We (and God) are still dealing with the results of the events that occurred in the garden that day . While Adam and Eve did die spiritually, in his omniscience God knew exactly what was going to happen and he had a plan ready to deal with the situation.
Gen 3:14-15 "And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: 15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." Notice God first addresses the serpent - the subtle deceiver, perhaps because he was the first to sin long before the creation of man.
God says, "Because thou hast done this..." Scientifically this would be called the law of cause and effect. Everything that happens has a cause, and sin causes judgment.
"Thou art cursed..." We will see in the next few verses that while God definitely curses Satan, he does not directly curse man because God planned to redeem man. There is no salvation for Satan.
"Thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field." We learn here that a curse came upon cattle (large quadropeds) and beasts of the fields (all living things). Up until this point there were no savage animals. That changed at the fall and it is a curse, and Satan is cursed above all.
"Upon thy belly shalt thou go..." Some people believe that before this snakes could walk, but I don’t think so. God is addressing Satan - not a snake. We hear references to someone being ‘upright’ - this excludes Satan: he is on his belly in a position of subservience.
"And dust shalt thou eat..." Snakes do not eat dust. They eat mice and small animals. Again, God is addressing Satan, not a snake. Satan eats dust, or dirt, which has no life, does not grow, cannot satisfy hunger, has no nutrients of its own capable of sustaining life and which would cause thirst. Satan eats death.
"All the days of thy life." Satan and his followers have a specific time frame in which to operate. Matt 8:28-29 says, "And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?" These devils know they have a limited time in which to operate. Rev. 12:12 says, "Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! For the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time." When the events of Rev. 12 occur Satan will be put on notice that the days of his life are coming to an end. His days of eating dust, of eating anything at all, will soon be finished.
"And I will put enmity between thee and the woman..." God is not speaking here of the natural enmity between women and snakes: men are no more fond of snakes than are women. Neither is God speaking of enmity between Satan and Eve only, because if so, it would have ended when Eve died. In my opinion, God has something a little broader in mind here than a specific, individual woman. I think he speaking of all mankind in general, but Israel in particular. As illustrated by what was said previously regarding the bride of Christ, humans of both sexes may be represented as a woman. The bride of Christ is a body made up of believers, both male and female. Israel is referred to as God’s wife (Hos. 2:16) and is spoken of as laboring and giving birth (Rev. 12:1-2 - Israel Gen. 37:9-10).
There is enmity between Satan and humans. Most humans are not aware of it, but that does not change the facts. There is particularly enmity between Satan and Israel, or the Jewish people. Down through time he has tried to exterminate Israel because they remain God’s chosen people. God has made certain promises to Israel and those promises stand to this day. If those promises are negated, God stops being God and Satan wins, which is why Satan has always tried to exterminate the Jews. The most recent historical attempt was Hitler’s holocaust. What Satan intended for evil, God used for good. The holocaust was the catalyst that drove the Jews to reestablish their home land in Israel and it was the thing that began the countdown to the coming of the Lord.
"And between thy seed and her seed." Satan has seed? Yes he does. Jesus said in John 8:44 "Ye are of your father the devil..." In Matt. 13:18-23, 37-43 Jesus stated that Satan’s seed, or children, are the unsaved. Jesus himself is the seed of woman.
"It shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." In which location is it worse to get a bruise or suffer damage? It would have to be the head because, if bruised hard enough, it can result in a closed head injury and impact the person’s thinking processes. A heel bruise is painful but does not stop the person from carrying on whatever activity he is involved in. Jesus suffered a literal bruising of the heel. In a crucifixion, death does not result from blood loss or nail wounds, it results from suffocation. In order for the person to breath he must continually push his body upward with his feet, which is why the Romans would break the victim's legs: to prevent him from raising his body which would allow him to expand his lungs. Jesus was continually pushing upward with his feet as he hung on the cross, and His heel was bruised from this activity. But in the spirit, his feet were not standing on a piece of wood, they were on Satan’s head. Scripture says, 1 Cor 2:7-8 "But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory."
Gen 3:16 "Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee." Notice God tells Eve he "will greatly multiply thy sorrow." The word ‘sorrow’ is defined as worrisomeness, labor or pain. It is not strictly a reference to childbirth because that is found in the next phrase. This is speaking of life in general. Women are good worriers, and God has multiplied it, probably to cause us to fully consider the result of our actions. In the same way, Israel has more to worry about than a Gentile because Satan is actively trying to annihilate them as a race.
"And thy conception." Now we get to childbirth. The word ‘conception’ refers to pregnancy in general. It is a lengthy process and the further it progresses the more wearisome it becomes. When the nine months are finished a woman is willing to go through anything to end the pregnancy. And its a good thing - because she is going to go through the hardest work and most labor of her life. God decreed it in Gen. 3:16.
Childbirth is a reminder that God created her body and that which he created will take control of itself and birth a child. There comes a time when a child WILL be born: no one has ever remained pregnant for her entire life. But what about Israel? The woman in Rev. 12 IS Israel and today she is very pregnant. She is about to enter labor to bring forth a child: her Messiah. The Bible analogies to Israel in the end times are to a VERY pregnant woman who is about to give birth, and she will bring him forth in sorrow, painful toil - a picture of the tribulation.
