What we have learned from our Genesis study so far is important to hold on to. The first two chapters are the only portion of the entire Bible that gives us any idea of what life was like prior to the curse of sin on this world. Most importantly, we have learned about God—who he is and why he created. God in his perfect essence is truth, goodness, and beauty. Those are not just some nebulous virtues that exist in a list somewhere, and God thought they were pretty good ideas, so he decided to live according to them. Truth, goodness, and beauty are sourced in God. They did not come into existence based on what he does; they are who he is. Two other ideas come along with that. Because TGB are who God is, he holds their sum total. God is therefore perfect and infinite truth, goodness, and beauty.
Now, part of the perfection of TGB is not only in being but also in expressing. Expressing truth, goodness, and beauty, which we had concluded is the very idea of love, is necessary to be perfect and infinite in TGB. But how was God able to do that. Before creation ever came about—if God is TGB in essence, how was he able to express that TGB in love with no one—nothing else—around. Here is where we understand the philosophical basis for the Trinity. God had to be one to be infinite. Two infinite beings can’t exist. One would limit the other in some way. But God must also be multiple in order to express himself, as we said, in love. So God is both one and multiple, infinite in his essence, yet multiple in persons (mind, will).
So then, if this is who God is, we quickly understand the reason for a God of infinite truth, goodness, and beauty, expressing it in love, to create. He created for love relationship—that’s who he is, how he expresses himself. The crown of this creation are human beings—made, as Genesis 1 tells us, to be image bearers of him, to act in love relationship just as he does. That’s why when we get to the details of humans being created, we are told this human that God formed physically from the stuff of creation, he gives a spirit from himself to be like him in understanding TGB and in the ability to hold onto it in faith and hope. But what about the expression in love. God marches all the animals in front of this human creature for the very purpose of showing him there are no others like he is—no one else who understands TGB and can hold it by faith and hope. When that human recognizes that fact, God puts him to sleep and essentially splits him in two—fashions two humans, male and female, and provides a spirit for the female. When Adam wakes up and finds Eve—someone just like he is—he is thrilled. And we find that God separated this one human into two to then bring them back together (through the activity of sex) to be one again. God was teaching Adam and Eve about their image bearing quality of being one in essence (body, physical form) yet multiple in person—in their spirits. And in that relationship, they could fulfill that final image-bearing quality of love, the sharing of God’s TGB with each other.
But in chapter 3, things start to fall apart. Why did that happen? Why didn’t God keep things from falling apart? Here’s why I said we have to hold on to what we’ve learned. God is perfect in love, and love, to be perfect, must be uncoerced or it is not pure love.
God had made this Garden in which he placed Adam and Eve. That Garden was intended by God to showcase (and by showcasing, to teach Adam and Eve) the fact that he would provide them with truth, goodness, and beauty. Two trees were placed in the middle of the Garden to symbolize that relationship with God. Life means relationship with God. Without relationship, death (separation from God) results. So the Tree of Life symbolized that relationship with God. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil symbolized reaching for truth, goodness, and beauty apart from God. As mentioned since TGB is sourced from God, we must depend on him for it rather than go for it on our own. That is the reason God told Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree. He was, in effect, telling them not to go after TGB on their own.
But in chapter 3 we read about the fall. Eve was tricked—deceived into concluding that eating from the tree would not hurt her relationship with God. But when she ate, Adam (not deceived) was faced with a dilemma. Eve’s sentence was death—separation from God. But Adam didn’t want to lose her. Should he not eat and maintain his relationship with God? Or should he eat as well, receiving the same sentence as Eve so that he could possibly maintain his relationship with her. (Remember, Adam is about 2 days old. He didn’t necessarily understand what death—separation from God—would mean.) By eating, Adam chose against relationship with God.
Verse 7 tells us that their eyes were opened. Of course, this statement means they became aware of something. As the verse continues, it lets us know what that something was: they knew they were naked. It was not merely knowledge of having no clothes on. This word in Hebrew is a little different from the one used at the end of chapter 2 when they were “naked, yet felt no shame.” The Hebrew this time implies feeling naked and helpless. And they felt that way because in sin, they realized they lost not only the protection of God but his continuing satisfaction to their desire for truth, goodness, and beauty.
Notice that the verse tells us they immediately began sewing the fig leaves together to cover their loins. The action indicates that not only were they hiding from God, but they were also withdrawing from each other, feeling shame about that which had previously given them joy without shame (2:25).
They also hid from God. Verse 8 tells us they heard God walking at the time of a breeze. Obviously, God has no body with which to make sounds as he moves. The scene is presented the way it is just to let us know that after sewing the fig leaves out of concern for themselves, they sensed the presence of God. (The Hebrew translated here as wind or breeze is also the word used for spirit.) The Hebrew is also a little difficult in the discussion of hiding among the trees in the middle of the garden. The Hebrew uses the singular for tree, which seems to give the picture that Adam and Eve are hiding behind the tree in the middle of the garden from which they ate. The picture highlights the fact that Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil has come between them and God.
God immediately knew something was wrong. Of course, God is infinite in knowledge, so this fact is no surprise. But God used questions to get Adam to think about what he had done. Adam essentially said that he hid because he was afraid about being naked. His fear of God (not a bad thing) became a bad thing causing him to withdraw because he felt unworthy. God emphasized that in his question, “Who told you that you were naked.” God was making Adam admit to himself why he had those feelings of unworthiness. It was because Adam missed the mark; he sinned; he ate.
Adam answered, “The woman You gave to be with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate.” Adam was not (as so many commentators try to say) trying to deflect blame to Eve. Adam was overjoyed when Eve came into his life (2:23). It was also because he wanted relationship with Eve that he sinned by eating and ending relationship with God. So it wouldn’t follow that he all of a sudden wanted to shift blame and get her into trouble at that point.
Rather than understanding Adam to be merely trying to cast the blame on Eve, we should see him trying to explain what he may have considered a kind of dilemma. Of course, he faced the dilemma of choosing between relationship with Eve and relationship with God. But in bringing up the fact that God gave Eve to him, Adam was pointing out that God expected them to continue in relationship. So Adam seemed to be saying he faced conflicting commands. God commanded not to eat of the fruit, but if Adam obeyed, he would be on the wrong end of God’s expectation for him to maintain relationship with Eve. Adam argues that in choosing to eat, he was choosing to follow God’s expectation for their continued relationship.