)? Did Eve respond favourably to Adam’s headship? No – thus, the fall of the woman came through many fold – the succumbing to the life of flesh rather than the life of Spirit; the feeding of the physical flesh (manna) rather than spiritual truth (Christ); the sub-ordination of man to woman as opposed to the headship of man to woman — all of this from her one seemingly trivial desire to eat a fruit from one tree out of several others. That is the shocking nature of how sin is in our life – so seemingly trivial, but like hemlock, once we drink even a sip of it, it is enough to murder.
2. Serpent’s deception and God’s curse on him
Some people say that Satan fell long before the garden was created, before even ‘creation’ itself which I dispute. I don’t intend to go into the discussion of when exactly he was created (and many refer to Job 38, but I’m not sure exactly why since God did not mention any ‘angels’ in Job 38), but Ezekiel 28:12-19 and Isaiah 14:12-20 reveal much about Lucifer’s character (note that Lucifer literally means ‘light-bringer’ or ‘Morning Star’:
12“How(A) you are fallen from heaven,
O Day Star,(B) son of Dawn!
How you are cut down to the ground,
you who laid the nations low!
13You said in your heart,
(C) ‘I will ascend to heaven;
above the stars of God
(D) I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of assembly
in the far reaches of the north;[a]
14I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High .’
15(E) But you are brought down to Sheol,
to the far reaches of the pit.
16Those who see you will stare at you
and ponder over you:
‘Is this(F) the man who made the earth tremble,
who shook kingdoms,
17who made the world like a desert
and overthrew its cities,
(G) who did not let his prisoners go home?’
18All the kings of the nations lie in glory,
each in his own tomb;[b]
19but you are cast out, away from your grave,
like a loathed branch,
(H) clothed with the slain, those pierced by the sword,
who go down to the stones of the pit,
like a dead body trampled underfoot.
20You will not be joined with them in burial,
because you have destroyed your land,
you have slain your people.
and Ezekiel 28:12-19:
“You were the signet of perfection,[a]
(D) full of wisdom and(E) perfect in beauty .
13You were in(F) Eden, the garden of God;
(G) every precious stone was your covering,
(H) sardius, topaz, and diamond,
beryl, onyx, and jasper,
sapphire,[b](I) emerald, and carbuncle;
and crafted in gold were your settings
and your engravings.[c]
On the day that you were created
they were prepared.
14You were an anointed(J) guardian cherub.
I placed you;[d] you were on(K) the holy mountain of God;
in the midst of the stones of fire you walked.
15You were blameless in your ways
(L) from the day you were created,
till unrighteousness was found in you .
16In the abundance of(M) your trade
you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned;
so I cast you as a profane thing from(N) the mountain of God,
and I destroyed you,[e](O) O guardian cherub,
from the midst of the stones of fire.
17(P) Your heart was proud because of(Q) your beauty;
you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor.
I cast you to the ground;
I exposed you before kings,
to feast their eyes on you.
18By the multitude of your iniquities,
in the unrighteousness of your trade
you profaned your sanctuaries;
so(R) I brought fire out from your midst;
it consumed you,
and I turned you to ashes on the earth
(S) in the sight of all who saw you.
19All who know you among the peoples
are appalled at you;
(T) you have come to a dreadful end
and shall be no more forever.”
The obvious keywords here are ‘proud’, ‘guardian cherub’, ‘blameless’, ‘signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty’, ‘ascend to heaven’, ‘set my throne on high’… This Morning Star, Lucifer, who is also the beautiful, blameless guardian cherub, aimed to be proud and to set his throne on high by ascending to heaven, but failed and is crushed and thrown to the dust below. And all this happened IN Eden, and not before. The symbol of the serpent who slithers on the ground is exactly part of the gospel preached – that the most the Serpent can do is bruise Christ’s heel, incapable of rising tall to overcome Him.
Compare the above two quotations to the curse against the Serpent Genesis 3:14-15- which says that he is now “cursed above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on [his] belly [he] shall go, and dust [he] shall eat all the days of [his] life”. Can anyone convince themselves otherwise that this Morning Star is not referring to Lucifer who is now thrown to the ground despite his attempt to imitate Christ, the true Ascender? (Deuteronomy 30:12; Psalm 24:3; Proverbs 30:4). Indeed, Satan, through his works, through his craftiness (which is really another word for wisdom and knowledge rather than the necessarily negative connotation of ‘cunning’) cannot ascend; only Christ can. The sadness here is that even the Lord lamented for Satan – much as Christ lamented for not only his Christian brethren but for all those who persecuted him as well (Ezekiel 18:31; 1 Timothy 2:4). This is no Calvinist reprobation vs. predestination – this is fully Barthian theology, that we were predestined to be PART of the ELECT, the only ELECT, that is CHRIST. What this means is important, for all choices we make must do with the gospel. Satan was also given the choice to remain in God’s favour but he chose to positively reject it. What of angel’s choices we don’t know much about, but it is fair to say that angel’s choices have no chance of repentance or redemption, for Christ died not for angels but for men.
