The searing, unfamiliar sense of guilt. The biggest leaves they could find, hastily pieced together to cover the bodies they had only just realized were naked.
The terrifying sound of the footsteps they used to welcome. Awe, wonder, and intense love now turned to gripping fear. Blame and anger rearing up in place of the affection of just hours before.
Curses that tolled the death-knell of existence as they had known it. The bleak prospect of a life outside of Eden, in a world that would be turned against them. The faces of the cherubim, dreadful in purity and righteousness and the light of a sword wreathed in flames.
A paradise, lost.
Genesis 3 is one of the darkest chapters of the Bible. After the glory and beauty of chapters 1 and 2 – light bursting forth, seas finding their places, plants springing up and man formed out of dust – we find the origin of evil and a cosmic fall.
It’s easy to read this chapter with our eyes on Adam and Eve – to see their sin and mourn it, scoff at it, or even try and learn from it. We see the tragedy, and we wish it hadn’t happened that way. We see the two hiding in shame, blaming one another, and we sagely nod. “See, this is what happens when you sin.” “See, we shouldn’t blame others for our faults.”
But do you see the mercy?
See, the Bible isn’t really about humanity. We’re not the protagonists of this cosmic plotline. That title belongs to our God, and the story is His great plan of redemption.
And His mercy is there even in Genesis 3.
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise Him on the heel. (Genesis 3:15)”
The plan of our salvation was founded before the earth itself. And woven into the curses pronounced on serpent, woman, and man, God gave a promise that all was not lost. The serpent – the enemy, Satan – would be bruised. Crushed. Defeated.
And it would be the seed of the woman who would do it. What a tremendous mercy – that from mankind the Deliverer would come! That the woman – the one who took the first bite – would have a part. And an even greater mercy (though they probably didn’t know it yet) that this deliverer would be God, becoming man.
The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them (Genesis 3:21).
Adam and Eve tried to cover their shame with leaves from a fig tree. Did you ever try to sew with leaves when you were little? They don’t work too well; they crack and wither and tear.
But God provided. He made clothing from the skins of animals – the first drops of blood sacrifice, spilled on the ground of Eden.
What a foreshadowing of our Redeemer! He, too, would become a sacrifice for us; His righteousness would become a covering for our guilt before a holy God.
A Severe Mercy
God didn’t let Adam and Eve stay in Eden. He sent them out, and He set cherubim and a flaming sword to keep them there. Why? The passage doesn’t say it was a punishment. It says He didn’t let them stay, because they might eat from the Tree of Life and live forever (Genesis 3:22).
To live forever on a sinful, cursed earth, separated from God? It would be eternal life, yes, but one of weariness and misery. Hardly life at all.
But in Christ we have a far greater hope. Not only are we “absent from the body, and at home with the Lord,” (2 Corinthians 5:8) but one day our physical bodies themselves will be raised and changed. The earth will be made new, and God will once again dwell there with His people.
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