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I know not whether we ought to consider this chapter, as the most melancholy, or the most pleasing in the whole Bible. It certainly contains the substance of what forms both. Here we read the sad origin of sin, and its unavoidable consequences, misery and death. And here, we no less, behold the first discoveries of grace, in the promised redemption, by our Lord Jesus Christ. So that while that sentence is still felt, In Adam all die; that mercy is, no less promised, In Christ shall all be made alive. The contents of this chapter may be summed up under a few particulars. The account of the devices of Satan; the fall of our first parents; the arraignment of the sinners at the bar of Divine Justice; God's sentence, which followed; and the expulsion, in consequence thereof, of the first transgressors from Paradise.
Genesis 3:1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?
It is worthy observation that the scriptures uniformly distinguish our implacable enemy by this name. John calls the devil and Satan that old serpent, which deceiveth the whole world. Revelation 20:2; Revelation 20:2 . So Paul; the serpent, saith he, beguiled Eve through subtlety. 2 Corinthians 11:3 . But I would recommend the Reader to remark with me, the arguments the great enemy made use of, in order to accomplish his purposes on our poor nature, in the person of our first mother. In this verse his conversation opens with seemingly questioning the truth of God's command. 'Yea!' saith he, 'hath God said!' thereby intimating, as though it were impossible for God's laws to be too rigorous. Reader! it is the same plan with him now. His stratagem is to raise doubts and questions in the mind, of the reality of divine judgments; and when once he hath tempted us to disbelieve what the Lord hath said, the next step to disobedience is not far to make.
But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
Observe, the woman had not lost sight of the commandment. She could not plead ignorance. Genesis 2:16
For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
Reader! remark the progress of the enemy. He had before been working upon our mother's mind, to disbelieve what God hath said: and now he advanceth further, in a way of insinuation, that so far would the breach of the divine command be from producing any evil, that it would bring good. Reader! pause over this account, and in your own instance make the diligent observation, whether the approaches of this implacable foe are not always veiled under similar coverings. Unbelief is the grand point, in all his schemes, he strives to induce in us. And for the most part, I believe, it will be found that the commission of almost every sin begins in this. Hence we have reason, upon all occasions, to cry out with the Apostles, Lord
increase our faith. Luke 17:5 .
And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
Pause over this verse, and remark the fatal mean by which, as the Apostle saith, sin hath entered into the world, and death by sin. Romans 5:12 . In this transgression all our nature was involved, and necessarily, as in the rectitude of our first Parents, the whole race would have been interested; so in their fall, the whole were condemned. See those scriptures, which so fully prove the fact, and explain the cause. Romans 5:12-19 ; 1 Corinthians 15:22
And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.
Observe the immediate effect of sin. Shame, guilt and fear, filled the mind of Adam. Observe also on the part of the Lord, how immediately grace manifested itself: Adam, where art thou? which, though implying the solemnity of enquiry concerning what Adam had done, yet no less implied, that pre-venient mercy had pardon in store. 1 John 1:9 .
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
Revelation 12:7 ; Hebrews 2:14 ; Isaiah 53:10 ; Colossians 2:15 ; Romans 16:20 . How sweet and precious are all these scriptures, in confirmation of this glorious promise!
Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
Job 14:1 ; 1 Corinthians 14:34 . Who should have thought, that under this sentence of the woman so much grace was hid. The Church, which our first mother might here be said to represent, is set forth in all the scriptures as having an unceasing desire after Jesus, her Ishi: that is, her husband. Isaiah 26:8 . And Jesus after his Church: Song of Solomon 7:10 . So that beheld in this point of view, this sentence of the woman is productive, in after ages, of much mercy. I venture in this place to add, what appears to me to be the real sense of that expression, in Paul's writings: The woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing. 1 Timothy 2:14-15 . By her childbearing of the promised seed, that individual child-bearing of the man Christ Jesus.
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
Job 17:13-14 ; Psalms 22:15 . How sweet a relief ought it to be to the poor man who earns his bread by the sweat of his brow, while thus bearing a part in the sin and punishment of Adam's transgression; to consider how he bears a part in the precious interest of all that concerns Jesus, in whose sufferings we had no portion. Yes! thou dear Redeemer, thou didst tread the wine press of thy Father's wrath alone. Thou didst bear the curse. Thou didst endure the bloody sweat. Thou didst die the death. And oh! what a thought! Thou wast made sin for us when thou knewest no sin, that we might be made the righteousness of God in thee. 2 Corinthians 5:21
And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.
