Genesis 3:20

I. THE DOOM OF DEGRADATION (ver. 14).

II. THE DOOM OF HOSTILITY (ver. 15). Three stages: -

1. The enmity.

2. The conflict.

3. The victory. Lessons: -

1. See the wondrous mercy of God in proclaiming from the first day of sin, and putting into the forefront, a purpose of salvation.

2. Have we recognized it to the overcoming of the devil? - W.







Adam called his wife's name live.
Consider that aspect of this terrible calamity which is afforded us in the action of Adam. It is clear that he understood what was involved in the act he had just committed. Scarcely are the words uttered by God, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread," etc., than he seems to turn to his wife and say, "Eve, the mother, the living one; because she is mother of all living." There is no defiance here. It is not because the man refused to accept the judgment of God, not because he refused to submit to the doom. He did not refuse, he did not set himself up against God. He caught the tenderness of the Divine voice even as it pronounced the judgment. He saw the gleam of grace in the darkness of the doom. It is then that he turned to his wife and said, "Eve, the living one." "Her seed shall bruise the serpent's head; shall yet triumph over the evil power that has almost destroyed her; and though this day we die, beyond is a life eternal, for she is the mother of all that shall live." How true this is to human nature! It is illustrated, it is constantly illustrated, in the experience through which we pass. Who has not known it? — Men turning back to their wives in the hour of trouble. Man, suddenly stripped of his glory and possessions, stands amongst the wreck of all his life; that moment, with a fresh trust, he puts his hand in his wife's and says, "Well, the future is still before us, we shall not lose hope." "Eve, the living one. Mother of all that live." Is there not, in the first place, a recognition of the dignity of the woman? Her name is not mentioned before. She is simply "the woman"; the other side of human nature — the man and the woman. Adam had his name, the general name of humanity centring in him. But when the loss comes, woman takes her place. She is no longer woman only, she is "Eve." She is herself. Bound by a closer tie than ever to her husband, but with a dignity of her own. And is it not also the assertion of the dignity of motherhood? What is woman's highest dignity? To be the mother of men. She had been the wife of man before, but a wife is not perfected until she is a mother. And so she receives her name when she is recognized as mother. It is also the immediate acceptance on the part of Adam of the promise of God. God has confirmed his earthly nature. "Earth thou art." God had also declared that there was to be a continuance of the race by reference to immediate hope. "I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception." But had there not been before this these words: "I shall put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head and thou shaft bruise his heel"? Then came the judgment upon the man, and yet, the moment the judgment is uttered, he calls his wife "Eve." He sees the promise that is contained in the motherhood, and in the conflict of the seed and the serpent. He seals with his own word the promise of God. The chief subject of our consideration, however, is the aspect in which Adam seemed to regard his wife, "mother of all living!" As we speak the word, there rises before us the vast multitude of the human race! The mother of all living — all who shall live! All in the past — all now — all in the future! Mother of all living! How the generations move along the road of life in the great march of mankind — like a river rolling swift with ever broadening stream into the vast ocean of eternity! Wave after wave rolls up and breaks upon the shore of time from the exhaustless tide of life! The life that is around us, in our own city. Multiply these teeming millions by all the cities of the world, or all the ages of human existence, and think of them all gathered up within this woman's name. Has our first father been prophetic? Did he, for a moment, see down the vistas of centuries, the masses of humanity enfolded in the motherhood of Eve? Then the thought would come that all these living ones would die. You remember the story of Darius, who, when he reviewed those mighty hosts that followed his standard when he marched to the invasion of Greece, was observed to weep. The squadrons were there, their arms all flashing in the sun, and round about them in the outlying regions the multitudes of followers that attend an army. Magnificent battle array! Vast concourse of men all obedient to his will, and yet the monarch weeps! "Why weepest thou, O king?" "I weep because in one hundred years not one of this great host will be alive." And many feel as felt the king when they contemplate a crowd. When the people are out upon a gala day, and from some high window we look down upon them, a strange melancholy creeps into the heart. When we visit foreign lands, and passing from city to city behold everywhere human life teeming in countless millions, a sense of awe comes over the spirit, and a sense of sorrow. And yet, I am not quite sure that this is right. I would rather catch the gleams of light that the eye of Adam saw shining in the promise of God. I would rather hear the words of cheer of our first father when he gathers up the hope of humanity within his soul, and though the judgment had been only a moment uttered, called her who stood beside him — Eve, because she was the mother of all living, and seals his acceptance of the promise and the hope, in the name he gave to his wife. And man generally has been true to this Divine instinct of the Father. The hope of human life has been unquenchable. Read history, and you will find that no misfortune has daunted men. They remain always hopeful. In the increase of poverty, in the presence of disaster, after war, accidents, oppression, life reasserts itself, and in that up-springing of life, mankind declares its hope. You never can crush it out. Today, the victorious foe may spread desolation over the homes of people whom they destroy, but let the tide of war roll back, and hope will return, and the very battlefield will grow green with harvest promise, and the streets down which the destroying legions thundered, echo with the voice of the children at their play. You cannot crush out life, you cannot destroy man's hope in himself. This name of "Eve," the "mother of all living," is only the hope that sprang to being in Adam's breast, and which, since that moment, has never died from human hearts. Hence it seems to me that human nature is a perpetual gospel. Life is full of evangel. The very vastness and fulness of humanity are the large letters in which God's promise and Adam's interpretation of it, are written out that all may read.

