Tag Archives: tree of the knowledge of good and evil

Just Sentence

To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16 ESV)

God’s just sentence for the woman is two-fold, with both parts having two elements. In the first part the woman will have pain and sorrow in childbirth followed by pain, sorrow and hardship in parenting children. Even though Jesus speaks to the joy of having children (see John 16:20-22), because of our fallen nature there will always be pain and suffering intermixed with the joy.

Next, God makes a statement that has been misinterpreted and misused by men to enslave woman, making them lower than, and certainly not equal to, the gender man. God does not state woman are inferior nor does He demand they be submissive to men.

There are three words we need to know, spoken within the context of the first rebellion against God, in order to begin to comprehend God’s sentence. They are “desire” “contrary to” and “rule.”

Desire means to long for. The word is used only three times. Once here and then in Genesis 4 when God tells Cain that sin desires him. “And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it” (Genesis 4:7 ESV). Desire mean craving, as a beast craving to violently devour. Finally, the word is used in Song of Solomon. “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me” (Song 7:10 ESV). The beloved has the strongest emotion for the object of His desire. He wants to consumer her to the place of making her a part of Himself. This desire of the Beloved for the Loved is consistent with Jesus’ eternal desire for those who are His.

“Contrary” is simply the word “to” but is translated “contrary to.” This word can mean the motion of moving toward or against, but is not necessarily physical movement. Moving toward someone suggests coming to agree with them while moving against someone suggests aggressive intent. It can also mean simply in addition, in regard to or reference to, according. Taken within the context of the woman’s first interaction with the serpent, the Deceiver, and her reasoning to disobey God, the word suggests that because of sin and rebellion the woman will strive against the thinking of her husband. There will be intimate movement toward and a striving against as part of the sentence of God.

Finally, God uses the word rule. This word is translated dominion but is not the same word used for Man’s dominion over God’s creation. It is the same word God uses when He creates the sun and the moon and places them to “rule over the day and over the night” (Genesis 1:18 ESV). When God says “he will rule over you” God is saying the husband will hover over, as in to provide for, the wife. This word does not give any man despotic control over any or every woman, but fits the actions committed by the woman. God initially spoke to the man about not eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, not the woman. We know the man spoke to the woman about God’s prohibition because of her words to the serpent. Still, it was the woman who first ate the fruit and then gave it to the man, and he ate. She was the one who first violated God’s directive but it is the man who is being held completely responsible for the act of rebellion. She should have followed his directive just as he should have followed God’s.

God’s just sentence for the woman does not just apply to the first woman but to all women. All women have pain in childbirth and sorrow and joy in raising children. All married women, because of sin, tug and pull against their husbands in an effort to control. Unmarried women also strive against men, because of sin.

Advertisements

Pain

Studies in Genesis 3

To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16 ESV)

God now turns His attention to the woman. His curse for the serpent was that it would crawl on its belly and eat dust. His curse of the Deceiver is that the offspring of the woman, someone down the line, would crush its head while it vainly struck at His heel. God’s judgment to the woman is two-fold, that she would have pain in childbirth and that her husband would rule over her even as her desires would be contrary to his.

Life, after the fall, is filled with suffering. I am a man and have no concept of the pain experienced in childbirth. Yet, the life of a child moves from the safety of the womb to the harsh environment outside the womb. But it is not the life and pain of the child God is addressing but the pain the woman will experience by having children. Her suffering begins during pregnancy, spikes during delivery, then continues throughout the life of the child even when the child matures into an adult.

When God declares “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children” the word pain is also translated toil, sorrow, hardship, hurt. This word is used only three times in Scripture. God uses the word to describe the pain of childbirth in this verse. God also describes the pain of eating the fruit of the man’s labor in the next verse, “cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life” Genesis 3:17 ESV). The word is then used in Genesis 5:29, the hopeful prophecy of Lamech for his son Noah, to bring relief from the painful toil of work.

Jesus talks about the pain of childbirth as preceding the joy the child brings to the parent. In the context of His statement He alludes to the pain of losing Him to death is similar and will bring eternal joy of having Him after His resurrection.

Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. (John 16:20-22 ESV)

Why pain in childbirth? Is the pain supposed to be a reminder for all women that their first mother rebelled against God? Is the pain supposed to point to the sentence of the Deceiver, who will strike out at the children of the woman and hurt them, or Him, but will then be crushed? Can we assume there would have been no pain in childbirth had the first couple had children before rebelling? According to Jesus, the pain of childbirth points to the pain of His passion, for Him and for those who are His, because it also points to the eternal joy of being with Him (see also Romans 8:18).

Please note, neither the woman or the man are cursed. They are judged and sentenced. They will die physically because that was the determined consequence for eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They will bear the consequences of their actions and those who follow them will also suffer because of their rebellion. One of the consequences of their rebelling is pain, suffering and sorrow for all, including Jesus who was fully God and fully man the way God originally intended.