3. “Wisdom” and nakedness – from Woman to Eve (the wife Proverbs 31)
So what is true wisdom, but the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 9:10)? And like the Day Star who is beautiful, it is easy to follow the woman of folly (Proverbs 9:13) who is similarly good and tasty to the eye (Revelation 17:6), the Prostitute who even the apostle John marveled greatly at. Her beauty is hard to refuse, but we must run away fast to Christ, like Joseph from Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39). It will serve to analyse “WHO” this wisdom is, and why Proverbs 31 ends on the ‘excellent wife’. Is it speaking of the bride? Of course not, we are not perfect. Is it speaking of the deity of Sophia? I think we know the answer to that question. Is it speaking of Christ, who has wisdom? Unlikely, for even he had to grow in wisdom (Luke 2:52). But who gives wisdom, except by the Holy Spirit, who IS wisdom, the excellent wife and mother of Christ, a part of the Holy Trinity (1 Corinthians 2), the helper of the Father and the Son in the creation of the world and in the resurrection of Christ. No longer will the Woman remain a woman of folly, but become a woman of wisdom, that through fearing the Lord will the Seed come from Eve, the renamed woman, the mother of all living.
What is interesting next is why the man and woman were naked. Their immediate self-conscious realisation frustrated God, for they now cared more about their own appearance and thought they should cover themselves with fig-leaves, which is so pitiful compared to the animal skin which God provided for them. Man will, throughout his life, continue to build fig-leaves as a veil that separates us from people and that separates us from God – whether that be the Tower of Babel, whether that be our golden calf, whether that be our Molech or Asherah, whether that be our achievements, whether that be our fake religiousness, whether that be the extensive knowledge of Scripture which puffs up the knowledge rather than builds up love… the list is endless. And yet God takes all that self-conscious glory away (Matthew 6:3) by providing them with animal skin, so characteristic of God clothing us in robes of righteousness (Isaiah 61:10):
10(A) I will greatly rejoice in the LORD;
my soul shall exult in my God,
(B) for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself(C) like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
(D) and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
So God intends to protect us with the garments of salvation, the animal skin which he clothed us with. What horror Adam and Eve witnessed when an innocent animal was slain on their behalf, and yet this is unsurprisingly another one of God’s graceful gospel presentations. Yes, perhaps Adam and Eve did not know that Jesus would be born in Nazareth; Yes, perhaps Adam and Eve did not know that Jesus would come from the line of Judah, as the Israelite tribes have not been established. But those details are trivial and merely point to the great truth of the great Lamb slain on our behalf. The truth which is similarly preached in Job 42:8-9, when Job interceded for his friends by supplying a burnt offering of 7 bulls and 7 rams. Why were these innocent bulls and rams slain, much like the animals on behalf of Adam and Eve? Why did Jesus die for sinners who did not deserve his death? The question rings the core bell in Christian theology, and we cannot deny that Adam and Eve (and Job even, if you believe he existed prior to the Mosaic law of sacrifices) were possibly initially surprised, but eventually understood the symbolism behind the death of the animals. Much like the truth behind feeding on seed-bearing plants, and so also man already understood that life can only be given in exchange for another’s death – and this ‘another’ must be the Son of God himself.
4. The sound of the Lord walking in the garden (v.8 )
Now the literal Hebrew for qowl (sound) is Voice – and though it seems like it is referring to the Father walking in the garden, it is more sound to view it as the “Voice” himself walking in the garden. If I may paraphrase: “The Voice (of the Lord) walking in the garden” seems much better. Why do I say that? Let’s look at what John Owen thinks of this “Voice”:
… a revelation was made of a distinct person in the Deity, who in a peculiar manner did manage all the concernments of the church after the entrance of sin. (Works, vol 18, 216)
He by whom all things were made, and by whom all were to be renewed that were to be brought again unto God, did in an especial and glorious manner appear unto our first parents, as he in whom this whole dispensation centred, and unto whom it was committed. And as, after the promise given, he appeared ‘in human form’ to instruct the Church in the mystery of his future incarnation, and under the name of Angel, to shadow out his office as sent unto it and employed in it by the Father; so here, before the promise, he discovered his distinct glorious person, as the eternal Voice of the Father. (ibid, p220)
I need not make my own case for Christophany and the Angel of the Lord – there are resources for that which covers it in far more detail, but I merely point out that it is the intercessor, the Son, who had not forgotten them even in the midst of their sin. The Son who has always been the true image of God, the Son who is the visible of the invisible Him, the one whom all can see, the Seen of the Unseen, the one who is at the Father’s side and makes him known (John 1:18). Then how can this Lord be the Father, walking in the garden and interact with our earliest ancestors, unless it is the Son himself, who has always been our intercessor in the earliest of and since before creation?
