Curiously, in the Garden of Eden, the serpent begins his attack with Eve. The devious nature of this attack lies in the fact that God had instructed Adam concerning the law of the land, and yet the serpent approaches Eve to challenge those rules.
The manner in which he comes also speaks volumes. Lucifer, known for his brilliant covering arrayed with “sardius, topaz, and diamond,” and “every precious stone” (Ezek. 28:13), approaches Eve as a simple beast. Was it to keep her guard down? Or was it mandated this way?
God had given Man dominion over “every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen. 1:28), and Satan had to transform into one of those moving things in order to question this first family. It must be noted that Adam and Eve could have resisted this temptation and sent this animal away from their presence (1 Cor. 10:13).
His introductory line of discourse summarizes his repetitive point of attack. “Did God actually say” is the way he begins this conversation with Eve and, subsequently, begins most of his following conversations with Adam and Eve’s offspring.
He tempts Eve to mistrust God’s Word.
A study through the pages of history reveals he has inserted this line of thinking into many culture wars over the years. The topic varies, but the question is consistent: “Can God’s Word be trusted?” “Surely, it must be out of date.” “Particular sections of the Bible are only meant for specific groups of people, right?” “The Bible doesn’t speak to the needs of our time like it once did.”
His perpetual lies and seeds of skepticism infiltrate every cultural battle over every period of history.
The first question reveals that he knows just how to bait each person. “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?’” (Gen. 3:1). He knows that they share his desire. He knows that they desire to be like God and to know what he knows (Gen. 3:5).
Acknowledging the surfacing desire to be deified, Eve responds by exaggerating the rules given by God. “God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die’” (Gen. 3:3). Eve exaggerates. God never said touching the tree would kill her – eating from it would kill her (Gen. 2:17).
Her response to Satan reveals something present in all of Mankind. She portrays how people can take well-intended, reasonable rules given by an authority and twist, distort, and embellish the original decree.
She is simply implying that God is a mean-spirited fuddy-duddy who takes all the fun from the garden refusing to recollect that all that she knows good comes from the Giver of all things good (Jas. 1:17).
It is common for all of us to doubt God’s Word. It is common for us to want to rebel against God. It is common for us to want to replace God and become the rule maker ourselves.
The question is still asked today. How do you respond?
[For more on this Scripture, check out “Two Trees in the Garden.”}