The Curse And The Atonement—Genesis 3:14-24



In the last lesson, we saw how Satan, indwelling a serpent, tempted the woman to eat of the fruit of the tree that God had warned them not to eat from. We saw how both Satan and the woman and Adam rationalized their sin—for instance: by blaming others or by making God out to be the bad guy. Now we see the results of their sin and the promise of atonement.




1) The Curse On The Serpent


Genesis 3:14 And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:


Why would God curse a creature that was used by Satan? God explains that it’s because it allowed itself to be used by Satan. The Bible says that if an animal causes harm to a human, it suffers consequences (cf. Genesis 9:5; Exodus 21:28-29). Or, as the old Puritan, Matthew Henry put it, “The devil’s instruments must share in the devil’s punishments” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible)


2) The Curse On Satan


The serpent was used by Satan, so God also curses Satan. In doing so, we get the first hint in the Bible of God’s plan of salvation.


Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.


Who or what are these seeds referring to? The seed of the Satan are his spiritual descendants. Jesus once told the people He was speaking to, “Ye are of your father, the devil” (John 8:44)


The woman’s seed refers to one person in particular, Jesus Christ. It’s interesting that the text says “her seed,” because it is the male that has the seed. So it’s possible that this is a reference to the virgin birth of Jesus. 


Jesus would bruise Satan’s head, even as Satan nipped at His heel. Satan would appear to have victories in his battles against Christ, such as the crucifixion, but it would only amount to bruising Christ’s heel—like a little dog nipping at an ankle. 


On the other hand, Jesus—Eve’s seed—would bruise Satan’s head. We know how to kill a snake—chop off or crush its head. So Jesus will ultimately have the victory.


3) The Curse On The Woman


Genesis 3:16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.


Can you imagine giving birth without pain? Before the Fall, that would have been the case. But now, the pain in childbirth serves as a reminder of how sin came into the world. 


A second part of the curse is that the woman’s “desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” Does it mean that the wife is supposed to lovingly desire her husband? I don’t think so. To find out what means, we need to look at Genesis 4:7.


7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. (Genesis 4:7)


Here we find the same sentence construction, but instead the woman and her husband, it’s talking about Cain and sin. The Hebrew word for “desire” (teshuqah) is the same in both verses, but in 4:7, it’s more clear as to what it means. What does it mean that sin desires Cain? Well, it’s not a lovey-dovey sort of desire! It’s a desire to rule over Cain. But Cain is supposed to rule over his sin instead.


Back in Genesis 3:16, we can now understand that the woman will try, like sin did for Cain, to rule over her husband. Perhaps by using sexual favors or with shaming words or with emotions. Just think of accounts of women trying to rule their men recorded in the Bible, like Samson and Delilah. The woman will resist the rightful leadership of her husband, causing the roles that God originally determined to be reversed.


The “rule” (mshl) of the husband here is not the appropriate, loving leadership that husbands are to exhibit (Ephesians 5). Think of the comparison with Genesis 4:7—Cain was not to lovingly rule over his sin. Instead, what we have here is a husband’s harsh rule in response to the woman’s attempt to usurp his role. The point being, that the curse would cause disruption and confusion in marriages. Every martial argument and every divorce should be a reminder to us of Genesis 3.


4) The Curse On Adam And Creation


Genesis 3:17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Genesis 3:18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; Genesis 3:19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.


The curse on Adam would effect everyone, even women, because Eve was out of Adam. And since Adam had dominion over the Creation, the Creation would also experience the curse.


Because of the curse, plants that were once “very good” now experienced mutations, and developed, over time, into various strains of thorns and thistles.


Animals found the desire to kill and eat one another. Gradually, the teeth that once were only meant for eating plants, sharpened into carnivorous fangs.


At this time also, Creation began to decay. The Bible says:


For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, (Romans 8:20).


