“ So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, “Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And 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.”
To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children.Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”
To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.
It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.
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.”
Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.
The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side[e] of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3:14-24, NIV)
We are still living in a world that is facing the consequences of Adam, Eve and a reptile’s rebellion. Don’t forget, it was an animal, a snake, that was also a participant in this rebellion of God’s intention for creation.
We’re also living in a world, more now than ever, that wants to reject the curse of God and re-state relationships, of a husband to his wife, and of shame or responsibility for sin and original sin. As we look at these verses this morning I think it’s quite impossible to received the Bible as God’s holy word and then dismiss the book of Genesis, God’s pronouncement on sexual relations and sin in general. And yet this past week an Archbishop in the Church of England questioned God’s fatherhood. The archbishop of York has suggested that opening words of the Lord’s Prayer, recited by Christians all over the world for 2,000 years, may be “problematic” because of their patriarchal association. Stephen Cottrell, the Archbishop of York, said that, “I know the word ‘father’ is problematic for those whose experience of earthly fathers has been destructive and abusive, and for all of us who have labored rather too much from an oppressively patriarchal grip on life,” he said.
There is no doubt that his comment will divide the dwindling members of the Church of England, a body whose differences on issues of sexuality, identity and equality have been highly visible for years.
After Cottrell’s speech, Canon Dr Chris Sugden, chair of the conservative Anglican Mainstream group, pointed out that in the Bible Jesus urged people to pray to “our father”.
So when Jesus taught people to call God “our Father”, was HE wrong, or that Jesus was not aware of God’s true nature? It a major problem when church leaders to take their cues from culture rather than scripture.
In February, the Church of England said it would consider whether to stop referring to God as “he”, after priests asked to be allowed to use gender-neutral terms instead. So I ask you this morning: Is the Bible the authentic and accurate word of God or not? Did Jesus know what He was referencing or not? You response to that question will weigh heavily on whether this message encourages or disgruntles you.
Let’s begin by looking at the snake. Have you ever wondered why Eve was not spooked or shocked when the snake spoke? Do the snakes in your garden ever speak to you?? We don’t know, but perhaps Eve was not afraid because animals could speak prior to the fall. But for whatever reason, the snake did permit, it appears, for the devil to use him for nefarious purposes. Has the devil ever used you, to do something sinister in the past? Is he using you right now? He used Judas. He’s on the prowl, even at this very moment, as I am speaking, trying to undo what God is trying to do. The devil does not rest—-his time is limited and he knows it.
But the good news is that whereas an animal took part in the fall of mankind, animals also took part in the restoration of mankind. Prior to Christ’s death, their blood served as a sacrifice for the sins of men.
There remains enmity between most women and snakes! The snake had a part in the fall of Eve even though it was used by Satan. So like I said earlier, evidently, not only could some animals speak, but they were able to make choices. God punished the snake for being a willful part of the devil’s plan. So snakes, and all their offspring, have been cursed. Just like all of mankind is cursed because of Adam and Eve’s choice.
So how was the woman punished? Two-fold:
1. Severe pain at childbirth. God always planned for her to have children, but now, because of sin, the joy of a child would be precluded with incredible pain. This suffering has not lessened throughout the history of mankind. Today, with wonder drugs, itt might be alleviated, just like snakes can be removed, by and large, from our communities. But the pain of birth is still there—a reminder of woman’s rebellion until the end of time.
2. The second curse was her subordination to her husband. It was not always this way. Again, it’s related to the curse of choosing to listen to the devil and not God. So we’re told that from that point on a wife will also be ruled by her husband. This is a picture of how sinning against God affects all relationships. Man was not made to be alone, and woman was given as a helper and an equal, but as a result of what Eve did, the man will exert his rule over not only the animals, but also his wife as well. When we sin against God, even the most intimate of relationships falls apart.
Now you might not like what I just said if your a woman or a wife. In fact, most folks would call what I just said, “ridiculous”. But either God’s word is not valid and trustworthy or it is. Woman is not inferior to man, but is now supposed to be subordinated to her husband in marriage. Later Paul goes to length to remind husbands that they are to love their wives as Jesus loves the church and to give their lives for their wives and Christ gave His for His bride.
But the man, Adam, was punished even more!
God was upset that Adam trusted his wife’s advice, and not Him, his Creator.
So because of the contamination of Adam’s sin, even the SOIL is cursed. It used to be a lot easier to grow things. Now there are thorns, weeds, things that sting, poison, prick and hurt us.
And even Adam’s work is cursed. Up to this point Adam worked, just like God works to this very day, but now God punished Adam by making the work arduous, sweaty, back-breaking, monotonous and essential for survival. And God reminded Adam that he will die—the death sentence has been passed upon him and all his heirs.
God helps them with their new-found modesty by giving them skins to cover their body. Up to that point nudity was neither shameful nor embarrassing—the two were innocent of lust or humiliation. We now suffer with these, and many other vices.
So they were banished from eating the eternal fruit that keep them alive indefinitely—the source is now removed and they can never eat of that tree of never ending life again—it’s gone from the place of this planet. They will now experience hunger, some of their off-spring will starve to death; today we live in a perverted world where every minute, 17 people, mostly children, starve to death—-25,000 people a day. This is not what God intended. Adam and Eve’s sin still echo through eternity. My sins, and yours, also echo—some innocent folks have poorer lives because of our sins even now.
And so we have within our souls and spirit, and yearning to never hunger, get frustrated in our work, be separated from those we love or die—because that’s how He created us in the first place!
God’s reaction to sin is punishing the the snake, Eve and Adam swiftly. But these verses provide some form of comfort even today. We can take heart even though we see great injustice in the world that we live in, these verses remind us that God knows what He’s doing ant justice is coming to North Korea, China, Mr. Putin’s regime, and in Cuba. The events of Genesis 3 did not take Him by surprise—God is still sovereign.
For Adam, God reminds him that death has entered the world. God never intended for us to die originally. Deep down, we know that death is a sign that something is not right with the world, and that’s why we all struggle with it. For the Christian, the Bible provides an account for death and all the pain that we see in the world. What do we think of death? Have we considered that death arose as a result of sin?
The curse of God ends with Adam and Eve being sent out of the garden. This was the only way that would ensure that they would not eat the fruit of the tree of life and live without Him forever. Such an existence would be akin to living in hell. God has to deal with sin and is unable to tolerate sin. He is a God of love, but also a God with a holy and cannot tolerate sin.
Even the earth is not spared, finally, death will come to all creatures. At the beginning, God had a plan for man’s rebellion. And sure enough, thousands of years later, He sent His son from the woman's line, a second Adam to undo the curse on the world. We sing of this at Christmas, in the popular carol Joy to the World:
“No more let sins and sorrows grow Nor thorns infest the ground He comes to make His blessings flow Far as the curse is found!”
Indeed Jesus came to make His blessings flow, far as the curse is found. For us today, this does not mean an easy life, and truthfully, life is far from perfect and paradise. Yet, as Christians, we can continue to look forward to Jesus' return, and when His redemptive work is finally complete! In that day, there will be no more tears, and sadness and death. In that day, then, our most intimate relationship, that with our creator, can be fully restored. And as the hymn goes, then joy unspeakable will flood our souls, and we know that we are truly home.
The old tree of life is long gone. But in Jesus we can receive a new, eternal tree of life. Anyone that eats of Him will NEVER die.