Well, we go from a sobering reminder of the world that we live in to think about marriage. And you might think, well, how are we going to make a segue from bombs going off in Kiev, Ukraine to the harmony and the joy of our marriages. Well, here’s my attempt. When those unbelievers come into a bomb shelter and they see the families of believing Ukrainians and believing missionaries, they see a difference.
There is a difference in how the homes of unbelievers and believers look. There’s a difference in the feel. There’s a difference in the conversation. The discourse is a difference in the attitude that believers have toward things that cause us to fear, things that cause us, many of w, the much of the world to worry, fret to escape, to flee. And there’s a difference between believers and unbelievers, and so that difference comes in the marriage between a husband and a wife.
That m, that difference comes in the, the way Christian parents parent their kids and how they care for their families. There is a difference, and that difference starts with this first fundamental institution. Created in the Creation week by God for our good, for his glory and it’s called marriage.
We’re in a series on marriage, setting a biblical foundation theological foundation for marriage. And that’s before we get into some of the practical how-tos in marriage, which are going to come too. But it really is vital that we set marriage on its theological foundation. Because without understanding the theology of marriage, we don’t know where we’ve come from, what went wrong where we’re going, what we’re supposed to do in order to fix what went wrong.
We don’t have the tools that we need to really do marriage well, so we have to go back to the theology of marriage. We have to go back to the beginning so you can turn back in your Bibles to Genesis chapter 3, Genesis 3. We learned last time that God subjected Adam, and along with Adam, he subjected his wife, Eve. He subjected the institution of marriage and all of creation itself. Adam is subjected to probation.
We learned that, about that last time that Adam was subjected to testing to prove in order to install Adam as the representative head of humanity. So as according to God’s perfect sovereign will, God allowed the devil to tempt humanity, to tempt Adam that accelerated the probation that proved Adam. And really proved and exposed his inability as a mere human being to act as the representative head of God’s chosen people.
All this is pointing to the need for a better mediator, a better head, which is Jesus Christ, as we’ve come to know. Last week in Genesis 3:1-6, we saw how the devil came to Eve and he came to her to entice her through the offer of a false gospel. The devil shared the gospel with her, shared a false gospel with her, a gospel of independence from God, of maximizing human potential. And all of that through the deification of humanity.
We hear that same message in all the false gospels that we hear today. Health, wealth and prosperity gospel. Whether it’s any cult or ISM or schism or any false church or any religious movement or even the secularists around us, who has some kind of a planet utopia without any religion. They also share this same form of false gospel in just some other iteration of it. He shares a false gospel with humanity. He’s really only got a few tricks in his bag, but he disguises them different ways at different times.
But the devil basically said to Eve, “Hey, trust me. Just trust me. Just grant me that polite advantage of your trust. Listen, you won’t die by eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Quite the opposite is going to happen to you. If you, if you venture out and be courageous and stand on your own two feet and be independent. When you and Adam strike out on your own when you make that bold, courageous move, toward human freedom, toward human independence. When you eat that fruit, you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”
So the woman we saw in Genesis 3 trusted the words of the devil. Over and against the warning of God. She embraced a new gospel, another gospel which is not a gospel, and Adam, though he had heard for himself, God speak those words of warning, he chose against the clear word of his creator. He chose to follow a lie, and Adam and Eve then embraced the Devil’s Gospel. They saw the forbidden tree in a new light. Genesis 3:6 says, “Good for food, a delight to the eyes, desirable to make them wise, so that they could be like God.” So first Eve, and then Adam. They followed that sinful desire and transgressed God’s law, and that is the fall of mankind. That’s the fall.
When sinful desire conceives, it gives birth to sin, sin. When it grows up, it brings forth a death and the effect of transgression, as we see in the text, was immediate. It happened in exactly the way God said it would in Genesis 2:17, “And the day that you eat of it. You shall surely die.” God was not lying. He was telling the truth. They did die that day and marriage has been subjected to the frustration of sin through the participants of marriage and the futility of death ever since.
So for today, we’re going to trace the path that God charted for Adam’s fallen race. We’ll look at this through the perspective of marriage and God has provided, we’re going to see today, God has provided a deliverance from the frustration of sin and death in marriage, a frustration in futility in marriage. He’s provided a pathway to hope to great hope, to overcoming hope in and through the institution of marriage. And it, he’s called us to anticipate the redemption that God provides in Jesus Christ, even as early as Genesis chapter 3.
So we’re going to pick it up today where we left off last time. Point one for your outline today, you can write this down: number one, marriage frustrated by sin. Marriage frustrated by sin. There are two main reasons our marriages are frustrated today and both reasons are found in Genesis chapter 3.
Oftentimes when I sit down with people for marriage counseling, I hear about their frustrations. And the man says something like this, “You know, everything would be fine if she would do this,” fill in the blank of what that is. And the woman says, “You know what? I love him dearly. But here’s the problem, he…” and then she fill in the blank from there. Neither of them say, come in and say, “You know what? Here’s the frustration in marriage right now. Here’s the counsel I need. I need you to go into my heart, expose the sin that I can’t see in how I am offending my spouse and my God and help me to repent of that sin ‘cause is troubling me in my marriage. It’s offending my God and I just want to be right before him.”
Look and I’ll say, “Well, do you want to do? You want her to change, too? Do you want him to change?” “Oh no, if, if that person changes, that’s neither here nor there. I just need to be righteous before God. Help me to repent of sin.” If any of you want to come into my office for marriage counseling and repeat those very words, I’ll be so grateful.
