The Gospel Hope of Adam

The third chapter of Genesis is arguably one of the most important, most critical, and perhaps even most misunderstood chapter in the Scriptures. I say this without trying to be overly dramatic in my presentation of it’s significance, however, it is in this chapter we find the intricate details of Adam’s (and Eve’s) fall into sin, plunging all of mankind into both the guilt and pollution of his original sin. Furthermore, in Genesis 3, we also have the promised coming of a Seed, from the woman, who would crush the head of the serpent who in turn would bruise the heel of the Seed. As the Seed motif progresses throughout Scripture, we find it’s ultimate fulfillment in the person of Jesus Christ. Therefore, without this third chapter of Genesis, we have no real understanding of humanity’s great malady, no clarity of our need for Christ – neither His incarnation, death, or resurrection, nor the initial promise of His coming. As the third chapter of Genesis unfolds, we find the temptation of Eve by the serpent, the passivity of Adam, the partaking of the forbidden fruit by the couple, and the subsequent judgment by God on all of the parties involved. However, in the midst of the pronouncement of these judgments, in what we would expect to be all bad news for breaking the commandment of God, we find a glimmer of hope. In the midst of judgment, God is merciful. In the midst of judgment we find salvation; salvation that finds its ultimate fulfillment in the person and work of Jesus Christ. As unexpected as the presence of mercy in the midst of judgment might be, equally unexpected is that the statement of mercy, the promise of a coming Seed, is given in the midst of the curse levied against the serpent. One might expect the promise of a seed to be given as a merciful statement to Eve in the midst of the language of painful conception and childbearing, but that is not what we find.
14 The Lord God said to the serpent,
“Because you have done this,
    cursed are you above all livestock
    and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go,
    and dust you shall eat
    all the days of your life.
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
    and you shall bruise his heel.”

Genesis 3:14-15
Following the progression of blame shifting, from Adam, to Eve, to the serpent, God levies His assignment of judgment in the reverse order, beginning with the serpent and ending with Adam. In each of these pronouncements there is a link between the guilty parties. In the above pronouncement of the serpent’s curse, we find verse 15 highlighting the link between the serpent and the woman, “I will put enmity between you and the woman”. Because this enmity, or mutual hatred, was not present during their initial interaction, the serpent was able to “cozy” up to the woman as it were. Her discernment to realize the serpent as a potential threat was lacking as well. With this newfound hatred on behalf of both parties, God, in a sense, is beginning to reverse the effects of the curse.
In the second half of the sentence of judgment related to the serpent and the woman, we find that this enmity does not end with them, but extends to their seed, “…and between your offspring (seed) and her offspring (seed).” This is simply shocking. Not so much in that there will be ongoing enmity, strife, or hatred between the two parties and their offspring, but that the woman will not immediately die, but will instead bear children. Here, in the midst of violating God’s command, a command that was followed with a promise of “in that day that you eat of it you shall surely die”, there is hope. Hope not only of her own life, but the extension of her life through the birth of children. This point of emphasis that their would be offspring, that the woman would bear children, provides the link to the pronouncement of judgment on her, which is forthcoming. Following this statement concerning the seed is the familiar, “he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” This lets us know that the would be seed from the woman, initially in the plural, now contains an individual that would vindicate and redeem the woman by securing victory over the serpent (a crushed head), however at the cost of personal injury (a bruised heel). From her seed, corporately, would come a Seed, individually, that would destroy the source of her deception. As the sentencing of judgment moves to the woman, we are already prepared for the expectation that she would have children, and not just any children but a redeeming Seed. That glimmer of hope is muted with the accompanying judgment that conception and childbearing would be pain-filled. This likely extends beyond physical pain to include the wide range of emotions, from fear and anxiety over whether the woman (or women) can get pregnant, fear and anxiety throughout the entire pregnancy concerning baby health, etc, to the extension of fears and anxieties once the baby is born. The entire process, from the cradle to the grave as it were, would be pain filled.
16 To the woman he said,
“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
    in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be contrary to[*] your husband,
    but he shall rule over you.” Genesis 3:16; * shall be toward
The latter phrase of the verse supports and refines the initial statement of judgment by providing the link between the woman and her husband. The desire mentioned here is a point of controversy that dominates Christian discussion to this day. Without opening up that controversy here, one wonders the direction the conversation might go if desire had been translated “longing” which is in the same semantic domain. Moving quickly to the statement of judgment on Adam, we ought simply to note that the work of his hands, once a proud calling of service in the garden-temple of God is now to be filled with frustration and obstacles. These frustrations come through the land that is now cursed. There would now be disunity rather than harmony between the same ground, adamah, from which man, adam, had come. Harmony would one day return, but only through death as man returned to the ground from which he came. All of the statements of judgment, through which we have seen mercy, salvation, and the promise hope, prepares for an expression of faith in these promises from God, from a rather unexpected source through a rather striking action.
The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. Genesis 3:20
Initial readings of this foundational chapter in Genesis might leave us glossing over the significance of this verse. Generally speaking, the connection is often made that as Adam exercised authority through the naming of the animals, he continues this authority through the naming of his wife, now Eve. That may be well and good, but the significance of this verse is far more profound. This summary statement of the events of the fall and subsequent judgment is woven with the expression of Adam’s faith through giving his wife the name of Eve, which we see means the mother of all the living. Adam, who had been passively standing by his wife during the deception from the serpent and passive in listening to the voice of his wife, now moves to action. The naming of his wife both resumes his original function as a king granted to him in the beginning as well as belief in the promise of God stated clearly in Genesis 3:15.
The expression of Adam’s faith in the promises of God is nothing less than hope in the Gospel of God, which we know is fulfilled through His Son Jesus Christ. It is no surprise then that upon this exercise of faith, God provides a sacrifice for Adam and his wife. As Adam’s faith was a future looking faith that his wife, Eve, would indeed give birth to the Promised Seed, indeed God’s sacrifice of an animal, through which He clothed the couple, was a future looking sacrifice of the Lamb that would come to take away the sins of the world. What a glorious gospel! What a glorious redemption! What salvation and mercy there is in the midst of judgment! A theme that indeed would intersect once again at the cross of Calvary through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. Soli Deo Gloria!

About the author

Christian saved by grace through faith.

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