Genesis 3:1-7 – Part 3 – Naked and Ashamed

We have discussed the Serpent and how it related to Satan.

  • Last week we discussed the Anatomy of the Fall – Serpent’s Sneer, Atmosphere Imbibed, Compromise, and then the Fall.
  • Today we deal entirely with verse 7.

 

Introduction:

Genesis 3:7 (ESV) — 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.

 

We mentioned last week that Adam and Eve were susceptible to the Serpent’s sneer.

  • This implies, of course, that God ordained this susceptibility at the time of their creation.
  • Is this true and can we know why they were made this way?

 

I think the answer to these questions is found in another of Moses’ Message.

  • This message is conveyed in his use and contrast of Adam and Eve’s nakedness.

 

Typically nakedness was seen in ANE culture as shame related.

  • For example, POW’s were often stripped naked to further humiliate them.
  • In fact, we see this shame/naked connection in Genesis 9.
  • Genesis 9:22–23 (ESV) — 22 And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father and told his two brothers outside. 23 Then Shem and Japheth took a garment, laid it on both their shoulders, and walked backward and covered the nakedness of their father. Their faces were turned backward, and they did not see their father’s nakedness.

 

However, in our context, this is not what is primarily at play with Moses’ use of nakedness.

  • At least, beneath the surface.
  • For starters, being naked was part of God’s “very good” creation.
  • Adam and Eve did not begin existence in shame.

 

But beyond that, there are some good reasons to suggest that Moses wants us to take notice of some deep truth behind the nakedness of Adam and Eve.

  • And this involves the way he uses “nakedness” in Genesis 2 and 3.
  • Moses deals with both the “senses” and the context of their nakedness.

 

The Senses of Nakedness:

(1) Moses first speaks of the nakedness of Adam and Eve in a positive sense.

  • Genesis 2:25 (ESV) — 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
  • Nakedness here has nothing to do with shame.
    • Naked and not ashamed

 

(2) Moses then contrasts this “sense” of nakedness with a negative sense.

  • Genesis 3:7 (ESV) — 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.
    • Naked and ashamed

 

Here we see that it was their “knowing” that brought the shame – not the nakedness itself.

  • Their knowing caused them to see their nakedness as shame.
  • The nakedness itself was not shameful – remember it was “very good”.

 

The Context of Nakedness:

Moses also connects the “sense” of their nakedness to a certain context or condition.

 

(1) Naked and not ashamed – Pre-Fall Context:

  • Genesis 2:17 (ESV) — 17 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.”
  • Their naked and not ashamed state was before their disobedience.
  • In other words, all of their existence before the Fall was one of both “nakedness” and NO shame.

 

(2) Naked and ashamed – Post-Fall Context:

  • Genesis 3:6 (ESV) — 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.
  • Their naked and ashamed state came after their disobedience.
  • In other words, their naked state didn’t change, the context of their “nakedness” changed.

 

So Moses’ connection of each sense of nakedness to a certain context demonstrates that nakedness must represent something that:

  • (1) Is good/beneficial – God created Adam and Eve this way.
  • (2) But presents risk – becomes corrupted in a wrong “context”.
    • And, implicitly, is susceptible to the Serpent’s sneer.
  • One word fits the bill – Vulnerability.
  • Nakedness represents the creatures’ vulnerability.

 

Vulnerable:

By vulnerable, we mean dependent, or “in need of special care and support” – Merriam’s.

  • It is easy to see how their literal nakedness suggests a physical vulnerability.
  • But, symbolically, it also seems to be suggesting a spiritual vulnerability as well.

 

This vulnerability is not to be understood as a negative attribute or a defect in God’ creation.

  • Remember, this was part of His “very good” creation.
  • As Moses showed us, the “sense” of the vulnerability depended on the context.

 

This means that Adam and Eve’s vulnerability could have been a road to flourishing and maturity.

  • And Moses’ contrast showed us that this flourishing was dependent on the context in which the vulnerability existed.

 

So what was the context in which Adam and Eve’s vulnerability would have led to flourishing?

