In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
“Location, location, location.” That’s supposed to be one of the famous keys to business success. (That, and, “Buy low, sell high.”) But to understand this account in Genesis 3 we need to pay attention to location, location, location. To start, where was the man when the serpent came? Genesis 3:6 tells us. He was right beside the woman! Yet where was the woman when God said “You may eat of any of the trees of the Garden, 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 surely die.”? (Genesis 2:16-17) You see, knowledge is both good and bad. Up to this point all knowledge they had was good, for everything was good. (Genesis 1:31) Even today the Law of God is good and wise (Romans 7:12; Psalm 19:7-8) but it does not give you life. Eating of knowledge, education, can be good, and also evil. But no matter how much good knowledge you accumulate it does not give life. (Galatians 2:15-16; 3:10-11) Only eating of the tree of life gives life. (Genesis 3:22)
And the immediate result of their sin? Shame. A desire to cover up what they had done. (Genesis 3:7) They hid from God. (Genesis 3:8) They hid from each other. Before this they lived in a tropical paradise. A nice even temperature. Comfortable. Naked. No need to cover up, not from climate, nor from each other. They are good, perfect. They don’t lust after each other. All is love. But as soon as this one sin breaks apart the perfect goodness of that world sin creeps into their hearts. It leaps up within them. (Romans 7:8-11; Genesis 4:7) They start sinning all over place in thought, word and deed. So, Eve, having just fed her husband the fruit, sees her husband looking at her with a look he’s never had before. A hunger. A creepy desire in him, as though wants to devour her. Lust. Before, all they knew for each other was pure love. Their physical ways with one another were pure and holy. But now, lust is present. His mouth drops open, saliva drips out. Eve covers herself, ashamed of herself because of his thoughts.
Adam comes to his senses. He realizes what has happened. What his thoughts and actions have done to his wife. They quickly seek to hide themselves and the body parts which seem to be the culprits. For they now know evil. Before they were innocent. They knew only good. But by doing an evil action, by breaking God’s Word, they knew evil and evil sprung up in their hearts. They were cut off from God their life. Spiritually dead.
God calls out, “Where are you?” Location. For their location indicates their spiritual state. They are not to be found where God is found, at the time He is to be found by them. They are hiding from Him. He knows what this means.
Like a good parent He seeks to have them fess up. “Where are you?”
“I heard You, and was afraid, because I am naked, so I hid.”
“Who told you were naked? Did you do what I told you not to do?” God hits the nail on the head. He knows exactly why they are ashamed. They are in the wrong. They are cut off from God by their guilt. They are experiencing spiritual death. They are hiding from Him. As if that were possible. (Psalm 139:7-12; Romans 8:35-39)
God has uncovered their shame, and drawn out a confession, so that He can deal with their sin. (Proverbs 20:5) Adam, the original trend-setter, sets the pattern for every sinner since when confronted by his shame. He cast the blame elsewhere. “The woman YOU put here did it. She gave me the fruit.” It’s your fault and her fault, not possibly my fault.
So God’s gaze turns to her. She passes the buck. “The serpent deceived me and I ate.” (Genesis 3:13)
God turns to the serpent in judgement cursing him. “You will eat dust.” (Genesis 3:14) Dust from which I created life. (Genesis 2:7) You will be that which all mankind hates. For your food will be death. All the days of your life you will seek to undo mankind. (John 8:44) This is your curse, for by death I will undo you.
God turns back to Eve not in judgment but in stern but gentle reminder (Genesis 3:16): “I have blessed you with this promise of One who will destroy the serpent and all His works and all his ways—meaning sin, and death, will be put to death by this Son of yours. So, as a perpetual reminder of this sin and this promise two things: all your sons will stand idly and helplessly by being reminded of their first father’s idleness as all your daughters bare their children, their hope, in pain and great difficulty. Also, the blessed marital union from the goodness of creation itself is now off-kilter. It is no longer the mutual self-sacrifice once so natural to you. Now, due to sin, marriage is marked by a grasping struggle for power. Only by trial and tribulation will you have peace with each other. Yet, you’ll still desire each other and long for this union, despite its difficulties.
Turning back to the Man (Genesis 3:17-19): Because you listened to your wife and not to Me, no longer is life easy. Now, work which was good, was blessing, and provided for you is hard. A back breaking, soul breaking, daily reminder of what was lost by this sin, but what will be once again. The soreness of your muscles or your soul is a perpetual reminder to look for this Son of Eve who will save you from this awful world that has dawned on you.
But God’s justice and goodness doesn’t stop there. God covers their shame clothing them with animal skins (Genesis 3:21) foreshadowing His death which saves sinners (John 1:29) through which He clothes them with Himself. (Galatians 3:27; Romans 6:3-4)
So Jesus having delivered to them a foretaste of His plan to come—His plan to save them through His being born of woman, born under law, to redeem those under law (Galatians 4:4)—thus, needs to secure His plan. So in mercy He drives them from Garden. Away from tree of life. For if in this sinful, deteriorating state they should eat from that tree and live forever in this cut-off from God state, what would it be like? It would be utter hell. Adam lived for nearly a 1000 years. (Genesis 5:5) These days we barely live 100 (Genesis 6:3; Psalm 90:10), yet what is our state by end of it? Are we vigorous and full of life? No, certainly not in body. Can you imagine living thousands of years in such a body? It would be hell. So God sends an angel with a flaming sword to cut us off from the tree of life. Which is interesting.
The fall into sin happened because they didn’t listen to God’s Word. They didn’t live from it. They lived by their eyes. Mmmm, good fruit. It looks so nice. It looks good for knowledge. (Genesis 3:6)
Now a word points us away from the tree in the Garden and forward to another tree. A tree which crushed the skull of the serpent. (John 19:17; Genesis 3:15; Romans 16:20) The tree which casts the Accuser, the great dragon, the serpent, out of heaven eternally. (Revelation 12:7-11) There are no more accusations against you in heaven. (Romans 8:31-34) There is only the fruit of tree of in heaven. (Revelations 22:2; 2:7) And God places the fruit of that tree in our midst so that we may eat of it (Matthew 26:26-28) and have eternal life. Not life here below in this fallen world outside of the full presence of God, but there above in that world which is to come. In the new garden paradise of God.
In +Jesus’ name, Amen.
—Pastor David Haberstock
Epiphany Lutheran Church
Thunder Bay, ON