Midrash on Genesis Chapters 1-3 Part 11

Midrash on Genesis Chapter 3:1-7

Part 1

 Introduction

The Garden of Eden was a wonderful place for Adam and Eve to live. Everything they needed had been supplied by God. They were like two innocent young children in their innocence yet both had been endowed with great supernatural intelligence and with the capacity to develop their knowledge and experience of life as they walked together with the Lord God who had created them for fellowship with Himself. Being made in God’s image and likeness they were created to live forever.

In chapters 1&2 of Genesis we see that God had made everything available to them. Their capacity to know Him knew no bounds. Adam walked with the Lord and talked with Him in the cool of the day. You can imagine how much they must have enjoyed each other’s company. While Adam and Eve were both equally created in God’s Image Adam was the one responsible to lead his wife. God created man first and then brought his wife to him. He was to be the head of the home and the one primarily responsible to represent his wife before the Lord. (Genesis 2:21-25) How long they lived in the garden before the fall we are not told. However we do know that the Devil was also on the earth at that time.

In the scriptures we are told that Satan was once called Lucifer and the angel that also dwelt in the Garden of Eden. “You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden the garden of God” (Ezekiel 28:12b-13). He also had the ability to produce music which would have been used to worship God. “The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created” (Ezekiel 28:13a).

Before he fell he was one of God’s three top angels, the other two being Gabriel and Michael. We are also told that Lucifer was on the Holy Mountain of God and that he was blameless in all his ways until wickedness and rebellion was found in him. God had created him with a free will. (Ezekiel 28:14-15).

It would seem that he was in charge of the worship of God and that he had the supernatural ability to produce beautiful music. Also he was the model or example of perfection filled with wisdom and outstanding beauty. His capacity for knowledge and insight would seem to have been almost limitless. As to when he fell into rebellion and sin it must have happened sometime after he was created and before man was created. Satan was already in the Garden. Possibly he had spoken to Eve before as she was quite familiar with his presence. However, we are not specifically told if this was the case. The fact that he targeted God’s creation was because he could not get at God Himself. So he made the object of his wrath the woman God had created. He could not destroy the creator but he could destroy the man and the woman created in God’s image.

There is a story I heard about a young lady who was engaged to a young man and she kept a photo of him close to her because he was far away. However, the young man broke off the engagement and she was so upset that she took his photo and threw it on the ground and stamped on it. She could not get to him so she defiled and defaced his image. This is what Satan did in the garden. “If I can’t get to God I will get to His creation” and that is precisely what he did. He “trampled” as it were on the “image” (the man and woman) that God had created in His own image and likeness.

In relation to Adam and Eve Satan was able to converse with them. Even though he is described as a creature it does not necessarily mean that he was just an animal but a being related to the animals but created in a different class from the animals and from a human being. He stood at the head of all inferior animals for wisdom and understanding. He walked erect, for this is necessarily implied in his punishment -“on your belly you shall go.” He was endowed with the gift of speech, for he was able to converse with Eve. He was also endowed with the gift of reason as we find him reasoning and disputing with Eve. Eve was familiar with his presence. This kind of description would never apply to a literal serpent or snake.

Granted, that God could speak through a Donkey and give it speech, so there is the possibility that Satan could give a literal snake the power of speech. However, this creature did not crawl on its belly in the dust. That came after the fall. Also from the description of Lucifer being in the Eden of God he was obviously not a literal serpent. The “serpent” refers to his character and is used of Satan metaphorically in other places in the Bible. (2 Corinthians 11:3) (Revelation 12:9) (Revelation 12:15) (Revelation 20:2) Whatever form he was in he could walk upright, he could reason and speak and had physical beauty intelligence and wisdom and like the snake having the power to mesmerise its victims before striking them with its poisonous fangs. So then we come to the text itself…

(Vs.1) “Now the serpent was more crafty (subtle) than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.”

 Here we are told that Satan was more “crafty” or “subtle.” When you consider a snake it is a hidden creature that sneaks up on its intended prey and then with its eyes mesmerises its intended victim before striking them. One of the strategies Satan will always use is subtlety. He will suggest this thought, or that thought to the mind making it sound plausible and agreeable to our reason. He will often use a Bible text out of its context to make what he is suggesting believable and palatable to us. He quoted the Bible to the Lord Jesus when He was in the wilderness being tempted by him. Satan’s strategy is to get us to believe that God does not really mean what He says or to misinterpret what God says. His great lie to human beings is that there is no Hell, no lake of fire and accountability to God for sin and rebellion and that man by his own wisdom, works and self – effort can make himself acceptable to God.

