Sermon preached on Genesis 1:24-2:25 by Rev. W. Reid Hankins during the Morning Worship Service at Trinity Presbyterian Church (OPC) on 7/28/2013 in Novato, CA.
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Rev. W. Reid Hankins, M.Div.
Eve: “God Has Appointed”
As mentioned last week, we are now beginning a sermon series on the women of the Bible. We’ll spend a few months looking at several of the prominent women mention in the Scriptures. Now as we get started on this series, let me give you a heads up on how I intend to approach this. A danger whenever we study a person in the Bible is to make the sermon simply a character study of that person. That you simply look at the life of the person and observe positive or negative things about that person’s character. When someone preaches a sermon like that, basically the result is that you commend the positive traits and condemn the negative ones. For example, you might here things like be courageous like Daniel. Or, don’t be power hungry like Absalom. Now, don’t misunderstand me. There is a time and a place for such observations and applications. Peter in 1 Peter 3 uses Sarah as an example of Godly submission to husbands, in teaching the wives of his day. So, there is a time and a place for this. And certainly in our study of certain key women in the Scripture, we’ll make some of these observations.
But when we thinking about preaching a whole sermon, we must remember the overall thrust of a Christian sermon. I believe it’s summarized nicely by Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:23. He says there that we preach Christ. This should be true not only when you preach from the New Testament, but even from the Old Testament. Sermons that become only character studies, especially from the Old Testament, might easily be something that could be preached in a Jewish synagogue. But that doesn’t do justice to the call for the church to be a witness for Christ and to preach the gospel.
It also does not do justice to the overall context of the Scriptures. You see, when you look at the Bible, it’s ultimately telling a story. It’s a story about God’s plan of salvation. It’s the unfolding drama of redemption. It’s about how the pinnacle of God’s creation, man in his own image, fell into sin and rebellion. But how then God saves some of those humans from the wrath and doom they otherwise deserve. And God’s plan of salvation, of course, comes to a climax in the Messiah. Jesus Christ is God’s savior sent from heaven to make this salvation happen. And so the Bible is ultimately a story of salvation and therefore also a story about Christ, the savior!
And so as we study these key women in the Bible, we will see their positive and negative traits, yes. But we will realize that they are in the Bible for something beyond just that. God has recorded their lives in the Bible because he has brought them into his story of redemption. God has involved them in some way or another in this plan of salvation. That is what we will especially look to see as we study these women. Because as we do that, we find our connection with them. Because they are part of the story of Christ and salvation, and that is frankly the fundamental way we are connected with them.
And so as we look at some of the life of Eve today, we’ll review her life in three parts. Eve deceived. Then Eve bereaved. And then Eve relieved. Those are hopefully memorable points to drive home a simple message: That the story of redemption begins with a horrible fall into sin. But God promises a savior. Eve, in hope and faith, will ultimately be looking for savior. And so our study of Eve today will wonderfully introduce us to the whole story of the Bible as well.
Let’s then begin with our first point and consider Eve deceived. Last week we saw Adam and Eve’s creation and being placed in the Garden of Eden. Today, we are reminded in the opening verses of chapter 3 that God has given all the trees of the Garden for food for Adam and Eve, except one. They were not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. And so chapter 3 begins with the devil coming to Eve in the form of a serpent and deceiving her to eat of the forbidden tree. Notice in verse 1, how the serpent is said to be the most cunning of all the animals. That reflects what we learn elsewhere in Scripture of the devil’s craftiness.
And so observe the dialogue between the serpent and Eve. After Eve explains the prohibition of the one tree, look at the serpent’s response in verse 4. You will not surely die. The devil contradicts God. This is the first of false prophecy. Interestingly the serpent instead says that if they eat of that tree they would be like God, knowing good and evil. Evidently there is some truth in that last part, because God acknowledges after their eating of the tree that they indeed have become like God in that sense, of knowing good and evil, verse 22. Yet, a little truth mixed with deception and evil intent can bring great destruction. Lies that are blatantly completely false are usually easy to avoid. But lies that mix in some bit of truth can be more deceptive.
