Genesis 3:23-24 When God Isn’t Loving, But He Is Fair

Genesis 3:23-24   23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.

Genesis 3:23–24 is one of those passages that those who don’t know Christ love to point at and excitedly say, “See! I told you that God isn’t the loving Father you made him out to be! If God’s so loving, then why would he kick Adam and Eve out of Eden?

The truth is they actually have a point

I mean the Lord is being very unloving with Adam and Eve in this passage. The word “drove” in verse twenty-four gives the idea of forcing someone to leave with force, and for good measure an angel with a sword of fire was left to guard the Garden of Eden.

Reading these verses by themselves we would have no choice but agree with their statement that God isn’t loving…and in a deeper sense that He isn’t fair. This is actually a bigger deal than it may seem since God doing wrong would mean He isn’t Holy (perfect) which is a foundational belief for Christians.

So how do we answer this question? By looking at the larger passage of Scripture [1] or “context” as its commonly referred to

Just like taking one statement a person made in a long conversation could lead to misundestanding, taking one part of a Bible passage almost always results in confusion. So lets take a step back and look at all of Genesis chapter three shall we?

  1. Eve is tempted by Satan to rebel against God by eating forbidden fruit (Genesis 3:1)
  2. Even tells Satan that she couldn’t eat the fruit because it would lead to death (Genesis 3:2–3)
  3. Satan tells Eve God is being unfair, and she along with Adam decide to rebel by eating the fruit (Genesis 3:4–6)
  4. The moment after rebelling they were overwhelmed with guilt and shame because of their sin (Genesis 3:7–8) and hide from God
  5. When God gives Adam and Eve opportunities to repent of their sin they refuse to, and just blame each other instead (Genesis 3:8–13)
  6. God responds by cursing Adam and Eve (3:16–20) and casting them out of Eden (3:22–24)

In the midst of this chapter a clear truth comes out…Adam and Eve knew they had done something wrong

This is why they covered themselves

And hid from God behind a tree

And refused to confess their sin

Blaming someone else instead

My point is God isn’t just randomly throwing Adam and Eve out of the garden for no reason. He was bringing to them the consequences of their actions; consequences that they clearly understood were coming [2]

In other words what we see here is part of the normal parent/authority figure-child relationship that’s experienced every day, and in no way seen as cruel or mean.

 

 

As someone who works with children a lot I’ve developed a set of rules commonly referred to as “Mr. John’s Rules” [3] and review them all the time. The thing I love about these rules is it allows the children to pretty much discipline themselves.

After bringing a child to a chair apart from a group I will get down on one knee (looking them directly in the eyes) and have a conversation that goes something like this

Me: So what’s going on today?
Child: I’m mad
Me: Okay what are you mad about?
Child: (child’s name) kept talking to me
Me: Oh I see…now help me remember…what do we do when someone keeps talking to us?
Child: We raise our hand and ask the teaching to move them or us
Me: Did you do that?
Child: (looking down) no
Me: Okay so that’s why your going to stay here for five minutes

 

 

Do you see how the child before even sitting down KNEW what he had done wrong? There was a part of him that knew even before I asked him to go to the back he wasn’t supposed to talk to the other student. Notice that in the same way Adam and Eve aren’t dragged kicking and screaming out of the garden. This is because they KNEW that eating the fruit was act of rebellion against God!

The fact is God brings to use true justice…not the kind that we desire [4] but justice that flows out of His true Holiness and perfection. So there are many excuses we can make when the judgment of God comes upon us (I wasn’t ready, you aren’t being loving, etc), but we can never say that it isn’t fair.

 

[1]: paragraph before and after that passage, the chapter it’s included in

[2]: Gen. 2:15   The LORD God took the man kand put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil lyou shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”

[3]: I use ones learned from the Good News Club Ministry…Sit Up, Hand Up, Look Up, and Zip Up

[4]: I get rewarded even though I didn’t obey

Genesis 3:17-19 A Curse That Becomes a Blessing

Gen. 3:17   And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life

Genesis 3:18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.

