Punishments in the Garden

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After Adam and Eve’s sin, they try to blame someone else for their mistake.  God has heard enough.  He warned against sin, and because he is a just God, he must give consequences for sin.  Rebellion must be addressed.  To the serpent, his legs are removed forcing him to slither on his belly from that point on causing him to choke upon the dust of the ground from which Man was made (Gen. 3:14).  God curses (arur) the crafty (arum).

In the midst of this depressing scene, hope emerges.  Gen. 3:15 serves as the “Protoevangelium.”  It is the first announcement of the gospel, or good news, in the Bible.  “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15).  God informs the listeners that Satan will be fighting against this human race for the remainder of days.  He will bruise Mankind’s heel.  He will trip many a people up who are trying to follow God, but there is also a promise of one who will come and not stop at the heel.  One will come to bruise Satan’s head leaving a lethal blow upon the enemy.

Concerning the identity of this attacker, one vital clue is given: he will be the seed of a woman.

Anatomically speaking, women don’t have seed.  Men have seed.  In this world’s structure, men are to plant their seed into a woman who will harvest the next generations.  And yet, the one who will put an end to the ways of the Deceiver will be the seed of a woman.  Someone will come who was not born from the efforts of Man.  Someone will come via a miraculous way in which only God could possibly get the credit.  It makes sense that in Jesus‘ genealogy that, in a line of fathers and sons, the Apostle Matthew would write, “and Eliud the father of Eleazar, and Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called the Christ” (Matt. 1:15-16).

While Satan may have appeared to win the battle, the war is pronounced an ultimate defeat for his camp.  This serpent of old will be thrown down (Rev. 12:9; 20:2).  The war will rage on for years to come, but there will come a day when Eve’s seed will triumph over the serpent’s seed (Heb. 2:14; 1 John 3:8; Matt. 12:29; Mark 1:24; Luke 10:18; John 12:31; 16:11; 1 Cor. 15:24; Col. 2:15).

Eve receives the next punishment.  Childbearing will be painful from now on (Gen. 3:16).  In addition, this dysfunctional family dynamic between husband and wife will continue.  The woman will desire to be in charge of the man.  “If Mama ain’t happy,” then no one from this point on will be happy.  In order for her husband to be heard and respected and followed, where he should lead and shepherd, instead, he will now attempt to “rule” by bullying his way through the home utilizing his words, his physique, or his demeanor to establish dominance.  Everyone sees a level of this dynamic played out in every marriage, but God even provides a way to reverse this curse by husbands loving their wives and wives submitting to their husbands (Eph. 5:21-33).

Adam’s punishment is directly tied to his passivity.  God’s reasoning for Adam’s punishment is “because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘you shall not eat’” (Gen. 3:17).  It’s not that Eve shouldn’t be heard or was unable to conjure up anything noteworthy to say.  Adam was cursed because he listened to the voice of his wife over the voice of his God.  She became his god.  Therefore, work will now be miserable for the man.  The earth itself will grow twisted as sin’s cancerous effects take hold of the ground and all life forms.  As if those two weren’t enough, God also reveals that death is now determined.  Life will no longer linger in the Garden.  The curse of death will relentlessly seize every living creature.

As the dust settles on this scene, somehow hope rises from the ashes.  While this story of God takes a sudden twist in the early days, God provides unwavering optimism for Adam and Eve.  While sin has robbed them of their unashamed status, God sees their self-made garments insufficient.  Instead, God allows them to maintain clothing, but he changes the style.  “And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them” (Gen. 3:21).

These garments reveal that the effects of sin are real.  It displays a God who still cares for his rebellious children despite their sin.  But it also teaches that something had to die in order to cover up their shame.  Guilt can be removed.  Shame can be taken away.  In order to do so, something or Someone must die.  Someone must pay the consequences if sin is to transpire.

Since they ate from the tree of knowledge, they cannot eat from the tree of life.  They are banished from the garden (Gen. 3:22-24).  An angel replaces their keep in the Garden protecting the treasures of that tree until the time when God makes a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 22:1-5).  This episode reminds us that God takes sin very seriously, but that grace is coming.