Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 3:22-24

22 And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:

23 Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.

24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

Verse 22 suggests that if Adam and Eve had eaten of the tree of life at this point they would have become immortal, which would mean living forever in their fallen state. It was therefore a great act of mercy that God drove them from that temptation and placed a guard over it.

This notion of living forever has obsessed man ever since. For millennia we have told of the Fountain of Youth, of the Nectar of the Gods, and more recently of medications and de-aging practices that stretch this short life out longer and longer. We may have all manner of pain in this life, but the notion of losing it still terrifies us, and we would give anything to escape that end.

Of course God promises us that death is only a portal to something better. He assures that a short walk into the dark gives way to a bright light at the other end. But it takes great faith to trust in that, and all of us have days where we would trade God’s promise of heaven for Eden’s tree of life. We would limit ourselves to eternity in the fallen world if given the chance. And this is perhaps the ultimate struggle we face. Learning to stop clutching to our world of pain, letting go of control, and just trusting that we will be caught in unseen glories.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 3:21

21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

When Adam and Eve discovered their naked shame they tried to hide it behind an apron of fig leaves, and we all do the same thing. We create all manner of guises to try and conceal the things that we are ashamed of. We might assume a persona of just not caring whether we’re a good person. We might try to overcompensate with a show of false piety. We might become depressed and define ourselves entirely by our wrong. We might try to distract from the pain with media or busyness. There are many ways that we make fig leaves, masks that are different from the authentic self we were born to be, anything that prevents others from seeing the wound inside.

But fig leaves are very inadequate clothes, and God provided to Adam, to Eve, and to us a different solution. The skin that He offered to our first parents is symbolic of the body of Christ. He invites us to surrender our mask, and replaces our shame with the purity of the Lamb. And this new vestiture isn’t about hiding our shame, it is about replacing it. Those that have been washed clean have a sense of being given a new and once-more-innocent soul. And one of the best analogues to that fresh feeling is pulling on a clean set of clothes, just like God gave to Adam and Eve.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 3:20

20 And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.

I had never noticed before that Eve did not receive her name until this very moment. In fact Adam may not have had a name either. In Hebrew, the word for “adam” simply means “man,” and the same word is translated interchangeably into both “Adam” and “man” in my English bible. Thus, during this time in the garden, God is simply speaking to them as “the man” and “the woman.” But at the moment of transition Eve, at least, is receiving a new name.

And notice that Eve’s name is not one of shame. The Hebrew word behind our English “Eve” is “chavah” or “havah,” which means “to give life.” It is a very beautiful and powerful name, a name that frankly wouldn’t have been applicable to her before she fell and gained the ability to conceive and bear children.

This points out the fact that Adam and Eve may have received a curse, but there was a blessing within that curse. Toil and pain were their inheritance, but so were children. Sin and condemnation had been introduced, but eventually so would a Savior and a redemption. Adam and Eve had passed from a glory, but they came into another, and with a promise to return to the first. And when they returned to that first it would be with new titles and honors, including “mother of all.”

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 3:17-19

17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;

18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;

19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Here Adam is told of a cursed earth, of hard labor and sweat before having any bread, of a war against the land just to live, and this description fits my native land perfectly. I live in central Utah, the middle of a desert, where it is possible to grow fruits and vegetables and trees…but it is not easy. Today we cheat and import richer dirt and foreign plants to help us out, but my progenitors extracted their lives from the land inch-by-inch.

And even in the more flourishing parts of the world there is still a strong sense of strife in nature. Consider the monarch butterfly, which has a symbiotic relationship with the milkweed plant. The monarch butterfly, when still a caterpillar, feeds exclusively on the plant’s leaves, and after transforming into a butterfly pollenates its flowers. Neither can live without the other.

But also each kills the other by the thousands! The caterpillars have a ravenous appetite, and consume and destroy vast numbers of the milkweed plants as they grow. They would overrun the species entirely if it weren’t for the fact that the plants lethally defend themselves. They secrete a sap that drowns massive numbers of the caterpillars when they are still young, cutting their numbers to a mere fraction! These two parts of nature may rely on one another to live, but there is still a great, mortal strife between them, and this is a common theme in nature: life, but only through a heavy, struggling burden.

In sorrow shalt thou eat. Thorns and thistles. We raise out of the dust, we struggle until we can struggle no longer, then we collapse back into the dust. It is a bleak life, to be sure, but it is still a life.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 3:16

16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

Let’s face it, this is a hard verse, and it has implications that can be very hurtful. It has been used as the justification behind some truly atrocious customs, customs that have made a staggering number of women live as second-class citizens. And if all that oppression was solely the cruelty of man, that would be one thing…but does this verse suggest that it is also the will of God?!

Well, to answer that I consider my personal experiences, and I must conclude that such a notion is entirely incompatible with the God that I see loving my wife and daughter. The God that I see has just as much passion for them as He has for me and my son. He is remarkably devoted to them, He fiercely fights for them, He is near to them at every moment. I have never seen in Him a desire to subjugate them to another, but rather to free them.

