GENESIS 3:1-24


The narrative of the temptation and the fall into sin is foundational to the rest of the Bible.  If the Bible is a book of Redemption, then the origin of that redemptive message is found in this chapter.


Genesis 2

“They were not ashamed”

Genesis 3

“I was ashamed and I hid myself”

Genesis 4

“Adam knew his wife”


Thus, while there is the fall in chapter 3, there is also a promise of future restoration through the “seed of the woman.”


The events that we have seen in the first two chapters of Genesis have been bright and cheerful and full of hope.  Man is presented as the ruler of his world, second only to his Creator.  He is holy and without sin, standing on earth as the very image of God.  His environment is a delight and his relationship with his God and with his wife is perfect.


As we come to Genesis 3 and 4, there will be a drastic change.  The story will be black and bleak, full of sin and jealousy and death.  The earth will be cursed.  Loving relationships will be replaced by guilt and murder.


What will shine forth in the darkness of these two chapters will be the grace of God.  It will be manifested in a way that is even greater than that which is found in the creation accounts.


Genesis 3:1-6

Genesis 3:7-24

Events leading up to the fall

    • Serpent introduced

    • Temptation

    • Sin

Results of the Fall

    • God’s pointed questions

    • Curse of sin

    • Banishment from the garden


In the first section, the serpent is the prominent figure.  In the second section, it is the Lord who becomes the prominent figure.





            Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast 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’?” (Genesis 3:1).


Genesis 2 closes with the man and the woman in the garden.  At the beginning of this chapter, we are introduced to a new character.  It is the serpent.


When we read that the serpent was more crafty, we ought to realize that, at the very least, there is a play on words here.  It is seen in the word translated “crafty.”  The Hebrew word can be translated two different ways.


1.         It can refer to the quality of being prudent or crafty.

           Proverbs 12:16. A fool's vexation is known at once, But a prudent man conceals dishonor.

           Proverbs 12:23. A prudent man conceals knowledge, But the heart of fools proclaims folly.


2.         This same word can refer to nakedness.

           Job 24:7. They spend the night naked, without clothing, And have no covering against the cold.

           Job 24:10. They cause the poor to go about naked without clothing, And they take away the sheaves from the hungry.

           Job 26:6. Naked is Sheol before Him And Abaddon has no covering.

           Ecclesiastes 5:15. As he had come naked from his mother's womb, so will he return as he came. He will take nothing from the fruit of his labor that he can carry in his hand.


This is the same word that was used in Genesis 2:25 to describe Adam and Eve as they were naked and unashamed in the Garden.  Their nakedness was a sign of their innocence while the craftiness of the serpent suggests to us a motive that was not innocent.


Rabbinic legend has it that the serpent originally walked erect and that it was not until God’s curse on this animal in Genesis 3:14 that it was reduced to moving upon its belly.  There is nothing in the Bible to specifically state such a position and therefore such an interpretation is reduced to mere speculation.


On the other hand, the description of the serpent is seen in contrast to the beasts of the field.  He was more crafty than any beast of the field.  Furthermore, this particular serpent had the power of speech.  This brings us to a dilemma: Snakes cannot talk.


I believe that the actions of this serpent reflect a supernatural situation — that Satan was the cause of the speech of the serpent.  He often works through intermediate agents.  He uses fallen angels and he uses human agents and he is able to use animals.  One example of demon possession in animals is seen in Matthew 8:28-32 where Jesus cast out a group of demons and allowed them to enter a heard of pigs.  In this case, Satan seems to have chosen the serpent as his tool.  The fact that Satan was the real power behind the serpent is attested in the book of Revelation where Satan is described as the devil and Satan (Revelation 12:9).


The striking thing about this is not that the serpent could speak, but that the woman showed no surprise at the serpent’s linguistic ability.  While some have speculated that certain animals had the power of speech prior to the fall, it is more natural to conclude that the woman, in her innocence, did not know that all animals were incapable of speech and therefore was not alarmed at the serpent’s ability.





