We are going to look at an amazing woman who, despite failure in herself and in others, emerges from heartache and tears, to be bathed and warmed in the light of God’s love and forgiveness. She walked a life of faith and hope, hand in hand with her husband, into eternity.

We all know of this young woman, and we know of her story, but I wonder if we really know her? She was our mother; the mother of all living, Eve (Gen 3:20).

To be ‘One’

We are as silent witnesses in the Garden of Eden, and Adam has just been told that he could eat of anything in the Garden, except of the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Gen 2:16–17). It became obvious to Adam that none of the animals could give him real companionship. God knew that man would need woman, but to make sure that he would really appreciate her, Adam lived alone for a while.

Eve was to be a helper suitable for him, or complementing him. She was suitable because she shared with Adam the image and likeness of God that allowed them to relate to each other. Eve was unique because she was made, not from the dust of the ground, but from Adam’s side. God wanted them to have everything in common: to think and feel alike, to have the same joys and hopes, to be full of love and sympathy for each other, to be husband and wife, to be ‘one’ (v23–24).

The love and unity that exists in a marriage is a shadow of the unity of the believers and Jesus Christ. Christ is called ‘the second Adam’ (1 Cor 15:45) and the ecclesia is ‘his bride’ (Rev 19:7–9) or the ‘second Eve’ (2 Cor 11:2–3). Just as the first Adam had to suffer that Eve might be formed, so Christ had to suffer so that his bride might be formed. Just as Adam had a love, sympathy and affection for the wife that he called, “bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh”, so there is a love, sympathy and affection between Christ and his ecclesia that makes them completely ‘one’.

Even now we are living in a type and anticipation of things to come. Although we are by baptism mentally and morally one with Christ, a time is coming when we will share his immortal life. Then we will truly be ‘one’ with him.

A fig leaf covering

The angels were there to instruct them in things natural and spiritual. They had not grown up from childhood gradually learning about life as they went. They began life as adults with no experience. We can imagine how everything would be so exciting and interesting in their world. Adam no doubt showed Eve around the Garden, pointing out all the animals and explaining their names. Imagine naming a hippopotamus!

They had the perfect marriage. They were designed to complement each other in every way. It was a very good state. There were no financial or family pressures, no baggage, no stress and a wonderfully open relationship with God. Just imagine being able to walk through a garden talking with God, the elohim!

But sin entered their world. Knowing what he was doing, Adam ate the fruit. Out of shame and a defiled conscience they knew that they were naked. They made for themselves a covering of fig leaves. How inadequate was that? It would have been a useless piece of clothing needing to be continually maintained to cover their nakedness! And that’s exactly what happens when we try and cover our shame. People see through us. We can’t hide. If we make an ‘apron of fig leaves’ we only mask our shame from ourselves but not from others. Anything that we put on to hide behind, any attitude or façade that we put up to make people think everything is fine … it’s all just fig leaves!

So what are some ‘fig leaves’? There’s quite a long list!

  • Excuses, blame and lies

This is the most basic and it is the one that Adam and Eve first tried when they were approached by God. They both half confessed, then Adam blamed Eve and Eve, the serpent. They tried to put forward an excuse. For example, we hear, “I’m sorry, but I was just trying to …” or, “Yes I did, but he started it”! Cain’s response to God after he had killed his brother was even more primitive. “Where is your brother?”…“I don’t know.” He just denied it!

  • Good works

They sewed fig leaves together in an attempt by their own efforts to remedy their nakedness. That will never do. Man’s attempt to save himself by his own works, by his own moral improvement, will only ever amount to garments made of ‘fig leaves.’ God must provide the garments. God must provide the righteousness. Some people think that because they have given to charity or helped their neighbour that they have covered over all the wrong things they have done and that this makes them acceptable in the sight of God. Isaiah says that all our righteousness, all our charity and goodness are nothing but ‘filthy rags’ in the sight of a perfect God (64:6).

  • A form of religion

There can be a veneer of dedication to our religion. It’s not ‘good enough’ to attend our ecclesia regularly, to post leaflets in the rain, to speak on the platform and do the daily readings. As important as they are, none of these things are an adequate covering for our sin. The covering has to come from God’s provision.

Betrayed

Out of love God forced Adam to deal with his issues. He did it for David, because He loved him and wanted him to be freed from the burden of guilt (see Psalm 32:4). Adam and Eve heard the angel’s voice calling them. Once they had loved that voice, now it terrified them. What would he do to them? The voice drew nearer, “Where are you?” The first pair felt his eyes upon them. In fear Adam answered, “I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself ” (3:10).

The next question was, “Who told you?” and “Have you eaten?” All they had to say was, “Yes!”

But the answer was one of the saddest in the Bible. Adam betrayed his wife in saying, “It’s her fault, judge her.” In effect Adam was saying, “If you hadn’t given me this woman, this never would have happened!” We can only begin to imagine what those words felt like for Eve. Perhaps she didn’t feel the true depth of that hurtful answer because she was so afraid. He had deliberately disobeyed God because of his infatuation for Eve and now he resented her for getting him into this situation! Their ‘oneness’ was under great strain!