Part of the problem with sin, isn’t it, is that it blinds us to our own sin. It’s got a blinding effect. So we think that whatever trouble we’re going through, whatever offenses were feeling and all the hurt and all the pain and all the anger and all that stuff that’s going on, we have the blindness to think it’s that person’s fault. If only X, Y or Z, were not true of this person, I would be just a saintly angel. I’d be fluttering around blownin’ trumpets, praising God. Oh, but this person. Well, that’s actually nothing new. It’s as old as Genesis. chapter 3, isn’t it?
Old is Genesis 3 to blame. We face frustration in our marriages and there are two reasons we see in Genesis chapter three. First, we face frustration as a natural consequence of sin. We face frustration in marriage first as a natural consequence of sin. And then secondly, we face frustration in marriage as a judicial consequence of punishment for our sin. So natural consequence of sin and judicial consequence of sin. Both of those come out of Genesis chapter 3. Our marriages are frustrated by the consequences of sin and the punishment for sin.
Let’s talk 1st about the natural consequence of sin, the way sin has affected us as human beings. You can start by looking at Genesis 3:7. After Adam and Eve, immediately after they ate the forbidden fruit, there’s really no, doesn’t seem to be any gap in the time frame between verse 6 and verse 7. They flow, and the transgression of verse six had an immediate effect in verse seven. It says there in verse 7, Genesis 3:7, “The eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that are naked. They sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.”
God had created them in the confidence of their innocence. A stability in their holiness. Now, though, they’re in a state of guilt. There’s guilt registered before God. Whenever we sin, whether we know it or not, whether we’re aware that we’ve sinned or not, whether if it’s a sin that God has identified in Scripture, what happens is before God, guilt is registered. Our knowledge of that guilt before God, that’s experienced in our personal shame. We feel shame because we know that we’re guilty.
That’s what’s happening here. They feel their shame. There’s a, they sense this immediate need to hide. We see immediately that happens they want to hide from one another the intimacy of their original innocence created an innocence that’s gone. Well, you think that’s affecting us today in our marriages. Sure is. Also, we see they’re created to depend on God, rest in his goodness. Now they’re trying to hide their guilt. They’re trying to hide it.
There’s this exercise in futility going on here. They want to erase their guilt, cover their shame, and they can’t do it. They cannot solve their sin problem. So now predisposed to hide from others, they’re also predisposed to hide from the only one who’s able to rescue them from their fallen condition, which is God. Verse 8, “They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” Man, is that a stupid plan? I mean, first it’s to so fig leaves together which are temporary things. They’re gonna come off eventually. They’re going to wither decay, crumble that’s not going to work.
They can’t atone for themselves and cover themselves and provide their own atonement. Now God comes into the garden and they try to hide from him. The only one that can rescue them and anyone notice this in your own marriages? Conflict arises, turns into some kind of an argument, even maybe a, a fight or something like that and is your first instinct to go directly to God for help? To confess your sin to be transparent before God and before one another? Not really.
We don’t say, “Listen, you said, you spoke those words and, you know, because I’m too thin-skinned, I just, I got offended and I shouldn’t have. I shouldn’t have been offended by what you said. It was ridiculous to me, but you know, that just shows my need for growth. Will you forgive me for be, becoming irritated about that?” Confess our sin to our spouse and go directly to God. God forgive me, please from how my tongue just shout out that barb and that stinging comment.
Why is it that we don’t do that? It’s because of this. Because of our guilt and because of a tendency of shame to hide from the view of others, God and others. We’re predisposed because of sin to hide from God and from one another. So what’s the? What’s the plan now? If we’re gonna run from anybody who can help us? If we’re going to separate from the person that we, we really need to reconcile with, what’s the plan now? God enters in verse 9. He does what his gracious and loving and kind. And what does he do? He exposes their sin and confronts them.
And you live in a church and live and move and have our being in a church that does exactly this. Out of love for other people, it comes into a situation. It exposes sin and confronts it because we love you. We love one another, but you know the reputation that a church like that gets in the community, judgmental. Holier than thou. Self-righteous. Can’t apply any of that to God, can’t we? Maybe we are sometimes. Maybe we commit those sins but not God.
Verse 9, “The Lord God called to the man said to him, ‘Where are you?’” God’s not looking for information there. He hasn’t lost his omniscience. He knows where they are and what is he trying to do? He’s trying to draw out the fact that they’re hiding. He’s trying to expose their sin to them so they can see it. Where are you? Why do I even have to ask that question? Oh, something changed. That’s why.
Verse 10, “Adam said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked and I hid myself.’ And God said, ‘Well, who told you that you were naked?’” He could have asked a number of questions there. Why are you afraid of me? Everything I’ve done for you is good and kind and beneficial. Why would you be afraid? “Have you eaten at the tree of which I command you not to eat?” The kindness of God in confronting their sin. The kindness of God in exposing their guilt.
And later on in part of the chapter where you come to later, covering their shame as well in verse 21. Such kindness is evidence of God’s goodness. It’s a, it really is a prelude of a full or final grace coming in the redemption of Jesus Christ, but it’s, it’s here. We see God’s gracious heart. We see his kindness, his compassion for sinners. Again, even when God exposes and confronts, notice sin’s effect on transparency, on marital intimacy.
Remember, Adam had been so eager end of, end of chapter 2, verse 23, so eager. He was rejoicing in his wife. He’s so eager to cling closely to her, to weld himself to his wife, so they’re no longer two, but they’re one flesh. Now, Genesis 3:12, Adam is quick to throw his wife under the proverbial bus. The man said in answer to God question, he said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me the fruit of the tree and I ate. Lord God then,” we’ll come back to this. But he turns to Eve.