            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).


The Lord had given some very specific instructions regarding their behavior in the Garden.  There was a single prohibition given.


            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

An epidemic is often best understood by tracing all cases back to the first. -- Larry Crabb

live or he could disobey and die.


There are several things which we ought to note from this temptation.


1.         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.


2.         The temptation began by questioning and misdirection:  And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”


The serpent did not begin the conversation with an immediate denial of what God had said.  Instead, he merely posed the question of what God had said.  He did this by means of a deliberate misquote of the words of God.  He asked, “Is it true that God will not let you eat from ANY of the trees of the garden?”  The question is designed to make the woman focus upon that particular tree that was forbidden.


Satan’s tactics have not changed.  He continues to draw your attention to that which is forbidden.  In so doing, he draws your attention away from that which God has given you.


It is also notable that the serpent refers to God by His title (Elohim) rather than by His name (Yahweh).  The emphasis is upon God’s position rather than upon the relationship with His creatures.


3.         The temptation proceeded with a misunderstanding of the danger:  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.’” (3:3-4).


In repeating the prohibition, the woman says that they are not permitted either to eat or even to touch the forbidden fruit.  Yet when the prohibition is initially given in Generis 2:16-17, there is no mention of a prohibition against touching the fruit.  It is only eating the fruit that is forbidden.


This may reflect a misunderstanding on the part of the woman.  She may have thought there was something physically poisonous about the fruit.  This created a conflict in her mind when she looked at the tree and it looked good.


4.         The woman looked at the tree and it looked good -- she 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 (3:6).


If you let your life be driven by what looks good, you will doom your life to an existence of sin and misery.  We are never called to follow that which looks good.  We are called to follow that which IS good.


There are three areas of impact that are mentioned in light of this temptation.  These three areas correspond to three types of temptation outline in 1 John 2:16.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. (1 John 2:16).


The tree was...




for food

to the eyes

to make one wise

The lust of the flesh

The lust of the eyes

The boastful pride of life


5.         A surface reading of the passage seems to indicate that the Serpent initially 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).


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.

            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.





The coming of the Lord is not with lightning or peals of thunder.  Instead we read that And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day (Genesis 3:8).  Yet this had been enough for the man and the woman to hide themselves.  It is now that the voice of God calls for them.


1.         The God who Calls:  Then the Lord God called to the man; and said to him, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9).


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 did not know where Adam and Eve were hiding.  God’s questions are designed to force Adam to come to terms with his sin.


We often make the mistake of thinking that our prayers of confession are for God’s sake.  That is far too limited a view of God.  He wants us to confess our sins for OUR sake.  There is something about prayer and confession that is healing to our own dislocated souls.


2.         Two Confessions.


            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? (Genesis 3:10-11).


The truth comes out.  It is that both Adam and Eve had felt the shame of their nakedness.  Where there had before been no shame, now guilt came and brought with it shame.


It is not that guilt is necessarily bad.  Guilt is a proper thing to experience if you are guilty.  When someone is guilty and does not experience the accompanying feelings of guilt, we say that such a one is pathological.  This is the kind of person who can commit murders and never feel anything.


When you are guilty, the first step in resolving your situation is to face your guilt and admit that you are guilty.  We call this confession.  It involves seeing the reality of your guilt admitting that you are guilty.  It is only when we have come to this point that we will be ready to go to the next step of resolving that which has made us guilty in the first place.


a.         The man’s confession:  And He said, “The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12).


As confessions go, this one is barely adequate.  The man enters into what we call the “blame game.”  He seems to hint that a part of the reason for his sin is because of the actions of others.  He blames the woman.  She is the one who gave him the forbidden fruit.  Furthermore, she is the woman whom THOU gavest to be with me.  This suggests that he is also trying to place a portion of the blame on God who gave the woman in the first place.


b.         The woman’s confession:  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 3:13).