(L. D. Bevan, D. D.)

I. GOD LEAVES NOT HIS CHILDREN WITHOUT MEANS TO SUPPORT THEM IN THEIR WORST CONDITION.

II. THE GRACE WHICH GOD ESPECIALLY WORKS AND PRESERVES IN HIS CHILDREN'S HEARTS, IS FAITH.

III. GOD'S PROMISES MUST BE EMBRACED BY FAITH, AS REAL PERFORMANCES.

IV. A GODLY MAN MUST BE CAREFUL TO PRESERVE MEMORIALS OF GREAT MERCIES. To this end God ordained the Sabbath, and divers other festivals, as likewise did the Church in imitation of Him (Esther 9:20, 21, 27, 28); for the same end they gave names to the places where those mercies were performed (1 Samuel 7:12; 2 Chronicles 20:26). Upon the same ground God appoints a pot of manna to be kept in the tabernacle, to remind posterity of that miraculous feeding of their fathers with bread from heaven (Exodus 16:33).

V. IT IS FIT IN GIVING NAMES, TO MAKE CHOICE OF SUCH AS MAY GIVE US WITHAL SOMETHING FOR OUR INSTRUCTION. Of this God Himself gives us a precedent, in changing Abraham's and Sarah's name (Genesis 17:5, 15), and Jacob's (Genesis 32:28), in giving Solomon his name (1 Chronicles 21:9), and the name of Jesus to our Saviour (Matthew 1:21), which holy persons have followed (Genesis 21:3, 6, and Genesis 29:32). Reason

1. We need all helps, to mind us either of God's mercies, and acts of His providence, or of our own duties; which God Himself implied, in causing His people to write the commandments on the posts and gates of their houses (Deuteronomy 11:20), and to make fringes to their garments, to put them in mind of them (Numbers 15:38, 39).

2. And there is no readier means to mind us of such things than our names, which we have daily in our mouths and memories.

(J. White, M. A.)

The fact that it was not God but Adam that gave the name to Eve teaches us much. Why did not God give Eve her name, as He had done to Adam? God did not allow Adam to name himself, even in his innocence; yet now in his fall He permits him to name the woman, nay, sanctions his so doing. This was for such reasons as the following —

1. To show His grace. What grace, what tender love is displayed in allowing man to give a name to his wife — and such a name — Eve — LIFE!

2. To show that Adam was not to be deprived of his headship. He was still to be "head of the woman," even in his fall, and as such he names her.

3. To show, that though Adam had so cruelly flung blame upon her before God, yet no estrangement had followed. She was still bone of his bone. They had been companions in guilt, they were to be companions in sorrow, and they were fellow heirs of the hope just held out to them. Thus they were reunited in new bonds of mingled sadness and joy.

4. To show the direction in which Adam's thoughts were running, that from this manifestation of the current of his thoughts we might learn how the promise had taken hold of him. This verse gives us unequivocal insight into the state of Adam's feelings. It exhibits him to us as one who understood, believed, prized, rested on the Divine promise which he had just heard. He stands before us as a believing man; and we might say of him, "By faith Adam called his wife's name Eve."

(H. Bonar, D. D.)

Coats of skins. —

The whole mystery of justification is wrapped up in the details of this story.

I. We have the fact as in a parable that MAN IS UTTERLY IMPOTENT TO BRING TO PASS ANY SATISFYING RIGHTEOUSNESS OF HIS OWN. He can see his shame, but he cannot effectually cover or conceal it. The garments of our own righteousness are fig leaves all, and we shall prove them such. Let God once call to us, and we shall find how little all these devices of our own can do for us. We shall stand shivering, naked and ashamed, before Him.

II. While we thus learn that man cannot clothe himself, we learn also that GOD UNDERTAKES TO CLOTHE HIM. As elsewhere He has said in word, "I am the Lord that healeth thee," so here He says in act, "I am the Lord that clotheth thee." He can yet devise a way by which His banished shall return to Him.

III. We note in this Scripture that the clothing which God found for Adam could only have been obtained AT THE COST OF A LIFE, and that the life of one unguilty, of one who had no share or part in the sin which made the providing of it needful. We have here the first institution of sacrifice; God Himself is the Institutor. It is a type and shadow, a prelude and prophecy of the crowning sacrifice on Calvary.

