IT STARTED IN A GARDEN
The Plan of Salvation
In our opening chapter, we looked at the creation of man and how he was made in the image and according to the likeness of God.
Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."
And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:26-27).
Man is not the first to have been created. By the time that we read of his creation, some time has passed. He is created into a world in which exist all manner of animals and fish and birds. He isn’t the first in the order of creation. Indeed, he is the last. But he is not the last in importance. Instead, his creation is described in a way that indicates that he stands at the pinnacle of creation.
In what way was man created in the image and likeness of God? There are many that we could imagine, but the context suggests only one way - the area of rulership. This is seen in verse 28.
And God blessed them; and God said, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and RULE over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28).
There is a sense in which man stands with God over all of the rest of creation. He is to the rest of creation what God is to man. He has authority over creation. He has been given the right of rulership. We could diagram it like this.
As God was sovereign over all that He had created, so now man has been placed into a position of relative sovereignty over all that is upon the earth.
Man is a wondrous creature. He was created to be lord over the earth. That is the good news. The bad news is that he gave up his sovereignty. This action began with a warning. You are probably familiar with the story. God created the first man and put him into a luscious garden with plenty of food and water and a companion fitted for him. There was only one condition.
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “from any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17).
This condition gave man the freedom to choose for God or against God. He could obey and live or he could disobey and die. Genesis 3 tells the story of what man did with that freedom.
Now the serpent was more crafty than any east of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”
And the woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, lest you die.’”
And the serpent said to the woman, “You surely shall not die! 5 For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate, and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.
Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. (Genesis 3:1-7).
There are several things which we ought to note from this passage. First of all, notice that the temptation came from an outside source. There was nothing within them to tempt themselves. Allow me to let you in on a secret. I don’t need an outside source to tempt me to sin. And neither do you. I have something within me that like sin - that finds sin fun. It isn’t that the “devil made me do it.” It is that I WANTED to do it. We call this a sin nature. It is an orientation to sin. But Adam and Eve were not created in this way. They had no orientation to sin. They had the ability to choose not to sin. And so, their choice to sin was all the more despicable.
Secondly, we should see that a surface reading of the passage seems to indicate that the Serpent told the truth. Their eyes WERE opened. They DID come to and experiential understanding of good and evil. And most importantly, they didn’t die! Or did they?
If we may read between the lines, then let me suggest that a death DID take place on that day. It was a spiritual death. Their ability to freely communicate with God was disrupted. This is seen in their reaction to the presence of God.
And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:8).
There was something within them that made them want to hide. Have you ever walked into a room and turned on the lights and seen a big cockroach? What does it do? It scurries out of the light. It hates the light. It tries to hide from the light. Adam and Eve tried to do the same thing.
And this is judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light, for their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. (John 3:19-20).
It’s easy to be dirty in the dark. It doesn’t show. But put a bright light on dirt and everyone can see it. So it is with sin. Sin doesn’t look so bad when you get away from the presence of the Lord. But when HE comes, sin looks awful. That is why pagans don’t like to be around Christians. It makes them feel strangely uncomfortable.
In the midst of their discomfort and in the midst of their trying to hide from the Almighty, the Lord calls out to Adam and Eve. That is a good description of who God is. He is the God who calls.
Then the Lord God called to the man; and said to him, “Where are you?”
And he said, “I heard the sound of Thee in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.”
And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?
And He said, “The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.”
Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:8-13).
There is something winsome about the picture that we see here of God calling for man as he hides in the garden. It isn’t merely a game of spiritual hide & seek. It isn’t thank God didn’t know where Adam and Eve were hiding. God’s questions are designed to force Adam to come to terms with his sin.
Having confronted the guilty parties concerning their sin, the Lord pronounces a series of judgments. These judgments are harsh because sin is harsh and it does harsh things. Yet there is a glimmer of hope in the midst of these judgments, for they also contain the promise of future life.
And the Lord said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly shall you go, and dust shall you eat all the days of your life;
"And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise Him on the heel." (Genesis 3:14-15).
The Lord begins be speaking to the serpent. But it seems evident that there comes a time when He is not just talking about snakes, but is addressing the real power behind the serpent - the Devil.
“I Will Put Enmity...”
Shall be bruised on the head
Shall be bruised on the heel.
This is the beginning of a spiritual war. The initial antagonists of this war are a serpent versus a woman. The war extends to their progeny. And their progeny includes everyone that exists.
This is the story of the entire human race. All people are in either one of two groups. They are following one of two seeds. The seed of the serpent is Satan. He is the way of rebellion against God. He is the voice of independence. The seed of the woman is Jesus. He is the One whose “heel” was crushed by Satan.
But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. (Isaiah 53:5-6).
When Jesus died upon the cross, it was no mere human death that He died. His death was special. It was special because it also involved a spiritual death. He was judged by God as if He were a guilty sinner. Our sins were laid upon Him.
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21).
This is what the cross was all about. It was not just the nails and the wood and the taunts and the crown of thorns. Those were all terrible, but they were merely the outward trappings of the real spiritual reality when the One who was without sin was identified with our sins in such a way that His death was in penalty for our sins. And by the same token, when we come to faith in Him, the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ is credited to us. God looks at us as being in Christ and we are judged as though we were completely righteous.
Jesus is the One whose coming crushed the head of Satan. Through His death, the work of Satan in plunging the human race into sin was overturned. Through His death, He brought life to all who trust in Him. Through His ensuing resurrection, He won the victory over death and the grave. And that is not all. His victory can be your victory.
And the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. (Romans 16:20a).
This brings us to a question. To what seed to you belong? On which side are you in this galactic battle? There are no fence-sitters. If you have never chosen to belong to Jesus Christ, then you are by default a part of the seed of the Serpent. That’s the bad news. But the good news is that you can change sides. You can repent and turn to the Lord. You can trust in Him as your Lord and Savior. And the result will be salvation.
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believe in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).