He says to the woman, verse 13, “What is this you’ve done?” Well, Eve’s no better than Adam. She doesn’t want to take re, personal responsibility either. She says, “The serpent deceived me and I ate.” Listen, sin is responsible for destroying the intimacy between the man and a woman. Sin is always the culprit. Sin destroys harmony between two people. Sin attacks the unity that binds people together. You see this in organizations. You see this in countries, you see this in marriages. You see this in homes. Sin is the culprit.
It’s not the institution of marriage that’s to blame, it’s the sin and its consequences. It’s sin and its corrosive, destructive effect. The effect of sin on us as human beings it, it effects our minds. It effects our wills. It effects our emotions. It’s the cause of all of our maladies, this sin. The effect of sin on our reasoning. We don’t reason as we should. The effect of sin even on creation itself, and health. Sin effects even the created order or the stability of the environment we live in.
Sin effects our minds and our reasoning. I affects in perverts, our wills and so that we long for and want things that we shouldn’t want. Things that are actually destructive to us. Sin stirs up our emotions so that things that shouldn’t draw us now draw us and our affections are drawn by wrong things. Sin is to blame for all of that, and it’s in us and we need to take personal responsibility for the decisions we make that are sinful.
We were thinking wrongly. We were desiring wrongly. We pursued something wrongly, and we ourselves did it. Don’t blame somebody else. Take personal responsibility. So the first and primary reason our marriage is experienced frustration is due to the natural consequences of sin. Second, we see in this chapter there are also judicial consequences for sin. They come in the form of a punishment and we can see this here in Genesis chapter 3 in the form of God’s curse.
We’re going to skip over in the text, verses 14 to 15, for the moment we’ll come back to those. But start, look at verse 16 where God pronounces a curse upon the woman and in verse 16 and then also upon the man in verses 17 to 19. This curse upon each of the individuals, man and woman in the marriage, it frustrates our marriage, is deeply. But it also points us even this curse, this punishment is a reminder that our God is a God of justice. We would not want it any other way.
“God conveys a promise of hope to this first couple.”Travis Allen
If you stand before a human judge, what do you expect that human judge to do? Give justice. He is to look at the law. He’s to look at the elements of the crime or the civil code and he is to make a impartial determination based on that code, based on that law, about the facts of the case and then how it stands or falls against, up against the law.
We don’t want a judge, and especially when we’re the aggrieved party, we don’t want a judge to look at the one who did wrong to us and say, “You know what? I know what the law says, but I like my reputation in the community as a really gracious judge. So I’m gonna give this offender, I know he’s broke into your house. I know he stole everything of value to you. I know that he, you know, killed your cat and you know kicked your dog and he burned your house as he left. But he was just having a bad day. That’s one bad day out of a whole lifetime of really a lot of good deeds. He told me how he helped the lady cross the street and he picked up groceries for his grandma.”
If we hear a judge like that, talk like that, we’re going to say, “Get him out! He is unjust!” We demand justice, don’t we? As we should. Sometimes we don’t really like justice applied to us personally, but. Say why, why can’t you be more gracious, you know? The curse on each of us as individuals, the curse in our marriages and it affects us it is evidence of God’s justice that he is a just God and we don’t want that any other way.
If there is injustice in God, well then we have nothing to look to but a monster. Injustice in God is bad, bad news for the world. A just God, a holy God who is inflexible on justice. That’s what we need, and so God pronounced a curse upon us as a punishment for our sin. The curse, it means universal frustration for us, and almost immediately comes in our marriages. Verse 16, to the woman God said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing in pain, you shall bring forth children.”
That judgment upon the woman affects her in her unique and special role of bearing children, pain in childbearing, physical pain in giving birth. The unique joy that a woman has in her role. There’s a deep sense of significance and purpose, and it’s all wrapped up in burying children. Bringing the fruit of her womb to birth and, and then raising that child, giving herself, pouring herself into that child. It’s a beautiful thing.
This unique gift God gave to a woman to grow children within her belly, within her womb, and birth children from her own body. Prior to the fall, it would seem because of this curse, it would seem she had no pain whatsoever when she did that. After the fall, as a curse upon her role in the fall, the woman continues to give birth. But now she does it in great pain as a reminder.
This obviously inserts a degree of ten, tension into what God created for her to be an unmitigated source of pleasure and joy. Now the physical pleasure of consummating a marriage with its procreative result, that is, getting pregnant, the pleasure leads to pain. So much so that we can see all kinds of ways that men and women both have tried to avoid that pain, and some of them very sinful and avoid the responsibility that goes along with it as well.
Even though in punishment, even in the curse God shows a mercy in verse 16. Even in this curse God gives hope. Pain in childbearing it might have been a significant deterrent to marriage. Thwarting the mandate that he gave to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth, undermining the procreative design for sexual intimacy but God in his grace in his mercy, he promised second half verse 16, “Your desire will be for your husband and he shall rule over you.”
In years passed, through many things that I read and heard and how I heard this taught, I believed that that second half of verse 16 pointed to the tendency of women to desire to usurp their husband’s authority or role. And then it pointed to the tension that it results in marriage, that he shall nonetheless rule over you. You’re gonna want to overthrow him. You gonna wanna usurp his role in his authority and you’re gonna be always in the position of having to suppress that.
There’s some warrant for that view, because the same word tsuqa is used in Genesis 4:7. Same word, same form. When God warns Cain that sin also desires him tsuqa. But Cain must rule over it. So it’s almost the same pattern and many have adopted that view. Over the years of further study and a very helpful journal article that I read a couple decades ago, I guess, and reacquainted myself in the study of this. But it helped me with some of the exegetical detail and reminded me of a, it’s an article by Doctor Irvin Busenitz. He used to be vice president at the Master’s seminary and one of the Old Testament professors there.