Just as the man placed the blame upon the woman, so she also followed his example and placed her blame upon the serpent.  The man did not claim deception, but she does.  She states that the serpent deceived her.


The man blames...

The woman who blames...

The Serpent


By contrast, we are reminded of Jesus who offered no retort or defense when He was falsely accused.  In silence, He bore the guilt and the sin that belonged to us so that we could be credited, not with blame, but with His perfect righteousness.





The first prophecy of a coming Messiah was not made to either the man or the woman, but to the serpent.


            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 (Genesis 3:14).


The serpent is cursed in a greater way than all cattle or beasts of the field.  All of the creation will come under a curse, but the curse against the serpent will be of a greater nature.  His will be a special curse.  Keil and Delitzsche point out that the punishment of the serpent corresponded to the crime. It had exalted itself above the man; therefore upon its belly it should go, and dust it should eat all the days of its life. [1]


Warren Gage points out that this punishment upon both the serpent and the woman and the man each carry a sort of retributive irony. [2]


Examples of retributive irony

The Serpent that had been more crafty than any beast of the field... now made lower than all of the other animals.

Satan bruises Christ on the heel... the process is bruised on the head.

The woman who desires to rule over her husband...

...finds that it is he who shall rule over her.

Man made of dust who would rise to be like God... returned to dust again


Nor are these the only examples of such irony to be found in the Pentateuch.  They are seen in the way Jacob lied to his father by wearing the skin of a goat, only to have his sons lie to him when they brought the coat of Joseph stained with the blood of a goat.  They are seen in the brothers who sell Joseph into slavery, only to find themselves bowing down before him at a later date.  They are seen in the pharaoh who orders newborn Jewish males to be throne into the Nile, only to have his own armies drowned in the Red Sea. [3]


The nature of the snake will henceforth serve as a symbol.  It shall slide along the ground as the lowest of all possible creatures.  That does not necessitate us concluding that the serpent originally walked with legs, though this is the interpretation that was regularly given by the rabbis.  What it means is that when you look at a snake, you will be reminded that there is a curse upon those who set themselves against the Lord and that there is coming a day when all of the Lord’s enemies will be brought low.


The Lord begins by 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.


            “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 3:15).


The is perhaps the most important verse in the entire Old Testament.  It sets forth the pattern and the message of the rest of the Bible.  The first prophecy of a coming Messiah was not made to either the man or the woman, but to the serpent.


This passage goes on to speak of the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent which have Messianic implications, but first it speaks of the serpent and the woman. Does this mean that women do not like snakes?  No.  The conjunction between these two phrases can take the role of definition.  Thus we could understand this to say:


            “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, EVEN between your seed and her seed...”


Viewed this way, this passage is not saying something between women versus snakes or even between women and Satan, but instead these two parties are seen in their representation of the seed that follows:


“I Will Put Enmity...”

The Serpent



The Woman

His Seed


Her Seed

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.


You may not have realized it, but you were born onto a battlefield.  There is a cosmic conflict going on.  Things are not the way they were supposed to be.  This world does not work the way in which it was originally designed.  Bad things happen on a battlefield and had things are happening in the world.


The good news is that we know the end of the story.  It is foretold in the prophecy of this verse.  There are two bruisings that take place in this verse.  These affect different portions of the body and they affect two different subjects.


The Seed of the Serpent

The Seed of the Woman

Points to Satan

Points to Jesus Christ

He receives a wound to the head -- this is a fatal wound.

He receives a wound to the heel -- painful but not lasting.

He was fatally bruised for all eternity.

He was temporarily bruised while on the cross.


Though this ultimately points to Satan and to Jesus Christ, this is also 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.


This verse provides the theme of the rest of Genesis.  This will be a book about two seeds:

Genesis is a book about two seeds.  God initially created all life to reproduce after its kind. But man rebelled and sinned against God.  And so, a promise was given.  It was a promise of TWO SEEDS.


