Twelve Extraordinary Women, Week 3

Twelve Extraordinary Women  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  56:07
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Her Humiliation

Upon eating the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve’s eyes were open and they immediately knew the difference between good and evil. Innocence had been lost. Why? Because she willfully knew evil by experience. She willfully disobeyed God’s commands. This is described in Genesis 3:7:
Genesis 3:7 ESV
7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
What did it mean that their eyes were opened? “to be able to perceive”, “to be able do be observant”, in other words their lens of innocence had been removed and they were able to observe and perceive that not all around them was good and that THEY had lost their intrinsic goodness.
Their famous attempt to make clothing of fig leaves perfectly illustrates the utter inadequacy of every human device ever conceived to try to cover shame. Human religion, philanthropy, education, self-betterment, self-esteem, and all other attempts at human goodness ultimately fail to provide adequate camouflage for the disgrace and shame of our fallen state. All the man-made remedies combined are no more effective for removing the dishonor of our sin than our first parents’ attempts to conceal their nakedness with fig leaves. That’s because masking over shame doesn’t really deal with the problem of guilt before God. Worst of all, a full atonement for guilt is far outside the possibility of fallen men and women to provide for themselves.
That was the realization Adam and Eve awoke to when their eyes were opened to the knowledge of good and evil. The Lord, of course, knew all about Adam’s sin before it even occurred. There was no possibility of hiding the truth from Him, and He certainly did not have to come physically to the garden to find out what the first couple were up to. But Genesis tells the story from an earthly and human perspective.
So how did that change the relationship they had with God?
Genesis 3:8–13 ESV
8 And 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. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
Goodness, peace, harmony was replaced with a deep sense of fear, dread, and horror at the thought of giving an account to God for what they had done. So, they tried to hide. They tried to hide their own nakedness. They tried to cover up their sin.
Is this not the case of many of us? We try to hide from and/or cover up our sin? Why? Because we are ashamed of our sin, ashamed we were caught (?), and afraid of the consequences (earthly and/or heavenly).
Adam’s reply reflects his fear, as well as a note of deep sorrow. But there’s no confession. Adam seems to have realized that it was pointless to try to plead innocence, but neither did he make a full confession. What he did was try to pass off the blame. He immediately pointed the finger at the one closest to him: Eve.
Notice how he also seems to accuse God - “the woman whom YOU gave to be with me!”
So quickly did sin corrupt Adam’s mind that in his blame shifting, he did not shy away from making God Himself an accessory to the crime. This is so typical of sinners seeking to exonerate themselves that the New Testament epistle of James expressly instructs us, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed” (James 1:13–14 NKJV).
James 1:13–15 ESV
13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. 14 But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. 15 Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.
Adam, however, was subtly trying to put at least some of the blame on God himself, but he placed most of the blame directly on Eve. The Lord responded, not by arguing with Adam about it, but by turning to Eve and confronting her directly. Obviously, this was not a signal that Adam was off the hook. Rather, the Lord was giving Eve an opportunity to confess her part.
But notice the diversion tactic used by Eve: “It was the serpent who deceived me!”
Genesis 3:13 (ESV)
13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”
No matter what means or tactic Satan may use to cause us into sin—no matter how subtle his cunning—the responsibility for the deed itself still lies with the sinner and no one else. Eve could not escape accountability for what she had done by transferring the blame.
Notice, however, that the Lord made no argument and entertained no further dialogue. There was enough to condemn Adam and Eve in their own words, despite their efforts to avoid a full confession. All their excuses were no better at concealing their guilt than the fig leaves had been.
So in Genesis 3:14–19, the Lord simply pronounces a comprehensive curse that addresses the guilty parties in turn—first the serpent, then Eve, and finally Adam:
Genesis 3:14–19 ESV
14 The Lord God 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. 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” 16 To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.” 17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded 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; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
There is always a consequence for disobeying God. We know what God declared as the punishment for sin in eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil -
Genesis 2:15–17 ESV
15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”
The consequence of sin was death. I interpret this as to be physical death AND spiritual death - separation from God. Physical as a result of separation from the tree of life. Spiritual as the result of disobeying God. mût may refer to death by natural causes or to violent death. The latter may be as a penalty or otherwise. Ezekiel reminds us that God has no pleasure in the death of men, for his purpose was and is that they live.
Ezekiel 18:32 ESV
32 For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.”
But sin left God no choice, a penalty “the curse” had to be instituted as a result of disobedience.
Notice that the curse has three sections. The first part is addressed to the serpent; the second part to Eve; and the third part to Adam. But all three sections had serious ramifications for Eve. In order to see this clearly, let’s start with the final section, which is addressed to Adam, and work our way backward.
