Genesis 3

Adam & Eve: The Fall of Man
Genesis 3
The Fall. How long did Adam and Eve continue in the garden before the fall? We are not told. The important point is that the very first historical act recorded of man is his fall. This has immense moral significance. Everything committed to the hands of man falls into ruin, and it falls very quickly. In fact, with each dispensation there is a characteristic failure at the outset; Noah gets drunk, Abraham goes into Egypt, Israel worships a golden calf, Nadab and Abihu offer strange fire, Solomon marries strange wives, Nebuchadnezzar abuses his power, Ananias and Saphira lie to the Holy Spirit, etc. Although the paradisaical state is not a dispensation, yet it serves as a prototype for the whole history of man. We see also in this chapter the movements of the great enemy of God, the serpent, to usurp the inheritance of Christ. We also have the promise made concerning the woman’s Seed, who would ultimately defeat the serpent, howbeit at the cost of Christ’s own suffering.

The Serpent’s Subtlety and the Act of Disobedience (3:1-6)

1 And the serpent was more crafty than any animal of the field which Jehovah Elohim had made. And it said to the woman, Is it even so, that God has said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? v.1 The great enemy of God was in the garden, and was using the serpent as his vehicle. Later Satan is given the name ‘that Old Serpent’ (Rev. 12:9; 20:2). The name Adam gave the serpent has two meanings. The first is ‘to hiss’, and the second is ‘shiny’, like brass. The two meanings are instructive. Satan comes “as an angel of light” (2 Cor. 11:14), but underneath the attractive exterior is a hiss. The serpent was a beautiful creature, as Satan is (Ezek. 28:12-15). Eve was not repulsed by the serpent. It wasn’t until after the fall that God put enmity between humans and snakes. We don’t know the timing of Satan’s fall, only that it was before Genesis 3. The world that Adam was placed in was put under his headship.

It would appear that the original creation (Gen. 1:1) was committed to the hands of angels, over which Satan was the chief. It was an earthly paradise, called “Eden, the garden of God”. Satan was not a serpent then, but “the anointed covering cherub”, clothed with the reflected glories of God (Ezek. 28:14). But when unrighteousness was found in Satan, his heart lifted up because of his beauty, he was ejected from the angelic company (Ezek. 28:17), taking with him his demons; “the host of the high ones” (Isa. 24:21). It would appear that, under Satan’s influence, “the earth became without form and void” and remained so until God intervened. As soon as the reconstruction was complete, and Adam given the headship of creation, Satan immediately began his efforts to get the earth back under his influence.

