Genesis 3:14-19

November 22, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Posted in Bible Study | Leave a comment
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The LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life; And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.” To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.” Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life. “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field; By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.”

Today, we look at the response of God to the sin of Adam and Eve. Many would say that this punishment for them seems harsh. I would say that those people don’t understand God and miss some simple but important truths in what has happened in chapter 3 of Genesis. When God asked His questions, He started with the man and then went to the woman. He didn’t even ask the serpent. As I said last week, this wasn’t because God didn’t know what had happened (contrary to what open theists may believe), but it was because God was giving them a chance to confess their sins. God is sovereign and omniscient and He knew that this was going to happen before He ever started the Creation. Like Adam and Eve, God has given each of us numerous chances to confess our sins; as a matter of fact, every day that you and I wake up in the morning we have another chance to confess our sins before God. When Adam and Eve passed the blame for their sin to someone else (and ultimately God), God began to judge their sins right then and there. He laid out the punishments that each would receive for their role in the Fall.

The first one that God judges is the serpent. In verse 14, He curses the serpent more than all of the cattle and the beasts of the field. In verse 15, He tells the serpent (actually Satan, who is in the serpent) that from now on, there will be emnity between him and the woman and between his seed and the seed of the woman. This is an interesting statement on many levels. First, it is God who placed the emnity there. God has said from this point on, there will be hatred and hostility between him and the woman. He also says that there will be hostility and hatred between his seed and the seed of the woman. This is somewhat strange. How can Satan have seed (descendants)? Satan’s seed are spiritual descendants. This is seen in John 8 when Jesus is talking to the Jews about who their Father is:

They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus *said to them, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham. “But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. “You are doing the deeds of your father.” They said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. “Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word. “You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. “But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. “Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? “He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.” (John 8:39-47)

It is also seen in 1 John 3:

Little children, make sure no one deceives you; the one who practices righteousness is righteous, just as He is righteous; the one who practices sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil. No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:7-10)

The children/seed of the devil are those who practice sin. These will have emnity with the woman’s seed. But, this brings up another interesting point. It talks about emnity between the seed of Satan and the seed of the woman; but women don’t have seed… Men do. So who could the seed of the woman be? This verse is the first proclamation of the gospel! It is called the Proto-evangelion. The seed being talked about here is not Eve’s seed (directly). Instead, it is the seed of the virigin that is overshadowed by the Holy Spirit! The seed of the woman is Jesus Christ. There will be emnity between those who practice sin and Jesus Christ from now on; and that is still true today. Jesus extended this to all of those who follow Him:

 “You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved. (Matt. 10:22 and others)

“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. (John 15:18)

Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. (1 John 3:13)

 Those who follow Christ are going to be hated by the world. It is the same as it has been from the beginning. But, God gives Satan the final outcome even from the beginning. While the serpent will bruise Jesus’ heel, Jesus will bruise (crush) his head. From the Fall, Satan knew that he was finished. This is an aside, but I find it somewhat funny that Satan strove to stoke the Pharisees pride and to get Judas to betray Jesus so that He would be killed; and that was God’s entire plan from the beginning! Satan played right into God’s hands! AND, none of it happened until God’s timing had arrived!

After cursing the serpent, God turns to Eve, but He doesn’t curse her. He punishes her by saying that the pain that she would have had in childbirth will be multiplied. Childbearing will be painful and sorrowful, where it wouldn’t have been so before. Her desire will be for her husband and her husband will rule over her. Before sin, this rule was still there, but it was couched in love and respect by Adam for his wife. After the sin took place, the rule was less about love and respect. It is why we have the admonitions for husbands and wives in the New Testament:

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body. FOR THIS REASON A MAN SHALL LEAVE HIS FATHER AND MOTHER AND SHALL BE JOINED TO HIS WIFE, AND THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:22-33)

In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. Your adornment must not be merely external–braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear. You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered. To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. (1 Peter 3:1-9)

This is how it was in the beginning. This is how it is supposed to be now for Christian husbands and wives. When Adam and Eve sinned, God placed the woman in a position where she was subject to the man. This didn’t remove her value in God’s eyes, nor was it supposed to remove her value in her husband’s eyes either.