He will even go as far as to suggest to fallen minds that he does not exist but is a merely a metaphor for evil in some way without physical substance. He will even have himself pictured as a cartoon character dressed in a red suit with horns, a tail and a pitchfork! This is Satan’s deceptive strategy with fallen man. You know people are not laughing in hell nor will they be laughing in the lake of fire! In the prophet Isaiah we read concerning the lake of fire; “And they (the redeemed) will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against Me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind” (Isaiah 66:24).

We are told in the Bible that the devil can appear as an “angel of light.” He can make something bad look good. When we see him approaching Eve it is a picture of how he tries to spiritually seduce the bride of Christ away from her Husband. He does not care about the unsaved as they belong to him anyway. However, he does care about those who are betrothed to the Lord Jesus Christ by faith. His aim is to get them to be unfaithful to their true husband the Lord Jesus Christ and to “play the harlot” as it were by chasing other “lovers.” These other “lovers” are the things that appeal to the lust of the eyes, to the lust of the flesh and to the pride of life. Most of all he wants to get us as believers to distrust God’s Word and to take our own action without waiting on God. As believers we face many trying, distressing and extremely difficult situations and times of severe testing and periods of darkness. At such time the devil will suggest that God has abandoned us, left us to our own devices and that His word cannot be trusted. Hence, we take things into our own hands and ultimately walk into a world of strife!

We need to always remember that Satan and his demons are working 24/7 to get us to distrust the Word of God. If he can do this then we will play right into his hands and into the hands of his demons. This is why we must constantly put on the whole armour of God especially using the shield of faith and the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God to resist him. James tells us that if we resist the devil and draw near to God that God will draw near to us consequently the devil will flee from us and will be unable to sustain his attack against us.

Remember all of his fiery darts are aimed at the shield of faith! His main weapon of seduction is to get us to doubt the integrity of God’s Word. If he can get us to doubt the promises of God then he will ultimately succeed in seducing us away from our husband the Lord Jesus Christ to whom God had betrothed us to. The same strategy of spiritual seduction he used on Eve he uses on the faithful spouse of the Lord Jesus Christ. Today his main way of doing this is through the false prophets and teachers inundating and infesting the Church. Spiritual seduction is always Satan’s weapon that he uses against the bride of Christ, the faithful Church. (1Timothy 4:1-3) (2 Timothy 3:13) (2 Corinthians 11:13-15) (2 John 7-11) (2 Peter 2:1-2) (2 Peter 3:17) So then the first crafty thing that the devil does is to get us to doubt the integrity of God’s Word the Bible and to not take seriously what it says. Now let’s continue…

…And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?”

The first thing out of the devil’s mouth was to twist the Word of God and make it say something other than what it was intended to say. Of course he used the same tactics on the Lord Jesus when He was in the wilderness during the temptation. Three times Satan quoted the Word of God but misapplied it and twisted its meaning to achieve his diabolical plan. Of course the Lord Jesus answered Him from the Word of God but in in context and the devil left him. So then the devil used the same tactic with Eve. It’s interesting that he went for the woman and not the man.

The devil knew that she was more susceptible to seduction so he went for her. Now we are not told where Adam was or what he was doing. He may have been there witnessing this situation or off elsewhere and coming sometime later. However, he was probably there yet did nothing. He should have stepped in and taken authority over the devil there and then but he did not choose to do this consequently his wife fell into sin and he followed suit. Eve was deceived we are told but the man wasn’t.

The Apostle Paul wrote about this situation when he said… “And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner” (1 Timothy 2:14). However the man bore the greater guilt because he knew better but let his wife take the fruit and listened to her instead of the Word of God. This is the reason that Paul did not permit women to be elders or pastors and to have authority over men in the local fellowship. He did not say that they could not teach at all but that they were not to hold the position of a Pastor or Elder because being the “weaker vessel” they were more susceptible to spiritual seduction. This he stated very clearly when he also said, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner” (1 Timothy 2:12-14). Much more could be said about this issue but this is not the purpose of this study. Yet we have to acknowledge that the devil went for the woman and not the man.