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  1. Satan spoke to Eve, not Adam. Satan was very crafty, and he spoke to the woman. The apostle Paul picks up on this in 1 Tim. 2:13-4, saying; “Adam was formed first, then Eve: and Adam was not deceived; but the woman, having been deceived, was in transgression.” This is brought out in connection with the woman’s place, which is not to teach or usurp authority over the man, but to be in quietness. Satan tried to draw Eve, the “weaker vessel” (1 Pet. 3:7), out of her place. We have no reason to believe Adam was absent… he very well could have been standing by her side. Adam’s failure was in not taking the place of headship. He was not deceived.
  2. Satan cast doubt on the Word of God. The enemy of our soul is always looking to cast doubt on the simple declarations of God. “Hath God said?” is the age old technique of Satan. Before this, the matter of the forbidden fruit was very simple. Satan seeks to complicate it. The apostle Paul picks up on this when writing to the Corinthians; “But I fear lest by any means, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craft, so your thoughts should be corrupted from simplicity as to the Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3). The command from God to man was simple, but Satan’s line of attack was to fabricate some hidden plot (vv.4-5), to complicate and confuse the matter.
  3. Satan twisted the Word of God. Satan knows how to use the Word of God, but to present it in a twisted way. He says, “Is it even so, that God has said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” Satan turned the commandment of God around backwards… God had given general permission, saying “Of every tree of the garden thou shalt freely eat”, with one prohibition (Gen. 2:16). He turned the Word of God around backward, into a general prohibition. We see Satan doing the very same thing in the temptation of Christ (Matt. 4:6). We need to be warned about the danger of twisting God’s Word.
2 And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, God has said, Ye shall not eat of it, and ye shall not touch it, lest ye die. vv.2-3 Again, we see the craft of the serpent in drawing the woman out of her place, into being the spokesperson for the pair. She corrects the serpent, but in doing so, she over-corrects. Truly, it didn’t seem wise to touch the tree, but we cannot put words in the mouth of God. Eve added to the Word of God. She said, “ye shall not touch it”… but God hadn’t said that. Sometimes when we perceive a real spiritual danger, there can be the tendency to make rules that go beyond the Word of God. But we put ourselves on a shaky foundation when we get off of scripture, and Satan will work with that if he can. The Lord had said the tree of life was in the midst of the garden, but the woman here says the other tree is in the midst. Her thoughts had changed from occupation with what was hers to enjoy what she could not have. That is what Satan wants to do. 
4 And the serpent said to the woman, Ye will not certainly die; 5 but God knows that in the day ye eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and ye will be as God, knowing good and evil. vv.4-5 Once Eve was off the solid foundation of the Word of God, Satan became more bold in his attack.
  1. Open denial of the Word of God. Satan openly denied the Word of God by saying “Ye will not certainly die”. God had said “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Gen. 2:17). The enemy of our souls doesn’t come in immediately with a flat denial or contradiction. He added to the Word of God in v.1, and he takes away from the Word of God in v.4.
  2. Casting doubt on the goodness of God. Satan purported that God had lied to Adam and Eve, and that He was holding something good back from them. The opposite was true! God had met every need and given them every pleasure, but had prohibited the one thing that could spoil it all. How clever was the serpent! Eve should not have continued talking with this one that questioned the goodness of God.
  3. Promoting Self-exaltation. Satan tempted Eve with the very thought that was in his own heart; “I will be like the Most High” (Isa. 14:14), and he tempted Eve by saying, “ye will be as God”. We see the very opposite in our Lord Jesus Christ… He was “equal with God”, but in humility and obedience took “his place in the likeness of men”. Christ Jesus did not seek His own glory, but God has “highly exalted him” (Phil. 2:5-9). What a contrast between Adam and Christ!
  4. Telling only a Partial Truth. Jesus said of Satan that “he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44). The serpent was correct that they would be as God in knowing “good and evil”, but he did not tell Eve that they would be powerless to choose the good, or to refuse the evil. Satan often holds out higher knowledge as a temptation to man; “your eyes will be opened”. To be preserved from this we must be ready to cast down “imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God”, and lead captive “every thought to the obedience of Christ”, which is the same obedience that Christ had to His Father (2 Cor. 10:5).
6 And the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a pleasure for the eyes, and the tree was to be desired to give intelligence; and she took of its fruit, and ate, and gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. v.6 The moment Eve began to distrust God, she became open to deception. The woman was deceived on three counts. She saw three things, reasoning on her own in independence from the Word of God: that the tree was good for food (“the lust of the flesh”), and that it was a pleasure for the eyes (“the lust of the eyes”), and the tree was to be desired to give intelligence (“the pride of life”). In the act of eating, the woman acts in independence of her head, and in independence from God. Eve formed her own judgment without regard to the Word of God; “sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4). She saw, she took, she ate, and she gave to her husband. But when we come to Adam, we have another thing completely. “Adam was formed first, then Eve: and Adam was not deceived; but the woman, having been deceived, was in transgression” (1 Tim. 2:13-4). The commandment was given to Adam before Eve was formed, and she was deceived by the serpent. But Adam transgressed a known commandment… he was not deceived. It was willful disobedience. Just as the characteristic danger for the woman is to get ahead of the man, so it is the characteristic danger for the man to be entangled by his affections for the woman. The two dangers go together.
Trouble in Marriage. Adam and Eve had trouble in their marriage. We can learn from them, as they were the only couple that we can say for sure were “meant to be”. Their trouble cannot be blamed on a choice of partners. The trouble came from disobedience to the Word of God, and that is the same with much trouble in marriages today.

