Implicit Hope: Genesis 3 (Sermon)
Happy Thanksgiving, and welcome to the first Sunday of Advent. How was your Thanksgiving? Did you spend time with your family? What was it like? Family can be goofy, awkward, and uncomfortable. Why is that? It is probably partly because we are so different and because we sin. If we do some digging, we all could find some things we are not proud of in our family history. Not all our memories are made for hallmark. I bring that depressing topic up because the text for this morning does. It goes way back. It takes place in the Shangri-La of the Bible, the Garden of Eden. There, our family portrait begins to show the first signs of cracking. We witness sin and regret. The first man and woman mess up and experience God’s curse. Yet, if we look closely, we will see an implicit hope, a reversal of the curse, and a promise of the coming Christ. This is the first in a four-part Advent series. Let’s start at the beginning.
Turn in your Bibles to Genesis chapter 3. I have asked M. and E. S. to read for us. If you can, please stand in honor of God’s Word.
3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made.
He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3 but 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.’” 4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” 6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. 7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
8 And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
14 The LORD God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock
and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
15 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.”
16 To the woman he said,
“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be contrary to your husband,
but he shall rule over you.”
17 And to Adam he said,
“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 of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”
20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21 And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.
22 Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3)
Thank you. Let’s pray.
Dear God, thank you for your Word. Your Word is light and life. We are blessed by it and guided by it. Teach us now in Jesus’s name, Amen. You may be seated. If a few people could pray for me and the ministry of the Word while I preach, just raise your hand. Thank you. Let’s begin.
Today, we are talking about Genesis 3. Genesis 3 introduces us to sin, the curse and the promised great reversal, reminding us to hope in God.
Genesis is the first book of the Bible. It means “beginnings.” It is our origin story. It starts with God creating the world in six days. It was magical and literal. With words, he invented everything from the mountains to the oceans, from caribou to the cockatoo, from the ameba to bacteria, from the neutrons to neurons. God made it all. He made all the elements in the periodic table with their quarks, and particles like the Higgs Boson discovered in 2012. He knew it all and saw it before our scientists did at CERN in Switzerland or Fermilab in Illinois. God invented it all. Still, the climax of his creation was our first family, in chapter 1.
In chapter 2, God rested. It was the seventh day of the week. Then, the author describes how God made the first man. Adam was his name, and he was a gardener and zookeeper. He was the first biologist: naming all the animals. However, in chapter 2, he lacked something. The first man longed for a partner. So God sedated him, performed surgery, and created the first woman. Bam! It was love at first sight. She was perfect for him, and he was perfect for her. Chapter 2, verse 25, ends this way, “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25).
Then, we get to chapter 3, and the family dysfunction begins. Again, they reject God’s ways and suffer the consequences.
The chapter has four sections, if you are taking notes:
Satan’s Conjob (vs. 1–7)
God’s Confrontation (vs. 8–13)
Sin’s Consequences (vs. 14–19)
The Story’s Conclusion (vs. 20–24)
This structure draws out how sin and death entered the world and hints at the promised reversal of the curse, offering hope.
Satan’s Conjob - Sin Enters the World
The chapter begins with Satan’s Conjob. Genesis 1 verse 1 names a serpent as the con artist. The book of Revelation calls him, “The ancient serpent who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world” (Revelation 12:9; see also 20:2). What did he do? The serpent told Adam’s wife half-truths. He twisted God’s Word. He deceived her. What did he say? Look at verse 1. “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 1:1). Did he say that? No, he didn’t. That is not what God said. Satan was misrepresenting God.
GOD’S REAL RESPONSE
What did God actually say? Chapter 2 verse 16,
And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree 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)
God said they could eat from every tree. He was caring for his creation, not stingy. What do you think that food would have been like? Think of the oranges and peaches, pears and cherries, bananas and apples. Not only did they look good, but they also tasted good. Whatever food came from the Garden of Eden was superior to Aldi, Walmart, and Meijer. God is good and creates out of his goodness.
The woman corrected the Devil,
We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the Garden, but 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” (Genesis 3:3).