IV. Are not the LESSONS which we may draw from all this plain and palpable enough?

1. There is no robe of our own righteousness which can cover us and conceal our shame.

2. That righteousness which we have not in ourselves we must be content and thankful to receive at the hands of God.

3. Not Christ by His life, but by His life and death, and mainly by His death, supplies these garments for our spirit's need.

(Archbishop Trench.)

I come, then, to the conclusion that these vestments which the Lord God provided for our first parents, are emblematic of nothing less than the sacrifice and righteousness of Christ. But there might be a second object in thus arraying our first parents in coats of skin; and that was, to keep alive in their minds the sentence of death, which would be ultimately executed upon them. The dying struggles of the poor animals, whose skins they were to appropriate to themselves, could not fail to remind them of their own deserts; but then this feeling might be too soon effaced; it was essential, therefore, to their continuance in humility, that they should carry with them wherever they went a memorial that death was come into the world — a death which was the effect of sin, a death to which they must at last submit. And sadly they must have gazed upon the throes of every slaughtered creature, as they beheld the fate to which they were hastening themselves. Yet there was a wonderful provision made for securing both the glory of God and the comfort of His creatures. Death was the fruit of sin, sin was the work of Satan; and I may say concerning the honour of the Creator, that Satan may not triumph as a destroyer, it was so ordained that the first things which died should be emblematical of the death of Christ, by whom death itself should be virtually abolished.

(F. J. Stainforth, M. A.)

I. The clothing of the first man and woman in skins of beasts, is in the first place, symbolical of the dominance of that nature which is the sole possession of the beast. In the beast, there is only a life, which informs the body for the purpose of bodily ends. In the man there is a spirit, which informs the body through the soul, for the ultimate ends of the higher and spiritual life. The body of the beast is for itself. The body of the man is for the spirit. It is the spirit's instrument. But, by sin, man had set body against spirit, over spirit. Man had chosen the material instead of the spiritual.

II. It was, also, the insistence of God upon the propriety of the shame, which had prompted them to cover themselves with clothes. It is as if God had said: "You are right; the material body which you have put on over the spiritual — conceal it! You have set it in the forefront; put it in the rear. Cover it! hide it!"

III. It is, besides, the symbol of the conflict between the higher and lower, which makes up the whole of man's moral discipline.

IV. But there was still another meaning in this clothing of skins, for it is to be noted that while Adam and Eve covered themselves with leaves God makes coats of skins and clothed them. Were it only for the purpose of symbolism, they might have worn these clothes of leaves. Why must these coats of skins have been made for them? I shall not raise here questions as to man's relation to the animals in his innocent state. Naturally, by physical constitution, man is a flesh-eating animal, and I cannot accept the opinion, that till his sin, he was fed only by the food of the garden. But, at last, the narrative brings out a striking distinction between the demand made on man's powers, when innocent, and that which was made upon him after the Fall. In the garden all seemed spontaneously easy. He had only to put forth his hand, and take the food, the fruit. It was simple work — gathering a few leaves: fastening them together and making a covering. But now, there is the further difficulty of securing the skins of beasts. These must supply their coverings; they will have to be captured, killed, and the skins prepared. There may be some relation here to sacrifice as well as to food. At least the idea is suggested of man coming into relation to the animal world. The creatures must be caught and trained, and fed, and slain. Now this is the elementary fact of all material civilization. Man's first victory over the world is over the animals. Man makes his first step in culture in conquering the brutes. The domesticity of the lower world, and the dominance of the human race over the animal, is the first step in progress. It is, then, with no fanciful interpretation that I base upon this passage some thoughts concerning the progress of humanity in material civilization, as related to the Fall. Man's fallen condition has certainly borne in some way upon his material development. I am anxious to show that in God's mercy the Fall has been the condition of a greater rising.

1. The historic proof of this doctrine. If you review the history of civilization and the physical progress of man, you will find that it has been rendered in a large degree possible by sin, and, we may almost say that, had it not been for sin, man could not have advanced to the degree, or in the manner, in which that advance has been made. We do not say that material development necessarily accompanies a sinful condition of humanity. This is disproved by the fact that the highest form of material civilization has been pressed into service of the highest moral and spiritual life, and the further fact that the noblest instances of culture have been found to manifest the most distinguished virtues. Still, the general relation of religious and material well-being has been such as to suggest, what we think the incident of our text indicates, that the presence of sin in our human nature has been the condition upon which God has made the development of man's external good to be dependent. Had it not been for sin, we had not been so wise, or so wealthy, or strong, nor smitten with so many passions — not summoned to such weary conflicts; but also, and by reason of these, not such masters of an external world of use and ornament, of beauty and grace.

