(3) Did God really say …? – Genesis 3:1

God completed his creation by creating a man and a woman, Adam and Eve, who were given authority over the created world and who had a perfect relationship with God and with each other. God put them into a specially planted garden, a paradise called the Garden of Eden which provided them with food and with purposeful work. At the end of his creation God saw that everything he had made was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). For Adam and Eve, everything in the garden was lovely.

But when we look around the world today, we do not see a world where everything is “very good”. There is much that is beautiful and good but alongside this there are events that are ugly and bad, people suffering through sickness and through the evil that others bring upon them. How are we to reconcile the Bible’s picture of paradise with the world we live in now?

In the third chapter of Genesis we are introduced to a serpent who speaks to Eve. Later in the Bible he is referred to as Satan or the Devil, a spiritual being created by God but opposed to his plans and determined to ruin God’s creation.

God gave Adam and Eve all the trees of the garden to provide them with fruit, with one exception. They were not to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of good and evil. This one ‘law’ was a test for them to see if they would whole-heartedly follow God. Satan’s approach to Eve is very subtle. He asks, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’” (Genesis 3:1). The answer is no, God did not forbid them to eat of any tree, but the question implies a criticism of God, that he is withholding good things from Adam and Eve. When Eve puts him right he contradicts God and tells her that God is withholding great knowledge from them by not allowing them to eat the fruit of that one tree.

Eve falls for his deception and Adam follows her lead, and from that moment on, everything changes.

At this point we discover that God has a habit of walking with them “in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3:8) – what an amazing experience that must have been – but now Adam and Eve hide, aware for the first time of their nakedness before God and each other. In the dialogue that follows, Adam, in a pattern that will become common for men, blames both his wife and God for his actions: “the woman you put here with me – she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it” (Genesis 3:12). Eve in turn blames the serpent. And it is through this one act of disobedience that pain and death, toil and trouble are introduced into the world. Adam and Eve and all their descendants will die, although not immediately, and will live lives containing pain and difficulties in a creation that Paul describes as “subjected to frustration” and in “bondage to decay” (Romans 8:20-21).

So, responsibility for creation no longer all being “very good” rests with mankind and on our disobedience to God. But even in announcing this, God promises that the offspring of a woman will ultimately crush Satan’s head (see Genesis 3:15). Even in a fallen world God does not leave mankind without hope, but as he lovingly clothes Adam and Eve with skins from a dead animal so he is looking forward to the day when man’s disobedience can be clothed by the perfect sacrifice of his Son, a substitute for the death we deserve for our guilt and shame. God is preparing a way back for mankind right from the beginning.

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