Tag Archives: The Fall

Genesis 3 and the Entrance of Evil

Genesis 3:4–6 (ESV) — 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.

 

 

Intro:

We saw in Genesis 1-2 an emphasis on God’s good/very good creation.

  • The Heavens and the Earth
  • Image-Bearers – Adam and Eve
  • The Garden
  • Garden Blessings – Presence/Fellowship with Yahweh

 

Yet, in startling contrast to this, Genesis 3 shows how Adam and Eve, swayed by the Serpent…

  • Marred Good Creation
  • Rebelled Against God
  • Destroyed the Blessings
  • Severed Fellowship with Yahweh

 

John Piper describes the disconnect like this:

“Between the perfection described in Genesis 1:31 (‘behold, it was very good’) and the appearance of evil in Genesis 3, something happened. The good creation was corrupted” – John Piper.

 

This disconnect – this “something happened” – raises an important question.

  • Why did the “something” happen?
  • Why did God allow evil into His good creation?
  • How could a “very good” creation contain the potential for evil?

 

BTW – trying to answer these questions will only raise more questions.

  • It will also present the opportunity to chase many rabbits.
  • All of this demonstrates both the complexity and mystery inherent to this issue.

 

Back to our questions.

  • Unfortunately, Genesis 1-3 seems to have no interest in answering these questions.
  • Kenneth Mathews repeatedly reminds us of this fact.
  • “Genesis does not explain the origins of evil…”.
  • “…there is no attempt here to explain the origins of evil”.
  • “The narrative explains only the origin of human sin and guilt” – Mathews.

 

BTW – The book of Jonah never answers this question either.

 

So where does that leave us?

  • How can we attempt to answer these questions?

 

It leaves us with what is called a theodicy.

  • “A theodicy purports to offer the actual reason God has for allowing evil in our world” – John Feinberg.
  • It tries to explain where evil came from if God exists (Jeremy Evans).

 

“Theodicy” literally means, “justify god”.

  • What needs justifying?

 

The thing that needs justifying is the:

  • How can evil exist in a theistic universe?” – John Frame.
  • It is an apparent logical problem that God and evil coexist.
  • Theists must justify how the two can exist together.
  • The apparent difficulty to make this justification is “called the logical problem of evil, for it accuses the theistic worldview of logical inconsistency” – John Frame.

 

 

Theodicy vs. Defense:

We need to distinguish between a theodicy and a defense.

  • A theodicy for evil is different from a defense of evil.

 

A defense tries to explain, now that evil is here, what is being done about it (Jeremy Evans).

“A defense is much less pretentious [than a theodicy], for it claims to offer only a possible reason God might have for not removing evil” – John Feinberg.

 

For example, a defense seeks to give reasons for:

  • Natural Problem of Evil – why God would allow a tsunami to kill hundreds of thousands.
  • Gratuitous Problem of Evil – why God would allow “pointless and needless suffering” – Bird.
  • Religious Problem of Evil – why God would allow my loved one or me to suffer?
    • Judges 6:13a (ESV) — 13a And Gideon said to him, “Please, sir, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us?

 

 

Theodicy 101:

To get us started, we need to look at how the Logical Problem of Evil (the entrance of evil into God’s good creation) is stated by atheist J.L. Mackie.

  • P1 – If God exists, he is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnibenevolent.
  • P2 – An omniscient being has the prior knowledge of evil to prevent evil.
  • P3 – An omnipotent being has the ability to prevent evil.
  • P4 – An omnibenevolent being has the desire to prevent evil.
  • P5 – Therefore, if there were a God, there would be no evil.
  • P6 – There is evil.
  • C1 – Thus, necessarily there is no God.

 

In trying to understand why God permitted evil to enter His good creation…

  • We need to figure out why this Logical Problem of Evil is not sound.
  • In other words, we need to figure out what is wrong with its premises (P) or conclusion (C).
  • Premise 4 is where the problem resides.

 

Why do we need to figure this out?

  • There are a many reasons, but a couple of obvious ones are…

 

1) To answer our original question posed above.

  • Why did God allow evil into His good creation?

 

2) To head off problems with what we believe to be true about God.

“If the theist’s God is both good, can get rid of evil, and has no morally sufficient reason for failing to do so, then his theology will be internally inconsistent and will collapse” – John Feinberg.

  • In other words, if there are no answers to the Logical Problem of Evil, then God can’t have the attributes that the Bible says He has.
  • This poses all sorts of problems for us.

 

 

Evil:

What is evil?

  • It’s hard to figure out what we are trying to explain without defining it.

 

Definitions:

  • “Evil is that which is in opposition to God, God’s character or God’s law – William Edgar.

“Evil is not a substance or a thing but instead is a privation of a good thing that God made. A privation of a good is the corruption or twisting of a created thing’s essence or substance…evil is the absence of something that ought to be; it is the absence of what fulfills a thing’s nature or essence” – Jeremy Evans.

  • So why was what happened in the Garden evil?

 

BTW – it must be said that God hates evil.

  • Psalm 97:10 (ESV) — 10 O you who love the Lord, hate evil! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.
  • Proverbs 8:13 (ESV) — 13 The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.
  • Psalm 45:6 (ESV) — 6 Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness;

 

So given God’s hatred of evil – why is it here?

  • We will briefly give two theodicies that deal justify both God and the entrance of evil into creation.

 

 

Freewill Theodicy:

This theodicy introduces to the LPE a premise that counters an assumption made by the LPE argument.

