Creator. The third chapter of the Book of Genesis opens in an ominous fashion, “Now the serpent was more cunning than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made” (vs.1a). Leaving aside the pre-fall anatomy of this serpent – remember, this serpent (i.e. dragon/reptile-like creature) didn’t slither up to Eve because it was later cursed to travel upon its belly and eat dust (vs.14), and while quickly affirming that this serpent was in some way, shape, or form animated by and synonymous with Satan (Rev. 12:9; 20:2), it’s worth noting the allusion to God’s creative work on day five (Gen. 3:1b). Again the Scripture indirectly reminds us that the beasts of the field were not the product of matter, motion, time, and chance. Unlike God, they had a beginning and a creator. Not to mention, so did the cunning personality that animated the serpent (cf. Ezek. 28:13-14).
Accessible. After Adam and Eve committed treason against the God who formed them and cared for them (Gen. 3:6b) we’re told that “they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (vs.8a). The language is graciously startling. The picture that is painted is one of God walking in the garden towards Adam and Eve, who hide from His presence, prompting Him to ask, “Where are you?” (vs.9a). I don’t think this was the first time that God walked in the garden; rather, I think the more likely implication is that this was the time that was unlike any other time. You could say – this time Adam and Eve were not where they normally were. They were hiding. They tried to make themselves inaccessible to the God that was amazingly accessible.
Relational. In verses 9 through 13 God asked four questions – not something that makes the typical Bible-reader’s jaw drop. But it should. Think about a time when someone recklessly and dangerously cut you off while you were driving. Did you want to talk with them and ask, “Excuse me, why did you do that?” I think a more typical reaction is anger. Not necessarily a sinful anger but the kind of indignation that comes when someone shows blatant disregard for you and your family’s safety. Well, here we have an offense infinitely worse than that, and yet, the all-knowing God of the universe pursues talking with those who sinned against Him. He doesn’t make them immediately vanish into perdition. Instead, He speaks; He interacts; He listens; and He responds… because He is graciously relational.
Promise Maker. To use human language to describe a divine action: God didn’t waste any time making a promise of retribution and restoration after the fall. Satan, that ancient serpent of old, would have his head crushed by the seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15). Jesus, the seed of the women, would lay the definitive blow to Satan and his works at the cross (Heb. 2;14-15; Col. 2:15; 1 Jn. 3:18); the God of peace would allow His blood-bought church to participate in the crushing (Rom. 16:20); and ultimately Satan would be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:11). In light of New Testament revelation we could say that God is not only a promise-maker but a promise keeper.
Judge. God’s judgment was levied not only upon the serpent but upon mankind and the created order as well (vs.15-19). Mankind would have known no sorrow but now they/we would have “multiplied sorrow” (vs.16). Birth would have been painless, now it would be painful (vs.16). Work, which would have been joyful and ‘no sweat’, would now be filled with toil and sweat (vs.17b-19a). And death, which would have been unknown to men and women, would now be the common experience of all mankind – from dust man came and now to dust men would return (vs.19b).
Gracious. Adam and Eve felt ashamed because of their nakedness (vs.8-10) and God did not dismiss that feeling. It was legitimate given their sin. But God took action to clothe their nakedness. With tunics of animal skin He clothed them (vs.21). God apparently performed the first animal sacrifice, not only showing that sin deserves punishment and the shedding of blood, but showing that He is the One who takes the initiative to cover. Here, we have the preview of the Gospel of divine-accomplishment (i.e. God clothes) versus human achievement (i.e. man sows fig leaves). Furthermore, at the end of the chapter God sets a cherubim and a flaming sword at the eastern entrance of the garden to guard the way to the tree of life. This would be another act of grace. Rather than allowing the possibility of Adam and Eve eating from the tree of life and spending the entirety of their subsequent existence as cursed, God made sure they would have no access to that fruit. Life would come another way – through the death and life of God’s Son (Rom. 5:10).
Triune. Granted, when God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil” (Gen 3:22a), it is not the equivalent of Him saying, “Behold, we are One in essence and three in persons, and man has become like one of Us…” But nonetheless, this is another Old Testament ‘hint’, similar to Genesis 1:26, at the plurality that is found in the nature of the one true God.
Holy. The chapter closes with Adam and Eve being sent out of the Garden of Eden (vs.23) and God setting a cherubim and a flaming sword at the east side of the garden to guard the way of the tree of life with a flaming sword (vs.24). God is holy. And though He would make a way for men and women to be reconciled to Him, and though He would interact with men and women throughout redemptive history, here we get another glimpse of His holiness. As the Mosaic Law would show, that which was defiled couldn’t dwell in God’s holy presence. Therefore, Genesis chapter three, and the promise of the Seed that would come, began the historical outworking of God’s plan to redeem fallen men and women by cleansing them of the defilement that comes from sin. Through the sacrifice of His Son, God’s holy justice would be satisfied. And as a result, those who repent and believe the Gospel will not be relegated to perdition apart from paradise; rather, they will forever joyfully dwell in God’s holy presence.