Banned for Life

20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. 21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.

22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.  Genesis 3:20-24 ESV

Up until this point in the story, the woman, whom God had fashioned from and given to the man, remained nameless. The man, אָדָם (‘āḏām), had given her the more generic name of “woman.” The Hebrew word, אִשָּׁה (‘iššâ), carries the sense that she was the “opposite of man.” Genesis 5 reveals that immediately after creating the man and woman, God had referred to them as Adam (‘āḏām).

Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man (‘āḏām) when they were created. – Genesis 5:1-2 ESV

God called them “humanity” or “mankind.” He had always intended for there to be more of them. They were simply the first two who would multiply and fill the land with more of their kind – more “humanity” made in the likeness of God.

But, in the immediate aftermath of the fall, Adam decided to provide his mate with a name.

The man called his wife’s name Eve – Genesis 3:20 ESV

In Hebrew, her new name was חַוָּה (ḥaûâ), which means “life” or “living.” Although God had placed a curse upon the woman, there was still hope. While she was doomed to experience pain during childbirth, she would still be able to fulfill God’s kingdom mandate to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28 ESV). And, in naming his wife, Eve, Adam displayed his belief that God was not done with them yet. They had violated the one prohibition God had given them, and yet, He was still going to graciously allow them to keep His command to fill the earth. Their decision to eat the forbidden fruit had not destroyed their ability to be fruitful and, for that, Adam was grateful.

Moses provides his readers with a brief note of explanation concerning Eve’s new name.

The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living – Genesis 3:20 ESV

In Hebrew, there is a clever wordplay going on in this verse. The name “Eve” (ḥaûâ) is pronounced khavvah in Hebrew. It sounds remarkably similar to the Hebrew word for “living” (ḥay), which is pronounced khah’-ee. In a sense, Moses is stating that Eve’s God-given destiny would be that of “life-giver.” Though flawed and brokern, she would be the vessel through whom God would bring the “offspring” who would bruise the head of Satan (Genesis 3:15 ESV).

The apostle Paul provides a compelling description of those who have placed their faith in Christ, and it could easily apply to Eve in her fallen–but-not-forgotten state.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed… – 2 Corinthians 4:7-9 ESV

Eve was a damaged clay jar and, yet, God was going to use her to bring about the ultimate solution to the problem she had helped to create. Adam and Eve had rebelled against a gracious and holy God. They had violated His command and directly disregarded His good and perfect will for them. But God had known from the very beginning that this would be their fate. He had already made provisions for their failure of faith. The fall of man should never be viewed as a wrench thrown by Satan into the well-tuned engine of creation. The Scriptures teach that this entire scenario had been pre-ordained by God “from before the foundation” of the world. He had made plans for it.

In the high-priestly prayer that Jesus offered up to His Father on the night He would be betrayed, He alluded to God’s pre-determined plan.

Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. – John 17:24 ESV

Jesus had always enjoyed an eternal relationship with the Father. It had not begun on the night He was born in Bethlehem. He had been sent to earth by His Father to accomplish a very important mission, and the details of that mission had been developed long before God created the universe. The apostle Peter reminded his fellow believers of the unique and unbelievable nature of this pre-creation plan of God.

…you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you… – 1 Peter 1:18-20 ESV

It had always been God’s plan to send His Son as the sinless sacrificial lamb to pay the debt incurred by mankind (‘āḏām) at the fall. And the apostle Paul picks up on this theme in his letter to the believers living in Ephesus.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will – Ephesians 1:3-5 ESV

Over and over we read that God had planned all this “before the foundation of the world.” In other words, long before He created the universe or had formed man out of the dust of the ground, God had a well-developed and infallible plan prepared for dealing with the inevitable fall of mankind.

“To put it very simply, the Cross of Christ was not an ambulance sent to a wreck. Christ was the Lamb who was slain before the foundation of the world because God knew all the time that Vernon McGee would need a Savior, and He loved him enough to provide that Savior.” – J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible: Genesis through Revelation

We know that the sin of Adam and Eve had serious consequences.

