In the last article, we looked at the beginning of “the fall” story in Genesis 3 and began to dissect it. We talked about the serpent and how the satan begins to trick and deceive Eve and Eve’s response. This time, we are going to continue the narrative to find out exactly how the devil tricks the humans into exile and death and how he continues on today. Let’s dig in.
We discussed Genesis 3:1-3 last time so we will pick up in verse 4 this time. Genesis 3:4 reads, “‘You will not certainly die,’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’”
The serpent’s first response to the woman’s response is to immediately deflect the words of Yahweh. God said, “for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” For us as the readers of this narrative, we should immediately know this is not right. The serpent has made a false statement. God said they would die and then the serpent comes back with a response that is the complete opposite of that statement, as he says they will not die. Now the woman has a choice to make. Do I believe God, who has made everything and given me immortality, or do I believe this serpent who seems pretty smart too. The decision gets harder when the serpent adds in the next line.
Here, the devil acts as if he knows more than these humans by stating what God “knows”. God has never said these words to the humans as far as Scripture is concerned and this adds to the drama. The devil seems to be trying to make God the bad guy here. The devil spins God into this being that is hiding something from His creation, since He has never told His creation this statement. The phrase “for God knows” indicates that the serpent is trying to make the Creator the secretive being by not letting His creation eat of this tree, while all along it is the serpent himself who is the deceiver. So “the satan” tells the humans that when they eat of it, their eyes will be opened and they will be like God knowing good and evil. Here’s another trick to this statement, the humans are already like God. They have already been made in the image of God (Gen 1:27), and were given the divine command to rule the earth. They are already like God. In this instance, the devil tries to lure them into thinking they don’t have something when in fact they really do. It is just another strategy the devil uses to get us to fall even today. There are times when we think we don’t have forgiveness or that we’re not good enough for God. The devil doesn’t want us to remember we were made in His image and that Jesus is our Savior. It is a strategy he has used since the beginning and we must be aware of it to stay alert and focused on our journey of faith.
So the devil, speaking falsely on behalf of God, says that God knows when they eat from the tree, their eyes will be opened and they will be like God, knowing good and bad when they eat of the tree. We have talked about the idea of the humans already being like God, being made in the image and given the divine role to rule. However, the devil presents another opportunity here to be like God in the fact that they will know good and bad. Up to this point, everything has been good. God pronounces everything “good” in His creation and even at the end He pronounces it “very good”. This is the first time we see the word “bad” appear in the Bible. It is the Hebrew word “rah” and it literally means “bad” or “unpleasant”. So the serpent paints this picture of eating of the fruit and becoming like God in the fact of knowing the difference between good and bad and having the power to define what is good and bad Something else that is interesting to note is when the serpent says “you will be like God” in our English Bibles, it doesn’t exactly say that in Hebrew. What it does say in Hebrew is that they would be “as gods…”. The word for “god” here is plural and it points to the meaning being that they will be like “gods” or “spiritual beings”. The serpent is, again, trying to point the humans to a false statement on behalf of God and to a greater reality to which they already have. The serpent paints this illusion in their minds that if they don’t eat of the fruit, they have nothing and are nothing. When in reality, they have everything if they don’t eat of it.
The tree represents a choice we have everyday. The choice is between choosing to let God define what is good and us following His definition, or to take from the tree ourselves and define good and bad for ourselves. The choice is ever present in our lives and it is a choice we make several times a day. Are we going to give in and take from the tree, or are we going to rule with God’s divine wisdom and authority? The choice is simple but the consequences are eternal.