“And I ate”

Studies in Genesis 3

Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:13 ESV)

Like the man, the woman’s response to God’s interrogation was partially, but not completely honest. She responded with two honest statements. First, she truthfully said “the serpent deceived me.” Some translations use the word “beguiled.” The Deceiver, in the guise of a serpent, lied to her and she listened, believing the lie. She was told that eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would have specific results beyond simple nourishment. Eating the fruit would give her hidden knowledge and make her like God, which means, equal to God.

To beguile means to lure, charm, captivate, mesmerize, enthrall. She was lured into believing the lie by a beast created by God because of her own thought process and desires. She was enthralled, which means to enslave, by the possibility of being something she was not. She was mesmerized by the superstition that some physical piece of fruit, when eaten, would make her more than what God had already made her. She wanted to eat the fruit and the lie presented an excuse for her to disobey.

Secondly, she admitted straight up that she ate the fruit. There was no waffling or hesitation. “And I ate.” She is using the same words used by the man, who also said “and I ate.” Perhaps their straightforward answers to God’s interrogation was an adequate response to His questioning. However, when God walked in the garden both the man and the woman hid from Him. His calling them and questioning of them showed they had been caught. There was remorse for being caught but no repentance for the act of rebellion. Or, was there remorse?

Both the man and the woman were created in the image of God for relationship with Him. Before their rebellion their relationship with God and each other was wholesome and complete. There was no reason for them to lie to God, nor disobey His direction. They easily could have brought their questions to Him without fear of ridicule or being ignored. We cannot assume the broken and strained relationships we currently have is indicative of their relationship with God or each other. There was no sin up to this point. We cannot conceive living without sin dogging our every thought, motive and action. Up to this point they had a healthy relationship free from sin.

Both of their responses to God show no acceptance of what they had done and no repentance. They admitted “I ate” but they did not admit I disobeyed.

What she didn’t say was “I decided to eat because I believed You were keeping something from me which I deserved, needed, wanted and had to have.” Is the expectation of such a response too much to demand from those created in His image?

Testing

Studies in Genesis 3

Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:13 ESV)

After questioning the man, who has blamed Him and the woman for his actions, God now turns His attention to the woman. His question is as direct as those asked of the man, but slightly different. He knows what she has done. She has listened to the Deceiver and worked out in her mind and heart the decision to rebel against God. She has plucked a fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil believing, against all evidence, that by eating it she will gain something God is withholding. She has eaten the fruit and then given it to the man for him to eat.

God’s question is all inclusive. He asks the woman what she did. What have you produced? What work did you do? What have you made? What is the effect of your work? You have done something. What is it? God asks the woman to account for her thoughts, the decision-making process, the reasons for her actions. He is demanding a full accounting for all which just occurred because of her actions.

God wants her, as He wanted the man, to take complete responsibility for herself. God asks the woman, as He did the man, as He does all who bear His image, to give an accounting for their thoughts, motivations, decisions and actions. He never asks anyone to do something for Him. He did not ask them to refrain from eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. He commanded they not eat from that tree.

God’s asking is a testing. Scripture is filled with God testing, or proving, every person. His tests are a teaching tool to discover what the person, or student, does not know, not what they do know. He knows the results of the testing. He wants those tested to know the results also. Yet, He demands a heart which seeks truth, so the testing becomes a tool used to purge the person of sin, as a furnace refines metal, removing the dross.

This is the uncomfortable reality of having the image of God while carrying the brokenness of sin. All are tested, put through the fire to burn away the impurities. Our responsibility, because of the image of God, is to acknowledge the testing is from God for our benefit, take responsibility for ourselves, and repent, turning away from that which breaks and cuts off any relationship with God.

Our actions carry no merit. God does not ask and then reward us for obedience. God commands with the expectation of obedience and blesses because it is His nature to do so out of love for those He created. Part of our responsibility is obedience and truthfulness.

Both the man and the woman disobeyed God. Neither the man or the woman answered God’s questions with complete truthfulness.

Blame

Studies in Genesis 3

The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:12 ESV)

Everyone who reads this Genesis account knows the man is shifting the blame from himself to the woman and then to God. His answer is an obvious “it’s not my fault” response to God’s interrogation. He does admit he ate the fruit. But follow the progression of blame.

“The woman you gave to be with me” tells God He is most at blame. If He had not given the man the woman as an equal then the man would not have rebelled and eaten the forbidden fruit. Does he not remember his owns words after seeing the woman for the first time? He is given dominion over the earth. God presents to him all of the animals and he names them. But none of the animals are a suitable partner for man. None of the animals are equal to man and it was impossible for man to be fruitful and multiple with any of the animals. He needs a she. God gave the female to the male and made them one flesh

Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:23-24).

The man declares the woman “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” when she is presented to him by God. He knows from where the woman came. He knows that all of the animals he has named are male and female and God’s blessing for them is to multiply and fill the earth. Then God proclaims the spiritual condition of the pair, declaring them one, a unit, together making a whole. It is God’s intent that the man and woman be husband and wife and that their relationship be unique, healthy, whole, free from anything which might divide them. They are “one flesh.”