Genesis 3:19 By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken; for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”

Sometimes I like to imagine what it must have been like in the Garden of Eden before Adam and Eve sinned against God (Genesis 3:6) because Scripture explains it as being perfect.

  1. No pain or suffering
  2. No frustration/anger
  3. And most importantly no death

However following Adam and Eve’s rebellion their relationship with God (Genesis 3:7–10) and one another (Genesis 3:11–13) was completely broken [1]. A curse from God then followed that meant (particularly for Adam) the world was broken as well (Genesis 3:17–19).

A big part of this curse God placed upon the earth is production or provision for Adam’s family will come as a result of hard work. Instead of everything being caused to grow by God (Genesis 2:5–6, 2:9) it’s now Adam’s responsibility to bring growth. The Lord is clear that instead of being easy like before their rebellion, this will take incredibly hard work [2].

But the curse goes much deeper than just creating a need for work.  God here is taking the thing that Adam and Eve find their greatest identity (happiness) in and instead turning it into a source of frustration.

Eve’s greatest joy was found not only in a close relationship with her husband, but having children and nurturing them. I’m in no way saying that all women have to have a child in order to validate themselves. Instead females have been given gifts that lead more towards the nurturing of children than men.

God responded by making this a source of pain.

Gen. 3:16   To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children.

Note that this doesn’t just refer the act of childbirth, but the raising “bringing forth” of children will bring pain or sorrow to the life of Eve [3].

Adam’s greatest joy was in providing for his family, or being “productive” by completing difficult tasks. Again this doesn’t men cannot be nurturing because I happen to be a male who has gifts in that area. But in most cases a man feels most fulfilled when they are able to provide and care for their family.

Today instead of being a source of identity production and provision is almost always a source of frustration because it calls for incredibly hard work [4].

Why would God do that?

Seriously why would He take the things that Adam and Eve enjoyed the most, or found the most happiness in, and then turn them into a curse?

The answer is our identity is only to be found in God [5]. As His creation, we were literally made to be “plugged into” Him as our source of strength or hope. Unfortunately we are sinners who given a choice between God’s way and our own will choose ours twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year.

God knows that we will choose things other than him as our source of identity or strength. But He also knows that nothing else is big enough to bring us true happiness.

Here’s how author Matt Papa explains it;

The triune God is the only thing large enough and interesting enough to bear the weight of glory, and ultimately worship. Anything else will break your heart [6]

Knowing this “idol” [7] will break our heart God in His sovereignty takes it away from us.

As that thing we love most is ripped out of our hands [8] we will be tempted to curse God . But in those moments we must remember that thing he takes away will only break our hearts.

 

 

[1]: Instead of confessing their sin, Adam and Eve tried to hide their failure from God, and refused to confess it

[2]: it will bring thorns and briers (thistles) instead of plants

[3]: there will be many sorrows and frustrations now because of broken selfish relationships

[4]: There is still satisfaction after a job well done, but the amount of work involved in finishing that job definitely makes things difficult

[5]: Acts 17:24–25

[6]: Papa, Matt (2014–10–28). Look and Live: Behold the Soul-Thrilling, Sin-Destroying Glory of Christ (p. 33). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

[7]: something we find our identity in other than God

[8]: money, relationships, control, etc.

(Genesis 3:12) Why There Are No Prince Charmings

wilburnsquareforsocialmedia

Genesis 3:9-12

Genesis 3:9 But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”

Dear Ladies,

I really hate to tell you this…but there is no such thing as prince charming.

Of course most of you already knew that didn’t you 🙂

Originally in the Garden of Eden God gave man the role of protecting or caring for, and providing for his wife Eve [1]. Please understand this isn’t God’s way of saying women are constantly weak and need help.

Instead this is His way of fulfilling a woman’s desire to be loved (cared for) and a man’s desire to be respected (able to care for those he loves). The truth is most women I know are MUCH better decision makers than men, however that doesn’t change the fact that Adam was the one who was supposed to be making them.