And that is what happens with Eve. Look at verse 6. Eve considers the words of the serpent and she considers the tree. Three things attract her to the tree, in light of Satan’s words. It’s sustenance: the tree’s fruit was good for food. It’s beauty: the tree was visually appealing to her. It’s benefit, though a deceptive one: that it was desirable for gaining wisdom. So Satan’s words got her to rethink the tree, to become enamored with it, and buy into the lie. That she could gain some positive benefits without the cost God had attached to it. That she could eat of it without the punishment God had threatened. Here we see her desire and remember what James said in James 1:15. “After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.” That is where Eve’s desire led her. Tempted and deceived by Satan, she gave into her unrighteous desire and ate of that forbidden tree. She then led Adam to do the same, giving some to him as well.
This then is what we call the fall of man. Adam and Eve sinned by eating of the forbidden tree. With regards to Eve, 1 Timothy 2:14 says, “the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” Immediately we begin to see consequences of this transgression. This sin was an eye opening experience. Verse 7 right away says that they recognized they were naked. Sin led to shame and their futile attempts to cover up what had happened. This has been man’s problem since then. Atonement is about a covering of our sins. We’ve never been able to adequately cover up our own sins. Similar to this, we can note that at this point Adam and Eve experienced a spiritual death. Like the words of Ephesians 2, unsaved humans are dead in our sins. And interestingly, they did gain some knowledge that day of good and evil. But not all the knowledge they gained was something that benefited them. Before they had a sense of innocence with regard to good and evil. Now they knew evil first hand. The evil of direct disobedience to their God and creator. Eve had trusted the serpent over God. I think of Paul’s words in Romans 16:19, that tells us we want to be wise in good, but innocent with regards to what is evil.
In their new state they hide from God at first. Then when God confronts them, they shift the blame. Adam essentially blames both God and Eve. Eve in turn points the finger at the serpent. God assigns blame evidently to all of them, as he brings curses upon each, beginning in verse 14. And yet as God speaks to the serpent, in the midst of all these curses, a wonderful promise comes out. Satan through the serpent had tricked Eve. Adam and Eve had now entered the state of fallen humanity, a state of curse, a state of sin and misery. The serpent is rightly recognized here by Eve as the enemy of humanity. And so in Genesis 3:15, God gives the promise that though there would be future conflict between Eve’s offspring and the serpent’s offspring, that humanity would find victory over Satan.
Genesis 3:15 is really the first promise of the gospel. It’s the promise of a savior who would defeat this ancient enemy, the devil. Genesis 3:15, God says to the serpent, “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.” The promise here is ultimately one that comes to pass in Jesus Christ. But for now it’s put in such simple terms. There would come an offspring from Eve that would finally destroy this devil. The devil would strike his heal, but this son of Eve would give the deathblow to its head.
This is an interesting first picture of the gospel. Later in the story, we’ll learn about how the gospel also atones for our sins. But here, in its’ first expression, the gospel promise of a savior is put in terms of one who would conquer our first and greatest enemy, that ancient serpent of old. And as we talk about key women in the Bible, we see that this victor over Satan can only be fulfilled by a woman. A woman must exist who will give birth to this savior. It’s the seed of the woman that must come forth. And yet, it’s also interesting to think about this in light of the woman’s curse. She’s cursed in part with pain in childbearing. Her redemption will only be realized if she in faith bears a child in this cursed pain. The woman will have to experience this curse in order for her to experience the promised salvation. And of course, that promised seed of the woman, that promised man, would be born into this world of curse. And yet we know that in his coming into this cursed world, it is to ultimately save us from these curses; even as he crushes Satan.
So this is “Eve Deceived.” I’d like to turn now to our second point and consider “Eve Bereaved”. This second point is going to consider for a moment how Cain killed Abel. That would have certainly bereaved Eve. But before we go there, step back and think about how Eve was likely feeling at this point. I mean just imagine if you were Eve. You led yourself and your husband into this horrible estate of sin. You would probably be saying to yourself over and over again, “I messed up.” “How could I listen to that snake!” “What was I thinking!” You’d probably think things like, “Man, Adam’s never going to let me live this down.” And yet in the midst of these thoughts comes that promise of Genesis 3:15. When you mess up that bad, it’s really good to news when God tells you he’s going to one day provide a solution to your monumental mess up. If you are Eve, you are going to be clinging to that promise. You are going to see its fulfillment as your redemption.
