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The gospel in Eden

May 2003 | by Stan Evers

One bite of fruit taken from a tree in the garden seemed harmless enough. So Eve thought. However, one bite plunged the perfect world into chaos. One bite unleashed the disease of sin, which soon led to the first murder.

Every child since Cain and Abel is born with a bias to sin. We all deliberately choose, like Adam and Eve, to disobey God.

Why did God make such a fuss about eating one piece of fruit from a tree? His prohibition — ‘you must not eat’ — was a test of love and obedience. Did Adam and Eve love God enough to obey his command?

He gave them a garden full of trees from which they could eat, so he was not demanding too much when he told them not to take the fruit of one tree. Moreover, the command was clear and simple to obey.

Choice

Did Eve’s bite of the fruit of the tree surprise God? Not at all! The all-knowing and all-seeing God knew how Adam and Eve would respond to his law.

Of course, he could have programmed them like robots, always to obey his will. Rather he chose to give them complete free will so that they could choose to obey or not to obey.

Before Adam and Eve sinned, God had already planned the remedy — his own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, would die on a cross in the place of repentant sinners. He would take on himself the punishment they deserved.

God announced his plan when passing sentence on the devil, disguised as a snake, in the Garden of Eden. We read God’s first promise in Genesis 3:15: ‘I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel’.

God’s first promise was also the first proclamation of the gospel.

Conflict

The words ‘I will put enmity between you [the snake] and the woman’ may explain why some people are afraid of snakes! However, this enmity between humans and snakes is a picture of a more sinister hostility — a spiritual conflict between God and Satan, who came in the guise of a snake in the Garden of Eden.

We too are part of this conflict; we fight either for God or against him. Satan has his offspring who serve him and oppose the offspring of the woman, Jesus Christ and his followers.

In Galatians 3:16 the apostle Paul identifies the woman’s offspring — ‘her Seed’ — as the Lord Jesus Christ. ‘Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say “And to seeds” as of many, but as of one, “And to your Seed”, who is Christ’.

Christ came into the world through a virgin birth in order to defeat Satan and to deliver his elect from the devil’s power.

In his Welwyn Commentary on Genesis (The Book of Origins) Philip Eveson comments on the words ‘I will put enmity’. He writes: ‘The Evil One may have thought that he had won an easy victory. He had captured our first parents and with them their descendants too.

‘But God intervenes … This animosity is inspired by God. God is committed to this battle. What is more, God has a plan of victory in which human beings will be on God’s side against the Evil One.’

Conquest

The second part of Genesis 3:15 — ‘He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel’ — pictures a man who treads on a serpent’s head but in doing so is bitten on his heel. A crushed head is fatal; a bruised heel is not.

This verse points to the battle that took place between Satan and Christ when he died on the cross. Christ was wounded to destroy Satan.

We read about this conflict in several Scriptures, for example: ‘Having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross’ (Colossians 2:15).

And again: ‘Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death — that is, the devil — and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death’ ( (Hebrews 2:14-15).

At the end of the world, Christ will ‘put all his enemies under his feet’ (1 Corinthians 15:25). Moreover, believers will also see Satan crushed under their feet: ‘The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet’ (Romans 16:20).

Meanwhile, we can resist Satan and see him flee from us (James 4:7).

Control

Satan was compelled to listen to God’s announcement of his defeat in Eden. God, not the devil, was in control. He was working out his plans even in the devil’s successful temptation of Adam and Eve.

E. J. Young writes: ‘How strange that the tempter must listen to the case pronounced against himself by God! Where now are his power and his wisdom? Where now is the daring which led him to raise himself above the Creator of all things?

‘He says not a word, for he is in the presence of the righteous Judge of all the earth. Satan listens as the curse is pronounced … There is … only One who can cause him to be silent and to listen, and that is God.’

The God who silenced Satan will one day throw him and his fallen angels — along with all who oppose Christ — into ‘the lake of burning sulphur’ where ‘they will be tormented day and night for ever and ever’ (Revelation 20:7-10).

On the other hand, those who serve the Lord Jesus Christ, the Seed of the woman, will live for ever in heaven. Hell is the destination of Satan’s family; heaven is the final home of Christ’s.

Covering

The gospel was proclaimed in Eden not only in the promise of Genesis 3:15, but also by God’s merciful provision of animal skin to clothe Adam and Eve (3:21). An animal died in place of the first two sinners.

Perhaps they themselves offered the innocent beast as a sacrifice to God. Either way, the righteous life and atoning death of Christ, the Lamb of God, wove for us a robe of righteousness to cover all our sins.

The gracious God allowed Adam and Eve to live, though he banished them from the Garden of Eden. But now Christ has died and risen again — to open for believers the door into the paradise of heaven.