“Adam & Eve in garden of Eden”, 1897 by Charles Foster
In Part 1, we saw how God is a family, and it is the plan of God the Father to increase that family. In Part 2, we saw how man was created in the image of God, but he was created as a mortal, finite human being. In spite of that, the Tree of Life in the middle of the Garden of Eden symbolized that one day he could be granted eternal life.
We can easily see how the doctrine of the trinity shrouds this truth. If the trinity were true, “God” would be limited to 3 persons. That would not be a family relationship, and “Father” and “Son” would be symbolic titles only. Us becoming “children of God”, then, would not be literal. However, Genesis makes it clear that God is reproducing Himself!
There was only one problem. Adam and Eve had to pass the test.
Failure of the Test
If that were the end of the story, then what else would there be to say? However, as you are most likely aware, something happened. Something dreadful happened.
God is a moral agent. His character is righteousness. He has free will. He created the universe as an expression of His creativity. He created mankind to be in His family. He has free will, and He gave free will to His potential children. God wants people in His family who want to be in His family. God wants people in His family who will cooperate, share and get along with one another. In order for this to happen, they have to want to be there.
Adam and Eve were placed into a garden called the “Garden of Eden”. Adam was given the job of tending the garden. So, no matter what you might think, work is not part of the curse! However, it would have been rewarding work with no thistles and perfect soil to work with. Best of all, Adam and Eve had direct access to God. He walked with them in the Garden. He talked with them. They could ask questions, and He could give them answers.
We aren’t told how long this blissful condition lasted. Some believe they weren’t in the Garden long. Certainly, some of what we see gives a real sense of naiveté, but it is possible that is the result of a great deal of sheltering. However, we are told that there was a serpent, and we are told that serpent was “subtle”. Strong’s gives one definition of the Hebrew “’aruwm” as “shrewd”. We certainly get the impression that this was an intellect that had gained knowledge through time. The serpent certainly understood motives and emotions and took advantage of the naiveté of Eve.
We can see the naiveté of Adam and Eve quite clearly when they attempted to hide from God (Ge 3:8). How do you hide from your Creator? Obviously, you do not. A small child may try to hide behind a chair, not aware that you can see arms and legs sticking out from behind it. Another game a very small child might play is to cover their eyes and declare, “You can’t see me!” Well, Adam and Eve had lived in this protective environment all of their lives. They had not up to this point sinned, and their reaction to the experience was emotional rather than logical. Regardless of whether it was a week, a year or a decade later, Adam and Eve were essentially grown children!
God planted two trees in the middle of the Garden. One was the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is pictured here in Genesis, in the Proverbs and again in the Book of Revelation. The Tree of Life represented the way to eternal life (Ge 3:22). It is evident that this was God’s way of life. It was evident it was revealed knowledge. It represented a loving relationship with the Great Creator God. In Revelation, the leaves of the Tree of Life are used to heal the nations (Rev 22:2).
The other tree was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (I’ll abbreviate it TKGE for the rest of the article). This tree represented a different way. It has a long name for a reason. First, let’s notice it is not the “Tree of Evil”! It was mixed. There was some “good” fruit on the tree. However, some would appear good but actually be evil. Some would appear and be evil. The only way you would know would be by trying it and reviewing the results! Herbert W Armstrong (HWA) used to call this the “first scientific experiment”. Unfortunately, the results of some experiments could be deadly. The knowledge would come from this trying out of different things, the experimentation. It would be an experiential knowledge.
These trees were in opposition to each other. HWA used to say the two trees symbolized two ways of life. “One is the way of get. The other is the way of give” (from sermon transcript “Warning to the Church” [dead link removed by admin], 13 May 1978). The two trees represented the way of self vs. the way of love (outgoing concern for others).
The serpent deceived Eve into believing that if she were to take the fruit from the TKGE, she would “be as gods, knowing good and evil”. In a sense, he was correct. By eating of that tree, they were taking the prerogative of deciding right and wrong to themselves instead of God. They were disobeying God.
They almost instantly knew something had changed. We don’t know if this was something physical or not. It needn’t be. Something had spiritually changed. Their naiveté was broken. They had disobeyed. Their thinking began to change.
God often gives tests. Throughout the OT, we see where He tests Abraham, kings, Israel, Nineveh and others. The TKGE was a test. Adam and Eve failed the test.
God drove them out of the Garden. God allowed them to create their own societies, their own rules, their own governments and even their own religions. They would know separation from God Himself. God drove them out as punishment, but He also drove them out to prevent them from taking of the Tree of Life.
And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
~ Ge 3:22
This is basically an unfinished sentence. Why would He not want them to live forever? They had rebelled. They were now sinners. God hates sin. He could not offer eternal life to rebellious sinners. Death is the penalty for sin.