  • The assumption is that God does not have a morally sufficient reason to allow evil.
  • The freewill theodicy challenges this assumption and states as a premise that God does have a morally sufficient reason to allow evil.

“To prove its truth [of this new premise] one must propose what God’s reason might have been for creating a world containing evil, and then argue that his reason proves that ours is a good world and exonerates God from having to remove moral evil” – John Feinberg.

 

The reason proposed that explains why God had a morally sufficient reason to allow evil into his good creation is libertarian freewill.

  • “No contemporary philosopher has done more to develop and defend the free will defense than Alvin Plantinga” – John Feinberg.

 

He begins by defining what freewill is.

  • Freewill means that “it must be within that agent’s power either to perform or to refrain from performing [an] action” – Jeremy Evans.
  • Or more explicitly…

“If a person is free with respect to a given action, then he is free to perform that action and free to refrain from performing it; no antecedent conditions and/or causal laws determine that he will perform the action, or that he won’t. It is within his power, at the time in question, to take or perform the action and within his power to refrain from it” – Feinberg.

 

After defining freewill, Plantinga then explains why it is worth having – in spite of the evil it brings.

“A world containing creatures who are significantly free (and freely perform more good than evil actions) is more valuable, all else being equal, than a world containing no free creatures at all. Now God can create free creatures, but he can’t cause or determine them to do only what is right. For if he does so, then they aren’t significantly free after all; they do not do what is right freely. To create creatures capable of moral good therefore, he must create creatures capable of moral evil and he can’t give these creatures the freedom to perform evil and at the same time prevent them from doing so” – Alvin Plantinga.

 

An important point needs to be made about God.

  • “God’s creation of humans with significant freedom only means that he created a set of circumstances whereby evil may occur; it does not mean he determined it to occur” – Jeremy Evans.
  • In other words, God is not the author of evil.
  • How this can be is one of the many complex questions and rabbit trails that arises when dealing with the LPE.

 

So does the freewill theodicy answer our question…

  • Why did God allow evil into his “very good” creation?
  • Yes it does.
  • In fact, “the LPE is a relic of the past. Even J. L. Mackie, who formulated the LPE in its most precise form, decidedly rejected his own thesis in his later work, effectually conceding that the problem of evil does not show that the central doctrines of theism are logically inconsistent with one another given the reality of evil” – Jeremy Evans.

 

But we have another theodicy to consider as well.

 

 

Feinberg Theodicy:

A different approach to answering our question comes from Christian philosopher John Feinberg.

  • He rejects the idea of libertarian incompatibilist freewill in favor of a compatibilist freewill.

 

What is compatibilist freewill?

  • “It seeks to show that God’s exhaustive sovereignty compatible with human freedom, or in other words, it claims that determinism and free will are compatible. Rather than limit the exercise of God’s sovereignty in order to preserve man’s freedom, compatibilists say that there must be a different way to define what freedom really means” – Theopedia.

 

Compatibilism defines freedom as follows:

“Compatibilism claims that every person chooses according to his or her greatest desire. In other words, people will always choose what they want — and what they want is determined by (and consistent with) their moral nature. Man freely makes choices, but those choices are determined by the condition of his heart and mind (i.e. his moral nature). Libertarian free will maintains that for any choice made, one could always equally have chosen otherwise, or not chosen at all” – Theopedia.

  • “Compatibilistic freedom is still freedom; it isn’t compulsion” – John Feinberg.

 

After defining his view of free will, Feinberg starts his theodicy as follows:

  • “Confronting the problem of evil must face three fundamental questions: 1) Must God eradicate evil?— a question about obligation; 2) Can God remove evil?—a question concerning ability and power; and 3) Should God eliminate evil?” – John Feinberg.
  • The same questions the Free Will Theodicy addresses.

 

Feinberg answers questions as follows:

  • “God can’t eradicate evil without producing various problems I shall specify. Thus, he isn’t obligated to remove evil.”

 

This answer is very similar to Plantinga’s approach.

  • God has ordained a morally sufficient reason to allow evil.
  • This means that for God to prevent or rid the world of evil contradicts the way he ordained to create.
  • The difference for Feinberg is the nature of the will God created – compatibilistic vs. incompatibilistic.
  • We will see how that plays out – especially with the human attribute of desire.

 

Feinberg then spells out the two stages of his theodicy.

 

Stage One:

He begins as follows…

  • “God intended to create and did create agents who can act; he didn’t create or do their acts (good or evil). They do them” – John Feinberg.

 

Those actions include:

“At a minimum…the capacity to reason (that capacity obviously varies from individual to individual), a being with emotions, a will that is free (compatibilistically free, though freedom isn’t the emphasis of my defense), a being with desires, intentions (formed on the basis of one’s desires), and the capacity for bodily movement. Moreover, he intended for us to use those capacities to live and function in a world that is suited to beings such as we are” – John Feinberg.

 

He then spells out the implication of God’s intention.

“If God intended to and did create the sort of being I have described, then I believe God cannot eradicate moral evil without contradicting his intentions in producing that being. That is, for God to fulfill both goals (eradicate evil and create human beings as I have described them) would be impossible, for accomplishing one goal would foreclose his achieving the other” – Feinberg.

 

Stage Two:

He begins state two of his theodicy with a question.

  • “If humans are the sort of creatures I have described, then how do they fall into sin?”

 

His answer is not free will.

  • He says the answer – as spelled out by James – is desire (a significant part of compatibilism).
  • This is similar to the “naked as vulnerable and dependent” approach we took some weeks ago.

