Genesis 3: Trust or Consequences
Updated: Apr 22
It was the Lord’s first recorded “no” and man’s greatest opportunity to trust. Instead, man’s infamous disobedience led him away from God and all of humanity into sin. But did it have to?
The LORD God warned the man, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden — except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” (Genesis 2:16 NLT)
My curiosity would have been piqued the moment God said “except.” The tree would have started flashing like a neon sign and a sense of adventure would have stirred in me every time I walked by, the “I wonder”s and “what if”s playing touch tag in my mind.
So why did God even make that potentially poisonous tree? Why even place it within man’s reach?
A trap? Surely not a loving God. A test of obedience? Perhaps — obedience isn’t obedience until it’s tested. An opportunity to trust? Ah! Now, I think, we are at the heart of the matter.
The first thing the wily serpent did that fateful day was question what the woman knew: “Did God really say….” He didn’t come with accusation — that may have been too bold — but merely suggested that she might have misunderstood.
“Now, what was it Adam taught me as we walked through the garden,” she may have wondered. “Just what was it he said?”
Had she been listening? Or distracted? No matter. She was well able to figure it out on her own.
Oh, the tendency to hold tightly to what we think we know when what we know is questioned!
So with an opportunity to display her intelligence, the woman took center stage…and improvised.
“Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied. “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’” (Genesis 3:2–3)
Was it drama or doubt that prompted her to add to God’s instruction? It seemed innocuous enough, thoroughly logical. It only made sense they shouldn’t touch what they couldn’t eat.
What if, instead, the woman had turned to God’s witness beside her and asked, “What was it He said, Adam?” But her eyes were on the tree.
“You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman. “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” The woman was convinced. She saw that the tree was beautiful and its fruit looked delicious, and she wanted the wisdom it would give her. (Genesis 3:4–5)
Was there a moment when the woman could have drawn back? Her heart, or Adam’s hand, restraining her?
And what of Adam? Was he watching? Or distracted? Or maybe tempted, too?
Standing on the edge of obedience, she reached. And touched.
And nothing happened.
Either relieved she’d been right or invigorated by what she’d done, she took. And ate. And shared. And God’s plan for man in the garden was derailed.
The allure of the unknown can lead us into Spirit-led adventure or dangerous disobedience. How good that God’s Spirit is willing to show us the difference! Even when we’re standing at the edge of obedience, He’s speaking, reaching, restraining.
Are we listening? Or distracted? Or thinking we’re well able to figure it out on our own?
“What if He’s not as good as He says He is?” “What if He’s withholding His best?” “Does He care? Is He listening? Distracted? Does it matter?”
At that moment their eyes were opened, and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness. (Genesis 3:7)
Oh, the pain of being proven wrong, the shame of being found foolish! Their created state hadn’t changed, but the glory that had covered them was gone. They were left with just themselves.
So they sewed fig leaves together for cover, the leaves their chagorot. The word chagorot isn’t used often in the Hebrew scrolls, but each time it is, refers to body armor — protection as you go into war.
They were expecting God to come as their adversary.
When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the LORD God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the LORD God among the trees. Then the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” - Genesis 3:8–9
Not asking where they were — the all-seeing God sees all — but inviting them to come out, His question suggested that they weren’t where they should be: where He was. And with honesty, Adam answered: I heard you so I was scared. I was naked so I hid.
Naked, we’re afraid. Fearing we’re not quite right, not quite enough, less than we should be, unsure of who we are, in shame we hide, seeking cover, rather than running to the One who first clothed us.
What keeps us from the grace and glory of God? Distance, not disobedience.
Who told you that you were naked, man? Whose voice have you been listening to? Who is defining you? What has become your standard — what I’ve said or what you see?
“Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to?” (Genesis 3:11)
And here it was: man’s opportunity to adventure into trust. With His question, God opened the way to repentance. Realization. A confession. The way back to truth.
What if they had answered with a simple “yes”?
Instead, they traded their opportunity for an occasion to blame.
Who’s responsible, Adam? “The woman. You. Anyone but me.” And woman? “The devil made me do it.”
With that, the serpent, man’s true adversary, became the scapegoat for all things evil.
But what if man’s answers had been different?
Where are you? Over here. Why are you hiding? I’m scared. Who have you been listening to? The enemy of truth. What now? I’ll repent and run back to you.
But the opportunity was gone. Without trust, man’s life became defined by the stress to do all and woman’s by the stress to be all. And the serpent is still lying.
But the Author of the story and His questions haven’t changed:
Where are you? Why are you hiding? Who have you been listening to? What now?
Simple trust can reform failure into a beautiful thing.
“I’ll repent and run back to you.”