The Aftermath: Conscience and the Curse (3:7-20)

Man’s conscience (v.7)

7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig-leaves together, and made themselves aprons. v.7 The eyes of Adam and Eve were opened, not in a physical but in a moral sense. They received a conscience… the knowledge of good and evil (v.22). Not only did Adam and Eve get a conscience, but they got a bad conscience. They felt shame for the first time; “they knew that they were naked”. Their immediate response to this shame was to manufacture a covering from fig leaves. This is a picture of man’s religion… it is a cover for sin through man’s own efforts. Actually, man’s approach to God formally begins with Cain, not Adam and Eve. The fig leaves represent man trying to cover himself by good works, but not to approach to God. Adam and Eve hid themselves. Cain tried to approach God, and brought the fruits of his labors as an offering. Those who try to cover themselves with their own works will find themselves “naked” before God, or exposed to the judgment of God without a covering for their sins (2 Cor. 5:3; see also Matt. 22:11). The fig leaves only served to make them look acceptable to each other, but not to God.
A Fallen Nature, A Lost Condition, and A Captive Will. Adam and Eve were created good, but not holy. Man had a free will in the garden of Eden before the fall, but he used his free will to choose to disobey God. Adam and Eve then received the knowledge of good and evil, and their human nature fell into a sinful condition, where it was thereafter pre-disposed or hard-wired to sin. That fallen nature is called “the flesh”, “sin in the flesh”, or “indwelling sin”. Sometimes we call it “the old nature”. That old nature was passed on to all of Adam’s descendants, and humans are born with it today (Rom. 5:12). This is what is referred to as “original sin” in Christian theology. There is nothing in that fallen nature that can turn to God, even to repent. Education, training, or even God’s grace cannot improve the flesh, or influence it to choose God. “The flesh profits nothing” (John 6:63). “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing” (Rom. 7:18). No spark of good is in us by nature. Man is born in sin, and lost by nature and by practice. But God still works for man’s blessing, beginning with something called new birth, or quickening. When they are still “dead” (Eph. 2:1), or totally unresponsive, God reaches down to those whom He has chosen (or, elected), and gives them a new life, and a new nature. The remedy is NOT to improve the fallen nature, but to give man a NEW life… the very life of Christ! The credit for new birth must go to God alone, because it is His sovereign action. Man in the fallen condition, the first man, does not have a free will. Man makes his choices – he is free to will – but his will is not free. Only the divine nature has the capacity to refuse the evil and choose the good.1

God Seeks Hiding Man (vv.8-13)

8 And they heard the voice of Jehovah Elohim, walking in the garden in the cool of the day. And Man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of Jehovah Elohim, in the midst of the trees of the garden. v.8 Apparently it was the habit of Jehovah Elohim to walk in the garden in the cool of the day, seeking man. The desire of God has ever been to have fellowship with man. As we see here, it is man’s sin that separates him from God; “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God” (Isa. 59:2). It took the sacrifice of Christ to deal with the issue of man’s sin, but in the end the Lamb of God will take away the sin of the world (John 1:29) and in the eternal state, God will dwell “with men” (Rev. 21:3). What a great reversal from Genesis 3 to Revelation 21! But Adam and his wife “hid themselves from the presence of Jehovah Elohim”. We find that, when man sinned, he became estranged from God. Even before man’s fall, God visited man, but did not dwell with man. We do not find God making His habitation with men (in type) until redemption is established (Exodus, the Tabernacle). We see it more fully in the Church of God, the Spirit’s indwelling collectively and individually, once eternal redemption was accomplished by Christ on the cross.