But due to that article that he wrote back in the 80s, I become convinced that a woman desiring to usurp the authority of her husband is not a part of the woman’s curse. This is not just an extension of the curse. Usurping authority and bucking authority, this is a tendency of all fallen people, not women, in particular. And I believe the last half of verse 16 is not an extension of curse upon the woman. It’s actually an evidence of divine grace and kindness and mercy in marriage.
When I believed a wife desire to usurp her husband’s role in authority in marriage, like tell you, it only increased the tension and suspicion that I already felt as a young husband and new to marriage. I know, right? Poor Melinda. I mean, in addition to everything else she had to deal with that kind of thing. But over the years further studying experience, I believe differently and it’s to Melinda’s great relief. What I think now that God is saying in that second clause of Genesis 3:16, is this. That even though women, they will face pain in childbearing, which is legendary renown, right?
Don’t you dare any man in here say, “Boy, I, going through that surgery going through that kidney stone, whatever it is, I now I know what it’s like to go through childbirth, right?” Don’t ever say anything remotely close to that. Grant her that childbirth is worse than pain, that you felt, OK? Just grant or that.
But in spite of that pain, women will not be scared away from marriage. Instead, in spite of the prospect of great pain. A woman will still, and this is what Genesis 3:16b is saying. In spite of that, prospect of paying great pain in childbirth, women will still desire to be with a husband. The mercy of God and the husband will still exercise his authority over her.
The reference to authority, male headship in the home. That’s not a part of the curse either. Leadership is a gift. The good exercise of authority in the home in the church, in the spheres and institutions of authority in, in the world that is a gift. An authority submission structure is a good and healthy, orderly beneficial structure. Any institution that dismisses that will not be in existence for long.
So here’s what’s going on here, even in punishment, God wants Eve to know that the curse will not undo or abrogate marriage. This points to God’s kindness that even in dealing out punishment, God tenderly, he comes in, and he tenderly assures Eve that marriage will still deliver an intimacy that she desires. Your desire will still be for your husband. You’re still going along for him to love you and care for you, and it’ll provide you the security of his authority over you.
His protection, his provision. Him being a buffer against the world outside and you are inside where you’re able to care for your children and raise them in security and satisfaction and joy. That’s what God is pointing to. It also points here to the durability of marriage that even in spite of the curse, marriage will continue. We know it will continue all the way up to the point of Christ’s second coming. And for judgment on this earth. Just as in the days of Noah, when people were what marrying and giving in marriage, right?
So it will be in the days in the coming of the Son of Man. God created this institution of marriage for our good. For our shaping, for our formation and it’s going to continue. So in spite of the curse upon the woman, marriage will continue. And marr, a man will still leave his parents, as it says in Genesis 2:24, and he will cleave to his wife. There’s still going to be a compelling and desire and driving him to go get married.
And Genesis 3:16 adds this assurance that a woman, also, she too, will still desire intimacy with a husband in spite of the prospect of great pain and bearing children. The two will come together continually in this institution of marriage, and they will become one flesh. That will continue. God’s grace right there in the middle of a curse. So the curse upon the woman cuts to the heart of a woman’s role in productivity and her fruitfulness. God pronounces a corresponding curse, then on, upon the man, which cuts to the heart of his role in productivity and fruitfulness.
Look at verse 17, to Adam, he said, “Because you’ve listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I command you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat your bread, until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, you are dust and to dust you shall return.”
A man’s life and purpose, significance is bound up in his fruitfulness, his productivity, his responsibility. He provides for his family. He feeds them, he cares for them, he protects them. He exercises dominion in the world. He works to produce, to be fruitful, and to be multiplying. And what was joyful work under God’s blessing now turns into a futility and a pain under God’s curse. It’s through travail. It’s through sweat. It’s through physical exhaustion, mental exhaustion.
And a man’s responsibility turns into a struggle for survival, and eventually, as we all know, it’ll kill him. This too, adversely effects his primary role as a husband, which is to lead and to teach his wife, to lead and to teach his children. The pursuit of the most profound aspect of his design. Loving his family through leading and teaching him the husband has to do this now under the curse in a constant struggle against exhaustion and against pain. Against, he’s lacking time, he’s lacking energy. He’s lacking strength.
He comes home after a long day of work and he, he even leaving lacks motivation to, to jump up and teach and lead the family. So both of these curses upon the woman’s role upon the man’s role both curses as Doctor Busenitz says, both involve pain and toil and burden and quote “both effect the bringing forth of life, human and otherwise” end quote. Added to the natural consequences of the sin of our first parents, God’s curse upon men and upon women, this majorly frustrates our marriages, doesn’t it?
It undermines our best efforts. It adds toil and pain and labor and burden and suffering. Think about how this curse affects our marriages. Pain in childbearing. Pain and weariness, toil, sweat, futility on a man’s labors. Think about the natural consequences of sin as well its effect on our mind or will, our emotions. How sin effects our thinking and our understanding so that when we’re tired and exhausted and when a woman is in pain and recovering from childbirth and trying to raise children in this sin-cursed world.
I mean think about how our mind, will and emotions, the consequences of sin, are affected also by the curse of sin. How they reciprocate in affecting us. How they lead to our demise and they increase our burdens. Even in the curse though, upon marriage the resultant frustration, God conveys a promise of hope to this first couple. In fact, he gives this promise of hope. To them, even before he utters a word of curse to either one of ‘em.