Yet something strange happened in Genesis 3:6

Genesis 3:6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

Eve comes to her husband Adam with a fruit he knows they aren’t supposed to eat and says “here eat this.” Now Adam’s responsibility as the protector and defender of his wife was to tell her “no we shouldn’t rebel against the command of God!” but he doesn’t do that. Instead Adam eats the fruit and by doing so allows Eve to become the decision maker [2].

So what’s the big deal? By doing this Adam is rejecting his responsibility (calling) to care for Eve. This is why instead of admitting his own failure to God after eating the fruit and hiding, Adam chose to throw Eve under the bus [3].

And from that point on ladies the marital relationship was totally messed up.

Here’s how God explained what her relationship with Adam would become in Genesis three.

Genesis 3:16 To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (emphasis added)

“your desire shall be for your husband” here refers to the husband’s place of decision-making, so God is saying “you will want to be the one in control”. “He shall rule over you” gives the idea of demanding control over someone.

God tells Eve from now on the marriage will be about control. You will be trying to gain it, and Adam will be trying to keep it.

Now honestly marriage isn’t like that every moment of the day. However any of you who are married know the smallest, most ridiculous things can turn into a huge argument or fight over who gets their way.

It should be pointed out God didn’t want things to be like this. In His plan the husband and wife would selflessly put each other first, and by doing so become a picture to the world of what God is like [4]. But Adam and Eve were given a choice (Genesis 2:16–17) with the results of that choice being among other things man’s unwillingness to fulfill his role in marriage.

Oh that doesn’t mean they NEVER will protect or provide for you. There will be moments of “emotional love” of course.  And because of Christ’s death on the cross the Holy Spirit gives us the strength to be men of God, however there is still a sinful nature that wants our own way.

The bottom line is ladies you can’t rely on prince charming riding in on a white horse.

Thankfully you have something much better.

God promises in Scripture that He will protect and defend those who are faithful to Him.

  1. Psalm 55:22 Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.
  2. 1 Peter 5:7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
  3. Isaiah 46:4 even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save

Of course this doesn’t mean God will give you whatever you want. But take comfort in the fact that in times of need He hears your cries, will never ignore them, and responds in a way that’s best for you.

And while your at it take comfort in the fact that there aren’t any prince charming’s.  Because while broken and selfish relationships do bring pain, they also remind us that our only true source of hope is God.

  1. some Bible scholars believe Adam had already failed Eve because he should have been there to protect her from Satan’s temptation  ↩
  2. http://wilburninmelbourne.com/2015/07/genesis–39–12-learning-to-say-help-and-thank-you/  ↩
  3. God is both loving and nurturing, while at the same time Holy and Righteous  ↩

Genesis 3:9-12 Learning to Say “Help” and “Thank You”

wilburnsquareforsocialmedia9 But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”

In Genesis chapter three we see a dramatic change in the relationship between God and man. Given the choice between obeying the Lord’s command of not eating the forbidden fruit (Genesis 2:15–17) or choosing to make their own decisions, Adam and Eve both chose to rebel (Genesis 3:6).

Friday we saw how shame immediately filled their heart that caused Adam and Eve to hide from the Lord (Genesis 3:7–8) [1]. Amazingly instead of calling them out for hiding from Him (God could obviously see them behind the tree) asked Adam where he was (Genesis 3:9).

Why would God do that? Because He wanted Adam and Eve to confess their sin willingly instead of being forced to do it.

God like every parent knows there is a big difference between a child who comes immediately after breaking the lamp and apologizes for doing it, and the child who only confesses after the lamps remnants have been discovered underneath their bed. So He gives Adam a chance to confess what had happened.

But this kind of confession involves much more than just saying sorry:

  1. It involves a confession (truth-telling) about that specific sin without excuses [2]
  2. It involves admitting weakness that sin may reveal [3]
  3. It involves “repentance” which literally means turning away from that sin so it doesn’t become a habit
  4. And within repentance we must ask God for help, admitting we cannot survive the Christian life in our own strength

If you will allow me to simplify all of this…God wanted Adam to admit he needed help.

Instead of admitting his weakness Adam gave a partial confession telling God that “he hid because he was scared” without explaining why. The Lord responded with the pointed question “did you eat the fruit I told you not to eat?” which gives a great opportunity for Adam to confess.

