Made in the image of God, by God, and for God, Adam and Eve were living in unimaginable joy as God’s creational caretakers. They found their identity in God, got their purpose from God, and lived a life of meaning and significance through God in a place that is rightly described as Paradise. Then the saddest thing imaginable happened. They turned away from God, seeking to become their own gods.
When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were open, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. (Genesis 3:6-8)
What happened in the Garden of Eden only makes sense in light of the second chapter of Genesis, where God gave Adam and Eve one prohibition. That’s right; God gave only one prohibition, over and against all His profound provision.
The Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)
And die they did! In the instant they ate of the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve were immediately “cut off” spiritually from their Creator. They were, for the first time, aware of their nakedness and ashamed. At the first sound of their heavenly Father approaching, they ran from Him. Tragically, they were hiding from the only One who could fix their problem!
I have no idea what “God walking in the garden in the cool of the day” with Adam and Eve was truly like. But it’s clear that they heard and knew the sound of God’s approach, so this was not the first time this had happened. It suggests to me that Adam and Eve had regular, intimate fellowship and communion with their Creator in Paradise. Can you think of anything better than that? And yet they forsook that relationship and entered into rebellion.
In their attempt to displace Divinity, our first parents plunged themselves and all of creation into utter ruin. Everything is broken because of their horrific act of cosmic treason. Truly this has to be the saddest thing that has ever happened in all of human history.
But . . . the story does not end there! God promised to send a Savior (Genesis 3:15), telling Adam and Eve—and all of us today—that the way out of this mess is forward to the cross. We are not heading back to a Paradise lost; rather, we are moving toward a never-before seen Paradise, a new heavens and a new earth, where there will be no more tears, sorrow, sin, or death. The saddest story ever told turns into The Greatest Story Ever Told through the life, death, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!