In Genesis 3 Eve quoted God’s warning not to eat from the tree in the middle of the garden. But what she said was different to what God had said. After you remove all the conjecture there is no explanation except that Adam, who must have relayed what God said to him in Genesis 2, deliberately falsified (a lie) what God had said to him. This tiny observation is so challenging that many will try and ignore it because it reveals that there were problems even before Adam and Eve ate. Yet this apparent sin was not the cause of the fall. Finally, we get to see a picture God ministering to His children rather than looking for some excuse to curse them and cast them out of the Garden.
OK, we had better look precisely at what God said to Adam before Eve was created, and what Eve subsequently quoted.
16 The LORD God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” (Genesis 2:16-17, NASB)
2 The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; 3 but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” (Genesis 3:2-3, NASB)
Some people propose that Eve lied to the snake, but there is no motivation for her to lie. She is answering a question posed by the snake about whether God had said ‘You shall not eat ...’ and her answer was substantially correct. Her problem was that she chose to follow the snake’s advice rather than God’s command.
If she did not lie then it is proposed she was mistaken. This is discussed in a CMI article, http://creation.com/did-eve-lie-before-the-fall. But I don’t believe she was mistaken. That would mean that God had not created Adam and Eve well enough to recall necessary instructions. That would be a valid excuse.
Let me now propose another scenario... Adam does not trust Eve, so he hides the great things that the trees offer, even that the Tree of Life is there. He even exaggerated the do not eat to do not even touch. Now, if you like, you can try and put a nice spin on it, namely that Adam was being a bit over protective. Perhaps you like the idea that Adam, having been commanded to tend the garden, decided that tending that tree was his job, and so he told Eve not to touch it. None-the-less, he lied and seems to have not passed on the purpose of the trees in the centre of the garden.
I believe that Adam was not with Eve when the snake spoke to her. This is the way Satan always works. It’s probably why Jesus sent his disciples out in pairs. But in Genesis 3:6, Adam was with her when she ate. If Adam’s motivation in adding the don’t even touch phrase was protective, then why didn’t he stop her from eating? And if he was conscious of pending danger in regard to Eve, then surely Adam would not have eaten the fruit himself.
No, Adam was not being protective. Similarly his decision to eat after Eve ate was not a sacrificial choice to stay with her out of love. First, because judgement had not been passed and second, because he blamed Eve in Genesis 3:11. Adam knew precisely what God had said and was not deceived as Eve was deceived. So why did Adam eat after Eve ate? It’s because he did not want Eve to have knowledge and hence control or superiority over him. That is also the reason why Adam lied to Eve.
It was not just the knowledge of Good and Evil that was the problem, because God also had that knowledge, but the desire for control. It was setting yourself up not to be like God, but to be as God. Though conjecture abounds, this is the only scenario or motivation that links Eve’s error; the failure of Adam to stop her eating; and the overall responsibility for death being assigned to Adam. And even more importantly, it exposes the difference in being like, as in like-minded, and being like, as in control. King David was like-minded — a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), and that was good. But there can only be one God who is in control.
Whatever you think about my conjecture as to why Adam lied, the lie paints an unnamed tree at the centre of the garden as off limits and hidden away. We see that the lie has not been up-front about the two trees and that God did want Adam and Eve to eat from the tree of life. This lie has laid the groundwork for Eve to distrust God’s motives, but actually it was Adam’s motives that were the problem. The serpent, Satan, only had to water the lie. That was the tragedy.
The previous section has some cool insights, but it’s not the radical twist that I promised in the preface about God’s heart. Now I am going to be a little bit too frank for a few paragraphs. I am “extremely disappointed” (not my first choice of words – that was way too un-holy), in what I hear spoken about God. First it seems so rare that we speak about Genesis at all, as if we have become ashamed because science has silenced us. But that type of science, dealing with the history and origins of the universe and of life, is more akin to a philosophy class, trying to prop up an atheistic belief system. Then there are those who grossly distort the Bible in an attempt to produce a hybrid between science and what God is telling us. However, these two groups are simply blind — and who can blame a blind person for missing it.
When I first started reading Genesis, I missed so many beautiful things. I claim to be no one special, so what I share I would have expected many before me to have shared, but I don’t see it. For example:
The list seems to go on and on. Everywhere we miss the undertones of God’s grace and just see the apparent judgements. Judgements that seem harsh – mainly because we are so badly deceived that we do such things routinely, and hence the judgement seems harsh. Then, everywhere, when we mask the sin, we also mask the greatness of what Jesus has done in separating us from our sin.
