DIG: How dramatically did things change for Adam and Eve? God had promised that if Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they would surely die (2:17). In what way did they die? When did they die? Could Elohim have stopped them from sinning? Why didn’t He stop them?
REFLECT: When do you feel most naked before God? How does this help you understand the reactions of Adam and Eve? Where is the serpent present in your life today, seemingly alive and well? Realization of sin will drive you far from God or right into His arms. When we part ways with Elohim, where do we end up?
So what was it like, the morning after the great crash? After living in the Garden, in harmony with Adam, after enjoying open access to God, what was it like to awaken in the wilderness knowing they could never go back again? How very different was it from the first time Eve opened her eyes and saw her jubilant husband. No one was overjoyed now. Tension and distance had come between them. How long would it be before Adam’s anger subsided – the anger that pointed the finger of blame at her?
The results of the Fall were immediate and devastating. The deceiver had promised that their eyes would be opened, and they would be like God, knowing good and evil (3:5). As usual with Satan, the results were a mixture of half-truths and lies. Their eyes were opened, but in a way they never imagined. Instead of knowing good and evil, they realized they were naked (3:7a). This was hardly the knowledge they bargained for, it was nothing like God’s. It was the opposite. What had been a sign of a healthy relationship in 2:25 now became a sign of shame. In fact, in the Hebrew text, the word for nakedis written differently to indicate that change. In 2:25, naked is written arumim, but here it is written eirumim. It means the same thing; however, it is written differently pointing to a different relationship. Sin had destroyed their innocence.
Their actions delivered what Elohim had promised: death! The freedom and joy they once relished just disappeared. Their hearts turned cold toward God. Naked and filled with shame, they frantically stitched fig leaves together to cover themselves. Now they were polluted. The result was that they were uncomfortable with each other.
So they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves (3:7b). One rabbinical view was that the fig tree was the forbidden fruit. The fig tree produces the largest leaves in the area of Mesopotamia. The word for coverings means a girdle used as part of a woman’s dress (Isaiah 3:24), or the belt of a warrior (Second Samuel 16:11; First Kings 2:5; Second Kings 3:21). They covered themselves in their nakedness. The very source of human life that they were covering had been contaminated by sin, and sin will now be transmitted through birth. King David would say: Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me (Psalm 51:5).
It was not God’s original intention for Adam and Eve to die, but they had free will, and privilege always creates responsibility. The one who is given free will must be given a test to determine whether he or she will obey the LORD or not. For when you eat it you will surely die (2:17b). Death means separation, and Adam was separated from God spiritually the very instant that he ate.60 They had succeeded in hiding their nakedness from each other, but not from Elohim.
Rabbi Sha’ul argues in Romans 5:12 that death (physical death and spiritual death) is the consequence of sin. He said: 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 through Adam. That’s bad news, but the good news is that many more will receive God’s great gifts of grace and righteousness through the life of one man, Jesus Christ (Romans 5:17). Just like Adam and Eve, we can never do anything to pay for our sin, or cover our sin nature. Only God can provide a suitable covering for our sin, and it would take the shedding of blood (as we will see later in this chapter), without which there is no forgiveness of sin (Hebrews 9:22).
Their separation from the LORD showed that they had died spiritually. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of God as He was walking in the Garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from Him among the trees of the garden (3:8). From the instant they had rebelled against Elohim, Adam and Eve were aware of their sin. Something had gone terribly wrong in the Garden. They were feeling guilt and shame. When we become aware of our sin, it will either drive us far from God or into His arms. Adam and Eve hid from the God because the fellowship they once had with Him was no longer possible. They now feared the very thing they had previously delighted in the most, His presence Those involved in sin without repentance always despise His presence, because they know they cannot stand in the face of such holiness.61 But wisdom never comes to us when we hide from God. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline (Proverbs 1:7).
How do we search for independence from God today? There was a time when people thought that there was no more of a tragic day in history than the one described here.But in our society, self-sufficiency has become like God. Today people would say that Adam and Eve did a good thing in marching to the beat of their own drum, and their independence was worth the cost. Personal freedom is valued above all else and if this account were written today, Adam, and especially Eve, would be heroes. But when we reject dependence on Elohim we choose a far more costly dependency. We become dependent on our own resources and ourselves. We exchange what we think is self-rule, for a different set of chains.
All the modern ideologies that have separated us from God have proven to be bankrupt. We have achieved what modern society has presented as life’s greatest purpose: individual self-sufficiency, the right to do what one chooses. Yet this has not produced freedom. Instead, it has led to loss of independence, gang shootings, people huddling in gated communities for protection, and the abuse of our children. We have discovered that we cannot live in the chaos that inevitably results when we hide from God.62 When we choose to become our own god, we do not gain freedom, we lose it.