I told you, we come back to Genesis 3:14 and 15. And here’s where we get into a second point, number two, marriage encouraged by hope. Talked about marriage frustrated by sin. Now we’re going to talk about marriage encouraged by hope. Think for a moment what it must have been like for Adam and Eve after the fall. Think about, I mean next couple days after they ate the forbidden fruit, to realize and reflect on what they just lost.
None of us have ever experienced this kind of dramatic loss ever in our lives. When we sin, we sin as sinners. We’re born into the world in sin, aren’t we? We’re like David, “In sin our mothers conceived us.” So for us, the fallen state has always been our natural state. We’ve never known anything different. We’ve never known anything but the tendency to sin and have shame and to hide and blame. And I mean that’s just our natural state. We’ve never known anything different than temptation. Sin happens to us. We’re caught up in sin before we even know it.
We’re attracted to things we shouldn’t be because we are sinners. We are sinful. We’re born in this world in sin. That’s our natural state where dead in our trespasses and sin. As the Bible says, “No one does good, not even one. No one seeks for God, no one pursues him.” All of us alike together are corrupt.
So when we sin. We have no conscious memory of a prior state of righteousness that we’ve come from, do we? Adam and Eve. They did remember. They remembered. They fell from a perfect state of righteousness. They fell from a condition of moral purity. They went from the clearest and purest light from the highest height to the depth of darkness in one bite and one swallow. Imagine the sorrow that they felt at this point.
The regret, the depth of sadness and remorse. Eve thinking “What have I done? I was created to be a help me to Adam and what have I helped him with? Entering into transgression and sin.” And Adam saying, “Man, I blew it. I didn’t listen to God. I listen to the voice of my wife. I should have stopped this right here. I know the truth but I got caught up in the desire and now it’s not only me and her, it’s our whole progeny. It’s everybody that comes from us is corrupt. What have I done?”
Must have been an unbearable weight of guilt and grief to bear. All they’d known was a joyful anticipation of even more enjoyment, more discovery, more pleasure, and more intimacy, fruitfulness, multiplying, filling the earth and exercising dominion. All they’d known was the stunning beauty attractiveness of this pristine created world. This attractiveness of one another, a desire for one another and an enjoyment of the goodness of God. Without any sin, perfect state of righteousness.
None of their enjoyment is tainted with impurity with regret with a nagging conscience. Just nothing but pure, righteous enjoyment. Enjoying purity, enjoying righteousness. That is their only experience until this day. All of a sudden to be plunged into this personal guilt with no one to blame but themselves, to be covered in shame. They had this compelling urge to run and hide and crawl under a rock and get away from the condemning gaze of one another in the condemning gaze of God.
“I’ll put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring he shall crush your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”Genesis 3:15
It’s an aspect of the tragedy of the fall that we’re only able to imagine, but never accurately never adequately. Think about how far they had fallen when they felt a forfeit such sublime height and fall to such an abysmal depth. That had to be the highest, highest distance between two points. It’s a soul crushing blow and sorrow.
So God, in his infinite kindness, coming from the bowels of his infinite compassion, as I said before, uttering one word of curse upon either the man or the woman, God cursed the devil. And in doing so, we can see in Genesis 3:14 and 15 how in cursing the devil, he utters there a word of promise for humanity. He utters a word of profound hope. Speaking to this hopeless couple who are on the brink of despair.
In this promise, in the rest of the chapter, really, we find, Adam and Eve find two reasons to be encouraged. There are two reasons for hope in Genesis 3. First one comes in verse 14-15. The second one comes in verses 20 to 24. So first word of promise, word of hope comes in 14, 15. God promised a triumph. He promised a triumph over the very enemy that perverted and distorted and lead them astray. God promises a triumph.
Second promise, second hope, verses 20 to 24, God provided an atonement. He provided a triumphant and he provided an atonement. Look at the first reason for hope. As I said, it comes in the curse on the serpent and on the devil. Verse 14 God starts, starts by cursing the serpent. Se, sealing this animal in particular as the perpetual symbol of evil for all of us. I don’t understand people who like snakes who cuddle with them and have them kind of wind around their bodies. I don’t get that at all. I, rather, biblically, theologically sound in my desire to kill every snake. I see, I make no apology for that. Serpent started it.
So verse 14, becomes a perpetual symbol of evil. The Lord said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.” Apparently, the serpent used to have limbs had bore his body up and off the ground. So it sounds like a super interesting creature, doesn’t it? Fascinating to behold, curvy with legs and able to crawl and move with speed and interesting.
Makes ve, makes great sense, doesn’t it? That the devil chose this? Animal as an instrument of vehicle to attract Eve’s interest. So in the curse, God removed its arms and legs, made it made it to slither on its belly in the dust. As a perpetual symbol of the devil’s humiliation. The serpent is forever a symbol now of lying and murdering devil. It’s also a symbol of the devil’s permanent place of perpetual humiliation to eat dust for the rest of its life.
Next, God turns from the serpent, which is a perpetual symbol of the devil. He turns to the personality behind the creature and he pronounces the curse upon the devil, the tempter verse 15. And in this curse upon the devil, God promises a triumph over the devil, and it’s through the seat of the woman. What Paul alludes to and what he wrote to Timothy, 1 Timothy 2:11, “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness, and he says, I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over man. Rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, and then even Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived, became a transgressor, and yet she’ll be saved through childbearing if they [her children] continue in faith, love, and holiness with self-control.”