The curse on Adam applied not only to him personally, but also to the entire human race. It furthermore promised significant changes in the earthly environment. So the curse on Adam had immediate and automatic implications for Eve (and for all their offspring) also. The loss of paradise and the sudden change in all of nature meant that Eve’s daily life would be filled with onerous consequences, just as Adam’s life would be. Her toil, like his, would become a burden. The sweat, the thorns and thistles, and ultimately the reality of death would all be part of her lot in life too. So the curse on Adam was a curse on Eve as well.
It is significant, I think, that the shortest section of the curse is the part dealing with Eve directly. Eve’s part is completely contained in one verse of Scripture (v. 16), and it has two elements. One direct consequence of Eve’s sin would be a multiplication of the pain and sorrow associated with childbirth. The other would be a struggle that would occur in her relationship with her husband. In other words, when the curse addresses Eve in particular, it deals with the two most important relationships in which a woman might naturally seek her highest joy: her husband and her children.
The first part of verse 16 is simple and straightforward: “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children.” Of course, sin is what brought sorrow and misery into the world in the first place. The expression multiply your sorrow does not suggest that there would have been a lesser degree of anguish or distress in an un-cursed Eden anyway. Presumably, even childbirth would have been as painless and as perfect as every other aspect of Paradise. But this language simply recognizes that now, in a fallen world, sadness, pain, and physical difficulties would be part and parcel of the woman’s daily routine. And in childbirth, the pain and sorrow would be “greatly multiplied”—significantly increased over the normal woes of everyday life. The bearing of children, which originally had the potential to bring the most undiluted kind of joy and gladness, would instead be marred by severe pain and difficulty.
The second part of the verse is a little harder to interpret: “Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.” Clear light is shed on the meaning of that expression by a comparison with Genesis 4:7, which uses exactly the same language and grammatical construction to describe the struggle we wage with sin: “Sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it”. In other words, sin desires to gain mastery over you, but you need to prevail over it instead.
Genesis 4:7 ESV
7 If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.”
Genesis 3:16, using the very same language, describes a similar struggle that would take place between Eve and her husband. Before Adam sinned, his leadership was always perfectly wise and loving and tender. Before Eve sinned, her submission was the perfect model of meekness and modesty. But sin changed all of that. She would now chafe under his headship and desire to gain dominance over him. His tendency would be to suppress her in a harsh or domineering way. And thus we see that tensions over gender roles go all the way back to our first parents. It is one of the immediate effects of sin and the awful curse that it brought upon our race.
*** Does this not parallel the relationship between mankind and God after original sin? Sin caused pain, anguish, and a struggle of control where there is a tug and pull for authority. We will try to dominate over God’s Will, suppressing what we know is right, and standing in defiance towards God’s authority.***
Paradise was utterly ruined by sin, and the severity of the curse must have shattered Eve’s heart. But God’s judgment against her was not entirely harsh and hopeless. There was a good deal of grace, even in the curse. To the eyes of faith, there were rays of hope that shone even through the cloud of God’s displeasure.
For example, Eve might have been made subject to the serpent to whom she had foolishly given in. But instead, she remained under the headship of her husband, who loved her. She might have been utterly destroyed, or made to wander alone in a world where survival would have been difficult. Instead, she was permitted to remain with Adam, who would continue to care for her and provide for her. Although their relationship would now have tensions that did not exist in Eden, she remained Adam’s partner. Even though she might have justly been made an outcast and a pariah, she retained her role as a wife.
In the worst case, Eve might have even been forbidden to bear children. Instead, although the experience would now be painful and accompanied by sorrow, Eve would still be the mother of all living. In fact, her very name, given to her by Adam after the pronouncement of the curse, gave testimony to that fact. “The man called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living” (Gen. 3:20).
As a matter of fact, the promise that Eve would still bear children mitigated every other aspect of the curse. That one simple expectation contained a ray of hope for the whole human race. There was a hint in the curse itself that one of Eve’s own offspring would ultimately overthrow evil and dispel all the darkness of sin. Eve had set a whole world of evil in motion by her disobedience; now, through her offspring, she would produce a Savior. This powerful hope had already been implicitly given to her, in the portion of the curse where the Lord addressed the serpent, which is where we will pick up next week.
Elmer B. Smick, “1169 מוּת,” ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago: Moody Press, 1999), 497.
John F. MacArthur Jr., Twelve Extraordinary Women: How God Shaped Women of the Bible and What He Wants to Do with You (Nashville, TN: Nelson Books, 2005), 15-21.
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