Eve responded, no doubt weeping, “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat” (v13). With infinite sadness the angel listened to their excuses and explained the consequences of their choice to eat the forbidden fruit (v14–15).

The promise of the seed of the woman

Concealed in this promise is something that profoundly affected Eve. God had chosen her to be a part of His plan of salvation! God believed her about the serpent; He knew that she was confused. He understood! And as the consequences continued to be spelt out, she realised that she was still standing there! God had not killed them after all! As they spoke with the angel it became clear that God was going to save them! They would die, eventually, but

through her seed a Saviour would come and they could live in harmony with God again. No doubt she could hardly believe it. And now she loved God more than ever!

Adam too realised that he was still standing there. He deserved to die and he knew it. I imagine that as he was bathing in the goodness of God, his stubborn heart melted and he looked over and saw Eve. He had never seen her cry before. He was humbled. He was moved with compassion towards her. We read, “and Adam called his wife’s name Eve” (v20). What a contrast to, “the woman thou gavest me” (v12)!

He saw Eve in a new light. He had now experienced grace and goodness and, perhaps recalling Genesis 3:15, he realised that his salvation would come through her. God had shown him something that he had known nothing about for there had been no need for it before; life had been perfect! God showed him mercy and he now demonstrated it to his wife. Out of his response to this “Gospel message” Adam called his wife, “Eve”, meaning, ‘Life.’ She would be the mother of all living. This was like a statement of faith, believing that through Eve would come the promised seed to save them from death. Adam had been redeemed and their marriage restored. Now God responded to that faith by taking action to clothe them.

God’s clothing

“God made coats of skins, and clothed them” (v21). We might have missed the first part of the verse, “Unto Adam and his wife did the LORD God make coats.” How beautiful is that little comment. This marriage had been tested and had come through thefire! God now strengthened their faith by showing them in symbol how He would save them through this coming seed. He took a lamb and killed it. They had never seen death. Then the angel skinned it and wrapped the skin around them, showing them that they were covered by a slain lamb. They begin to learn that only by identifying with a perfect sacrifice could they be saved.

When we’re honest with God, then we find ourselves in a position where God by His grace does something for us that we cannot do for ourselves. Our devices work really well in disguising our faults from ourselves. We need to say to God, “I have sinned” and then it takes an act of God, the shedding of blood, to wash away our sins and to truly cover our shame.

The lesson we learn from Eve is not really about the great things she did, but rather the work of love and forgiveness that God did for her.

A son is born

Eve exclaimed, “I have gotten a man from Yahweh!” (Gen 4:1). Eve knew that this was a gift from her Creator. Eve had never seen a baby before and we can just imagine her excitement. She called him Cain. She hoped that this was the promised seed who would destroy the power of sin. This must have been one of the greatest moments of her life. With great wonder and joy, she watched the daily progress of her boys as they grew into adults, like her and Adam.

As the years passed Eve would have worried about Cain. It became obvious that through Abel, not Cain, would the promised seed come. Abel represented the promised seed but increasingly Cain was turning into “the seed of the serpent”. The more she spoke to Cain, the more his theories about God and worship sounded like the reasoning of the serpent she had come across years before. But it was not what God had taught them. She could never have seen what was coming.

We’re not told about how the first murder affected Adam and Eve. I don’t think we need to be. Their beloved firstborn son was dead. In one day the mother of all living had lost three of her children. Abel had been killed, Cain was banished and her daughter had gone with him [a daughter of Adam and Eve who became Cain’s wife. Ed]. What had happened to God’s plan? And yet out of the pain, Eve’s trust in God still shone.

“For God, said she, hath appointed me another seed instead of Abel” (4:25). She had thought that Abel would be the one. But now her hope remained in God. She trusted in His plan and now looked to Seth to be her promised seed. Out of grief, she was looking for the one who would save them from sin and death. What a joy and wonder it will be for Eve to meet her Redeemer, one far greater than Seth, but one who is truly the ‘seed of the woman’, the sinless Son of God!

We are not told anything more about Eve, but maybe verse 26 is a testament to her and Adam. The name of their son “Enos,” means “frailty” or “mortal”, and it is upon that realisation that man is weak and frail that they started to rely on God’s strength and call upon the name of Yahweh. We are told that Adam lived for 920 years and perhaps Eve would not have been far off that. So as she watched the two ‘seeds’ develop, she waited for God. We can imagine her as an old woman surrounded by her great, great, grandchildren, telling them again and again about the beauty of the Garden of Eden, the lessons of obedience to God and how God would bring them all back there one day. And she would have been so thankful that there were no ‘fig leaves’ for Seth’s family; for they knew where they needed to go for strength and covering. And my dear brothers and sisters, so do we!

Our sin covering

We remember now that God has clothed us with the perfect covering of His Son. We kneel before Him today, thankful for His gift, the Christ. Every time we share this bread and wine in fellowship with God, let us remember that God in love forgives us and wants us to be in the Kingdom. Let us say, “Thank you”! Let our heartfelt appreciation, our praise and our love be our motivation to do good works and not to feel guilty.

Let us thank God and take courage, because nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate us from the love of God, shown to us in Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom 8:31–39).