All he had to do was say yes, and embrace the truth that was painfully clear (they needed God’s help).

But instead he does something much worse.

Lets read Genesis 3:12 again and ask the question “who did Adam blame?”

3:12  The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.”

If after reading this you think Adam is blaming Eve sorry, but your wrong.

Lets look at it again shall we?

3:12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” (emphasis added)

Did you see it?

Adam doesn’t blame Eve, he blames God!

Think about that for a minute. Instead of being a man and taking ownership for his mistake Adam says “well if you hadn’t given me Eve in the first place everything would be fine!”

Now we can blame Adam all we want but the truth is it’s still hard for us to confess sin and weakness to God (or anyone else for that matter). Oh we won’t go out and blame God directly for the temptation, but have found a much more subtle form of rebellion.

Dr. Ed Welch in his book Shame Interrupted makes a huge point about the words “help” and “thank you” no longer being a part of our daily conversation.  The reason for this is both of them share a weakness or inability to survive on our own.

But he shows this is exactly what God wants to happen when shame or embarrassment over sin [4] comes into our lives instead of trying to hide it (Genesis 3:7-8) or refusing to admit it (Genesis 3:9-12). In this way it becomes a form of worship (takes our eyes of ourselves and back on God, off our circumstances and back on His character).

  1. “Help” is one of the most human responses we can have. It is the essence of faith. It is the essence of prayer. It is also a direct assault on shame’s tendencies to hide and self-protect.
  2. “Help” is the first thing we say to the Lord. “Thank you” is the second. Then we say them again and again.
  3. Pray “Help.” Pray “Thank you.” Confess the ways you have dishonored him. Enjoy obedience.

Dr. Welch is pointing out this is the way it should be. Mankind (the creation) continually coming to the creator (God) and crying out for help [5]. I’m not saying this is an easy thing (trust me I know) however when we have learned to say help and thank you to God, an amazing thing starts to happen.

That shame that completely controlled our lives (Genesis 3:7–8) loses it’s power.

Now we view shame and embarrassment about sin and weakness as an opportunity to worship God (after experiencing His forgiveness). As the burden of that rebellion is taken off, now we can display confidence in our relationship with others instead of trying to cover up every weakness with fig-leaves (3:7–8).

Dr. Welch explains it this way:

No longer does failure, sin, or victimization keep them in shame’s purgatory. For them “Help” is becoming the language of the kingdom rather than the language of darkness and shame.

Every once in a while I will go through what I call a “funk” but it’s actually a really mild form of depression. When going through a funk my mind and heart will only focus on the bad things happening in life instead of all the good God brings which makes them sin.

Usually my response to a funk involves way too much Netflix, french fries, and tons of junk food (easier than asking God for help).

Last Thursday while going through a funk though I took a long walk instead and talked with the Lord about the struggle in my heart while asking Him for help. The discouragement didn’t go away right away, but on Friday I was able to use it as part of a blog post on what the Lord’s teaching me about faith.

So confessing my weakness and asking for God help opened the door to confessing that weakness towards others for His glory.

Again I’m not saying that it’s easy to confess our sin to God. But when the word “help” becomes a part of our daily lives it will change the way we view that weakness.


  1. http://wilburninmelbourne.com/2015/07/theproblemwithfigleaves/  ↩
  2. we ate the fruit that you told us not to eat  ↩
  3. we aren’t strong enough to withstand Satan’s temptation  ↩
  4. inability to obey God’s Commands  ↩
  5. this isn’t just about confession of sin, but a normal response to every challenge of life  ↩

Genesis 3:7-8 The Problem With Fig Leaves

Gen. 3:7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons. 8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.

Did you ever why Adam and Eve tried to hide from God in the garden of Eden? I mean seriously what made them them think a tree (that God created) could hide them from their maker?

The truth is I don’t believe Adam and Eve were foolish enough to think a tree or leaves were going to hide them from God. In fact it’s my opinion they weren’t trying to hide their physical bodies (themselves) from God at all. Instead Adam and Eve were trying to hide their sin from Him.

