Genesis 3 has a strong claim to being the saddest chapter in the Bible. With the fall of man begins every sorrow and pain. Here is the source, the genesis and origin of the hurt of every injury, the tears of every hungry child, the suffering of sickness, disease and death in every generation. Man is born to trouble, and nature is red in tooth and claw, because of the events recorded here.
More, the souls of countless men and women have been consigned to eternal separation and everlasting punishment because of Adam’s act of disobedience against God. Surely, the depth, breadth and degree of human suffering in both this life and the next that flow from the events recorded here is beyond reckoning.
But, conversely, Genesis 3 also has a claim to be the happiest chapter in the Bible for it is here that the first suggestion of God’s grace is glimpsed and the first promise of salvation is given. Robert Hawker writes, “Here we read the sad origin of sin, and its unavoidable consequences, misery and death. And here, we no less, behold the first discoveries of grace, in the promised redemption, by our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Satan took the form of a serpent to deceive the woman and by doing so obtained a name employed by the Apostles John and Paul. John says, “… that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world (Revelation 12:9). Do you see the scale of this act? In deceiving the first parents of all mankind the whole world was deceived. The Fall is universal. Sin and its wages death came upon all men. Says Paul, ”by the offence of one (or by one offence, one act of disobedience) judgment came upon all men to condemnation.
Note the progress of temptation. A question is set, doubt introduced, and soon men are judging God. It is a small step from disbelief to disobedience. By the woman’s act and Adam’s complicity the whole world is condemned; every race, nation and individual. We carry the seed of death, the evil nature and distorted perceptions of our fallen progenitors.
God cursed the snake for its part in the plot. Perhaps snake walked upright, or even flew. Now both serpent and Satan are cursed to slither in the dust and eat dirt. The tempter is cast down, his onetime beauty spoiled and lost forever.
And God cursed the ground. There are many beautiful sights and places upon earth yet as wonderful as they may presently appear this world is decaying, declining and descending down to death. Men seek to possess the earth’s wealth but its structures and systems are dying. Jesus asked, “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” (Mark 8:36).
Yet God did not curse the man. Have you ever noticed that? The serpent and the earth for man’s sake, but not the man himself. God did not curse what He would also bless. There were some in Adam seen and known by God though yet unborn, some upon whom the divine blessing rested and remained. No divine curse would ever be their portion until One could bear it for them.
Even in the midst of judgment our loving Father remembered mercy. God had a people and a plan to save them from their sin and condemnation. The man Jesus Christ, God’s own Son (and not the man Adam) would carry this final curse. So He sent His Son in human flesh, the God-man to bear their sin, carry their guilt and redeem them from judgment. “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us …” (Galatians 3:13).
God’s curses did not come without hope for Adam. The first blessing might easily be overlooked. It is simply this: The Lord spoke to Adam. He called in Genesis 3:9 “Where art thou?” That God does so call is an undeserved blessing. Unbelieving, deceived, sinful, guilty, condemned, helpless wretches are sought and addressed by the holy, eternal God! Let us never forget the initial approach came from God. God spoke to Adam when Adam did not wish to speak to God. The Lord Jesus still speaks in the gospel, calling sinners to examine themselves and repent. Seeking them in their hideouts whatever they may be.
Then, God made coats of skins, and clothed them (v. 21). Makeshift fig-leaves were inadequate. But durable garments of leather required that animals be slain and blood spilled. Here God prefigured both the sacrificial system and its greater meaning, the atoning death of His blessed Son the Lord Jesus Christ. It was not the animals who sinned, nor did the spotless Lamb of God. But He died to cover our nakedness and fit us for the presence of God. The Apostle Peter says, we are redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19). God’s people are clothed in righteousness not our own but the very holiness of God “… for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness” (Isaiah 61:10).
Then God gave a blessed gift; the gift of faith. Where do we see this? We see it in Adam’s reaction to God’s provision. Adam named his wife Eve for she was the mother of all living. Previously she was called simply “Woman” (2:23). Now, by God’s word she would be bearer of new life. Adam believed God and gave his wife a new name. Faith is God’s gift. Adam and Eve possessed it and by faith both Adam and Eve are in heaven today. Life for them now, though they deserved to die in the garden, and life for future generations.
Adam and Eve’s faith was focused on a child yet to be born, One upon whom faith’s hope is fixed. A man born to crush Satan’s head but not without grief to Himself. “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel (3:15).
This verse is sometimes called the proto-evangel, the first revelation of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. It anticipates the coming, many years hence, of the Great Saviour and Deliverer, which Mark confirms, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (Mark 1:1).
God’s prophecies are promises and the Lord Jesus Christ fulfils all prophecy. Jesus said, “All things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me” (Luke 24:44).
God promised a bruised foot and a bruised head. Satan bruised the Saviour’s foot when Christ suffered upon earth and died on the cross. The Lord Jesus bruised, or crushed, Satan’s head when He destroyed Satan’s power, pillaged his kingdom, ruined his authority, and defeated death by His resurrection.
By His sacrifice and triumph our Redeemer saved His people from their sins, a promise received and understood by all God’s people of faith. Thus Job, a very early believer, could testify, “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold …” (Job 19:25-27).
What a promise! We who have also faith in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus shall also behold our Redeemer and we shall love Him. Whom having not (yet) seen, ye love” (1 Peter 1:8).
Here is our next promise, carried in this important chapter. The Lord promises, “Thy desire shall be to thy husband” (3:16). Eve to Adam? Yes. But does not the Bride of Christ, the Lamb’s wife seek after her beloved? The Church’s desire is for her Lord and Husband.
Solomon’s Song testifies to the mutual desire of Bride and Husband: “As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste”, “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine”, “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me” (Song of Solomon 2:3; 6:3; 7:10).
Finally, our Saviour promises: “Thy husband shall rule over thee” (3:16). What a blessed promise this is for the church! What comfort! Men try to twist, warp and corrupt marriage to destroy its meaning. Why? Because it is a picture of Christ’s blessed union with His dear people. He has worked for, wooed, and won His Bride. He will give her all things, provide every need. He protects, comforts, consoles. He directs, sustains, nourishes. He will instruct, correct, nurture. He will love, embrace, kiss with the kisses of His mouth. “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth: for thy love is better than wine” (Song 1:2).
Sin brought death, despair, destruction but Christ brings love, grace and salvation. He is Head and Husband of His people. How blessed we are in Him. How rich in the promises of God. Amid the shame and sadness of the fall, God’s people discover the joy of the Lord.
Peter Meney is the Pastor of New Focus Church Online and the Editor of "New Focus Magazine" and publisher of sovereign grace material under the Go Publications imprint. The purpose and aim of the magazine and books is to spread as widely as possible the gospel of Jesus Christ and the message of free, sovereign grace found in the Holy Bible, the Word of God.