NOTE: To receive the full benefit of the lesson, the reader is advised to look up the cited scriptures in their Bible before examining the explanatory material of the article.

God’s Plan in the Book of Genesis



THERE HAS BEEN a great deal of speculation concerning the identity of the “serpent” mentioned for the first time in the opening verse of this chapter. The term is a translation of the Hebrew word nachash, meaning to hiss, mutter, or whisper, as do enchanters. The explanation that the “serpent” was more subtle than any beast of the field is not altogether true of serpents as we know them today. The Hebrew word here translated beast could as well be rendered living creature, and some contend that the “serpent” was in reality the fallen Lucifer, and is so referred to in Revelation 20:2.

There is perhaps something to be said in favor of this view, for it would mean that Eve was confronted with the enticing influence of a glorious, though fallen, spirit being rather than the repelling presence of a snake, hence the difficulty she experienced in resisting his suggestions. But regardless of the medium by which the temptation was presented to mother Eve, the Scriptures are explicit on the point that Satan was, indeed, the real tempter—and this is the important consideration.

Satan’s method of attack in the case of Eve was the same as it has been throughout the ages; namely, an attempt to cast doubt upon the Word of God. “Hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?” Satan was acquainted with the Word of God then, even as he displayed familiarity with it 4,000 years later, when tempting Jesus. While Satan is doubtless agreeable to the immorality and crime that have resulted from the fall of man, his principal activity is that of attacking the confidence of God’s people in the veracity of his Word.


In answering the “serpent,” Eve revealed that she had a thorough knowledge of God’s requirements. This information was obviously communicated to her by Adam, as she was created after the command was given to him. The clause, “neither shall ye touch it,” was added by Eve, and may be expressive of her desire to comply with God’s directions, even to the finest detail—that she would not so much as go near the tree which had been forbidden.


Having succeeded in engaging Eve in conversation, in having her state the law of God and the penalty for violating it, that “old serpent” was quick to follow up with a flat denial that God meant what he said when he declared that the penalty for disobeying his instructions would be death when he said, ‘Thou shalt surely die’. But in denying this, Satan insisted, ‘Ye shall not surely die’. Stemming from this denial of the Word of God have come all the false doctrines that have deceived the dying world throughout all the ages.

Satan’s lie, ‘Ye shall not surely die’, finds expression today in the unscriptural theory that there is no death. All philosophies tending to show that death is not a reality have their origin in this lie of Satan’s. Among these are the claims of inherent immortality; the immortality of the soul; the transmigrations of souls; reincarnation, and others.


In this text we have an example of Satan’s method of deceiving by the admixture of truth and error. It was true that partaking of the forbidden fruit would result in the human race obtaining a knowledge of good and evil, but it was not true that human beings would become gods. We cannot be sure what Satan meant by his use of the term ‘gods’ or mighty ones, but this is probably the origin of the idea that at death human beings enter a higher existence, similar to the angels. It was essential that Satan introduce some such view as this into the minds of the people in order to divert their attention from the reality of death.


From the reading of this passage it is apparent that Satan had presented a most desirable picture of the advantages that would accrue from disobeying God’s law. Eve was assured that the tree was “good for food,” “pleasant to the eyes,” and “to be desired to make one wise.” With all these reasons for breaking God’s command, plus the doubt as to whether death would actually follow as a result, Eve succumbed to the temptation, and Adam joined her in the transgression.

Eve was deceived, but the Apostle Paul informs us that Adam was not. (I Tim. 2:14) It was to Adam that the Creator gave his law directly, an his communion with his God had evidently resulted in giving him confidence in his Word. He knew that death would result from his disobedience, but he chose to go along with his wife in a course which he knew would lead to certain disaster. He may have recalled his loneliness prior to her creation and felt that life would not be worthwhile without her.

The sudden realization that they were naked is in keeping with the symbolism which is used throughout the Scriptures indicating that those who are guilty before God are represented as being in need of a covering. This symbolism finds its most important application in connection with the ‘robe’ of Christ’s righteousness which covers the imperfections of all who come to God through him.


“They heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden.” While Adam and Eve had transgressed God’s law, they were still close to the perfection they possessed before sinning, and apparently God created them in such a manner that they could communicate with him more directly than is possible for imperfect human beings. It is not necessary to suppose, of course, that the Creator himself spoke personally and audibly to them; but whatever method he used, it must have been with a directness and definiteness that there could be no mistaking the meaning of the message.

They were afraid. Fear is one of the inevitable results of sin. This principle has been borne out in the experiences of the entire human race. Because the race has continued in sin, all mankind continues to be blighted with fear.

A knowledge of both good and evil was to result from partaking of the forbidden tree. They began to acquire their knowledge of evil almost immediately; but their full knowledge of both good and evil will not be attained until the close of the Millennial Age. The entire human race will then possess that knowledge through experience, and thus equipped, will be able to decide whether or not they will obey God and live, or disobey him and die.