The promise is found in Genesis 3:15.  The first seed was to be the seed of the serpent.  It was the seed of rebellion.  It was the seed of sin.  It was made up of all who walked in the way of Adam in turning against God.


But there is also a second seed promised.  It is the seed of the woman.  This second seed is set over against the first seed.  The two seeds are at war with one another.  And God has decreed that the second seed shall ultimately win.


From our vantage point, we know that this second seed is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ - the One who was bruised for our iniquities as He crushed underfoot the Serpent's Head.


The rest of Genesis is the story of these two seeds.  First we read of Cain and Abel.  Although they are brothers descended from the same father and mother, Cain shows himself to be of the spiritual seed of the serpent by murdering his brother.  But God replaces murdered Abel with Seth.


We see the genealogy of each.  Cain’s seed leads us to Lamech - a man who is willing not only to murder a man, but to compose a song in which he boasts of his deed. Seth's seed leads us to Enoch who walks with God, and from there to Noah who is spared the destruction of the Flood.


But the story does not stop there.  Noah has three sons.  And one of them performs an evil deed which demonstrates that he is of the spiritual seed of the serpent.  He and his descendants through Canaan are cursed (the impact of this was not missed on the Israelites to whom Moses wrote the book of Genesis). Noah's other son, Shem, is given the promise of blessing.


The Babel Rebellion is an account of men trying to make a SHEM for themselves (Shem is the Hebrew word for “name”).  They are dispersed among the nations.


But one is called out to be a blessing to the nations.  His name is Abraham.  He has two sons.  One is seen to be the seed of the serpent - he is cast out. The other is of the spiritual seed of God.  He is Isaac.


Isaac also has two sons.  They are twins.  But one is of the spiritual seed of the serpent.  Esau does not hold the blessings of God in high esteem.  Jacob, on the other hand, shows himself to be of the seed of the woman.


Jacob has 12 sons.  Only one of them shows from the outset that he is of the seed of the woman.  The others are rebellious.  Two of them murder the inhabitants of a town.  Another is involved in a sexual scandal.  They sell their younger brother into slavery.  But the Lord uses this to His own ends.  And all of the brothers are redeemed in Egypt.  They all receive the promises of God.


As Moses writes the book of Genesis, the children of Israel are in the wilderness.  And the question before them is this - which seed are they to be? Will they follow in the footsteps of the serpent?  Or will they show themselves to be of the seed of the Lord?


Genesis will be a book about a line of children.  Thus, a key word in Genesis will be “generations.”


           The Hebrew word for “generations” is toledoth.

           It is taken from the root word yalad, "to give birth."


Each new generation will determine which seed it is.  Will it continue in the covenant relation to God and show itself to be a part of the promised seed?  Or will it turn from God to join and be a part of the seed of the serpent?





To the woman He said,

"I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth,

In pain you shall bring forth children;

Yet your desire shall be for your husband,

And he shall rule over you." (Genesis 3:16).


There are two parts of this promise.  They are presented in two parallel couplets.  The first part involves the pain of childbirth.  The woman had been designed to bear children -- that had been a part of the divine decree in chapter 1.  But now there is added to this a new aspect.  The bearing of children would be accompanied by undue pain.


Notice that the first couplet contains Hebrew parallelism.  It is synonymous parallelism so that the second line repeats the idea of the first line, albeit with different words.


"I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth,

In pain you shall bring forth children.


The second line is merely repeating the idea of the first line.  When we come to the second couplet, there is also Hebrew parallelism at work.


Yet your desire shall be for your husband,

And he shall rule over you."


This time, it is not synonymous parallelism.  Instead I want to suggest that this is antithetical parallelism.  Instead of repeating the same idea, the second line of the couplet states the opposite side of the same truth.


The woman had been involved in the temptation.  She had been tempted by the serpent and she had then given the forbidden fruit to Adam.  In so doing, she had exercised a form of rulership over her husband.  That is going to change.  Instead of her being permitted to continue to exercise such a role, it is the husband who shall rule over her.


