What better way to start a series on women in the Bible than with the very first woman – Eve.
Eve was created perfectly and placed in a perfect environment. She and Adam were the only couple in the history of the world to enter marriage with absolutely no baggage.
She still messed up.
I find it really interesting that throughout the Bible, it never says EVE caused sin to enter the world even though she was the first one to take a bite of fruit (it’s just a myth it was an apple, btw). Instead, Scripture lays the blame squarely on Adam’s shoulders.
But my focus isn’t about Adam – it’s about Eve. So, what can we learn from Eve, seeing as she was the perfect prototype of us all, yet she decided to eat the forbidden fruit anyway?
I’ve always wondered how long Adam and Eve were in the garden before paradise was abruptly shattered by sin. No matter how long it was in actual time, the snake makes his appearance in Genesis 3. That chapter starts out with, “Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field…” It’s kind of a sinister version of “Once upon a time…” isn’t it?
Since one of the curses on the snake was that it had to crawl on its belly, it would not be out of the realm of possibility that the snake was upright or had legs or somehow got around differently than it does now.
It’s also interesting to note that Eve did not seem in any way startled that this snake is chatting with her. Maybe in the Garden of Eden, the animals talked. I know, as an animal lover and one who often wonders what is going on in my dog’s head, this would be my idea of paradise. 🙂
The serpent starts by asking a question: “Indeed, has God said, You shall not eat from any tree of the garden?” Eve (who through this entire chapter up to verse 20 is referred to as “the woman”) answers him in the affirmative. You’ll note she adds to the command God gave Adam – she says not only has God has told them not to eat the fruit, but they also could not touch it or they would die.
This sounds to me like Eve perhaps has had her eye on this tree for a while. Maybe her daily walks seemed to always take her by this tree; maybe she would pause and look at its fruit longingly; maybe she added to God’s command to keep her from not just reaching out and touching the forbidden fruit but eating it, too.
Again, since we don’t really know how long it’s been between chapters 2 and 3, it’s hard to know what was going on in Eve’s mind before this encounter with the snake.
The next thing the serpent does is he disputes what God says and plants a seed of doubt buried in some twisted truth. “You won’t die. No, God knows you’ll become as wise as He is, and that’s why you can’t eat the fruit.” (paraphrasing here)
He’s essentially saying that God told Eve not to eat the fruit of this particular tree – not because God was looking out for her well-being and was good – but because God was holding out on Eve. He was keeping her from something that seemed beneficial and good.
We can point fingers at Eve all we want, but how many times do I chafe at some restriction God has placed on me, even if it IS for my own good? How many times have I thought MY ways were better than God’s ways, and that somehow, He was keeping me from something good? While we might not come right out and say that, that niggling doubt is there in the back of our minds that God really doesn’t want us to be too happy.
The serpent tells part of the truth – it is true that Eve won’t die physically at that very moment. It is also true her “eyes will be open.” However, the serpent neglects to tell Eve the whole truth – that she will die spiritually and eventually physically; that while she will have more knowledge, it will be a heavy burden, not a blessing.
So, Eve looks at the fruit. She sees it is good for food; that it is beautiful to look at, and on top of this, it will make her wise. So, she takes a big juicy bite.
Then, she hands it to her husband Adam. When I was growing up, the story was always told that Eve went looking for Adam to give him the fruit, but if you’ll notice in verse 6, it says, “and she gave also to her husband with her.” So, Adam apparently was an observer of all that went down between Eve and the serpent. You have to wonder why he didn’t speak up at any point, but he didn’t, but went ahead and ate the fruit, too. It kind of makes me wonder if he’d been wanting to eat the fruit too, but was afraid of the side effects. Now that Eve had taken a big old bite and seemed fine, maybe he figured it was safe to eat some too.
Whatever they were thinking, perfect paradise was no longer perfect. Eve, and then Adam, had made the choice to do the one thing God had forbidden them to do.
So, what happened here? I mean, had God actually shown Himself not to be good? There weren’t any disturbing newscasts to throw a bad light on God’s goodness in this perfect paradise. Disease, death and destruction – none of that existed yet. Had Eve been missing out on anything in the other 99% of the garden she was allowed access to? We are talking about a perfect paradise that Eve wandered in at will. So, why did Eve allow the serpent to plant the seeds of doubt in her mind? What made her doubt God’s goodness?
I believe there is a two part answer to that question. First, she thought God was holding out on her – that He was keeping something good from her for His own benefit. Second, she based her decision on her experiences and limited perspective.
Let’s look at these one at a time. While it is pretty hard to convince someone over the long haul that there is no God at all (most people at least acknowledge a “greater being”), it is much easier to cast doubt on God’s goodness.
Why? The answer lies in our limited perception of reality called our experience. It is completely natural to base our future decisions on our past experiences. All the fruit Eve had eaten up until this point had not harmed her. Why would this fruit be any different? In fact, according to the serpent, this fruit had the added benefit of making her “wise.” Knowledge is always a good thing. Isn’t it?
The serpent spoke the truth when he said Eve’s eyes would be open to good and evil, but instead of being a good thing, it turned out to be an awful thing. You’ll notice at the end of chapter 2, it says that the man and woman were naked and were not ashamed. Suddenly, after eating the fruit, shame enters the picture. They “know” enough to be ashamed of their nakedness. Where once they lived in freedom without guilt and shame, now they were aware of it and it pressed down on them. It caused them to hide themselves, not only from each other, but from God when He came looking for them. Sin still does that – it causes us to withdraw and hide from each other and from God.
Despite what the snake said or how he twisted the truth, Adam and Eve both knew what God had said -they just chose to disregard it in favor of something that seemed to make more sense and felt more appealing.
Truth is truth, though, no matter how we feel or how it seems to not line up with our experiences. I have had times in my life where I felt God leading me in a certain direction that did not make any sense at all to me at the time, based on my perception of reality. However, anytime I’ve ignored that voice, it’s been to my own detriment because I had a limited view of what was really going on while God had a bird’s eye view of not just the present, but the past and the future.
What can we learn from Eve, then? We can learn that God is good no matter how our feelings might be trying to tell us otherwise. We can also learn that what appears to make sense based on what we know/experience is not always the true reality as seen from God’s viewpoint.
Instead, we can choose to believe and act on the truth that God IS good, and we can know that the things God chooses to keep us from are for our own good, not because He is a cosmic kill joy.