5. Curses against Satan, Eve and Adam
It is another misconception to think that the only command which man failed was the eating of the tree of good and evil; but also the failure to have dominion over all the beasts earlier mentioned, and of course the failure to protect his wife from Satan’s temptation. What was Adam doing there, standing by his wife, whilst the woman just ate the fruit happily?! (v.6) Not only that, but we see a disgusting retort from Adam – he actually BLAMED God for the woman (v.12) He gave him!! Again, Satan’s influence has made its reaches; his pride has pushed into the hearts of God’s first man and woman, and they adopted the Satanic tradition of putting blame on others, of thinking one is sinless (or less sinful) compared with the countless other sinful ones. The power of judgmental human eyes, vs. the power of a Godly discerning mind – the latter giving all the glory back to God, the former reserving secret glory for oneself.
What is interesting is the pattern here – Christ spoke firstly to Adam, then shifted the attention to the woman and finally to the beast. Yet the curse, however, begins with the beast, shifts to the woman and then to Adam. Did God not know that Adam and Eve ate from the tree of good and evil, and that the serpent deceived them? Did God really need their confirmation? No – but like the prayers that we speak, God already knows what is on our mind but expects us to communicate it to him in our hearts and speech. Like the salvation that we have, God wants us to speak and live out the truth that he already acknowledges. It is very characteristic of Him to speak to his beloved creation first, before turning to the first culprit. He favours us still, and his favour has not left us – whether through the Voice of the Lord walking in the garden approaching us first; whether He speaks to us first; whether He provides us and clothes us directly… his favour is still there in this chapter. Though we should not undermine the gravity of the situation which led to the suffering of mankind in this incomplete world, we should also rejoice in the truth that God’s personality has not changed – his covenant of grace still applies, and Adam and the woman need only have faith in that truth rather than hide away from God with their fig leaves. Much of our life, God is asking “Where are you” (Genesis 3:9), so let us present ourselves to Him, He who loved us first.
Beautiful guardian cherub, in some level of communion with God like all other (types of) angels. Crafty, wise and having many tools at his disposal, but misused it for his own glory rather than giving glory back to God. Tried to compete against God’s son, but his pride destroyed him.
On belly he shall go, and dust he shall eat, all the days of his life (v. 14). Enmity between him and the woman, between his offspring (seed in Hebrew) and her offspring/seed; he [Christ] shall bruise his head, and he shall bruise his [Christ’s] heel (v.15)
We can assume that child-bearing was either or minimal pain or painless; and that woman did not desire for (‘against’ in ESV footnote) her husband. Whatever the case may be, child-bearing has always been part of God’s plan, whether pre or post-curse.
Multiply pain in child-bearing; desire shall be for (‘against’ in ESV footnote – like the characteristic of sin in Genesis 4:7 which also had ‘desire for/against Cain’, sin which is alive and crouching at the door of every man’s heart) [her] husband, and he shall rule over [her] (v. 16).
Sanctified his wife through the washing of the Word (Ephesians 5:25-27); loved her deeply as his first and only love; was the head of the relationship as she, in return, was his helper and not his slave.
Listened to voice of the wife and ate of the tree [of good and evil], the ground is now cursed and in pain Adam shall eat of it all the days of his life (v. 17), and by the sweat of his face he shall eat bread till he return to the ground for out of it he was taken (v. 19).
Now before we look at each case quickly, something to note: why, in the Hebrew, did God speak to Adam first? Was the curse already ‘in-action’, the curse of the husband ‘ruling’ over the wife (hence God speaking to Adam alone)? There may be many reasons which I’ve been made aware of (e.g. man’s separation from his wife due to his sin; that man had always been in an egalitarian position with his wife, that God does not consider ‘headship’ to be a biblical doctrine, but ‘headship’ has been a doctrine implemented post-fall). However, I think the most convincing is still the fact that the man is responsible for his wife. The doctrine of headship had been established to display Christ’s headship over the church and the Father’s headship over Christ (Ephesians 5, 1 Timothy 2, 1 Corinthians 11), and has nothing to do with the fall in Genesis 3. Is this headship a domineering headship? Is it a type of ‘headship’ that reflects the husband ‘ruling over’ his wife? Of course not, for the Father does not ‘rule over’ the church dictatorially, and neither does Christ do so – yet the intra-Trinitarian dynamic must not be denied, and so the family and marital dynamic must utterly reflect this truth.