Is that what God said in chapter 2, verses 16 and 17? She was close. God didn’t say anything about touching, just eating. At this point, I want to tell her, “Stop! Just step away. You are playing with fire. Don’t debate the Devil.” I doubt she was aware of the danger before her. The serpent was not some scaly monster, drooling with fangs bared in a smile. He must have seemed trustworthy. The Bible says he masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). If there were music in the background, it would be horror music. At the same time, the woman unknowingly had a quaint discussion with her evil arch-nemesis. If this were my daughter, I would yell, “Run! Get out of there. Don’t argue. He is out for blood. This won’t end well.” (This is also an excellent reminder to meditate and know God’s Word. Satan twisted it, and our ancestors didn’t know what God said.)
How did Satan respond to her?
You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it, your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil. (Genesis 3:4–5)
He disagreed with God! Can you imagine the nerve of the serpent? He disagreed with God! Oddly, he was partially correct. Her eyes would be opened, she would learn the difference between good and evil, she would be like God in a new respect, and she wouldn’t die right away. It took Adam 930 years, yet he died. She died. Their children died. Their children died. Their children died. Their children died. Animals died. Plants died. The world is dying (1 John 2:17). Satan told a half-truth. He was a liar and a deceiver. He had hidden motives. He had just called God’s statement false. What was he suggesting? I think he was saying God doesn’t want them to be like him. He was insinuating that God was keeping something good from them. Do you believe Satan knew what he was doing? You bet. He was casting doubt in the woman’s mind about God’s goodness. He was a lawyer leading the witness. He was implying God was not generous. Have you ever heard anything like that before?
Years ago, I talked with a young man who wanted to go his own way. But, unfortunately, he seemed to listen to lies like these. He didn’t want to move towards God. Instead, he wanted to “Live the life of the party.” How many of us have seen friends or know someone who gave up following God to sow wild oats, to live a little, to be free? How many of us did ourselves exchange God’s way for our own? Does it end well? It doesn’t, not for Adam, his wife, or us. It ends with shame, regrets, brokenness, and death.
How did she respond to this temptation? Look at verse 6.
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. (Genesis 3:6–7)
The woman saw the tree was good for food. It delighted her. She desired to be wise. She grabbed the fruit, ate the fruit, and gave some to her husband, and he ate the fruit. Reading that, I want to rewind history and shout from a bull horn, “NO! DON’T DO IT! STOP! YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING. STOP!” What would have happened if she refused? What would have happened if Adam had stopped her or stopped himself? We will never know. Instead, they broke God’s command, and sin entered the world, and no family Thanksgiving or Christmas will ever be the same. This brings us to our second of chapter 3, God’s Confrontation.
Look at verses 8 through 13. God asked Adam, where are you? Isn’t that interesting? Don’t you think God knew where Adam was? God is all-knowing. You can’t hide from him. He sees all. Why did he ask this? He is relational. He didn’t come out with his guns blazing. He was not sending a lightning bolt to strike him dead. He asked him, “Where are you?” Do you hear a tenderness in his voice?
CALL TO US
God’s question is good for us to consider. Where are you? Where are you with God? Where are you, mom or dad, uncle or aunt, grandma or grandpa, in your walk with God? Where are you? Maybe you have regrets, shame, or a skeleton in your closet. Perhaps you feel distant from God. Perhaps you have been hiding from the truth or trying to fix it yourself. Stop. It isn’t going to end well. God wants a relationship on his terms. He wants to help you. He wants to right the wrong, to reverse the curse, but he seeks an honest answer. Where are you?
Adam’s first Response
How did Adam respond to this opening question? He answered, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself” (Genesis 3:10). Fear. It separated Adam from God. He saw that he was naked before God, and he experienced fear for the first time. So what did he do? He covered up himself. He hid. How did that work? Well, having eaten, he and his wife wore the first plant-based clothing. That was not good enough to hide from God’s eye. Hearing God approach, Adam ducked behind a bush, tree, or rock of some sort. How did that blind work? He couldn’t fool God. God was drawing him out, yet Adam was not done hiding; psychologically, he had another trick up his sleeve for God. Adam didn’t own what he did. “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself” (Genesis 3:10). His statement fell short of confession and admission. Yeah, he spoke of his fear and what he did, but not his fault. He tried to put distance between him and God once again. Maybe his answer will throw God off the trail.