(Vs.2-3) “The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’”

Whether Eve had received this knowledge from the Lord directly or from Adam we are not told, however, she knew what God had said. Now Satan wanted to get her to doubt what God had said through His Word and to think that God was holding something back from her that was her right to have and to enjoy. Of course we are told in scripture that the devil is a liar and the father of lies and the ultimate master of all spiritual deception. (John 8:44) (2 Thessalonians 2:9) The devil always goes for the shield of faith. His fiery darts are always aimed at that shield. Unbelief is the opposite of faith. If Satan can get a believer to doubt God’s Word and to not take seriously what God has said then he will always gain the advantage. Just as faith activates God’s power to operate in our life so unbelief will activate the devil’s power to operate in our lives. Satan is not after the unsaved they are his already. He is after us who have been saved by the blood of Christ and through faith in Christ.

We are the betrothed bride of Christ and the devil is after God’s Women, the faithful Church. The devil’s key weapon is spiritual seduction the goal of which is to get us to doubt the Word of God. In the Christian life there are two situations which can make us vulnerable to spiritual seduction. The first is when we are in a place of spiritual strength. At such times we can think we are strong and that nothing can move us. Spiritual pride will be lurking at the very door of our mind and heart waiting for an opportunity to leap in and do its dirty work. Satan is a “dirty and unscrupulous player.” The other time is when we are extremely weak spiritually and are undergoing severe temptation and trial. At such a time the devil will be waiting at the very door of our minds and hearts to leap in and wreak spiritual havoc.

If the devil can get us to doubt what God has said or to miss understand or misinterpret what God has said then the devil will gain the advantage. What makes the situation worse is when ministers and Church leaders no longer accept Biblical Inerrancy! If the leaders “go off the rails” biblically, what will their congregations do but follow them. Hence today we have postmodernism and existential ideologies replacing Biblical Truth. Gnosticism is rampant in the Church. God’s woman the Church is under attack and once again listening to the voice and the charms of the serpent! Now let’s move on with our text…

(Vs.4) “The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!”

The devil’s tactic was to get her to believe that God did not really mean what He said and that He was hiding something from her that by rights she should have. He has already convinced the unsaved that there is no hell and punishment and that they can be a law unto themselves and that the Ten Commandments are to be relegated to some sort of religious legalism and not relevant anymore. He knows they are hell bound! His task and that of his demons and fallen angels is to get believers to become slack where obeying God’s commands are concerned.

Remember our faith if it is to be genuine must produce works accompanying that faith we confess. Faith without works is dead, being alone. The fig tree that produces only leaves but no fruit is like a person’s life that produces good works but does not produce the fruit of the Spirit. Works apart from faith are dead works and will never justify a man or a woman before God.

One of the devil’s subtle tricks is to get us as believers to live a standard of life below the standard of life required of a believer in the New Testament. Biblical faith must be accompanied by obedience. (Romans 1:5) The devil is the tempter and the author of all sin and rebellion and another master plan he uses is to let us think that we can sin and get away with it, hence our text says, “You surely will not die!” The Bible says many things about thinking we can sin and get away with it. King David was a prime example when he thought he would get away with adultery and murder. Or consider Achan who kept hidden those things devoted to destruction. Or in the case with King Saul sparing evil Agag and keeping the best of the sheep and cattle.

Enticement to sin with the idea that we can do it and get away with it is in itself the deception the devil uses most on us as believers. The New Testament gives us many warnings about falling away. In every case the person who commits apostasy at some point in their life believed the devil’s lie when he whispered to them, “You surely will not die…“go ahead and do it.” (Matthew 24:9-13) (Romans 8:12-14) (Galatians 6:7-9) (Philippians 3:18-19) (Hebrews 6:4-8) (Hebrews 10:26-31) (2 John 7-11) No one can know the exact point in time where a backslider actually gets to the point where they can no longer repent.

This is why we should not play around with sin. As scripture says, “Whoever is born of God will not continue to commit sin.” All of us will be tempted and that severely and sometimes we will commit an individual act of sin, however, wilful and habitual continuous sin and persistence in doing it is a sure sign that we have not as yet been born of the Spirit. As believers in the Lord Jesus we all have a weak spot, a potential ‘chink in the armour’ of our flesh as it were and are vulnerable to attack in that area, however, if we are truly born again we will be looking for a way to commit sin and get away with it but looking for a way to get rid of it.