The Woman

The Man

She exercised leadership in the temptation by giving the fruit to the man

He exercised submission in the temptation by accepting that which was given him

She shall be ruled by her husband

He shall exercise dominion over her


Even though the place of the woman is relegated to one of submission as well as of pain in childbirth, the truth is that women throughout history have generally desired both a husband as well as children.


History bears out the fact that man in general has subjugated and ruled over woman with little regard for her own personal feelings and needs.  In non-Christian religions and cultures, such subjugation and humiliation has been universal.


It is only as Biblical principles are applied to the marriage relationship that this cursing can be turned into blessing and that the woman finds herself in a role that brings her highest happiness and fulfillment.





            17 Then to Adam He said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat from it'; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. 18 Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you shall eat the plants of the field; 19 By the sweat of your face You shall eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return." (Genesis 3:17-19).


The Lord turns now to Adam.  He has gone from the serpent to the woman and finally to the man.  As President Harry Truman said, “The buck stops here.”

There is a threefold curse given in these verses:


1.         The Ground is Cursed.


The earth had been described as “very good” in the first chapter of Genesis, but this now changes.  That which had been created now enters a process of degeneration and de-evolution.


2.         Man is to Experience Endless, Unproductive, Toil.


He will spend his life in a struggle against the earth, trying to force from its resisting nature a living.  It will involve a continuing struggle and will culminate in man’s demise.


3.         Man is to Experience Death.


Though Adam is going to live a very long life, the end will be inevitable.  It will result in death.  This process begins immediately.  There is a sense in which the seeds of each person’s death is born in them.  Apart from the intervention of God, death is certain.


It is popular these days to describe death as merely a natural part of life and a portion of the beautiful circle of life.  People who say this have not seen much of death.  I have and I can assure you that death is neither beautiful or natural.  It is ugly and unnatural.


The good news of the gospel is that it will not stay that way.  The ground that was cursed with thorns was redeemed by the One who wore upon His head a crown of thorns.  He has purchased the redemption price and there is coming a day when that redemption will be an observed reality and when the curse will be overturned in a visible way.


            20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. (Romans 8:20-21).


Just as Eve was told that she would experience the pains of childbirth, so also the entire creation continues to experience the same birth pangs.  The world suffers with Eve today, but there is coming a day when the suffering will give way to the birth of a new heavens and a new earth.


It is in light of this promise that the woman is given a name pointing to this promise of life.




            Now the man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living. (Genesis 3:20).


The naming of Eve comes on the heels of the pronouncements of the Lord.  He had pronounced both a series of curses as well as the seeds of a promise that would lead to eventual salvation from that curse.  With the curse had come death; but the promise leads to a new life.  As if on cue, Adam names his wife Eve, which means “living.”  It seems as though he understands that it is through her that will come all life.


We have already noted the retributive irony in the curses that were meted out.  There is also a redemptive irony at work in the case of the woman.  She who was the means of the temptation that brought death into the world will become the mother of all living.


Examples of redemptive irony

The woman who was tempted to sin...

...becomes the mother of all living.

The weak...

...will conquer the strong

The God-man will die on a cross... bring life to many.





            And the LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them. (Genesis 3:21).


  • These skins were taken by the shedding of blood.
  • The animals were innocent and picture the principles of the innocent substitute.
  • The coats of skin replaced the fig leaves of human righteousness.

Next the Lord makes garments of skin in order to clothe and hide the nakedness of Adam and Eve.  Though it is not mentioned in the passage, the fact that these garments were garments of skin is in itself suggestive.  It suggests that there was the death of an animal.  One of the animals that had been created by God was taken and slain and its skin was taken in order to be used as clothing for Adam and Eve.