For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
~ Ro 6:23
Eternal life is a gift from our Creator. Human beings have no immortality inherent within them. Blood will now have to be shed for our sins. Even before God drove out the man and the woman from Eden, though, we see two passages that point to God’s plan of redemption:
1. The Bruising
And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
~ Ge 3:14-15
The serpent, Satan (Rev 12:9), shall have his head “bruised”, “crushed” in other translations, but not until he “bruised” the heel of the woman’s seed. Notice it is the woman’s “seed”, a rather odd use of the word. That “seed” is Jesus Christ, who had a human mother, but not a human father. His heel was “bruised” when He died on the cross. Yet, He rose again to defeat Satan and death both. When He returns, He will put Satan away and after 1,000 years defeat him entirely (once his usefulness has passed).
2. Shedding of Blood
Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.
~ v 21
We see God Himself shedding blood and making them clothes to wear. The man and woman had made clothing of fig leaves, but God shed blood. It is symbolic of the penalty for sin.
Yes, even before Adam and Eve even sinned, God had a plan for this.
Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;
But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world….
~ 1Pe 1:18-19a
A few notes about the “curses” section for Adam and Eve is in order (we covered the serpent above):
1. God said He would “greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception”. While the implication is clearly towards increasing the pain of childbirth, notice that it says “sorrow and conception”. Then, it says, “in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children” is clearly talking about childbirth, so it appears that the sorrow will be during the entire pregnancy. That doesn’t mean that having children isn’t worth the effort, but it apparently was somehow made more difficult.
However, the wording doesn’t have to mean it is limited just to pregnancy and childbirth! The additional “sorrow” may actually imply the sorrow of watching our children grow up in a sinful world. Just as Adam and Eve were rebellious, so would their children also have the proclivity to rebellion and become a “sorrow” to their parents. This would become the rule of thumb. This would become the norm rather than the exception. History shows us is that each succeeding generation rebels against the former, each succeeding generation believes they are the first to see things as they really are, and each succeeding generation must increase their rebelliousness to make themselves noticed. This increasing rebelliousness continues until society fragments and topples. Then, the cycle begins again. Sin affects the relationship between generations.
2. Notice what I said about the rule of thumb. Some will read about the sorrow increased through child bearing, but then somehow the next statement becomes a “command”. “Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” How we get from curse to command, I don’t know. I don’t read it that way. That doesn’t mean the normal order of things isn’t that the husband is the head of the household, but the commands for wives to submit, etc., comes from other Scriptures and not this one. Remember, they will now go out and create their own rules and their own societies, and some of those societies will be matriarchal. We must not handle the text dishonestly.
However, most societies do tend to be patriarchal. In fact, there isn’t even necessarily anything wrong with that, but there is an implication here of something being out of whack. The “desire” is especially interesting, and we see this word used again in Ge 4:7 about sin having “desire” for Cain. Remember, Adam and Eve rebelled. Do you think that attitude somehow now disappeared? No, in fact, now they have made themselves even more vulnerable to the evil one, as they have effectively cut themselves off from God. Eve will desire to rule her husband! However, in general terms, women will be frustrated in this desire and instead husbands will rule over them. Sin affects the relationship between husband and wife.
3. Eve is not the only one who will be in sorrow. Adam was told, “Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread….” Work suddenly became very difficult. Did Adam know what “thorns and thistles” even meant? Honestly, I do not know, but if not, then he was about to find out.
Some would say work was part of the curse. However, as I already pointed out, Adam already had the job of tending the Garden of Eden. Work wasn’t introduced via the curse any more than childbirth was! The difference is now that both would be much, much harder. The effects of Adam’s labors would now be severely limited by obstacles in his path. Sin affects even the good, constructive and creative things we attempt to do. Sin affects our livelihoods and everyday lives.
4. Finally, we see what God warned them about at the beginning: “Till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” Mankind was made from dirt, and to dirt man will return. While the life, thoughts, experiences and trials of life are indeed precious to God, man is physical, mortal and can die. Without redemption, all hope is lost. Cut off from God, mankind has nowhere to go but into the grave. Sin affects our relationship with our Creator. Sin bars us from eternal life in His Kingdom.
In these curses, we see real physical and spiritual effects for rebellion. This is the real lesson mankind must learn. There is a cause for every effect. The suffering we see all around us is the result of sin and rebellion against God.
So, we see now that mankind is cut off from paradise, the way to eternal life and to a very large extent from God Himself. God drove them out of the Garden of Eden to prevent them from taking of the Tree of Life and living forever. When you look around this world, it is easy to understand why. God did not want human beings that would suffer with the consequences of sin forever. It is much better that mortal beings die a death of mercy rather than suffer forever in the misery and suffering of sin.
He already had someone who will live forever rebel against Him. That being was a powerful angel who tried to kick God off of His throne.
We will look at this being in more detail in the article What Are Angels and Who is Satan?