Dr. Mark Scott wrote this treatment of the International Sunday School Lesson. Scott teaches preaching and New Testament at Ozark Christian College, Joplin, Missouri. This lesson treatment is published in issue no. 1 (weeks 5–8; February 3–24, 2019) of The Lookout magazine, and is also available online at www.lookoutmag.com.
Lesson Aim: Know that God is with you even when you make mistakes..
By Mark Scott
The word closer sums up much of the Bible’s content. God is always wanting to get closer to people. Even in our text today God is pictured as walking in the garden (near Adam and Eve) in the cool of the day. The promise of God’s “withness” is scattered throughout the Bible (Exodus 3:12; Joshua 1:9; Isaiah 43:2; Matthew 1:23; 28:20; Hebrews 13:5; Revelation 21:3). During this month of lessons we will discuss the theme, “God with you.” Here is the kicker. He is with us even when we fail.
This text is large in its significance. It deals with our first parents, our primal reality, and the archetypal temptation. In Renovation of the Heart, Dallas Willard observed, “When [Satan] undertook to draw Eve away from God, he did not hit her with a stick but with an idea.” That idea caused Eve, and then Adam, to distrust the goodness of God. The enemy lied about the veracity of God’s word (Genesis 3:4; see John 8:44). Hell on earth broke out as Adam and Eve embraced a culture of death.
Degradation | Genesis 3:6, 7
Sin might look enticing and fun (Hebrews 11:25), but in the end it makes the way of the transgressor hard (Proverbs 13:15, KJV). Adam sinned with his eyes wide open, but Eve was “quite deceived” (1 Timothy 2:14) by the devil when he persuaded her to “look” at the tree. That first look is often problematic. She saw the fruit of the tree was good for food, beautiful to the eye, and desirable (lust or covet) for gaining wisdom. The first couple had loved God, but now they wanted to be God. Eve ate the fruit. Eating is actually a sacred thing (see Food and Faith: a Theology of Eating, by Norman Wirzba). But the couple, we could say in jest, ate themselves out of house and home.
The effects of sin and death took a while to work themselves into the now stained planet, but the degradation of sin was realized immediately. Their eyes were opened (not all knowledge is sanctified). They realized they were naked (innocence was forfeited). They made coverings (girdles, loincloths, or aprons) for themselves (shame caused them to have secrets even to the point of hiding their bodies from one another). This failure caused God to hold court.
Interrogation | Genesis 3:8-13
The judge of the universe was spoken of anthropomorphically. God is pictured walking in the garden in the cool of the day. We may not know what that was like, but it probably represents a level of fellowship that is unheard of this side of Eden. Our parents’ shame caused them to hide from their Maker.
God interrogated Adam and Eve with four questions. In none of the four questions did God seek information. The nature of the questions underlines the magnitude of the failure. “Where are you?” underlines their fear (dread) of the lover of their souls and the lifter of their heads. “Who told you that you were naked?” underlines their shame. “Have you eaten from the tree?” underlines their transgression. “What is this you have done?” underlines their guilt.
The uncomfortable interrogation was met with the blame game. Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent. But at the end of the day, they both implicitly blamed God. After all, God made the tree, grew the fruit, and even created the serpent (Genesis 3:1). Interrogation makes us all nervous.
Condemnation and Substitution | Genesis 3:14-21
The God of the Bible is a God of justice. He cannot stay true to his own nature and refuse to punish sin. So curses were distributed to the serpent, the woman, the man, and the earth. But in the midst of such denouncements there were hints of hope. Within the curses were glimpses of grace. The serpent would crawl on its belly and eat dust. The woman would have additional pain in bearing children. The man would eat food from the earth but not without a struggle.
But even though death was now part of the earth, Eve would bear offspring (life) that would ultimately crush the ugly serpent (Mark 15:22; Romans 16:20; Galatians 3:13-16). Even though sin destroyed relationships, marriage would be redeemed and sustained (1 Corinthians 11:11, 12). Even though work would be toilsome and the earth would produce thorns and thistles, a redeemer wearing thorns would come as a substitute for sin (John 19:5). To prepare the world for this substitution God sacrificed an animal for clothing for Adam and Eve. God’s plan was to smite his own Son (Isaiah 53:10) so that he would not have to smite us.
Lesson study ©2018, Christian Standard Media. Print and digital subscribers are permitted to make one print copy per week of lesson material for personal use. Lesson based on the scope and sequence, ©2018 by Christian Standard Media. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.
Image: Detail of Domenichino’s “God Admonishing Adam and Eve” (1623-25); courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.