 

James says this:

  • James 1:13–15 (ESV) — 13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

 

In light of James, Feinberg states:

  • “In accord with James 1:13-15, I hold that morally evil actions ultimately stem from human desires [not libertarian free will]. This doesn’t mean desires in and of themselves are evil or that the desires do the evil.”

 

In other words, God ordained that humans have desires.

  • The capacity to desire was not inherently evil.
  • But it presented a risk.
  • The risk is sin.

 

BTW – Is it any wonder, then, that the Psalmist says.

  • Psalm 37:4 (ESV) — 4 Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

 

Feinberg goes on to detail how this answers his question and relates to his theodicy.

“To sum up, then, as to how an evil action comes to be, an individual has certain basic desires or needs which aren’t evil in themselves. He initially doesn’t purpose to sate those desires in a way that disobeys ethical norms. However, a desirable object comes before him, and he is attracted to it. He forms the intention to have it, even though acquiring it is prohibited by moral precept. Then, when the allurement becomes strong enough, he wills to acquire or do the thing he desires. At that point sin is committed. Then, bodily movement (whatever it might be) to carry out the decision occurs. Once the act is done, it is public knowledge that the moral law has been broken.”

 

So then, similar to the Free Will theodicy, God decreed that humans have desires (the naked/unashamed/vulnerable).

  • Being made with desires that drive the will is risky.
  • It can, and did, lead to the Fall.
  • But for God to mitigate this risk would have altered the way He ordained to make man.
  • In other words, naked, unashamed, desire-filled people are the people God wanted to make.

 

Because of this, He put limits on what he could do with respect to mankind.

  • God is limited in some ways?
  • “There are some things God cannot do. God cannot be cruel, for cruelty is contrary to his nature. He cannot lie. He cannot break his promise. God cannot make a circle, a true circle, without all points on the circumference being equidistant from the center. Similarly, God cannot make a human without certain accompanying features” – Millard Erickson.

 

God, presumably, could have gotten rid of the risk.

  • But to do so He would have had to…
  • 1) Eliminate mankind.
    • But we are His image bearers!
  • 2) Eliminate all objects of desire.
    • But Father/Son/Spirit are to be objects of our desire!
  • 3) Eliminate desire itself.
    • But we are to be driven to sacred service and worship.

 

Feinberg finishes up his argument this way.

  • So, “Can God remove moral evil from our world? I believe he can, if he creates different creatures than human beings.”
  • And importantly, because “God intended to bring himself glory through his created order, he also had very specific intentions about the creatures he would create to accomplish that goal” – John Feinberg.

 

We need to finish with the ultimate reason for creation and evil’s ultimate solution.

  • Colossians 1:16 (ESV) — 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

 

 

Genesis 3:8-13 – God’s Pursuit

Genesis 3:8–13 (ESV) — 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.”

 

 

Running Scared – Vs. 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.”

 

Having succumbed to the Serpent’s sneer, a number of things take place.

  • The context of their nakedness/vulnerability has completely changed.
  • Their nakedness/vulnerability, once an asset, now leaves them feeling exposed.

 

Having rejected God’s goodness, they experience their nakedness/vulnerability as guilt, shame and rebellion.

“Before Adam and Eve decided to be their own masters, they had no problem with radical vulnerability. Now suddenly being vulnerable, being seen by somebody, being observed, being visible, being open and uncovered is traumatic” – Tim Keller.

 

The result is that when God draws near they push Him away – they run and hide.

  • Facing the very one whose goodness they rejected becomes problematic.
  • So much so that after their sin, they run away from the very one they should run to.

 

Worse to Worse:

This problem of sin leading to further rebellion is the same today.

  • We sin, and in our shame, we punish ourselves with further sin.
  • We run away from the very one we should run to.

 

J. Budziszewski makes the following observation about some women who get abortions.

  • “Those who will not accept conscience as a teacher must face it as an accuser, and if they still run away they run into even deeper wrong.”

“She keeps getting pregnant to replace the children she has killed; but she keeps having abortions to punish herself for having killed them. With each abortion the cams of guilt make another revolution, setting her up to have another. She can never stop until she admits what is going on”.

 

How do we break this cycle?

 

Cool of the Day:

Interestingly, there may be even more reason they were running scared.

  • It involves the Hebrew word “ruah”.
  • Normally, it means wind, breath or spirit – TWOT.

 

However, having said that, most agree it is a very difficult word to translate in Genesis 3.

  • This is seen by some of the ways different interpretations do so.
  • Cool of the day” – ESV, NIV, ASV.
  • Breezy time” – NET Bible.
  • Time of the evening breeze” – NRSV.

 

Michael Heiser (and others) suggests that all of these meanings may be wrong.

  • Hebrew scholars like Heiser say the meaning of the Hebrew phrase in Gen. 3 context comes from its relationship to the Akkadian language.

“An interpretive clue may be found in the word ‘day’ (yom). Akkadian has an equivalent word, umu. Aside from meaning ‘day,’ umu can also mean ‘storm.’ This clue indicates that the phrase here should possibly be understood as Adam and Eve hearing God coming ‘in the wind of the storm’” – Heiser.

 

The TWOT and John Walton agree.

  • TWOT says it should be understood as something like the “blast of a storm”.
  • John Walton translates the phrase, “They heard the roar of the Lord moving about in the garden in the wind of the storm” – John Walton.

 

Interestingly, there is a similar occurrence of this translation in Isaiah.