So how do I resolve verses like these? I think the natural response would be to try and apologize for it, to give some interpretation that makes all of the inconvenient elements go away. And frankly yes, a number of such possible interpretations do occur to my mind, and perhaps one of those could be the correct interpretation….but also perhaps none of them are.

If I started to preach any one of those ideas as the truth, I would be putting words in God’s mouth, which I do not have any right to do. Only He can provide the perfect clarification, and thus far He has not provided that to me. And so I must conclude that I do not know how this verse is meant be read…but I do know that God loves his daughters, and that He loves them just as much as His sons.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 3:14-15

14 And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:

15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

Having obtained Adam and Eve’s confession, God now addresses each of his children. And yes, that includes his child Satan. God will address each in the order of their offense: Satan first for tempting Eve, Eve second for falling to that temptation, and Adam last for taking the fruit from his wife.

The King James Version of the bible translates the fate of the serpent as having his head “bruised,” but other translations have noted that the Hebrew word used (shuph) is commonly used to say “break” or “crush.” Thus the serpent may snap on man’s heel, but man will outright kill the serpent.

Which is a wonderfully encouraging prophecy from God! Here are Adam and Eve, having been compromised by the devil and are about to be cast out into the fallen world. Their heels have definitely been punctured, but they are being told that in the end they can have the victory over this foe. This prophecy was generally made true when from the ranks of mankind was found a Savior who defeated Satan and offer reclamation to every fallen man and woman.

But this prophecy can also be true of us on an individual level. We may succumb to temptation once, twice, or many times, constantly nipped at the heels by our foe, but each of us retains the hope to overcome. Many the addict has found a power that they didn’t know was in them, crushed their personal viper underfoot, and moved on with a life restored.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 3:9-13

9 And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.

11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?

12 And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.

13 And the Lord God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

Perhaps Adam and Eve hid themselves first, but I must applaud their honesty in these verses. When confronted with an inquiry they came forward and clearly confessed all that they did wrong. “I was afraid and I hid myself,” “the woman gave me, and I did eat,” “the serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.”

I do wonder whether it even occurred to them to lie. Perhaps they realized God would see through it, or perhaps no such notions had yet entered the human mind, or perhaps they were simply choosing to do what was right.

In any case, as one who has partaken of his own forbidden fruit and then lied about it, I have great respect for Adam and Eve bringing it forth directly. I am never able to move on from my shame until I am ready to confess, and the sooner I have been able to do that the better it has always been.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 3:7-8

7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

8 And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.

Yesterday I mentioned how Satan uses techniques that are uniquely suited against each individual. We all have our secret weaknesses, and many times they are secret even from our own selves. We feel bold and confident, believing there is no chink in our armor, right up until the moment that he pierces us with his arrow.

Then our weakness is exposed and we are ashamed to discover this part that is so willing to trade all our principles for temporary gratification. We lose trust in ourselves, and we feel naked. Having seen this bare side we hurry to craft a persona to conceal it behind, an apron of fig leaves to prevent anyone else from seeing what we truly are. We hide.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 3:6

6 And when the woman saw that 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.

Why did Satan approach Eve about the fruit in the first place? Why did he focus on its ability to give one knowledge? As I mentioned a few days ago, why would he even begin his temptation by reminding her that God had forbidden this? Well, probably because it would work. Because Eve was a particular way, and Satan knew what that way was, and so he knew the best strategy to tempt her.

Sometimes I have been amazed at the temptations that have come to other people, because I have thought to myself “well no one would ever fall for that,” but then they do! And meanwhile I have had my own temptations, which are very well fitted to my own weaknesses, and I have fallen to them where others never would have! We all have different Achilles’ heels, and frankly many of us don’t even know what ours are until Satan compromises us through them. Then, like Adam and Eve, our eyes our opened to our own shame.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 3:4-5

4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

Every temptation comes with the promise of gain. Take the money and you can buy the things you want. Tell the lie and you’ll get out of trouble. View the pornography and you will have a rush of pleasure. Shout at the child and they will stop doing the thing that annoys you.

In short: eat the fruit and you will gain. And why do we give in? Because there is a truth to all of these statements. Immediate gratification does come about by committing sin. It really works!

Of course we have also been warned of painful side-effects accompanying each of these vices. After the rush of gratification comes the lack of self-respect, the shame, the addiction, the broken relationships, the decline of health, the sense of being fractured, the feeling of being cursed. And it is against these consequences that Satan lies, just as it was the consequence he was dismissive of to Eve: “Ye shall not surely die.”

When asked why we sin, most of us say it was because we thought we could get away with it, which is another way of saying we believed Satan and thought we could slip past the consequences. We thought that if we were fast enough or clever enough we could take the gratification of sin while dodging all the pain. We assumed the promised shame was only put upon us by stodgy priests and parents, and if we just didn’t care about them we wouldn’t feel bad about it. But as each of us has learned, it doesn’t really work that way. The pain is already hidden within the pleasure, you cannot bite the fruit without consuming both.