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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible
Genesis 3

 

 


Verses 1-24

THE FALL OF MAN

The serpent is introduced in this chapter as being more cunning than all other beasts. This was evidently so just by the fact of Satan's using the serpent for his mouthpiece. It is not likely that the woman had heard any other animal speak, and when the serpent spoke to her, she ought to have been doubly on her guard. God has never allowed Satan to appear to mankind as he is in his own person, except in his temptation of the Lord Jesus (Matthew 4:3-11). Satan's awesome dignity would be too much for us (Ezekiel 28:13-19). However, God allowed him to use a lower creature to tempt the woman. when the serpent questioned her in an insinuating way, "Has God indeed said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?" there was no reason for her to entertain any questioning thought herself. God's word was final.

But she faltered. Her answer was not precisely right. While she admitted they could not eat of all the trees except one, she curiously said that this was the tree "in the midst of the garden" (v.3). but the tree of life was in the midst of the garden (ch.2:9). No doubt because the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was forbidden to them, then to Eve it took the place of central importance. More than this, she said they were not only forbidden to eat of its fruit, but were not allowed to "touch it." God had not said this: she only assumed it. Then she made a third mistake in saying, "lest you die." God had said, "in the day you eat of it you shall surely die" (ch.2:17). We also may too easily quote God wrongly just because of impressions we take from what He says. Let us pay closest attention to what the word of God says, and be careful not to handle it deceitfully.

Satan took immediate advantage of the woman's indecision. It might have been different if she had firmly declared just what God had said, but now Satan seizes the opportunity of flatly denying the word of God: "You surely shall not die" (v.4). Then he adds what was at least partially true, "For God knows that in the day you eat from it you will be like God, knowing good and evil" (v.5). In eating of the tree they would be "like God", only in the fact of knowing good and evil, not in the fact of refusing evil and doing only good. Satan himself had fallen simply because of his aspiration to "be like the Most High" (Isaiah 14:14), so that he knows how to appeal to the pride of the creature.

The woman could have been protected from her serious fall if she had referred the matter to her husband, who had been given the place of headship. Because she ignored this she was deceived into deliberate disobedience to God. She saw the tree was good for food: it appealed to her taste. It was pleasant to the eyes: it appealed to her sight. It was desirable to make one wise: it appealed to her pride (See 1 John 2:16). she therefore trusted her own inclinations and ignored the word of God (v.6). Before consulting her husband she ate the fruit of the tree.

Then she gave some to her husband, who also ate of it. She was deceived, but he knew better: he sinned knowing well he was wrong (1 Timothy 2:14). Perhaps sympathy for his wife also prompted him. It useless to ask what might have happened if he refused to eat after she had eaten: we do not know, for both of them were guilty of disobedience. Their eyes were opened to become ashamed of their nakedness (v.7). Thus the work of conscience is to expose us to ourselves. By Adam's fall he acquired a conscience, and all mankind has inherited this. Every culture in the world, whether high or low has since been afflicted by a guilt complex, and cannot escape it by any other means than the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Adam and Eve tried to submerge such feelings of guilt by sewing fig leaves together to make aprons for themselves. Since that time people have resorted to every kind of artifice to cover up the guilt of their sins, perhaps these may be professed "good works" or religious ceremonies or observances, but all are ineffective. The fig leaves were so unsatisfactory to Adam and Eve themselves that when they heard the voice of the Lord God in the garden they hid themselves. So today our own consciences tell us that our efforts to cover our sins fail so badly that we are afraid to face God. But fig leaves and trees are only part of God's creation: they can give neither protection from sin nor a hiding place from God.

The Lord God speaks to Adam, "Where are you?" Adam could not avoid that voice of power: he must answer. "I heard your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, and I hid myself" (v.10).

Of course God knew what had happened, but He questioned Adam as to whether he had eaten of the forbidden tree (v.11). Adam admitted it, but not before putting the blame on his wife, and even inferring that possibly God had some blame also, because He had given the woman to Adam! The woman followed his example, saying the serpent deceived her, yet admits she had eaten. How true of us all still: no matter how guilty we have been, we always want to shift the blame to someone or something else!