This final verse there in 1 Timothy 2 alludes to the very first expression of the gospel. The good news of salvation went which comes in the context of a curse, and it points to the procreative nature of the marital union, in particular, the role of the woman in bearing the child who would save humanity. The Christ child. That’s why this verse, Genesis 3:15 is called the protoevangelium, you can pronounce it that the way proto-eu-angeliom, that’s kind of a Greek word that literally it means the first gospel, first gospel, first good news.
God said to the serpent, look at verse 15. “I’ll put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring he shall crush your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” That’s what the cross of Jesus Christ was, the ancient serpent, the devil, striking out and wounding his heel. But in the cross in that very act Jesus crushed the Serpent’s head. It’s an ironic turn of fortune. I like how one author summarized the work of Stuart Robinson, 19th century scholar theologian, who pointed to the interpretation of Genesis 3:15.
And pointed out in Genesis 3:15 essential elements of the Gospel, eight of them. Notice I’ll just run through him quickly. In verse 15, you can write these down, one, two, three, four, fix, six, seven, eight. Number one, God’s redemption comes through a man born of woman. That is, the fruit of the marital union. So not only will marriage continue, but it will be the context of redemption.
Galatians 4:4 says, “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his son, born of a woman born under the law to redeem those who were under the law.” It’s in the context of a woman’s procreative ability. Her womb bearing the Christ child that baby conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit in her womb supernaturally. But born in a normal way and born into a husband, wife relationship. Born into a family and raised. So God’s redemption comes through a man born of the woman.
Number two, God’s redemption comes to, comes through not just any man, but a greater man. One who rises above Adam. So where Adam failed, this man born of a woman, he will pass the test. He will pass probation and he will win the right to represent a new race of people. Number three, God’s Redemption involves a new nature. Notice its ver, Genesis 3:15. It’s a nature that’s at enmity with the satanic or fallen nature.
We know from 1 Corinthians 15:45, the first man became a living being, that is, by the Breath of God. God breathed into Adam the breath of life. The last Adam will become ver, 1 Corinthians 15:4, 45 “a life giving spirit.” One who breathes a new nature into his people. Number four, since God said, “I will put enmity.” “I,” he, taking personal responsibility, listen, this new nature comes by divine regeneration. It doesn’t come by human effort.
No longer are we as a race to be subjected to the futility of self-reliance. No longer dependent on human works. This redemption will come by sovereign initiative. It will be accomplished wholly by sovereign grace. So number five, since the Redeemer suffers a bruised heel, we see also God’s redemption will be accomplished by vicarious suffering. It would be accomplished by a penal substitutionary atonement, to be precise.
Second Corinthians 5:21, “God made him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf.” That is our sin, imputed to Christ and Christ suffering in our stead. He gets the punishment that we deserve. That’s the striking of the heel. Why is that? So in Corinthians 5:21, “So that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” Christ’s Righteousness, then, is imputed to us. We gain from his merit.
Number six, coming from Genesis 3:15, we see that God’s redemption purchases an elect race. There’s a believing offspring of the woman that’s at enmity with Satan’s seed. We can see this tension even in what Jesus said to his disciples. John 15:18, “Listen, if the world hates you, you know that it’s hated me before it hated you.” So if you’re hated because of me, listen, you’re in a new race of people at enmity with Satan. This enmity is an evidence of an ancient hostility. And I can tell you, beloved, if you’re going through enmity for the sake of the gospel for the sake of Christ, for the sake of righteousness, you share in this new race of people at enmity with the enemy.
Number seven, know God’s redemption. It will involve perpetual conflict between the seat of the woman and the seat of the devil. The Redeemer will destroy the works of the devil by a mortal wound to the devil’s head. “Son of God appeared,” 1 John 3:8, “to destroy the works of the devil.” Hebrews chapter 2, he came to destroy the one who held us captive by fear of death, all of our lives. He delivered us from underneath that captivity to fear held by the devil.
Son of God appeared to destroy the works of the devil, which is why, 1 John 3:9, “No one born of God makes a practice of sinning. For God’s seed abides in him; he cannot keep on sinning because he’s been born of God.” So impossible. He doesn’t continue in sin. Number eight, God’s redemption, as Stuart Robinson says, we’ll be quote “the ultimate triumph after suffering of the woman seed and therefore involves a triumph over death and a restoration of the humanity to its original state as a spiritual, in conjunction with a physical nature, in perfect blessedness as before its fall.” End Quote there, and I would just add better than before the fall, because now tested in Christ.
Paul says, 1 Corinthians 15:25 that Christ must “reign until he’s put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed, his death for God has put all things in subjection under his feet, even death.” Now as we back up and look at Genesis 3:15, obviously we, from the vantage point of after the cross, we can see and fill in the details here. But you can bet that Adam and Eve, they found hope in that verse. They saw the promise of the gospel from a great distance.
They saw embedded in this curse their reason for hope. Though fallen though living under a curse, our first parents, listen, they meditated on the gospel for centuries. Read back and see how long they lived. Hundreds of years in their fallen condition. Listen, early death, 70, 80, 90 years, that is a mercy on us. You want to live a hundred, two hundred, three hundred, eight hundred years in this fallen state? They did. And for centuries, with so much to regret.
They latched onto this promise of hope in Genesis 3:15 and they squeezed out of it every bit of encouragement they could find. And listen, that well never ran dry. Why? Because God’s word is eternal. It is infinite. It never runs out. The more reflection they gave to this promise, the more they found the gospel and all of its elements securely in that verse.
So even as they lived under the curse, even as they groaned in sorrow over what they forfeited, they looked to God’s promise and faith, and they taught their children after them. As they did, even in their fallen condition, they were passing on the hope of the gospel. And it was through the formative institution of marriage. Through their marriage through their family, they are shaping those next generations with truth.