  • Isaiah 27:8 (ESV) — 8 Measure by measure, by exile you contended with them; he removed them with his fierce breath in the day of the east wind.

 

If this is true, it adds to the drama of verse 8.

  • It demonstrates that not only has the context of their nakedness/vulnerability changed.
  • But, also further highlights that the context of their relationship with God has changed.
  • The corruption of their vulnerability became a barrier to their fellowship with God.
  • They now experience God’s presence as a brewing storm.

 

This is something only God can remedy.

  • And He begins to do so with His examination of Adam and Eve.
  • As we saw with Budziszewski’s observation, they need to admit what is going on – sin and running.

 

 

The Examination – Vss. 9-11:

But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”

 

Victor Hamilton makes this observation about the raw sensitivity of their nakedness:

  • “It is not necessary for the Lord to speak for the man to panic. It is only necessary that he be present, walking in the garden” – Victor Hamilton.

 

Such was the nature and sensitivity of their guilt and shame.

  • “Now they have lost their innocence, their childlike trust in the goodness of God” – Kenneth Mathews.
  • Brutal!

 

What is obviously bizarre about these verses is how they portray God.

  • He looks like He as no clue.
  • Where are you?”; “Who told you?”; “Have you eaten of the tree…?
  • Clearly not how Moses would think about God.
  • So there must be something else going on here?

 

Most believe that God is being purposely rhetorical in His questioning.

  • Just as He does with Cain in Genesis 4.
  • Genesis 4:9 (ESV) — 9 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” He said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?”

 

God clearly knows all there is to know – it is not knowledge He is after.

  • God is after confession.
  • Heiser – “God asks not because He lacks information, but to elicit a confession.”
  • “The passage describes God as a parent who instructs His children with restoration as His purpose” – Apologetics Study Bible.
  • And interestingly, “He did not question the serpent, because He had no plan to redeem the tempter” – ASB.

 

Why is this necessary for God to do?

  • Why is it an act of grace?

 

“There will be no possibility for reconciliation if the guilty are unwilling to confess their deeds” – Mathews.

  • The rhetorical questions give them a chance to do so.
  • The questions give Adam a chance to fess up.

 

He sought them out so that they, by the feelings and burdened conscience that accompany their corrupted nakedness/vulnerability, would realize they are in need of Him.

  • But…

 

 

The Blame Game – Vss. 12-13:

The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 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.”

 

Adam blows his chance to confess horribly.

  • Not only does he blame Eve, but he also blames God!
  • Eve, at least answers the question honestly – she was deceived.
  • But, God holds them both accountable – as we will see soon enough.

 

It is important to note here that these verses confirm something for us.

  • Adam and Eve’s actions in our text were not borne out of anything approaching repentance or spiritual maturity.
  • By hiding from their Creator, they acted as spiritual babies.
  • They did nothing worthy of emulation.
  • They showed us how bad off we are – unless God steps in.

 

Lesson for Us:

As a result, our text demonstrates some very important themes of redemptive history.

 

1) By covering themselves and hiding, they show that our actions to cover our sin are useless.

  • Something with redemptive power over sin and death is needed.
  • Romans 4:4–7 (ESV) — 4 Now to the one who works [cover his sin with fig leaves and hides from God], his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;
  • Only the work of Christ on the cross and His subsequent vindication in resurrection can cover our sin.
    • Atonement.

 

2) Their hiding shows us how necessary it is for God to seek us and draw us to Him.

  • Verse 8 demonstrates this – it is the Lord God that seeks after Adam and Eve seeking to redeem them.
  • There is nothing about us in our sin and shame – our corrupted nakedness – that will seek after God.
  • Jesus makes clear how necessary it is for God to seek us…
  • John 6:44–46 (ESV) — 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me.

 

 

Final Words:

Tim Keller describes our text as depicting alienation as the fruit of their sin.

  • Adam and Eve are both alienated from God – they try to hide from him.
  • And, in covering up, they are also alienated from each other.

 

The text highlights just how relational the nature of this alienation is.

  • God’s presence is anthropomorphically highlighted – His walking, talking, and His sound.
  • In their nakedness/vulnerability, Adam and Eve used to rejoice in this presence.
  • Now they hide from it – the awful price of sin.

 

Is it any wonder that God has to draw us to Him?

  • Is it any wonder that so many reject Him rather than face their guilt and culpability?
  • Mankind’s corrupted nakedness is a curse in itself.

 

I will close with Tim Keller’s wisdom:

God is telling us, “Get out from behind that tree. The only way you’ll get over your fear, the only way you will get over the trauma that’s happened to your soul, the only way you will be happy again is if you are naked and unashamed. Come out from behind that tree. Open yourself to me. Admit what you’ve done. Come to me, and I will clothe you. I will cover your sin. You will be naked and not ashamed” – Tim Keller.

 

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.

 

 

Genesis 3:1-7 – Part 2 – Anatomy of The Fall

Last time we did a brief overview of verses 1-7.

  • We discussed the identity of the Serpent.
  • We saw that the NT associated the Serpent with Satan.
  • We saw that the mystery was how they were associated.

 

Seth Postell and Michael Heiser, for example, suggest that the Serpent was a “divine” being with access to the garden.

  • In other words, one of the heavenly host.
  • This was based on the root meaning of the Hebrew word “nachash”, Ezekiel 28:13, and other factors.
  • If true, this would mean that Genesis 3 also describes the fall of Satan.
    • The change from “more prudent/crafty” to “more cursed”

 

BTW – Interestingly, Paul says Satan “disguises himself as an angel of light” (1 Cor. 11:14).