OK, I’ve had my little rant. Now I want to show you God’s grace in regard to Adam’s lie. Yes, Adam lied. This lie was well before Genesis 3. Lying is sinning so some zealots would deny that Adam could have lied, otherwise God would have had to judge Adam for that. Do you see the legalistic mindset with God just hovering, waiting for an opportunity to smite His children? The same mindset exists today. You get baptized and forgiven and all that great stuff, but now you have to be good, even perfect because He’s still waiting with His big stick. Oops, seems like I’ve got a bit more to rant about. The bottom line is: you stay in the same way you got in — you turn to Jesus and hang on tight.
By the way, God never said to Adam, “Do not lie”. The only rule was “do not eat”. If you don’t break a rule then there is no problem (Romans 4:15, 5:13). “Do not lie” came through the law handed down by Moses about 2,500 years later. Before that, we see that Abraham lied about his wife twice, and each time God preserved them both. Abraham was told to leave his family but he still took his nephew Lot, which caused a lot of problems. But God was faithful and delivered Abraham and blessed the whole world through him. Jacob lied to his father Isaac in order to get his blessing, yet this was part of God’s plan.
Adam was not perfect but God was fellowshipping with Adam. God had been showing Adam around and routinely visiting the garden during the cool of the day(Note 1). Adam and Eve had some issues to work out. Adam seems to have trust issues with Eve and with God. Today, we who have accepted Jesus and hence God as father, can come into His presence without condemnation; with the full assurance of God’s love. Well, so could Adam and Eve.
Now read “Just one rule” and see how the only thing that could break the fellowship happened.
Let’s look at Satan’s lie following Eve’s quotation of Adam’s lie…
4 The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! 5 For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5, NASB)
Now, I almost hate to say it, but it seems to be correct. They did not die that day as we would have thought of it. Adam lived on to 930 years and Eve probably something similar. And they certainly did receive the knowledge of good and evil — God confirmed that in Genesis 3:22. Did Satan, who is by nature a liar; who has no truth in him; and is the father of all lies (John 8:44), deceive Eve with the truth?
Well, I told you that it was a brain teaser! The trick is to understand the way God saw it. When God said to Adam, “…for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die”, God knew that Adam would be judged and judgement brought on the second death — that is the death you must fear (Revelation 20:6, 20:14). Now God made it simple for Adam and Eve and in the plain language, their expectation was immediate physical death. Judgement leading to eternal separation from God, who is the source of life, was the reality. Satan would also have known this and so his statement, “you will not die”, was a lie.
Now-a-days, most people reconcile the fact that Adam and Eve did not die that same day by treating “the day you eat is the day you die” as an idiom. The idiom roughly means that “the day you eat you will bring upon yourself the certainty of death”. This might have been OK for the Jews pre-Jesus, but we can clearly see that the same 24 hour day God came and judged Adam and so that was the reality. To God, Judgement is death. God did not exaggerate or lie in “the day you eat is the day you die” statement. But God was also not using an idiom.
Would you like to see a lovely extension to this? There are several scriptures (e.g. Psalm 90), usually taken symbolically, that indicate that a day is like 1000 years to God. Adam and his next 10 generations lived up to, but not quite 1,000 years. Wow, their physical death was also like a day, but again, as God sees a day. Can you see God’s grace? God wanted man to live forever in His presence. We stuffed it up! But even in plan B, we still had a millennium. Enoch and Noah are famous for having used that time to walk with God.
I am not sure why some believers choose to insist on the idiomatic explanation, but in their defence, they are sticking to the plain text. This has been a robust defence of the Word of God for thousands of years. In particular, when all manner of perversions were being offered. I can even understand why they would see my explanation as a perversion, but you be the judge. Is my proposal reflecting the events truly and still reflecting the nature and character of God as revealed later in the Bible?
I have proposed that Eve was alone when challenged by the snake, mainly because Satan tends to work that way. Further, her reference to the tree in the middle of the garden, in Genesis 3:2 seemed to picture it as somewhere different to where she was. This means that there is a period of time before Eve views the tree in Genesis 3:6, and now the text specifically appends that her husband is with her. Whether or not you accept this conjecture, the text is at least consistent with it. But here is the important point. Eve has not gone to the centre of the garden by herself. She has waited until Adam is with her. Clearly she acts independently in making the decision to eat, but she immediately offers (shares) the fruit with Adam.
The lovely thing that I saw was that she never sought the knowledge exclusively for herself. It seemed to me that she understood her one-ness with Adam. However, I have painted Adam as the one that wanted to be in control. Perhaps that is why it is always Adam’s sin that is attributed as the source of death.