There’s a second reason for hope in this chapter at the end of the chapter, said the God promised a triumph for promise. The gospel. We can also see God provided in atonement. Notice in verse 20. Let me just read the verses there. “The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she’s the mother of all the living. And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skin and clothed them. And then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man’s become like one of us, in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reached out his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat and live forever—.”
The consequences of doing that so severe, so grave he didn’t even finish the sentence. “Therefore,” verse 23, “The Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, 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.”
We can see in verse 20 that in faith the man called his wife’s name Eve. It’s related to the verb hawwah. It means to be, to exist. So Eve’s name, her personal name, comes from the idea of life and being in existence. She’s the mother of all the living. In light of this promise of the gospel that he saw in verse 15, Adam names his wife Eve in an attitude of faith and view of that gospel hope. He trusts. He believes. That’s why I believe we’re going to see Adam and Eve in heaven.
In his grace, verse 21 says, “The Lord God made for Adam and his wife garments of skin, clothed them.” He just totally discards, dismisses the garments of, of fig leaves and all this stuff that they made. Their futile attempt to cover themselves by themselves. Instead, God makes the first sacrifice, the first animal sacrifice is here, providing the first atonement for Adam and Eve to cover over their guilt and their shame. This foreshadows the full atonement that it will come in the death of Jesus Christ, substitutionary sacrifice for our sins.
Then in verses 22 to 24 as we read, we see that God prevents Adam and Eve from partaking of the tree of life. That is a mercy from God. It prevents Adam and Eve from trying to g, gain eternal life apart from saving grace. Such a life eternal, everlasting, but in a fallen condition at its very best. It’s only an extension of life. But not an extension of any internal kind or quality of life. God prevented further tragedy upon the tragedy of the fall.
God shielded, as John Murray says, God shielded them, prevented them from confirmation in sin and misery and death, and leaving them there. He shielded Adam from further sin that would put him outside the sphere of redemption. So God mercifully prevented them from living forever in this fallen state. He sent him away. He sent him away to work and to wait and to cling in faith to his promise. They’re waiting faith for his timing, they’re to wait looking forward in hope.
They are to anticipate the fulfillment of God’s gospe promise. They’re to wait for the culmination of all hope and all glory in Christ. Is it any different for us as believers today? If we wait in faith. We anticipate in hope. That even in the fall, and even in the suffering, and even in the sin and all the other stuff, we’re always looking to Christ. We’re always looking for the consummation of his perfect plan of redemption. We want to see it come to fruition. We want to see Christ return for him, to rule and reign on Earth and put down people like a Vladimir Putin and any other tyrant who dares to raise his head against a holy God.
We long for that, don’t we? We long to see his righteous reign set up here on earth. For him to rule and fulfill every promise that he made to his people Israel, to be there as the church reigning by his side. We’re no different than Adam and Eve. Believing, trusting, clinging to the gospel promise in faith, and in hope. So when the gospel is fulfilled in Christ, it’s no small significance that the perfect picture of God’s love in the gospel is the perfect picture provided in a marital union.
OK, so third Point for today, number three, and we’re going to expand on this next week, so don’t worry if you don’t get all your questions answered in Ephesians Chapter 5. But go ahead and turn there, but number three, the point is, marriage redeemed by grace. Marriage redeemed by grace. In his kindness, God gave the first man Adam a bride. He created a wife for Adam. He brought his, this wife to Adam and Adam rejoiced in his wife and have Chapter 2 in Genesis.
So did the last Adam, Jesus Christ, did he ever marry during his earthly ministry? It’s not a trick question. I heard a no. You’re right and that’s the right answer. He never married in his earthly ministry, did he? But does he have a bride? Indeed, he does. God, in his kindness, just as he provided a bride for the first man Adam, he also gave the last man Jesus Christ a bride.
God chose this bride for his son before the foundation of the world. And he has brought and continues to bring this bride to his son, the bridegroom and Christ also rejoices over his bride. Whereas the first bride Eve came to Adam in the purity of holiness, and in the innocence of righteousness, the bride of Christ, the church, comes to him in a state of impurity and unholiness and unrighteous.
And yet, we still find in everything we can read about the Lord Jesus Christ. We still find in him the deepest joy of Christ, our savior, is to purify his bride, to bring her close that he might purify her and stand before his father on his wedding day to present her to himself and to his Father, holy and blameless. Beautiful picture. So in Ephesians 5:25 and following, listen, we could have never anticipated this from the vantage point of creation.
We could have never seen what God had planned for this blessed institution. When God created man and woman in his image when he created the institution of marriage, we could have never known how God would glorify marriage. Using marriage to paint this beautiful, perfect picture of the redemptive relationship between Christ and his bride, the church.
So look at Ephesians 5:25, husbands, command to you, “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” You think you’ve sacrificed your, your life or yourself or your wife? Think again. Christ suffered the cross. The ultimate sacrifice. Now you’re not going to do that for your wife. There’s only one sacrifice for sins, Jesus Christ, but that is a model for how far we go to love our wives and sacrifice and give ourselves up for her.
Why did Christ do it? Verse 26, “That he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing that she might be holy without blemish. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother, and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
Right? Quoted from Genesis Chapter 2, verse 24. “And this mystery,” verse 32 here, “is profound, and I’m saying that it refers to Christ and the church.” Our marriages are pictures of Christ’s love relationship with this church. Christ, the loving husband, sacrifices himself for the church, a submissive bride. Marriage, then, is a sign that it points to the substance found in Christ. As sorrowful as the fall is, what God revealed in Christ is something we have never known without the fall.
