In the last part of our study we saw how God responded to Adam and Eve after they failed God’s simple test –
“… 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 2:17
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.” Genesis 3:6-7
God met with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and told them how their lives were going to change. They would experience pain, sorrow and death because of their disobedience to God.
What happened next is deeply important to the eternal plan of God that is playing out in time and space.
Results of Corruption
The first reveal was creation. That’s when time and space began.
The second reveal was corruption. That’s when sorrow, pain and death began.
Just as creation was part of God’s plan, so was corruption. If it wasn’t, then there would have been no need for Jesus to die on the Cross. Christ’s suffering and sacrifice were determined “before time began, before the foundation of the world.” (2 Timothy 1:8-10; Ephesians 1:3-10) No corruption – no need for Jesus to suffer and sacrifice.
The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8 that creation is in “the bondage of corruption.” He wrote in 1 Corinthians 15 that the human body “is sown in corruption.” That’s what happened when Adam sinned against God. Every child born on earth (every human body) “is sown in corruption.” Adam’s sin is passed along to every human.
We read these words about God’s thoughts about His creation when He finished it –
“Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” Genesis 1:31
Here’s what God did upon completing creation –
“Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.” Genesis 2:1-3
Look at these key words:
- very good
Those words clearly present an excellent result from God’s creative act.
Next, look at what happened after Adam sinned –
“To the woman He said: ‘I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; in pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you. Then to Adam He said, ‘Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: ‘Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:16-19
Look at these key words:
- rule over
- death (dust you shall return)
Those words clearly present a terrible result (corruption) from Adam and Eve’s sinful acts.
The Hebrew word for “corruption” is מִשְׁחַת (mishchath) and means “marred, disfigurement, corruption.” A familiar verse that uses the word is Psalm 16:10 – “For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.”
The Greek word for “corruption” is φθορά (phthora) and means “destruction, decay, rottenness, decomposition, corruption.”
The Apostle Paul wrote that “the whole creation groans” because of the corruption that Adam’s sin brought into the world –
“For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.” Romans 8:20-22
Guarding the Plan
Can you imagine what those moments must have looked like from Adam and Eve’s perspective? They messed up big time and were caught. They tried the blame game, but that didn’t work. They heard what God said their life would be like and it didn’t sound good. God’s creation had gone from “good” to “bad” in the human act of disobedience to the Creator.
So, did that bring God’s great purpose and plan to a halt? Was He finished with it? Had God failed in protecting the perfect utopia He created? Not at all. Remember, what we are reading in in the early chapters of Genesis is the first part of God’s great reveal. He put His epic journey into motion and things are moving along as planned.
What happened next was part of God’s plan.
“And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them. Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’— therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.” Genesis 3:20-24
God made tunics of skin to clothe Adam and Eve. They clothed themselves with fig leaves which they chose and sewed together. However, God wanted to clothe Adam and Eve in something else – tunics of skin.
The Hebrew word for “skin” is ‘ōwr and was used in the Old Testament for the skin of people or animals. Adam and Eve already had their covering of human skin, so it would seem that what God did was make them tunics (kāṯənōwṯ – coats, garments) of animal skin. How did God do that? Did He kill one or more animals to get their skin to make the tunics? That would seem to be the meaning, but we’ll look into that in more detail in the next part of our study.
Leaving Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden where they could eat from the tree of life and live forever was not part of God’s plan. What was part of His plan was removing Adam and Eve from the garden and placing cherubim (angels) at the east side of the garden. The cherubim held a flaming sword and moved it continually in “every way” for the purpose of guarding “the way to the tree of life.”
Adam and Eve left their very special home in shame and sorrow and headed out into a world that was cursed because of them.
How far did they travel before setting up camp that first day? Did they stay close to the Garden of Eden so they could see it and remember the close relationship they had with God in it or did they go away as far as they could because of their shame?
We don’t know how far they moved, but we know it was “east” of Eden.
Was all of this about punishment? Is that God’s plan? Test people, watch them fail, punish them, end of story?
If that’s what we think, we have MISSED the point of God’s eternal plan. Is there punishment for sin? Absolutely! But is punishment for sin the epic journey God designed in eternity? Not at all.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:16-17
“But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:4-10
“For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.” Romans 5:6-11
“He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:13-14
What do you read here? Does it sound like God’s eternal plan is about tricking, testing and punishing Adam and Eve so God can punish all of their descendants?
Do you read that God offers love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, salvation and reconciliation to all who come to Him through Jesus Christ?
Yes, that’s what I read, too!
Let’s remind ourselves about what God chose in eternity to do in time and space –
“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” 2 Timothy 1:8-10
“Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior.” Titus 1:1-3
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself.” Ephesians 1:3-9
“And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct receivedby tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” 1 Peter 1:17-21
God’s eternal plan for time and space includes punishment, but it is God the Father who sent God the Son to take our punishment upon Himself on the Cross –
“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.”
In the next part of our study we will look at the “birth” of sin – but it may not be what you think.
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Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.