GOD’S SECOND QUESTION
Did it? Did Adam’s answer fool God? No. God asked him, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” (Genesis 3:11). God knew he had eaten. God knew the answer. He was again allowing him to fess up. I hear kindness in this question once again. It is another invitation, to be honest and fess up. God was helping Adam acknowledge his rebellion.
ADAM’S SECOND RESPONSE
What was Adam’s reply? Did he take responsibility? Did he apologize? Did he ask for forgiveness? Did he beg for mercy? No. He did what many of us have done. He made an excuse. It was the woman’s fault. Not only her fault; it was God’s because he gave her to him. She made him do it.
Have you ever heard something like that? You confront someone at work, in the neighborhood, or family member. They immediately make an excuse instead of owning their actions. They don't take responsibility. I have. Sadly, I have done this too. Have you? Where are you with God? Maybe you have blamed God up to this point for what you have done. Subconsciously you might say,
You made me with my desires. You made my personality. You gave me my parents. You made me. I have to do this or that sin. It is your fault.
We probably don’t articulate an excuse like Adam did, but we may. I don’t think we are far off from our forefather. However, he was not the only one in trouble.
GOD CONFRONTS EVE
The woman had to face God as well. So, Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” (Genesis 3:13).
What have you done? She had a burden on her back like Adam. Guilt, shame, and regret. How did she seek to resolve it? Did she confess her sin and appeal to God’s loving nature and benevolence? Did she say, “I am so sorry. I don’t know what happened. I believed a lie about you. Please, please, please forgive me. Have mercy on me, a sinner.” What did she say?
The woman said in verse 13, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate” (Genesis 3:13). She admitted that she ate fruit, yes, but she blamed the serpent. Her solution was to pass the buck and point a finger. The serpent deceived her. He did, and she ate the fruit. Yet, where was her apology? Neither she nor Adam took ownership for the wrong that they had done. They could not erase the past. Her response does seem better yet deficient.
WHOSE FAULT IS IT
That being said, who was to blame for sin, Satan, the woman, or the man, or God? It was not God. As junior high boys in confirmation, we would tell the girls it was their fault and snigger. The girls had some smart responses. We should have gone to Romans 5 verse 12. Paul wrote, “Sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned” (Romans 5:12). Adam was the one whose sin brought death into the world. Adam was there in the Garden and didn’t do squat. He didn’t stop his wife. He went along with the flow. He was to blame for why sin and death are in the world. God says it was his fault. What happened next was the consequence of sin: the curse was revealed.
This is the third section, verses 14 through 19: Sin’s Consequences. First, we heard Satan’s Conjob, then God’s Confrontation. Now, we read of Sin’s Consequences. God issued them first to the serpent, then the woman, and finally the man. The serpent got the harshest treatment. He was relegated to the ground and a future where the woman’s offspring would harm his head. Look at verse 15. (Some call this verse the proto-Evangelium, the first gospel.)
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. (Genesis 3:15)
God would make her childbirth painful to the woman, and her marital harmony conflicted. To the man, work will become burdensome. God cursed the ground he worked. From dust, Adam came, and to dust, he would return. This was one of the darkest days in history. Where was the implicit hope? Sin’s curse had an implicit hope and promise. The great reversal will vanquish the deceiver.
THE STORY’S CONCLUSION
That brings us to the fourth part of this passage. We have seen Satan’s Conjob, God’s Confrontation, and Sin’s Consequences, now the Story’s Conclusion (vs. 20–24). Verse 20, The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living (Genesis 3:20). In Hebrew, Eve means “living, life, or mother of the living." Eve’s name reminds us of the hope of a future serpent crusher. Out of her will come one who will reverse the curse.
