We all feel it. In every place and in every time. A hunger. A longing for a life unmarred and unending. Despite all the attempts to improve human existence over the centuries, we deeply yearn for the unspoiled paradise of humanity’s beginning.
God’s Word explains the cause of this universal longing, even from the earliest chapters of Genesis. The tendency to downplay the reliability and importance of Genesis 1–3 actually strikes at the foundational truths of the gospel itself. More than ever, God’s people need to understand how integrally the gospel is bound up with this passage.
How closely is the Genesis account tied with the gospel’s promise? It’s no accident that, right after God pronounced the death sentence on the human race for Adam’s sin, He revealed the way back for exiles from Eden.
Faith in the Promised Offspring
“And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20). Have you ever noticed that Eve got her new name after God promised a Savior? When Adam saw her the first time, he had called her Isha, “Woman,” because she was taken from Ish, “Man” (Genesis 2:23). He now called her Eve (Chawah), because she was the “mother of all living” (chayah).
Right after God pronounced the death sentence on the human race for Adam’s sin, He revealed the way back.
Eve’s new name follows the promise of Genesis 3:15, where the Creator gave the first sinners hope. God warned them that there would be enmity between the woman’s offspring and that of the serpent (Satan), then He shifted to the singular, “He [a particular offspring] shall bruise [crush] your [the serpent’s] head, and you shall bruise His heel.”
So by naming his wife Eve, Adam apparently expressed faith in God’s Word. Every future child born would underscore God’s promise of life to a dying race of sinners: at some point, one of the woman’s offspring would crush the serpent’s head.
Hebrews 2:14–15 identifies this offspring: “Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”
God’s Covering for Sin’s Shame
“Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21).
God compassionately provided a covering for Adam and Eve’s shame. Their hastily sewn fig-leaf aprons were utterly insufficient. From the beginning, the Creator wanted sinful man to understand that he cannot cover his own sin. Only God can cover it. Centuries later, the prophet Isaiah would describe why our efforts are completely inadequate: “All our righteousnesses are like filthy rags. We all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away” (Isaiah 64:6).
God intentionally used animal skins to point mankind to the gospel’s basic elements. For the first time Adam and Eve witnessed the horror of death. Atoning for sin required blood sacrifice. The whole Old Testament sacrificial system, which has its roots in Genesis 3, pointed to Christ the Lamb of God, crucified for our sins.
Driven from Paradise
“Lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever. . . . He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden” (Genesis 3:22–24).
Their new-found knowledge of good and evil was nothing like Adam and Eve expected.
Living forever under the domination of sin would be unbearable. So God mercifully set a limit on our earthly lives. He barred us from paradise on earth that we might seek it in heaven. He ensured we would remain perpetually unsatisfied apart from Him.
Genesis 3:23–24 says that God drove Adam and Eve out of the garden and set a cherubim guard with a flaming sword to keep them out. Later in the tabernacle and temple, sculptures of cherubim would hover over the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant, where blood was sprinkled to atone for sin. These cherubim were a perpetual reminder that the only way to restored fellowship with God is the blood-sprinkled way.
No one makes it back to Eden just because he wants to get there. The way is barred, and paradise is nowhere to be found. The tree of life grows in the garden city of God, the New Jerusalem (Revelation 22:1–2).
Those who enter that city must be registered in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Eternal life is theirs only if they come to God through Jesus Christ. As He Himself declared, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). We walk among a race of exiles from Eden, strangers to paradise. God calls on each of us to explain where they can find the gate to eternal life—through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
- The Bible is not a random collection of morality tales but a series of true accounts carefully selected to unfold God’s eternal plan of redemption. Explain why the events of Genesis 3 make such a perfect opening to the Bible, with its great gospel theme of salvation through Christ alone.
- What are some common experiences that God uses to remind humans that they were not originally made to live in a fallen, “groaning” world (Romans 8:20–22)? Consider fairy tale endings (“and they lived happily ever after”). Why are they so appealing?
- Genesis 3 contrasts the first sinners’ and God’s methods of covering sin. What do the differences tell us about human nature versus God’s nature?
- In what ways did Jesus Christ fulfill the prophecy of Genesis 3:15 (see Hebrews 2:14–15)?
- In the Old Testament, names were an embodiment of a person’s character. How was the name Woman appropriate for Adam’s wife? How was her new name, Eve, also appropriate?
- Why was it merciful for God to pass a death sentence on mankind and drive Adam and Eve from the garden?
- Read the two passages where Paul refers to Adam in his description of salvation (Romans 5:12–19 and 1 Corinthians 15:21–22, 15:46–49). Why does Adam need to be a historical individual for Christ’s work as the “Last Adam” to be meaningful?