Genesis 3 is perhaps the darkest and bleakest of Bible chapters. Is there any hope to be found here?
Read Genesis 3:20-24
Adam now names the woman. He calls her “Eve” which has the idea of “life” and “living”. Notice that here in the darkness of the Fall is a ray of light. There is grace at the end of the episode. Death doesn’t have the last word. Life does. Eve will be the first parent, the ancestor, the mother of all life. This reflects both her motherly role towards all creation and her role as the ancestor of humanity. Yes, the creation mandate has been made harder but no it has not ended (v20).
There’s further grace as God removes their inadequate attempts to cover their shame and clothes them instead in animal skins. Here again is a pointer to the place of sacrifice in the covering of shame and guilt (v21).
However, God still has to deal with one issue. He notes that there has been a change, the Serpent spoke a half truth. The human-beings do now have this new knowledge. They know good from evil because they’ve experienced evil. So, God says that the humans can no longer have access to the Tree of Life. They cannot be allowed to live forever. As I indicated before, I don’t think that there were magical or even medicinal properties in the fruit. Rather, the fruit, and eating it represented something. If eating from the one tree represented man’s choice of death, continued access to the other tree represented God’s offer of eternal life.
God now acts to make it clear that this ongoing life is no longer available to Adam. Physical death will come but also there is spiritual death immediately as Adam and Eve are banished from Eden. Where Adam had been called to guard the garden, an Angel now stood guarding the garden from Adam and Eve. So, we see the beginning of a Biblical theme here that exile/banishment is synonymous with death (v22-24).
The Grace of God’s Discipline
It is important then for us to see that God’s grace is at work even as he disciplines Adam and Eve. There has been great speculation about what happened to our first parents. Did their sin put them beyond redemption. There are suggestions here at the end of chapter 3 and beginning of chapter 4 that redemption was possible. There are glimmers of hope. We see them in Adam’s naming of Eve. There was hope of life. Then in chapter 4, we will see other glimmers of hope in the naming of their children.
It is important for us to see this. First, it reminds us that even there in Eden, God had a salvation plan and he was already beginning to activate it. This is how deep and strong God’s grace is. We have hope because of his grace. We have more reasons to be thankful here.
Further, it reminds us that when we sin that correction, rebuke, even discipline, including when this comes through our circumstances when we experience suffering are all tools of God’s grace. He does not give up on us and so we should not resent his discipline because he does this as a loving Father for our good.