We live in a world of pain, evil and death. The Bible says that the world was initially very good (Genesis 1:31). In this article we examine what went wrong.
“Then Jehovah God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it. And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may eat to feed; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die the death.” - Genesis 2: 15-17
How is it possible to have a tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Needless to say, this tree was not an ordinary tree like we have today. It is important to realize that God's prohibition was not an attempt to keep Adam ignorant. The tree was bad not because knowledge was bad, or because God loved man to be ignorant, but because it was not God's will then for Adam to eat of it. The Bible contains a lot of teaching - so God wants us to learn, but according to His timing and plan. God wanted voluntary obedience from Adam.There was innocence:
“And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” (Genesis 2:25)
“Now the serpent was more cunning than any living thing of the field which Jehovah God had made. And he said to the woman, Has God indeed said: You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” – Genesis 3:1
This is still the strategy of Satan and those who are on his side. They cast doubt on God’s Word: “Has God really said…”.
“And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.” (Verses 2 and 3)
Here’s another problem. People sometimes add to God’s word. God had not forbidden Adam and Eve from touching the tree – they were not to eat its fruit.
“And the serpent said to the woman: You shall not die the death. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be as God, knowing good and evil.”
Satan persuades Eve that she will be better off doing what God has asked her not to do. Again, it’s the same today. There are many things that God has forbidden, but people feel that they’re better off disobeying Him. For instance, God says that homosexuality is wrong, but people insist on practicing and promoting it. Sometimes it can be something as simple as using what God has made. Evolutionists believed that breast milk is a product of natural selection (and not something that God has designed), and they figured they can think of something better. Today, it’s known that breast milk is the best possible food for infants. On the top of that, breast feeding has recently discovered benefits to both mother and child that evolutionists never thought of.
Satan’s invitation to Eve was: “You shall be as God”. Is that not a desire that appeals to humans even today? Dear reader, do you believe that God is to be found within you? Do you think we are all are gods and we just need to realize it? Do you think that by some meditation or study, we can realize our divine potential? Then you’re falling for the same deception as Eve!
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.” – Genesis 3:6
There were three elements that appealed to Eve:
Four thousand years later, John, writing to believers in Jesus Christ, and discussing temptation lists three types of temptation:
The same things that got Eve get people today. (So perhaps, we shouldn’t be too harsh on Eve for yielding to temptation – we yield to the same temptations today). While Eve was deceived, Adam was not (1 Timothy 2:14). He apparently ate the fruit because he wanted to be in the same boat as Eve. What was the effect of eating the fruit?
Now you know why humans are ashamed of being naked, while the animals are not. It is a reminder of our universal sinfulness!
“And they heard the sound of Jehovah God walking around in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of Jehovah God among the trees of the garden. And Jehovah God called to the man and said to him: Where are you? And he said, I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and 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: 8 to 11
Sin breaches the relationship between man and God. Adam and Eve enjoyed an untainted relationship with God before they sinned; this relationship was marred by sin. In our case, we’re born sinners, and so don’t even have a relationship with God to start with.
“And the man said, The woman whom You gave to be with me, she has given to me of the tree, and I ate.” – Genesis 3:12
Adam and Eve were people just like us – a natural human tendency is to put the blame on someone else.
“And Jehovah God said to the woman: What is this you have done? And the woman said: The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” – verse 13
“So Jehovah God said to the serpent: Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all beasts, and more than every living thing of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust 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 your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”
This must have come as a shocker for Satan. He is always against the purposes of God and wished man evil. Having deceived Adam and Eve into sinning against God, Satan must have felt a sense of accomplishment. But here, God is telling Satan that there is a Seed of the woman on his way – He will bruise the head of the serpent; in other words, he will deliver a crushing blow to Satan. At the same time, the serpent will bruise his heel. Here then, is the first promise of Someone who would come down as a man, as a savior – the Messiah. This Messiah will have his heel bruised, a symbolic way of depicting physical suffering. Here then, in the first three chapters of the Bible concerning the first couple on this earth, we have The Main Message of the Bible: Man stands condemned, having sinned against a holy God, but God Himself will provide a suffering savior. Biblical Christianity is thus as old as the human race.
“To the woman He said: I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16)
Do we not see these things today? Something as natural as giving birth is so painful for women. Sinful man has exploited and continues to exploit women. We look at things around us. We feel like asking: Why? How did this all start? The answers are there in the Bible!
