Welcome! I am your host Randy Duncan, and I want to thank you for taking the time to listen as we continue our study in the book of Genesis.
In the last episode, we wrapped up Ch 2, and we discussed a possible location for the Garden of Eden. We also discussed the creation of Eve, and what God laid down as punishment for eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Which brings us now to chapter 3, which is one of my favorites in all of scripture.
Most of our Bible reading, studying, church sermons, etc are probably spent in the New Testament, reading the Gospels, or the several epistles of Paul, so you probably aren’t getting a lot of Bible study in the book of Genesis!
And we are all so familiar with this story that I think, even if we do read this again, that we tend to just sort of gloss over these verses with a superficial reading. Again, we know what happened, and so we probably aren’t looking to dig deeper.
But chapter 3 here is chocked full of lessons and insight that are still relevant today
I want to begin Ch 3 by re-reading two verses from chapter 2 because that’s where we will pick-up the action here in chapter 3.
16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 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.”
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.
I cannot think of a more succinct way to write down what happened than this, even though there is so much going on here
The serpent- the “nahash”. Although not specifically named here, we will learn later that this is obviously Satan
In Hebrew, Satan, or “satan” means adversary, persecutor, accuser. He is the adversary of God and humanity.
“More crafty” or “more subtle” – some translations rendered this word as “shrewd” or “cunning”. But I think you get the idea.
Now how Satan exactly uses the serpent we are not sure. Did he embody the serpent somehow, like a demon embodies a person, or did he merely use the serpent as an instrument of communication.
But one thing we do know is Satan’s method of attack – the same today as in the garden. It worked then, and it still works today
1st step – introduce doubt. Get us to doubt what God said. Did God really say that? Is that really what He meant?
2nd step – has us change or amend what God said, and here, that is exactly what Eve does. What did God say again? 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat”. But Eve adds “ 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.’” She is adding the part about touching the fruit. So her response to Satan’s line of questioning is to embellish what God commanded.
And we see this happening today. God, I know what you said, but let me tell you what you meant!
Deut 4:2 says that “2 You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it,..” But here we see that is exactly what Eve is doing, changing what God said
3rd step – direct contradiction. Directly contradicting what God said! God said “you will surely die”, Satan says “You will not surely die”.
This 3-prong attack worked in the Garden, and still works today! Doubt God’s word, change God’s word, directly contradict God’s word
Let’s make sure to clear up one common misperception before I forget to mention it. What was it that Adam and Eve were not permitted to eat? The apple, right? No! The Bible never mentions an apple here. It says “the fruit”. We don’t know what the fruit was. Chances are it was not an apple, but we don’t know for sure. But somehow the apple has been featured in all sorts of paintings, books, all sorts of works of art.
I wonder why Satan approached Eve? Why not Adam? We are not told why. Also, why did Adam not correct Eve’s statement? Scripture doesn’t say. But it might have been because he wasn’t there at the time
But perhaps it is because Eve may have received the commandment not to eat of the tree of knowledge good and evil secondhand. IOW, God told Adam firsthand not to eat of it, but Eve heard from Adam, secondhand, and perhaps she was a little more open to the suggestion that Adam was. We don’t know for sure.
The other thing we don’t know for sure is whether or not Adam was even there at the time this conversation was taking place? Scripture doesn’t explicitly tell us either way
Some argue he was there based on the grammatical construction of the Hebrew of the use of plural verb forms, meaning the serpent used plural verb forms for “you”. All it says later on is Eve took and ate and gave some to Adam who was with her. But we don’t even know for sure when Eve decided to eat of the fruit. We all seem to want to picture everything going down right then and there, as soon as the serpent tells them “that their eyes will be open and they will become like Gods”. Like, as soon as he finished saying that Eve reaches up and grabs the fruit and eats it right then and there! But we don’t know that. She may have thought about what the serpent said for days, or weeks, before deciding she was going to eat of the tree.
But, further down in V17, before God issues his punishment to Adam, he says “because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree”. God didn’t say because you have listened to the serpent. He said, b/c you have listened to your wife.
There is an interesting verse in 1 Timothy. I Tim 2:14 tells us that “Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.
For these reasons, some believe Adam wasn’t there at the time, but again, we just don’t know for sure
But if he wasn’t there, and, like 1 Tim says, he wasn’t deceived, why did he eat also? Good question.
Seems like we have at least four possibilities here:
1- Adam was with Eve, they were both deceived and both ate. But 1 Tim seems to rule out that option
2- Adam saw Eve eat the fruit, and seeing that she did not immediately die, he ate.
3 – Adam was not deceived by the serpent, but either then, or later on, simply gave into Eve
4- Adam was not there, and when he did show up Eve had already eaten of the tree. And loving her so much that he willingly chose to join her in whatever punishment would be coming, rather than have her face it alone.
