God had created an idyllic world for the man and the woman. They didn’t have to work hard for a living. All they could want to eat was readily available to them – They just had to pick them off of the trees when they felt the need. They didn’t have to work for a living or worry about death or illness. They just had to keep themselves from eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Then the crafty snake appears and starts a conversation with the woman. He starts off by overstating God’s prohibition – “Did God say you shall not eat from any tree in the garden?”
The truth is that God was magnanimous in that He gave them approval to eat from any tree in the garden. There was only one prohibition – The tree of the knowledge of good and evil. So there must have been hundreds of trees from which they can eat, and only one from which they cannot. The allowed things far outnumbered the one prohibited thing. What this did was to put the focus on the one prohibition, rather than on all of the other things that were allowed. This is akin to saying, “whatever you do, don’t think about a white elephant” – For a bit, that’s all you can picture in your mind. Likewise, when we encounter an unpleasant situation, we start to wonder why God would allow this, and start to not feel grateful for all the other good things/situations that He has given us.
Then the serpent suggests to the woman that God is preventing her from growing in knowledge, and He is keeping her from reaching her potential. So, the serpent has the woman thinking that what God had said to protect the man and the woman, was instead, something God was doing to hold them back. This is like when parents prohibit their teenaged son from drinking for his protection, but seeing his friends drinking, starts to feel that his parents are just keeping him from having fun and growing up.
She may have thought that things would be better if she had the knowledge of good and evil, just like God. Then she would be able to be a little less dependent on God. So, the woman is faced with a decision, and she goes against God’s prohibition. Not only that, she also offers the fruit to the man, and he also ate. The first thing that happens is that they both realize that they were naked, and they tried to cover up using fig leaves.
The second thing that happens is that when they hear God coming, they hide. When asked, the man admits to breaking the one prohibition. And in the end, because of their actions, the man and the woman are expelled from the garden, and an angel with a flaming sword is set as guard so that they cannot return.
Between the sinning and the expulsion, there are things in this chapter of which we should take note.
God tells the serpent that because of what he did, he will now go on his belly. Interestingly enough, in some snakes like the python, you can still see rudimentary legs – often, there are short little claw tips growing out of the belly. God also tells the serpent that the woman’s offspring will strike his head, while his offspring will strike the heel of the woman’s offspring. This seems to foretell what is going to happen with Christ – He will be hung on the cross, but He will ultimately defeat sin.
Because of what the woman did, childbearing will now be painful, and the relationship between a man and a woman will not be equal.
And for the man, now he will have to work hard all his life just to be able to eat.
Then God clothed the man and the woman with garments of skins. Apparently, the garments made from fig leaves were not sufficient, and animals had to be killed so they could be clothed. And this seems to be the start of the sacrificial system, where blood must be shed to cover sin.
So we can see the seriousness of the effects of sin – It changed the world. We may think that when we sin, it only affects us, but often, the effects of our sins radiate out into the world.
The thought that made the woman sin was to become like God. The thought of being able to make up her own mind rather than simply living the life God wanted her to live must have been very attractive. Independence or less reliance on God might seem like an attractive thing, but that is the basis of sin. We want to live our own lives and make our own decisions based on our knowledge/wisdom.
A place with a wonderful climate and all the food you can eat when you want to eat, without having to pay for it with hard earned money. Where there is health and no fear of degrading body or mind. Longing for this sort of situation has driven humanity – Better health, prolonging lifespan without degrading the quality of life. In other words, getting back to the Garden. We could put all sorts of resources and efforts toward achieving such a goal, but humanity will not get there through their own efforts. But God has already unveiled His plan on getting us to where we ought to be.
Through the work on the cross, Jesus Christ has paved our way back to the life God always wanted for us. By accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, our sins are forgiven, we are given Christ’s righteousness, and assured of a wonderful new earth and the heavens, where we can live in an idyllic world – Much like the Garden prior to man’s sinful action.
Paul tells us in Romans 5:18 “Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all.” We are blessed that God didn’t simply abandon mankind, but gave us a means where we can be guided back into the presence of God.
(the above is a summary of the message that Shun Takano shared with us during our worship on February 26, 2023.)