And so it’s no surprise how the next chapter starts out. Chapter 4, verse 1, when the dust clears and she and Adam are living outside the garden, what happens? They have their first child. See her excitement there in verse 1. She says, “I have acquired a man from the LORD.” See how she gives God the credit there. Surely Cain’s birth here brings her hope. I could see her thinking, “Is this it?” “Will my shame be replaced by that promised offspring?” “Has my salvation been born as promised?” Well, soon after another son is born, Abel. Well, as it turns out, Abel is a much better candidate to be the promised seed of the woman than Cain. Abel offered a right sacrifice to God and God had regard for Abel and his offering. On the other hand, Cain brought an offering to God that God did not accept. In discussing this with Cain, God warns Cain of how sin wants to take him, but he must master it, verse 7. Well, sadly, that doesn’t happen. Cain in his anger kills his brother Abel. He gives in to sin. God further curses him. Cain is not the promised seed of the woman to crush Satan. No, he has gone the way of Satan, who is a murderer from the beginning, John 8:44.
And in case there is any doubt, just look at Cain’s own offspring. A snapshot of his descendants is given in the rest of the chapter. Though their line is able to advance in things like technology and music, they continue to not seek God, but submit to sin as their master. Like father, like Son, Cain’s descendant Lamech becomes a ruthless murderer as well. And so if you are Eve, surely you are bereaved at this point. Cain and his line has shown himself to not be the promised seed of Genesis 3:15. And the other candidate, Abel, was killed by Cain.
But Eve’s hopes were not dashed. This leads us then to our third point for today: Eve Relieved. You probably see where this is going by now. Look at the end of chapter 4. Verse 25. “And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, ‘God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.'” And so again, Eve bears a child. And again, Eve glorifies God with this birth. Here, her hope is relieved and renewed. Here is a new hope for the promised seed to come. Interestingly, Eve names the child here. Up to this point, Adam’s been the one to do all the naming. But Eve gives the name, and the name is very meaningful from a faith stand point. Surely it’s expressing her personal hope and faith that God would keep the promise of Genesis 3:15. You see, the name Seth basically means “appointed”, or “granted”, or “put”. The meaning in context is told to us: God has appointed another offspring to replace Abel. The godly Abel is replaced with another. And the word offspring, of course, is the same word that appears in the Genesis 3:15 promise. Satan may have tried through Cain to keep the Genesis 3:15 promise from happening. But he could not thwart God’s plan of redemption. And so Eve’s hope and faith are renewed with the birth of another offspring. The hope that God would yet raise up one of her seed to conquer Satan is still alive!
Now, yes, Seth himself would not be that one. But Seth would carry on the line through which that one would come. And we see the hope expressed in the next verse as well. Verse 26. Seth has a son, Enosh. And then men began to call on the name of the Lord. What a contrast. Genesis 3 talked of two offspring. The seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. Chapter 4 shows some of the seed of the serpent — Cain and his line of godless descendants. But chapter 4 ends with the hope that there is another. Seth — appointed by God. He and his line instead begin to call upon the name of the LORD. They, unlike Cain’s line, are part of the promised seed of the woman. They carry on that line of promise. The next chapter, chapter 5 give more details on that line of promise. From that line would come the righteous prophet Noah. As we keep reading in the Bible, that line continues from there, to later bring forth Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jacob would give birth to the twelve tribes, one being Judah. From Judah would come King David. And from David would one day come forth the Lord Jesus Christ. Without God giving Seth to Eve, the promise of Genesis 3:15 would not have been fulfilled. The seed of the serpent would have otherwise won. But killing Abel couldn’t stop God’s plan.