Reconciliation (Col. 1:20-22; Eph. 2:16; Rom. 5:11; 2 Cor. 5:18-19) has to do with God's work of bringing lost and guilty sinners back to Himself. Reconciliation deals with alienation, and the feelings of enmity that are in the heart of the sinner. Alienation and enmity are the result of man's sin. The fault is on our side... God's heart has remained unchanged! God does not need to be reconciled to man, but man needs be reconciled to God. Alienation is the moral distance between God and man. How does alienation occur? First, in Eph. 2:3 we find that man is at a distance from God; "by nature the children of wrath". Second, in Col. 1:21 it says we were "alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works". Not only is man at a distance from God by nature, but he travels farther away by his own actions. The alienation is on both sides: we couldn't be in God's presence, and He couldn't be in ours. Enmity is the opposition that arises in a sinner toward God. To emphasize, God had no enmity toward man, but man does toward God. How does enmity arise? Man commits "wicked works", and then has a bad conscience about those works. He then begins to think of God as his enemy. That is why men are called "haters of God" (Rom. 1:30) when God has done nothing against them. The enmity is in "the mind" of man. Therefore, reconciliation to God is needed.

We see the budding of this enmity here in the garden… alienation has already occurred! Read more…
9 And Jehovah Elohim called to Man, and said to him, Where art thou? 10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I feared, because I am naked; and I hid myself. vv.9-10 God addresses the man, because the man is the responsible head of his family (1 Cor. 11:3). The first question that God asks of man is deeply significant: where are you? Adam had tried to hide himself from God, but “all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:13). For those who are walking by faith, the omniscience and omnipresence of God are a tremendous comfort (Psa. 139). But Adam and Eve were lost, and took no comfort in the presence of God. “Fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18). Man in his lost condition shrinks from God. Shame was a direct and immediate result of sin… a disturbance of the human spirit that is connected with the conscience. Man’s first and last need is a hiding place. Here in Genesis man seeks to hide himself from God, and in Revelation, men will “say to the mountains and to the rocks, Fall on us, and have us hidden from the face of him that sits upon the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb” (Rev. 6:16). But God was not merely asking Adam for his location in the garden. J.N. Darby suggested that this question has the force of “What has come of you?”. Man had fallen from his intended purpose… he was in a state of being lost. In the gospel we need to present both to the sinner; first the question to Adam, “where art thou?” and then the question to Cain, “what hast thou done?” We must address sin (singular) as well as sins (plural).
11 And he said, (1) Who told thee that thou art naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree of which (2) I commanded thee not to eat? 12 And Man said, The woman, whom thou hast given to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate. v.11 The next two questions asked by Jehovah Elohim correspond to two of the three witnesses in Romans 1-3:
  1. Conscience. No person had told Adam that he was naked. He knew because he had a conscience. It was a bad conscience.
  2. The Word of God. Adam had directly transgressed a known commandment. It is called in Rom. 5:14, “the similitude of Adam’s transgression”. A transgression is a double sin, because it is not only lawlessness, but positive disobedience.
Man seeks to make excuses; “the woman gave it to me”, and “you gave me the woman”. Ultimately, man tries to blame God for his sin. Making accusations or excuses is proof that man has a conscience; “the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another” (Rom. 2:14-15). But neither the possession of a conscience nor the plain Word of God is enough to make man choose God… he needs a new nature. Adam admits to eating the fruit, but there is no evidence of Godly sorrow that works repentance (2 Cor. 7).
13 And Jehovah Elohim said to the woman, What is this thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent deceived me, and I ate. v.13 The woman in her turn places blame on another. Eve ought to have followed Adam’s lead, but she acted independently and was deceived. She believed the serpent rather than God. Both the man and the woman choose to deflect the blame, rather than admit their guilt.