One thing my old and dearest friend Alex Hill used to say to me well over 40 years ago now, when I was a very young and single Bible College student struggling with the lusts and the temptations of the flesh, “Son always keep short accounts with God.” I have never forgotten that word of advice. When you become conscious of sin then run to the Lord Jesus and not from Him. Remember that God has opened for us “a fountain for uncleanliness and sin” namely the blood of Jesus Christ which cleanses from all and every sin. There is no more powerful cleaning agent available for the stain of sin than the blood of Christ that is able to get right down deep on the inside of us and cleanse away the deepest and darkest stain. Make much of the blood of Christ in your life! Walk moment by moment in obedience to the light of God’s Word and you will be continuously cleansed and kept from sin. (1 John 1:7) Now let’s move on…

(Vs.5) “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Now evil was present in the garden in the person of the serpent Satan and he being a liar and the father of all lies he implied that God was not treating her and Adam fairly and that there was an area of knowledge and experience He was withholding from them. Now I am sure that Adam and Eve would have come to understand the difference between good and evil when God was ready to reveal that to them. They would have known good and evil existed because God had told them not to eat from that tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They were to know about its existence but not to experiment with it.

Take the marriage union for an example. A young man or woman about to be married might read about the intimacy they will experience once they have married. However, when they are married and have sexual intercourse then they know by experience what they already knew in theory as it were. So in the case of Adam and Eve, they would have known that evil existed yet were told not to experience it. However, that is what they did and the whole world has suffered ever since. Furthermore, Satan suggested that their “eyes would be opened” that they would really see what God was hiding from them and that they would “be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Somehow Satan had convinced Eve that they needed to experience for themselves the power of having independent knowledge of good and evil as God Himself had. They could in fact be like God and did not need Him any longer. They could be masters of their own destiny by using and experiencing the fascinating power in knowing both good and evil. Of course Satan knew that Adam and Eve would have no power to resist sin and rebellion.

Through them Satan’s master plan and strategy was to gain access to the human race to control them and stamp to his mark upon all mankind. Indeed the scripture says, “The whole world lies in the power of the wicked one.” While he has authority over the unsaved he is able to infuse into their minds and hearts all kinds of evil lusts and desires that are conspicuous in fallen mankind today. However, we also need to keep in mind that the scripture also says that, “The earth and the fullness of it belongs to the Lord.” In other words even though Satan has control over the minds and hearts of the unsaved he is still subject to the Will and purposes of God in the world. While God wants us to know the difference between good and evil from His perspective it does not mean that we have a licence to experiment with sin. Indeed the scripture says, “The wages of sin is death,” Again it is written, “There is a way which seems right to a man but the end of is destruction.”

So then, Satan suggested that Adam and Eve could be just like God Himself and that by eating the fruit they could be as God and have just as much wisdom and knowledge as God Himself had and that with that Knowledge and wisdom live independently from God. This is precisely what people are doing today. This is at the heart of sin. Rebellion against God and His law summed up in the 10 commandments produce the sins of the flesh such as sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies and the like. Adam and Eve then were to know about evil existing but not to partake of it. Never the less the temptation to be masters of their own destiny overcame them and they fell into the devil’s trap. They fell for the three main sins that control fallen man.

(Vs’.6)  “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.”

The devil used three things to entice Adam and Eve to sin. Firstly, he used the lust of the flesh. We read, “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food.” Secondly, he used the lust of the eyes.  “And that it was a delight to the eyes.” Thirdly, he used the pride of life. “And that the tree was desirable to make one wise.” These are the three sins that will lead into all other sins. These three sins are the ones we are warned about in the first letter of John. (1 John 2:16)

There is “the lust of the flesh” that appeals to the fleshly lusts of our physical senses and bodily appetites. “If it feels good then it must be good.”  “If it tastes good then it must be good.” “If I feel like doing it then I will go ahead and do it.” Most people in the world operate like this. They move from one sin to another, from one fleshly gratification to another and they cannot help themselves. This was the first temptation the devil used with the Lord Jesus in the wilderness temptation.

Then there is “the lust of the eyes” i.e., the strong desire for things and possessions. It is the desire to have something better than your neighbour has and to achieve one’s personal ambitions no matter the cost to others and the strong desire for money, fame and fortune. This was the second temptation the devil used with the Lord Jesus in the wilderness temptation.

Then there is “the Pride of life.” This is the ambition to receive honour and praise from men. To have respect and to have people almost worshipping the ground you walk on. It is to court the favour of others and to be seen with the great and the noble by this world’s standards. To be esteemed and recognised for personal achievements. To be treated like a god! This was the third temptation the devil used with the Lord Jesus in the wilderness temptation.

