Verse 17: Some have incorrectly interpreted work as being the curse. Work is not the curse, it is the ground that God curses. Before the fall work was something man did for God joyfully. He cared for and tended the garden that God gave to him. In cursing the ground God now declares that the work man will do to survive will be hard, laborious and painstaking. While in the garden man had all he needed for survival (food, water and life) and now man will no longer be allowed to reap the benefits of the garden.
By the sweat of his brow he will have to work to eat until he returns to the ground. He will face the frustrations of work as he tills the ground and fights against thorns and thistles making it difficult to grow food easily. Because of his disobedience man can no longer eat of the tree of life which apparently sustained humanity. Now man will face death. His body will now return to the ground which apparently was not true of the original creation. Death was not introduced until the curse.
Verse 20 – 24: The Lord made garments of skin to clothe them. God covers their nakedness. God covers their shame. I think we sometimes miss the fact that in order for God to make the skins of clothes something had to die. Sacrificing an animal will eventually become the method for Israel to atone for sins as God establishes the priesthood. Yet in the NT Jesus becomes the perfect sacrifice that not only covers all sin and shame but cleanses and washes it away completely.
The man and woman are banished from the garden and a cherubim is placed at the entrance with a flaming sword so that no one may enter the garden and eat from the tree of life.
Having read this account the judgment God issues to the Snake, woman and man may seem harsh at first. One could easily look at this and deduce that God is a crotchety old man just waiting to dish out punishment to everyone who disobeys him. Many focus so much on the judgment that they miss the true character of God. It is important to understand that yes, there are consequences for sin. God cannot and will not overlook our disobedience and he cannot or will not turn a blind eye to our rebellion. In order for him to be fully just, loving and holy he must discipline us when we sin. He does not discipline because he is angry and wants us to suffer, in actuality it is just the opposite. He disciplines because he loves us.
God does not kill Adam and Eve. He does not even kill the serpent. God would have been justified in doing so. He stated “If you eat then you will die.” He could have said, “You disobeyed and I told you if you disobeyed you would die; so ‘off with your heads!” In God’s mercy he spared humanity.
Not only did he spare humanity from death (physical & spiritual) but He put his plan in place allowing for humanity AND all creation to be restored once again through the offspring of the woman… Jesus Christ. This was/is God’s gift to humanity. We have inherited the sin nature that was caused by the sin of man and woman but through Jesus Christ we can find true restoration and redemption to the full glory of what God intended for humanity by grace through faith.
Through God’s mercy and grace we know that Satan’s work cannot stand. Satan is defeated. The curse of the Serpent/Satan opens the door of hope for us. We know by reading the end of the Bible that Satan is not victorious. He is doomed. We are told that at the Day of Judgment Satan, death and Hades will be cast into the lake of fire and tormented for all eternity. This is Satan’s fate. His future is not bright in fact it is very bleak
God made clothes of skin to cover their nakedness (shame). God may not make physical clothes for us today to cover our shame and spiritual nakedness. He does though, provide a covering through Jesus. For those of us who are followers of Jesus Christ no longer need to live in the shame of our past or in the shame of our sins because Jesus has covered, atoned or washed away our sins with his blood. God took great care in sending Jesus to be the perfect sacrifice who takes away the sins of the world. Something had to die in order for God to cover our shame and that was Jesus. The NT Gospel of John tells us that “God loved the world so much that he GAVE his one and only son…” Yes, God gave up something so we could have everything.