Next, it’s the turn of the man to hear from God:
“And to Adam He said: Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying: You shall not eat of it: Cursed is the ground for your sake; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, and you shall eat the plants of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you have been taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return.”
Have you ever wondered? Why does life have to be so hard? Why do we have to work so hard for a living? Why couldn’t earth just teem with trees so that all we had to do when hungry was stretch our hands and pluck fruits? The answer lies in God’s curse on the ground. Strangely enough, God adds the words “for your sake”. How is the cursing of the ground for our sake? The answer is that with a sinful nature, man has such a propensity to do evil that the necessity of working hard to procure food, shelter and clothing will be a major check on the evil that men will be able to inflict on each other. God also mentions the return to dust – physical death. We grieve at the loss of a loved one – the fact that ordinary lives are punctuated with such intense misery is an indicator to the fact that something has gone horribly wrong from God’s original plan. Man’s sin brought death. The pain, evil and suffering we see are but steps to death, or mechanisms by which death works itself out. Dear reader, do you acknowledge the problem of sin? Are you interested in God’s remedy for it?
When God cursed the ground, he also cursed all of nature; four thousand years after Adam and Eve sinned, Paul would write:
“For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now.” – Romans 8:22
This was the beginning of disease, carnivorous animals, and species fighting for survival; violence and death, not only among humans but also among animals. “Survival of the fittest” and natural selection became the norm in the biological world.
God did not want Adam and Eve to live perpetually as sinful beings, so He expelled them from the garden (which had the Tree of Life in it) and prevented access by installing an angelic guard (Genesis 3:22-24).
“For the man and his wife Jehovah God made tunics of skins, and clothed them.” (Verse 21)
Adam and Eve had tried to make clothing of fig leaves to cover their shame, but God made them tunics of animal skins. What’s the lesson here?
The nakedness is a symbol of our sinful nature (which is a matter of shame when we stand in the presence of God who is holy). The fig leaves are an illustration of religion – man’s attempts to cover his sin and get to God. The animal skins are symbolic of God’s provision – His covering for sin and the way that He has made for us to get to Him. What’s the difference between animal skins and fig leaves?
Fig leaves do not result in death. On the other hand, for an animal skin to be available to cover my shame an animal has to be killed; blood has to be shed. The object lesson here is that the solution to sin is not a free lunch. A price needs to be paid. What is the price?
“The soul that sins, it shall die” – Ezekiel 18:20
“The wages of sin is death” – Romans 6:23
Death is the destruction of life. Where does life lie?
“The life of the flesh is in the blood” – Leviticus 17:11 [a fact that modern science has discovered only recently].
So what is the price that needs to be paid for sin? Blood has to be shed! Life has to be lost! God killed animals to clothe Adam and Eve. Later on, God instructed people about animal sacrifices. In 1490 BC, He would tell the people of Israel:
“The life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul.” – Leviticus 17:11
Looking back at these concepts, a New Testament author writes:
“Without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sin” – Hebrews 9:22
Sorry animal rights activists. Millions of animals have been slaughtered as sacrifices. God not only allowed it, He instituted it. God made YOU in His image, not bulls and goats. He places great value on your soul, and its destiny, not on the life of a cow that eats grass. God instituted animal sacrifices to remind people about the seriousness of sin – the cries of the animal that went under the knife, the blood and gore all around, served as a reminder that sin was serious, and that there would be grave consequences when a sinner stands for judgment at the hands of a holy God!
Used to seeing animals slaughtered regularly, the Israelites would bow down and cry out, “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor repaid us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him.” – Psalm 103: 11, 12
However, the Bible also reminds us:
“It is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.” – Hebrews 10:4
For all the animal blood that was shed, it is merely a –reminder– of sin! Then what will take away sins?! What will cleanse away sins?!
Answer: Human, sinless blood. A human would have to die for taking away human sins. His blood would have to be sinless in order to serve as a ransom for others. Who would this be?! The Seed of the woman!! Four thousand years after God first promised that the Seed would come, he arrived in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus was human, born of the virgin young woman, Mary [remember: Seed of the woman, not man]. Seeing Jesus, his forerunner, John the Immerser cried out, “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). At God’s appointed time, Jesus gave himself to be crucified. Even as the big nails pierced his wrists and feet, blood flowed out. Here was the infinite Son of God, incarnated as a human, shedding his blood for your sin and mine. The wrath of God against sin was heaped upon Him, and by suffering for a finite time, He was able to pay the infinite price for our sins!