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The last time I spoke before I went on holiday, we considered the nature of temptation. I want to now look at God's response to what happened. The first thing that happens is God confronts Adam and then he confronts eve. The second thing is he pronounces several judgments and he does so in the order in which the temptations occurred. It starts with a judgement on Satan then he goes on to address the woman and then the man. So, let's look at each of these events beginning with Adam (Gen: 3-9-10)
The Lord God called to Adam and Adam has run away from the Lord and hid. The particular Hebrew word is used is one of a summons in order give an account for something. Adam replies, I heard your voice in the garden I was afraid because I was naked, and I hid myself. This is not a genuine confession, because he’s is also offering excuses and rationalising. This is a perfect example of example of denial, rationalisation and justification. It seems we were born with these impulses in our genes and it started with Adam who passed it on to the whole human race. We all do this and our explanations usually become excuses that ends up blaming someone else. (Gen 3:11)
God is not asking for information these are rhetorical questions used in order to get Adam to think about what he's done. God wants Adam to admit he ate from the tree. Just come and say I did it, I’m guilty, don't try and rationalisation things. Look at his reply. (Gen 3: 12) That might almost sound like a confession but let me tell you what he's doing here. Adam is blame shifting and that is as profound insight into human nature as I can think of. When people get into trouble, they often rationalise, and they blame shift and they deny responsibility and that’s exactly what Adam did. It’s probably also what you do, I know it often what I do. It's the woman, it's not me, he says, and if that isn’t bad enough, he says, by the way it was you who gave the woman to me. Adam is implying it’s all God’s fault. We all sometimes blame our circumstances, but that is often just a round about way of blaming God.
Then the Lord turns to the woman and say, in verse 13 “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Eve just watched her husband shift the blame and she does exactly the same thing. We often blame other people rather than confess our shortcoming and allow God to help us rise above our limitations. God tries to bring us to a place of insight where we can confess and receive forgiveness but instead of confessing, we often rationalise and blame others.
The second part of this message is when God passes judgement, and He starts with Satan. (Gen 3: 14) He's just cross-examined Adam and Eve but when he gets to the serpent and he doesn't ask any questions. Perhaps that's because there is no sense in trying to get him to confess and ask for redemption. The serpent is not going to be saved or redeemed. Satan is to be cursed and the punishment will correspond to the crime. The next verse is one of the most important verses in all of the old Testament. (Gen 3:15) The idea being symbolised here is one of utter humiliation. Satan is going to be conquered, vanquished, he is going to be defeated. Satan no doubt believed that since he persuaded Eve to obey his word rather than God's word that she and her offspring would now be loyal to him. Not so, God promises to put hostility between Satan and Eve. Open hostility between the Satan’s seed and Eve’s seed. However, It a difficult passage, but nearly everyone who looks at this, Christian and Jewish commentators alike, all say that this refers to the spiritual descendants of Satan and Eve. In other words, between believers, and unbelievers. Or as some have described it, the universal battle between the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light. He then says, “He will bruise your heal and you shall bruise/crush his head”. Here we are told for the first time in the bible that that universal conflict will now narrows to a battle between two individuals. The imagery here is taken from the idea of a man stepping on a snake head to do this is to deliver a fatal blow. This is a symbolic reference to the Messiah and how he will ultimately defeat Satan.
Some say this is the first proclamation of the full gospel in the bible. It prophesies and predicts as early as here in Genesis 3 that there will be a conflict between Satan and the Messiah. And that conflict is going to result in the Messiah having his heal bruised during his first coming. However, Satan will have his head crushed at the Messiahs second coming. Satan tried to use the woman to destroy man but God would use the seed of the very same woman to one day destroy Satan utterly.
Next God speaks to the woman (Gen 3:16). Today when we think of conception, we think of a moment 9 months prior to the arrival of a child.
But at that time conception referred to the whole 9-month period right up to and including the arrival of the child. That’s the point the woman is going to be drawn to her husband (you know what I’m talking about folks) but the consequence of that physical union is now going to result in the pain.
And the pain is going to be experienced in childbirth.
Finally, the Lord speaks to the man, (Gen 3:17-18) In order to appreciate this verse, you need to look at it in in the immediate context. Satan was cursed but Man was not cursed the ground was cursed. Adam submitted himself to his wife when he should have submitted himself to God. The punishment that he would experience is being put under submission to the soil. Prior to the fall the ground spontaneously yielded fruit and food, now it yields thorns and thistles. Whereas once the ground cooperated with mankind, now it will resist us. Before the fall man tended the garden, the work was done with relative ease. Now the man would have to gain his food by painful toil and by the sweat of his brow.
There's a second result of Adam fall from grace, not only will he now work by the sweat of his brow verse 19 tells us (Gen 3: 19) The other consequence of the fall is death. The wages of sin are indeed death. We are made from dust, we came from dust, we he will return to the dust.
This is a classic passage especially verse 15 and the first promise of Messiah in the bible. God was just in confronting and condemning those first two sinners. The serpent who exalted himself over the creation was humiliated to crawl on the ground and to eat dust. Satan who tried to use the woman to defeat God's plan was told that God would use the seed of the very same woman to defeat Satan and his plans. The woman who saw pleasure in eating forbidden fruit but instead received a penalty. Pain in childbearing and being put under the responsibly of the man. The man who was insubordinate to God received the punishment of being placed in submission to the creation. He whose ambition was to be Deity ended up with death and dust. In each case the penalty was commensurate with the crime. So, the first lesson is, God is always just. God’s punishment is always commensurate with the crime.
There is a second lesson that being that God was not only just, but God was merciful. Even in his punishment, God is merciful. He allowed the woman to bear children and in doing so guaranteed the future of the human race. He permitted man to labour and toil and produce food and thereby live, and that too that's merciful. After the fall of man God didn't just punish us, he provided for us as well. He judged justly and yet demonstrated his mercy all at the same time. He taught us to live labor and love each other, bear children, and believe that victory was coming even victory over death itself. God's response to paradise lost was perfect justice and mercy. Likewise, god's response to us today when we sin is justice and mercy. This is one of the great theological concepts of the bible. God is both just, and the justifier of those who believe in Christ. How can he all the one hand be just on the other hand forgive? The answer is he doesn't just forgive sin He pays for Sin.
When my children were young, I would sometimes chase them around the room pretending to be a monster. I would chase them round the room making monster noises. As they got more and more exiting and more and more scared they would suddenly bring the game to end, by shouting, “you're not really a monster your my daddy”. Sometime even running into my arms. God is just, but he's also a loving father so don't run away from him like Adam, run to him and experience His loving care.