The Lord God allowed no delay (as men's courts to today) in His sentencing the serpent, Adam and his wife to the serious judgment they deserved. They are to learn that God means what He says. The serpent is condemned to a curse that reduces it to a level lower than creeping things, slithering on its belly (v.14). We do not know what it was like before, but now its very diet was to be dust. This verse has strictly to do with the literal serpent, while what follows applies to Satan who used the serpent as his mouthpiece. God would put enmity between him and the woman and between his seed and her seed. In what precise way the enmity is seen between Satan and the woman may be difficult to decide, but it is most clear that Satan's seed are those who are given up to following Satan's ways, while the woman's seed is the Lord Jesus Christ. Naturally the seed comes from the man, but the one great exception is the virgin birth of the Lord Jesus. There is decided enmity between Satan's followers and the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus would inflict a mortal wound upon Satan: He would bruise his head; while Satan would bruise the heel of the Lord, which speaks of Satan's enmity inflicting a wound of pain and suffering when the Lord crushed Satan under His feet at Calvary.

The sentence of the Lord God against the woman was that her sorrow and pain would be greatly multiplied in conception. If she had borne children before their fall, no doubt suffering would not be connected with birth. This sorrow however emphasizes the fact that every child is born with a sinful nature, as David says in Psalms 51:5 : "I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me." Her desire would be to her husband and he would rule over her. This is the normal condition of the marriage relationship now. Many have been, and are, engaged in efforts to change this, so that we often see abnormal conditions, all tending to cause more confusion and dissatisfaction everywhere. Sometimes women even want to become men and men want to become women. When God's word is ignored, it is no wonder that the troubles of the world multiply. People cannot sidestep the consequences of sin so easily as they think.

Adam is sentenced also because he had accepted the voice of his wife when God had spoken otherwise. For his sake the ground was cursed. Adam would labor all his life in order to have the ground bring forth a living for him (v.18). This labor would be increased in his seeking to control the thorns and thistles that would arise. His food would be gained by the sweat of his face, not merely the sweat of his brow (v.19). Thus he was not promised any happy existence, and the end was not happy either: he would return by death to the ground from which he was taken, for he was reminded he was dust and would return to dust. Today men have invented many means -- automation etc. -- to reduce physical labor, though it is only a certain percentage who have profited by this, and the increase of inventions has increased work to keep them operating, while people become more and more unhappy with their circumstances, many being left in the misery of unemployment. But all will yet come down to the dust of death.

Adam gave his wife the name of Eve, meaning "life-give." Though he was sentenced to death, it seems that he believed the Lord's word that the woman's seed would bruise the serpent's head: in this way she was the life-giver There is an inference in this that the Lord Jesus, the Seed of the woman, would bring life out of death.

Along with this we are told that the Lord God made garments of skin for the couple (v.21). This is typical of God's clothing believers with the robe of righteousness. An animal had to be killed to provide this clothing, just as Christ had to be sacrificed to provide a covering for our sins.

Verse 22 bears further witness to the truth of the Trinity, the Lord God speaking of Himself as "Us." Since, as He says, the man had become "like one of Us" in knowing good and evil, He was concerned that the man might eat of the tree of life and live forever in the condition he had chosen for himself. For now he knew good and evil (and only in this way being like God), yet, unlike God, he had the inclination to choose the evil rather than the good. How tragic it would be to live forever in such a condition!

Therefore the Lord God sent them out of the garden of Eden, banished from the abundant provision they had enjoyed, to till the ground that was not so bountiful, having to contend with weeds, thorns and thistles in order to survive (v.23). Having driven them out, God placed in the east of the garden Cherubim with a flaming sword, which speaks of the severe holiness of God, "to keep the way of the tree of life." Since that time men have tried every possible means of discovering the secret of endless life on earth, but it is hopeless: God has decreed that this cannot be. The sentence of death has been passed, and it must be faced. Only the voluntary, substitutionary death of the Lord Jesus Christ can meet this question, and has met it, for He has both died and risen, to introduce a life far higher than that which Adam lost. Thus, the Lord Jesus Himself is "the tree of life -- in the midst of the Paradise of God" (Revelation 2:7)

 


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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Genesis 3:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/genesis-3.html. 1897-1910.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, November 28th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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