Their cries cut through the trees of the garden. “Help us, please! Don’t cast us away. Please forgive us, for we’ve sinned against you. We are sorry. We want it to be like it was before. Don’t forsake us!” Thus Adam and Eve did moan their fate after their sin and banishment by God from Eden. Where once they walked in splendid innocence with their Creator in paradise, they had found themselves in solitary anguish, awash in tears of guilt and shame.
And what really had they done to bring such swift retribution by the hand that yesterday had been so kind? Yes, they yielded to temptation and disobeyed the only commandment that God had given them, albeit through the auspices of one smooth character. For the serpent had convinced them that they needed the knowledge of good and evil, that experiencing this knowledge was the road to real wisdom. And so they partook and sinned. Why was the anguish and alienation of this sin the direct fruit of their gaining knowledge? The transformation from happy innocents to sin-guilty initiates took place because it was supposed to take place; it was in the master plan of the Creator.
Their Fall Was Not an Accident
However, conventional wisdom teaches that the Fall in Eden was an accident, that somehow the experimenting Creator had the wrong mix of variables present and things went bad. A deadly accident occurred unforeseen by the Architect, and his prototype house fell down. Now He would have to change His original plan in order to fix what He did not get right at the first. That does not sound like the omnipotent and omniscient Being the ancient Hebrew writers portrayed their God to be. In fact, the Genesis account shows a Creator with an acute and meticulous hand, setting everything in perfect order. “And he saw that it was good…it was good…it was good.”
It was good at every phase of creation. Are we to believe that a smooth talking serpent figure, made also by God (3:1), could accidentally appear in Eden to thwart the plan of the Almighty? This is not the case of the farmer fretting about the fox in the henhouse. This is the Creator of the fox, the hens, and the henhouse. He knew the vulnerability of Adam and Eve because He made them that way, and He created the serpent to be a lying seductive trickster. In effect, God had put the fox in the henhouse, for he certainly would not have been there without God’s tacit approval.
And like the picador enters right on cue for the second act of the bullfight ballet, they heard Yahweh’s voice as He called out to them in the garden (“YHWH,” the tetragrammaton, the Hebrew name of the Creator, translated “LORD” in most translations). “Where are you?” was the rhetorical question spoken by the All-Knowing. Adam responded, “I was afraid, because I was naked; and hid myself.”
Wait a minute, Adam. “Naked” was not even in your vocabulary before all this knowledge you just gained. “Who told thee that thou wast naked?” God asked. Somebody has been talking about sex to you, haven’t they? Did he tell you about getting naked?
And then Adam blames the woman, and the woman blames the serpent. Yet all this does not surprise Yahweh in the least. For it was all in His plan and purpose for mankind to sin and to suffer that vacuum of fear, alienation, sin, and shame. For then mankind would need someone to save them from this abyss of depravity. They would need a Savior.
He set them up to fall in order to save them? The irony is rich in this mother lode of wisdom. God’s nature is love, for “God is love.” But He could not express the perfection of His essence unless He had something to forgive. He would incarnate Himself later in history and provide Himself as the Lamb sacrifice for Adam’s sin. This is alluded to in Genesis 3:15. Speaking to the serpent, He said that He would put hatred between the serpent and his offspring and Eve and her offspring. As almost universally accepted, Eve’s offspring is Christ, who would “bruise the head” of the serpent, thus “destroying the works of the devil.” And yet, the serpent’s offspring would bruise the heel of the seed of the woman, indicating the death of the Lamb at the hands of the Romans and Pharisees and his subsequent resurrection.
Yahweh’s plan was all along to reproduce Himself. The law of “each seed bears its own kind” attests to this. He likens Himself to the Seed, the Word. But in order to reproduce Himself, He would have to create a need in mankind for Him. Innocent fleshy robots have no need of a Savior, and Yahweh is the Savior (“I, even I, am YHWH, and beside me there is no Savior,” Isaiah 43:11).
Adam and Eve’s shameful fall into sin and despair was carefully choreographed by a loving Creator. He set them up to Fall so that they would have a need for His forgiving love. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). He would become Immanuel, “God with us,” coming “to take away the sins of the world.” This would fulfill the Edenic promise of Genesis 3:15. As in the parable of the creditor and the two debtors in Luke 7:41-48, the one who owed the most when the debt was forgiven, was the one who loved the most. Hence, sin and guilt entered the equation so that forgiveness could come, yielding gratefulness and love in the heart of the forgiven. Each seed (love and forgiveness) bears its own kind (gratefulness and love). Kenneth Wayne Hancock