The Fall from Eden
The Corruption of Relationships
Chapter three of Genesis proceeds to recount the Fall of mankind. This is a fall from a right relationship with God because of rebellion and disobedience. Through the fall sin and death entered the world. The scope of this cannot be covered here. See The Fall and the Restoration for an elaboration on the Fall and the means of restoration provided by God.
The timeframe of this chapter is included with the events of chapter two, as specified by Genesis 2:4-6: "This is the history of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, before any plant of the field was in the earth and before any herb of the field had grown. For the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground; but a mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground." As seen earlier this is a time before agriculture which became necessary because of a curse resulting from the fall. Chapter three concludes this "history" with a description of the corruption of the relationship between God and man.
The chapter opens with a dialog between the "serpent" and the woman in the garden. In this we get a picture of the relationship between Satan and mankind. As God used Balaam's donkey to rebuke the prophet, even so Satan here uses a reptile to speak to Eve. This serpent is identified in the book of Revelation, "And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him" (Rev. 12:7-9). Scripture is unclear as to when Satan lost his place in Heaven, who is also named "Lucifer" in Isaiah 14:12. But Scripture is clear that Satan is an antagonist to mankind, one "who deceives the whole world." And deception is what Satan used to cause Eve to disobey God's commandment and eat of the forbidden tree. Even Eve recognized this afterward when she said, "The serpent deceived me, and I ate" (Gen. 3:13).
The main deception of Satan is to question and discount the legitimacy of the Word of God. This was his tactic in deceiving Eve and causing her to disobey God. Eve no longer believed God and the consequences He laid out for disobedience. She instead believed she would gain personally by disobeying God's commandment, in accordance with the lie of Satan.
And Adam ate too, although Paul comments on this: "For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression" (1 Tim. 2:13-14). Adam knowingly sinned for Eve's sake, and partook of death with Eve. This becomes a type, "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him" (2 Cor. 5:21). The last Adam, Jesus Christ, willingly took upon Himself God's wrath toward sin (although Jesus did not actually sin as opposed to Adam) that He might bring redemption for His bride, the Church. But the first Adam did sin, as did his wife, and brought death upon mankind. Scripture states, "For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive" (1 Cor. 15:21-22).
God pronounced a curse upon the serpent for what he did, and then spoke of the conflict between the cause of Satan and the cause of Christ: "So the Lord God said to the serpent: 'Because you have done this ... I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel'" (Gen. 3:14-15). This is a prophecy showing Satan will attack the Messiah to crucify Him in order to stop the Messiah. In this Satan will "bruise His heel." But Jesus will prevail over Satan to "bruise [his] head," that is, to crush him through the redemptive work of the Messiah.
The result of the Fall is that God pronounced a curse on the man, the woman, and the earth. The curse is actually the natural result of mankind and the earth he was given charge over being disconnected from the abundant and gracious supply of God. In God there is all sufficiency; apart from God there is lack and need. Since mankind is not self-sufficient his need is apparent when he is not connected to God in a right relationship. This is shown immediately after Adam and Eve fell: "Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings" (Gen. 3:7).
The curse showed the difficulties mankind would face in a life apart from God's blessing: sorrow and pain in childbearing, difficulties in relationships, a cursed earth that would no longer provide an abundance of food, but one that would bear thorns and thistles and require hard labor in agriculture, and eventual death in returning to the dust of the earth.
A Foreshadowing of Redemption
God in His mercy cast them out of the Garden for this purpose: "... lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever" (Gen. 3:22). In their fallen miserable state God did not allow them to live forever. God has an eternal plan for mankind, but one that must first deal with the state of sin that mankind fell into. This is shown in an action God took on behalf of Adam and Eve: "Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them" (Gen.3:21). This is a foreshadowing of redemption through Jesus Christ. It will take a sacrifice of a life to atone for sin. That sacrifice will be the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. That God had this in mind already at this point is shown in the book of Revelation where Jesus is referred to as "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:8).
Adam and Eve's attempt to cover themselves with fig leaves was not sufficient, and God instead clothed them with tunics of skin. This foreshadows the Gospel message that mankind's works are not sufficient to regain him a right relationship with God. It takes God's grace, a gift, one provided though the atoning work of Christ.
The concluding verses of chapter three record, "therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life" (Gen. 3:23-24). This tragic consequence of rebellion against God is the start of that which Paul calls "this present evil age." God sent out Adam to "till the ground." This ends the timeframe of Gen. 2:4-6 that is an account of the history of the heavens and earth before the time of farming, and thus a time before the Fall. Here access to the garden of Eden is closed, as is access to the "tree of life." This is the beginning of a time where God will allow mankind to experience life apart from Him. This is the beginning of a hard lesson of what is available without God. A hard life, sweat and toil, lack and need, pain and death, sorrow and despair, will be the experience of mankind going forward. Mankind chose rebellion and a rejection of God's provision. But there is hope for those who will repent of such rebellion, and who would desire the relationship with God that He originally intended. This comes through the Gospel message, a message of "good news." This is the hope of Eden once again, and access to the tree of life once again.
Continue reading to see how the original account of the garden of Eden is a model of a new one to come.