The Serpent Cursed (vv.14-15)

14 And Jehovah Elohim said to the serpent, Because thou hast done this, be thou cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field. On thy belly shalt thou go, and eat dust all the days of thy life. 15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; he shall crush thy head, and thou shalt crush his heel. vv.14-15 The Lord does not question the serpent as He did with Adam and Eve; i.e. “why have you done this”. God knew Satan was incorrigible. Satan fell without being tempted by another. “For the devil sinneth from the beginning” (1 John 3:8). He is “a murderer from the beginning… a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44). The Lord next curses each party involved: the serpent, the woman, and the man. The serpent was the most beautiful, intelligent, and attractive animal made by God, but hereafter the snake would be reduced below every other animal, so that Satan could never use it again to deceive men. The snake would be confined to the dust (no legs). Furthermore, enmity would be placed between the woman and the serpent, and their descendants, to maintain distance. For this reason, the snake is almost universally disliked by people, although in Satanic cultures the snake is worshiped. However, the next part of the curse goes beyond the human-snake relationship. One particular descendant of the woman is in view… it says “he” (v.15). Christ is the promised man-child that would defeat the Devil. We have this confirmed in Gal. 4:4; “but when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, etc.” The promise is not made to Adam or Eve, although they must have heard it. The promise was made to the serpent and the woman’s seed. This is a great principle to get a hold of in scripture. The promises of God are in Christ, the seed of promise (Gal. 3). “For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us” (2 Cor. 1:20). The promise was two-fold: (1) Satan would be defeated, “he shall crush thy head”, and (2) it would result in great suffering to the woman’s seed, “thou shalt crush his heel”. This is talking about more than people stepping on snakes, and being bitten by them. The second man, the Son of God, would come in the fullness of time, born of a virgin, and He would foil the Devil’s plans, and break his power. “To this end the Son of God has been manifested, that he might undo the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). This took place at the cross. But in doing so, the promised Seed would pay dearly. It cost the Lord Jesus His life and untold agony to deliver us from Satan’s power (Heb. 2:14). This is the first prophecy in the Word of God. Prophecy is always given when God’s people have failed, and all appears to be in ruin. Then the Spirit of prophecy speaks, pronouncing judgment on the first man, and a promise of blessing through the Second man!
Soon as the reign of sin began,
The light of mercy dawned on man,
When God announced the blessed news,
“The woman’s Seed thy head shall bruise.”2

The Woman Cursed (v.16)

16 To the woman he said, I will greatly increase thy travail and thy pregnancy; with pain thou shalt bear children; and to thy husband shall be thy desire, and he shall rule over thee. v.16 The woman’s curse was an increase in pregnancies and the pain connected with them. The consequences of this are evident today, and in the pages of history. However, in the New Testament we find the apostle Paul taking the issue of childbearing up in a new light. In 1 Timothy 2, after speaking of the woman’s place relative to the man, not to teach or to usurp authority over the man, he brings out how Eve was deceived; she opened herself up to deception by speaking without looking to her head. Then Paul says that childbearing, which was the woman’s curse, would be for the godly Christian woman’s preservation; “notwithstanding she shall be saved in [‘dia’, ‘through’, or ‘by means of’] childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety” (1 Tim. 2:15). For the Christian woman, motherhood is a preservation against getting out of her place, and opening herself up to deception. But the curse is connected with the pain of childbirth. Also part of the curse, the woman’s desire would be to her husband, and the husband would rule over or oppress the woman. This is different than the relationship of companionship in ch.2, and it is closer to the relationship of a younger brother to an older brother, hence similar words are used in Gen. 4:7. This curse was given because the woman led the man into transgression. The headship of husband and subjection of the wife was established in creation. But here we find that, as part of the woman’s curse, the relationship of man and women would be degenerated by sin. Sorrow would come in. When we think of all the sorrow and abuse that women have suffered at the hands of men over the millennia, it is more than the mind can bear. The remedy for this degraded relationship is given in Christianity, in the simple instructions of Eph. 5; “husbands love your wives”. In countries where the light of Christianity has been rejected, even today many women live in horrible conditions.