"And thy desire shall be to thy husband..." Desire means longing after. Most women want a husband. We were created to need a protector, defender, provider, and leader. Even though back in vs. 2-6 the family order which God had ordained was changed, God here reinstates it. Israel’s husband is God and she is to long after him.
"And he shall rule over thee." God has ordained that the husband is the head, the leader, of the family, but look who he says it to: the wife. There’s an important lesson here: husbands are not to subject or conquer their wives, wives are to submit to their husbands. The proper order in the family is established through willingness, not force. The same concept is found in Eph. 5:22. While there may be times or different areas where the husband delegates authority to the wife, she is still submitting to his leadership when she takes it. The husband has the greater authority, but along with that comes greater responsibility, and they are not the same thing. In the same way, God rules over Israel. He has kept them as a people down through the ages and he is directly involved in what happens to them individually and as a people.
There are two major differences between God’s address to Eve and his addresses to Satan and Adam: the word ‘because’ is missing, and there is no mention of a curse. ‘Because’ is missing because, even though there would be an effect caused by her action, Eve took her action in ignorance. Ignorance is not an excuse, but neither is it judged as harshly. While the woman’s sorrow and pregnancy were multiplied, they were not a curse, they are simply multiplied above what they would have been without the fall. Childbirth still would have occurred in the same way, but it would not have been painful. Another little thing: the pain of childbirth has an end and a blessing. John 16:21 says, "A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world." Been there, done that. This statement made by Jesus is absolutely true, and if this is so concerning a human childbirth, how much more true will it be regarding the blessing of Israel after she has corporately received her Messiah?
Gen 3:17-19 "And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."
"And unto Adam he said..." Something different has just happened. In vs. 14 God addressed ‘the serpent’ and in vs. 16 he addressed ‘the woman.’ Here God addresses Adam: he calls him by name. There is no doubt whatsoever about whom God is speaking to: Adam first, then, because the result continues, all of mankind.
"Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife..." Exactly what did Adam hear Eve say and who was she addressing? She never said anything to Adam in chapter 3, she has a conversation with Satan. What Adam heard her speak forth was a corruption of the word of God that he had been responsible to teach her. Adam, who had received the Word in purity from God’s own mouth, listened to and acted on this corruption of what Eve said. Eve was not found guilty because she had not been present when the Word was spoken and there was no Bible recording it for her to check. Today we do not have this same defense: we have a Bible, and when we speak forth, give our husbands counsel from God’s Word, they need to listen. Adam was totally at fault.
"And hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded THEE saying, THOU shalt not eat of it..." God did not make these same statements to Eve, he commanded Adam not to eat of the tree. According to Rom. 5 it was Adam who caused the fall. What would have happened if Eve ate the fruit but Adam didn’t? Absolutely nothing! As I stated previously, Adam could have forgiven Eve and life would have gone right on. This is not an indictment of male people in general. Remember, I Cor. 15 refers to the first Adam and the last Adam. Because of an action that he took, we today inherit our sin nature from our Father, the first Adam. But we can live above that sin nature because of an action taken by the last Adam.
Still, we all sin, but this does not mean the fall occurs all over again. It means that we are to go to Jesus, confess what we did, he forgives us, and life goes on with our salvation intact. The first Adam could have done the very same thing, but he didn’t: he sinned - just as God knew he would. The last Adam didn’t sin: he stood up to the temptation and overcame it - just as God knew he would. I believe Adam could have forgiven Eve’s sin without blood having been shed. If he himself, who held ultimate responsibility, had not sinned, there would have been no need for blood to be shed.
God knew every detail of the entire incident ahead of time, which is why Jesus is referred to as ‘the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.’ God knew exactly what was going to happen before it did happen and he had a plan in place to deal with the situation, a plan that would be fair, to everybody concerned, and that would demonstrate his righteousness. Because the fall of all humanity was caused by one specific individual, the salvation of all who would receive it could be righteously, legally, fairly be caused by one individual. On judgment day no one, including Satan himself, will have an argument against God and how he has chosen to redeem man.
"Cursed is the ground for thy sake..." Notice it is the ground, not Adam, that is cursed in this verse. In this verse God did not place a curse on mankind at all. Later there would be a curse incurred as a result of breaking the law but the curse is called ‘the curse of the law’ not ‘the curse of man.’ Further, Christ has redeemed us from that curse (Gal. 3). In this verse the ground is cursed.
"In sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life..." Again, sorrow means worrisomeness, labor or pain: as of this point hard labor would be required to meet our daily needs. Worry would enter the picture: how am I going to provide for my family today? Will there be enough rain this year to grow a sufficient crop? Will the car stay running until I can find what’s wrong and fix it? Will my children serve God or will they serve the other one?
"Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee..." Until this point there were no thorns or thistles. The plant world did not need to be tamed: it simply produced. Consider the difference between thorns and thistles and between leaves: thorns pierce the skin - they hurt; thorns did not exist until the fall - they are not part of "and God saw that it was good"; thorns are a very powerful symbol of what happened at the fall. When Jesus went to the cross he wore on his head the symbol of the fall: He was crowned with the curse. The crown that was intended as a mockery was a down payment or deposit guaranteeing a return to the garden.
Rom 8:19-22 says, "For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. 20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now." Rev. 5:13 records praise in heaven because Jesus takes the book, and animals join in this praise because they are soon going to be delivered according to Rom. 8 and they know it.
"And thou shalt eat the herb of the field." From that time, man would have to prepare the ground, plant, weed, harvest in order to eat thus in order to live.
"In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread..." Existence would become hard labor, and there is wisdom in this on God’s part because a person who is working hard does not have too much extra time or energy to get involved in sin. We could always exercise certain options to have an easier life. We could be born independently wealthy, but I don’t think any of have a choice in that decision. We could always enter a life of crime and spend our days in jail. No thanks. Or, we could just refuse to work and starve to death. Not a good idea.
It’s far better to go with the existing program: "Six days shalt thou work..." Work does not have to be unpleasant. We can start by choosing to work at something we enjoy, and that takes a lot of the pain out of it. We can do that job as unto the Lord: choosing to see ourselves as working for him rather than the boss. Scripture says to do ALL things as unto the Lord, and that would include the jobs we go to every day. If we serve God by simply doing our jobs to the very best of our ability, then, whether we are aware of it or not, we are being a witness to our bosses and coworkers by demonstrating a life that is at peace with God and ourselves.
"Till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return." Here is the prophecy that man would eventually experience physical death. Not everyone has died: up till our time two men have not died but they will in the future. Those Christians who are alive at the rapture will not die. Other than these exceptions, all other humans up until this time have died.
Later in scripture God would explain to man that he wouldn’t stay dead: there is a resurrection coming. I Cor. 15 26 identifies death as an enemy that Jesus will conquer, but even so, it also demonstrates grace. The Christian who dies is finished with sin: he no longer has to stand guard every moment of every day, and this is a blessing. He is released from his body to go to heaven, living there in the presence of God: this is a blessing. Even so the dead in Christ are incomplete without their bodies, but God has promised that they would not remain in that state forever. In a moment of time so small it cannot be measured, God is going to resurrect the physical body of every righteous person who has ever lived. He is literally going to reform dust particles into living bodies.
Vs. 20 "And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living." The word ‘Eve’ is Chavah in Hebrew, and it means lifegiver. Scripture does not state whether or not Adam and Eve had already had any children at this point. It is commonly believed that Cain (chapter 4:1) was their first child. It is certain that they had more than the three children named because all three of them were males and women are required for reproduction. The idea that there were other people existing on earth other than those mentioned must be rejected because Eve was the mother of all living.
Verse 21 says, "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them." Notice that God himself made these coats, and they were made out of skins. Don’t tell the animal rights activists, but the first approved clothing was fur. Where did God get the skins? At least one animal died at the hand of God. Blood was shed - at the hand of God. Scripture does not tell us what kind of animal died, but if I were to take a guess, I would guess a lamb.
Notice that it was coats that God made, not aprons. While Adam and Eve made aprons, apparently God thought that more of the human body should be covered. Hugh Hefner would disagree, but apparently God thought the parts of the human body that cause lust should be covered. God hasn’t changed his mind.
Gen 3:22-24 "And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life."
"The man is become as one of us..." Satan’s promise to Eve is a reality: man has become AS God. Man had taken upon himself the mantle of divinity: self rule. Man had fallen. Rather than leaving Adam to live forever in that ruined state, God demonstrates grace in driving them out of the garden to prevent them from eating from the tree of life. He placed "Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life." This sounds like something worthy of Las Vegas. It’s interesting that scripture doesn’t tell us the location of the garden. Based on the rivers mentioned, I would guess it was somewhere in that area called today the Fertile Crescent: Iraq.
Scripture does not tell us if the tree of life still there. It is the tree of life: it must exist someplace. Rev. 22:2 states that there is a tree of life in heaven. I think this may be the same tree as was in the garden, but scripture does not so state.
Notice though that God placed the cherubims and flaming sword "to keep the way of the tree of life." Based on the context of the statement, most people would assume that this was done to keep man away from the tree, and that’s probably correct. But there may be more involved here. I know that there was a literal tree of life in the garden of Eden, and that there is a literal tree of life in heaven. But I think there was also a tree of life that became accessible to man at some point in between, and to me, that tree of life is the cross. That is where the price was paid that allows all men to choose life eternal.
Gen. 3:24 says the Cherubims and sword were placed "to keep the way of the tree of life." Maybe not so much to guard it from man, but to guard the path. Maybe this was done to ensure that Satan and his followers would not be able to stop the plan of God which would come to fruition in the fullness of time. In short, not to keep man away from the tree of life forever, but to ensure that that path would be open to man when the proper time came.