Volume 21, Issue 11 (March 17, 2019)
“Because You Have Done This…”
By Bruce Reeves
In the first eleven chapters of Genesis, the Bible reveals several significant beginnings: the beginning of creation (ch. 1), of humanity (ch. 2), of the family (ch. 3), and of God’s covenant promises (ch. 9–12). Genesis 3 introduces the readers of the story of salvation, to the entrance of sin into the world, and the consequences of the transgression of God’s truth and holiness. Beholding the world today, we often wonder how a good creation can offer so much suffering and heartache, yet this text provides a foundational answer to our questions (Gen. 1:31). Although we understand the error of Calvinistic theology in the teaching of total inherited depravity, and recognize that man’s nature did not change as a result of Adam’s sin, we must also understand that man’s relationship with God did change, and rebellion against the Lord introduced serious consequences into the human experience (Rom. 5:12). Genesis sets the stage for the need for the redemption and restoration of God through Christ (Gen. 3:24; 12:1–3; Gal. 3:14).
Hostility and Conflict
The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you will go and dust you will eat all the days of your life; and I will put enmity between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel” (Gen. 3:14–15).
Even in the context of sin’s defeat of Adam and Eve in the garden we are given beautiful glimpses of the Lord’s glorious purpose and grace in offering reconciliation to humanity. Although Eve had rebelled against the commandment of God, her seed would still be victorious. Just as Jesus is the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham, so He is the fulfillment of this promise as well (Gen. 3:15; 12:1–3). Although there would be perpetual warfare between Satan and humanity, there would be great victory through Jesus Christ (Eph. 6:10–17). Although Satan would cripple mankind, Christ would deliver the fatal blow (Heb. 2:14; 1 Cor. 15:55–57).
The Woman’s Pain and Desire
God’s purpose was for Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply, and to fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28), but now fruitfulness will come with pain (Gen. 3:16). The emphasis of the phrase is on the idea of certainty. The consequence of sin brought pain even to joyful human experiences.
There is some discussion concerning the woman’s desire toward her husband in Genesis 3:16. Several ideas have been put forth in theological literature: among the views regarding the word “desire” are the following: (1) sexual desire; (2) deep attraction for her husband; (3) a woman’s desire to control her husband, etc. The Hebrew term for the word “desire” only occurs three times in the Old Testament. Often Genesis 3:16 is used to support the idea that the term refers to a woman’s desire to control her husband. However, it must be admitted that the term in Song of Solomon 7:10, “I belong to my lover, and his desire is for me” (cf. also 2:16; 6:3) points to the concept of a woman’s longing for her husband. While it is true that all of us at times can struggle with the idea of submission, the context may well be emphasizing that, although a woman has pain in childbirth, she will still have a longing for her husband.
Additionally, the verse in Song of Solomon is easier to interpret in this regard than Genesis 4:7 Seemingly, it would be wise to allow the easier passage to have a more determinate role than the more obscure verse. All of that to say that it is, at the very least worthy, of our consideration that the desire is not a curse to dominate her husband, but it is a blessing of intimacy the woman will continue to have toward her husband, even though sin has entered the world.
In connection with a woman’s pain and desire, we must also see that God’s will is for male leadership in the marital relationship. This is not a curse upon women, but it is the original intent of the Lord for our marriages. The submissive role of women is traceable, not only to the sin in the garden, but also to God’s intent in creation. Paul writes, “A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression” (1 Tim. 2:11–14). It was in the reversal of the respective roles of man and woman that disaster struck. Interestingly, we are told that although Eve was deceived, Adam was not deceived, but went into his sin with eyes wide open. This is not a commendation, but a condemnation of Adam.
Sin Has Led to a Suffering World
In Genesis three, we see a terrible reversal of humanity’s circumstances on the earth as a result of rebellion against God’s command to not eat of the tree (Gen. 3:11, 17). Consequently, man would only eat his bread through toil and work with thorns and thistles (Gen. 3:17–18). Man would have to deal with unproductive conditions until death (Gen. 3:18–19). Many times, people ask why there is suffering, sickness, agony, and death if God made the world? It must always be emphasized that God created a good world (Gen. 1:31), but for humanity to have a loving relationship with its Creator, man had to be endowed with free will. For such to exist, God had to create us with the potential of doing that which is either good or evil. In His permissive will, He allowed evil to exist, but He promises that through Christ, we may live in the hope of the redemption of His sacrifice.
Often Adam-Christ typology is used by Paul to emphasize that Christ in His sacrifice and resurrection offers a super-reversal of the effects of Adam having opened the door for sin and death to enter into the world. In writing to the Corinthians concerning the resurrection gospel, he says, “So also it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living soul.’ The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Cor. 15:45–49). Even in the dark moments of the sin of Adam and Eve, we can see the unfolding of the redemptive and salvific purposes of our Loving Father. Let us praise God for the hope before us and allow that hope to purify us before our King (1 John 3:1–3).