The Man Cursed (vv.17-20)

17 And to Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife, and eaten of the tree of which I commanded thee saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed be the ground on thy account; with toil shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18 and thorns and thistles shall it yield thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, until thou return to the ground: for out of it wast thou taken. For dust thou art; and unto dust shalt thou return. vv.17-19 The man’s curse follows, and the reason is given that he listened to the voice of his wife, and disobeyed the commandment of God. Adam is cursed on the very ground of the excuse he made for himself. God doesn’t say “in spite of the fact you listened to your wife” but “because you listened to your wife”. Man’s excuses become his condemnation. Because of Adam’s sin, the ground was cursed on Adam’s account. This is the curse connected with sin coming into the world. Man’s sin has a broader and more serious result. The ground would not yield its full potential. Man would be compelled to “eat the herb of the field”; i.e. to be sustained by farming, and to eat the food of cattle. Farming (“the herb of the field”) is much harder work than tending the trees of the garden. Thorns and thistles would grow up, and man would need to continually battle the elements to survive. Also, we can gather from ch.8 that it was only after the flood that seed-time and harvest were fixed, implying that agriculture was made easier after the flood. Weather patterns may have been different in the Middle East before the flood. It is hard for us to imagine how difficult it was for farmers like Cain to produce crops in the 1700 years after the fall. To be clear, the curse of Gen. 3 was not eradicated in Gen. 8. Rather, seasonal stability was given for the blessing of man. Jehovah would “no more henceforth curse the ground on account of Man” (Gen. 8:21). Although there was still hard work involved with farming after the flood, there would be seasons sufficient for farming, as we have to this day. The curse on man was severe. To survive, man would need to endure hard labor until the day he died. Ultimately, he would die, just as Jehovah Elohim had promised. Adam’s name means ‘red’ or ‘earth’. “For dust thou art; and unto dust shalt thou return” implies the mortality of the body. Man’s soul goes on living after death, but his body turns into dust. “The dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit return unto God who gave it” (Ecc. 12:7).
Thorns. Thorns are the fruit of a cursed earth, and perhaps that is the meaning of the crown Jesus wore on the cross. Thorns are a symbol of God’s displeasure with sin, but man puts it on Jesus’ head. The curse of sin generally is different than the curse of a broken law, as in Gal. 3:13; “Christ has redeemed us out of the curse of the law, having become a curse for us, for it is written, Cursed is every one hanged upon a tree”. That is a curse upon those who were under the law. However, in that the Jew is a sample or representation of the whole human race, it can be applied to all, and so the two curses are connected.
The Groaning Creation. All the sickness, suffering, fruitless labor, and natural disasters in this world are a result of the curse. Paul says in Romans 8, “the whole creation groans together and travails in pain together until now”. Does this curse seem harsh? Only one act was required to manifest sin. Also in Romans 8 we find that as man brought the creation into bondage, even so the creation is waiting until the believer is completely redeemed, before the curse will be lifted from the groaning creation. In a sense, the first man brought the curse down on the creation, and the Second Man will lift the curse, and usher in the Millennium; “for the creature has been made subject to vanity, not of its will, but by reason of him who has subjected the same, in hope” (Rom. 8:22).
20 And Man called his wife’s name Eve [‘Living’]; because she is the mother of all living. v.20 Earlier in ch.2 man gave the woman a name ‘Isshah’, because he was ‘Ish’. When the fall came in, he gives her a different name which means ‘Living’. This was an act of faith on Adam’s part. After the curse he had just received, Adam might well have called his wife ‘the mother of all dying’. But he laid hold on the hope of the woman’s seed. In the curse on woman and man, there was no hope given to them. The woman was promised pain, and the man was promised hard labor and death. Only in the cursing of the serpent was there a promise in which faith could hope. Adam listened to what God said to the serpent, and faith laid hold of it. All hope now turned on the woman’s seed. Adam now looked at his wife differently… as the one through whom the promised seed would come. As a side note, some have erroneously taught that God created other humans, outside of Adam and Eve. This question usually arises in ch.4, when Cain takes a wife. This verse clearly refutes that teaching. Eve was the mother of “all the living”.