We don’t rejoice in the fall, do we? But we do rejoice in the wisdom of God. We do rejoice in the revelation of this mystery, that our marriages portray Christ and his relationship with the church. Amazing. The marriage of Christ and his church is pictured, not, not perfectly, but it’s truly pictured in every wedding of every man and every woman. Our marriages point to this final most significant, most glorious relationship of all: the Union of Christ and the people that he purchased with a loving sacrifice promised to him by his father from before the foundation of the world.
A few years ago I came across the writing of a very early Italian reformer named Don Benedetto. I’ve been using some of what he wrote in wedding ceremonies, as some of you may know, and I’d like to share some of that with you. What Don Benedetto, wrote back, way back in 1543, it puts words to this love relationship between Christ and his bride. This marital relationship intimate expression between a husband and wife.
And again think about this from the perspective of a fallen bride. Not a pure woman, not a chaste woman. The one who is thoroughly immersed in sin, mourns over her sins. She knows her iniquities. She knows her past. And she wonders aloud, how can this husband ever receive me to himself? Don Benedetto sets it up this way. Says, “The custom of marriage is that of two, there becomes one thing. They, being two, become one flesh. The goods of both become common to either of them, so that the husband says the dowry of the wife is his, And in like manner the wife says that the house and all of the riches of the husband are hers. When God married his dearly beloved son with the church, the Son of God was pleased to take to himself his beloved bride. Knowing that full well her dowry, the only thing that this wife brings into the marriage, the only thing you bring to Christ is your sin. The only thing this wife brings to this marriage is her dowry of sin. So what’s distinctively hers? Now becomes his.”
Benedetto gives voice to Christ tender words. Here spoken to the bride again, quoting him. “Christ says the dowry of the soul, my dearly beloved spouse, that is to say, your sins, the transgression of the law, the wrath of God against you, the boldness of the devil against you, the prison of hell and all your other evils, all of that will come into my power are in mine known ordering, and it is up to me to do with your dowry even as it pleases me. Therefore, I will cast your dowry of sin upon the altar of my cross and make it of none effect.” End quote.
So costly because in accepting her dowry, he had to die. God looked down, saw his Son carrying the sins of his wife’s dowry, his bride, and God put his Son to death on that cross. He poured all his wrath out upon Jesus. And gave him the due penalty for her sins. With her sinful dowry, now done away with, paid in full, the son having pleased the Father, God is pleased now to raise him from the dead having received, accepted that perfect sacrifice, God raised him from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit.
And God seated Christ, the risen Christ at his right hand, so that he would rain from on high with all authority in heaven and on earth, given to him. And now this is the love that the father has shown. He sent his one and only Son to take the shame of our sins, to pay that full penalty and then cover us with his righteousness, to give us his richness. Sin as atone for guilt and shame removed erased forever. Psalm 103, separated as far as is “the east is from the west.”
Now the wife is covered here in perfect resplendent righteousness, not of her own, but of Jesus Christ. She’s no second-rate bride because of her past. She’s not hanging her head forever in shame, remaining veiled from public view. No, this bride’s future is all glory. It’s all joy. Here’s how Don Benedetto again represents her gratitude.
Quoting him, “She says with most hearty rejoicing, ‘The realms and dominions of my well beloved husband are mine. I am queen and empress of Heaven and earth. My husband’s riches, that is to say, his Holiness, his innocence, his righteousness, his godhead, with all his virtue and power, they are my riches. Therefore, I am wholly innocent, righteous, and godly. There is no spot in me. I am fair and well favored because my dearly beloved husband is not spotted a fair and well-favored. And he being all together mine, all that is his is mine because he is holy and pure. I also am become holy and pure.’” End quote.
Beloved Christian, listen to me, doesn’t matter what state you’re in in this life, whether you’re married or unmarried. Whether you’re single, married, whether you’re divorced, whether you’re widowed, being in Christ, that is what matters. Because that’s your story. You are that bride. Being in Christ matters. This life is so short. Our time here on this earth is so fleeting it’s like a vapor that escapes.
Paul expressed the same thought at the end of Galatians chapter 6. “Far be it for me to boast in anything except in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.” Don’t look at circumcision uncirc, don’t look at physical things. Don’t look at external things. We could add neither marriage nor lack of marriage counts for anything but what counts is a new creation.
Because if you’re a new creation in Christ, listen, you’re a member of this body, which is the bride of Christ. Can anything touch you? Can anything affect your joy? Is there anything for you but gratitude and rejoicing and riches and splendor of holiness forever? This is our lot. Because he won for us. All that G, God designed for marriage. Everything that’s pictured in marriage, the intimacy and joy of union and communion that is fulfilled perfectly, ultimately in Christ.
Our Savior died for us. He died to sanctify us, make us holy, having cleansed us with his pure word, and he will present us to himself before the Father in splendor, without any spot or wrinkle or any such thing. But to present us holy and blameless. Amen? Let’s pray.
Our Father, we give you thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is our victor, our, our triumph. He is, our splendor, he’s our hope, he’s our joy. We, being the bride, give thanks because you have united us to him like a bride to a husband, he being our bridegroom, the husband, we rejoice in him. He is our Savior and our Lord. He is the head of the body, the church. We count ourselves most privileged, most blessed, most benefited in such a perfect holy state that all we can say is thank you.
We ask that you would help us to live up to the calling, live worthy of the calling to which we’ve been called. Understand the priority and urgency of our state in this life to declare this gospel to all who are fallen. But they too might enter into a new race of people, leaving Adam’s race behind and join into the race of humanity that’s found in Christ. It’s in his name that we pray and thank you Father, amen.