Updated: Mar 17, 2022
We can only imagine the world that Eve woke up to the moment she opened her eyes for the first time, the moment her lungs filled with air and she breathed her first. What sweet smells welcomed her nostrils? What sounds enticed her ears? What food made up her first meal? We know that prior to the flood all living creatures were herbivores, so she and Adam would have eaten everything the earth provided of grains, vegetables and fruit. We also know that with the firmament in place eleven miles above the earth there was much more oxygen in the atmosphere, making the vegetation larger and capable of supporting both humans and dinosaurs (Panorama of Creation, Carol Baugh). I imagine clear pools of water along meadows strewn with vibrant flowers and exotic plants we have never seen. I imagine amber sunsets and pink mornings, laced with warm breezes and cloudless skies. I imagine soft mist rising from the earth to cool the ground in the evening and dew in the mornings. How did Eve interact with her surroundings? Did she explore with Adam through miles of varied terrain or wander in solitude with her Creator? How did she feel about herself? Did she ask many questions of Adam and God about her origin, or accept with peace the life she had been given? We think of Eve as the perfect woman physically, but what was it like to be the crowning glory of God? For we know as God’s last creation that she was a reflection of Himself, a position she shared with her husband. I imagine Adam and Eve experienced peace and love on a regular basis as we only glimpse in fleeting moments of our lives. But imagine is all I can do because no one knows just what “Perfect” looks like. But we long to.
We think of a perfect world and all the possibilities it represents and we think that if only we had access to it we would be prefect also. “If only’ s” cloud our thoughts like crashing waves that make us yearn for what we do not have. What if our spouses were wonderful and our children were well behaved? What if our childhood carried all the wealth and love we needed and more? If. If. If. But what if having perfection made no difference in our lives? The answer lies in Scripture and we can see it in the story of Eve. She was hand-made by God Himself, fashioned with care and love, perfect in every physical attribute and personality trait. She was perfectly matched to her spouse, Adam, and they lived in harmony with all that surrounded them. There was perfect balance between their world, themselves and God. Yet, Eve longed for something outside of herself, something illusive and fleeting. She hung around the only tree in the vast garden the Lord specifically placed off limits. What was it in her perfect heart that was tempted by its fruit?
We know from Genesis 3:2, that Eve quotes God incorrectly when she tells the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden but of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” What God actually said in Genesis 2:16-17 was, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; 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”. Eve adds the command not to touch the tree. Why? Was Eve not listening to God when He spoke, or did she add the emphasis on touching it for dramatic effect? The answer is simple-God did not speak these words to Eve, but to Adam, before she was created. Did Adam relay the message wrongly when he imparted God’s warning or did he add the command to not touch it to keep Eve away from it altogether? It seems reasonable to believe that Adam’s intent was in Eve’s best interest since deceit and manipulation had not yet entered the world. Is it possible that as her husband and protector Adam knew of her preoccupation with the tree? For where is she when the serpent finds her vulnerable to his attack, but next to the very tree Adam tried to keep her away from?
Yet before we assume that Adam was the vigilant protector we must remember two things: he was with Eve when she entered into conversation with the serpent and did nothing to stop the encounter, and he ate the fruit she offered without question or argument. It seems clear from Genesis that God created a specific dynamic between a husband and wife that is present in the first couple. It was God’s design from the beginning for man to be spiritually responsible for his family, to be the provider, protector and overall leader. While more subtle, the woman’s role is no less important. She welcomes, invites and works alongside her husband to encourage and inspire while providing beauty and rest to those around her. While Adam’s role may seem more dominant or visible, Eve obviously wielded great influence over her husband’s decisions. In both Adam and Eve we see the best and worst expressions of this dynamic. If Adam began by protecting Eve, why did he stop at the moment of her greatest danger? Where is he when she is openly attacked and confronted by the enemy? Is he off tilling the land, communing with God or overseeing the animals? Is he gathering food for their next meal? No. Where is Adam? Standing next to Eve, watching the serpent question the motives of their God and their Friend, listening as Eve falls head first into a trap. He does nothing to protect his wife from the dangerous lies of the serpent, which deepen her desire to taste the forbidden fruit. Adam is weak and passive, two things God never intended a man to be. It was Adam’s responsibility to make sure Eve had a deep, abiding relationship with God, and as her spiritual leader and teacher, it was his job to make sure she understood God’s commands. Later, when God confronts the two of them Adam again shows his weakness by blaming Eve and then God Himself for his own behavior, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree and I ate” (Genesis 3:12). This is perhaps the natural result of a man who knows he has succumbed to the sinful use of a woman’s influence. He begins to resent her.
What is her influence? We see it in Eve after she sinned by eating of the fruit of the tree of good and evil. She does not simply commit spiritual adultery in her own heart, she offers that sin to her husband. Eve takes matters into her own hands, engages her enemy the serpent and believes his lies and chooses to satiate the lust of her heart, which by the way, was not fruit. I John 2:15-17 speaks of the lust in Eve, “Do not love the world or the things of the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world”. What Eve really wanted was to make her own decisions about right and wrong, to be free from God’s commands and to do what felt good. She believed the lie that God did not have her best interests at heart, that He was not Who He said He was and that His restrictions were keeping her from the good things in life. Eve sinned in her heart before she tasted the forbidden fruit, and later God holds her accountable when he solemnly reveals the irreparable consequences of her rebellion.
So lust was born in the heart of a woman and man learned it’s easier to follow than lead, and the world has never been the same. Where once man communed openly with God, now fear and condemnation reign. Where honesty and purity once lived now deceit and lust reside. Is all lost? The answer is no. God had a plan, a plan so wonderful and mysterious that He could hardly contain it, for in the middle of executing perfect justice on the serpent, He makes a promise to Eve. “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head and you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15). I can only imagine the peace and joy Eve must have felt as she heard God promise a way out of her sin, to know that God’s plan was so wonderful it was not daunted by the sin that had just entered the world or the bleakness of her own heart.
To be continued…