We’re continuing our study on the fall of man with God’s response to Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the Garden of Eden. Since Adam was our federal head or representative, God first asked him to explain why he hid himself and how he knew that he was naked.1 Adam answered by making a subtle accusation towards God by saying: “‘The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.’“2 In the same sentence Adam implicating both God and Eve in the conspiracy. God then inquired of Eve and she implicated the serpent. The serpent however, didn’t get a chance to defend himself.
If you read the account in Genesis you will notice that God doesn’t debate the offenders’ answers; God already knew the facts. Furthermore, God didn’t offer up any explanation or defense as to why he created Eve. Apparently, God wasn’t angered by Adam’s accusation that he wouldn’t have eaten if it weren’t for the fact that God gave him Eve as a companion. Could it be that all these events were part of God’s plan from the beginning?
Nevertheless, God pronounced a series of judgments as well as curses beginning with the serpent. First, God cursed the serpent by taking away his ability to stand upright.3 He then caused a rift to exist between the serpent and his descendants and Eve and her descendants.4 As a result— even to this day—people have an inherent loathing of snakes, even the non-poisonous ones. Of course the scientific community would like us to believe that our deep-seated aversion to snakes is a result of evolution;5 but who am I to argue?
I believe the best way to interpret Genesis 3:15 is literally. That is, God was describing the consequences of His newly instituted hostile relationship between serpents and humans. Interpreted literally, you might say that men will kill snakes by crushing their heads and snakes will attack humans by striking at their lower extremities. This would follow logically because of the serpent’s cursed physical characteristic of having to travel around on his belly. And to further support this argument, isn’t it true that most human snake bites occur below the knee6 and the only reliable way to kill a snake is to crush or cut off its head?7
I’ve heard many pastors preach sermons where Romans 16:20 is used to defend Genesis 3:15 as being the first prophecy in the Bible concerning Jesus. Taking this approach, Genesis 3:15 is interpreted allegorically where the serpent is a metaphor for Satan and the man is a metaphor for Jesus. I would go so far as to say that all persons of Godhead as well as Satan witnessed the events in the garden. I would even concede that it is also possible that God was speaking indirectly to Satan through the serpent. However, I don’t think that’s the case; I think it’s more likely that Romans 16:20 actually alludes back to Genesis 3:15 where Satan will be dealt a similar punishment, but in a figurative sense. At the time Romans was written this reference back to Genesis most likely would have been readily understood by the Christian community since many other Scripture verses correlate the serpent’s behavior patterns to Satan’s activities such as: Genesis 49:17, Numbers 21:8-9, Psalm 91:13, Psalm 140:3, Proverbs 23:32, and others.
Eve’s punishment described in Genesis 3:16 is probably the one of the most contested and debated in all the Bible. No one debates that fact the women endure severe pain during childbirth, but many women do debate their position of having to obey or subject themselves to their husbands. Likewise, you won’t hear many sermons preached from 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 either, unless the pastor wants to thin out his congregation.
Eve’s punishment concerned her relationship to Adam and the family; but Adam’s punishment was directed at his occupation or work. Interesting that the established order of things was the result of a curse, not a blessing. Whether we like it or not, God ordained the woman for the home and the man for hard labor or work. Although women’s primary purpose, in God’s economy, is the home, He does allow for women to engage in entrepreneurship, teaching and charitable work.8 I have no doubt that my last statement will be argued and debated until the Second Coming. But if we are honest with ourselves we will soon realize that it is true. For example, in the period 2007-2008 76% of the public school teachers and 74% of private school teachers were women.9 In addition, other studies find that some women view charitable giving as a vocation.10 And according to a Forbes article, many successful women entrepreneurs started their businesses out of their own homes.11
God’s final judgment concerning Adam was physical death as declared in Genesis 3:19:
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.
Obviously, retirement wasn’t in the cards for men since Genesis 3:19 carries with it the notion of working until death. This is not a popular teaching since most men look forward to their retirement. As a matter of fact, retirement may not be as desirable as many believe since studies have shown that early retirement doesn’t necessarily translate into a longer life expectancy.12
The story of the fall of man is full of what ifs. What if Eve hadn’t listen to the serpent? What if Adam hadn’t listened to Eve? What if Adam or Eve ate from the tree of life? If Adam hadn’t eaten the forbidden fruit then there would be no need for a savior; Jesus wouldn’t need to have become a man and die on the cross; there would be no need for the Bible; this blog wouldn’t exist. If Adam ate from the tree of life first, then what would have happened if he later ate from the forbidden tree? Would God have allowed this to happen? If Adam hadn’t eaten when he did, how long would God have allowed the prohibition to continue? Indefinitely? If Adam passed the test, then we would be singing the praises of Adam and not Jesus. God definitely had a plan when He placed Adam in the garden. Everything was leading up to Jesus from the beginning.
The Bible tells us that Adam was 130 years old when his son Seth was born13 and that Adam lived a total of 930 years.14 So, Adam didn’t die on the day he ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Was the serpent really telling the truth? Not entirely, because on the day that Adam ate the forbidden fruit the spiritual man died and the natural man was born.Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2013 Gerard Sczepura
Gen. 3:11 NASB ↩
Gen. 3:12 ↩
Gen. 3:14 ↩
Gen. 3:15 ↩
“How To Prevent Snake Bites? Wear Snake Boots.” Keith McCafferty, Field & Stream, uploaded March 02, 2010, http://www.fieldandstream.com/articles/hunting/2010/03/snake-boots ↩
Prov. 3:10-31 ↩
“Charity Gender Study: Older Women Donate 89 Percent More Than Men,” Jessica Prois, Huffington Post, updated August 24, 2012, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/23/older-women-more-charitable-men_n_1824536.html ↩
“The World’s Most Powerful Female Entrepreneurs, 2013,” Meghan Casserly, Forbes, May 22, 2013, http://www.forbes.com/sites/meghancasserly/2013/05/22/the-worlds-most-powerful-female-entrepreneurs-2013/ ↩
“Early Retirement, Early Death?” Daniel J. DeNoon, WebMD, October 20, 2005, http://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/news/20051020/early-retirement-early-death ↩
Gen. 5:3 ↩
Gen. 5:5 ↩