2. That which is shown in this historical review is also seen in the nature of the case. Let us restate the position we are endeavouring to sustain. Out of the Fall God has caused to issue man's material well-being. We have seen, that the essence of the first sin consisted in the elevation of the physical nature into the supreme regard. Thereupon God thrust man out into a world which demanded his energy to conquer its hostile forces, and to bring it into subservience to his will. Civilization is the result of the assertions of man's physical needs, and the endeavour on the part of man to compel the physical world to supply those needs. When, in the person of his first parents, he set the body above the spirit, then he lost his natural condition. Now, he must win back this material empire; he must overcome everything, himself included. Nothing submits freely, spontaneously. His nature, especially his physical nature, becomes imperative, he hungers, he thirsts; his passions are imperious, and yet there is no response from the things about him. In Eden, hunger would have been immediately satisfied, thirst immediately assuaged. I doubt if ever there was hunger or thirst. All the emotions of the soul would have been in complete rhythm and harmony, and the spirit, and the soul, and the body, would have been in perpetual melody of goodness and innocence. But now he must set himself to contrive. He has to contend. He must become an artist. He must call in the aid of his fellows. He must unite with others, and here is the source of organization, development of art, the inventions of science, the formation of political arrangement, the submission of the governed, the rule of the king. All must be produced to content the cravings of that nature which has been aroused and will be satisfied. There is no government among the angels, except the immediate government of God. There can be no art among beings who are not created at once in fellowship with the Divine, and yet part of the material world about them. Government and art are the result of the fact that this lower nature of ours has been lifted into supremacy. They are the means of supplying its desires; the answer to its emphatic claim. But, moreover, the lower nature thus aroused, heightened, intensified, must again be brought under the control of the higher nature. If that does not result, there will be confusion, chaos, death. The body has been made prominent, brought forth; it must be set back, hidden. God taught man this lesson first, when He made coats of skins and clothed him. Hence there follows not only the development of the physical, but the subjugation of this physical to the spiritual. CONCLUSION:

1. Are we not taught here the lesson, which no age more than our own has needed, that a civilization which is chiefly materialistic must have in it the gravest perils?

2. And will not these thoughts help us to understand the meaning of the perplexed and changeful condition through which the development of the race has moved? Is it some strange and malicious spirit that has driven man to struggle with the beasts, and compelled him to the arduous conflict, often renewed, with the hard outer world? Not at all. It is the will of God, wise and loving, which would thus cover his nakedness and Jet once more the brutal nature in its proper place of retirement and subjection. Every race decay and national decline is only part of the discipline of man. It is a long struggle to regain the proper relation of spirit and body. But it is the Divine will.

3. It shows us, too, the need of a Divine help for the undoing of the evil man has brought upon himself, and which the clothes of his own invention will not supply. The man had already clothed himself with leaves. But man found hiding of shame to be not enough. A devil brought the sin, and a God must make its covering. Man's leaf garment is a poor defence against the cold, hard world into which he is driven. God therefore gives him clothes of skins. And so ever He is ready to supply that remedy, that salvation which man must find or perish, but which no man can himself secure.

4. And so, finally, I learn by these words to fill all things with the evangel which God proclaims in the very utterance of doom. Some men go everywhere only to find a Divine law and a Divine condemnation. Wherever I turn I see written up God's gospel. I know no human story which is not a comment upon grace. I know no voice, even though it comes from the deeps of hell, which is not an echo of the pity of our God.

(L. D. Bevan, D. D.)

1. In the midst of death God's thoughts have been to direct sinners unto life.

2. God's thoughts are not only to give life but to reveal it in His own way.

3. God's goodness prevented sin from turning all into disorder. He keeps relations.

4. Grace makes the same instrument be for life, which was for death (ver. 20).

5. God pitieth His creatures in the nakedness which sin hath made.

6. God makes garments where man makes nakedness.

7. Garments are a covering of nakedness, but a discovery of sin.

8. Raiment should humble and not make men proud. The mischief of sin is to forget nakedness under fine clothes. It makes nakedness appear fine.

9. Suitable clothing was God's work for several sexes. For Adam and his wife. The law afterwards showeth this.

10. Gracious providence puts on clothes upon sinners' backs. Much of love (ver. 21).

(G. Hughes, B. D.)

I. THE VERY CLOTHES THAT WE WEAR ARE GOD'S PROVISION.

II. NECESSARY PROVISION IS AS MUCH AS WE CAN LOOK FOR AT GOD'S HAND.

III. OUR CLOTHES FOR THE MOST PART ARE BORROWED FROM OTHER CREATURES.

1. To humble and keep our hearts low, when we consider that we have nothing but what we borrow, and that of our basest vassals.

2. To move us to take care of the creature, without the help whereof we must need starve with hunger and cold.

(J. White, M. A.)

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