Genesis 3:1-15: The Promised Sin-Crusher

In His image, God created the first man and woman, giving them a beautiful, tranquil home, providing for their every need.  Neither destitute nor dispossessed, they are happy, safe, and secure—though God did prohibit one activity.  “In the day [you eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil], you will die” (Genesis 2:17).  A solemn warning.  Free to eat any other fruit, to do so from this tree will bring death.

How did Adam and Eve respond?  None of God’s commands mattered when everything came down to following Him.  Earlier, the serpent began to sink his fangs into the heart of Eve.  Now, this didn’t take long because Adam didn’t guard and keep her as God directed.  So, Satan slithers out with, not so much of a question, but an unfinished sentence.  “Though God said you are not to eat from any tree of the garden…”  (Genesis 3:1).  Oh, he lets Eve fill in the rest, all to set her up for the fall.

The man and woman are still naked, arummim in the Hebrew.  The serpent, however, is cunning, arum in the original language, which sounds like the word “naked.”  Ah, he saunters toward them as though naked, hiding nothing, showing himself open and exposed, appearing to be without a hidden agenda.  Desirous of real wisdom, Eve assumes the snake’s slyness is what she needs.

Now, the benefits of the forbidden bite grow grand and generous compared to the consequences.  The tree bears such delectable fruit and doesn’t reek of any danger.  Can something so wondrous be so wrong?  No, nothing this inviting, so appealing to the eye, can contain such a vile poison!

So, the pinnacle of creation disobeys and rebels, preferring not to listen to what God said.  The evil, satanic pun against them continues to unfold.  With their eyes now open to this new wisdom, from the Serpent’s cunning, they now realize they are naked, erummim, and they burn with regret for the first time.  The wordplay between Satan’s craftiness sounding so similar to being naked highlights his guile cunning.

Unseasoned, these two people only understand the upside of life, not the downside of death.  Unable to contrast God’s blessings against anything ugly and unwholesome, evil is but a mere commodity, something missing from their lives.  Deceived into walking by sight, not faith, they cling to the lie of better days awaiting them.

Too soon, they learn the hard way, and death now shadows their every movement.  Yes, for sins’ wages are death (Romans 6:23).  Now, sickness and mortality enter their world.  Wherever sin abounds, death and damnation are never far behind.

So, what happens afterward?  The Lord God is walking in Eden during the cool of the day, and the two realize He is coming their way.  Into the bushes, they scurry, attempting to disappear into the dense undergrowth. 

Not fooled, God cries out.  “Where are you?”  Hmm, God is acting like He doesn’t realize what’s going on.  Not so, for He’s stooping down to their level.  Like a parent trying to communicate with a rebellious young child, God lowers Himself to reach them.

Well, what about us?  The age-old problem plaguing us is the same—we also savor the fruit dragging us toward death.  Each day, the same scene replays.  Some desirous item comes our way, and we echo the same thought, “Well, one puny bite won’t hurt.”

Those of us in the Church understand the commandments of God.  Doesn’t He expect us to be holy in thought, word, and deed?  Yes, but soon our caution goes the way of the wind as we ignore the warnings of His Word when we spot something we want.  Like our first parents, we try to pretend God’s standards are flexible.  “Don’t murder, commit adultery, and covet are God’s will” (Exodus 20:13-14, 17) until they aren’t.

In love, God seeks Eve and Adam, allowing them a chance to repent.  The depraved poison now courses deep within them, as they each blame others.  “Hey, God, this woman thing came from you, not me.  No, this is your fault!  The woman you gave me, she told me to eat.”  How deep we plummet into the depths.  Don’t miss how Adam blames not only Eve but also God.  “The serpent deceived me, and I ate,” Eve lashes out.  “The devil made me swallow the fruit, so blame him!”

Like them, we test the confines of God’s patience.  Like a child challenges his parents, you probe the edges, to discern what you can wriggle away with, how far you can push the limits.  Not content with what God gives, not satisfied to stay inside the boundaries of the Law, you finagle with Him.  The same defiance brought God to banish Adam and Eve from the tree of life and exiled from the Garden.  All this explains why we will all return to the dust from which we first came.