This is when the Second Law of Thermodynamics took effect. It states that all systems, if left to themselves, will decay and become disordered. Look at the old homesteads alongside the highways or your garden if you don’t weed it, and you’ll see the Second Law of Thermodynamics in effect.


The Curse is sad, but the end of Genesis 3 is actually full of hope. In verses 20 to 24, we can see the basic elements of salvation.




1) Separation From God


First, jump down to verse 22—


Genesis 3:22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: 

Genesis 3:23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. 

Genesis 3:24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.


Adam and Eve were kicked out of Eden—the Hebrew word for “drove out” (grsh) is a very forceful word. They were kept away from the tree of life. God even put guards at the entrance to the garden.


The first thing we must come to understand in order to be saved is that our sin separates us from God. The Bible even goes as far to say that, before salvation, we are God’s enemies.


10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. (Romans 5:10)


Adam and Eve literally experienced what it feels like to be an enemy of God when they found themselves cast out of Eden and saw the flaming sword that guarded the way back.


Your sin is not just a mistake you’ve made. Sin is not just little bumps in the road of your life. Sin separates you from God and makes you an enemy of God.


The second element of salvation we see here is that we need to have…


2) Faith


Genesis 3:20 And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.


What is significant about Adam naming the woman, “the mother of all living”? Think about it—if you had been there and just listened to God pronounce the curses that He had just pronounced, would you name her, “the mother of all living”? I am thinking that the name Naomi gave herself would be a much more appropriate name:


…Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me. (Ruth 1:20)


That’s a perfect fit! But Adam doesn’t name the woman Mara. Instead he names her “the mother of all living.” Why? It’s pretty amazing when you think of it because verses 14 to 19 where all about the curse and death. Adam listens to all that and decides that “mother of all living” would be a nice name for the woman!


Why? Because he has faith in God! He remembered that God had told them to be fruitful and multiply (in Genesis 1:28). And he also listened to the curse on Satan when God mentioned “her seed.” Adam recognized what that meant. For Eve to have seed—descendants—she would need to have babies!


Furthermore, Adam must have also realized something about what it meant that Eve’s seed would crush the head of Satan. God was not giving up on them! So Adam put his faith in God.


1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)


Even though Adam would not see God fulfill the promise of Genesis 3:15, he had faith that God would someday…so he named his wife, “Eve…mother of all living.” 


Faith is a basic element of salvation. The Bible says…


8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8–9)


What should our faith be in? It’s not just that we have some sort of generic faith. There’s something we need to believe in, and that leads us to our third element of salvation…


3) Atonement


Genesis 3:21 Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.


The “coats of skins” refer to animal skins. God made these to cover their nakedness, but there is something more here. It’s really difficult—and inhumane—to get the skin off from an animal without killing it. That means that animals died to cloth Adam and Eve. Those animals died to also cover their sins.


I wonder how it was to watch those animals die for their sins. Surely Adam and Eve got a deep understanding of what their sin cost. They understood in a very literal sense that the wages of their sin was death.


All through the Old Testament, this image of blood being shed for sins was very literally carried out. Leviticus is the Bible’s manual on how to make sacrifices to God and it explains—


11 For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. (Leviticus 17:11)


If this is so important, then why don’t Christians make sacrifices? The reason is that Jesus Christ came to be a final sacrifice. Animals could only temporarily cover sins. They had to be sacrificed over and over. Their purpose was to demonstrate the need for a better sacrifice.


Jesus came to be that better sacrifice. In the book of Hebrews, we read…


11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; (Hebrews 10:11–12)


We are separated from God by our sins. Only blood atonement can make things right with God. Jesus Christ has come and made that sacrifice once for all. Our response needs to be faith.


1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (Romans 5:1)


Do you have faith in Jesus Christ? If you do, then one day you will experience a new Heavens and new Earth where the curse is no longer found. But more importantly, you will experience a relationship with the Lord God.


Levi Durfey—LDM-01-Genesis 3.14-24-GEB#02-20200202FBCAM-SERMON

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