Then we read in verse 21 another hint of hope. “And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21). Why is that showing us hope? The beauty of this is that they already had garments. They had cut some leaves for clothes and hid their nakedness. Why did they need more? Was it because buckskin lasted longer, was more durable, more attractive than some itchy plant? No. To make this divine clothing required sacrifice. God shed blood to cover their shame. God killed to clothe his people. He drew the first blood to remedy their problem. Death entered the world because of Adam. It would not be the last. This sacrificial death foreshadowed another sacrifice to cover sin. Satan would get his comeuppance through this blood too.
However, that sacrifice was a long way off. Humanity would suffer for millennia. And every time a dandelion grew, or a thorn stabbed through a glove, one had labor pains, marital conflict, or death; it reminds us of our ancient family tree. The chapter leaves us longing for the good-ole-days and a future curse reversal. Look at the last few verses.
Then the LORD God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3:22–24)
As we continue to read Genesis, we see that Eve does give forth life. She has three kids: Cain, Abel, and Seth. Unfortunately, the reversal didn’t happen with her offspring, as one might hope. The firstborn took sin to a whole new level. He got jealous. God warned him that his sin was seeking to control him. Cain ignored God’s warning. He killed his brother. The curse’s effect grew. God punished Cain with banishment from his family. Yet he had children, and they had children, and things got worse and worse and worse. Estrangement, loneliness, and death were the inheritance of Cain’s family, and evil multiplied.
SETH to NOAH
Eve gave birth again to her third son, Seth. At the end of chapter 4, we learn that people began to call upon the Lord. That is great. Yet, that begs the question, “Why weren’t they before?” The people have been straying. Chapter 5 tells us of Adam’s death and his descendants’ death. We see life and death over and over and over again. The offspring increased, but so did death. Each time, the reader wonders are he the offspring that would be the serpent crusher? Chapter 5 concludes with a promise. Seth’s descendant looks upon his son and states, “Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed, this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands” (Genesis 5:29) The reversal. Perhaps he was the promised one? He wasn’t. In chapter 6, we read more about that era of human history,
The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.” (Genesis 6:5–7)
God rebooted the world with a flood, minus one family: Noah’s. We read, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation. Noah walked with God” (6:9). God told him to build an ark, and he did. As a result, God saved a few people from judgment.
NOT HIM EITHER
Was Noah the serpent crusher? Was he the one as his Dad had hoped in chapter 5, verse 29? No. Noah’s life ends with disappointment. He died. He was not the one to reverse the curse. We read from him came descendants who engineered the tower of Babel in chapter 11. People were back at it again with evil. They said,
Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves. (Genesis 11:4)
They wanted a name. They were grasping for greatness, meaning, purpose in their strength, and heaven. How did they do it? In their effort and in their way. This self-centered, man-centered approach towards righting the wrong and reversing the curse failed and will fail every time. It was not a fulfillment of Genesis 3:15.
We end the story of Adam and Noah’s children watching and waiting for the promised Christ. The people didn’t have the information we have, but they did have their family history. They had a Creator who wanted an intimate relationship with his people. So he did not immediately kill them for their rebellion. Instead, he gave them life and breath, and hope. He gave them food from the ground, children in their wombs, and a promise that one day a child would be born to crush the one who introduced this evil to humanity in the first place.
So, where do we go from here? How do we deal with our past? What have we done? Where are we with God? Reading this dark story, we can remember who God is. He is good and loving, patient, and kind. He does not treat us as our sins deserve. Nor does he repay us according to our iniquities (Psalm 103). He cares. He longs for obedience. He invites us into a relationship. Many of us know him and love him because he first loved us and sent his only begotten Son for our sins. Some don’t know this or believe it. Turn from your sins today and move towards God wherever you are. We are going to unfold more and more of the good news in the weeks to come as we reflect on God sending this descendant of Eve, this promised Christ. Let me encourage you to press into God while you can. Make him a priority this season. Put your hope in him. Give him your past, shame, and fears, and move forward in hope.
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