Finally, God moves to the man. The judging of the man’s sin is important. Adam was what is known as the federal head of all mankind. This is a biblical concept where the leader or head of the household is responsible for all of those under him. It is why some of the punishments in the Old Testament involved entire families. Because Adam was the head of mankind, his actions affected his descendants from then on. This means that all of those under his authority were affected by his sin. Many see this as unfair and say that if they had been there, it never would have happened. I can only laugh at this. Adam was perfect! He had never sinned in his life up to that point. Nowadays, the devil seems to have to do so little to get man to commit the smallest of sins. How hard is it for Satan to get you to lie, steal, look with lust, hate someone, or disobey your parents? That’s my point. You and I couldn’t have done any better than Adam did. Now, when we look at how God judges the man, we see that he is not cursed himself. But, the ground is cursed. Where tending the earth and growing things was relatively easy before; now it would be toil and labor. Here Adam would deal with things that he had never dealt with before. Now, while tending the ground, he would face thorns and thistles. He would have to sweat to eat the fruit of his work. God also reminds Adam of the consequences of his disobedience:

“Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field; By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.”

God had told both Adam and Eve that they would die the day that they ate of the fruit. And they did – spiritually. They were now disconnected from God. Where they had perfect fellowship with Him before, now, it was strained at best. Some people who are at odds with God have trouble with this. “But it says that they will surely die the day they eat of it”. And they are right, it does say that. And, when Adam and Eve sinned, they did begin to die. They died spiritually and they were dying physically. Because all of creation had been perfect up to the time of their sin, it would take longer, but they were going to die. Others have a problem with the fact that they didn’t die immediately. They see this as a lie from God and use it as an excuse to disbelieve His truth. I don’t see it as a lie at all. God said that they would die that day and they did. But, what they miss is the very same thing that they miss in the rest of the scriptures as well.

The fact that God didn’t kill Adam and Eve on the spot for disobeying Him shows God’s mercy. It was mercy that kept Adam and Eve alive that day and they knew it. He shows that same mercy to us every breath we take. It would be fully justifiable for God to strike any one of us down at any moment for the sins that we’ve committed, but He doesn’t. Have you ever wondered why? Why doesn’t God just strike people down for their sins when it is obvious that those people are in rebellion against Him and have no desire to turn their lives over to Him? First, I must point you back to both God’s mercy and your own life. Such were some as you (1 Corinthians 6:11). If it hadn’t been for God’s mercy, I wouldn’t be saved and neither would anyone else. For whatever reason, God graciously chose to allow me to live long enough to recognize my sin and my need for a Savior. He then gave me the gifts of faith and repentance in order to call out to Jesus to save me from those sins and be born again. Those who are in rebellion to God now are no different than those who are born again, other than the simple fact that those who are born again have been saved by a gracious God.

But there is another thought that comes to mind concerning why God doesn’t just strike down sinners (and truthfully He does with some although I cannot give you a specific reason for each instance). God is the all powerful, transcendent, holy, just, Judge of all the universe. There aren’t enough adjectives in the human language to allow us to give an accurate description of just how big and how powerful and how perfect God is. And, this is true whether man ever believes it or not. This too-large-to-describe God deserves glory and honor from us each and every day for everything that we have (including the air that we’re breathing and the life that moves our bodies!). The Bible says that God holds the entire universe together by the power of His Word (Hebrews 1:3). It is undeniable that God will get glory from each and every person that has ever lives, either by the repentant sinner giving God the praise that He deserves for what He’s done or by the unrepentant sinner spending eternity in hell as punishment for his sins against an eternal, morally perfect God. But, in the grand scheme of things, what is it to God to send a sinner to hell? What is man to God? That would be like sending out ants to fight against an Abrams tank. There would very little gained. However, if the just Judge saves an sinful wretch from the eternal flames of hell, not because the person earned it, but because He was merciful, how much more glory does God gain?

Some would immediately ask, “Then why doesn’t God just save everyone from hell and get all of the glory that He possibly could?” The answer to that is because for God to do that would make Him unjust. According to the character and nature of God, He must punish sin. If God were to just “let everyone in”, then some sin would go unpunished and that would be unjust, which would make God not God (if that makes sense). But, God did provide a way for sinful men, women, and children to be saved from hell and His wrath. It is the same way that it has happened from the Proto-evangelion. God poured Himself into human flesh, lived among His creation for 33 1/2 years, and then allowed that creation to crucify Him, killing Him on a wooden cross. Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, God made a way for sinful man to be reconciled to Him. All that is needed is for that sinful person to recognize that they are sinful; that they’ve broken God’s laws by lying, stealing, lusting, being angry, coveting, etc. They must understand that any one of these things is enough to send a person to hell. If they realize this, then they can realize that they can’t save themselves and they need someone to save them. They can call out to Jesus to save them through repentance for their sins and then put their faith in Christ alone (not their works) to save them. If this is done, then that person is born again and has been saved by Christ. Hell is no longer their destination and God’s wrath no longer abides on them. They will have a new heart with new desires and will hate sin.

This is the promise given at the time of the Fall, and it is still the promise given today. It is my hope that you will trust in this promise and repent of your sins while there is still time….

Next week, we’ll look at the cost of sin then and now. See you then!

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