 

We ended with some significant, and perhaps unanswerable, questions.

  • Such as, why would a creature with the Serpent’s status and prudence rebel?

 

We don’t know, but John Piper challenges us with this deduction:

“I conclude, therefore, that God permitted Satan’s fall, not because he was helpless to stop it, but because he had a purpose for it. Since God is never taken off guard, his permissions are always purposeful. If he chooses to permit something, he does so for a reason—an infinitely wise reason. How the sin arises in Satan’s heart, we do not know. God has not told us. What we do know is that God is sovereign over Satan, and therefore Satan’s will does not move without God’s permission. And therefore every move of Satan is part of God’s overall purpose and plan. And this is true in such a way that God never sins. God is infinitely holy, and God is infinitely mighty. Satan is evil, and Satan is under the all-governing wisdom of God” – John Piper.

 

Today I want to contend with the anatomy of The Fall.

  • How exactly did The Fall play out?
  • What can we learn from it?

 

We will dissect it as follows:

  • Serpent’s Sneer
  • Atmosphere Imbibed
  • Capitalizing on Compromise
  • The Fall

 

 

Serpent’s Sneer:

Genesis 3:1b (ESV) — 1b He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

  • The NLT captures well the deliberately flippant tone – “Really?” he asked. “None of the fruit in the garden? God says you mustn’t eat any of it?”.

 

Tim Keller has a great take on the Serpent’s words:

  • The Serpent is mocking God’s word with a sarcastic sneer.
  • Keller says the Serpent’s approach is not to argue but simply to “sneer” at God’s word.
    • To mock and show contempt.

“This is the way [sin] usually starts. This is very wise, very smart of the Serpent. He does not give you an argument. [He gives] a dogmatic assertion, but because it’s a sneer, it seems so sophisticated” – Tim Keller.

 

A great example of this is found in 2 Kings:

  • 2 Kings 2:23 (ESV) — 23 He [Elisha] went up from there to Bethel, and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!”
  • Verse 24 shows that God doesn’t take kindly to sneers.

 

How are we still tempted with sneers today?

 

Keller says the Serpent is sneering for a specific reason.

  • “The purpose of the Serpent’s question is not to provide information but to create an atmosphere. It’s not even to provide an argument but to create an atmosphere” – Tim Keller.

 

What is the atmosphere the Serpent is creating with his sneer?

  • He wants to suggest that, “There is no truth. All moral claims [of God] are really just power plays. [God] is trying to sell you something. [But] it is a rip-off” – Keller.

 

God is concerned only with His interests at the expense of yours.

  • God’s prohibition is merely a power play to keep you “down”.
  • It’s not about truth but about power.
  • In other words, Adam and Eve are idiots if they continue in obedience to God.

 

BTW – Keller makes a great observation about the problem with sneers.

“It temporarily gives you a feeling like you have meaning in life, which is to debunk everything. But if you actually do debunk everything, it’s all negative. It’s parasitic, and 20 years later you have no meaning in life because of the sneer. This is how most people tend to lose God. Not through an argument, but through a dogmatic assertion masquerading as sophistication because of the sarcasm, because of the mockery, because of the sneer. Please, friends, don’t lose God because of the big sneer” – Tim Keller.

  • Many men not in Church today, men who watch their wives take the kids to Church, have bought into the sneers of the Serpent, and now are “sneerers” themselves.

 

 

Atmosphere Imbibed:

Genesis 3:2–3 (ESV) — 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.’ ”

  • “The serpent had succeeded in drawing the woman’s attention to another possible interpretation of God’s command” – Kenneth Mathews.

 

Eve’s words are evidence that the Serpent’s sneer immediately had the desired effect.

  • Eve imbibed the Serpent’s sneer – absorbed, drank, and assimilated it.
  • How do we know?

 

1) She overstates God’s prohibition – God said they could “eat of every tree of the garden, but” (2:17).

  • She only says, “eat of the fruit of the trees”.

 

2) She adds, “neither shall you touch it” to God’s prohibition.

  • Similar to the first, this makes the prohibition more stringent than it really was.

 

Concerning 1 and 2:

  • “The creator’s generosity is not being given its full due, and he is being painted as a little harsh and repressive” – Gordon Wenham.

 

3) “Eve identifies the tree according to its location rather than its significance” – Mathews.

  • God called it “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (2:17), she called it “the tree that is in the midst of the garden”.

 

4) She refers to “God” as the Serpent did.

  • Instead of “Yahweh Elohim” she, like the Serpent, says simply, “Elohim”.

 

Like Mathews, Wenham and Waltke agree that Eve’s answer reveals her compromise.

  • “Eve gradually yields to the serpent’s denials and half-truths by disparaging her privileges, adding to the prohibition, and minimizing the threat” – Brue Waltke.
  • “These slight alterations to God’s remarks suggest that the woman has already moved slightly away from God toward the serpent’s attitude” – Gordon Wenham.
  • The sneer worked and the atmosphere it created was imbibed.

 

BTW – We can’t forget, Adam was there with Eve the whole time.

  • As the one tasked first with the sacred duties of the sacred space – to guard it, for example – he is as culpable as Eve – “sin came into the world through one man” (Rom 5:12).
    • 1 Tim. 2:14 would require its own lesson.
  • Adam imbibed the atmosphere created by the Serpent’s sneer too.

 

 

Capitalizing on Compromise:

Genesis 3:4–5 (ESV) — 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.”