VERSES 11-13

One of the traits of fallen human nature is that of blaming others for our own wrongdoing. This tendency manifested itself very early in human experience, and we find Adam blaming Eve—and implying that the Creator himself was somewhat to blame, for he had given Eve to him—and Eve blaming the “old serpent.” When one does wrong, the most satisfactory thing to do is to accept the blame, and as far as possible, make amends.

VERSES 14,15

In this condemnation of the “serpent” is clear evidence that more than a snake was involved in the temptation of our first parents. The “seed” of the serpent referred to here is the seed of Satan, made up of all who come under his influence and lend themselves to the furthering of his sinful purposes. The “enmity” placed between the seed of the serpent and the seed of the woman has been manifested throughout the ages in the persecution of those upon whom God has mani fested his favor.

The assertion that the seed of the serpent would bruise the “heel” of the seed of the woman suggests opposition, but not of a sort that would prove fatal. The bruising of the serpent’s head by the seed of the woman indicates the destruction of that great enemy of God and men represented by the serpent; namely, Satan, the Devil. The seed of the woman is the Christ, made up of Jesus, the Head, and the church his body; and one of the New Testament promises is that Satan shall be bruised under the feet of the church. (Rom. 16:20) We are also told that all the wicked will the Lord destroy.—Ps. 145:20


In this text we have important evidences of the inspiration of the Bible. From a physical standpoint there is no reason why human mothers should suffer in giving birth to their children more than do the lower animals, but they do. No scientific reason has ever been advanced for this, and no explanation given, except this one which we find in the Book of Genesis. It is part of the curse which resulted from Eve’s transgression of God’s law.

VERSES 17-19

The punishment upon Adam—and upon the entire human race of which he was the representative head—was twofold. He was to die—dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return—and the earth was cursed, making it difficult to obtain the necessary food. There seems to be special significance in the expression, “cursed is the ground for thy sake.” In the Creator’s wisdom, the earth was left in an unfinished state, making it necessary for fallen man to subsist by hard toil. This was for the benefit of man since it has prevented the human race from sinking even deeper into debauchery and sin.


The meaning of names plays an important part in the revealment of God’s plan. Mary, for example, was told that she should call her son Jesus, meaning “savior,” because he would save his people from their sins. The name, Eve is from a Hebrew word meaning “life-giver.” While the life principle originates with the father it could not develop into maturity without the aid of the mother, hence the importance of this fact is emphasized by the name that was given to the original mother of the human race.


In God’s provision of clothing for our first parents which required the sacrifice of life, there is a pointing forward to the provision of Christ’s righteousness to cover the imperfections of those who return to God’s favor through him. While God did not reveal his plan of salvation with much detail in his dealing with Adam and Eve, he did not leave them altogether without hope. His statement concerning the seed of the woman is very significant in the light of subsequent promises, and in the coats provided for the sinful pair there is a picture of a future provision of Divine love.

VERSES 22-24

God said, “Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil.” Adam and Eve did not become ‘gods’ in any other sense than in their knowledge of good and evil, and now they were to experience both. They had experienced a great deal of ‘good’ before they transgressed the Divine law, and life was not to be entirely void of blessings even now.

The Lord said that man had become as “one of us.” The ‘us’ in this statement is evidently a reference to himself and the Logos, who cooperated with him in the great Creative work. (John 1:1-3) God’s knowledge of good and evil was intuitive, and the Logos had received it by information from his Heavenly Father. But now man was in the way to obtain it by experience. Although a deep sense of guilt came over our first parents because of their sin, and they immediately suffered from the loss of sweet communion with their Creator, the knowledge of the terrible consequences of their disobedience was to be a growing one.

In carrying out the death sentence, God expelled Adam and Eve from their paradise home. Cherubim and a flaming sword were placed at the east of the garden to prevent our first parents from returning. It is quite possible that this is symbolic language. Prof. Strong defines the Hebrew word here translated cherubim as an ‘imaginary figure’. It is reasonable to conclude that both the cherubim and the flaming sword are symbolic of Divine providences which made it impossible for fallen man to continue enjoying the blessings of the garden which God had planted for him. Possibly a great disaster of nature made the garden uninhabitable.

Being expelled from their paradise home, this first human pair began to die—began to realize from actual experience that Satan had lied when he said, ‘Ye shall not surely die’.



This passage indicates that Adam and Eve did not exercise their powers of procreation until after they were expelled from Eden, which proves that this was not the “forbidden fruit.” God had commanded them to multiply and fill the earth, but, in his providence, this commission did not begin to be carried out until after they sinned.

Now they were under condemnation to death. They had lost a measure of their original perfection, and of necessity their children would inherit their imperfections. Thus it was that original sin resulted in the entire human race losing life. Paul expresses the thought clearly, saying, “As by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.”—Rom. 5:12


Little detail is furnished concerning the domestic life of the earth’s first family. Cain and Abel had by now grown to young manhood. One became a tiller of the soil and the other a keeper of sheep. Doubtless much occurred during their childhood and maturing years which would have been well worth recording, but for the Lord’s purpose he selected just this one incident.

True, it was a tragic incident, ending in the murder of Abel, but it is not recorded in the sacred Word simply as a murder story, nor even because it was the first murder—and the first death. It is used, rather, because in it is an illustration of a fundamental feature of God’s plan of salvation.