Like a caring parent, God desires what is best for His children.  So, He promises a Savior, to destroy the sinful rot and its destructive results.  Neither you nor I can undo the wreckage, to deliver ourselves from sin, death, and Satan.  Another must come to unlock the door back into paradise, to the heavenly tree of life.

Only God can right the wrong of sin’s corruption, which will cause Him to become what we are.  So, the prophecy sounds of Someone born from the woman’s seed.  The Son of God will wear our flesh, and take our sin, shame, and death into Himself.  For us, He will drink down the dregs of scorn and dread, to smash the ancient serpent’s head.

For our salvation, this new and better Adam said “no” to the devil’s temptations.  Rather than eat the prohibited fruit of earthly glory, Christ bit deep into death and mingled His drink with weeping (Psalm 102:9).  To satisfy Himself and indulge His appetites is not who He is.  No, He will, instead, deny Himself for 40 days in the wilderness, content to live by the Word of His Father—for you.

Today, we go back to the Garden.  With shame, we remember the fall of our first parents, and the life cut short, which we share with them because of sin.  Next to Adam, who passed the curse down to us, we take in the terrifying voice of God.  “Remember you are dust, and to dust, you shall return.”

Let us not forget this.  To this day, God still calls out to us through His Word and Holy Spirit.  Hearken to His voice, “Where are you?”  For God also directs you to His promised Messiah.  On another tree, the cross, He bore your sins and, in your place, He gave Himself over to His Father’s wrath.

All this, Jesus did.  Now, Adam and all his descendants may move beyond death.  The burial ground is always calling us back—stubborn and unrelenting.  So, Jesus came to drink the cup of suffering, tasting death for us.  Now, we, the fallen brood of Adam, can rise again with Christ and feast on the tree of life forever.

Now, from the tree of Jesus’ shame flows life eternal in His name.  For each who trusts and so believes, life-giving fruit he will receive.  All so we can live, Christ gives us His meal to nourish us, to find within His dying strife, eternal food from His tree of life.

Of this fruit, we eat, once more, as Christ’s death proclaimed in His Gospel enters our sin-plugged ears.  Still not done, we also eat of the foretaste of this tree in a life-bestowing way.  Here, at the Holy Table, we open our mouths and receive salvation’s living fruit, beckoning us to the tree of life in eternity.

How our God grants us salvation is not impressive to the eyes.  The Lord spoke of a future venom to afflict the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your offspring and her offspring.  Though he will crush your head, you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15).

The foretelling words rang true.  The One born of the woman came to subdue Satan and defeat him, undoing the damage he caused in the Garden of Eden.  The serpent, however, struck His heel, and the toxin of sin sank deep.  The Son’s victory came only through His suffering and death.  The world’s redemption is by someone dying?  How weird.  To the world, a triumph by being defeated is wheezing out the whinings of a loser—the way of a servant, not a conqueror.

The banished tree pleased the eye—not so with Jesus’ death and how He delivers His cross-won victory to us.  The preached Word and the Lord’s Supper can sometimes be so exciting we go to sleep.  Hungry eyes are always wanting more, and Christ’s restoration for us isn’t stirring or rousing, not as we humans consider.  Like Eve, our eyes also deceive us, for what she thought as attractive led to death.  To us, what smacks of something ordinary, is what God uses to grant life everlasting.

The unbelieving world spurns how God chooses to save us.  “How can something so common and unimpressive, bestow such gifts?”  The skeptical disparage the Christian for trusting in something so powerless, they think, as they also ridicule us for believing in a God who chose to die.  Be brave, for the words of Christ do not lie: “Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.”

Let us be honest.  Both you and I are Adam’s children, and we often live like God doesn’t matter, like we matter most of all.  So, repent, but with an unwavering hope undergirding everything because God is “gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love.”  The same God who excommunicated our first parents from the tree of life now welcomes you to His holy Table.  In mercy, He leaves a blessing behind Him, for you.

In the beginning, God warned Adam about the tree, which gave knowledge of good and evil.  To eat of its fruit was to invite death.  Now, in the body and blood of our Savior, God makes another promise: “On the day you eat of these, you shall live.”  Amen.

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