  • Again, the NLT captures the tone of the Serpent’s words:
  • Genesis 3:4–5 (The Living Bible) — 4 “That’s a lie!” the serpent hissed. “You’ll not die! 5 God knows very well that the instant you eat it you will become like him, for your eyes will be opened—you will be able to distinguish good from evil!”

 

So how does the Serpent capitalize on the success of his sneer and Eve’s compromise?

 

Keller points out, he doesn’t try and discount…

  • God’s existence.
  • God’s law.
  • God’s power.
  • He attacks God’s goodness.

 

What is God’s goodness?

  • “The goodness of God is that quality of God that lacks any kind of malice and promotes the well-being of others with whom God enters into a covenant relationship” – Michael Bird.
    • Covenant Faithfulness
  • It “may be discovered in all of his relationships with his creatures” – Millard Erickson.
  • God always has our best interests in mind – no matter what they circumstances appear.

 

Some examples from the Bible:

  • Psalm 145:8–9 (ESV) — 8 The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. 9 The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made.
  • Jeremiah 32:40 (ESV) — 40 I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me.
  • Genesis 50:20 (ESV) — 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
  • Romans 8:28 (ESV) — 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

 

How did the Serpent’s words attack God’s goodness?

  • The implication he makes is that God is not good because He doesn’t have Adam and Eve’s best interests in view.
  • God’s “prohibition power play” was actually at the expense of their good.

 

The logic works out like this:

  • Knowledge and god-likeness are good.
  • God is depriving you of these good things.
  • Therefore, God is not good.

 

The natural outworking of this logic in one who has compromised under the Serpent’s sneer is this:

  • “The perceived goods of knowledge and god-likeness [are] held in higher esteem than God himself” – Jeremy Evans.

 

In other words, we begin to see good in context of creation (things and status) and not in God Himself.

  • Our notions of God’s goodness become creation bound and not God bound.
  • Wayne Grudem rightly says all of us need to realize that, “God himself is the ultimate good that we [need to] seek”.

 

Remember, God called creation “good” and “very good”.

  • Did that not also include current circumstances and status?
  • Did that not also include His prohibitions?
  • Did that not also mean that good things are to be had in God’s timing?
  • And shouldn’t the simple fact that He says so be enough?

 

Adam and Eve answer no to these questions and so deny the goodness of God.

 

Tim Keller says this:

“What does [the Serpent] go after? He goes after the goodness of God. He says, ‘You can’t trust that God really loves you, that God really is gracious. You cannot trust the grace and the love and the good will of God.’ When they believed him, it poisoned everything. This is the taproot of all problems. This is the taproot of all misery. This is the thing under everything” – Tim Keller.

 

Sin, Keller is saying, comes from buying into the slurs of the world and questioning God’s goodness.

  • We simply don’t trust God’s goodness.
  • We question that He actually has our best interest in view.
  • Oddly, Sin becomes the pathetic outworking of this foolish thinking.

 

And this distrust of God’s goodness led to the Fall of humanity (and our own sin).

“By Adam and Eve’s failure to trust the goodness of God’s character and the truthfulness of his word, they disobey and instantaneously ‘fall’ from their state of bliss in the garden into a tragic state of irreversible sin and death and banishment from the garden” – Bruce Waltke.

 

The Fall

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.

 

Having…

  • Heard the Serpent’s slurs.
  • Imbibed the atmosphere they created.
  • Compromised under their power by questioning God’s goodness.
  • Adam and Eve go on to disobey the word of God and we all will die as a result.

 

Admittedly, there is nothing wrong with wisdom and aspiring to be like God.

  • Jesus tells us, after all, to be perfect as God is perfect.
  • However, to take them in rebellion is, as we have seen, to deny the goodness of God.

 

Tim Keller puts it as follows:

“[Adam and Eve] did sense there was a place they needed to go, that they could grow still. They recognized there was a possibility for growth, for getting greater than they were. That’s true. But here’s what they did. They took a good thing and used the good thing so they could be their own gods. ‘You will be as God’ [the Serpent said]. They didn’t wait for [God] to take them. They said, ‘We’re going to do it ourselves’” – Keller.

 

Wrap-up:

Tim Keller exhorts us to look closely at the Fall.

  • “Look at Adam and Eve losing all this. Look at Adam and Eve falling. The Bible is saying the way they did it is the way we do it now. What Adam and Eve did is recapitulated in our lives constantly” – Tim Keller.

 

Isn’t this the same way it happens with our sin?

  • The sneers come and we begin to accommodate them.
  • They make us self-conscious.
  • They make us feel naked.
  • We fail to trust in the goodness of God.
  • We cover up with compromise and sin.

 

We will deal with verse 7 and Adam and Eve’s cover up next week.

 

Genesis 3:1-7 – Part 1 – The Fall and the Serpent

Verse 1:

Genesis 3:1 (ESV) — 1 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’?”

 

Enter the “serpent”.

  • A creature of God’s good creation.
  • A creature created “crafty”.
    • How does a good creation include a “crafty” creature?
  • A creature that could apparently speak.
  • The serpent said, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” – Genesis 3:1.
    • How did the serpent have any idea what God said?
  • Was the crafty serpent present when God said to Adam, “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”(Gen. 2:17)?

 

Verse 2:

Genesis 3:2 (ESV) — 2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden,

 

Eve points out that the serpent has it all wrong.