I thought how beautifully God had made Eve for Adam, as a “suitable helper” (Genesis 2:20). Then I considered the judgement God pronounced over Eve in Genesis 3:16. There was painful childbirth, but it ended, “…Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.” Do you see it? Though her pain in childbirth was increased, God did not remove this desire He had built into her for her husband.
And now for the most beautiful thing… Do you recall me wondering why Adam did not protect Eve by preventing her from eating the forbidden fruit? Well, now God has decreed that Adam (man) shall rule over his wife. Of course we men always misunderstand what God meant by this. For God, the one in authority is there to serve and protect those in his care. Basically, God has made Adam step-up and protect this precious gift he had been given.
My suggestion that Adam deliberately lied to Eve is a challenge because most people believe that Adam, indeed everything, was perfect until Adam sinned by eating the forbidden fruit. Well, that perception has been overturned, but we can rejoice in seeing God fellowshipping and bring up an imperfect Adam just as He does to us, that this, those who believe and have received His Holy Spirit.
None-the-less, the suggestion of a premeditated lie seems quite harsh to our ears. Of course, that is the problem — we don’t see it the way it really is, and we disguise it even to ourselves. God declares that our hearts are deceptive (Jeremiah 17:9-10). In other places we are blind to our pride (Matthew 23:16-26, Matthew 15:10-14, Luke 4:18, Luke 6:39-45, Revelation 3:17). Adam might have said to himself, “This tree is dangerous — I’ll keep Eve well away from it”. Seemingly good motives but in his heart he is keeping control. Of course, what I just said is speculation and certainly there is a lot of speculation around the very brief description of events in Genesis 3. So, would you please let me share an in depth, detailed account of a personal experience and at least you will know why I can see behind Adam’s lie…
There was a period of about 3 months where I would go to bed and nearly every night I would start to run through an imaginary scenario where I was speaking at a big conference. The presence of God would arrive and amazing things would start to unfold, but I kept feeling that I had to leave. Well, of course I was not going to leave. There were people to be healed; demons to cast out; false teaching to be corrected. Over time I started to appoint other people to heal and deal with demons; even handing over the mic to someone else I could trust, but I had to stay. I reasoned that at least I could stay and rejoice in His presence and be in awe of all that He was doing, but still I felt the need to leave.
By the end of the 3 months I was as frustrated as you can imagine. I just could not break out of the scenario being played back. I literally imagined myself placing my hand on a stack of Bibles, ready to declare that I was doing all this to serve God and give Him the glory. Then, in a split second, the Holy Spirit opened my eyes — I wanted to be in control. ...Well, I was livid. I was ashamed. How did it take me so long to see the obvious? I hated failing a test, even 99 out of 100 was not good enough at school, and now I could see this horrid thing in my heart.
I continued to berate myself for the next three days. Then I started to recall all the wonderful times I had felt God’s presence in worship and how exciting it had been as various revelations and visions had come to me over the previous decades. All that time He had loved on me and He knew about that horrid thing in my heart. Now He knew that He could trust our relationship and take me the next step. And the most beautiful aspect of it was that the ‘desire for control’ was an ‘ugly thing’ in my heart. It was not me. It was foreign and no longer hidden. I could deal with it and recognise it. I could now picture how Jesus was able to separate me from my sin.
My story is over, but I could now see how God had lovingly shown Adam round the garden and various regions; introducing Adam to all the things he had created especially for Adam. God knew all along what would happen just as He knew about my ugly thing. He was bringing up Adam with daily fellowship. At the right time I’m sure God could have dealt with Adam’s ugly thing, but Adam rebelled and broke the fellowship and the rest is history.
God has never stopped loving His children, but now there was only one way to restore the relationship and separate us from our sin and rebellion. We don’t instantly become perfect when we accept Jesus, though He credits us with His righteousness. But we let His Holy Spirit into our heart to start building the relationship and dealing with the ugly things, just as God was doing when He met with Adam in the cool of the day.
This article started as follow-up to “Just one rule”. You absolutely have to read about the one immutable rule of Heaven and Earth, because this article is about the first instance of that rule being invoked.
“Innocence” is an article that shows how the early church started with what Adam and Eve lost.
I also recommend looking at the section “Why did Adam eat?” in The Trees, Sin, and God. I wrote that article 6 years ago, in 2009, when I first started to meditate on that question. To me, the observations offered here completes a quest to understand what drove Adam, but more importantly, to see God’s heart and grace in it all.