Our focus this week is on Christmas, and I want to begin by saying that if the birth of Christ is the center of the Word of God, together with his death and resurrection, then we should expect to find it everywhere throughout the Bible.
Now we do find it in Revelation 12, but we also find it as early as Genesis 3. As I say, we should expect to find it throughout the Bible. And yet, when we turn to Genesis 3 to find the prophecy of the coming of Jesus Christ there, it is, nevertheless, surprising because this is not a pleasant scene.
God had placed our first parents in Eden and had given them a lot of freedom. They were free to do anything except eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God had said, “…You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (Gen. 2:17).
Satan came and began to tempt the woman to rebel against God. He did it very subtly, first of all suggesting that God was not good because if God were good, he would certainly want Adam and Eve to eat of all the trees of the garden. Satan suggested that if we’re free at all, we have to be absolutely free; we have to be autonomous or God doesn’t have our best interest at heart.
And then he attacked the Word of God. God had said, “…for when you eat of it, you will surely die” (Gen. 2:17). And Satan said, “You will not surely die” (Gen. 3:4). God said one thing, and Satan said another.
Finally, Satan held out the bait. He said, “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3:5). Now the irony of the temptation is that they already were like God. God said, “Let us make man in our image” (Gen. 1:26), so he made man in his image. “In the image of God he created him” (Gen. 1:27). They were made like God. It is true they didn’t have the knowledge of evil, but they were like God in other respects. And yet Satan came along and basically said, “Now God doesn’t want you to be like him and if you really do want to be like him, well, you’d better disobey him and eat of the tree.”
The woman was deceived. She rebelled against God. She ate of the fruit of the tree, as did her husband, and so death passed upon the human race.
Then God came to pronounce judgment. What God had said to them was, “When you eat of [that tree], you will surely die” (Gen. 2:17). And while it is true that they did die spiritually—their communion with God was broken—they did not die physically. Instead of immediately executing that sentence upon them, God came and gave what would seem in the context of that great rebellion to be almost a token judgment. To the woman he said, “You’re going to have pain in childbirth and, furthermore, there is going to be struggle in your marriage. It is not going to be harmonious from now on.” And he said to the man, “You’re going to have a great deal of difficulty earning a living. It is by the sweat of your brow that you’re going to earn your living in this earth. And, furthermore, eventually you are going to die physically because you’re made from dust and you’re going to return to it” (Gen. 3:16-19, paraphrased). But they didn’t die, and it is in that context of a gracious judgment that these words are spoken. This is what I call “Christmas in Eden.” God is speaking to the serpent and says to him, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he [the Deliverer who will come] will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Gen. 3:15).