P. W. Parsons, London
ADAM HAD BEEN INSTALLED in the garden on the condition, or 'law', of Gen. 2.16-17; he had, in Eve, been given a suitable help-meet; he had, in conjunction with her, the capacity for multiplying; his food was fruit; his occupation to dress, and 'guard' the garden, 2. 15, using it as a 'base' whence he was to 'subdue' the earth, 1. 28. The terms 'guard', 'subdue' and 'evil' ('the tree of the knowledge of good and evil') suggest that the enemy was lurking near even before man was created.
Genesis 3 shows that after a relatively short time, the enemy came out into the open, attacking the weaker partner. She soon succumbed, the downward steps being
(i) doubt, v. 1;
(ii) distortion, v. 3;
(iii) denial, v. 4, and
(iv) disobedience, v. 6. The appeal was, v. 6, to the lust of the flesh - 'good for food'; lust of the eye - 'pleasant to the eyes'; and the pride of life -'to be desired to make one wise' (cf. 1 John 2. 16).
Adam, in eating, disobeyed the 'law' which he (before Eve was formed) had received from God; became a sinner; fell a victim to a far less formidable opponent than Eve faced; shewed that Eve, taken from him, had done only what he would have done in her circumstances; and condoned her action.
Adam then tried to
(i) hide himself, v. 8 (see Rev. 6. 15-16; 20. 11);
(ii) excuse himself, v. 12 (but see Rom. 1. 20 and 2. 1);
(iii) clothe himself, v. 7 (but see v. 21 - guiltless victims, through their death provided a covering satisfactory to God).
Effects of the entry of sin into the lives of Adam and Eve, and their world, were immediate, far-reaching and indescribably devastating. Sin struck:
Upwards, challenging God's authority.
Inwards, alienating man from God, and bringing straight away spiritual death. He found himself the possessor of a conscience (i.e. the knowledge which a man has, within himself, of what is right and wrong in the moral sphere) and a defiled conscience at that. It caused a change in the physical constitution of both man and woman, with an accompanying down-grading in their diet, which was to include herb, and grass (corn is a grass). Ultimately the body was to die, and decay. The woman was to yield obedience to the man, in place of spontaneous co-operation. Both were to experience sorrow, the woman in conception, necessarily multiplied to repair the ravages of death. Children would bear the stamp of their fallen parents.
Downwards. The animal and vegetable creations were cursed and their natures changed. Animals became aggressive; the vegetable creations deteriorated, and noxious and abortive growths were produced. The earth was cursed, and yielded reluctantly. Throughout the realm of nature a lack of balance, and consequent instability ensued, to display itself eventually in storms, floods, volcanoes, and such things.
Forwards. Sin struck through all the future ages of time, laying the whole of man's posterity under the doom of death.
Satan heard his doom pronounced, so that the Bible became largely the account of a conflict between him and 'the seed', and in Revelation he is seen as the dragon, ready to devour the 'man child', Christ, ch. 12, through whom restoration, and more, will be effected.
During the past century or so, the history of the Fall has been challenged by the theory of evolution, which owes its popularity to its supposition that man, so far from having fallen from a high estate, with progressive deterioration, has by some inward urge, and his own efforts, evolved from something very primitive, and will continue to advance to great heights. This theory not only does away with the Fall, but with sin, conscience, human responsibility and man's unique relationship to God. Scientists base their speculations upon buried remains, and geological discoveries; they assert that millions of years were required for the formation of the earth, and its inhabitants; they ignore divine interventions in the two catastrophes of the Fall and the Flood.
(1) The Fall may well have involved the immediate wiping out of a large section of the animal creation straight away, particularly of the largest forms of life. It would be neither unscriptural nor unreasonable for us to assume that through the Fall they quickly acquired offensive weapons and a ferocity which rendered them a menace to man, particularly as his control over them had been lost. Such a quick physical change, but in reverse, is mentioned in Isa. n. 6-8, while Nebuchadnezzar affords yet another example, Dan. 4. 33. The wiping out of animals on a vast scale find its parallel later in that of the human race in the Flood (with eight exceptions).
(2) In describing the Flood, Genesis 7.11 refers to 'the great deep' being broken up; nowhere else is the phrase used; it suggests volcanic action and the turning of the earth into a vast swamp to a great depth. It may well have been that the concentration of such vast forces, compressed in their operations into forty days, had effects which would normally be produced in those vast ages which science requires in explanation of its theories: it would explain many geological puzzles and discoveries of mammoth remains scattered over wide areas. Many Christians in an effort to reconcile the Bible with 'science' maintain wrongly, I believe, that a gap may be assumed between verses 1 and 2 of Genesis 1 and that 'was' in v. 2 should be 'became'.*
Romans 5 enlarges upon the Fall by bringing Adam forward as 'the figure of him that was to come', i.e., Christ. Adam was the 'figure' in that
(1) he was the head of a family;
(2) he did one outstanding act; and
(3) the effects of that one act spread to all who were, by heredity, linked with him (even to those who lived before Moses, when no law had been given which they could transgress). So Christ did one outstanding act (of obedience, in contrast with Adam's); He is also the head of a family; and the blessed effects of that one act pass to all those who, by faith and the Spirit, are linked with Him.
In 1 Corinthians 15. 45-47 Christ is referred to as the 'last Adam' (i.e., finality): and 'the second man', as displacing the first, and carnal head, Adam. In Christ, man is given a hope of heaven which he never would have possessed, even if Adam had not fallen, for at best he was earthy. Christ has brought life and immortality to light in the Gospel; in Adam there was no hope of a resurrection. Verses 20 and 23 of the chapter are selective, referring to the godly, but verses 21 and 22 are universal in their application, for as universal as the death of the body became, so universal will be its resurrection, either to glory or for judgement (see Rev. 1. 18).
The Fall, as it affected Eve especially, is referred to by Paul in 2 Cor. II. 'Another gospel' about 'another Jesus' threatened the peace of the believers; it appeared to be an enlightened development, but was of Satan, vv. 13-15. Paul feared lest, like Eve, the Corinthians should be beguiled by the old serpent, and be corrupted.
•Various attempts have been made to reconcile the Bible with 'science' to none of which we are committed. - Editor.