We doubt if all the details even of this experience of these two young men are given. What is written simply tells us that God had respect unto the sacrifice brought to him by Abel, and that he did not so view Cain’s offering. The account gives us no special reason for this seeming partiality. In verse seven the Lord says to Cain, “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.”

This, however, seems to refer to what Cain’s attitude might be subsequent to the acceptance of Abel’s sacrifice, meaning that if he took this experience in the proper spirit, the Lord would compensate him in some way later.

The Apostle Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, throws important light on this narrative, saying that “by faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.” (Heb. 11:4) This would indicate that Abel brought his offering to the Lord as a work of faith, knowing that it was the kind of sacrifice that would be acceptable to him.

Previously God had said that the ‘seed’ of the woman would bruise the ‘serpent’s’ head. This implied a deliverance from the result of the tragedy which occurred in Eden. Sin entered into the world, and for the human race to be delivered from its result there would have to be a remission of sin. The apostle informs us that without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sin.—Heb. 9:22

Thus, having made this promise of future deliverance, God began to illustrate the manner in which it would be fulfilled, indicating that it would be upon the basis of a sacrifice involving the shedding of blood. As the plan of God for human redemption and deliverance unfolds through the Word, we learn that Jesus is the “Lamb” that is “slain,” and that it is his blood that atones for the sin of Adam and the entire human race.—Rev. 5:12


Selfishness, manifesting itself in the form of jealousy, had taken a firm hold upon Cain, and his attitude was well expressed in his question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Selfishness ultimately leads to a viewpoint of this sort, whereas love prompts in the opposite direction. Those in whose hearts the love of God reigns, feel a genuine concern for the well-being of others, particularly those who are near—and should be dear—to them according to the flesh.

Adam was a son of God (Luke 3:38), and from this standpoint the entire human race is God’s family, although, since the fall, alienated from him. But God loves this family, and has made a plan through Jesus for the recovery of all who will accept the provision of his love. If we appreciate what God has done for us and for the world, and are endeavoring to be like him, we too will take a self-sacrificing interest in all whom he loves. Unlike Cain’s attitude of selfishness, we will gladly assume whatever responsibility we can toward others, and will seek to do them good.

The Hebrew word translated “blood” in verse ten is plural, and should be rendered “bloods.” This may denote that God considered the murder of Abel as a figure of the experiences which would come to all those throughout the ages who, through their works, would manifest their faith in him and in his Word. From this standpoint all the righteous blood that was shed would be like the righteous blood of Abel. See Matthew 23:35

VERSES 11-15

Cain’s punishment was severe. The word “punishment,” in verse thirteen, however, should be translated iniquity, or sin. The Septuagint, Vulgate, and other versions render this passage, “Is my iniquity too great to be forgiven?” This translation harmonizes well with the Lord’s reply, which assured Cain that although he would be a marked man, he could expect a certain amount of protection. While this was no indication that God had forgiven him, it was a partial answer to his question, and one from which he could obtain a certain degree of comfort.

VERSES 16-17

Cain’s going out from the presence of the Lord means that no longer did the Lord deal with him, and that from thenceforth he no longer looked to the Lord for favors. He dwelt in the land of Nod, which is mentioned as being east of Eden. The exact geographical setting of Nod cannot be determined today.

The mention of Cain’s wife has raised that age-old question, Where did Cain get his wife? Up to this point in the narrative, no mention is made of members of the race other than Cain and Abel. However, this does not mean that there were no other children. In chapter 5, verse four, we learn that Adam begat sons and daughters throughout his long lifetime, and it is reasonable to conclude that daughters had been born and had become mature by the time Cain was ready for marriage. As the race had not deteriorated physically by then, as it has since, intermarrying would not result disastrously to their offspring, as is liable to be the case today.

VERSES 18-24

Enoch, the son of Cain, should not be confused with Enoch, “the seventh from Adam,” and a descendant of Seth. The genealogy of Cain’s descendants indicates quite clearly the nature of their social life. Cain founded the first city; Lamech instituted polygamy; Jabal instituted the nomadic life; Jubal invented musical instruments; and Tubal-cain was the first blacksmith.

VERSES 25,26

The name “Seth” means appointed, or placed. Eve gave the name to this particular boy because she believed that God had given him to her to take the place of Abel. Evidently she had great respect for the promise of a coming ‘seed’, and noting, in God’s providences, that his favor had been upon Abel, she felt there must be someone especially appointed by the Lord to take his place if that original promise was to be fulfilled.

We cannot be too certain of the meaning of the expression, “Then began men to call upon the name of the Lord.” It does not mean that worship of God first began in the days of Enos, for as we have seen, years before this both Cain and Abel worshipped Jehovah, and brought offerings to him. The marginal translation states, “to call themselves by the name of the Lord.”

There are a number of Hebrew scholars who take the view that this text is giving us the origin of the worship of false gods, and of taking the name of the true God in vain. It seems reasonable that since these chapters tell us of the fall of man into sin, they should complete the story by informing us that man’s worship also became corrupted.

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