When the man indicates that the “woman you gave to be with me” was the cause and reason for his rebellion he was speaking truth. God did make the woman so the man would not be alone and would fulfill His blessing to “be fruitful and fill the earth and subdue it.” The woman did give the man the fruit she had plucked and eaten so he could also have a bite. But, the man was not forced to eat the fruit by either God or the woman. Even the Deceiver did not force any to eat the fruit. He ate of his own volition. Now, confronted by God while he is hiding, the man points his finger at the woman and says it is her fault while facing God saying it is also His fault.

Not only is the relationship between God and Man broken but also the healthy relationship between the man and woman.

Second Question

Studies in Genesis 3

He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” (Genesis 3:11 ESV)

God does not give the man a chance to answer the question “Who told you that you were naked?”  before moving onto the next question “Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” Both questions are simple and direct. Both questions require simple and direct answers. God wants an answer for both questions. Both questions are filled with anger and disappointment. God is not happy those created in His image rebelled against Him, hid from Him, and refuse to come into His presence.

I imagine God questioning the man and woman while they are still hiding. When God calls into His presence those who are spiritually healthy and righteous before Him will immediately stop what they are doing and give their full attention to Him. They will stand before Him in eager anticipation. On the other hand, those who are rebelling against Him will not, of their own volition, stand before Him. They will turn away from Him in fear, tempered with the overwhelming desire to run and hide. However, they will be forced into His presence and then kneel in terror at His wrath.

There is no indication in Scripture the man continued to hide from God during His questioning but their guilt, their fear, and the obvious desire to not be seen by God because of their nakedness, suggests they continued to hide from His presence. No one can hide from God’s presence. He is omnipresent. Trying to hide from God is a futile attempt to absolve oneself from the consequences of rebellion and a strong indicator of separation and a broken relationship.

God’s second question is even simpler than His first. “Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” (Genesis 3:11 ESV). A simple “yes” would suffice. But their actions toward God and their nakedness leads them to a different answer. God told the man he was not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. His command was direct and unambiguous. Adam understood the command. Adam knew he had done that which God had forbidden. God knew the man had done that which He had forbidden. God’s question is meant for confession, to draw out of the man the acknowledgement of his moral transgression and lead him to repentance. God already determined the consequences of eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam will die, not only physically but spiritually. Yet God, the benevolent Creator, knows what He will do for Adam to redeem the relationship.

Adam must truthfully confess his sin and repent. God will forgive. But God will not stay sentencing and punishment. He cannot abide sin in His presence therefore something must be done to fulfill His required consequence of sin, which is death. God knows what He will do. But first is the finishing of the trial and the sentencing. Adam and Eve must answer the questions posed by God.

Excuse

Studies in Genesis 3

And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” (Genesis 3:10 ESV)

Adam was terrified. He had a word for what he was feeling. “Afraid.” This is the first time this word is used in Scripture. Afraid means to dread, to revere, to stand in awe, to terrify. It is a legitimate emotion one who has rebelled against God should feel when coming into His presence. We are admonished throughout Scripture to fear God, both as our Creator and our Judge. Adam was afraid because he was coming into the presence of God having just sinned and rebelled against Him.

But Adam gives a different reason for his fear. He declares his fear comes from his nakedness. It is a slightly different word than the one used by God before they rebelled. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25 ESV). Here, naked means bare and describes their state of being. They are not only unclothed before God and each other but they also have nothing to hide. God describes their nakedness within their environment as they “were not ashamed.”  They were secure in their home.

After the fall, when Adam comes into God’s presence he is ashamed. He has something he wants to hide. He has a secret he does not want God to know. He is not bare. He is naked. He does not mention the poor attempt at making an apron, which had probably fallen apart by this time.

Adam withdrew himself from sight because he could not cover himself adequately to feel secure. He was forced into hiding, not by God who wanted him to present himself, but by his own guilt which would not allow him to stand openly before God.

Adam’s explanation of being afraid to stand before God is an excuse meant to divert attention away from the true reason. He knew God well enough to know He is all powerful and all knowing. Still, he offered an excuse to God, a dishonest attempt to make himself less guilty before the One who declares guilt. There is no reason to declare innocence. In his innocent nature, Adam could walk bare before the world and have no fear. His shield and protection was God and he did not know he needed protection from anything. Adam was given dominion over the world. He was God’s authority over the Earth. Nothing on the Earth could challenge his authority. Though inhabiting an earthly creature, the snake, the Deceiver was not of the world, yet was still a creation of God. Adam knew his authority. So, for him to offer an excuse for hiding shows not only his relationship with God was compromised but also his authority over the Earth.

I have heard it said that “an excuse is the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie.” None of Adam’s words are lies. But, his response is still not true. Instead of saying “I ate the fruit you forbade” and “I do not want to face you because I am ashamed,” Adam offered a half truth, “I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself” (Genesis 3:10 ESV). Lies are subtle, hidden within partial truth, designed to divert attention. Repentance is not soft but hard, designed to break the resistant will and conform it to God’s will. Adam was afraid and felt remorse because he got caught. Repentance fully faces wrong done while remorse hides behind excuses.