Some who make this argument argue that Adam, who we are told, was a figure of one who was to come, which was Christ. We discussed this in an earlier episode. That Adam was perfect, sinless, he was a son of God, he paid for his bride with a wound to his side, was put to sleep and then brought back. Well some take that a step further and argue that here Adam knowingly and willingly became sin for his bride, again, just as Christ became sin and died on the cross for us, his bride, the church
Tree of knowledge of good and evil – so what exactly are we talking about when we say the “knowledge of good and evil”? Well, that term, that phrase is consistently used as a merism, which is a way of referring to the totality of something by using its extremes. For example, to express the idea that you have looked everywhere for something, a merism would be for you to say that you have looked high and low. Or, in Gen 1:1, where it says God created the heavens and the earth, it is a merism, meaning everything, all of physical reality
So when we see this phrase “knowledge of good and evil” used here, it is meaning that Adam and Eve would gain a whole range of knowledge, but as a merism, it should not be taken to mean that they would all knowledge. Instead, it is applying to a range of knowledge within a specific category. And in this case, we are referring to good and evil, of morality
This is referring to human capability to be discriminating. This is an ability for example, that is lacking in children. That is something you acquire with age and experience and as you gain wisdom. But it does not suggest that Adam and Eve knew nothing about good and evil before they ate
You see, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is good, but it belongs exclusively to God. God is the only objective standard of good and evil
Sin consists of a forbidden act of unbelief, It’s an assertion of human autonomy, us acting on our free-will to know morality apart from God. Sure, we all know some things are wrong by our nature and conscience. But do we really have the capacity to understand the breadth of all morality apart from God? God is the standard for objective morality, and without God serving as that standard, morality becomes no longer about right and wrong, it just becomes preference, like chocolate or vanilla.
So why did God not allow them to eat from the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? Is knowledge not a good thing? Why was it prohibited?
That is a fair question. You know, skeptics and nonbelievers have tried to make the argument that it was wrong for God to punish Adam and Eve for eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because unless they ate from it, they would not have known the difference between good and evil. IOW, why would God punish Adam and Eve for disobeying him since they did not know the difference between good and evil. The only way they would have known is to eat from the tree! Or so the argument goes.
But is that accurate? Is that really what is going on here?
I don’t think so. For starters, do you think it makes sense for God to give them instructions if they did not have any idea of the difference between good and evil? That is contrary to the character of God.
Remember also, God tells them that if they disobeyed, they would die. The Bible gives no indication that they did not understand what that meant. They apparently understood what death meant. They understood what obedience was, because Eve explains to Satan that they were not alllowed to eat from that specific tree. So they had enough knowledge to understand that they were not allowed to eat from the tree, as well as death being the consequence for doing so.
I believe what this is about is human autonomy. Adam and Eve, like all of us, desired to determine for themselves what is good and evil, what is right and wrong, without the objective standard of morality provided by God. We want to be the arbiters of truth, rather than God.
And this is where it would be easy to digress into a conversation regarding free-will. I am not going to do that here, but suffice it to say that, the only way to have love, is to have free will. Love must be given freely, it cannot be coerced. It cannot be legislated. The only way true love exists is when the person has a choice. And without a choice to obey or disobey God, there could exist no free will, and therefore, no love.
Adam and Eve, out of love, were given a choice to obey God and live by his morality, OR, disobey God and live by the morality that they would create for themselves. They would determine for themselves what was right and wrong, what was good or evil.
It was never about the forbidden fruit. It was about love and obedience and recognizing that God is the source of true morality. It was about trying to determine good and evil apart from God. It was about Adam and Eve determining for themselves what constitutes good and evil. Bottom line, they decided to take on the challenge of determining for themselves what was morally good and evil
How is determining morality for ourselves working out so far? How is it working out for us to determine for ourselves what is good and evil? Turn on the news sometime, anytime. It’s working out about the same way it did in the garden.
Adam and Eve did what was right in their own eyes …
Isa 5:21 – Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight!
Prov 26:10 – Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.
You know, one of the tragedies of sin is the impact it has on your life. In the next episode, we will see the spiritual effect of sin, which is man fleeing from God. Adam walked with God, talked with God, had a relationship wth God. But after he sins, he flees from God.
You see, sin separates us from God. When you are in any situation, and you are considering doing something, ask yourself whether doing it will bring you closer to God, or distance you from God..because it is going to do one or the other.
I had a coach tell me years ago that you never stay the same. You either get better or you get worse everyday, but you don’t stay the same. That same thing applies to your spiritual life. You don’t stay the same. Every day you either get closer to God, or you grow more distant.
One of the ways you grow closer to God is to trust him, trust that He knows better than you the difference between good and evil
The story of Adam and Eve is the story of us all. We have all decided at times to determine for ourselves what is right and wrong, what is good and evil. We have all taken a bite of the proverbial “forbidden fruit”, and decided that we knew better than God what was best for us.
It has been said, by maybe Nancy Pearcy, or someone, that “chaos inevitably results when choice is divorced from morality”. And in the next episode, we are going to see some of the chaos that results from disobeying God, of being separated from God as a result of sin, and determining for ourselves what is good and what is evil.
But also in the next episode we are going to see the provision that God has made for our sin and separation, one that allows us an opportunity to be reconciled to God. We will be introduced to the first hint of the Messiah. I hope you will join me. Thanks again for listening, and God bless.