I would desire the Reader to pause over this verse and compare it with Genesis 2:23 . In that place, our first father called his wife (Ishak) Woman; meaning, that as the name Adam, signifies earth; so, Woman, signifies part of the same perishing materials. If, therefore, by this new name of (Evah, or Eve) which signifies life, as a mother, Adam meant an allusion to that reviving promise, (Genesis 3:15 ) as the mother of our Lord, after the flesh, it forms a most illustrious instance of faith, in the promised redemption; for it proves that he believed God, and looked upon Eve, as the mother of Him who was to come, as the Life and Light of men. And if it was by God's appointment was it not a sign or seal of the promise, as God did by Abraham and Sarah; see Genesis 17:15; Genesis 17:15 .
Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
Romans 13:14 . Were not these the skins of beasts slaughtered for sacrifice? They could not be for food, for at this time no animal food was made use of. And if it were so, how beautiful is it to trace sacrifices immediately after the fall. And let the Reader further remark, that not only was the blood of Jesus hereby set forth in type and figure, as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world: but also the righteousness of Jesus, as a covering and a garment of salvation sweetly shadowed forth also. And Reader! do not overlook. that other interesting part of the verse: the Lord God made Adam and his wife the covering. He that provides the righteousness must put it on also. Romans 13:14 .
So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
Numbers 22:23 . While the view of this tremendous sword which no created power could take away, alarms the mind, and seems to forbid all approaches anymore to the garden of God, what a relief is it to the soul of the true believer in Jesus, when he contemplates it as removed, and never, never more to become a fence, since Jesus took it away by the sacrifice of himself. Reader! consult that scripture of the prophet, and behold this sword after sleeping for many ages, awaking at the voice of Jehovah, and sheathing itself in the heart of Jesus: by whose death he hath overcome death, and opened a new and living way by his blood, into the everlasting Paradise of God for all his people. Zechariah 13:7 .
How dreadful is sin! and to what an awful state hath it reduced our nature! Oh! my brother, let us pray for grace, to flee from the first approaches of sin, and never let us, as our deluded parent, tamper with the temptations of the devil; but seek strength from above, to resist him, that he may flee from us.
I would beg to suggest one precious thought to the Reader's mind, from the difference of the sentence pronounced by the LORD God, upon the several transgressions. The Serpent is cursed, but Adam is not. The earth, indeed, is cursed, for his sake, and the whole creation doomed to groan, and travail together in pain, on his account. But, praises to the divine mercy, in the midst of all this train of evil, induced by sin, our first father is not cursed; but, though justly condemned, is yet promised mercy. And is not this the reason? He, who in after ages, should come, to do away sin, by the sacrifice of Himself, was to assume the nature of man. Hence, therefore, the nature is not cursed, for he saith, Destroy it not, there is a blessing in it.
Is there not a spiritual signification in the sentence pronounced upon our first mother, when it is said, In sorrow shalt thou bring forth children! What travailing pains can exceed the pains of a guilty conscience? What are the pangs to bring forth in a state of nature, compared with those which sinners feel, before their delivery into a state of grace? But what were the unequalled pains of the Lord Jesus, when He travailed for souls, in the garden and on the cross! Dearest Lord! didst thou, for me sustain the wrath of thy Father against sin? Oh! mayest thou see the travail of thy soul in my salvation, as well as in the salvation of all thy church and people, that thou mayest be satisfied.
One thought more, let me add, before we leave this precious chapter, which is suggested to the mind, in the foolish attempt of our first parents, after their transgression, to seek shelter from the Divine presence. Reader! may it be your mercy and mine also, upon all occasions of guilt, to seek a throne of grace, though both sin and conscience accuse; and not run away from mercy. May we never forget that there is One there, whom the Father heareth alway. Oh! may the blessed Spirit lead us to Our God in Christ, not in the flimsy covering of anything we call our own, by way of finding favour, like the fig-leaf righteousness of our poor parents, to conceal our shame; but clothed in the perfect robe of Jesus' righteousness typified by the coat of skins, that we may appeal comely, in His complete covering, and be accepted in the Beloved, without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Genesis 3". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17