These are the three deadly sins that lead people into all and every other kind of sin and rebellious act. At the core of all sin and rebellion is the sin of pride. This was the devil’s downfall and the downfall of all who persist in rebellion against God their creator. This was the temptation the devil used with the Lord Jesus in the wilderness temptation. In all three cases of the Lord’s temptation Satan miss quoted the Bible. In all three replies to Him the Lord Jesus used the Bible in its proper context.

 (Vs.7) “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.”

I read something many years ago in ancient times how a king poisoned another rival king. He invited his rival to a great feast and at the feast presented his rival with a cup of beautiful sparkling sweet wine in a supposed act of friendship. The wine was given to his rival in a beautiful gold cup. It looked so good and tasted delicious. The man drank from the cup and it was sweet to his taste so much so that he drained the whole cup. Once he had consumed all the wine he saw at the very bottom of the cup a gold image of serpent fangs. Then he knew he had been given poison, his eyes were opened as it were but it was too late and he died. So it is with all and every sin. It may taste good to the taste buds of our fleshly desires and appetites but in the end it will surely kill us spiritually as the poison of a deadly snake will kill us physically. The Bible says that “the pleasure of sin lasts only for a season” but its end is hell and ultimately the lake of fire for ever!

Adam and Eve saw their nakedness before God. Previously before they fell into sin they were both naked and were not ashamed of it. Now they saw their nakedness and tried to cover it up with fig leaves.

Firstly, “the eyes of both of them were opened.” They saw what they had never seen before, that they were stripped of their excellence; that they had lost their innocence and that they had fallen into a state of extreme poverty or destitution and danger.

Secondly, “and they knew that they were naked.”  They saw their vulnerability and helplessness. Their judgement and discernment had become clouded and confused, the light of God’s knowledge and wisdom had gone from their hearts and their wisdom now sensual, earthly and devilish. Their minds were now filled with confusion, disorder and with every evil work. Their spirits were now darkened and devoid of the knowledge and wisdom of God.  Their bodies were no longer immortal but now subject to sickness, disease ageing and death. As scripture says; “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned”(Romans 5:12). So it is with the human race. Every one of us as Adam’s descendants are born into the world enslaved to sin and under the wrath of God. (Psalm 51:5) (John 3:18)

Thirdly we read; “and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.”  They tried to hide their shame and guilt and covered their loins. It may well be that in some way there had been a sin of a sexual nature between Adam and Eve and Satan because they covered their private parts, however, we are not told what their specific act was other than having it described as eating forbidden fruit. Here we will leave this line of thinking. In passing it is interesting how the sexual sin seems to be the main downfall of mankind more than any other sin. Vulnerability in this area seems to be a very strong and central sin when you look at the advertising and the media today saturated with sexual content. In fact down through history this sin of sexual promiscuity has waylaid many a prophet, a priest and a king not to mention how many high and low have fallen through this sin. All sin of course can be traced back to the first sin of Adam and Eve.

When we see them covering their nakedness we see a metaphor for all of us that try to hide our true sinful condition before God and try to produce the excuse of good works or morality to cover up our sin. Leaves are a metaphor for works. However, scripture says, ”For it is by grace (God’s unmerited favour) you have been saved, through faith and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God and not by works, so that no one boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). True works acceptable to God are those that are produced from faith in the heart otherwise they are dead works as far as justifying us before a righteous and holy God. (James 2:17). We can never be saved by trying to keep God’s Commandments as we cannot keep them. They are right and perfect and just in every way but convict us of our sin. God’s Law was never intended by God as the means to justify us before Him. The law shows us our sin and leads us to look to the Lord Jesus alone and by faith in Him to make us right with God. (Romans 3:19-20) (Romans 5:1)

So then we see that man is a fallen creature, under the power of sin and sentence of death, stripped of all genuine Godliness, righteousness and holiness and void of all true spiritual life and enlightenment. We see fallen man a violator of God’s perfect commandments, totally self-willed and with an inbuilt disposition and bent towards sin and rebellion against God. Completely cut off from a relationship with and to God his creator and bound for hell and the lake of fire for all eternity. Yet God has stepped in to the world of mankind He created to remedy the situation through the Lord Jesus Christ whose holiness, righteousness and redemption can transform a lost sinner into a saint of God. One who can change a person from being hell bound into a person heaven bound.

God Himself took the initiative to provide Adam and Eve with the garment of salvation and to do it He had to shed the blood of an innocent animal because God made Adam and Eve garments with the hide of an animal and with that covering covered their nakedness before Him. In the next study we will see God’s judgement upon Satan and God’s solution to the problem of sin that first entered the human race through Adam and Eve our first parents.

Go to Study 12