Genesis 3:8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
This was a little desperate, but for all they knew, God was coming to kill them. [W]hen you eat [of the tree] you will certainly die (Genesis 2:17), he warned. God had given them life, and now he was free to take it away.
Like our first parents we also try to hide from God. Some hide by putting God out of their minds. Others hide by neglecting his word. Others hide behind religion instead of relating to God himself. Nothing comes more naturally to guilty sinners than trying to hide from God.
Genesis 3:9 But the Lord God called to the man, Where are you?
This is God seeking man, not to kill him, but to restore him. This idea is so important that Jesus repeated it several times. The good shepherd searches for his one lost sheep (Luke 15:4). The distressed woman searches for her one lost coin (Luke 15:8). And the rejected Father looks down the road searching for his one lost son (Luke 15:20). For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:10), said Jesus.
A little boy was separated from his father at the county fair. He was surrounded by some of the best stuff in the world, but he could not enjoy it because he did not know where his father was. But after his father found him, the little boy enjoyed both the fair and his father more than ever. God is not seeking lost people to punish them, but to restore them.
Genesis 3:15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.
This is God’s solution to the problem of sin, spoken to the devil. It is a messianic prophecy that is remarkable for at least three reasons.
First, Adam and Eve were not required to solve the problem themselves. We might expect the first couple to pay for their own sin, but God promised to send another who would crush [the devil’s] head. This idea is developed throughout the Old Testament to help God’s people anticipate the Promised One.
Second, the Promised One would be male. He will crush your head, not She will crush your head. In a single pronoun God eliminated half the human race from the pool of possible candidates. And throughout the Old Testament the pool shrinks even further.
The Promised One would be descended from Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3), from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10), born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), and minister in Galilee (Isaiah 9:1-2). If you put all the prophecies together, there is only one person who fulfilled them all perfectly. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me (John 5:39), said Jesus.
Third, the conflict between the serpent and the Promised One would likely include fatalities. If you step on a serpent’s head it will probably die. And if it bites your heel you could also die. The crucifixion of Jesus Christ was fatal—he actually died. But through his resurrection, he dealt a fatal blow to Satan, that will bring him to his end. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ was a cosmic conflict of life and death that saves us from our sins. It is also the main point of the Bible.
Genesis 3:19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.
Even though the Promised One would fix the problem of sin, there would still be consequences for Adam and Eve—and their descendants. Mankind was made to tend the garden, but now would become part of the garden. Every child is born with a terminal disease called aging, and we are just at various stages.
I got together with friends whom I had not seen for years, and I was surprised by how much they had changed. Hair had fallen out, wrinkles had formed, and weight had been gained. I tried to conceal my surprise, but I noticed they were also surprised. Then it became a contest to see who could act the least surprised. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, everyone sins, and die we must.
Genesis 3:21 The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.
The only way to get skin off an animal is to kill it, so this was the first animal sacrifice. Animals were likely tame before the fall, and may have been like pets. Adam and Eve were vegetarians (Genesis 1:29, 9:3), and had never seen an animal die. But naked and ashamed, they needed the animal’s skin to cover their disgrace.
To make his point, God may have made them watch the slaughter of this innocent victim: throat slit, blood spilt, eyes wild, body trembling, life draining, lights out. It was a bloody object lesson to portray the wickedness of sin and the terrible cost involved.
In fact, the Old Testament is filled with the blood of sacrificial animals: sheep, goats, bulls and more. But all the blood of all the animals sacrificed could never take away sins (Hebrews 10:11), says Hebrews. That required nothing less than the shed blood of Jesus Christ—God himself in human flesh. Sin is man taking the place of God; salvation is God taking the place of man.
As Adam and Eve were clothed with the skin of a beast, all who believe in Jesus Christ are clothed with him. [Y]ou who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ (Galatians 3:27), wrote Paul. We have no righteousness of our own, but God has arrayed [us] in a robe of his righteousness (Isaiah 61:10), wrote Isaiah. The first animal sacrifice pointed forward to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
Genesis 3:24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.
The opportunity to eat from the tree of life, and live forever, was apparently gone for ever. How sad it must have been for Adam and Eve to leave the garden, and venture into the untamed world. There they would die, and all their descendants would also die. This was the worst day in the history of the world.
Thankfully, the tree of life appears again at the end of the Bible. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit (Revelation 22:2), wrote John. The tree of life first appeared in the old paradise of Eden. And because of Jesus Christ, it will appear again in the new paradise of God’s eternal kingdom.
This is helpful for understanding the Bible’s storyline. It is the record of paradise lost through sin, and regained through Jesus Christ. The cherubim mentioned above were later embroidered on the temple curtain (2 Chronicles 3:14), which kept people away from the presence of God. That curtain was torn from top to bottom when Jesus died on the cross for us (Matthew 27:51). This shows the way to God is now open to everyone who comes through faith in Jesus Christ.
Reflection and Review
Why do people try to hide from God?
How did sin change the world?
What is the Bible’s storyline?