  • She tells the serpent that in fact she can eat the “fruit of the trees in the garden”.
  • Strangely, the text gives no indication that Eve was freaked out by a talking serpent.
  • Is this an indication of her familiarity with the serpent?

 

Verse 3:

Genesis 3:3 (ESV) — 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.’ ”

 

Eve then repeats what 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.’
  • How did she know this?
  • When God gave this command to Adam she was not “alive”.
  • Perhaps she learned this from Adam.

 

Verses 4-5:

Genesis 3:4–5 (ESV) — 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.”

 

With the serpent’s response to Eve, we see that its motives are less than pure.

  • The serpent directly contradicts the words of its Creator.
  • God said “you shall surely die
  • The serpent said, “You will not surely die”.

 

Then, claiming to know the mind of its Creator, the serpent says…

  • For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.
  • With these words the serpent suggests that God has ulterior motives.
  • “God doesn’t want you to eat of this tree because you will be like Him”.
  • “So not only will you not die”, the serpent claims.
  • But you will also “be like God” having access to His wisdom.

 

Verse 6:

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.

 

Having heard the serpent’s argument concerning the fruit, Eve proceeds to use her creaturely discernment, to arrive at three conclusions.

  • (1) The tree’s fruit would be good food.
  • (2) The tree’s fruit was beautiful, perhaps more so than the other fruit of the garden.
  • (3) The tree’s fruit was desirable because it could “make one wise”.

 

And almost as an afterthought, we are told…

  • Adam “her husband” was “with her”.
  • And he – who was to guard the tabernacle as part of his sacred service – “ate” the fruit with Eve.
  • Apparently he was there for this entire temptation scene.
  • He did nothing.

 

Verse 7:

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.

 

The repercussions of their failing the test and succumbing to temptation are immediate.

  • Their eyes were “opened”.
  • They “knew” that they were naked.
  • Their attempt to address their new status consisted of “fig leaves” and “loincloths”.

 

What’s Next:

From this general sketch of our text, it is clear that there are many questions to wrestle with.

  • We will start with the serpent.
  • We will deal with other issues in the coming weeks.

 

 

The Serpent:

What or who is the serpent?

  • On its face, the text seems to tell us only that…
  • (1) It is a creature – so God created it.
  • (2) It is a creature far different from other creatures due to is “craftiness”.
  • (3) It is a creature that can talk.

 

Where did the serpent come from?

  • It seems contrary to a good/very good creation to inhabit it with such a creature.
  • Moreover, creation was just brought to perfection with the creation of Eve.
  • And now (we don’t know how much time passed) this startling creature shows up in the Garden.

 

Nachash:

The Hebrew word translated serpent is “nachash”.

  • There is little disagreement about its literal translation as “serpent” or “snake”.
  • The debate centers around to what extent we are dealing with a literal “serpent” or a symbolic representation of something or someone.

 

In the ancient Near East, the serpent was used often to symbolize any number of things.

“Throughout the ancient world, [the serpent] was endowed with divine or semidivine qualities; it was venerated as an emblem of health, fertility, immortality, occult wisdom, and chaotic evil; and it was often worshipped” – John Walton.

 

None of these seem to apply to Genesis’ “serpent”.

  • However, “Within the world of OT animal symbolism a snake is an obvious candidate for an anti-God symbol…” – Wenham.

 

Traditional View:

The traditional take is that the “serpent” represents Satan.

  • “In accord with the traditional opinion, the snake is more than a literal snake; rather it is Satan’s personal presence in the garden” – Mathews.

 

Although, nowhere in the OT is “nachash” and Satan co-identified.

  • The connection is made by the NT.
  • Revelation 20:1–2 (ESV) — 1 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain. 2 And he seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years,

 

However!

“The New Testament views the serpent as related to Satan and so ought we, but it offers few details about how close an identification should be made or how the two were related” – Walton.

 

This intersection of HOW the “serpent” and Satan are related is where it gets interesting.

  • We will look at three (two now and one when we contend with “crafty”).

 

(1) Michael Heiser suggests the following:

  • The root of “nachash” is a word that refers to “shining metals, such as bronze”.
  • And often the word, when used this way, refers to “divine” beings.

 

An example of this is found in Ezekiel 28:13.

  • Ezekiel 28:13 (ESV) — 13 You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was your covering, sardius, topaz, and diamond, beryl, onyx, and jasper, sapphire, emerald, and carbuncle; and crafted in gold were your settings and your engravings. On the day that you were created they were prepared.
  • Heiser says the above text describes “an ‘anointed cherub’ figure, who inhabits the garden of Eden”.

 

Because of this use of the word and its association with Eden, he suggests that…

“The word nachash may refer to a ‘shining one’ in the Garden of Eden—a divine being who conversed with Eve and deceived her. Since Eden was God’s temple and abode, the ‘shining one’ option represents a viable interpretation. It also helps explain why Eve is not surprised when the nachash speaks to her” – Heiser.

 

(2) John Walton and Kenneth Mathews suggest the following…

  • The “serpent” was a creature used by “satan” to accomplish the temptation of Adam and Eve.
  • Interestingly, they suggest there is a NT parallel to this.

 

The parallel is found in the Gospels.

  • Mark 8:31–33 (ESV) — 31 And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 And he said this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

 

Kenneth Mathews makes the connection like this:

“We may interpret the role of the serpent in the same vein as Peter’s resistance to Jesus’ death, where the Lord responded to Peter: ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me. You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men’ (Matt 16:23). Jesus does not mean Peter is possessed with Satan as Judas was when ‘Satan entered’ him (Luke 22:3), nor was he threatened with possession (Luke 22:31). But Peter unwittingly was an advocate for Satan’s cause. Similarly, the snake is a creature speaking against the ‘things of God’ and whose cause is that of Satan” – Mathews.

