Genesis 1:28-30; Genesis 2:15-17
Imagine a perfect world. No pain. No struggle. No conflict. There is peace. There is contentment. There is unity. This is the world of Genesis 1 and 2. This is the Garden of Eden. God the Creator has spent six days shaping a world where He could commune with mankind. He has created Eve as a perfect partner for Adam. The Bible says that God even walked with Adam and Eve in Eden in the cool of the evening (Genesis 3:8).
I know my tendency. I want to jump forward to Genesis 3, and the Serpent and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. But we must stop and resist that urge. A perfect creation - this is the gift that the Creator gave Mankind! He gave us perfect, complete communion with Himself. But this relationship was tied to a Covenant.
This is the Edenic Covenant. It is a conditional/bilateral covenant. It is characterized by the concept of, “if you…I will.” In this Covenant, Adam is the representative of all Mankind. He and Eve are the source of all humanity, and as a result, their actions determine the direction of man’s future. The first condition or provision of the Edenic Covenant is that man and woman were to be fruitful, multiply and replenish the Earth (Genesis 1:28). God had created a perfect world, and His desire was for mankind to populate that world.
The second requirement of the Edenic Covenant is also found in Genesis 1:28. It is the command to subdue the Earth. During the time of Eden, man was given authority over the Earth. He was to rule over the land, the seas, and all of its resources. Man was responsible for using these resources created by God in a manner that He prescribed.
The third provision of this Covenant related to all of the animal kingdom. Adam and Eve were commanded to take dominion over the Earth.
The fourth requirement of the Edenic Covenant was dietary. Adam was told he could eat of any tree, herb, or seed bearing plant. Man was originally prescribed a vegetarian diet. It is also important to note that Genesis 1:29-30 indicates that the animal kingdom was also originally intended to be vegetarian. Physical life was not to shed the blood of any other physical life. There was to be no death.
Genesis 2:15 gives man the responsibility to “dress and keep” the Garden. Man was given the command to work. We will see soon that this work was to become difficult, but only as the result of the violation of the Edenic Covenant.
Up until this point, all of the provisions of the Edenic Covenant were positive in nature. But the sixth condition of the Covenant was a prohibition. According Genesis 2:17, man was restricted from eating of one particular tree – the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. This tree was placed in the Garden to give mankind a choice. God did not desire “robotic” followers who served Him by default. He took the risk of His creation rejecting His will in order to gain the opportunity of them choosing Him over everything else.
It is easy to have a negative view of this prohibition. Why did God do this? Didn’t He know that Adam and Eve would eventually give in to this temptation? Wouldn’t it have been better for Him to not give us this choice?
We can hardly begin to understand what God was thinking when He gave us the choice to reject Him. But let’s remember, that as horrible “the fall” is from a human perspective, it doesn’t begin to compare to the pain and hurt that the Creator must have felt. And we must also remember that nothing is hidden from Him. He knew the choice we would make. He knew the consequences of that choice. He knew what life on Earth would become. He knew that He would have to take on the flesh of His creation and live among us. He knew that on one hand, He would have to suffer unfathomable torture as He not only would suffer physically, but would become sin Himself, in order to atone for our choice. On the other hand, He would have to look down from Heaven and watch as His creation would reject His Son. In spite of this, He gave us the chance to reject Him, because living through the pain and agony of our fall was better than living without a relationship with us. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
Man Breaks Covenant
It’s over. Eve is deceived by the serpent. Adam chooses Eve over obedience to the Creator. The covenant is broken. And justice must be measured out.
Stop and ponder the moments between Adam’s disobedience and the Creator’s arrival on the scene. Adam and Eve experience guilt for the first time. Man makes his first attempt to cover that guilt apart from God. Nakedness, in itself, is not sin, yet Adam and Eve feel it necessary to cover their nakedness. This attempt to cover their guilt with fig leaves is unsuccessful, as Adam and Eve still felt it necessary to hide themselves. We cannot hide from our guilt.
What must it have been like for Adam and Eve in those moments? Can you imagine the fear? The Creator had told them that they would die as a result of breaking this covenant. In fact, they are experiencing spiritual death for the very first time. And they are waiting. They are waiting for the Creator to make His way to the Garden. I’m sure they are consumed with dread.
What about the Creator? As we saw earlier, God knew before He uttered the words, “Let there be light” that this moment would come. So He waits on the edge of the physical, and considers what will soon take place. He enters the Garden: “Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, ‘Where are you’? So he (Adam) said, ‘I heard Your voice in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; and I hid myself. And He (God) said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat’?” (Genesis 3:9-11)
For the first time, the fleshly instinct to blame others for our sin rears its ugly head. “Then the man said, ‘The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.’ And the LORD God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent deceived me, and I ate’.” (Genesis 3:12-13)
A look at the first promise of redemption - the Adamic Covenant.