Scripture tells us that when Adam and Eve decided to eat from the tree “of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil” God commanded them not to eat (Genesis 2:16–17) (Genesis 3:6) two things happened.

1. The eyes of them both were opened

This obviously doesn’t refer to literally opening their eyes for the first time since Adam and Eve had been able to see things. Instead this refers to a realization of their rebellion against God [1].

Up to this point there had been nothing impairing the relationship between them and God. The Bible tells us that they walked with Him every day, and looked forward to experiencing the Lord’s presence. But now for the first time they see that perfect relationship has been broken.

2. And they knew that they were naked

Sadly Adam and Eve’s problem went much deeper than just one rebellion against God. That act began a constant cycle of sin that Scripture refers to as a “sin nature.”

This means within every person is an intense desire to become God (the one who decides what’s right and wrong) and when tempted with an opportunity to choose our own way instead of God’s like Eve (Genesis 3:1–6) we will always choose to rebel.

The Apostle Paul in the New Testament describes those who don’t know Christ as dead (Ephesians 2:1, 5, Colossians 2:13) explaining that just as a dead body cannot save itself, we cannot save ourselves from our sin nature.

So I don’t believe the shame of Adam and Eve had to do with their “nakedness”, but instead embarrassment over a failed attempt to take the place of God.

This knowledge of their failure leads to

3. And they sewed fig leaves together

Some may think from this verse that Adam and Eve are just trying to cover up their physical nakedness, but then there would be no reason to hide from God (Genesis 3:8) since their nakedness was covered. Instead this was an attempt to cover the shame that they experienced because of sin.

That’s the real problem…we are very poor God replacements

Because our hearts want to take the place of God [2] we must cover up any sin, failure, or weakness that highlights our inability to live a Holy life.

So we cover them up

Oh sure we have much better coverings than fig leaves. Today you will find people covering up their weakness using:

  1. Money or fame
  2. The approval of others [3]
  3. Gifts abilities
  4. Personal success
  5. Lies and Deception
  6. Or Demanding control over every area of life

But of course the problem with our “fig leaves” is eventually all of them start slipping.

Someone will see our weakness

Someone will see our selfishness

Someone will see that inner struggle we try to hide from everybody

So we spend years discarding one fig leaf after another

But there’s a better way

The thing is God KNOWS we have a sin-nature that keeps us from living a Godly life. He KNOWS that we cannot withstand temptation and will fail every time. He KNOWS that we could never be a replacement for Him.

But instead of directly confronting our sinfulness God acts as if He doesn’t see it. Notice what He says after Adam and Eve hid themselves behind a tree.

Genesis 3:9 But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?

Now could God see them behind that tree? Of course He could! So why in the world didn’t He say “I see you guys?” Chapter three verses ten and eleven help answer that question.

Genesis 3: 10 And he (Adam) said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He (God) said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”   (emphasis added)

Adam knowing how ridiculous it was to hide behind a tree was partially honest with God [4]. God pushed a little harder “who told you that you were naked?” and Adam responds by blaming his wife Eve [5].

God here instead of calling Adam and Eve out on their sin gives them an opportunity to do it willingly. He gives them a chance to take the fig leaves off and admit their rebellion. But instead of confessing his sin and repenting, Adam acts as if he had done nothing wrong.

So today God still sees the part of our lives that we cover up with fig-leaves and in love asks us to confess our weakness. If we do there will be consequences of sin (all life has consequences) but also love and forgiveness.  As someone who spent much of his life trying to make himself look strong or powerful I can tell you there is an incredible blessing in dropping your fig-leaf, and admitting your inability to take the place of God.


  1. immediately Adam and Eve realized they had disobeyed God, and would face His judgment  ↩
  2. not in the literal sense of dwelling in Heaven, but becoming the one who makes the rules  ↩
  3. to the extent of what Dr. Ed Welch calls “approval addiction” demanding that people love us so that we can feel good about ourselves  ↩
  4. I heard you and I was afraid because I was naked, he should have said I sinned against you  ↩
  5. Genesis 3:12  ↩