  • Walton (quoting E.J. Young) simply says, “the snake was an instrument used by the devil”.

 

BTW – One thing that the text makes clear…

  • There is an important implication derived from the fact the serpent was created.
  • “This information immediately removes any possibility that the serpent is to be viewed as some kind of supernatural, divine force. There is no room here for any dualistic ideas about the origins of good and evil” – Victor Hamilton.

 

BTW 2 – “Although the snake is never identified as Satan in the Old Testament, more than the principle of evil must have been intended by the serpent’s presence since 3:15 describes an ongoing war between the serpent and the seed of the woman” – Kenneth Mathews.

 

 

 

Crafty Serpent:

What is meant calling the serpent “crafty” – Hebrew “arum”?

  • Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God…

 

“Arum” is traditionally seen as having a negative connotation.

  • Meaning “tricky and cunning, with a focus on evil treachery” – DBL.
  • However, there is some well-founded disagreement with this negative connotation.

 

In a large majority of its uses in the OT, the word has a positive connotation.

  • It most often means “skillful and wise” (TWOT), “prudent” (Postell) or “pertaining to wisdom and shrewdness in the management of affairs” – DBL.

 

OT scholar Seth Postell suggests the best definition for Genesis 3 is “prudent”.

  • This would mean, “a person who shows cleverness, sensibility, and sound judgment in decision making” (Logos).
  • He says “a literary analysis of Genesis 3” makes this evident.

 

Some of the common OT examples of this use.

  • Proverbs 14:18 (ESV) — 18 The simple inherit folly, but the prudent are crowned with knowledge.
  • Proverbs 22:3 (ESV) — 3 The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.

 

This lead us to our third view as mentioned above.

 

(3) Seth Postell suggests the following:

  • The “serpent” – given his status as “arum” – was a pre-Fall Satan.
  • He was a creature that was shown “God’s special favor” – Postell.
  • In other words, similar to Heiser’s view, the serpent as Satan was a “divine” being (member of heavenly host) that had access to the garden.

 

How does this relate to our “crafty” discussion?

 

(1) As part of His good creation, “God did not make a ‘crafty’ creature; he made a wise creature” – Seth Postell.

  • In other words, it is incongruous to suggest that as part of a good creation God created a being that was not good.
  • Had God done so, He would be the author of evil.
  • However, Postell’s take distances God from “the origin of evil” – Postell.

 

(2) This view accords with the literary symmetry of the Fall story.

  • In verse 1, the “serpent” is described as “more prudent” – positive status.
  • And then after the Fall and the Curse…
  • Verse 14 calls the “serpent” “more cursed” – negative status.
  • “The contrast suggests there is a negative reversal of the serpents’ originally positives state” – Postell.
    • The sentences are virtually identical – suggesting they be contrasted.

 

There is a fascinating implication of this view if Postell is correct.

  • “A possible solution to the age-old question about the timing of the serpent’s (Satan’s) fall is also provided. When did the serpent fall? It fell in Genesis 3. Thus, Genesis 3 depicts the fall of Adam, Eve, and the serpent” – Seth Postell.

 

Some my wonder how this squares with Luke 10:18 where Jesus said, “I saw Satan fall like lightning fro heaven”?

  • This text deals with the expulsion of Satan from a place of authority as evidenced by the successful mission of the 72 (fairly common view).

 

BTW – Postell also argues that there is a significant textual parallel made between the “serpent” in the Promised Land and Canaanites in the Promised Land.

  • “It is the ‘original’ evil inhabitant of the [Promised] land”.
  • So just as Joshua and the Israelites had to obey to enter and remain in the Promised Land.
  • So to did Adam and Eve have to be obedient to remain in the Promised Land.
  • For the Israelites, the temptation to reject God’s wisdom came from the Canaanites.
  • For Adam and Eve, the temptation came from the serpent.

 

And more than that…

  • “Adam’s entrance into the garden to conquer the serpent anticipates Israel’s entrance into the Promised Land to conquer the Canaanites” – Seth Postell.

 

Speculation Time:

I find it interesting that Postell’s (and Heiser’s) view provides some answers to some troubling questions.

  • How did the serpent know about God’s prohibition?
    • If he was part of the heavenly host, we have our answer.
  • If the fruit was so desirable, why didn’t the serpent eat of it?
    • Maybe it did.
    • Or maybe, as part of the heavenly host, already had the knowledge of good and evil.
  • Why weren’t Adam and Eve freaking out over a talking serpent?
    • Apparently it was previously nothing to be concerned with.

 

One question we will never have a satisfactory answer for is…

  • Why did Adam and Eve (and perhaps the serpent) choose to fall?

 

 

Final Affirmation:

The Fall was a historical event.

  • Even John Walton affirms this.
  • “The face value of the text suggests that the author wants us to believe that this event really happened. Moreover, the reality of the Fall is an essential foundation to Pauline theology, and the New Testament consistently shows it considers the events of Genesis 3 to be true, as historical realities” – Walton.

 

And importantly…

  • Adam/Eve were to guard the sacred space of the Garden (their sacred service).
  • Given the fact that we are the temple and are “in Christ”, we are also tasked with this sacred service.
  • Do we adequately guard the temple?
  • Or do we embrace the wisdom of the creature over that of the Creator?