Turning to each curse, we have spoken of Satan’s glory prior to his fall so we can drop that. The woman and man is no longer inclined to help one another, but the battle of the sexes have begun. The curse of their physical death and battle of the sexes reveals the truth of their actions – that through their failure to obey God and maintain godly relations, the message preached is ‘Death’ and ‘Discord’, completely contrary to God’s character. Yet, God curses them with Death and sexual Discord in order to reveal to them the ultimate shining light that will blast into the darkness to provide the true remedy of Life and sexual Harmony – eternal life by the Spirit, and sexual Harmony by godly marital and familial relationship with the Trinity in new heaven and earth. It is thus an imperative for all men and women to keep the covenant of marriage, which preaches God’s marriage to us, rather than preach a message of Discord and Death everytime the husband ‘listens’ to the wife (v.17), and everytime we sin. Sure, God’s favour is still with man, but man will still taste the pain of eating from the ground by the sweat of his face until he is released from the days of this life.
Finally, I believe child-bearing deserves its own paragraph. What does child-bearing preach, but that the bride herself must bear Godly offspring in an ungodly world?
15(A) Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union?[a] And what was the one God[b] seeking?[c](B) Godly offspring. So guard yourselves[d] in your spirit, and let none of you be(C) faithless to the wife of your youth. (Malachi 2:15)
And so, the child cries when he enters the world for he is pained in the fallen creation, still yearning for the new creation where God will wipe every tear away (Revelation 21:4). And the wife, the bride, the creation, yearns in pain of childbirth, all of us groaning inwardly for that new hope:
18For I consider that the sufferings of this present time(AG) are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19For the creation waits with eager longing for(AH) the revealing of the sons of God. 20For the creation(AI) was subjected to futility, not willingly, but(AJ) because of him who subjected it, in hope 21that(AK) the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22For we know that(AL) the whole creation(AM) has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have(AN) the firstfruits of the Spirit,(AO) groan inwardly as(AP) we wait eagerly for adoption as sons,(AQ) the redemption of our bodies. 24For(AR) in this hope we were saved. Now(AS) hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25But if we hope for what we do not see, we(AT) wait for it with patience. – Romans 8:18-25
6. Blessing-in-disguise – a new hope
Will we receive God’s true hope of Christ, or continue to work by the sweat of the brow and ‘accept’ the Death and Discord in life like most listless people in this world? The dejected people who think that we are merely insignificant atoms roaming in an insignificant universe? Or will we turn to God’s blessing and continual favour even in this terrifying chapter of the Bible, He who continued (rather than “started”) to work with His Spirit and His Son for our redemption since after the seventh day? God intended that man must live, and to be reborn in new flesh before he even created Adam out of the dust outside of Eden. Death was absolutely necessary, a necessary pain to go through – Christ is necessary, a necessary sacrifice to be made.
This is why God prevented Adam and the woman from eating directly from the tree of life, lest they live forever (v. 22) in their sinful state. No – God had planned for far greater things, and wanted them to move beyond their sinful state, to work the ground in face of God’s law which displays their absolutely sinful nature, so that they must then focus on Christ who can reverse all of that. Thus, we will be clothed in true animal skin, the true robes of righteousness, and temporarily taste his goodness when we live by obeying the life of the Spirit before inheriting new flesh. The renaming of Woman to Eve, the mother of all living, is not ironic – it is a truth that has been preached to our earliest ancestors. Need they worry about working the ground? Need they even worry about death? No! They understood that only through death could they have true life.
Would it have been good for them to take from the tree of life prior to taking the tree of good and evil? Perhaps; but they would not gain the new flesh which God promised them. Even had they eaten from the tree of life immediately after being sabbathed in Eden, it is still not perfect communion with God. We are still incomplete images of God, only made even worse by the Fall, that not only our physical but our spiritual well-being disintegrating at a rapid rate. Yet, through God’s holy provision of the law, we are shown for who we really are – and sin was made alive, so that we would turn to Christ. The true hope had always been there before Moses, before Jacob, before Abraham – Adam and Eve, the mother of all living, had already understood that death was the only way through which we gain eternal life. Not through some pitiful animal sacrifices, not even through one’s own death – but through the death of Christ, the One Seed who ascended, crushing the head of the Serpent who will never ascend.