God Works because of Sin in His Creation (3:21-24)

God’s Rest Broken by Sin. On the seventh day of creation, God rested from all His work. That rest of God was broken by man’s sin (Rom. 5:12). In John 5:17 Jesus could say, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work”. Rather than destroy the creation, Father and Son now work to redeem man. This is love! When Adam and Eve sinned, God worked again to make them coats of skin… a small picture of God’s work ever since the fall. It is but a small type of the work of the cross, where eternal provision was made for the salvation of men. One day God’s Sabbath rest will be fully restored, but not until the new heavens and earth (Rev. 21:1-8).

Coats of Skin (v.21)

21 And Jehovah Elohim made Adam and his wife coats of skin, and clothed them. v.21 Adam and Eve were told they would die, but actually the first death in scripture is that of an innocent sacrifice. Man’s self-made covering of fig leaves was insufficient. So God provides a covering for man. The word for “coats” in the Hebrew means ‘to hide’. God’s provision covers what man’s works could never erase. But God’s provision for man required death and blood-shedding. God has provided such a covering for the sinner even today. The one who believes in Jesus is placed “in Christ”… a standing in Christ’s place before God. He is clothed with “the best robe” (Luke 15:22), with “the garments of salvation” (Isa. 61:10). The cost to provide this covering was the death of Christ on the cross. 

Expulsion from the Garden (vv.22-24)

22 And Jehovah Elohim said, Behold, Man is become as one of us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he stretch out his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever …! 23 Therefore Jehovah Elohim sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. 24 And he drove out Man; and he set the Cherubim, and the flame of the flashing sword, toward the east of the garden of Eden, to guard the way to the tree of life. v.24 Man had become like God in that he obtained the knowledge of good and evil (a conscience). But more than that, man’s nature fell into a sinful condition, where it was thereafter pre-disposed or hard-wired to sin. That fallen nature is called “the flesh”, “sin in the flesh”, or “indwelling sin”. Sometimes we call it “the old nature”. That old nature was passed on to all of Adam’s descendants, and humans are born with it today. It would have been a terrible thing to preserve a fallen sinful man forever. Jehovah Elohim communed in Godhead council to prevent man from taking of the tree of life. God drove man out of Eden, the garden He had made for man, out into the world to “till the ground from which he was taken”. There is a thought of futility in this; tilling the ground from which he was taken. Man is driven out, but not driven out naked. Why to the east? The glory of the Lord departed and will return by the east gate (Eze 11:23; 43:2). The Sun of Righteousness will arise in the east! The Cherubim (plural) are the class of angels that represent the judgment of God (read more…), and several are placed at the eastern side of the garden to prevent man from entering. There were at least two Cherubim to guard the way of the tree of life (Gen. 3:24), two Cherubim embroidered on the veil which guarded the way into the holiest (Ex. 26:31), and two Cherubim which looked expectantly down upon the mercy seat (Ex. 25:30). How wonderful that the way to the Father is open now, the veil is rent, and we have two angels at the head and foot of an empty tomb (John 20:12), saying “come and see the place where the Lord lay”. How wonderful that in the New Jerusalem, there are twelve gates that are never closed, allowing entrance to all who wish to drink of the river of the water of life, or eat from the tree of life, which is Christ Himself! As far as we know Man did not eat of the tree of life in the brief span of innocence. The way was also blocked to show that life cannot be gained through man’s efforts… it is a sovereign gift of God.
  1. “Only God can have in Himself the knowledge of good and evil, without leaving the good and falling under the power of the evil. If the creature, left to itself, have the knowledge of good and evil, the result is that the evil overpowers and carries him away: he gives up the good, and falls a prey to the evil.” – Kelly, William. Glory and virtue. The Bible Treasury, Volume 13, pp.12-14.
  2. Sandeman, R. See mercy, mercy from on high. Little Flock Hymnbook #186. 1718-1771.