Throughout this long history, of course, the Devil kept up his afflictions on the line of promise. He was surely behind things like the Pharaoh in Egypt trying to put to death all the male children of Israel. He was surely behind Herod when he ordered all the little boys two years and younger around Bethlehem to be killed. And we know, in his own futility, he’s the one who put it in Judas’ heart to betray Jesus to his death, John 13:2. He might have thought himself victorious for a moment, but surely at some point he figured it out. The devil’s putting to death of Jesus was in fact the strike of the heal predicted in Genesis 3:15 on the promised seed. But as predicted, such a strike by the serpent was followed by the strike of the Messiah on the serpent. The cross was the decisive blow against Satan. 1 John 3:8 says that the reason why Jesus came was to destroy the works of the devil. Revelation 12:11 says that the saints overcome Satan by the blood of the lamb. The conflict will come to its final end as predicted in Revelation 20:10 — there finally Satan will be thrown into the eternal lake of fire upon the return of Christ.
Brothers and sisters, Eve’s story introduces the overarching story of the Bible. And it introduces the story of each of our lives. Eve’s story is someone who has such a monumental failing. She’s deceived into sinning in such a blatant way against her maker. Yet, she was graciously given the hope of redemption. And it’s not the hope that she would do something to save herself. No, it’s what is shown in chapter 4. Chapter 4 is bracketed with her hope that one of her offspring would be the salvation promised by God. That is why when Cain is born, she says this son is from God. And that’s when Seth is born, she credits God for replacing Abel with this new offspring. That’s Eve’s hope in the promised savior of Genesis 3:15. It’s a hope in God to fulfill that promise and raise up a seed through her.
Surely it was not an easy-to-hold hope. She had to endure the cursed pain of child birth each time she in faith gave birth to an offspring – a clear reminder to her of her need; of her former failing; of her sin. But she acted in faith by bearing children. And she had to endure the pain of seeing her son Cain kill Abel. She had put hope in what Cain might be, and such hopes were dashed. Not to mention the pain itself of losing Abel. And even when Seth is born, she still ultimately had to die in faith, not receiving in her life what was promised. Seth was only a generation closer to the promised Messiah; he was not the Messiah himself.
But this is our story. We live in a sin-cursed world. We experience the curse of this world in ways specific to Genesis 3 and in more general ways. Each of us in our own lives have shown ourselves to be like our first father and mother — a sinner. Each of us can relate to the temptation and lure of the devil. Each of us have experienced the desire of sin to reign over us. But our hope and our salvation comes not in something we can muster up to save ourselves. It comes in that same hope of Eve. That God would provide a son. That God would grant a seed of the woman who would finally crush Satan. That God will save us. And yet, we, in joy upon joy, should be able to put our trust in this divine salvation even more
than Eve. For Eve hoped in the promise. We trust in the fulfillment. Eve hoped from a distance in what came generations into the future. We trust in that seed of the women who has already come generations ago and dealt that death blow to Satan. We live in the era of fulfillment. We should rejoice in the days of fulfillment that we live in.
And so then, Eve’s story today introduces the story of the Bible — this waiting for the promised Savior! Waiting for him to redeem us and save us from that first enemy of old! Looking to him to relieve us from the original curse that came as a result of Satan’s first deceptions. Looking to this promised seed of the woman to bring us life out of death; joy out of misery; blessing out of curse. But this is a salvation that comes from God. Eve, despite her failing, saw that this is what she must put her hope in going forward. And we have had the high privilege of seeing what Eve could only see by faith; faith in a future birth. Now, God has granted Eve and all of us, that promised seed, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Trust in this seed as we saw Eve already doing from a distance. Rejoice: God has granted us a savior in Jesus. Rejoice: With the help of the LORD, God has brought forth a man from the womb of Mary. If Eve could long for this and see its importance for her faith, then may we be encouraged in the promise’s fulfillment. May we rejoice in faith at its significance for us. May that strengthen us even while for a time we still taste of the curse of living in this world. And may it encourage us as we still for a time experience the effects of Satan’s strikes at our heels. As Paul says in Romans 16:20, the God of peace will soon crush Satan under our feet. This of course, through Jesus Christ, the promised seed of the woman. Amen.
Copyright © 2013 Rev. W. Reid Hankins, M.Div.
All Rights Reserved.