When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned. – Romans 5:12 NLT

Paul goes on to note that “everyone died—from the time of Adam to the time of Moses” (Romans 5:14 NLT). God had cursed the first man and woman with death.

By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” – Genesis 4:19 ESV

In Romans 6:23, Paul records that “the wages of sin is death.” And he pulls no punches in assigning the ultimate blame for this problem.

For the sin of this one man, Adam, brought death to many. – Romans 5:15 NLT

Adam’s sin led to condemnation – Romans 5:16 NLT

For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. – Romans 5:17 NLT

Adam’s one sin brings condemnation for everyone – Romans 5:18 NLT

Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. – Romans 5:19 NLT

Paul is relentless. He heaps all the responsibility on Adam. And yet, we know from the Genesis account that “the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate” (Genesis 3:6 ESV). And, in his first letter to Timothy, Paul acknowledges Eve’s primary role in bringing sin and death into the world.

For God made Adam first, and afterward he made Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived by Satan. The woman was deceived, and sin was the result. – 1 Timothy 2:13-14 NLT

They were both guilty. All mankind (‘āḏām) stood before God as condemned and deserving of death. But Paul went on to write, “women will be saved through childbearing” (1 Timothy 2:15 NLT). This is most likely a reference to the fact that childbirth can be a death-like experience, bringing intense pain and suffering, but resulting in new life. Adam, all by himself, would have only death to look forward to. But because God had given him Eve, there would always be the hope of new life and the continuation of the human species.

God was not done with Adam and Eve. In fact, Moses reveals that God replaced their hand-made garments of leaves with “garments of skins” (Genesis 3:21 ESV). There is a foreboding sense to this verse. The Hebrew word for “skins” refers to the hide of an animal. What this somewhat innocuous-sounding verse conveys is that a sacrifice had been made. Blood had been spilled. An innocent animal had been slain in order to cover the shame and sin of two guilty humans. This entire event foreshadows a divine reality that would be canonized in God’s Law.

…according to the law of Moses, nearly everything was purified with blood. For without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness. – Hebrews 9:22 NLT

And it would also be modeled in the sacrifice of “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29 NLT).

But while properly clothed with the sacrificial garments provided by God, Adam and Eve still stood in a state of fallenness. The author of Hebrews reminds us “it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4 NLT). Adam and Eve still stood condemned before God. The animal God had sacrificed to make their garments had not cleansed them from their guilt or alleviated their sense of shame. Those things would remain with them till death and be passed on to their progeny. Again, the author of Hebrews describes the inadequate nature of animal sacrifices to fix mankind’s problem.

If they could have provided perfect cleansing, the sacrifices would have stopped, for the worshipers would have been purified once for all time, and their feelings of guilt would have disappeared. – Hebrews 10:2 NLT

The next phase of God’s judgment of Adam and Eve came in the form of their expulsion from the garden.

the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. – Genesis 3:23 ESV

And Moses provides the reason for their ban from the very place God had created for them.

“Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever…” – Genesis 3:22 ESV

God had given them the freedom to eat of any tree found in the garden, save one. That means they had full access and permission to eat of the tree of life. It seems that the tree of life had been provided as a source of eternal sustenance. As long as they ate it, they would live. But, in contrast, if they ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would die. It’s interesting to note that the tree of life appears again in the book of Revelation. John was given a vision of the New Jerusalem, the place God will provide as humanity’s future home – the eternal residence of all those who place their faith in the Lamb of God.

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. – Revelation 22:1-2 ESV

The tree of life reappears and, once again, it will be a source of life. But in Adam and Eve’s fallen state, God did not want them to eat of the tree of life and “live forever.” So, He ordered them out of the garden and then stationed angelic sentries to deny them any further access. And thus begins what will become an ongoing theme of man’s perpetual movement away from God and His presence. The rest of the book of Genesis will chronicle mankind’s steady migration from the beauty of the garden and into the world.

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