If it is true that there had not yet been any death in the world, then this action would have shocked Adam and Eve to the core.  They had heard the warning that eating of the forbidden fruit would result in their death.  They had eaten and judgment had been pronounced and now it was time for death to take place.  But instead of them experiencing death, it is an innocent animal that is taken and is put to death.  The animal had not sinned.  It was dying, not because it had done anything wrong, but because Adam and Eve had done something wrong.  It died the death they deserved to die.


This is a picture of what Christ did on our behalf.  He is our innocent substitute.  He died in our place the death we deserved.  His righteousness is credited to us so that we are clothed in His righteousness.





            22 Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil; and now, lest he stretch out his hand, and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever "-- 23 therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken. 24 So He drove the man out; and at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim, and the flaming sword which turned every direction, to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3:22-24).


This is a familiar passage to us, but did you ever wonder if it had a special significance to the Israelites in the wilderness?  After all, they were the original recipients of the book of Genesis.  It was written to THEM just the way that Galatians was written to the Galatians or Romans was written to the believers in Rome.  If we are to understand it, then we must put ourselves into their shoes (or sandals, as the case may be).


Notice the parallels between Adam and the people of Israel.



The People of Israel

He has been banished from the garden.

They have departed from the "garden of Egypt" and are now in the Sinai Wilderness.

Adam leaves the garden by the eastern route.

The Israelites also leave Egypt by the eastern route.


Indeed, there seems to be a predilection for the idea of the "east", for that was the direction of the Garden (Genesis 2:8), it was the direction of Nod (Genesis 4:16) and it was the direction of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:2).


Now, as the Israelites are encamped in the Wilderness, the presence of the Lord is seen in the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night as it hovers over the Tabernacle.    The tents of Moses and Aaron and the sons of Aaron (the priests) were pitched on the east side of the entrance of the Tabernacle (Numbers 3:38).


           To the east of the Tent of Meeting is a FLAMING altar.  It “guards” the entrance to the Tent.  Only after a lamb has been slain and its blood applied to the altar can the worshipers enter within.


           Before the Tabernacle was the Laver of Water - it was called the SEA (could this relate to the rivers which flowed out of Eden?).


           When the priest entered into the Tabernacle, the light within the Tent was provided by a lampstand which was crafted into the image of a TREE with six branches going out of it (Exodus 37:17-22).


           Within the Holy of Holies was the Ark of the Covenant, topped by the Mercy Seat and overshadowed with two CHERUBIM of gold, one at each end of the Mercy seat.


What is the point of all of this?  What is the lesson that the Israelites learned from these images?  I believe that it was that the God who had cast Adam and Eve out of the Garden was now offering a way of return - a way that was made through the sacrifice of an innocent substitute.


The New Jerusalem is described in terms of a Garden, the Tree of Life, a river flowing through it, and the presence of God, no longer guarded by cherubim, but open to fellowship with His restored bride.


Verse 24 tells us that at the east of the garden of Eden He stationed the cherubim.  The word translated “stationed” is the Hiphil imperfect of shakan and is usually translated, “to dwell.”  It is from this same word that we get the familiar “Shekinah Glory” -- the reference to God’s presence that dwelled and abided with His people. 


That which was lost in the fall will one day be recovered.  There will come a day when we will again come into the presence of the Lord.  Yet the salvation that God provides is more than a mere recovery of lost ground.  It does more than to reverse the effects of sin.  It transforms the work of sin and changes it into something grand and glorious.  Instead of nakedness, we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ.  Instead of a garden, we are given a city that is also a paradise.


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[1] Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1: Pentateuch. Electronic Edition STEP Files, 2000.

[2]  The Gospel of Genesis: Studies in Protology and Eschatology. Winona Lake, IN: Carpenter Books, 1984. Page 46.

[3] Warren Gage reflects further on this theme as he points out:  Likewise the Philistines make sport with Samson in the temple (Judg 16:30), the wicked prepare a pit for David (Ps 9:15‑16), Hamon prepares a gallows for Merdecai (Esth 7:10), and Satan erects a cross for Christ (1 Cor 2:8). Ibid..Page 46.