  • In an untainted fellowship with God in the Garden.

 

In other words, their vulnerability – dependence or need for support – could have been an asset to them as long as they found their support in, and put their dependence on God.

  • God made them this way, and it was good.
  • God made them to flourish in dependence on Him, and this was good.

 

In fact, Moses shows us elsewhere that God sees it as good to create in us a dependence on Him:

  • Deuteronomy 8:3 (ESV) — 3 And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

 

Proverbs also emphasizes the importance of recognizing this dependence:

  • Proverbs 3:5–6 (ESV) — 5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

 

And of course, Jesus Himself reveals how vulnerable and dependent we are in John 10.

  • He speaks of believers as being vulnerable to deception, destruction and being led astray.
  • He calls us sheep – you can’t get more vulnerable and dependent than that.
  • Yet, mercifully, this vulnerability demonstrates our need for Jesus as The Good Shepherd.
  • John 10:11 (ESV) — 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

 

So creating Adam and Eve with a spiritual vulnerability – nakedness – was an act of grace.

  • But, in order to properly navigate their vulnerabilities they needed to mature under God’s wisdom and guidance.

 

Yet with the Fall, they came to this knowledge, not under God’s guidance, but by knowing evil experientially.

  • As we saw last week – they were duped by the Serpent into questioning God’s goodness.

 

Thus, their vulnerability led to sin and shame.

  • This means that there was an inherent risk in this vulnerability.
  • Being susceptible to the Serpent’s sneer.

 

Tim Keller makes this observation about our vulnerability/dependence:

“See the one thing we don’t want to believe is that we’re utterly dependent on God. We want to think we need God occasionally or maybe not at all, but in our heart of hearts we know we’re utterly dependent on God, and therefore, we are in denial about who we really are. That’s where the shame comes from, and that’s where the guilt comes from, and that’s where this lack of ease with being able to admit who we are comes from.”

  • We are dependent creatures who have questioned God’s goodness.

 

Rabbit Trail – Free will?

Notice that I didn’t once attribute their susceptibility to freewill.

  • Why?

 

Freewill denotes a number of things.

  • 1) Autonomy – “freedom from external control or influence; independence”.
  • 2) Having a range of options available from which to choose – A or B.
  • 3) Being in a neutral position in relation to these choices – being “outside” of them.

 

Adam and Eve did not posses any of the three.

  • They were not autonomous, but vulnerable and dependent.
  • They were not given a range of options to choose from – A or B – they were given one prohibition.
  • They were not in a neutral position, but were placed (literally put) by God into a specific position at their beginning – in the Garden, dependent on God, and under God’s care and wisdom.

 

The only choice they had before them was the one the Serpent put to them – question God’s goodness.

  • In other words, they didn’t exist autonomously outside of God’s goodness in a neutral position with respect to accepting it or rejecting it.
  • They were in it and God put them in it.
  • And, likewise, when they chose to question God’s goodness, it was also God who put them outside of the garden.

 

Yes, they made a choice, but making choices is not necessarily an expression of free will.

  • I can’t choose to marry my wife today.
  • I am already there – already married – already in that circumstance.
  • But I can choose to honor my vows if tempted.
  • In this respect I can make a choice, but I am in no position to express free will.

 

For these reasons, I have never liked a free will explanation for the Fall.

  • God’s sovereignty, ordaining purposes (Jesus), and Adam and Eve being created “naked” (vulnerable) provide a more robust explanation.

 

We need to know!

If true, as we suggested last week, that God ordained the Fall…

  • Then we need to know two very important things.

 

1) God is sovereign over the risk, the sin, the nakedness, and the vulnerability.

2) Christ was always in view with God’s “ordainings”.

  • Ephesians 1:3–6 (ESV) — 3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
  • Titus 1:1–2 (ESV) — 1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began

 

And if we ask why God ordained such things.

  • We saw Paul’s answer – for the “praise of his glorious grace” (Eph. 1:6)

 

BTW – Perhaps angels were made with the same vulnerability.

  • This would help explain Satan’s fall as well.